Consumer Behavior and Marketing Strategy

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Consumer Behavior and Marketing Strategy
The study of consumers helps firms and organizations improve their marketing strategies by understanding issues such as how • The psychology of how consumers think, feel, reason, and select between different alternatives (e.g., brands, products); • The the psychology of how the consumer is influenced by his or her environment (e.g., culture, family, signs, media); • The behavior of consumers while shopping or making other marketing decisions; • Limitations in consumer knowledge or information processing abilities influence decisions and marketing outcome;  • How consumer motivation and decision strategies differ between products that differ in their level of importance or interest that they entail for the consumer; and • How marketers can adapt and improve their marketing campaigns and marketing strategies to more effectively reach the consumer. Understanding these issues helps us adapt our strategies by taking the consumer into consideration. For example, by understanding that a number of different messages compete for our potential customers’ attention, we learn that to be effective, advertisements must usually be repeated extensively. We also learn that consumers will sometimes be persuaded more by logical arguments, but at other times will be persuaded more by emotional or symbolic appeals. By understanding the consumer, we will be able to make a more informed decision as to which strategy to employ. Bottom of Form

One "official" definition of consumer behavior is "The study of individuals, groups, or organizations and the processes they use to select, secure, use, and dispose of products, services, experiences, or ideas to satisfy needs and the impacts that these processes have on the consumer and society." Although it is not necessary to memorize this definition, it brings up some useful points: • Behavior occurs either for the individual, or in the context of a group (e.g., friends influence what kinds of clothes a person wears) or an organization (people on the job make decisions as to which products the firm should use). • Consumer behavior involves the use and disposal of products as well as the study of how they are purchased. Product use is often of great interest to the marketer, because this may influence how a product is best positioned or how we can encourage increased consumption. Since many environmental problems result from product disposal (e.g., motor oil being sent into sewage systems to save the recycling fee, or garbage piling up at landfills) this is also an area of interest. • Consumer behavior involves services and ideas as well as tangible products. • The impact of consumer behavior on society is also of relevance. For example, aggressive marketing of high fat foods, or aggressive marketing of easy credit, may have serious repercussions for the national health and economy. There are four main applications of consumer behavior:

• The most obvious is for marketing strategy—i.e., for making better marketing campaigns. For example, by understanding that consumers are more receptive to food advertising when they are hungry, we learn to schedule snack advertisements late in the afternoon. By understanding that new products are usually initially adopted by a few consumers and only spread later, and then only gradually, to the rest of the population, we learn that (1) companies that introduce new products must be well financed so that they can stay afloat until their products become a commercial success and (2) it is important to please initial customers, since they will in turn influence many subsequent customers’ brand choices. • A second application is public policy. In the 1980s, Accutane, a near miracle cure for acne, was introduced. Unfortunately, Accutane resulted in severe birth defects if taken by pregnant women. Although physicians were instructed to warn their female patients of this, a number still...
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