Why Measure Buyer Behavior

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Why Measuring Consumer Behavior is Important
Feb. 24, 2005
Ryan Brophy
Management 480
(408) 390-0941

Introduction

Insight into consumer decision-making and buyer behavior is at the heart of the marketing concept (Arndt 1968). To date, researchers in the field have had little success in developing substantial scientific theory to describe stable laws in marketing. Most of the progress over the past few centuries has focused on understanding and identifying observable similarities consumers share. Michael H. Halbert (1964) said: "From the viewpoint of the established sciences, marketing has no theory that is defensible on the grounds of its logical consistency, philosophic adequacy, or experimental foundation." Developing a theory in this field has been a grueling process, and no consistent law has yet been discovered. The research and measurement of buyer behavior is vitally important to the field of marketing because it can provide insight into a possible future scientific law in this field.

Before the question "Why measure buyer behavior?" can be addressed, the applicable terms, "buyer behavior" and "measurement" should be identified. The American marketing Association defines buyer behavior (AMA refers to this as "consumer behavior") as: "The dynamic interaction of affect and cognition, behavior, and the environment by which human beings conduct the exchange aspects of their lives" (http://www.marketingpower.com/live/mg-dictionary.php?Searched=1&SearchFor=consumer%20behavior). To understand the importance of the application of this term, marketers ask questions such as; "Why do consumers make certain purchases?", "What factors are involved in the influence of these purchases?", and "Do changes in society have an effect on these decisions?" Marketers value the knowledge gained by examining buyer behavior because a consumer's needs cannot be met unless they have been identified clearly.

No two people have exactly identical preferences, beliefs, and behaviors. Ideally, a marketer would like to understand each person as thoroughly as possible. Traveling door to door, speaking to each member of the household and spending the time to learn about their likes and dislikes would be impossible. Fortunately, buyers tend to have consistent behavior patterns and habits in the market place. This consistency provides marketers with the opportunity to measure similarities among buyers, predict their future behavior, and apply that knowledge to encompass groups of people with parallel behaviors. Once again, I will rely on the American Marketing Association to provide a definition for the term "measurement". Measurement is "A rule for assigning numbers to objects to represent quantities of attributes" (http://www.marketingpower.com/live/mg-dictionary-view1932.php). Measuring buyer behavior is a practice used by marketers to gain information that can help prescribe effective approaches for strengthening customer relationships and increasing product satisfaction.

Now that these terms have been recognized, the question at hand may be examined. Why is measuring buyer behavior important? To understand the significance of this question in the field of marketing, the value of measurement knowledge to consumer behaviorists and practitioners must be appraised. If measuring buyer behavior is important then this information must aid in the development of more proficient marketing activities. Is this knowledge truly valuable? Measurement should provide marketers with useful information. Can this knowledge provide a marketer with useful information in the market place? Marketing activities, if successfully improved, should provide companies with positive results. Is there supporting evidence to prove that companies are actually using this knowledge?

Value of Measurement Knowledge to Consumer Behaviorists and Practitioners

Marketers utilize models to describe similarities between consumers. The buyer...
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