Consumer Behavior and Marketing: Factors Influencing Consumer Behavior Essay

In their process of goods and services consumption customers are influenced by different factors that marketers study in order to satisfy customer’s needs. This research made on consumer behavior is important for companies in order to successfully establish their marketing plan, to sell their products or services and also to establish a good relationship with customers. In this paper work the three factors that were chosen to describe the impact on consumer behavior and on marketer’s decisions are family, age and ethnicity.

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Before explaining the impact that the three factors have it is important to understand what consumer behavior is and how it relates to marketer’s decisions. According to Solomon(2010, p. 6) consumer behavior “is the study of the processes involved when individuals or groups select, purchase use or dispose of products, services, ideas or experiences to satisfy needs and desires”. The process of buying a product or a service for a consumer which could be a person or a group of people implies much more than only buying and consuming that product.

A consumer after identifying the need for a product will search for information about the product and after evaluating all the alternatives will make the purchase and finally will evaluate the satisfaction given by the product. This could affect the company’s sales or it could create a stronger relationship between the company and the customer. That’s why marketer’s in their plan of creating a product or service should study its target market and find out which factors influence the consumer’s behavior and how it impacts. One of the factors that the marketers need to take in consideration when studying consumer’s behavior is family.

In the past this term was defined as a group formed from grandparents, parents and children or as a nuclear family which was represented by parents and children. Today family is related to married couples with or without children, single parents, divorced people with or without children, and the person or group of persons who live together and share housekeeping arrangements. (Solomon, 2010, p. 425) The family cycle has a great influence on consumer’s behavior. (Foxall, 1998, p. 218) For example a family with children will have bigger expenses than one without children.

Also parents are the ones who purchase the products that children use which will make the children buy in the future those products because their parents purchased as well. Another example is the fact that families without children tend to eat in restaurants and consume more alcohol while with families with children who eat healthy food which are also different from single parents who tend to eat more junk food. (Solomon, 2010, p. 430) Marketers have recognized the influence of family cycle and they have created products that fulfill the needs for every family cycle.

For example Sprinkles Custom Cakes in Florida started to produce cakes for divorce parties, as the phenomenon of divorce is something that happens usually in our days. But families also influence through word of mouth. According to Foxall (1998, p. 218) “many consumer decisions are taken within the environment of the family and are thus affected by the desires and attitudes of other family members”. Usually important buying decisions are taken after all the family members or the parents discuss the alternatives. For example when purchasing a new car parents are the ones who decide which to buy.

That’s why Coca-Cola promotes the Coca-Cola drink with an ad that shows a bear family that consume this drink. Also AT&T which is a communication service business in U. S. A promotes a family talk plan called Rollover Minutes with an ad which shows a family in a car that explains that saving minutes will help saving the money. (ShareATT, AT&T FamilyTalk with Rollover Minutes Car Commercial, 2009) So family is an important factor that has to be taken into account by marketers in order to understand better the target market so that their products or services will meet the needs of the consumer.

The second factor that influences consumer’s behavior it is the age. A consumers needs change through life because its lifestyle, and values he stands for changes. People react different at different ages but consumers that have the same age share almost the same values, lifestyles, desires, and ways of behaving which helps marketers to classify them in specific target markets. (Mowen and Minor, 2001, p. 287) According to their age consumers have been segmented in teenagers and Generation Y, Generation X, Baby Boomers and elderly.

The first category consists of people between 14 and 18 years old and they have a great influence on what is purchased in their family because this generation has parents that have careers to pursuit or they are single parents so they tend to buy for themselves. They use social networks and text messages as a way of communicating with their friends about the brands they buy. (Hoyer and Macinnis, 2010, p. 301) They are an important market for companies because it is expected that they reach in U. S. a number of 30 million by 2015 with a purchasing power of $108 billion.

