WHAT DRIVES THE CONSUMER?
To understand consumer behavior, let’s begin with how it is defined. Consumer behavior entails all consumer activities associated with the purchase, use, and disposal of goods and services, including the consumer’s emotional, mental, and behavioral responses that precede, determine, or follow these activities. (Kardes et al., 2022). Consumers are divided into two groups: individual and organizational. Simply put, the individual consumer makes purchases to satisfy personal wants and needs as well as the wants and needs of other individuals. The organizational consumer purchases good and services for businesses. Examples of these types of purchases include intermediate goods and services that are needed to generate other goods for sale and profit.
WHAT TYPE OF CONSUMER AM I?
Overwhelmingly, my consumerism consists of individual purchases. While I do make some business purchases, they amount to a small percentage of my overall spending. Business purchases, for me, are far more rational and limited than personal expenditures. Rarely do I indulge in impulse buys for a business need. It’s fair to say that I make individual purchases for wants and needs, while I make organizational purchases for needs only.
WHAT INFLUENCES MY BUYING DECISIONS, AND HOW?
Many circumstances motivate my buying decisions, be it wants, needs, short and long-term constraints, or emotions entailing impulse control and boredom, for example. A short list of my buying influences include:
- Promotions, sales and discounts
- Personal budget constraints
- Utility maximization (achieving the highest amount of satisfaction while spending the least amount of Money (Sophia.org, 2022))
- State-of-mind (feeling down, impulsive, aspirational, seeking immediate gratification)
- Need vs want
Making decisions based on needs vs wants is, and always has been, the biggest internal struggle I face as a rational, individual consumer.
WHICH STAGE ACTUALLY LEADS TO MY PURCHASING DECISIONS?
There are two factors that most influence my purchasing decision. The first one is the desire for instant gratification and the second is the fear of missing out on the opportunity to purchase the item I covet. If I experience either of these feelings strongly, I pull the trigger on the purchase. In the case that I’m buying something for a need vs want, then my decision and purchasing process is rational, flowing along the traditional buyer’s journey.
WHEN MAKING A BUYING DECISION, HOW AM I INFLUENCED BY MARKETING RESEARCH AND MARKETING DESIGN?
Digital advertisements and sales promotions have a strong influence on what I buy. Market research is always present in my buyer’s journey. I can clearly identify when a brand I’ve viewed has included me in their retargeting campaigns and views me as a strong potential customer. It would be interesting to learn how much personal information they have gathered from my social scrolling. On one hand, I don’t appreciate the spying and collection of data, while on the other I don’t want to be receiving ads that have no relevance to me. The outcome is that I often shop as a result of marketing research and marketing design. This Labor Day weekend sales push has been successful in getting me to take out my credit card multiple times, all from the comfort of my home.
DO I EXPERIENCE ANY POST-PURCHASE BEHAVIOR?
The ideal outcome of consumerism is the simple joy and euphoria that comes from finding a good deal and experiencing the short and long-term value of the purchase. The best feelings come from buying for others and appreciating the genuine happiness that it brings to them. Post-purchase satisfaction brings me feelings of happiness and increases my likelihood of making repeat purchases. A positive experience grows my trust in the brand/ business and further develops my customer loyalty, which ultimately increases my customer lifetime value. I’m also more likely to recommend the product/service through word-of-mouth, influencing others.
On the flip side, there are other times when I experience negative post-purchase feelings. If I don’t enjoy a purchase/service, I’ll never patronize a business again. On other occasions, I’ll feel guilty for having spent money on frivolous, unnecessary purchases. The feelings of guilt may lead me to avoid repeating the customer experience in the future.
Overall, being a consumer offers lots of pleasure and value but can have its pitfalls. I recommend being thoughtful and self-aware when making decisions regarding purchases to ensure the optimal consumer experience. Examining why we buy, what we buy, and from where and from whom we purchase are important factors in our everyday decisions.
Eskra, Kate (2022). Unit 1 –Microeconomics. Decision Making Relationships: Rational Consumer. Sophia.org https://snhu.sophia.org/spcc/microeconomics-2-challenge-1-1/2/8256/decision-making-relationships-rational-consumer-2
Kardes, F., Cronley, M., & Cline, T. (2020). Consumer Behavior (2nd Edition). Cengage Learning US. https://mbsdirect.vitalsource.com/books/9781305161689