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Author Topic: Internal Influencers on Consumer Behavior  (Read 718 times)

sally crocker

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Internal Influencers on Consumer Behavior
« on: October 04, 2016, 03:07:02 am »
Internal Influencers on Consumer Behavior

It is evident that many reactions of consumers are driven by their interpretations of social pressures and trends, but how do these external factors develop the internal influences that cause a decision to be made?

The question here is really, why does a consumer act at all?

Motivation is usually thought to be this driving force to action; it is a state of tension that leads to a demand to reduce the feeling.

This tension develops around the need to sustain, protect, satisfy, or enhance an individual.

As these behaviors become more consistent, they develop a consumer’s personality and finally his or her buying habits.

Motivation is often defined as the process that causes people to behave as they do.

When a need originates, most individuals try to satisfy that need.

The desire to reduce or eliminate the tension created by this need drives the consumer to act.

Needs are separated into two major categories—utilitarian and hedonistic.

Utilitarian is a need that has a practical function, such as a need to eat a low-sodium diet to diminish complications and improve health after a heart attack.

Utilitarian needs may also be seen as physiological in nature and are usually met first, although not necessarily with the same effectiveness.

Consider hunger in the United States. This need is met for the most part, but a poor person may eat a diet that does not include the proper vitamins even though the need created by the hunger has been eliminated.

Other physiological needs have biological bases but also carry with them social values, morals, or attitudes that affect how they are met.

Hedonistic needs are more emotional and may involve fantasies like developing a craving for your favorite food or restaurant. “I am hungry for a steak” is a hedonistic craving compared to the utilitarian response, which would be “I am hungry.” Both satisfy the biological or physiological need, but hedonistic addresses the emotional component. This blending of the utilitarian and hedonistic purposes is the link between internal and external influences.

As external factors begin to drive the satisfaction of our internal needs, we see the prioritization of influences and how they affect our actions. What may be initiated by physiological tension is now affected by psychological factors. Later this week, you will learn how to create a pyramid showing how our needs and the priorities we assign them ultimately create the motivation or intensity of our drive to act.

Most have heard the theory, “You should never shop for groceries if you are hungry.” Believe it or not, many studies have been conducted to test this theory and have found that there is a direct correlation between the amount of time you spend shopping and your hunger factor. As you have probably guessed, the theory proves to be true. Our basic physiological needs take over even when we are not conscious of them. Nothing could be a more basic motivator that influences a consumer than this level of tension created by the body.

The challenge for the marketer is to determine the impact of the external factors created by society on these basic internal influences. These psychological concepts lead us to our creation of habits and practices. The goal of every marketer is to successfully determine the mix of internal and external influences and use them to make his or her products or services part of a consumer’s habit with respect to buying behavior. Our next focus is to examine how we may allow these influences to become habits.

Consumer Habits and Practices

When habits are examined in the consumer behavior arena, there are two ways to define a consumer’s approach. One involves the purchasing of a product or a service over and over again, which could also be defined as brand loyalty. From the advertising point of view, it might refer to the circulation of an ad or a message over and over until it becomes ineffective and may go unnoticed.

Low-Commitment Brand Loyalty

Many habit purchases are just as they sound—habits. There is a low commitment to the product on the part of the consumer. He or she purchases the product repeatedly only because it is easier to buy the same brand than really “shop” each time he or she needs to make the purchase. It is only out of habit that the item is sold. When this is true, it is easy for a competitor to steal the consumer away by offering something persuasive to get the consumer’s attention. You will learn more about the art of persuasion later in your program, in the course on persuasive techniques. It may be as simple as a price discount, a special promotion, or the physical positioning of the product in the store that makes it more visible to the prospective buyer.

High-Commitment Brand Loyalty

Other habit purchases are considered high commitment in nature and are often referred to as brand loyalty. Consumers research, shop, and experiment with products and then decide on one brand. They will continue to use or purchase this brand exclusively for an extended period of time. It would take a lot to get them to break their habit of this purchase. Convenience, price, promotion, and quality are normally effective in moving a consumer from one product to another. But in the case of brand loyalty, it is more difficult to change the purchasing habit.

