Consumer purchases are influenced by various factors. Understanding these influences will help a business market its products and services effectively. Marketing and advertising campaigns should be designed to address these influences.
Perception of a service or product significantly influences a consumer's purchasing decision. Perception can be broken down into several steps: exposure, attention, awareness and retention. Exposure occurs when a person senses stimuli, such as seeing an advertisement. Attention is recognising meaning of the stimuli, for example acknowledging stimuli as an advertisement. Awareness refers to assigning meaning to stimuli, such as identifying the advertised product. The consumer retains stimuli when the meaning becomes a lasting part of perception of the product.
Consumers may also make purchasing decisions based upon knowledge of the product or service. Knowledge is the total amount of information a consumer has about a subject. However, a person's perception filters information regarding a product or service. Research may be required to determine consumer knowledge. Marketing and advertising should be designed to leverage and increase information available to the consumer.
Besides perception and knowledge, a consumer's attitude may also affect purchasing decisions. Attitude is what a person feels about a product or service. If a product or service faces negative consumer attitude towards the company, then marketing must be designed to address the reasons for this attitude. If a company experiences positive consumer attitude, then it should identify the factors for this attitude. Marketing should emphasise and increase awareness of these positive factors.
Personality is a person's individual characteristics that are consistently present. The total experiences others have of the person is known as personality. A person's perception of his or her own personality is known as self-concept. A consumer's self-concept plays a significant role in purchasing decisions. In-depth market research may be required to determine what role consumer self-concept plays when making purchases.
There are various external influences that play a role in a consumer's purchasing decisions. Some of these are culture and group membership. Culture is the behaviour and beliefs that are learnt through observing other members of society. Marketing and advertising may utilise cultural representations to appeal to specific cultures and subcultures. Market research will help businesses identify cultural behaviours and beliefs relevant to their niches.
The purchase situation refers to the circumstances present at the time a purchase decision must be made. This may include the physical environment, emotional state or time constraints. These factors should be controlled to the best of a marketer's ability in a way that will increase likelihood of a purchase.