Understanding Consumer Behavior

Consumer behavior
Understanding Consumer Behavior

Understanding Consumer Behavior

Consumer behavior can best be understood by recognizing that each individual has unique tastes and preferences. In marketing, consumer behavior plays an imperative role in designing marketing strategies, through an understanding of consumer psychology, consumer decision making process, implications of consumer knowledge on decision making, and motivation associated with the purchase of different products (Johnson et al, 2014). This way, marketers can effectively improve their marketing strategies and campaigns to ensure that they appeal to the customer.

In making a decision, customers go through a process that involves need recognition, information search, evaluation of alternatives, purchase and post-purchase evaluation. To influence demand for its products or services, a company must ensure that it maintains quality to meet customer needs and provides adequate information about its products and services.

A useful strategy in understanding consumer behavior is to remain in the limelight so that when customers are in the process of decision making, the company’s product or service comes to mind. Through advertising, marketers can promote brand awareness, reinforce attitude on brands and influence external searches. A company that has successfully achieved this is Proctor & Gamble, which is considered the world’s largest advertiser. Its constant advertisements on television, online, social media and printed media has ensured revenue growth to a great extent.

The #LikeAGirl Always sanitary pads advertisement for example has over 64 million views. The Smell Like a Man, Man advertisement featuring Old Spice products also became widely famous as well as ‘Best Job’ that sought to recognize the importance of mothers. These advertisements by Proctor and Gamble could have easily influenced decision making among customers.

To take advantage of the customer decision making process, companies must design marketing strategies that capture the attention of consumers and thus invoke interest in the program ((Johnson et al, 2014). Coca Cola remains one of the products that has managed to consistently capture the attention of customers. Most of Coca Cola advertisements are a call to action and this plays a major role in influencing decision making. In the advertisement catch phrases ‘Taste the Feeling’, ‘Share a Coke with a Friend’, ‘Obey your Thirst’, all these are aimed at encouraging customers to buy Coca Cola beverages.

Organizations in designing their marketing strategies must establish which of the three types of decision making the consumer is likely to make. Cognitive decision making is a deliberate, sequential and rational process and the effort put towards decision making depends on the degree of involvement. To enhance decision making, companies should design and advertise their products in such a way that it catches the attention of the customer.

In purchasing a car for example, the process of decision making is cognitive and this explains why brands such as Mercedes, Volkswagen, Nissan and Toyota ensure high quality and performance of their cars, given that the customer is likely to check specs and the experience of other users before purchasing. This differs from habitual decision making where the process is mostly unconscious, behavioral and automatic and hence lack evaluation or information search (Ciravegna, Fitzgerald & Kundu, 2013).

Examples include everyday use products such as toiletries and food supplies. While companies may not spend much on advertising for such products, there is need to ensure customer satisfaction because it determines customer retention capability.

Marketing – STP

Customer needs are unique to each individual and no particular product can satisfy everyone, hence the growing importance of segmentation, targeting and positioning (Ciravegna, Fitzgerald & Kundu, 2013). Large conglomerates such as Coca Cola, Walmart, Dell Inc., Apple Inc., Amazon, L’Oreal, H & M, Louis Vuitton, Rolex and Rolls-Royce among others attribute their success to effective market segmentation.

This means that in order for organizations to effectively meet customer needs, they must tailor their products and services to meet different groups of customers. This is known as segmentation and is defined as the process through which a company identifies individuals and organizations whose characteristics are similar; in order to base their marketing strategy on such information.

Segmentation is an important aspect of marketing because it ensures effective identification of target markets, development of marketing mix to suit market characteristics, identification of differentiated marketing strategies and an opportunity to take advantage of marketing opportunities (Kotler & Armstrong, 2015). Rolls Royce, Rolex and Louis Vuitton for example target high end customers who are lovers of luxurious products and are willing to pay high prices in order to gain prestige.

Accordingly, such companies must ensure that their products are expensive when analyzing consumer behavior and that not everyone can afford them. Failure to do so would lead to loss of customers because it is no longer prestigious to own their brands. This means that customer segmentation has helped them in designing a marketing strategy and a marketing mix that works for its customers.

Identifying customer segments may be based on various approaches including geographical segmentation, demographic segmentation, behavioural segmentation and psychographic segmentation. Subway and McDonalds target families, thus indicating demographic segmentation; Target aims at reaching people in urban areas, thus demographic segmentation; Nike targets sports personalities which represents interests and is therefore psychographic segmentation; Mercedes targets brand loyalty and is thus behavioural segmentation.

Customized marketing is growing in popularity and locomotive companies, airplane manufacturing companies and design companies have taken a lead. Customized marketing is used in markets where individual customers have sufficient purchasing power to warrant the design of a unique marketing mix for each (Kotler & Armstrong, 2015).

Ferrari for example specializes in the development of tailor-made cars to provide their clients with unique cars that match their personality. ‘Build your own Ferrari’ is a mantra of Ferrari’s Personalization Programme, which seeks to give a personal touch to all customers (Ferrari, 2017). To achieve this, customers can choose their own fabric, colors, wood, leathers and finishes to suit their individual tastes and desires.


Ferrari 2017, Ferrari’s personalization programme, Retrieved from 


Ciravegna, L, Fitzgerald, R & Kundu, SK 2013, Operating in Emerging Markets. A

Guide to Management and Strategy in the New International Economy, Pearson, FT Press.

Johnson et al 2014, Exploring Strategy: text and cases, 10th edn, London, Pearson.

Kotler, P, & Armstrong, G 2015, Principles of Marketing, Harlow, UK, Pearson Education.

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