Situational Influences On Purchasing Behavior

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There was an investigation in an attempt to understand what situational influences affect purchasing behaviors of consumers. Fifty subjects were asked to complete a survey in determining what attributes affect the decision to purchase a product. The effect of purchase was based on three different times of day: morning, afternoon, and evening. The effect of purchase was also based on whether subjects preferred caffeinated or non-caffeinated soda depending on the time of day. The subjects were asked to rate their preferences on a 5 point rating scale, one being agree and five being disagreed. The results indicated there was a relationship between caffeination and usage situation. Situational Influences on Purchasing BehaviorWhy do people shop?

How do situational factors influence the decision to purchase certain items? The act of purchase is affected by many factors: mood, time pressures, or even a person’s disposition towards shopping. Time can be seen, as an important factor because it often determines how much effort and search a consumer will put into making a purchasing decision. A person’s mood can be affected by the degree of pleasure or arousal that is present in the store’s atmosphere. Most people tend to base a purchase decision towards a specific occasion; or even the way an individual may feel at a specific point in time can also play a big role in what we feel like purchasing. These factors may cause one to decide more carefully on a purchase. Marketers like to use segmentation strategies when advertising to let buyers know their product will meet a specific need one may be looking towards.

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Overall, many consumers’ purchase decisions are greatly affected by groups or social settings. The presence of other people around often has a positive influence on one’s purchasing behavior. Consumers look for different product attributes depending on they intend to use their purchase. In an attempt to understand how situational influences affect purchasing behaviors, researchers looked at several different approaches to study consumer behavior. Monroe and Lee (1999) based their research on issues involving the buyers’ processing of price information. Their assumption concerned how prices influence buyers’ purchasing behaviors has been that a consumers already know the prices of products that they consider for purchase, but, they are not able to remember the prices of items they had recently purchased.

Overall, what consumers can remember may not always be a good indicator of what they already know. Hesse, Loesch, and Spies studied the effects of store characteristics on consumers’ mood, their satisfaction, and purchasing behavior. This study indicates the atmosphere of the store directly affected the mood of the consumer, which became a big factor in their purchasing behavior. The results suggested customers in a pleasant store atmosphere are likely to spend more money on the products they liked. This effect was only due to the customer’s mood during the time of purchase.

In an attempt to understand the impact of brand loyalty on consumers, Bhattacharya (1997) investigated the factors that relate to the deviations of brand loyalty in markets. He looked at measures of brand loyalty against category requirements used by consumers (i.e.: norms of a product and the appropriate location in the store). The study finds that on average, brands that cater to some appropriate place in a market are bought in higher quantities, have lower prices, promote to a lesser extent, and have shallower price- cuts and enjoy higher than expected loyalty levels. In addition to earlier research, we prefer to take the position that situational influences on decision-making will affect purchasing behavior based on attributes such as caffeination? Since there are several different types of situations that could be used to determine consumer behavior, we will test the affects of product attributes of a soda on purchasing behavior.

We will also determine taste preference for that particular soda during a particular time of day. To summarize the main objectives of the present study, we will investigate an answer to the question of what impact situational influences on decision making have towards the purchase of a product. We will assess three different time periods; morning, afternoon, and evening based on the decision to drink a caffeinated or a non-caffeinated soda. In order to achieve results, we decided to develop a survey in which subjects were asked to complete a questionnaire based on their preference for the type of soda one drinks during a particular time of day to see if there are variations in taste attributes depending on the time of day the purchasing is taking place. We expect individuals to purchase more caffeinated products during the morning and the afternoon.

Whereas we expect them to purchase more non-caffeinated products. MethodParticipantsForty-nine subjects volunteered to participate in a survey designed to measure people’s preferences for caffeine, diet, cola, non-cola flavored, or clear cola in three different usage situations; the morning, the afternoon, and at night. The subjects were asked to participate by the three members of the research group. The subjects were not discriminated based on particular demographics. MaterialsThe survey used in the study contained fifteen total questions. The same five questions were asked for each of the different usage situations. The survey used a lickert scale that went from one to five, one being disagree, and five being agree. The subjects were asked to tell to what degree they agreed or disagreed with each statement.

