Marketing 101
Home | Marketing in a Nutshell | Marketing Strategies | What Affects Marketing? | The Role Of Market Research | 4 Steps To Marketing Research | What Is A Marketing Channel
The Role Of Market Research

Market Research – Getting to Know Your Customer


Market research is primarily analyzing consumer behavior in order to discover who is buying, what they are buying, where they are buying it, and when people buy products or services and then asking the question why are they buying it?  Market research is all about finding out what you can do to entice customers to buy your product or service. 


5 Steps To The Consumer Purchase Decision Process

There are five basic steps that the customer goes through when deciding to buy a product or service.  As a marketer you need to be very aware of each of these steps in order to be able to design a marketing plan that will reach to the heart of the customer’s needs.  Understanding each of these steps will help you to reach a common balance with the customer and entice them to buy your product.


The five-step process that a consumer goes through when contemplating a purchase is known as the purchase decision process.  Normally this process involves the following five steps but there are those times when a consumer may skip one of the steps or combine them depending on how involved with the purchase they are. 


1.       Problem recognition - You recognize the need to buy. The first step in the buying process is when you the consumer sees what you have and then what you want or need and then decide to buy

2.       Seeking out information – After recognizing the need to buy, you then gather information about what product or service will satisfy that need.

3.       Assessing the value of the purchase – Information gathering leads to an assessment of how a particular product or service will meet your needs.

4.       Decision to make the purchase – Once you have recognized your need to buy a product or service, have gathered all the information and assessed the value of purchasing a particular product or service you then make the purchase.

5.       Post purchase elation or dissatisfaction - After you have made the purchase you then again must access the value of the purchase.  Did it meet your needs or was it just short of the mark.


The more you understand the decision making process of the consumer the more you will be able target your marketing campaign to the heart of the customer’s needs at any point in the decision making process you will be able to better be able make the cu


6 Psychological Influences that Affect Consumer Behavior

1. Motivations and Personality

An integral but often overlooked part of the customer’s decision-making process is the psychological makeup of each customer.   Every person that buys from you or purchases your service has a different motivation for doing what they do and a different personality, which is their consistent and predictable behavior.  Personality can be a predictor of what a person buys because personality is one the main reasons a person develop brand loyalty. 


A person will buy a product and have a pleasant experience with the product, which equates to satisfaction on their part.  Because they were satisfied once they will continue to buy that same product and eventually the purchase of that product is integrated into their personality. 


2. Perception

Motivation and personality are also the driving force behind a person’s perception of how things work.  Our perception helps us be selective about the things that we want to buy, because we can perceive the value of the purchase and how it will fit into our own part of this world.  One person may perceive a Mercedes to be a necessity to his lifestyle another may see it as showing off.


3. Perceived Risk

Our personalities, which are an accumulation of our beliefs and ideas about the world we live in, also help us to see the perceived risk and negative consequences of purchasing something.  There may some fear of a financial burden or some fear of physical harm associated with the purchase.  For instance a mother may fear for her son because he is thinking about purchasing a motorcycle.


5. Learning

Another part of our psychological makeup, which is closely tied with motivation and personality, is learning.  We learn because we want to, need to or sometimes even by accident, but each day of our life we learn.  There are basically two types of learning: behavioral and cognitive.


Behavioral learning starts as soon as we are born and is the process of learning behaviors and attitudes from those people we consider important to us or with whom we interact the most.  Cognitive learning is the process by which we learn through, thinking, reasoning and mental problem solving.


Learning form others around us, from our experiences and from information we have gathered helps us to make decision about what we buy and don’t buy.


6. Attitude, Beliefs and Values

An attitude or predisposed way we have learned to respond in a favorable or unfavorable manner to the things around us has a great impact on what a consumer buys.  Attitudes are shaped by a consumer’s beliefs and values. For instance a person that comes from a family whose father bought only Ford products may have the belief that nothing compares to a Ford. 


Another person who comes from a Christian home, because of their beliefs may shy away from certain provocative or unwholesome products. A marketer must be aware of the attitudes, beliefs and values of their target group or they will totally miss the mark and lose sales of their product or service.  In fact it is up to the marketer to change the attitude of the person by changing their beliefs about a product.  


Marketing is all about psychology and getting into the minds of customer’s. The successful marketer will learn to understand their target audience and gear their advertising to the customer’s needs and the desire to have those needs fulfilled.


Six Social and Cultural Influences on Consumer Behavior


As marketers you must also be aware of the sociocultural influences that help to shape a consumers buying habits.  Most consumers buying habits are not a product of any one influence or behavior but are made up of thousands of cues that each person receives from, their friends, families and social groups. 


All of these social and cultural influences add to what the consumer believes is the best course of action when it comes to buying a product or service. Any marketing campaign must target the cultural and social difference of each consumer and allow then to envision what that product can do for them when it comes to functioning within a certain culture or social group.


1. Personal Influence

A consumer is often influenced into purchasing something by an opinion leader who they put their trust in or simply because someone else through word of mouth gives positive feedback about a product or service they have used. 


Opinion leaders can be anybody, movie stars, rocks stars, a pastor anybody that the consumer trusts enough to believe what the other person is telling them. 


2. Reference Groups

In addition to personal influence their particular reference group also influences consumer-buying habits.  A reference group is a group of people to whom an individual will look to for self-appraisal or as a source to help in the development of their personal standards, such as family, friends and coworkers


Reference groups affect a consumer’s buying habits because they influence a person’s information processing, attitudes and aspiration levels of the product or service they are purchasing.   For instance if a reference group has a strong preference of one product of another the consumer may be influenced into changing their attitude about that product and buy it.


3. Consumer Socialization

Is the process by which learn to be consumer.  As children we learned from our parents how to how to be consumers and as parents we also teach our children directly and indirectly how to be consumers.  Some companies, such as Sony with their My First Sony line, are quick to target the children because they know they will be influenced to want to buy the same things their parents are buying.


4. Family Life Cycle

We grow and develop as person and also as a consumer.  Over the course of a lifetime a family will go through many stages of development and with each stage will come a whole new set of consumer development.  A marketer must be aware what kind of marketing campaign works best at not only targeting the family but also the individual needs of the consumer.  For instance a baby swing will work not only in satisfying the needs of the baby but also the family.


Another aspect of the family life cycle is the development of a particular consumer’s buying habits over the course of a lifetime.  A teenager has different buying habits then does their parents or grandparents so each of their needs must be met in advertising and marketing.


5. Family Decision Making

Not only do families make decisions as individuals but they also make purchasing decisions based on the dynamics of the household.  Family decision-making happens in the context of joint decision-making by the husband and wife or as the children age by the whole family.  The other type of family decision-making process is a spouse dominate decision, where either the husband or wife is responsible for the purchase.


One area that must not be overlooked in marketing is the influence Generation Y has now in the consumer buying habits of a household.   Teenagers have money and are not afraid to spend it and marketers must be aware of that buying power in order to take full advantage.


6. Culture and Subculture

An area that is always growing and changing is the culture and subculture.  A culture is a set of values, ideas and attitudes that learned among a group that influence the groups way of thinking and acting.  A subculture is smaller group within the larger group that functions under a different or unique set of values, ideas and attitudes than the larger group.  An example of an culture would be Hispanic Americans, African Americans and Asian Americans.


Each of these groups has a different affect on marketing and must not be overlooked when putting together a marketing campaign.  An example of a campaign direct at one of these groups would be Pepsi’s use of the Spanish language to promote its products on TV and in print ads.