Consumers’ behaviour does not remain uniform always and it meets changes rapidly. Its reasons mainly are the regular variations being introduced in the factors that influence the buyer behaviour.

Many a factors influence the purchases of consumer like social, cultural, personal and psychological factors.

Consumer behaviour refers to the selection, purchase and consumption of goods and services for the satisfaction of their wants. There are different processes involved in the consumer behaviour. Initially the consumer tries to find what commodities he would like to consume, then he selects only those commodities that promise greater utility.

After selecting the commodities, the consumer makes an estimate of the available money which he can spend.


Lastly, the consumer analyses the prevailing prices of commodities and takes the decision about the commodities he should consume. Meanwhile, there are various other factors influencing the purchases of consumer such as social, cultural, personal and psychological.

The factors affecting consumer buying behaviour can be studied under the following heads:-

1. Social Factors 2. Cultural Factors 3. Economic Factors 4. Psychological Factors 5. Sociocultural Influences 6. Situational Influences 7. Personal Factors.

Factors Affecting Consumer Buying Behaviour

Factors Affecting Consumer Buying Behaviour – Social and Cultural Factors, Economic Factors and Psychological Factors

According to Howard-Sheth model of consumer behaviour, the social environment provides stimulus to buyer behaviour and psychological frame work intervenes in input processing. The intervening variables in the consumer’s decision making process have been divided by Howard & Sheth into endogenous and exogenous variables. Endogenous variables include motivation, perception and learning whereas the exogenous variables include personality social class, culture, organization and financial status of an individual.


The endogenous variables are found within the individual and condition his mind and the latter is located within his decision making environment and influence him.

These are:

I. Social and Cultural Factors:

Practically all buyer behaviour is influenced by other people i.e., individual is influenced by member of his family, friends, members of the community. Social influences act in two directions- they provide information and standard of behaviour against which alternative buying behaviours are measured.

(a) Family:


The impact of family on formulation of values attitudes and purchasing patterns is considerable. The family defines purchase needs and also puts financial strains within which the buying is to be done. Different member play different roles, viz. initiator, influences decider, purchaser and, user. Marketers therefore must know and study the influence and who makes the decision. For example, the influence of wife predominates on food items and household products etc. The marketing manager must, therefore be aware of influence of the family upon the buying process.

(b) Culture:

It refers to the social heritage of the society. It encompasses the social values, attitudes towards work, social intercourse, language, belief, art, morals, law, customs, traditions and many other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of the society.

The Gujaratis, Maharastrians, Tamilians and the U.P. Bhrahmins have diverse culture and need different products, types of utensils used and the clothing worn. The marketer must therefore see that there values are not contradicted by any aspect of either the product or its promotion on distribution.


(c) Social Class:

On the basis of income category, the population is generally divided into upper class, middle class and lower class. On the basis of social class the customers purchasers different types of products.

(d) Reference Groups:

There are collection of individuals, providing an individual a sense of identity, accomplishment and stability. These groups influence the individuals opinion, beliefs and operations. Such group play key role in marketing.


(e) States Symbol:

Sociologists explain the status symbols by holding that- (i) people express their personalities not so much in words as in symbols (e.g. Manners, Dress, ornaments, Possessions) and (ii) more people are increasingly concerned about their social status. Different products vary in their status symbol value. For some a car may be a symbol of status but for others a beautiful well-furnished modern bungalow may be a status symbol.

II. Economic Factors:

1. Personal Income:

Income is by far the most powerful economic factor that influences and conditions consumer behaviour. Income gives purchasing power to consumer which help them strike an exchange create a purchase-sale transaction. However, from the marketing point of view, it is not the gross income but the disposable income that is important.


(a) Disposable Personal Income:

The entire income of the individual is seldom available for spending. Before a consumer can use his income for consumption or saving purposes there are pre-emptive demands on it. These demands are in the form of government taxes, debt repayment and debt-servicing charges etc.

