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What Is Consumer Buying Behavior?

Doing research prior to purchasing an item is an example of consumer buying behavior.
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  • Written By: Daniel Liden
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 20 October 2014
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"Consumer buying behavior" is a term used to describe the actions and behaviors of the people who buy and use products. This behavior is widely studied in business, economics, psychology, and sociology, and such research has a large influence on how products are marketed and sold. The central focus of the study of consumer buying behavior is determining why people make some purchases and not others. Upon making this determination, the next step is to identify particular factors that influence consumers to make purchasing decisions. Understanding these factors and the reasons behind a consumer's purchasing trends is an essential part of developing a focused and effective marketing strategy.

Consumers go about purchasing different types of products in a few different ways. When purchasing a product that will be consumed immediately or only used once, for instance, consumer buying behavior may only involve a quick on-the-spot decision. Most consumers do not spend a great deal of time researching and planning for the purchase of a candy bar or paper plates. Consumers planning to purchase more costly products that they will use over a long periods of time, such as cars and computers, tend to display more complex consumer buying behaviors that involve a great deal of research and comparison.

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Several different behaviors and activities are common elements of consumer buying behavior for complex and costly purchases. The first part of this behavior is the recognition of a problem or need of some kind. A potential consumer then determines what type of product is necessary and examines the alternatives, such as different brands or different models. After conducting research, the consumer decides which specific product to buy and how and where to make that purchase. After making a purchase, consumer buying behavior often includes evaluating the purchase in order to decide if it's satisfactory or not.

Several factors can affect consumer buying behavior. Personal psychological preferences and motivations are highly significant in prompting a buying decision, but they are by no means the only relevant factors. Many purchases have distinct social implications and can alter the way one is seen by one's social connections, such as by suggesting that one belongs to a certain culture or socioeconomic group or that one supports a certain brand over another. Even inherent traits such as age, race, and gender substantially affect consumer buying behavior. Young people spend money differently than old people, for instance, and a man's purchasing decisions are likely to differ from a woman's.

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summing
Post 2

Consumer buying behavior remains as much of a mystery as ever despite what the marketing gurus will tell you. If you need evidence just look at the failure of most businesses and adverting campaigns. It is clear that there is not magic bullet for retail, not skeleton key that will unlock the minds of all consumers.

Lots of time and thought and money have been placed into consumer research but it remains as hard as ever to get people to buy. The mind is complicated and there are lots of factors that go into making a buying decision. Experts will tell you that they have it down to a science but no one can make you buy something. All the psychology in the world won't open a wallet.

tigers88
Post 1

I read a book a few months back and it featured a character who was a consumer space consultant. He was trained as a psychologist and he would get hired by retailers to do a detailed analysis of how they set up their store in order to maximize sales.

He would go and observe the store for days and monitor how people moved from one display to another, when they bought and didn't buy and how they reacted to different kinds of stimuli like scent and sound. he would put this into a report that companies could used to reorganize their layout. In the book he was able to increase sales 60 to 70%.

I thought this was such an interesting idea because it makes shoppers seem like cows. If you just figure out the right inputs you can control peoples behavior as well as you can a stockyard animal. And I'm sure that these kinds of consultants exist in real life. They have probably tricked me into buying things I never even thought I wanted.

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