Consumer behaviour can be defined as "the acts of individuals directly involved in obtaining and using economic and services, including the decision process that precede and determine these acts." (Engel et al, 1968, p 5)
Buyer behaviour refers to "the acts of individuals directly involved in the exchange of money for economic goods and services and the decision process that determined these act. "(Engel et al, 1968, p 5).
Both consumer and buyer behaviour differ amongst the population as people have different wants and needs. Therefore it is untrue to say that working women buy products and services essentially the same as non working women.' No two people are similar as physiological factors, cultural forces, economic considerations, interpersonal relationships, personality, self-concept, and learning are variables that shape goals and influence. (Runyon, K.E. 1980).
However consumers can be put into groups if they have similar characteristics, i.e. if they come from the same social class, background, age, lifestyle. Working and non-working women can be segmented in two separate groups. They are different because of many influences. Some are external due their social environment. What they do with these social stimuli involves a psychological process that differs from each other. These social influences and internal processes may evolve into a decision by the consumer to make a purchase or not. (refer to table 1). (Engel et al, 1968). As both groups possess different characteristics, it is necessary for marketers to understand that they will have different wants and needs.
Table 1. Factors influencing behaviour
Age & LifestyleMotivationCultureReference groups OccupationPerceptionSubcultureFamily
Economic LearningSocial classRoles & status
Engel et al, (1968) suggest that culture refers to the unique patterns of behaviour and social relations that characterises and distinguishes it from other societies. Culture is not inherited genetically, it is rather the result of learning. Parents, teachers and schools help indoctrinate each generation into a cultural decision. All cultures will develop from interactions between people in efforts to adjust to one another and their environments. In each society, the culture of that society has a functional purpose. It provides values, beliefs, attitudes, and behaviours that facilitate human interaction. The culture of a working woman will be very different from that of a non working female.
Spiro, R.L studies show that Strodtbect, I. L. found cultural differences with respect to the roles of females were related to differences in decision making. This is because both groups will have different beliefs and attitudes due to the way they have been nurtured.
In a materialist society economic well-being much determines what social class you are in. If this was the case, than working women would be in a much higher class than non working. However focusing primarily on income fails to recognise the differences in spending of disposal income characteristics of social classes. For example a teacher who earns the same as a truck driver will spend their money in distinctly different ways, the service and goods will not be the same. (Runyon, K.E 1980). Working women may spend their money on socialising i.e. with friends etc. whereas a non working woman may have children and therefore spend much money on the family
Social class differences are variations in life-styles, in values, interpersonal attitudes and self perception. These differences influence consumer behaviour, shopping patterns, and effective communications.