It is only after having met these demands that the consumer is left with income that may be disposed of in the manner that he desires. This residual income is called disposable personal income (DPI). Thus DPI represents the amount of money that the consumer possess to be used for spending or saving.

The changes in DPI are relevant to consumer buying decisions. It has been observed that consumers reduce spending when DPI declines. When DPI rises, consumers are tempted not only to buy more but to buy more of luxury items. However, the rate of increase in spending is lower than that in income.


(b) Discretionary Income:

After having met the basic needs such as food, clothing and shelter, the residual DPI is spent by consumer at his discretions. Such residual DPI is called discretionary income. It has been defined as the income over and above that is required to meet fixed expenses and outlays necessary to provide a family with its minimum subsistence requirements.

A rise in discretionary income usually results in increased spending by consumers, specially on product categories that raise living standards. For example, consumer durables such as refrigerators, coolers, air, conditioners etc. Infact, continuous rise in the discretionary income changes the entire style of consumers.

2. Family Income:

While relating to consumer behaviour with income in Indian context, the income of the family is very relevant. In a joint family system, it is not the income of an individual member is important, but it is the income of the whole family that matters. A rise in an individual member’s income is important, but it is the income of the whole family that matters.

A rise in an individual member’s income may possibly be neutralized by a fall in another member’s income. Therefore, it is the relationship between family size/requirements and the family income that ultimately determines the buying behaviour of the family members.

III. Psychological Factors:


(a) Motivation:

Although a consumer may be made to learn by providing him with the requisite stimulus, the appropriate drive or need is a pre-requisite. Unless a consumer has a need, he cannot be made to want anything. As Alderson has rightly pointed out, “wants springs from needs and alien to be set of in opposition to needs.”

Therefore it is important for every market to understand the nature of these needs and their interrelationships so that appropriate stimulus may be provided to motivate persons to learn to buy products as desired.

Matching the Self-image with Product Image- Motivation has been defined as a driving force or a necessity to reduce a state of tension. According to them, tension mobilizes energy,which is directed by personal motivation systems in a certain direction. Tension may be caused by physical disequilibrium, eg., hunger or it may largely be psychologically based.

Thus, an understanding of consumer motivations considerably helps marketers to develop insights into the needs/motives and tensions of consumer which may be profitably used to develop and sell appropriate product.

(b) Perception:


Perception is sensing of stimuli external to the individual organism- the act or process of comprehending the world is which the individual exists. Perception has been defined by social psychologists as the complex process by which people select, organise and interpret sensory stimulation into a meaningful and weren’t picture of the world. Perception determines what is seen and felt by the consumer when numerous stimuli are directed to them every day by message broadcast by the marketers through then promotional devices.

Perception is a selective process. It is the interpretation of information to select a response to a stimulus. We can screen out ideas, message and information, if they are not relevant to us. We remember only what we want to remember. We see what we want to see and hear what we want to hear.

(c) Learning:

It is the process of acquiring knowledge; and the basic factors influencing learning are repetition, motivation, conditioning and relationship and organization.

From learning a person serve as a purchase factor for himself as well as for the members of the reference groups. Learning leading to formation of attitudes.

(d) Attitude:


Attitude or an individual’s consciousness, feelings, beliefs, values, form the emotional part of the mind. Attitudes develop generally as a result of experience and they engage from interactions with family, friends and reference groups.

Having known about the attitude of consumers, the marketer may adopt two alternatives in marketing. One, he may confirm the existing attitude by reminding the customers of why they like the product and why they should continue to purchase it. Two, the existing attitude may be changed, through improved media of advertisement.

(e) Personality:

It reflects individual differences in behaviour and individual respond to a certain amount of consistency to similar stimuli. Personality traits that influence behaviour include degrees of dominance, advantageousness, sociability, responsibility etc. However, generalizations about the effects of personality on consumer behaviour may be over simplification.

