Marketing Focus – Consumer Behaviour
Today we’re sharing the basics of consumer behaviour. We’re also looking at how consumers are responding to the cost of living crisis and how we can communicate with them effectively at this tricky time.
We believe understanding your consumer’s behaviour along with your marketing options can save you time and money in the long run and make your business more successful. So take some time to read this article and try and get into the mind of your consumers!
What is a consumer?
A consumer is simply an individual who purchases goods & services available on the market for his/her personal use (i.e. not for resale). Understanding consumer behaviour is essential to the development of marketing strategies, especially for the consideration of pricing, positioning, segmentation, product design and promotion.
Creating consumer interest and desire for your product/service is one of the main factors to success and is achieved largely by understanding consumer behaviour. Creating a marketing mix to please your target consumers is the goal, as it will positively influence the buyer’s decision making process. To create interest and desire, you need awareness and one of the best ways to do this is with PR.
Basic consumer behaviour
Here are a few things to think about when you’re designing your marketing:
- Not all promotional material and advertisements will excite the consumer and they do not pay attention to everything they see. The consumer is interested in only what they want to see, this is called selective attention.
- How the consumer perceives the message in your marketing materials and advertisements is called consumer interpretation.
- The consumer remembers only the most relevant and meaningful message, this is called selective retention.
The Purchasing decision
Not all purchases are equal! You take longer to make a purchasing decision to buy a new car, than you do choosing cereal at the supermarket. This means that your consumer behaviour is different depending on the type of purchasing decisions you’re making.
High involvement purchases such as a house or car requires complex decision making. This means that the consumer will search for more information and consider other brands.
For less important or repetitive purchases, little decision making is required and habit or brand loyalty tend to take over.
Then you have impulse buying which requires spur of the moment decisions and not much thought about other brands etc.
Several factors influence the buying decision of a consumer including psychological, social, personal and cultural. It’s also important to analyse what, where, when and how consumers buy to achieve a better understanding of your targets. Analysing this also helps you achieve more successful sales promotions.
The Buying Cycle
The buying cycle helps marketers and business owners understand when and how they can influence customers to purchase their product. There are five stages all together, the consumer moves through these from becoming aware of what you’re doing, to the point where they are ready to buy.
Stage 1: Awareness – The consumer becomes aware of the product/service but lacks information about it.
Stage 2: Interest – The consumer is stimulated to seek information about the product/service.
Stage 3: Evaluation – The consumer considers whether to try the product/service.
Stage 4: Trial – The consumer tries the product/service to improve his or her estimate of its value.
Stage 5: Adoption – The consumer decides to make full and regular use of the product/service.
By understanding these stages, we can look at what we need to do as marketers to give our product or service the best chance of being selected.
First we need to have a sufficient presence to enable our target consumers to be aware of what we’re doing and provide enough information to make them interested. This could be pushing them to a website from a billboard, or a radio ad so they can find out more. Alternatively, it could be more complicated than that and may require a sales representative, or guides/how-to manuals to allow them to get through their evaluation stage and make an initial purchase.
After this, it’s vital to ensure that the service, support and after-sales is good enough to encourage repeat buying and recommendations. You need to retain and delight your customers and convert these customers into advocates for your brand.
How is the cost of living crisis impacting consumer behaviour?
We all know that inflation and increases to electricity costs have been impacting everyone, and there is less available in the budget for most households. There is also a feeling of fear about what’s to come and a general uncertainty which is influencing the markets and decreasing consumer confidence. All this is leading to people spending less, and the buying cycle becoming more involved, with value being more important as a deciding factor.
There is an interesting article published in Marketing Week about how the cost of living crisis is impacting Christmas advertising campaigns, which offers a lot of good insights and recommendations.
It revealed that in a recent UK poll – nearly 9 out of 10 people are concerned about the rising cost of living. Three quarters are worried about energy bills and 7 out of 10 people are worried about the value of their savings and investments, and expect the general economic conditions in the UK to get worse. This is leading to people planning to spend less than usual at Christmas and delaying bigger purchases until the economic outlook has improved.
The article recommended brand building activities for the larger purchases which will be put on hold, to ensure the brand stays front of mind. It also recommends ensuring that all Christmas promotions demonstrate confidence, competence and compassion. Research showed that people wanted feel-good advertising and include ways to get through difficult times in the best way possible. The best performing ads had drama and emotional storylines which provided excitement, romance and jeopardy and were moving and uplifting. However, they were simple and didn’t lose the brand and message in the story.
They advised against slashing prices and trying to compete in that way, as business running costs are also rising, so this could be difficult. The article also reminded marketers to follow the KISS principle (Keep it simple, stupid) and ensure the brand is at the forefront.
We hope that this article has helped you to understand your consumers better and know what you need to do to convert a lead into a customer and keep them coming back for more, even in these uncertain times.