Marketers take advantage of their brand loyalty offering them more and more products like RosePink cosmetics and Cover Girl that produces cosmetics for this generation, but also McDonald’s targets this market. (Hoyer and Macinnis, 2010, p. 303) The next category is Generation X is represented by consumers between 18 and 29 years old. In Europe their number is over 30 million and according to Solomon (2010, p. 440) “include many people in and out of higher education, whose tastes and priorities are beginning to be felt on fashion, popular culture, politics and marketing”.

They are an important target market because they usually still leave at home and they have more income, European teenagers purchasing power being of $125 billion. X Generation are refined when speaking about advertising being interested more in the entertaining ones. (Solomon, 2010, p. 440) Marketers know that they react better on adverts that sustain their beliefs and interests that’s why Toyota promotes its cars for this target using hip=hop and heavy metal songs. (Hoyer and Macinnis, 2010, p. 305) Baby Boomers are the consumers born between 1946 and 1964.

When they were teenagers they had an impact on lifestyle, politics, and consumer behavior. They stood for their causes in the 1960s and 70s but they still have a word to say today. This generation is interested now in their future retirement period but they do not think themselves as old people but as persons who will enter in a new stage of their lives. (Solomon, 2010, p. 441) They have a strong purchasing power being interested in buying a range of products and services like cars, entertainment, housing, also financial services to help them in the retirement days but also for the education of their children.

One of the companies that target these markets is Harley-Davidson who sells heavy motorcycles with the price beginning from $17,000. (Hoyer and Macinnis, 2010, p. 306). The elder consumers also called the grey market are represented by people who are 60 years old and over. Women are the ones who live longer but overall both sexes life expectancy is estimated to grow by 2020 from 81 to 84 for females and from 75 to 78 for males. They are interested in purchasing financial and travel services, cosmetic surgery, in their health, legal problems and how to spend their retirement time. (Solomon, 2010, p. 43) They are loyal to brands and they are not open to new brands. Marketers should promote their products to this target through TV shows like home and sport shows and they should make their purchasing experience easier and pleasant. The third factor chosen that could influence consumer behavior is ethnic subculture. This is represented by a group of people, who share religion, culture, values, and genetics. (Solomon, 2010, p. 606). In Europe there are 25 million people who take a part of an ethnic group. These groups are proud of their origins and they strive to keep their ethnicity from disappearing.

African-Americans are an important target market in U. S. having an annual purchasing power of $213 billion that is rising compared with other subcultures. (Mowen and Minor, 2001, p. 293) It isn’t a homogenous group and as example old people do not agree with the rap music but young ones love it. Also advertisers should try not to use rap music in commercials because they are considered to be offensive. An example of a radio who took in consideration this marketing problem is Atlanta radio from U. S. who promotes music from the childhood instead of rap music. Another subculture that is increasing in U. S. is represented by Hispanics. They share a common religion, which is Catholicism; also they mostly live in the urban area and also speak the same language, Spanish. This is why they are also an important target market. But there are also differences between them because they are immigrants from different countries from South America. These differences can appear in food and drink preferences and in culture as well. (Mowen and Minor, 2001, p. 296) A third ethnic subculture is the Asian one. They are an important economic and intellectual force as Mowen and Minor (2010, p. 296) states.

They are not a homogenous group because their language is different, depending from what country they come from, also the culture and their tastes differ. Marketers are aware about the situation of the ethnic subcultures and they have created products to fulfill their needs. As an example there are restaurants specialized in serving food according to the culture and taste of the ethnic groups, like Chinese, Italian, or Mexican restaurants. In conclusion marketers should take in consideration the factors that influence consumer’s behavior so that they could fulfill customer’s needs, increase profits and also create a brand loyalty.

So family is an important factor in purchasing behavior depending on the life family cycle and the values and beliefs that it has. Also marketers should take in consideration the age of the consumers because their behavior is different according to their age. And finally ethnicity is a factor that has to be taken in consideration because people have different cultures, languages, preferences so marketers should refer to all the cultures when making the marketing plan.

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