Factors Affecting Consumer Buying Behaviour – Explain the Factors that Influence Consumer Behaviour (With Examples)

Factor # 1. Psychological Influences:

Each person’s actions and choices are influenced by a variety of internal forces, including his or her needs and motives, perceptions, learning experiences, attitudes, and personality characteristics. These psychological influences affect all behaviour, including consumer behaviour.

i. Needs and Motives:


When you buy a product, you do so to fulfil some kind of need a discrepancy between your actual state and your desired state. For instance, in the recent past you were just dying to know all about marketing; you had a need for knowledge. In response to that need, you signed up for this course.

In other words, you were motivated to expand your knowledge of marketing. Motives are internal factors that activate and direct behaviour toward some goal. They drive people to act, whether that action is eating, working, playing, sleeping, or buying products.

One well-known way of looking at human needs and motives was provided by psychologist Abraham Maslow. He classified needs into five main categories – physiological, safety, love, esteem, and self-actualisation. He argued that there is a natural hierarchy to these needs.

According to Maslow, people must satisfy needs at the bottom of the hierarchy (the needs for biological survival and physical safety) before they can worry about pursuing the needs at higher levels.

As a marketer, you can promote products more effectively if you know where in the hierarchy they are most likely to appeal to consumers. Consider Schlage dead bolts and Mont Blanc fountain pens. The Schlage product keeps the consumer sale and secure, but it won’t add much in the way of love or self-esteem.

For perhaps ten times as much money, though, the consumer can have (or give as a gift) a Mont Blanc pen, which conveys a feeling of success and importance to the person who owns it.


Given these distinctly different appeals, how would you market these products? You’d probably promote the dead bolt on its ability to increase the consumer’s personal safety and promote the fountain pen on its ability to convey a sense of self- esteem. People don’t buy locks because they’re looking for love, and they don’t buy $200 fountain pens to improve their health or safety.

Another useful way of looking at needs and motives is to categorise them as being utilitarian or hedonic. Products that meet utilitarian needs are functional and provide material benefits. When you buy Bayer aspirin or Windex window cleaner, you’re looking for functional benefits.

Products that meet hedonic needs provide pleasure or a means of self-expression. Examples include hair styling and ice cream. To some degree, consumers are more likely to use deliberate, rational decision-making processes based on objective, product attributes when making purchases that satisfy primarily utilitarian needs.

Conversely, they are more likely to use decision processes based on subjective, emotional factors when making choices that satisfy primarily hedonic needs. Consumer choices that are most likely to be emotional are those involving products that give sensory and aesthetic pleasures, such as – arts and crafts, entertainment (movies, concerts, records, and books), fashion, and perfumes.

But even highly utilitarian objects can have symbolic meanings that can be key factors in brand selection. That’s one reason marketers put so much effort into establishing brand image. Products with a designer label, for example, tend to have a distinct image of prestige, and they cost more than similar products without the label.

Why do people buy them? Perhaps because, in the consumer’s mind, labels such as – Pierre Cardin have a celebrity value that is likely to overshadow the product’s functional value. People are willing to pay more to be associated with someone noted for “high style.”

Most products carry symbolic meaning for their users, but such meanings vary from culture to culture. Products acquire their symbolic images through the way they are portrayed and the way they are actually used in the culture. Some researchers even say that consumers give “sacred” status to a variety of objects, places, and times in their lives that have special symbolic meaning.

Through use of these sacred items, consumers repress cultural and personal values and “participate in a celebration of their connection to the society as a whole and to particular individuals.” Examples of sacred consumption are home ownership, pet ownership, sports fanaticism, gift exchanges, and accumulation of collections.

Sacred consumption usually involves rituals or habitual behaviour of various sorts. For instance, sports fans engage in pregame and postgame rituals and may treat stadiums as if they were temples.

