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Consumer Buying Behavior by Type

written by: Sylvia Cochran•edited by: Marjory Pilley•updated: 6/20/2011

Which type of buying decision behavior should the entrepreneur court? What makes consumers impulsively grab for one product cannot be easily duplicated with a completely different good or service. Know how to identify your customers’ decision making processes.

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    What is a buying behavior?

    Image: “Neuromarketing” by Balougador/Wikimedia Commons via CC-BY-SA-2.5-CA + GFDL Prior to segmenting the various aspects of buying behaviors, it pays to know what exactly this decision process includes. In simplest terms, the entrepreneur who understands what makes a customer choose product A over product B also understands:

    • Factors that contribute to the decision
    • Cultural aspects that influence purchases
    • Gender-specific shopping idiosyncrasies
    • Age-related buying decisions

    It is interesting to note that product quality and price do not always determine a customer’s decision to choose product A over product B; as a result, smart marketing and clever advertising can even give a cheaper good a leg up in the market.

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    A closer look at influences

    According to marketing experts at the University of Delaware, there are four distinct influences that shape a consumer’s buying decision behavior:

    1. Need detection
    2. Data collection
    3. Choice availability
    4. Product selection

    Please note that the actual purchase experience and subsequent satisfaction with the product influence future buying decisions. They determine possible brand loyalty and also company name recognition. The entrepreneur, who is affiliated with a product or company by virtue of an independent sales position, must be cognizant that his success or failure in the business is tied -- directly -- to the post-purchase evaluations the buyer makes.

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    Inside the buyer’s mind

    You understand a buying decision and you are confident that you know how a consumer evaluates a product before buying it. How can you apply this knowledge to the marketing of your widgets? Easy: hone in on the actual behavioral aspects that are most likely to fuel your customer base’s purchasing decisions. MBA Lectures identify four behaviors:

    1. Compound choice. The consumer frequently finds himself making a compound choice if the product is needed but expensive. Buyer’s remorse carries a huge penalty. For example, renting an apartment, buying a daily driver, choosing a private school or opting for health insurance all fall under this umbrella. The consumer will not make an overnight decision but instead search out data from numerous sources.
    2. "Dissonance" reduction. This is commonly observed when the product is expensive and the buying decision results in a purchase that the consumer will have to live with for years or even decades to come. Pianos, luxury automobiles, boats and also furniture fall into this category. Product choice is not defined by big differences in quality; as a result, more minute aspects of manufacture come into play. For example, a car buyer may evaluate the material choice of the gear knob and compare it to another car.
    3. Range selection. Relatively inexpensive consumer goods that vary greatly in performance and use are prime examples of this type of buying behavior. For example, a customer attempts to evaluate the various kinds of liquid dish detergents there are. They vary in concentration, additives, gentleness to the skin as well as color and viscosity. It is in this arena that most marketing battles for grocery store brand items are fought.
    4. Routine selection. The customer always buys paper towel or toilet paper brand A. There is nothing particularly great about the product; it just gets the job done. It is not possible to highlight special features or luxuries; moreover, because the price of the commodity is so low, there is little use for extensive marketing campaigns that highlight technical aspects. The buyer opts for a brand that she is familiar with; when pressed, she might not even know the product name.

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    Adapting your marketing

    The implications are clear. If you sell a high-ticket item, focus your marketing efforts heavily on the little extras and small luxuries that set apart the product from the competition. Even the minutest difference gives your product an advantage in a market where the customer is trying to decide between expensive widgets. Conversely, if you are in the business of advertising low-cost goods that the buyer purchases time and again, you cannot succeed unless you generate brand recognition. While name recognition does not necessarily factor in, focus heavily on the artwork of the ads and the color scheme of the good’s package.

    If you are dealing with an item that falls under range selection criteria, evaluate your market position. Are you a brand leader or are you a challenger, nipping at the heels of the leader? In the first instance, it is crucial to appeal to the routine selection decision behavior in your customer base. The challenger, however, must seek to undercut the routine buying behavior by actively persuading the consumer to give a new brand a try; special offers, coupons, free samples and also in-store demonstrations are in order.

    A buyer who requires ample fact gathering before choosing to sign on the dotted line must be wooed online with strong website content, offline with the help of well-done sales brochures and also via radio and television advertising.

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    Which type of buying decision behavior influences your customers the most? Do not blindly devise an ad campaign until you are confident that you can break down the process into its individual components.

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    Sources

    • University of Delaware, http://www.udel.edu/alex/chapt6.html
    • MBA Lectures, http://mba-lectures.com/marketing/principles-of-marketing/650/types-of-buying-decision-behavior.html
    • Image: “Neuromarketing” by Balougador/Wikimedia Commons via CC-BY-SA-2.5-CA + GFDL