Kotler said, “Marketing is the social process by which individuals and groups obtain what they need and want through creating and exchanging products and value with others” (Friesner 1). It links the possibility of producing and selling goods and services to purchasing products by consumers. Marketing does not begin where production is completed. On the contrary, marketing prescribes the nature and scale of production. It predetermines the effective employment of industrial capacity, new high-performance automation equipment, and advanced technology. Marketing develops and applies measures of influence on the market and consumer demand, taking into account the possibility of making a profit and generating maximum customer satisfaction.
The experience of companies shows that market success of a product depends not only on the operational and financial capacity of the company, but also on the use of marketing that is based on the effective consumer demand. The motivation of consumer behavior in the countries with developed market economies is studied thoroughly and deeply. Marketing is focused on the consumer, his/her true needs and requirements. An enterprise has to use marketing methods in a market economy. Otherwise, it will lose its market position and will become bankrupt.
The study of consumers is very popular, viewing a consumer as the one who brings income to any company. Not surprisingly, the customer is the focus of any successful company, regardless of its size. Studying customers, their desires, and preferences, the company can offer them exactly what they need. Therefore, the business will be able to meet the needs of its consumers better than competitors. The main objective of the consumer study is to identify the factors that influence the consumer behavior. However, it is not enough. To compete in the market, it is necessary to anticipate changes in consumer preferences in time to make a change in the product itself and optimize the channels of promotion and advertising strategy – i.e. correct all the components of the marketing complex. Therefore, it is necessary to find out who, how, when, where, what, and why to buy. Additionally, the degree of importance of various goods criteria at various stages of the purchase decision and the intentions of consumers are important. Information about the behavior of various categories of consumers during and after the purchase is useful for the correct interpretation of data about sales and product positioning evaluation. This paper will discuss the main characteristics of consumer behavior and modeling of their behavior.
The Main Laws of Consumer Behavior
Who is a consumer? There are different answers to this question:
- A person who is interested in our product;
- A person who buys our goods;
- A person who has (or will soon have) money to buy our products;
- A person who visits our store;
- A person who has a need that can be met by purchasing our goods;
- A person who feeds us;
- A person who must have a lot of reasons to buy our goods.
Every answer has its own system of relationships with the consumer. Perhaps, the supporters of any confirmation are right. Consumers vary and behave differently. Anything can influence the consumer behavior: the consumer’s age, gender and health status, the presence or absence of a wife or a husband, children, pets, the mood of his/her relatives, political environment, the weather and the environment, work, and everyday urban transport problems. All of these details form the consumer’s portrait, which marketers constantly try to examine. They firmly believe that if you know your customer, features of his/her behavior, your sales will be high. However, there are general laws that cement this incomprehensible structure of the consumer behavior:
Law № 1. A consumer thinks he is always right.
Law № 2. A consumer rarely imagines what exactly he wants.
Law № 3. A consumer acutely understands what he does not want.
Law № 4. A consumer wants to get real positive emotions with his/her virtual money (because he has not paid yet).
Law № 5. A consumer is spontaneous, and this spontaneity can be controlled.
The Focus of the Research
During the research, I visited supercenter Walmart on Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 9 am, 4 pm and 7 pm. The consumers’ age was the first thing that attracted my attention. Therefore, I divided them into 3 groups: people aged 17-30, people from 30 to 50 years old, and people from 60 to 70 years old.
The first group was divided into three subgroups: college students, young singles, and honeymooners. Most young people go shopping in the evening. They spend a lot of money on books, records, stereos, cameras, fashionable clothes, hair dryers, personal hygiene products, and toiletries. They are very interested in the new products. The second group of people visited this shop after 4 pm. Their choice was focused on buying food. People hurried all the time. The third group of people purchased goods in the morning. They paid attention to sales, examined goods for a long time, and communicated with each other.
