Consumer Behavior Essay Example

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8Consumer Behavior

Consumer Behavior

Question 1: Personality Theories

Personality is defined as the enduring characteristics of a person that differentiate him or her from other people and leads them to act in a predictable manner. Consumer behavior is the study of individuals, groups or companies and the process they use to select or dispose services. Different theories have been developed to explain personality. These theories include; the Freudian personality theory which suggests that there are unconscious needs in every humans heart that are his or her motivation to do various things. The neo- Freudian personality theory explains that social relationships are key to the formation of personalities. The trait theory which has been greatly expounded to explain consumer behavior best, states that personality is made from a set of psychological traits. It takes the ideographic view which explains that each person is very unique and you therefore cannot compare one person to another. The nomothetic view on the other hand emphasizes comparability among people suggesting that the different traits have the same psychological meaning in people.

These theories have been very useful to understand consumer behavior. Marketers mainly use the trait theory to understand consumer behavior in different aspects; consumer innovativeness which is the extent to which an individual wants to try new things. Extroverts tend to be more innovative. Materialism which is the importance an individual attaches to owing an item. Self-consciousness which checks how much an individual monitors their image in the public. Cognition which explains that some people are very detailed in seeking information about a product before its purchase and frugality where frugal people do not just purchase items they choose resourcefully use what they own. These aspects help understand why individuals behave the way they do in terms of purchasing of items. This also helps understand the target consumers and meet their specific needs.

(301 Words)

Question 2: Theories of Learning

Behaviorism is a learning theory that focuses on objectively observable behaviors. Behavioral theorists define learning as acquisition of new behavior based on environmental conditions. Experiments conducted have shown that behavior is acquired through conditioning. Conditioning can be classified into two, classical conditioning where response to stimulus is through a natural reflux. This response to a specific stimulus over time forms a behavior. The other type of conditioning is classical conditioning where a response to stimulus is reinforced. When this is done severally, it becomes predictable and that is termed as a behavior. The theory has its benefits in that it is easy to understand since it uses observable features, describes several universal laws of behavior, it is used to treat human disorders and punish or reward behavior. It however has its shortcomings where it does not account for all types of learning since it does not consider the activities of the mind, does not explain some learning for which there is no reinforcement mechanism.

Constructivism learning theory puts the learners at the center of the learning process and suggests that students build knowledge based upon prior knowledge. It states that there is no knowledge that is independent of the owner and the only knowledge they can create for themselves is based on the information they obtain from the world around them. The theory teaches students rather than having finite answers to problems, they should create the answer as they see it. This theory has various advantages such as it emphasizes on sensory input which makes the students more active learners. This method of teaching and learning has been used in the special unit for some time now. The theory however has some shortcomings which are its lacks structure which some students highly require for them to excel, it may cause students to be frustrated as they may lack the ability to relate the knowledge they have and what they are acquiring for themselves.

(323 words)

Question 3: Groups and Peoples Purchasing

A group can be defined as a standard of reference against which one is compared. A reference group represents those whose perspective we consider. These groups influence people a lot in their buying decisions as they set the standard for lifestyle, purchasing patterns and other related aspects. There are various types of groups and they influence an individual’s buying behavior in different ways. They include; primary groups which represents the people we meet with every day and are very close to us. They have a great impact in our lives and our buying decisions since they are very significant to us. They make one comfortable and give a feeling of togetherness when confused about a purchase decision. They give an honest opinion and also give positive critique and the customer ends up very confident and satisfied with the purchase decision they make.

Secondary groups are a bit more formal and they do not have so much influence on peoples purchase behavior. They include people such as colleagues, seniors at work and acquaintances at a club. This group of people does not influence an individual’s purchase decision since they do not openly talk about their opinions in matters.

Aspirational groups which refer to a certain category of people with whom an individual would like to compare themselves. They may be the icons of a certain industry. An individual may have not reached to their level but may tend to behave like them, dress like them and do things their way. This influences their purchase behavior a lot as they tend to purchase items that look like what their icons use.

Dissociative groups which refer to the people who an individual would not want to be since they consider them to be of a different status and just hate being associated with them. This will also influence an individual’s purchase behavior in that they would not purchase anything associated with this particular group.

