Consumer Behavior is a diverse, complicated, socially significant social science. Studying consumer behavior involves examining the day-to-day life activities of people, which involves both serious and minor social problems and various behaviors on the part of people and organizations.
An adequate understanding of consumer behavior and its theories is essential for the prosperity of any marketing or even non-marketing enterprise, whether it is selling soap, a political candidate, or pursuing a social policy.
Consumer behavior is a social activity. Improvements in our understanding of this area of social activity can lead to public and private organizations and individual consumers, which will enhance the quality of consumption-related behavior.
Consumer behavior knowledge and theories may be applied both by public and private agencies that undertake programs in response to the question, ‘how should consumers buy?
Today, national and local legislation and regulations, and the programs of consumer interest groups, have taken on a prescriptive character, conforming to their respective notions of what consumers should do.
Such knowledge can lead to consumer protection efforts and a better understanding of the impacts these efforts have on consumers.
Consumer behavior knowledge and theories are also important from an intellectual standpoint. This discipline is a relatively unexplored field in the social sciences. This is an excellent context to develop and test theories from virtually every scientific area concerned with human behavior.
It is now evident that the study of consumer behavior has a lot of potential for application to real-world problem solving – both micro and macro marketing problems. Successful marketing decisions by commercial firms, nonprofit organizations, and regulatory agencies require extensive consumer behavior information.
The researchers in other disciplines of social sciences may also be benefited from the knowledge of consumer behavior.
We see the application of consumer behavior in;
- solving micro-marketing problems such as managerial problems, research-oriented problems, and
- solving macro-marketing problems such as public policy decisions.
Application of Consumer Behavior Theories in Solving Micro-Marketing Problems
The micro marketing problems are directly related to the job of marketing managers. A marketing manager needs to manage marketing operations effectively. He needs to research to identify/reveal his customers’ hidden motives and make some creative decisions.
He, therefore, faces (a) managerial, (b)research-oriented, as well as (c) creative problems in doing his job. These are directly related to his basic activities, and they are discussed as micro-marketing areas.
Marketing managers, therefore, face three micromarketing problems, and he may apply consumer behavior knowledge and theories in solving these micro marketing problems.
Let’s discuss how consumer behavior theories may be applied in managerial, research-oriented, and creative problems (micro-marketing problems) faced by marketers.
Application of Consumer Behavior Theories in Solving Managerial Problems
Societies are changing very rapidly. With such changes, people’s expectations, desires, and needs are also changing, keeping pace with the social and technological changes. Whatever you produce and sell well today may not be desired tomorrow, even by the same group of people.
Needs to change every day. How one anticipates the changes and react to them determine his success in the marketplace. Marketers face a real challenge in this area.
As customers get more educated and affluent, they become more aware, demanding, and skeptical of advertising claims. This has created a new class of customers who should be dealt with and managed differently. The affluence of consumers also creates demand for different and new types of products.
A marketer who can anticipate these changes well ahead of his competitors succeeds in the face of acute competition. For example, in our country’s urban areas, increased education and affluence of people have created a demand for sliced bread, prepackaged, and instant products and the product like apartments.
Increased health consciousness of the present generation has created a demand for mineral water, which our previous generation could not even think of. Marketers, who anticipated these, came up with such products before others and benefited from exploiting the opportunity.
But the question remains, ‘how do you anticipate new markets?’ The answer lies in the knowledge that you acquire about consumer behavior theories.
Consumer behavior theory provides the manager with a proper question to ask and the proper solution to take. It is impossible to be an effective marketing manager in the long run without a usable understanding of consumer behavior.
Application of Consumer Behavior Theories in Solving Research-Oriented Problems
Consumer research is an indispensable input to marketing decisions. A particular company’s product can’t meet all consumers’ demands in a particular product category. Since consumers vary in many dimensions, they need products with different features.
How do marketers know these variations, and what should they do knowing them? Marketers face a lot of problems in knowing the answers to these questions.
Research in the consumer behavior can reveal the differences among consumers and helps marketers segmenting markets and offering different types of products that best suit the differences. Consumer research can also provide the clues for turning a product failure into a success.
Marketers need to conduct continuous research on consumers. Knowledge of consumer behavior and the theories explaining those behaviors can significantly help marketers research their true perspective.
Application of Consumer Behavior Theories in Solving Creative Problems
This is the age of extreme competition. Everyone tries to satisfy their customers better than their competitors do. Excelling competitors can guarantee your long-term existence. To excel competitors, you need to pursue your activities based on strategies. What strategy means in this regard? The strategy is a plan or scheme for deceiving an opponent.