These included, if they liked to have a caffeinated soda, cola-flavored soda, diet soda, non-cola flavored soda, or clear cola soda for each of the usage situations; those being in the morning, in the afternoon, or at night. Design and ProcedureThis study was a basic research project with the use of the survey for assessing data. The three members of the research group gathered data for the survey. Two of the members of the research group surveyed sixteen subjects and one member surveyed seventeen subjects. All the subjects who participated in the study reviewed and signed informed consent and the research group members answered any questions. Subjects were then given the surveys to complete without a time limit. results according to the data collected by the research group there appears to be evidence that soda attributes such as caffeination and cola flavoring affect the subject’s choices in the usage situation of afternoon time. The preference of caffeinated soda in the afternoon lends a mean of 3.22 with a standard deviation of 1.6, higher than any other attribute across the three usage situations. 64.4% of the time the caffeine attribute affects the choice of soda in the afternoon time.

The cola flavored attribute followed right behind with a mean of 3.04 and a standard deviation of 1.6. 61% of the time cola flavoring is significant in effecting choice of soda in the afternoon. Caffeinated soda in the morning had the next highest mean of 2.63 and a standard deviation of 1.79. 52.6% of the time the caffeine attribute effects choice of soda in the morning. The subjects seemed to also use cola flavored soda at night with a mean of 2.63 and a standard deviation of 1.6. 52.6% of the time the cola-flavored attribute effects choice of soda at night. The remaining attributes in the three usage situations seem somewhat insignificant according to the lickert scale. Caffeinated soda at night lent a mean of 2.51 and a standard deviation of 1.57. Cola flavored soda in the morning lent a mean of 2.31 and a standard deviation of.

Clear cola at night lent a mean of and a standard deviation of . Diet soda in the afternoon lent a mean of and a standard deviation of 1.64. Clear cola in the afternoon lent a mean of and a standard deviation of. Non-cola flavored lent a mean of and a standard deviation of. Clear cola in the morning lent a mean of and a standard deviation of. Non-cola flavored in the morning lent a mean of and a standard deviation of. Non-cola flavored at night lent a mean of 1.71 and a standard deviation of. Diet soda at night lent a mean of and a standard deviation of . Lastly, diet soda in the morning lent a mean of  and a standard deviation of. Discussion and ConclusionsIn a product field with so many variations of category, one would think that there would be diverse results in terms of purchasing.

The research group surveyed purchasing preferences for six different variations of soda, and their usage during three different time periods. The results showing that there is a difference in consumer purchasing behavior when the specific attributes of caffeination and cola-flavor are manipulated. Showing a higher probability for those two attributes, when combined with the afternoon setting, to change the purchasing behavior the most dramatically. If distributors of this product were aware of the purchasing behaviors and the tendencies to change type of product consumed they may be able to better stock and sell their product. If a distributor has a better understanding of when the public is more likely to purchase a given product, it is then possible to arrange inventory to best benefit from that purchasing tendency.

Beverage distribution is a marketable product field. By understanding purchasing behavior it is possible to increase profits in this area. If this experiment was to be attempted again, and improved upon it may be interesting to take a different view of data collection. Instead of surveying the consumer population it may be beneficial to analyze sales of product across the day. An analysis of product sales would be able to show what the public is purchasing, and when. By looking at the actual figures, and then comparing it to the surveyed results the research group would be able to see if perception is inline with actual behavior. It would also be of benefit to survey only soda drinkers. Consumers who are not avid soda drinkers may have led to less clear results. If only avid soda drinkers, or only occasional consumers, were surveyed the results may be more decisive.

In conclusion this experiment was designed in order to attempt to determine the affects of situational influences on purchasing behavior. The product that was chosen to be analyzed by the experiment was soda in its varying forms. The hypothesis stated that most dramatic differences in behavior would be seen in the purchasing of caffeinated beverages throughout the day. The results showed that caffeination played a major role in purchasing behavior during the afternoon, and that that attribute was matched by the cola-flavored attribute as well. The results could be used in order to better understand purchasing behavior and use that knowledge in the retail distribution of soda in the marketplace.


  1. Bhattacharya, C. B. (1997). “Is your brand’s loyalty too much, to little, or just right?” : Explaining deviations in loyalty from the Dirichlet norm. International Journal of Research in Marketing, 14, 421-435.
  2. Hesse, F., Loesch, K., Spies, Kordelia. (1997). “Store atmosphere, mood and purchasing behavior.” International Journal of Research in Marketing, 14, 1-17.
  3. Lee, A., Monroe, Kent. (1999). “Remembering versus knowing: Issues in buyers’ processing of price information.” Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 27, 207-225.

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