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Principles of Marketing

Factors That Affect Consumer Behavior

The factors affecting consumer behavior include culture; social factors such as reference groups, family, roles, and status; personal factors; and psychological factors.

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The way that we perceive, react, or are affected by products and services is a function of a host of factors. The following are factors that tend to have an effect on consumer behavior:

Culture

Culture — culture, sub-cultures, and social classes. This refers to the general or overall culture of a group of people. For instance, there is a thing called as Filipino culture, but there are also distinct cultural behaviors within and among sub-cultures of the Filipino culture. Ilocanos or those from the Ilocos region have slightly different priorities, core values, shared histories, and even language compared to, say; Cebuanos or people from Cebu. These differences, however, lead to distinct market segments that may even manifest distinct tastes and preferences for products and services.

Social Factors

Social factors — reference groups, family, roles, and status. This is all about the norms of behavior among even smaller groups, namely the social groups where a consumer belongs to. People tend to want to behave in the same manner that their peers do so that there is an established (albeit likely unwritten) code of conformity among them. The market may also look up to certain aspirational groups whose behaviors they seek to emulate and may even look down on certain groups that they want to dissociate from. All of these affect the market’s behavior in terms of deciding on what they should wear, what they should eat, who to aspire to be like, where to go, and more.

Personal Factors

Personal factors — age, life cycle stage, occupation, and economic circumstances. Aside from external social factors, the demographics of the individual also affect the manner by which products and services are viewed and treated. The taste and preferences of younger people will be different from that of more senior individuals. Men and women tend to look for different things on many types of products. Disposable income defines what people can and cannot buy, while physical location limits access to services.

Psychological Factors

Psychological factors — motivation, perception, learning, beliefs, and attitudes. This is how an individual behaves and behavior is a very intimate thing. It is the result of how we are raised, who we interact with, what our histories are, and much more. This includes our personal preferences (Crunchy cereals or soft? Classical music or rock?), opinions, and overall behavior.

Culture, for one, can heavily affect product design and marketing. Often, because we believe so strongly in the wisdom of our “crowd,” we do not even bother to step back to assess whether or not our beliefs are in fact sound.

In South Korea, there is a very pervasive belief that leaving an electric fan running with the windows all shut can cause serious physical harm or even death. Even with the absence of scientific proof to verify this and with the rest of the world not believing this, South Koreans are so convinced of this fact that electric fans must have auto shut-off timers on them or else they will not be sellable. (McRaney 2013)

In all, there are quite a huge number of factors that affect consumer behavior. • To discuss all of these will be far too comprehensive, but two sets of factors in particular bear more in-depth discussions in Income vs. Socio-Economic Class

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