Factors Affecting Consumer Buying Preferences
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The definition of consumer buying behavior by Kotler describes a person who buys goods and services for their individual needs as for Peter and Olson, (1993) say that consumer behavior is simply an interaction between people's moods, feeling and affections. The study of purchaser performance has evolved in early prominence of rational choice to focus on irrational buying behavior and the use of logical models to understand the consumers mind set. From the very beginning, researches have been carried out; to replica the effects of advertising mix variables such as income, social groups, lifecycle stage, buyer's impulse and access to media, however gradually, the variables affecting consumer behavior kept ever-increasing as researchers came across new factors affecting behavior. Numerous models have been formed to understand consumer behavior, which have been modified, discarded, criticized upon, adjusted, and used over the years.
The latest approaches have come up with many consumer behavior models to understand the motivation behind the purchase, information processing model (Bettman 1979) according to this theory the consumer is viewed as a logical thinker who makes purchase decisions. The variety of models thus now includes stochastic models, mathematical models, sociological models, psychological models, economic models and business models; all to define consumer for the manufacturers and service providers. The black box model of human behavior is forever unpredictable; the model has been named as black box, suggesting human mind is like the black hole of the universe. The model revolves around responses of consumers to different stimuli. The model aims to list factors that can define buying decisions by explaining human behavior.
Formerly a lot of study has been conducted to identify the consumer response to various marketing strategies, what makes the consumers actually go and buy a product. There have been studies to measure the factors that affect consumer buying behavior. Studies and theories have also been conducted against organization buying behavior (Webster, JR., Fredericke, and Yoram Wind, 1972). Studies have also been conducted to see the long term effect of some factors such as income, age and gender on consumer behavior and how these factors were seen in post purchase and post purchase behavior. Studies related to interpersonal factors and personal factors have also showed a correlation between consumer behavior and these variables. "Measurement of Consumer Susceptibility to Interpersonal Influence" (William O. Bearden, and E. Tee, 1989) they had developed a two-dimensional measure of informational and normative interpersonal influence and examined its reliability and validity. A 12-item, two- factor scale was developed with factors counting to interpersonal influence, susceptibility, value expression, informational influence and self esteem. A questioner was administered and five different studies were conducted to out figure the relationship of normative and informational influences measures of attention-to-social-comparison information (ATSCI) susceptibility to interpersonal influence. The results corresponded as ATSCI was expected to correlate strongly with normative factors then with informational measures, the limitations to their study was more work had to be done in the area of interpersonal influences to further make their scale more reliable.
"Social Comparison Information: An Individual Difference Factor Affecting Consumer Conformity" (William, 1990) "attention-to-social-comparison-information" (ATSCI)" is identified as a variable that can help separate personal from social reasons that influence consumer behavior. The variables involved in this study were neuroticism and fear of negative assessment. If a person scores high on ATSCI, they are well attentive of what people around him think, and thus his decisions are affected by external factors. The papers lay out different studies that were carried out to find out the level to which the clients are sensitive to social cues involving their purchase and consumption patterns. These studies stated that measure of ATSCI is internally constant. The paper thus concludes that the ATSCI internal measurement is consistent valid and reliable. This paper thus reinforces the previous studies which helped identify social reason as one of the main factors affecting consumer behavior. It moves on to identify a measure which can help marketers to identify to what scale the social factors affect consumer choices, and thus a combination of strategies can be concluded out from the findings to cater to consumers in their specific market.
ATSCI is concerned with normative influences that effect the persons perception in making a decision the study of" Normative Influences on Impulsive Buying Behavior" (Dennis W. Rook Robert J. Fisher, 1995) explains that normative views are accompanied by a view that spin around large impulsive spending that put forwards that consumer normative evaluations have the potential to manipulate their buying patterns. Consumers impulsive buying traits depends on their normative judgments. The study evaluated consumer's impulsive traits with consumer buying behavior, thirty five items measuring buyers impulsiveness were measured by looking at the literature of impulsive buying phenomenology (e,g, Rook 1987). The results explain the hypothesizes that consumers with higher normative values act absolutely well with the degree of impulsive buying traits they posses example even consumers with low cash reserves tend to buy products on impulsive due to their normative influences. The limitations to this study propose another study suggesting that even when an impulsive purchase is viewed as bad they are still likely to buy things on their impulsive traits due to their normative backgrounds.
