The Importance of Consumer Behavior

This essay deals with an analysis of consumer behavior importance in designing marketing policy by marketing managers. Marketing managers as the main stakeholders in promoting, positioning, and branding a given product automatically engage in dynamic mental relations with consumers’ anticipations, tastes, and orientations. Thus, the process of marketing activity is inextricably linked with potential consumers’ response which if economically taken is demand for a given product that is its popularity. Hence, consumer behavior is inextricably linked with a company’s performance and popularity which requires marketing managers better understand the tasks and problems connected with designing, promoting, and implementing such marketing strategies that meet the abovementioned criteria. We will discuss several important issues connected with peculiarities of consumer behavior and will try to analyze them through the prism of appropriate and effective policies and practices for marketing managers.

Successful marketing strategies are based on a good understanding of consumer reaction

Two basic dimensions of consumer behavior that should be taken into account before developing a sound marketing strategy are cognition, memory, and persuasion (Chisnall, 1992). Consumer reacts to changes in market conditions and his own personal requirements and demands thus he/she is constantly changing substance with no permanent identity.

Thus, for marketing managers to be effective they should remember that the main object of their efforts is consumers’ memory and personal orientation which when are neglected lead to catastrophic results for the company’s efficiency (Grunert, 1988). Advertising and branding should be oriented toward the creation of easy and available images that can be understood by everyone. If a market manager in his strategy is oriented at special reference group he should aware that it has peculiarities that should be exploited on the conscious and subconscious realm to ensure that a given product will recur in their memory. Persuasion is another important dimension of structuring consumer behavior. Marketing managers are required to make all efforts to persuade the consumer that a given product or service is of great importance to them. This is realized through a wide variety of marketing practices such as explaining the qualities of a product in comparison to other existing products and new decisions that are introduced into the product and make it more effective and easy to use. Persuasion is always may be realized through a wide variety of mental referents installed in a marketing project such as explaining to consumers what practical advantages in their life and carrier a given product or service opens to them, how is it tied with their present activities, and the development of their personality (Mullen, Johnson, 1990). This is particularly the case for the market with a great level of competition and proposition which is especially true of the FSMG market.

The efficiency of marketing management efforts considerably depends on their ability to persuade consumers that their products are the best by means of implementing assumptions on consumers’ behavior in their marketing strategy. In such markets as FSMG, increasing demand on a given nomenclature of products is directly proportional to successful and persuasive marketing efforts which are sometimes even more important than the real dimensions of a product itself. Hence, marketing managers should remember the advertised product is not only about its material existence but its perception by consumers, i.e. the mental structure that is developed through the wide implementation of a successful marketing strategy (Reynolds, Olson, 2001).

Another important dimension of marketing content is the level of quantitative and technical information in the advertisement. For instance, such scholars as Anderson and Jolson (1980) found out that if increasingly technical language is utilized by marketing managers, this has a negative connotation for the consumer’s confidence and behavior. It leads consumers to assess a product as less reliable, difficult to use, and much higher priced.

Notwithstanding this fact, the level of technical data used in advertising led to higher demand of customers with a high level of knowledge and technical skills in a given product nomenclature. Following Yalch and Elmore’s (1984) research it may be claimed that the level of consumer behavior control by marketing managers significantly depends on their right choice of the focus group and corresponding adapting of marketing strategies. Successful implementation of focus group marketing strategies results thus results in effective structuring and controlling consumer behavior.

Another factor of consumer behavior in terms of its relevance to the development of sound marketing strategies is the phenomenon of learning. Learning is often described as a permanent change of consumer behavior due to extensive consumer practices and experiences.

The issue of learning in the prism of marketing strategies relates to the important practice of creating stable associations realized through stimulus-response dichotomy. For instance, it is important that consumers developed strong associations between some products and its connotation. For example, when a consumer associates a car with carrier growth it means that he passes the process of learning which orients his behavior in a certain direction. Another example is an association of bear or any other beverage with satisfying the thirst (Wansink 2006).

If this association is developed in consumers it means that that process of learning and marketing strategy that initiates it proved to be effective. Learning in its turn is deeply tied with such facets of consumer behavior as emotions and motivation. These sophisticated psychological substances are of great importance in marketing management. There is no denying the importance of the fact that most marketing efforts are about understanding consumers’ psychology on the level of stimulus-response dichotomy. From Bacon till our days we know that ‘knowledge is a power’, hence understanding human psychology is the first precondition for controlling and orienting consumer behavior. Emotions are the primary factors in consumers choosing a certain product. Rational evaluation of the product for the majority of consumers comes in aftermath of buying the product. A decision to buy in contrast is often based on an immediate emotional reaction to a given product. This is especially true for consumers with sufficient funds that they spend. For emotions to be positive marketing strategies should introduce captivating images that immediately impress the consumer and turn all his inner emotional impulses. Advertising of a given product hence should be oriented on influencing consumers’ subconscious. In its turn, emotional effects are deeply tied with motivation. If marketing specialists managed to create certain emotions it results in strengthening consumers’ confidence and motivation, especially if their emotions were confirmed by good product quality (Loudon, D.L. (1988) for instance claims that motivation is the main factor that induces actions).

