What Are the Factors That Affect Consumer Behavior?

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  • Written By: Jessica Ellis
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 09 October 2019
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The factors that affect consumer behavior are the undying obsession of all commercial marketers. The needs, processes, and selections that the human brain goes through when making a purchase are often far more complex than the buyer might imagine. Some of the most important factors that affect consumer behavior include psychological factors, personal history, and cultural considerations.

Psychological factors can help a person determine not only whether to buy a product, but what brand to choose and what would be a fair price to pay. One of the key psychological factors that affect consumer behavior is need or motivation. If a person is hungry, he or she has a high psychological need to buy food. Similarly, if a person moves into a high-crime neighborhood and is worried about safety, he or she may be highly motivated to buy strong locks and security alarms.

How personal beliefs can affect a buyer's decision making is another important psychological consideration. People generally want to buy products that support or reinforce their own beliefs and agendas. For instance, a person who believes in the importance of local economy may be more likely to buy products which advertise their local manufacturing or roots. Many marketing strategies revolve around understanding the beliefs of certain demographics and tailoring advertisements to suit specific groups.


A hand lotion that says it is great for construction workers and a bowling alley offering Tuesday discounts to seniors are focusing on personal history factors that affect consumer behavior. The lifestyle, habits, and history of a consumer are all critical to how he or she makes buying decisions. Age, sex, occupation, and income are some of the categories that can influence buying habits. Personal interests and hobbies are equally important to consumer decisions, since a woman who enjoys scrapbooking is unlikely to run across the same advertisements or products as a teenager who likes dirt bike racing.

Cultural factors that affect consumer behavior can be extremely subtle, or fairly overt. Some marketing research shows that countries offer distinct purchasing personalities, even if they are made up of diverse individuals. Subcultures, such as a group of friends or extended family, may have a stronger influence, since members may be more likely to share interests or a similar background. Social class, which is dictated by income, education, and social group, may also exert a powerful influence on buying behavior. The desire of individuals to fit in or be acceptable to a particular cultural group may affect the purchase of nearly any item, from brand name clothing to organic produce.


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Post 3

@donasmrs-- I think that's only true if the economy is doing well over all. Americans don't shop so freely during recessions. Even if there are rumors that the economy is taking a downturn, people start spending less and saving more.

Post 2

I think consumer behavior has a lot to do with society and culture. We Americans are shoppers. We shop a lot more than people in other countries. We buy things even if we don't need them, we like to stock up and we never miss out on a sale. For many of us, going to a mall is entertainment in its own right. I don't think it takes a lot to get Americans to buy something. If it looks interesting or attractive, we'll probably buy it.

Post 1

I completely agree, consumers think of so many different things before buying something, at least I do. I went to buy peanut butter the other day and I was literally staring at the different peanut butter products for fifteen minutes. I compared the prices and then started comparing the ingredients. I ended up buying one that's fairly natural and which also had the lowest price in that category.

When I'm buying things like clothes or electronics, I think way more. A million different thoughts go through my mind. So understanding consumer behavior cannot be easy.

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