Consumer behaviour is complex. It is linked to personality and character, meaning some buying decisions are governed by emotion, rather than need. Every buyer is influenced to some degree by their personal characteristics, whether they’re buying a product because their friend has it or they’re steadfastly sticking to Tesco Value on principle. Certain characteristics influence consumer behaviour more than others.
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Marketers are good at presenting their products as lifestyle choices. This can often come in the form of framing a certain product as luxury or exclusive. For consumers whose lifestyle aspirations match those presented by the brand or product, it can result in unnecessary purchases, sometimes of items that the buyer can’t actually afford. Aspiration can also make buyers purchase more expensive versions of things they need, such as designer clothes over non-designer clothes.
Self conscious people are more prone to make impulsive purchases. They may gain a feeling of elevated self esteem or status from buying an expensive handbag. This doesn’t mean they’re necessarily more likely to throw a packet of chewing gum into their shopping basket when waiting at the checkout. It extends beyond that type of consumer behaviour and incorporates more dangerous shopping habits, such as buyers making unexpected, expensive purchases that are not planned and that they can’t afford.
For certain products, advertisers and marketers may target their media toward more suggestible consumers using “unconsciously processed advertising messages.” Advertisers may tap into consumer transience and repeatedly expose their message to the consumer over a period of time with defined spaces. This method is especially effective online, where advertising and marketing success can be much more effectively measured.
Not all products are aimed at the buyer. Perhaps the best example of this is children’s toys. These products are advertised at the end-user, whom the advertisers hope will influence the buyer. A by-product of this process is called “pester power,” a phenomenon whereby children are incited to persuade their parents to buy them a specific item. Parents regularly complain that their children are being targeted by advertisers, but if the tactic didn’t work, the advertisers wouldn’t persist. This means that some parents are giving in to pester power.
Loyalty can be earned or it can be bought. Some brands, such as Apple experience near fanatical levels of consumer loyalty. Their customers wouldn’t dream of buying another brand. Other brands have to buy loyalty by offering rewards in return. This is common among service providers, such as broadband companies and mobile networks, who offer free upgrades in return for contract renewals.
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- BBC News: Your Money Personality
- Psychology Today: What Motivates Impulse Buying?
- Northumbria Research Link: Suggestibility as an Operant Factor in Advertising Effects, Cognitive Defences and the Issue of Consumer Sovereignty
- Association for Consumer Research: inShare13 The Seven Sins of Memory and Their Implications For Advertising
- BBC: Tackling Pester Power
- The Telegraph: Apple iPhone Users Most Brand Loyal
- Total Systems Services: Consumer Loyalty Solutions