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Consumer behavior is a dynamic and complex
process that talks about one of the major aspect of the psychology of
marketing. It aims to find out how customers think, reason, feel and choose
between different options during three primary phases of buying – pre purchase,
purchase and post purchase.

Psychologists argue that ninety-five percent of
thoughts and emotions that drive a consumer’s purchase occur in their
unconscious mind i.e. without them being aware of the precise rationale behind making the purchase. This
unconscious decision making process takes place inside what is known as the ‘Buyer Black Box’. The marketers job is
to decode the buyer black box by taking into account various factors that
influence decision making in order to understand how consumers will respond to
various marketing actions that a company might take. The
factors that effect the buying behaviour are based on stimuli, coming from the
environment (internal and external) including factors like demographic,
economic, psychological, socio-cultural, technological etc. These stimuli then
go through the buyer black box, where thinking takes place and decision is
formed. The outcome of the thinking that takes place in the black box are
the buyer’s responses – What does the consumer wish to buy? Where? When? and in
what quantities. Thus, the buyer black box acts like the central element of the
consumer buying behaviour.

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The environment that
influences decision making can be understood under two broad perspectives – Macro-perspective
(Culture, Subcultures, SECs) and Micro-perspective (Motivation, Learning,
Perception and Attitudes). Amongst factors mentioned above, culture is seen as the most fundamental and
direct cause of a consumer’s behavior. It comprises of set of values and ideologies of a particular community or
group of individuals that distinguish it from the
others. For instance, consumer durables sell the most in the months of October,
November and December in India and not in Thailand. This is because most Indians
consider it auspicious to purchase consumer durables, precious metals,
jewellery and automobiles during the festive season and the corresponding
wedding season that dominates these months. Additionally, each culture
consists of several smaller subcultures. These sub-cultures can be based on
nationalities, religion, geographic territories or even a shared interest or
belief about something. As a marketer, the key is to tailor your offerings for
each of these sub-cultures. The remaining Macro-perspective elements include
the social economic class of a buyer, their roles and status, reference groups
and family.

As far as the
micro factors are concerned, motivation tries to tell us about the open and
hidden motives behind why a purchase is happening. Perception explains that
when a marketing stimuli is given, how is it perceived by the five senses of
the consumer. Learning informs us as to how the buying behaviour of a consumer
is altered based on his or her past experiences. Attitude is understanding how
well the brand or the product resonates with the consumer: marketers need to
note that when they change their brand attitude,  their entire consideration set changes. The
remaining micro-perspective elements include lifestyle, occupation, stage in
the lifecycle etc.

The challenge for marketers is to understand
that these factors are continuously changing. Obviously, marketers cannot control these factors.

However, they must be aware of them, in order to design their offerings in a
way that is attractive from the viewpoint of these factors.


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