(321 words)

Question 4: Understanding Culture and its Impact on Purchase Decision

Culture can simply be defined as the values, customs, beliefs that make one behave the way they do. Different groups of people have different cultures and this explains the difference that people exhibit. It would be expected that everybody would be dressing the same, eat the same food, use the same products but this cannot be the same due to the different cultures. Culture has different elements which include values and beliefs which may be defined as a mental imagery which results to a specific attitude or perception towards a certain product or service. This attitude is what a consumer uses to compare brands of a product as they make their purchase considerations. Traditions are also a key element in culture refers to the non-verbal behavior of individuals. They are also practices which have been done over a period of time by a society that it becomes a norm for them and also become a standard of doing things. During weddings, for example, it is a tradition in many cultures that the bride is in a white gown.

Consumer behavior is dependent on cultural factors which are comprised of operating procedures, unstated assumptions, tools and norms. The different standards of perceiving, believing, evaluating and communicating are also key as they will act as the basis of a consumer making their purchase decisions.

Culture provides a guide for a society. How to do things, what to do, when to do it, what to use, what not to use. These will greatly have an impact on a person’s purchase decisions. A certain culture beliefs four is not a good number and will therefore not purchase items packed in fours, only five or above. Another culture may believe a certain country is better than another and given products from the two countries, they will opt for those of the preferred country. Others may view different dress codes more appropriate than another and the members of the society tend to stick to that. An example is the sarees for the Indian ladies. They tend to be specific to that dress code regardless of what else is in the market that may suit them.

Different traditions also greatly affect purchase decisions. There is a culture in which men tend to use more make up than ladies and this is what will be portrayed in their buying behavior. Other cultures have traditions that have a clear distinction on what is affiliated to men and what is for ladies. With such a culture, even if it is not necessarily true, a lady cannot buy a product that is affiliated to a man. A culture where dressing is very specific and ladies are not allowed to wear trousers, regardless where the lady goes to or the occasion, she cannot wear a trouser since it will be considered a taboo.

Knowledge about culture is very important since there nations such as Australia which are multi-cultural as a result of immigration of people from all over the world. This leads to interaction of different cultures in the reference groups. This may result in conflicting information about a product due to the different perceptions and preferences from culture which will affect purchase and consumption behavior. Marketers need to be very alert on this issue to give detailed information to their target consumers about their products.

(554 words)

Question 5: Freudian and Neo-Freudian Personality Theories

Freudian theory of personality suggests that the adult personality is a composite of early childhood experiences, based on how these experiences are processed consciously or unconsciously through the human developmental stages. Development of a human being occurs in different stages between 0-12 years of age. These stages are the oral, anal, phallic, latency and genital stages. It is during these stages that the experiences are processed through the three levels of the human mind. It is from these structures and conflicts that arise in the minds that personality is shaped. Every experience is handled in three levels of the human mind.

The id which operates at a very unconscious level. It is a mode of thinking which seeks to get satisfaction at an instant and avoid pain. It occurs mainly for biological basics such as the need for food. The Super ego which is the moral part of personality. It is divided into two parts, the conscience which shows the right and wrong and the ego ideal which gives the exact of what we would like to be. The super ego controls us from satisfying instantaneous wants. The third level is the ego acts as an intermediate of the id and super ego since it contains a faculty of perception which helps deal with things in the reality.

This theory has been useful in understanding consumer behavior where an individual may purchase an item depending on the level of the brain it is going to be processed in. if it is food for example, a hungry person will purchase without second thought. Other items depending on how much important they are, one may take time to think before making a purchase order based on the ego and super ego levels of processing.

Neo- Freudian psychologists agreed with Freud that childhood experiences matter but also emphasized that the social environment is necessary for personality development. Alfred Alder focuses on the theme of inferiority complex where he says every human is driven to act in a way that will compensate for their feelings of inferiority. He also points out the importance of social connections and came up with three social tasks that every person must experience. These are; occupational tasks, societal tasks and love tasks.

Erick Erikson suggests that the development of an individual’s personality depends on a series of social relationships they have through their life span. He emphasized that social relationships are important for every stage of personality development. He came up with eight stages in which a healthy personality is achieved on completion of the eight stages. Karen Horney focused on unconscious anxiety which she believed stemmed from unmet childhood needs, loneliness or isolation.

These theories will help understand an individual’s purchasing behavior in that it may be influenced by a social relationship they are having currently or they had in the past. It may also be to counter feelings of inferiority which they may be having. A lady for example who buys exaggerated types of make-up may be trying to cope with feelings of low self- esteem and inferiority. One may also purchase an item, not because they really need it in their current stage in life but because there is a childhood gap which they are seeking to fill so that they are able to fit in. Due to the social relationships and influences, individuals may buy items just to fit in the social lifestyle.

(568 words)