Many experts believe that in the past few decades consumer researchers have placed too much emphasis on utilitarian needs and rational decision-­making processes and have neglected the importance of hedonic needs and symbolic meanings. However, because such needs and meanings are difficult to identify and assess, you face a tough task when you try to take this type of consumer motivation into account.

ii. Perception:

Before consumers can buy a product, they must be aware that it exists. This is a process that starts with being exposed to the stimuli that represent a particular product, attending to these stimuli, and interpreting them to form an overall perception of the object.

iii. Exposure:

The first step in perception is exposure to the stimulus, such as – seeing a TV Guide display at the supermarket checkout counter or hearing a Marriott hotel commercial on the radio.

To some extent the stimuli to which people are exposed are actively chosen-people select the television channels to watch, the store to go to, and the magazines to read. Other exposure is somewhat random-by simply driving down the street people exposed to billboards, ads on buses and taxis and so on.

Advertisers try to increase the chances that consumers will be exposed to one their ads. As a result of their efforts, people can now see ads on shopping carts, video cassettes, church bulletins, and athletes. Credit card bills often contain fliers from other companies selling a variety of products.

The packaging for mail-order purchases often includes advertisements for other products. All of these efforts represent attempts by advertisers to increase exposure.

iv. Attention:

Mere exposure to a stimulus doesn’t guarantee that consumers will pay attention. Most people live in an environment that is filled with sensory stimuli, but their capacity to handle this information is limited. Therefore, they must actively choose which stimuli to attend to. This phenomenon is called selective attention.

For example, it has been estimated that people notice less than 15 percent of the ads they are exposed to! How can you capture the consumer’s attention and the clutter of ads and products clamouring to be noticed? It is helpful to know that attention is influenced both by external stimuli and by factors unique to each individual.

v. Interpretation:

Even if consumers pay attention to your message, they may not interpret its meaning accurately. In fact, misinterpretation of marketing communications is quite common. One study found that an average of 30 percent of television communications (both commercial and noncommercial) were miscomprehended.

Among the variables that influence interpretation of a stimulus are the consumer’s needs, motives, past experiences, and expectations; the context or situation; the learned symbolic meanings for the stimulus; and the order in which related stimuli are received.

Expectations are particularly important – people will often perceive what they expect to perceive, such as – “their” brand of cola tasting better than other colas (even if the labels have been switched and they are drinking something different). Because of these variables, it is often hard for you to know whether a product is being perceived accurately. Therefore, you need to conduct research on consumer perceptions of your product category and specific brand.

vi. Learning:

Consumer learning is the process by which people acquire the knowledge and experience that they apply to buying and using products. Most consumer behaviours learned, not innate. The same principles that apply to other kinds of learning apply to consumer learning as well.

vii. Attitudes:

An attitude is a learned tendency to respond to a given product in a particular way. This is an important topic for marketing managers because many consumer behaviours are related to attitudes.

For instance, if you have a positive attitude about Fireman’s Fund, life insurance, you are not only likely to purchase that product yourself but also to recommend it to friends, relatives, and business associates. The job for the market to first understand attitudes and then learn how to influence them through the marking mix.

It is often useful to segment markets by consumers’ attitudes; this helps you design marketing mixes that align closely with the feelings in each segment. As an example of this sort of segmentation, researchers in The Netherlands recently measured the attitude of Dutch women toward traditional and nontraditional roles for women.

They identified five segments, ranging from conservatives, who are satisfied with their traditional roles and who reject nontraditional roles, to pioneers, whose attitudes are just the opposite. The implications for marketers? The conservatives are rarely interested in new products and they watch a lot of television.

Pioneers, on the other hand, look for new products and read more newspapers and magazines. Clues such as these are valuable when it’s time to select target segments and design marketing mixes.

Attitudes have three components – the cognitive, the affective, and the behavioural. The cognitive component is the easiest to understand. It consists of the particular beliefs or knowledge that a consumer has about something. An example-of a belief is “potatoes are high in calories” or “plastic containers damage the environment.”

A belief can be inaccurate or accurate, positive or negative. Consumers have beliefs about the marketplace (for example, that 6malter stores carry expensive merchandise or that January is the best time to buy sheets and towels) and about their own skills (“This camera is too complicated for me to operate”) as well as about products.

