Studying consumer behavior allows today’s students and tomorrow’s professionals to identify consumers’ needs better, allowing them to become more consumer-oriented and more likely to succeed. This field also helps them ensure their employers’ survival, profitability, and growth in the current competitive marketing environment. It further advances their career as it makes them capable of predicting market trends, adapt to changes in the market, and create and retain consumers.
Realizing the importance of consumer behavior, your instructor may want you to delve head on in this subject. That is why they entrusted you with the task of coming up with a critical thinking essay related to this field. If you are having trouble coming up with a topic for your essay, especially if the deadline is too close for comfort, here are 13 facts that can help you grow more creative.
- Society and personal attitudes shape buying decisions. A person’s attitude and motives drive their consumption patterns. However, internal factors are not the only ones which determine consumption. There are external factors which come into play, including cultural backgrounds, family influences, advertisements, and the Internet. All these help shape people’s thoughts and actions.
- Understanding consumer behavior is important. Consumer behavior allows marketers to understand what drives their clients’ consumption behaviors. As a result, they can ensure better sales when their products are pushed to the market. Moreover, it gives marketers a competitive edge since their companies’ products meet consumers’ needs specifically. This, in turn, ensures their success. Finally, companies that effectively predict how consumers respond to their offerings can churn better products and guarantee high customer satisfaction.
- Motivation shapes consumer attitudes. Motivation is the main factor that drives the behavior of consumers. Every consumer has a set of goals or motives behind every buying decision. Some of these motives are physiological; for example, thirst drives a person to purchase a beverage. On the other hand, motives can be quite obscure. A good example in this regard is the motive to buy designer clothes to gain social status.
- The modern consumer is highly empowered. Social media has driven up the levels of digital interactivity. This exciting new technology has empowered consumers by giving them access to a wealth of information related to specific products or their categories. As a result, the role of a typical consumer has shifted from passive consumption to active information-generators. This has led to a major shift in the marketing and branding landscape. Companies need to learn how social media has changed the consumer if they want modern technology to become mutually beneficial.
- External factors affect consumer attitudes. Social factors (such as family relationships, cultural identity, geography, and other environmental aspects) play a major role in shaping consumer behavior. Marketers need to be aware of these factors and understand the extent of the influence. The main use of these categorizations, however, is market segmentation. Marketing decisions regarding product advertising, design and pricing can be customized according to the values, goals and needs of each group.
- The groups consumers are categorized into exert three types of influences. People belong to distinct groups. These groups exert different kinds of influences on an individual. From a sociological perspective, these influences fall into three major types:
- Comparative — how the individual’s self-identity is defined in context of the group identity
- Informational — where the group is considered as a source for expert opinion
- Normative — the guidelines set by the group to specify sanctioned and unsanctioned behavior amongst the individual members
All three types, along with product characteristics, tend to influence how a consumer will react to a product.
- Information consumption on UGC sites is higher than posting. User Generated Content (UGC) are active online forums where consumers can exchange information related to products. Research uncovered that these sites have a high discrepancy among information contributors and information consumers. On the other hand, the level of active participation is low on social media sites.
- Focus groups and interviews are very important. Marketers use a variety of tools to gather consumer opinions and thoughts, but two stand out prominently: in-depth interviews and focus groups. These serve as opportunities for consumers to express opinions and discuss their thoughts about products. Researchers moderating these interviews are trained to spot the motives and values which might point to how consumers behave. Techniques such as sentence completion tests and Thematic Appreciation Tests (TAT) are utilized to gain a deeper understanding of consumer psychology.
- Consumers are driven by the values they hold. Consumers are driven primarily by values. Their personal value system dictates which product they will buy. As a result, they will choose products that have attributes which they deem desirable, i.e. based on their values. Understanding this concept puts the marketer in a position where they can create highly effective promotional and advertising content.
- Brand re-positioning is a successful tactic. Brands keep themselves alive in consumers’ minds by using clever re-positioning tactics. As time passes, the brand’s image becomes a little diluted or faded. In order to make sure the consumer continues to associate the brand with favorable concepts, marketers rely on repositioning. This is accomplished by different marketing and advertising tools, all of which will help create positive links and discard negative links.
- The cultural aspect to consumer behavior has grown complex due to globalization. The cultural aspects of consumer behavior are becoming complex and multilayered due to globalization. Therefore, in the world of marketing, it has become important to understand and respect cultural differences. Marketing strategies can be standardized to an extent, but a cookie-cutter approach does not work. Distinctions across cultures and geographical regions are so vast that the strategies have to be localized in order to be effective.
- There are five stages in the consumer decision making cycle. A typical consumer goes through five different stages when making a purchase. The first stage involves identifying and recognizing a need. Next, the consumer moves on to the information gathering stage. This involves actively searching for a possible product that will meet the need recognized during stage one. The search process is internal (own knowledge) and external (family, friends, salespeople). This step also helps refine the criteria for selection. The criteria for comparison results in a set of rules which line up with the consumer’s need. The options are assessed in detail in the third stage of the process. The relative strengths and weaknesses of the alternatives are also evaluated and analyzed. The fourth step involves the actual purchase. After the purchase, the consumer is at the post-purchase stage. This is when the consumer judges how well the product meets their needs.
- The evoked list is an important element for understanding consumer behavior. Consumers evaluate a list of products when making a buying decision. This list is referred to as the evoked set and contains a small number of items. The criteria used by a typical consumer when weighing the pros and cons is mainly the psychological and functional benefits of the product. Companies need to understand exactly what these benefits are in order to build better products and marketing campaigns.
You can use these facts to come up with your own critical thinking essay. However, if you want a shortcut, check out our 20 topics on consumer behavior for a critical thinking essay. If you need help with writing this academic paper, refer to our guide on how to write a critical thinking essay on consumer behavior.
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Schiffman, L.G. (1993), Consumer Behavior, Prentice Hall International, London.
Shell, Ellen Ruppel, Cheap: The High Cost of Discount Culture , New York : Penguin Press, 2009. ISBN 978-1-59420-215-5
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Blackwell, Miniard and Engel (2006). Consumer Behaviour (10th Ed.). Thomson Learning.