The normative influences consists of social factors, when a person tries to copy someone's judgments worry about societal impressions as compared to informational influences they consist of gaining the knowledge through family friends and option leaders and then making a comprehensive decision to buy a product. The lifecycle stage of a person influences the buying decisions they make which in return reflect the informational influences as well, in "Family Members' Perceptions of Adolescents' Influence in Family Decision Making "(Ellen R. Foxman Patriyas. Tansuhaj Karin. Ekstrom, 1989) they demonstrate that the changes in demographics of a house hold structure have shifted towards children's impact on their parents decisions. There are limited studies that have dealt with the extent of influence children have on family. (Atkin 1978; Belch, Belch, and Ceresino 1985; Darley and Lim 1986; Moschis and Mitchell 1986; Roberts, Wortzel, and Berkeley 1981). Children from all ages were tested to see which age of adolescent effects the most in purchase decisions. They survey with different consumer related items that a family buys, expensive and complex items were chosen because almost most of them have been used in the previous husband and wife decision related studies. Influence on decision process related to five different areas ranging from price, taking part in shopping, suggesting super markets, suggesting different products and paying attention to new products being launched. Multi-trait/multi- method analysis (MTMM; Campbell and Fiske 1959) was use to find patterns of discrepancy among purchase decisions. The study showed the results that mother, father and children all had a significant role in the decision process; the study suggested that spouse's decisions were closely linked with each other as compared to their children. Two directions for further research concern the connection between supposed influence in purchase process and supposed influence for unambiguous products, as well as measurement of house hold decision making needs to be clear.
From house hold family decisions researchers have also introduced different theories related to consumer buying behaviors all these theories consist of different factors such as culture, social, personal and physiological. Social factors are considered one of the most important factors that influence consumer behavior. In a research paper, "Social Factors in Consumer Choice: Replication and Extension" (Gordon, 1975) the studies of Rich and Jain (1968) are challenged which concluded that life cycle stages and social class may not have a direct relation with consumer behavior as many studies point out. The paper uses empirical methods to stand against the general hypothesis; a sample was generated using the random walk sampling method, the main aim being replicating the methods of Rich and Jain but extending the product categories from fashion to food items and domestic appliances. With independent variables, social class and family life cycle, Rich and Jain used dependent variables like different interest in fashion, where do they get there shopping influences and interpersonal influences and the Newcastle study used pre-purchase information, the shopping trips people made and different patterns of interpersonal behavior. The country of origin also differed among the two experiments. Rich and Jain's first hypothesis was that there is no difference between different social classes in pre purchase decisions about domestic appliance, as if there was a difference. A very small quantity of the inferior and middle class used newspapers as source of information compared to the high proportion of the upper class. This dissimilarity may be because of the different products that were used in both researches. The second hypothesis stated that there is a difference between classes when it comes to shopping trips, which was refuted since percentages showed that there was a difference between lower and middle classes since trips of shopping were greater in number for the latter. The third hypothesis which was challenged by this replication of study was that there is no difference between women at different life cycle stage when it comes to shopping for groceries, which however is not true, since women over 40 tended to shop more than younger women, plus the presence of children also increased shopping trips for housewives. The fourth and last hypothesis stated that there is no difference in classes with respect to acquaintances on shopping habits. The study showed that lower class seemed to discuss their purchases with their husbands and other family members compared to middle class women who mainly shopped on their own. This paper thus concludes that there may be a lot of reasons that caused this diversity in results, like the area where the research was conducted, the definition of class and the products that were different from one another. Both researches thus had their limitations, its thus obvious that these researches cannot be generalized to all products and all kinds of consumers, however in their area of focus they may provide insight for firms dealing in that product and area.
"Social Class and Income as Indicators of Consumer Credit Behavior" (John, 1970) is another study which further tested social class as a main factor influencing consumer behavior in the credit card market compared to another important factor, income. The researcher said that the consumer would go for installments if they differ in different social classes. Although social class is considered as a very significant factor while segmenting consumers, and the hypothesis stated that being involved in a social class above their income standing would result in greater use of credit card. A questionnaire was sent out to 25000 credit card holders which used occupation and educational level as variables that comprise social class. The survey helped conclude that consumer's attitudes can be understood by income and social class. This study is limited to credit card users, however it helps identify income as another important factor which can be used to segment consumers and identify their differing buying habits. According to the communication note (Gordon, 1975) social class was the main reason why consumer buying habits changed, but in this paper, it is income which may be a reason why the use of credit cards differs. This study is again not all encompassing, as it cannot go on and explain the correlation of income and social class.