The affective component of an attitude encompasses the consumer’s positive and negative feelings; that is, it refers to how strongly a person likes or dislikes something. People can differ in their affective responses to the same belief. For example, the belie! that a store such as – Sharper Image carries expensive merchandise or that a salad dressing is low in calories may cause some people to respond negatively and others to respond positively. The person driven by a need to lose weight won’t respond to the salad dressing in the same way as a person who cares primarily about taste.

Finally, the behavioural component of an attitude consists of any action a consumer lake on the basis of his or her beliefs and feelings. The behaviour may take the form of hiring or shunning a product, using it, recommending it to others, and so on.

Of course, simply Inning a positive attitude toward a product doesn’t mean that a person will rash out to have it; he or she may not need it, may not be able to afford it, may have other priorities, or may have to take other household members into consideration (sure Dad thinks that Porsche is a great car and would love to own one, but).

Marketers can try to change consumer attitudes by directing their efforts at each of the attitude components. To emphasise the cognitive component, they can try to change beliefs about the brand’s attributes (as Domino’s did when it convinced consumers that pizza could be a real meal), alter the relative importance of brand attributes (emphasizing butter’s “naturalness” over its caloric content), add new beliefs (pointing out beneficial new-product features, such as – Clorox bleach now smelling of lemons), or change consumer beliefs about the ideal attributes of the product (emphasizing convenience overprice, such as – the ease of preparing LeMenu frozen dinners).

Taking another tack, they can also try to change beliefs about competitors’ products, putting their own products in a better light. For instance, as it battled to improve its service image, Northwest Airlines ran ads with this bold headline – “Northwest beats the top five U.S. airlines in on-time performance.”

Attempts to change the affective component might involve using likable ads that increase pleasant feelings toward the company or product (an associational learning approach like that used in those tear-jerker “reach out and touch someone” commercials from AT&T).

Or you might increase the amount of exposure to the product (based on the idea that familiarity enhances liking or attraction). Why does McDonald’s keep advertising, when every person in the solar system is aware of the company and can probably give you directions to a half-dozen McDonald’s restaurants?

McDonald’s keeps advertising because it doesn’t want you to forget for even a moment that McDonald’s is there to serve you. Through persistent advertising, Domino’s slowly built acceptance for the idea of phone-order pizza; now most Americans think nothing of picking up the phone and ordering dinner.

You can attack the behavioural component by getting people to try the product (through a free sample, a test drive, or a price reduction, for example) in hopes that product use will lead to satisfaction and thus positive beliefs and feelings.

Samples of products such as – Irish Spring soap have been sent through the mail, and samples of food drenched in Masterpiece BBQ sauce have been offered in grocery stores. Taking the direct approach, Nissan recently offered to pay people $100 if they test drove a Nissan and then purchased a Toyota or Honda.

The relationship of attitude and purchase behaviour is important, but it is by no means straightforward. You can ask five classmates about their attitude toward Ferraris, and you’ll probably get fairly positive answers. Does that mean these five people are going to buy Ferraris anytime soon? Probably not.

To predict Ferrari sales, you need to ask the people whether they intend to buy that brand of automobile. Such measures of purchase intent are a better predictor of purchase behaviour than simple attitude measurements. But even purchase intent isn’t always reliable.

For instance, perhaps one of your classmates can’t afford a Ferrari, even though he indicated the intent to buy one. And other people might change their minds between the time of your survey and the time of their purchases. You can quickly understand why marketers need to be careful when measuring consumer attitudes.

viii. Personality and Self-Concept:

Personality refers to a person’s consistent way of responding to a wide range of situations. Perhaps you attack life with energy and passion while your roommate hides under the blankets.

Marketers are interested in personality as a way to target consumers, Art people with particular personalities more likely to buy certain products? This question has intrigued consumer researchers for quite a while, but so far they have come up with few conclusive answers.

