The foundations of consumer behaviour
The study of consumer behaviour enables marketers to understand and predict consumer behaviour in the market place; it is concerned not only with what consumers buy but also with why, when, how and how often they buy it. Consumer behaviour is defined as the behaviour that consumers display when searching for, using, evaluating and disposing of products, services and ideas that they expect will satisfy their needs. Consumer behaviour is interdisciplinary, and is based on concepts and theories about people that have been developed by scientists in such diverse disciplines as psychology, sociology, social psychology, cultural anthropology and economics. Our society is a study in diversity – diversity among consumers, marketers, retailers, advertising media, cultures and customs; but there are also many similarities among consumers. Segmenting target audiences on the basis of similarities makes it possible for marketers to design marketing strategies with which their target consumers identify.
The study of consumer behaviour enables marketers to understand and predict consumer behaviour in the market place; it is concerned not only with what consumers buy, but also with why they buy, when they buy, where they buy, and how often they buy. To answer such questions marketers utilise consumer research from a positivistic or interpretive viewpoint, and various methodologies (e.g. scanner data, surveys or interviews) to study consumer behaviour, it takes place at every stage of the consumption process: before, during and after purchase.
Consumer behaviour has become an integral part of strategic market planning. The belief that ethics and social responsibility should also be integral components of every marketing decision is embodied in a revised marketing concept – the social marketing concept – which calls on marketers to fulfil the needs of their target market in ways that improve society as a whole.