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A famous quote says: "we surround ourselves with valued material possessions as a matter of our lives taking course. A sense of linkage to the concrete and observable world external to ourselves permits us to obtain a sense of stability and continuity in an otherwise less stable existence." It reveals consumer's mind when they make decision towards what they want to buy and possess. The attachment of material possession is the original pulse to cause people to make the purchase behavior. By possessing valued materials, people feel they are connected to the world external to themselves. Possession of materials gives people a sense of stability and continuity. People often judge or are judged by what they have in their lives. Material possession helps people to obtain a sense of satisfaction and happiness from what they possess. Material objects do not only help people to establish self or not self boundaries, but also help to create a sense of control over the environment around us. Any purchase or buying will be affected by consumer behavior; therefore, consumer behavior is a very important science for marketing research. This essay will surround the above quote to discuss and analyze consumer behavior which decides the process of their purchase and buying decision making.
Explanation of the quote
This quote is often used by scholars to discuss the underneath implication lying in the sentence in terms of consumer behavior. It implies that people can feel their existence in the world mainly by possessing valued material things. If they do not possess material things, they hardly feel the sense of stability and continuity in the world external to themselves. Material things mainly refer to the tangible products or commodities. In our life course, we are surrounded with various material things or goods with certain value. And the possession of material things is a natural phenomenon for people. For instance, a child will repeatedly ask his parents to buy the toy he likes and he does not satisfy for just seeing or touching it in the supermarket. This is the desire of possession. Meanwhile, as we grow up at different age, the sense of material possessions also grows and we feel the material possessions become a part of our lives. Material possessions let us feel stability, continuity and existence. Through material possessions, we connect and link our lives. The things we buy and own reflect our personal needs and wants. It is common that we continuously change to set our material goals through the course of our lives. For example, young generation professional will set the material goal to possess a less expensive 3 series BMW, however, a older generation professional will move up to more expensive 5 series. Thus, through the material things we possess, it reflects what person we are inside and how we are conceived by other people. Through material possession, we self value our lives.
Consumer behavior is often the object to research by the marketers and it is widely applied in the marketing strategy. Consumer behavior is usually associated with marketing strategy. It will be greatly helpful for company to study the consumer behavior with respect to increase the sales of the products. Consumer behavior is a very complicated discipline and it involves in many aspects. Consumer behavior, also known as customer behavior, refers to the decision making process conducted by the consumer in terms of when, where, how, why they purchase or not purchase a product. It involves in several science aspects including psychology, economics, and sociology (Michon & Chebat, 2008). Consumer behavior is very complex and is affected by both internal and external factors. Internal influences include personality, motivation, attitudes, and beliefs and so on. External influences contain culture, social class, family needs etc. The mixture of these factors contributes to a buying act. However, the decision making process toward a purchase behavior is not only stable against these influences. For instance, once I walked in a shoes store, I saw a black pair of shoes very match with my plan in terms of the money I planned to expend. But right at the moment I was going to pay for the black shoes, I was instantly attracted to another green pair of shoes with very unique style and comfortable. Then I ended up with buying the green ones rather than the black shoes which I had originally set out for. Therefore, consumer behavior is a changing decision making process. You may often change your targeted object to purchase due to various factors.
Analysis the relationship between consumer behavior and the quote
The quote mainly strengthens individual's attachment to material possessions and it reflects people's psychological aspects in the process of making purchase decision. Psychological factors in consumer behavior are very important components to constitute the buying act to a certain item. In psychology, it includes motivation, perception, learning, beliefs and attitudes. From analysis of the quote, it is not hard to conclude that the quote reveals individual's beliefs and attitudes towards material possessions. The quote can be construed in a way that an individual's material possessions represent an extension of the self into the external material world. That individuals feel more or less connected and linked to the external world is dependent on more or less material items they possess. Therefore, it is obvious that there is a kind of attachment or attitudes/beliefs to material items in individual's mind.