Over the years personality theorists have tried to categorize people according tin discrete number of personality “types” or to separate them on the basis of having specific personality traits. However, researchers have found little relationship between such categories and buying behaviour- with one or two exceptions.

For instance, people who are particularly susceptible to interpersonal influence have a need to enhance their image through buying and using certain products and brands, are willing to conform to the expectations of others regarding purchase decisions, and tend to lean about products by observing others and seeking information from others.

Because these individuals tend to be low in self-esteem and self-confidence, they rely more on others when they have to make decisions. Another personality variable that seems to be related to buying behaviour is risk taking. High risk takers, estimated to be about 25 percent of the population, have a higher than average need for stimulation.

They are bored easily and seek out adventure-a characteristic that can be exploited by marketers of travel services, sports equipment, and other such products. As a consumer, you naturally buy goods and services that fit your self-concept, which consists of your perceptions, beliefs, and feelings about yourself.

It encompasses both your private self (how you see yourself) and your public self (how others see you), as well as your actual self (how you really are) and your ideal self (what you would like to be). Some purchases and possessions, such as – clothing, cars, furniture, and houses, are more central to self-concept than others because they become extensions of yourself.

Marketers of products that contribute strongly to self-image (hairstyling, shoes, perfume, jewellery, eyeglasses) need to assess the self-concepts (especially the social and ideal self-concepts) of their target customers and develop brand images that maintain or enhance those self-images.

Self-concept is also important to marketers because it serves as the internal basis of life-style. Your life-style consists of all of your interests, activities, likes and dislikes, and consumption patterns. It is how you spend your time and money.

Although a consciously choose your life-style to some extent, it is also a function of your social class, age, income, education, and similar factors. These aspects of psychological influence play a big role in the way consumers behave, but they represent only the internal forces.

Factor # 2. Sociocultural influences:

Consumers live in a complex social environment. The kinds of products they buy can be influenced by the culture they grew up in, by demographic factors such as – their aged; income, by their social status, by their household makeup, by the groups they belong) and by the people they know. All these factors external to the individual are referred to as sociocultural influences on consumer behaviour.

i. Culture:

Culture encompasses all the beliefs, values, and objects that are shared by a society and passed on to succeeding generations. The important characteristics of culture are till – (a) it is learned, (b) it is shared through social institutions (such as – family, religious; institutions, schools, and the media), (c) it rewards socially appropriate responses, and (d) it changes with the times.

U.S. culture in the 1990s is very different from what it was in the 1890s; it is also different from Japanese culture, Scandinavian culture, and Arab culture.

As U.S. companies continue to search for markets in other countries, an understanding of cultural nuances is vital to success. Cultural mistakes tend to fall into two allegories. The first is the U.S. tendency to treat dissimilar groups of people as parts of one larger group.

This mistake is probably made in Europe most often, but it can also happen in Asia and Africa. For instance, people in Great Britain, France, Germany, and Italy certainly have a lot in common, but they do not usually view themselves as Europeans first and citizens of their own countries second.

Just by taking a look at advertising in the various countries you can sense differences of both substance and style. British advertisers tend to rely on humour, whereas their French counterparts use sex and high style us the more common appeals. Coldly factual German ads stand in contrast to shouting, singing, splashy ads from Italy.

Unfortunately for U.S. marketers, the dismantling of European economic barriers in 1992 will probably increase the illusion of a monolithic pan-European market.

The second type of cultural blunder assumes that everyone in the world is basically the same and that they all think, feel, and act like people in the United States. Sometimes the mistakes are tactical errors, such as – PepsiCo’s attempt to export its “Come Alive with Pepsi” theme around the world, only to learn that in Thailand it became Bring your ancestors back from the dead with Pepsi.

“In other cases, the differences affect the very way you conduct business. For example, businesspeople in Indonesia have a term that is roughly translated as – “rubber time.” This means that time is elastic and unstructured; if a local festival overlaps with a business meeting, you cancel the business meeting. Hard-driving U.S. businesspeople often have trouble adjusting to this concept.”

