Factors influencing buyer behavior

There are a number of factors or variables which affect the buying behavior. For example; people go on holiday during the vacation time so vacations become a variable. A person may visit an exclusive restaurant during ‘happy hours’, which he does not visit normally. In this case the marketing efforts of the organization (sales person and the scheme) become the factor influencing to buy. Similarly, there are other factors which affect the buying decision. These factors can be classified into four major categories, namely:

1. Situational factors
2. Buyer’s socio-cultural factors
3. Personal factors
4. Psychological factors.

These have been summarized below.

1. Situational Factors

The situational factors influencing the buying behavior are, the influence of time pressure in product and brand choice, the atmosphere of the retail outlet, occasion of purchase etc. For example, if you are traveling, then demand for lodging and boarding will obviously be there.

2. Socio Cultural Factors

Buyers or consumers do not take buying decision or the decision not to buy, in a vacuum. Rather, they are strongly influenced by Socio Cultural factors.

a) Cultural Factors: Children acquire from their environment a set of beliefs values, and customs which constitute culture. These beliefs, values and customs go deeper and deeper as a person grows. Therefore, it is sometimes said that culture is learnt as a part of social experience. The various sub-categories within a culture can be identified based on religion, age, gender, occupation, social class, geographical location etc. This classification is significantly relevant from the consumer behavior point of view.

b) Reference Groups: There are certain groups to which people look to guide their behavior. These reference groups may guide the choice of a product but may not be the brand. Peer groups and the peer pressure have generally been observed to play an important role in the purchase of credit cards, cell phones, etc. The knowledge of reference group behavior helps in not only offering substitutes but also in pricing and positioning them. It is important to note that there are ‘negative’ reference groups also and some persons don’t want to associate themselves with these groups. The negative reference groups guide the behavior in terms of “what not to do”.

c) Family: The family is another major influence on the consumer behavior. The family consumption behavior to a large extent depends on the family life cycle. The stages in family life cycle include bachelorhood, newly married, parenthood with growing or grown up children, post-parenthood and dissolution. Knowledge of these stages helps greatly in knowing the buying process. Often family members play a significant role in the purchase of a particular service, for example it’s the teenage children who influence the parents to decide on a destination and middle aged buy more of insurance services than the younger ones.

3. Psychological Factors

a) Perceptions: It is the process by which buyers select, organize and interpret information into a meaningful impression in their mind. Perception is also selective in which only a small part is perceived out of the total what is perceptible. Buyer’s perception of a particular product greatly influences the buying behavior. For example, if the buyer’s perception of a product is not positive it requires much harder efforts from the marketing or sales person to convince the buyer on the qualities of the product and thus suggesting him to purchase it.

b) Attitude: An attitude is a learned predisposition to respond in a consistently favorable or unfavorable manner with respect to a market offer (i.e. a brand, a particular shop or retail outlet, an advertisement, etc.). Attitude is a dispositional term indicating that attitudes manifest themselves in behavior only under certain conditions. Knowing a buyer’s attitude towards a product without knowing the personal goals is not likely to give a clear prediction of his behavior.

c) Motivation: Motivation is the driving force within individuals that compel them to action. This driving force is subconscious and the outcome of certain unfulfilled need. Needs are basically of two types. First, the ‘innate needs’ those needs an individual is born with and are mainly physiological. They include all the factors required to sustain physical life e.g., food, water, shelter, clothing, etc. Secondly, the ‘acquired needs’ those which a person acquires as he/she grows and these needs are mainly psychological, like love, fear, esteem, acceptance etc. For any given need, there could be a variety of goals.

4. Personal Factors

a) Personality: Personality can be described as the psychological characteristics that determine how an individual will react to his or her environment. There are a number of dimensions (personality traits) against which an appreciation of an individual’s personality can be developed. Each personality trait denotes two absolute points and a person’s personality characteristics can be identified somewhere between those two absolute points, indicating the proximity to either of the two. Some of the traits are as follows:

Let us examine how buyer behavior is affected by the personality of an individual and for this we take the example of extroversion. Extrovert is a person who is more sociable, likes meeting people, making more friends, prefers to move about, careful about his appearances and doesn’t like reading books or confining to the four walls of a room. On the other hand an Introvert is a person, who prefers to be left alone, would like to read books rather than making friends, shies away from social gatherings. There are a number of products which are preferred more by extroverts rather than introverts. Perhaps the products suggesting status are purchased more by the extroverts than the others.

b) Life Style: Lifestyle as distinct from social class or personality is nothing but a person’s pattern of living and is generally expressed in his/her activities, interests and opinions. Some of the dimensions of life style are as follows:

Life styles suggest differences in the way people opt to spend on different products differently. Life style variables (psychographics variables) help a firm to identify the ‘Inner consumer’ or the feelings of the consumer about their products which needs to be stressed in advertising campaigns.

c) Demographic Factors: Buyer’s demographic factors like age, gender, education, occupation, etc. also have influence on the purchase behavior. These factors are very much significant in the study of behavior of buyers. For example, fast food outlets are more patronized by the teenagers than the elderly persons- example of age as a factor; air travel is more used by the executives than the factory workers-examples of occupation as a factor.


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