Social factors are important but they need to be persistent with the marketing and advertising so the marketers can gain some understanding of their target groups. In a study of "Coca-Cola or Pepsi; that is the Question" ( Andersson, and Arvidsson ,2006) the researcher have studied the influence of different cultural, social, personal influence, media variables on consumer buying behavior. With these factors they also studies the brand equity of Coco Cola and Pepsi with various factors such as brand strength, brand performance etc. They also looked at sponsored events with celebrity endorsement campaigns. They used the quantitative approach as their methodology by using questioners they gathered information specific to Coco Cola and Pepsi consumers, trying to know what drives people to have Coke or Pepsi. They divided there sample in three different age groups and saw the life cycle stage of every respondent. The conclusion they reached was that their analysis, that they have drawn shows the following conclusion that advertising, social factors, brand and age all affect consumer preferences to some extent. The limitations to this study were that the researcher had preconceived notion about Pepsi and Cokes advertisement however there research focused more on advertisement as compared to other cultural and social factors.
Reference groups and formal groups form part of the social factor that influences consumer buying behavior. "In Social Comparison and Informal Group Influence"(George, 1976), according to a theory of Festinger which states that individual have a habit of comparing themselves with others and see the consequence of their behaviors. With social comparison ones evaluation about themselves increases or decreases and due to this people give themselves internal rewards. A consumer can thus use two ways to approach his group, either through a reflected appraisal, or through a comparative appraisal. The study was carried out by sending out questionnaires to 408 females who used cosmetics. The hypothesis that were tested by this survey was that is a positive relationship between consumers communication with informal groups and a need to obtain information from them, secondly, there's a positive relationship with the credibility of the source and thirdly the greater the consumer is associated with the group the greater the influence on purchase decision. The information gathered supported all of the above hypothesis, thus the findings can be useful for marketers in the sense that if they want to penetrate a market, they need to find out if similar characteristics exist in it, since consumers then are significantly exaggerated by the behavior of their social group, or people they find are similar to them. However, this study cannot be used by the marketers who can't operate in such a market where no similarities among customers.
Social factors such as price, quality, product attributes and other factors influence a person's mind set for purchase decisions. "Explaining the Choice of Organic Produce: Cosmetic Defects, Prices, and Consumer" (Gary D. Thompson and Julia Kidwell, 1998) explains how consumer's decision differ in buying organic or normal quality products. The researcher used random utility and discrete choice models to see how consumers choose between organic verses a predictable product. Choice between the two items was measured on a scale of price, attributes of the product as well as a person's income, quality of the product and traits of random components,
Data was collected through observation of two utility stores in different areas the loyalty towards
a store was also looked upon. Information about the consumer's demographics and social economic status was also gathered. Researcher wanted to gather that does cosmetic defect in items, price or other factors motivated the consumer to buy organic or conventional items. Some significant results were deduced that age and gender has little significance, however house hold with more children bough organic food. Effects of education on organic food purchase were mixed, the store choice played an important factor in the decision process, nevertheless there were some restrictions to the learning there was geographical concerns, and further studies related to organic produce needs to conduct.
All these researches however focus on consumers as the target market, few pieces of literature are found on industry buyers as their area of focus. "A General Model for Understanding Organizational Buying Behavior" (Frederick, 1972) provides a general model to help understand organizational buying behavior. According to the paper, organization buying decision is a process which involves interacting with other people. The organization is thus affected by four main factors; individual, social, organizational, and environmental. Organizational buying decision is a process rather than a single act and is way more complex. This paper devolves a model called skeleton identifying the major variables that must be selected for planning strategies. The model however fails to point out which factor takes precedence over another, and thus it is obvious that organizational buying behavior is an area needs more detailed analysis, which can help firms point out the glitches in the general model and create a more comprehensive model for planners.
Many theories have been provided above with the researches point of views on how to interpret consumers buying behavior patterns, what consumers do when they purchase a product. More research needs to be carried out in Consumer Behavior physiology under separate variables to see which variables effects the most in consumer physiology. Different views and some consumer related models need to be test more to gain a deeper understanding of the consumers mind set. By focusing more on consumers reasons to purchase a product, marketers can gain a deeper understanding of the consumer, which will help them in capturing their target market. Judgment making needs to be simplified for marketers, which can only happen if adequate information is presented regarding consumer buying behavior.
(Eva-Lena Andersson ,Evelina Arvidsson ,Cecilie Lindström )Coca-Cola or Pepsi;
that is the Question - A study about different factors affecting consumer preferences
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