Then, a firm link between emotions and practicability is installed that is difficult to destruct. Permanent and stable utilization of a certain category of products or brands in its turn leads to another important change in consumer behavior that is consumer habit which is a widely spread phenomenon among customers. If marketing managers created all necessary conditions for initiating positive attitudes and emotions they can be for a given period of time sure that the interest in their product would be maintained by customers (Stern, El-Ansary, 2002) This of course does not mean that marketing efforts should be stopped.

The consumer decision-making process and its implications for marketing strategies

Understanding the customer decision-making process is very important in terms of developing marketing strategies on the basis of a comprehensive analysis of consumer’s behavior.

The first stage of this process is problem recognition which means forming negative relations to certain conditions and deciding to change them by starting new buying activities. The mains reasons for developing a negative attitude to a given product are its absence in stock, dissatisfaction with quality, new consumer wants and needs, the impact of more successful advertising of other products or services. Hence, marketing managers should be fully aware of these risks and take preventive measures to maintain a high level of demand for the company’s products.

The second phase is information search when both the resources of the consumer’s memory and outside resources are used for finding alternative decisions.

Activating personal experience follows the search for information. Marketing managers should remember that consumers are characterized with selective attention which sticks only to those products that are important for them. It means that only those marketing strategies are successful which orient selective attention of focus group consumers to the company’s services and products. After evaluation of the product in comparison to other a purchase decision is made. An important stage is the final stage of product post-purchase evaluation which does not directly depend on the efficiency of marketing strategy. If the product’s quality is poor, then no advertisement won’t help. Hence, the unity of quality and marketing should be in place. By the same token among companies with approximately equal quality of products, the most successful is a company whose marketing strategies are the most effective. For this to occur all the stages should be properly evaluated by marketing managers and marketing strategy taking them into consideration should be implemented.

The importance of consumer behavior analysis for marketing managers in branding activities

The brand is traditionally connected with the product by describing its special qualities. The brand structure includes a logo, design scheme, or slogan. Thus, the brand is tied with the product in the process of advertising. By creating beautiful images and impulses branding seeks to make certain products popular and increase demand for them. As a famous researcher in marketing Kotler suggests that the success of a product depends on the level of brand recognition. If the brand is recognizable then the firm will gain more profits.

The question that arises from this concept is as following: Is successive branding premised on a good understanding of consumer behavior? The answer is certainly positive. Branding should be oriented not only at the immediate generation of profit for the companies but at a more profound strategy of modeling consumer behavior and providing the foundation for marketing influence on it. Thus, consumer behavior is one of the most important things for marketing managers.

The development of brands is not about just generating profit but create positive experiences for consumers and structuring their behavior. Brands should create energies that can not be reduced to mere consumption and stay intact even after the decline in product production. Brands create such phenomena as consumer loyalty which means that brands can themselves generate value not tied to any concrete product.

People stick to certain brands since they regard them to be of high quality and increased social status. Thus, their demand on them is inelastic, i.e. permanent for all possible market configurations. Thus, those marketing managers who utilize consumer behavior models in their branding strategy can be regarded as the most successful due to their ability to anticipate and predict certain market outcomes. This is certainly a very difficult task.

This point of view may be for instance explicated by such approach as attitude branding often used by market managers. It represents the position which is not directly connected with a given product but generates special feelings, mood and orientation. It is used to create personalities with certain interests, lifestyles and determine their behavior by actively structuring mental referents of the products associated with consumer’s ambitions, inner desires, etc. In this way, the demand is increased not on the separate category of product but on the trademark in general. Such strategies are widely used by such firms as Starbucks, Nike, and Apple, etc.

Therefore, as we see marketing managers have to be effective in the utilization of consumer behavior methodology which is crucially important for their company’s performance and demand on its products and services. Utilization and taking advantage of such facets of customer behavior as emotionality, motivation, and indeterminacy is a necessary precondition for tailoring an effective marketing strategy. It includes effective coordination between marketing managers and other departments tied with product sales.

References

Anderson J. R., & Jolson M. A. 1980, ‘Technical wording in advertisements’. Journal of Marketing, 44, 57-66.

Chisnall, P.M. 1992, Marketing: A Behavioural Analysis, McGraw-Hill, London.

Grunert, K.C. 1988, ‘Research in Consumer Behaviour: Beyond Attitudes and Decision Making’, European Research, Vol. 16.

Jacoby, J., G.V. Johar, and M. Morrin 1998, ‘Consumer Behavior: A Quandrennium’, Annual Review of Psychology, 319-358.

Loudon, D.L. 1988, Consumer Behaviour: Concepts and Applications, McGraw Hill, London.

Mullen, B. and Johnson C. 1990, The Psychology of Consumer Behavior.: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Hillsdale, NJ.

Reynolds, T. J., and Olson, J. C., eds. 2001, Understanding Consumer Decision Making: The Means-End Approach to Marketing and Advertising Strategy.: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Mahwah, NJ.

Stern, L.W., El-Ansary, A.I. 1992, Consumer Behaviour: An Information Processing Perspective, Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, NJ.

Wansink B. 2006, Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think, Bantam Dell, New York.

Yalch R. F., & Elmore-Yalch R. 1984, ‘The effect of numbers on the route to persuasion’. Journal of Consumer Research, 11, 522-527.