Understanding or act in regards to a product, service,

Understanding consumer behavior is an important
aspect of marketing. Consumer behaviour is
the study of how people make decisions about what they buy, want, need, or act
in regards to a product, service, or company. It is imperative to understand
consumer behaviour to know how potential customers will respond to a new
product or service. It also helps companies identify opportunities that are not
currently met. A recent example of a change in consumer behaviour is the eating
habits of consumers that dramatically increased the demand for gluten-free (GF)
products. The companies that monitored the change in eating patterns of
consumers created GF products to fill a void in the marketplace. However, many
companies did not monitor consumer behaviour and were left behind in releasing
GF products.

The most important purpose it serves is the
determination of marketing mix variables which are product, price, place and
promotion (4P’s) and in addition to this there are three other variable which
are people, process and physical evidence which constitute the 7P’s. All these
helps in identifying the right target group and positioning aspects. Marketer
wants to design and position his products in such a way that it serves one of
the most important purpose- customer satisfaction. We understood that there are
various factors responsible for the same which are categorized mainly into two
categories: Macro and Micro elements.

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Culture and socio-economic variables form
the macro indicators. Consumer as an individual involves the psychological
factors like the involvement, motivation and perception. It is about the basic
features that the consumer expects from the product to fulfill his needs and
requirements. Other psychological factors also are there. Only these micro
factors don’t only define buying behaviour of an individual. These are also
termed as micro influencers/elements. These are Motivation, Attitude,
Perception and Learning (micro factors). Understanding the consumer behaviour
is a multi- stage process where the marketer is faced with a lot of challenges
which he needs to address. Each stage possesses the perspective of both the
consumer as well as the marketer. The entire process can be divided into three
stages, namely: pre-purchase, purchase and the post-purchase stage. The
pre-purchase stage from the consumer’s perspective is about the decision that a
consumer has to make regarding the product whether or not to buy it and the
various sources of information he has for the various product alternatives. The
purchase stage is more about the buying experience of the consumer if it was
pleasant or tiring. The last stage is to identify whether or not the product
was able to serve the consumer’s needs that is to measure the consumer
satisfaction. From the marketer’s side all these stages have a different
perspective. The first stage is about the consumer’s attitudes and how it
changes overtime for different products along with the various parameters and
cues being used by them to judge a particular product’s superiority over its
substitutes. The purchase stage for them is more about the variations in buying
pattern with factors such as off season, peak hours and product positioning and
displays. The last stage is about measuring the consumer satisfaction which
ultimately indicates whether or not a consumer will buy the product again or
not.

There are various factors that can influence a
consumer’s decision of choosing one product as superior to the other and hence
it becomes important for the marketers to reach out to their target customers
through the right medium. These factors include the personal sources which
consists of family friends and the neighbors who can influence the decision
based on their prior biases or affinity towards a particular product. Then
comes the commercial sources which includes advertising, sales people,
retailers and packaging. it can include techniques such as search engine
optimization (SEO) to influence or the new washing machine shaped packaging of
Ariel detergent.  It further includes
public sources such as newspapers, magazines, radio, television or consumer
organizations. The frequency of the advertisements can play a role in decision
making process of the consumer. Lastly, there can be a few experimental sources
such as handling, examination or the use of the product. The more the consumer
searches for the product, more is the possibility of the product being a risky
one or maybe the consumer is too motivated. Geographical sales of product may
vary, also it will vary for different economic status people and culture, per
capita income, and other factors. Hence market must understand that these
factors are an important for consideration before launching any new product to
the market. For example – people in north prefer tea over coffee but as when
moving to south, coffee is preferred more over tea. Hence, it’s a systematic
process make decision making from consumer angle. It has 5 processes. Need
Recognition is the first step in consumer buying process. In this marketer has
to identify the situation under which the consumer is buying. Also identify who
is buying and why is he buying. Information search is the second stage. In this
stage, consumer search for any external and internal information. Hence
marketer should identify how the consumer searches for the information. One of
the examples of personal sources that are marketer dominated is sales person
advice in a retail store. Then comes the evaluation of alternatives. Now
consumer evaluates different products on particular scale of attributes which
is most important to him/her. How different attributes are compared for which a
marketer must know the attributes of its product and the attitude of consumers
towards its brand Finally, during the purchase decision stage, the consumer may
form an intention to buy the most preferred brand or product. Hence in this
stage the consumer must decide the following: from whom he should buy, when to
buy, and whether to buy. The last stage, Post-purchase decision stage is when
the customer assesses whether he is satisfied or dissatisfied with a purchase.
Now a days, it is also relevant to hit the need recognition

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