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Buying Behavior

Table of Contents

Introduction 3

Case overview 3

External factors 4

Culture 4

Subculture 4

Social class 4

Group influence 5

Internal factors 6

Motivation 6

Perception 6

Learning 7

Personality and attitude 7

Conclusion 8

References 9


All consumers are involved in decision making irrespective of their age, religion or nationality. The study of the process of decision making is known as the consumer’s behavior (Kotler, 2009). The analysis of the consumer decision making looks at the steps the consumers follows in making their decisions and the type of the decision that they make. In order to make a purchase, the consumer has to go through five distinct steps .The steps are recognizing the need, looking for information, looking at alternatives and lastly the post purchase behavior (Lamb, Hair & McDaniel, 2004). The process of decision making is affected by both internal and external factors. Internal factors include; perception, learning, motivation, personality & attitude while the external factors are; group influence, family, culture, subculture and social class. This report will look at the consumer decision making process with respect to both internal and external factors. This will be done through analysis of a real life example of a decision to purchase a luxury car by my friend.

Case overview

During the past month, a close friend made a decision to purchase a luxury car. This was expenditure worth a lot of cash and he had to take time before coming to a final decision of making a purchase. I involved him in doing my research on consumer buying behavior and got firsthand information on internal and external factors affecting the purchase decision.

External factors


Culture refers to the things that are leaned and shared with other members of the society. These include the norms, values, skills, morals and behavior. The most important aspect of culture in consumer decision making is value (Hofstede, 2001). This is due to fact that values have a great effect on the way people behave. Some of the vales that affect the consumer purchases are happiness and security. According to my friend, the purchase of the car was affected by the fact that he wanted to be happy. The decision to purchase the vehicle was influenced by cultural value of happiness.


Not everyone in a certain culture behaves in a certain way. A culture is composed of subcultures with different characteristics. The subcultures are defined on the basis of ethic, geographic, religion, age and sex among others. The subculture shares the elements of the entire culture but they have their own unique cultural elements (Hofstede, 2001). To make a purchase of a luxury car, a subculture such as age plays a vital part. Young people will be more interested in making a purchase for a certain type of luxury car based on the design and the generation preference.

Social class

Social class plays a role in making a purchase decision. This is a group of individuals who share the same status, behaviors, income or same level of wealth. Social class can be segmented into affluent and non-affluent. My friend can be classified as affluent. This is a social class which has higher income and wealth. The decision made by this group is not price sensitive. The purchases that the affluent make are supposed to reflect their position in the society. Being affluent, one is able to make a purchase of a luxury car as a status symbol. The main aspects that the affluent looks in this type of purchase are quality and leisure. For the non affluent, making such a purchase is hard due to cost involved and would be more likely to go for a cheaper alternative.

Group influence

This refers to the influence that the group one associates with has in decision making. The reference group has the capability to affect the process of the consumer decision making in three ways. The influence from the group occurs during: information search, attitude on the purchase and product usage (Sheth & Mittal, 2004). The reference group is made of four segments. The segments are; primary, secondary, aspiration and dissociative groups. For the affluent, all the groups have an effect on making the final decision. The primary group is made of those people whom are interacted with regularly. Friends are in this category. My friend purchase was affected by the influence from his close friends. The lifestyle of his friends played a vital part in making the final decision (Hawkins, Best & Coney, 2001). The other group is the aspiration group. This involves people whom we admire and emulate. The decision to purchase was affected by emulating the expensive lifestyle of his peers.


Family members play varied roles in the process of making a decision. There are those who gather information, influence, make a decision and buy. In purchasing the luxury car, involving the family members in decision making led to coming up with the best type and the location to buy. Family also affects individual culture and ambitions. This is during upbringing and the values that one adopts from the family (Culiberg, 2009). The influence of the family can be felt even when one is not in contact with them.

Internal factors


According to Kotler (2009), motivation is defined as the energizing force that activates the behavior. Motivation can be best explained using the Maslow hierarchy of needs theory. This is a theory that people are driven by different needs at a time. The needs are arranged according to hierarchy from most to least pressing. People starts by satisfying their basic needs first in the first level. The second level is the safety needs. After satisfying the basic needs, people strive for stability and freedom from any fear. The third level involves the social needs (Peter & Olson, 2005). These are friendship and a sense of belonging. After attaining this, individuals strive for superiority and recognition in the fourth level. The highest level involves self actualization. The decision to purchase a luxury car by my friend was as a means of self actualization. Based on the analysis of his social status, he has attained recognition in the society and has a sense of belonging. Spending a huge amount of money on leisure can only be associated with self actualization.


This is the personal view on a situation. The way someone sees a situation is different from others irrespective of social class or culture. The reason why people perceive situations differently can be explained in three different processes. The processes are; selective attention, selective distortion and selective retention. In selective attention, people tend to choose some information and disregard other when faced with a lot of information. This can be explained by a situation where a consumer is exposed to a lot of advertisement. They can only retain a few of the information. Selective distortion involves a situation where someone interprets information based on preconceptions. This involves distorting the information to suit the user beliefs. Selective retention occurs due to fact that people can only remember small information on what they are exposed to (Loudon & Bitta, 2002). From analyzing the situation in which the luxury car was bought, my friend used selective distortions. This is due to fact that he had preconceptions on the best brand to buy. According to him, he had a bias toward Ferrari.


This is induction of change to consumer behavior that comes from experience. According to Loudon & Bitta (2002), human behavior is gained from learning. Learning occurs through drive, stimuli, cues, response and lastly reinforcement. Drive is the strong internal force which leads to the action of buying. Cues involve advertisements, response is an effort to buy and reinforcement occurs after the product has been bought and the consumer is satisfied after using (Leon & Leslie, 2004). For my friend to make a purchase, he had an inner force that that made him make an effort to buy.

Personality and attitude

Personality is a set of personal characteristic that are unique with them. Brand personality is the personal traits that are associated with brand. Personality is determined by the social and environment of the concerned person. Attitude refers to the personal orientation towards a product. Attitude can be favorable or unfavorable. According to Icek (2005), Attitude is divided into three main components. The components are cognitive, affective and behavioral. Cognitive parts refer to personal beliefs and knowledge they have about an object. Cognitive refers to the feeling about an object while behavioral refers to action or tendency directed to the product or activity. The personality and attitude of the consumer plays an important part in decision making. A consumer may have an unfavorable attitude toward a product if they cannot remember its experience (Icek, 2005). Social influences can change an attitude that one holds towards a certain product. The decision to buy the luxury car was determined by personality and attitude in some ways (Solomon, 2002).This is due to fact that there was bias to certain types of brand due to attitude. For example, the consumer bought a Ferrari due to thae belief that it’s of high quality than other brands. This is the cognitive part about attitude.


For a consumer to come up with the purchase decision, they must go through the decision making process. The process has both internal and external influences which play part on the type of decision that is made. According to the real life example that I have given, the consumer purchased a luxury vehicle at a very high costs. To come to the final decision, he had to pass through a process with each type of influence shaping decision. The Internal factors include; perception, learning, motivation, personality & attitude while the external factors are; group influence, family, culture, subculture and social class.


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