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Consumer Behavior

marketing, consumer, consumer behavior, consumer market, industrial market, selling skills

Since the customer is the focal point of all business activity, customer behavior needs to be understood. Since marketing is concerned with satisfying people’s needs, a better understanding of what those needs are and the ways in which people go about getting them satisfied, has been imperative. Any individual has a whole range of needs that he/she must or would like to satisfy, from the purely physical necessity of food and drink, through the emotional wish to be loved and appreciated to the desire to develop his personality through education, leisure activities or fulfilling occupation.

Individuals will vary widely in the needs that currently preoccupy them. Some will be mainly concerned with acquiring the basic necessities (they will not be interested in expensive furniture), while others will be looking for exciting leisure goods (it is no use to talk to them about buying their first suit because they already have four). A better understanding is also necessary about how people satisfy their needs. There is a multi-stage process, which works as follows: (a) A need is felt which may be a vague or general need (I am feeling jaded and need a bit of excitement) or specific (I want to go the cinema today); (b) Looking for ways to satisfy the need are actively or passively sought. The newspapers and magazines may be scanned for offers that may satisfy the need or the person in question may merely keep his/her eyes and ears open and register more keenly than usual any possible solutions to his/her need.

In more complex situations the search process may be long and deliberate. The family seeking new kitchen equipment will read magazines, talk to friends, go to showrooms and exhibitions. The industrial buyer may ask for samples, demonstrations, competitive tenders or carry out extensive cost-benefit analysis. When sufficient information has been gathered and suitable alternatives examined, a decision will be taken and the purchase made. For the customer-oriented company the process does not end when the purchase is made.

The customer’s need is only satisfied if the product or service does perform in the expected fashion and does indeed meet his need, not only initially but, where appropriate, over a longer period. It must perform in the expected way, and after-sales service must be adequate. In other words, the post-purchase feelings must be satisfied. The precise way in which this process works needs to be understood. It will vary from one group of consumers to another, in particular in its time-scale. For a snack bought to satisfy a sudden pang of hunger the whole process may be over in a few minutes, but for a power station or a new military aircraft it will take many years.
Published: 2007-04-14
Author: Martin Hahn

About the author or the publisher
Martin Hahn PhD has received his education and degrees in Europe in organizational/industrial sociology. He grew up in South-East Asia and moved to Europe to get his tertiary education and gain experience in the fields of scientific research, radio journalism, and management consulting.

After living in Europe for 12 years, he moved to South-East again and has worked for the last 12 years as a management consultant, university lecturer, corporate trainer, and international school administrator

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