Consumer Behavior - Chapter 1

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Consumer behavior chapter 1 - introduction

In our ever-increasing global market, attention needs to be paid to the global consumer in order to identify who they are. Marketers and consumer behaviour researchers are constantly attempting to determine the similarities and the differences of the multifaceted global consumer.

Some general theory about the sociological and psychological influences on consumer behaviour may be common to all Western cultures, but there are still strong regional consumption trends.

Consumer behaviour as it pertains to the marketplace is concerned with the manner in which consumers purchase and use products and services, and how these goods are incorporated into their lives. Researchers use various techniques to determine the features of consumers. These techniques include categorisation by the use of descriptive characteristics, such as demographics and psychographics.

Individual consumers are part of a larger society with common cultural values and beliefs, which can be further segmented into smaller groups, or subcultures. There are regional differences between consumers from different European countries, despite their being part of the larger European community. Marketers use market segmentation strategies to adapt their communications to meet the varied needs of a diverse target market.

Consumer behaviour is good business! Marketers who understand their customers' needs and wants do better than their competitors.

The essential component is deciding who to target and how. Marketers do this by defining markets and then dividing these markets into smaller chunks, or segments. A segment is based upon the demographic and psychographic aspects of the targeted population.

The consumer's response is the ultimate test of whether or not a marketing strategy will succeed. However, initial consumer testing is not an absolute science. Sometimes a product can fail its initial test marketing and still go on to be highly successful. Sony has responded to market and consumer changes with its latest MP3 player, a rival to the Apple iPod.

In attempting to define accurate information about the traits, habits, likes and dislikes of consumers, effective market segmentation separates members of a population into smaller segments of consumers who share unique characteristics that set them apart from the main population.

Market segmentation can be described as 'slicing up' the market into bit-sized chunks of information. It is essential that for effective segmentation the following criteria are met:

Consumers within the identified segment share similar product needs that will be different to other consumers in other segments. Important differences between the segments can be clearly identified. The segment is large enough to be profitable.

Consumers in the segment can be reached with an appropriate marketing mix. The consumers in the segment will respond in the desired way to the marketing mix.

Two important segmentation tools are the use of demographics and psychographics to determine unique attributes of the targeted population. Demographic statistics measure the observable aspects of the population. Psychographics are far more subtle. They illustrate the differences in consumers' personalities and cannot be measured objectively.

Demographic variables include:

Age
Different age groups have different needs and wants. Consumers in similar age groups often share similar values and cultural experiences.

Gender
The behaviours and tastes of men and women are constantly evolving. It is thought that gender segmentation is an unintended result of marketing strategy.

Family structure
Marital status and family are important demographic variables that often affect spending priorities.

Social class and income
People in the same social class often have similar occupations and may share values and interests. Income is a good determinant of buying...
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