The study of consumer behavior has become a very important topic in the discipline of marketing. The stress is understandable, given that the existence of any business is dependent on the patronage from the consumers. It is necessary to mention here that there are two types of consumers- ultimate and industrial.
The ultimate consumers buy goods and services for personal consumption, while the industrial consumers (users) buy goods and services for manufacturing or other productive purposes. This article will discuss the ultimate consumers.
Generally, the motivation behind purchases by these consumers (ultimate and industrial) are different. Basically, ultimate consumers buy products ignorer to derive benefits and satisfaction, while the industrial users buy products inorder to make profits.
What we buy as individual consumers are often conditioned by our culture, social class, lifestyle, and other environmental variables. When an individual buys certain goods or services, he expects to achieve personal satisfaction (ideal self image) as well as to project the self image he expects others to accept and follow. The implication here is that some individuals are influenced by their peer groups, societal expectations, and the social class in which they belong.
These influences may be positive or negative depending on the outcomes for the consumer. It is therefore necessary for the consumers to be educated on how to go about buying their goods and services.
As noted by Rewoldt et. al (1977:126)
…consumer buyer behavior is essentially a decision-making process although it will be recognized that experience leads consumers to make many purchases by habits, as means of conserving time and energy.
The marketing practitioner is interested in knowing why some consumers buy a particular brand, why others do not, and how non-users could be persuaded to become users. Inorder to understand the consumer, it is necessary to examine the following equation:
B = f (P, E)
B = Purchase Behavior
P = Personality (personal makeup)
E = Environmental Situation
The interpretation is that Behavior (B) is a function (F) of Personality (P) and Environmental Situation (E). The implication of this equation is that the brand of product any consumer buys eventually in the market will be influenced by his perception, social class, expectation, values, attitudes, learning, motivation, etc, as well as the available substitute brands in the market. The availability of substitutes affects our value judgements about a product. If Guinness malt and Hi-malt are placed side-by-side, consumers are likely to select Guinness malt first. The choice may be based on price differential, taste, labelling, or company image.
View And Definitions On Consumer Behavior
Some people noted that “consumer constitutes the unit of analysis in marketing”. They stressed that the reason is obvious and centers on the fact that the firms depend on consumers for the sale of goods and services.
The central theme of our discussion is focused on consumer behavior, and different authors and authorities have defined consumer behavior in different ways according to their understanding. A few of such concepts will be described here.
Boone and Kurtz (1980:105) define consumer behavior as “the acts of individuals in obtaining and using goods and services including the decision process that precede and determine these acts”. They borrowed extensively from Engel et. al (1966:5). They defined consumer behavior as the “acts of individuals in obtaining and using economic goods and services including the decision process that precede and determine these acts”.
Pride and Ferrel (1985:72) define Consumer Behavior as “the buying behavior of ultimate consumers; those persons who purchase products for personal or household use, and not for business”.
Busch and Houston (1985:40) define human behavior as “the set of endeavors in which individuals engage to further their physical, social, and economic status in life in line with their individual values”.
McNeal (1965:210) defines it as “the process whereby individuals decide whether, what, when, where, how, and from whom to purchase goods and services”.
Adrika et. Al (1997:199) describe it as “how buyers scheme in the purchase of goods and services either as consumers or producers”.
Consumer behavior are those problem-solving activities undertaken by a consumer with a view to reducing purchase-related risks, while enhancing satisfaction by buying the right goods and services.
In our next article, we will critically examine buying situations as it relates to consumer behaviour.