Consumer Behaviour

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Consumer behaviour study is based on consumer buying behaviour, with the consumer playing the three distinct roles of users, payer and buyer.

Consumer behaviour is the study of when, why, how, and where people do or do not buy products. It blends elements from psychology, sociology, social anthropology and economics. It attempts to understand the buyer decision making process, both individually and in groups. It studies characteristics of individual consumers such as demographics and behavioural variables in an attempt to understand people's wants. It also tries to assess influences on the consumer from groups such as family, friends, reference groups, and society in general.


Consumer behaviour can be defined as ‘the dynamic interaction of affect and cognition, behaviour, and environmental events by which human beings conduct the exchange aspects of their lives’. There are at least three important ideas in this definition: (1) consumer behaviour is dynamic; (2) it involves interaction between affect and cognition, behaviour, and environmental events; and (3) it involves exchange.


First, the definition emphasis that consumer behaviour is dynamic. This means individual consumers, consumer groups, and society at large are constantly changing and evolving over time. This has important implications for the study of consumer behaviour as well as for developing marketing strategies. In terms of studying consumer behaviour, one implication is that generalizations about consumer behaviour are usually limited to specific periods of time, products, and individuals or groups. Thus, students of consumer behaviour must be careful not to over- generalize theories and research findings.

In terms of developing marketing strategies, the dynamic nature of consumer behaviour implies that one should not expect the same marketing strategy to work all the time across all products, markets, and industries. While this may seem obvious, many companies have failed to recognize the need to adapt their strategies in different markets.

Further, a strategy that is successful at one point may fail miserably at another point because of the dynamism of the consumers and the markets, and this is what makes marketing strategy development such an exciting , yet challenging, task.


Many companies have developed extensive database that allow them to target individual consumers. Here are a few of them: -

NESTLE chose to launch a new pasta product through the post rather than through television. It is cheaper for them to develop a database of the right socioeconomic profile of pasta-eaters than it is to promote via television.

UNILEVER uses database marketing to target their loyal customers, trying to make loyalty last. In Sweden, they are creating a database with users of their Organics shampoo on the basis of participants in a recent competition. They have also sent out samples of a new Dove sensitive crème douche to target segments in order to create awareness.


A second important point emphasized in the definition of consumer behaviour is that it involves interactions between affect and cognition, behaviour, and environmental events. This means that to understand consumers and develop superior marketing strategies, we must understand what they think (cognition) and feel (affect), what they do (behaviour), and the things and places (environmental events) that influence and are influenced by what consumers think, feel, and do. Whether we are evaluating a single consumer, a target market, or an entire society, analysis of all three elements is useful for understanding and developing marketing strategies.


A final point emphasized in the definition of consumer behaviour is that it involves exchanges between human beings. This makes the...
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