Why does a person trade a car to purchase the same brand again? Have you ever heard anyone say he or she can cook only with a certain brand of flour or sugar? Have you ever wondered why some products have been number one in their categories for decades while others come and go almost overnight? Gold Medal Flour, Campbell’s Soup, and Ivory Soap have been at the top in their product categories for more than seventy years. What makes some products survive while others come and go with no real loyalty from consumers? A consumer’s level of commitment is directly related to the brand loyalty he or she exhibits for a product. These are classic examples of brand loyalty.

Consumer Needs and Wants

Now you see more clearly how habits are the actual act of purchasing. Let us examine what drives those purchases. Common sense suggests there is a learning process involved that dictates buyer behavior. The increasing volume of research and the addition of new products in the marketplace force the buyers to adapt their priorities and buying habits. These decisions influence the separation of a consumer’s needs and wants. Even when presented with products, changes in such dimensions as price, advertising, and availability require learning. Various behavior models are used to try to explain this learning process. A few are the learning model, the psychoanalytic model, the sociological model, the economic model, the stimulus-response model, and the hierarchy of needs model.

The learning model examines an individual’s behavior over time on the hypothesis that each action of an individual is influenced by his or her earlier actions. We generally consider all the past successes and failures of an individual to be a learning situation, as having some influence upon his or her subsequent response, recent events having a greater effect than older events.

Originated by Sigmund Freud, the psychoanalytic theory suggests that personality is derived from the interaction of three forces: the id, the ego, and the superego. The id is concerned with meeting the individual's hedonistic (or biological) needs. Inversely, the superego "acts as an ethical constraint on behavior," with the ego mediating between the two opposite forces. From the perspective of consumer behavior, Freud's psychoanalytic theory facilitates an understanding of the motives and reasoning behind consumer actions. The following examples illustrate this point:

    During a midlife crisis, a man buys a sports car to hold on to youth and desirability.
    Women want to bake a cake from scratch in order to prove their maternal instincts are adequate.

Social-psychological theorists assert that social factors ought to be considered the key determinants of personality. Karen Horney, a proponent of the social-psychological theory, further developed the theory through her taxonomy of personality orientation. Horney developed three orientations of individuals: compliant, detached, and aggressive.

    Compliant: Individuals who need love, acceptance, and appreciation
    Detached: Individuals who desire independence and value self-sufficiency
    Aggressive: Individuals who are competitive in nature and find strength and power appealing

The economic model may be the most obvious with respect to common sense. Assuming a low commitment to a given product or service and similar demographic factors, consumers are most affected by price and availability. It could be paralleled to the "supply and demand" thought process, the most basic law of economics. With no true loyalty to the product, a consumer will purchase the cheapest and most available product. Price, promotion, and place are usually more important than the product when this model is used to describe the buying habits of a target group.

Four basic concepts combine to form the stimulus-response model: Drive or need, response, cue, and reinforcement. Drives are strong stimuli that impel action and are of two kinds, innate and learned. Innate can be referred to as physical or primary, including drives as basic as hunger, thirst, pain, cold, and sex. They would be considered physiological. Learned drives are emphasized by the conditions of society, such as the drive for social status. They are built on the basis of innate drives but represent elaborations of them and serve as a façade. Hidden behind the façade are the functions of the underlying innate drives.

Drives lead to responses that lead to the stimuli or cues that determine when, where, and how the subject will respond. Cues can come in many forms. The product itself may be a cue; walking through a store may be a cue, or, more often, advertising is a cue. A response is an organism’s reaction to a cue. There are a number of ways in which the response to be connected to a given cue may first be elicited to develop a new habit. Eliciting this first response is the key element in many marketing problems. An example would be creating a new product or a new market for an existing product. New uses for a product have also been successful—baking soda is not just for baking but also for absorbing smells in your refrigerator. Responses are arranged in the order of their probability of occurrence, which will be examined later in this lecture.

Any event that strengthens the tendency for a response to be repeated is called reinforcement. In general terms, it is a reward. Reinforcement is a process in which the acquisition of a reward leads to drive reduction. What is reinforced is the tendency to make a particular response in the future to the cue or cues that immediately preceded it.