It is necessary to mention that the first group of people represents an attractive market, because they are receptive to the idea of testing new products, and they want to spend, rather than save, money. When choosing a product, 60% of consumers made their choice alone, while 40% of them consulted with the seller. Shopping usually lasted for 15-30 minutes. Everything depended on the consumer. As a rule, the first and the third groups of consumers could spend a lot of time in the shop. The second group tried to finish quickly. Using the laws of consumer behavior described above, it should be noted that 30% of consumers rarely imagined what exactly they wanted, 45% believed that customer was always right, and 25% acutely understood what they did not want.
The Connection between Consumer Behavior and Specific Factors
Moreover, it is necessary to note that the consumer behavior was different and depended on the following factors:
Cultural Factors. Cultural factors have a great impact on the consumer behavior. Cultural factors include the consumers’ culture, subculture, and social class. For example, some clients could allow themselves to tell that this or that product was terrible in the presence of the seller. The others asked to give a different product, explaining carefully what they wanted.
Social Factors. Consumer behavior also depends on many social factors, including the reference groups, family, and also his/her own role and status in these groups. It is necessary to take into account all these things to develop the right marketing strategy. For example, a girl working as a director in the company bought clothes and a watch, which reflected her particular role and status.
Personal Factors. Consumer behavior depends on personal characteristics, such as age, stage of life, occupation, financial situation, lifestyle, self-esteem, and life credo. For example, a young man working as a musician looked for a product that matched his occupation.
Psychological Factors. The choice that people make during the purchase also depends on four major psychological factors: motivation, perception, learning, beliefs, and attitudes. For example, a man bought a product that he had not intended to acquire, but a good attitude and skills of the seller made him do it.
There are five consumer senses: sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste. All these senses were involved in the process of consumer behavior research.
Sight. Advertising is focused on the vision. The territory near the store was used well enough. Young consumers, according to the survey, paid attention to the outdoor advertising.
As for the shop, interesting advertising design and unusual advertising tricks were very important for the consumers. After watching how they came up to the store, entered and paid attention to the advertising, it is an obvious conclusion that sight is an indispensable weapon of each store.
Hearing. It is believed that at least 10% of all people are audiles, i.e. perceive the world essentially through hearing. According to the survey, this sensory organ also played a huge role in choosing the store. Pleasant relaxing music in the shop attracted buyers and created good mood. However, some consumers stated that music annoyed them. They wanted to shop in silence.
Touch. It is the feeling of surface, shape and size. The main marketing mix is a play with forms. Surveyed consumers confirmed that a convex form of the bottle of Coke immediately caught the eye, since it would be desirable to touch. Thus, unusual advertising inevitably attracts attention, which constitutes half of the shop’s success. It should be noted that people like to interact with things, and this observation has confirmed this assumption. It is necessary to avoid the installation of goods in the shop windows at a long distance and have windows for every product. Since, a tactual sensation is important for every consumer.
Smell. Odor is, generally. one of the oldest and most effective channels for obtaining information about the product. The consumers said that they also were attracted to odors, such as coffee or pastries. Some people complained, because this odor took their attention away from shopping.
Taste. Even here, it is real to invent something. During the visit of this shop, there was a marketing mix, consumers got small gifts during the week, and they liked them and promised to visit the shop again.
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Thus, in order to serve the consumer in a proper way, it is necessary to get his/her attention (the convenient location, signage, outdoor design of the store, etc.), and then provide a comfortable environment (light, smell, sound, color in the interior layout, and proper service). Next, it is necessary to interest the consumer in something, namely the location of mannequins, shelves, racks, product presentation method, the possibility of touch. Finally, it is important to have a professional seller (to covert needs, demonstrate goods, etc.).
It is necessary to point out some omissions that were noticed in the store. The store manager should hear his/her client. It is important to ask customers if they like the environment of the store. Most significantly, the manager must hear and understand them. If the store manager hears the same criticisms again, he needs to make some changes. It will take some time to strike the right balance, but when it regards the senses of your customers, your right actions will significantly increase the chances for success.
In order to conduct this research, it took me a lot of time and effort, because this work requires a lot of knowledge. For this study, it was necessary to read and use a lot of literature in the field of marketing. While conducting this research, I was surprised by the behavior of the consumers in the store and how different they can be. It was very useful for me to know the opinions of consumers about the store, what they like, and what they pay attention to.