Contemporary marketers need to move strategically in every aspect of marketing operations to combat competitors successfully. And the areas range from product development to pricing to promotion and distribution.
Why does a marketer need to formulate strategies and pursue his activities based on those strategies? The reasons are numerous.
First, the marketplace is flooded with products. If you want your product to be recognized from among the numerous products, you must present it quite differently for the product to be recognized. How do you do that? By strategically positioning your product in the minds of present and potential customers.
Second, the majority of the products available in the marketplace are indeed similar. The only difference may be the brand name or the difference in packaging.
For your brand to take place in the minds of the buyers, it should be presented outstandingly. If you fail to do this, customers may buy your competitors’ brands. Paracetamol, for example, is a generic product. Different brands of paracetamol contain the same ingredients, and they are probably equally effective.
But, why paracetamol of certain companies sells well. The reason is that they are successful in giving consumers/prescribes the idea that theirs are better. This is also done through the strategic move.
Third, the development of mass media has made it possible for every company to transmit its message to the consumers, resulting in commercial clutter.
Remember how many advertisements/ commercials you see spending one hour time in front of a television set. Also, remember how many of them you can recall. You can probably only recall those advertisements that seemed creative or outstanding to you.
An individual is continuously bombarded with numerous advertisements by different media. He attends to only those that can attract his notice. Advertising materials, therefore, should be very creative and outstandingly prepared for the audience to remember and recall them.
If you know consumer behavior and the theories that explain their behaviors, you will decide how to prepare your message for consumers to discriminate it from other messages given by your competitors.
Marketers also suffer from pricing problems. Products should be priced in a way that is considered attractive to customers and affordable to them. Prices should also be set considering the prices of competitors.
Here again, you need to be creative. Understanding consumers’ profile helps you set appropriate prices, which can be done effectively using consumer behavior knowledge and theories.
To minimize the risk of faulty distribution decisions, you also need knowledge of consumer behavior theories and their applications. Products should be available to locations where consumers want them.
This is a serious problem for marketers to set and maintain a proper distribution network. This problem can again be minimized to a great extent by applying consumer behavior knowledge any by researching your consumers’ minds.
Application of Consumer Behavior Theories in Solving Macro-Marketing Problems
In addition to solving micro-marketing problems, consumer behavior knowledge and theories may also be applied in other macro marketing areas.
Nonprofit marketers, public policymakers, economic planners, and researchers in other areas of social sciences may also be benefited through the use of consumer behavior knowledge, new findings in this field, as well as the theories. The discussion here may be taken under the following headings:
Application of Consumer Behavior Theories by Nonprofit Marketers
Nonprofit organizations such as charities, religious organizations, relief and welfare agencies, museums, and various public services are adopting marketing concepts to perform their activities better.
Such organizations deal with two types of markets viz. service users and financiers. They need to keep both of the markets happy. Proper knowledge of consumer behavior provides them with useful clues for formulating strategies appropriate for each group.
Application of Consumer Behavior Theories in Public Policy Decisions
To curve abuse in the form of outright deception of consumers by marketers, government agencies undertake regulatory decisions in many countries. Consumers are deceived through imitated products, deceptive advertising, and many other forms.
Moreover, certain marketing activities are causing threats to the environment. The chemical waste, littering of non-biodegradable containers, production, and marketing of certain unethical products should not be allowed to continue for long.
Governments have taken and are taking activist roles against such acts for the sake of consumers. Consumers are potential beneficiaries of different public policies.
But, before taking actions against such activities, the minds of the consumers must be well researched. Whether they favor these actions of government regulatory agencies or not should be known for the actions to sustain.
Otherwise, they will go in vain. For example, the government may decide to put an embargo on the production of plastic considering its impacts on the environment. And this is taken to protect consumers from environmental hazards.
But what happens if consumers do not favor such an act of the government. Therefore, public policy planners must know the consumers’ behavioral patterns before taking and implementing it.
Thus, consumer behavior knowledge may help public policymakers understand the minds of people and their reaction patterns against different public policies.
Application of Consumer Behavior Theories in Other Disciplines of Social Sciences as well as Their General Application
From an intellectual standpoint, even the knowledge of consumer behavior and its theories are important. Consumer behavior, we know, is a relatively unexplored field.
It is an excellent context in which to develop and test theories from virtually every scientific area concerned with humans’ behavior.
Anthropologists, sociologists, psychologists, economists, political scientists, and geographers may also benefit from consumer behavior theories to better perform their jobs. Since they deal with human beings, they should understand their behaviors properly, and consumer behavior theories may help them immensely in this regard.
Therefore, consumer behavior has great potential for those engaged in the marketing profession and other professions to contribute to the general inventory of knowledge about human beings’ behavior.