Attitude and beliefs in consumer behavior are very important and also the most difficult parts for the marketers to change. Consumer attitude is formed in a long term by perceptions and values. When approaching a certain product, consumers perceive it in the first place, and then they will pay attention to values and beliefs about the product, and make decision whether or not to purchase the product at last. Attitude in consumer behavior is a lasting general evaluation of an item; it greatly affects consumer's purchase making decision (Martin & Morich, 2011). Generally speaking, once the consumer forms a positive attitude towards a certain product or brand, he/she will be more likely to become loyal to the product/brand. In addition, attitude is formed in the course of life and people in different situation will have different attitude about things. For some people, material possessions may be not strong. They may not feel to possess valued material items represents their social class or others. Therefore, we often encounter some rich people who are not care about the brands what they are wearing. Meanwhile, some people are very care of possessing material things to reflect their inner side to other people. In addition, attitude towards material items is changing along with individual's age. For example, people will set their material goals as to buy a 100 M2 apartment at their 30's whereas they may set material goals to live in a 200 M2 or a villa. For marketers, they have study consumer attitude and analyze the factors which influence the building of consumer attitude, then generate a positive emotion towards their products.
Beliefs in consumer behavior study refer to the specific beliefs about the specific products in the marketplace. Consumer belief is constituted by knowledge and emotions. Beliefs influence customers whether to purchase the product or not greatly. If a customer has negative or prejudiced beliefs about the product or brand, he/she will be less likely to make the purchase decision and vice versa. Therefore, marketers should try to focus on changing the negative or prejudiced beliefs constructed by consumers about their products. Consumer beliefs are those psychological associations to the product or brand or to its features and attributes. Stronger association results in stronger customer's beliefs to the product (Harris, 2010).
From the quote, it can also be derived that psychological attachment plays very important role in consumer behavior. Individual's attachment to possess objects helps the decision making process to purchase the objects. Material possessions remind us of the past we had, the current we have. Attachment means the feelings towards material object possession which links an individual to the particular objects external themselves. Material possession attachment has its strength, and the attachment to a certain object could be relatively strong or weak. We consecutively take material possessions as the symbols in the self-development process in our life to demonstrate the identity in the world as to connect with others. Material possession attachment is a multi-faceted property of the relationship between a specific individual or group of individuals and a specific, material object that an individual has psychologically appropriated, decommodified, and singularized through person-object interaction (Ferraro, Escalas & Bettman, 2010).
Material possessions surround us in our life long. We can not live without material possessions. We possess material objects sometimes for necessities, sometimes for luxuries. Consumer behavior researchers were trying hard to understand how material possessions establish, maintain or even change our lives. We usually use material possessions to describe our life stories and to record our past memories, current experiences, and even future goals. Such material possessions are applied to construct and maintain a sense of personal identity and to demonstrate who we are in the world (Ledgerwood, Liviatan & Carnevale, 2007). The reasons why people construct and maintain personal identity through material possessions involve in two psychological concepts: extended self and material possession attachment.
The concept of extended self has been identified by Belk to interpret how individual integrate material possessions into their self definitions. People invest in material possessions to define themselves, thus the objects possessed by people are the extended self to construct and reflect people's identities. Therefore, material possession is a significant part of an individual's extended self. By possessing material objects (or extended self possessions), it can provide people with the tangible picture of their identities (Belk, 1988). In this way, people maintain their biographical records which permit us to obtain a sense of permanence and continuity in an otherwise less stable existence.
The basic definition of material possession attachment has been discussed in the previous paragraph. In this part, it will mainly analyze how material possession attachment is formed and what significance to study it will contribute to the consumer behavior. It is easy to understand everyone has at least one material possession attachment to a certain item which is special, favorite or precious for him/her. For example, some people may have great possession attachment to her favorite brand such as Dior and whenever there is new style, she will try her best to get and possess it. This could be called the material possession attachment. Material possession attachment is a complex which is formed due to various reasons such as past good memories, personal likings and it appears to be different according to age, life stage and gender differences (Earl, 2002). The study of material possession attachment is very useful for market researchers to analyze the consumer behavior. Generally once an individual has formed the attachment to a specific product or brand, he/she will be far more likely to make the purchase behavior.
In conclusion, consumer behavior is a complicated process involving in many aspects such as social, psychological aspects. It is a very important field to be studied in the marketing strategy since with better understanding of consumer behavior; marketers can target the consumer more easily and change their strategies to retain customers. In this essay, based on the famous note, the psychological aspects in consumer behavior have been analyzed. The quote reveals significance of people's attitude and beliefs towards material possessions. In addition, it is explained that material possession to represent the tangible personal identity and act as the extended self. Meanwhile, it also strengthens the material possession attachment as the original motivation for making the purchase decision. The quote implies the meaning of material possession to vast majority people. Material possession is directly related to buying behavior; therefore, it is very useful for consumer researchers to understand how these factors can influence consumer purchase decision making process.