This isn’t to say that there are no cross-cultural markets. The point is that you have to do your homework so that you truly understand your markets. For instance, the Japanese teenager listening to a Walkman and wearing Levi’s while eating in a Burger King shares many of the buying habits of teenagers in California, Iowa, Denmark, and Australia.

In fact, global teenagers often have more in common with each other than they have with their own parents. But don’t assume anything about cultural influences – research is absolutely necessary.

The culture we live in determines the language we speak, the foods we eat, the clothing we wear, and the activities we engage in. Obviously, culture is a complex topic to cover in detail.

ii. Social Status:

The next important sociocultural influence is social status. Every society can be seen as stratified into a number of social classes made up of people who share similar values, life-styles, interests, and behaviours. Social class is determined primarily by occupation but is also based on income, education, possessions, personal success, social skills, community participation, and other factors.

Social class influences many aspects of consumer behaviour – the quality and style of clothing people wear, their home furnishings, their use of leisure time, their choice of media, where and how they shop, and their saving, spending, and credit patterns, It is important for you to realize that income and social class are separate influences on consumer behaviour and that the two are not necessarily related.

For example, people who consider themselves to be middle class or even working class may have very high incomes, especially if they are in two-earner households, but what they spend that income on will be different from what upper-class people spend their money on, Upper-class people may put their entertainment dollars toward opera or symphony tickets, whereas working-class people might be more inclined to buy tickets for stock car races or football games.

iii. Households:

The next sociocultural influence of interest to consumer marketers is the household — all the people, related or unrelated, who occupy a housing unit. From a market planning point of view, the basic unit of consumption is not the individual person but the household.

A household is not the same as a family; a household can consist of a single person, two or more unmarried or unrelated persons, a stepfamily, or the traditional family. The average household size in the United States has dropped to an all-time low – 2.62 persons. People living alone make up 25 percent of all U.S. households.

The traditional family household, a married couple with their own children, is now in the minority and declining. The largest increases have been in stepfamilies (which will be the most common kind of family by the year 2000) and in single-parent families. Fast-food marketers are among those who have responded to the changes in families.

When they realized that fewer and fewer people were sitting around the breakfast table in the morning with their families, McDonald’s, Burger King, and Jack-in-the-Box added breakfast foods to their menus, which was a successful move. In the last decade, consumption of breakfast in restaurants has grown much faster than consumption of lunches or dinners.

iv. Reference Groups:

The sixth important sociocultural influence comes from all the groups to which a consumer belongs. Any group that influences consumer decisions is considered a reference group, which may be one to which the consumer belongs (such as – a family, a club), or a subculture), one to which he or she aspires to belong (and thus identifies with), or one that he or she shuns.

Reference groups influence people’s decisions by providing information, by pressuring them to conform to group norms, or by offering a set of values for people to identify with and express.

Factor # 3. Situational Influences:

In addition to all the psychological and sociocultural influences, aspects the communication, purchase, and usage situation can influence consumer buying behaviour. Situational influences are factors within a particular time or place, independent of the consumer’s or the product’s characteristics, that affect consumer decision making. By understanding the effects of situational influences, you can start to maladjustments to help bring about desired consumer responses.

Situational influences can be grouped into five categories – physical surrounding social surroundings, temporal perspective, task definition, and antecedent states. Physical surroundings include the location, weather, sounds, aromas, lighting, decor, physical surroundings include and so on that make up the physical situation in which consumers are exposed to products, purchase them, or use them.

Marketers are particularly interested in lit purchase situation – what aspects of the retail environment enhance or discourage pin chases? Of special concern are such things as information load (is the consumers given too much to choose from? too little?), background music, odours, store layout, product location, colour schemes, and displays.

The social surroundings of a situation consist of the other people who are present: family members, friends, other consumers, salespeople, and so on. For example, while watching television or listening to the radio, family members may comment on commercials and influence each other’s perceptions.

Similarly, shopping is a social activity It many consumers, and the people they shop with can have a significant influence on IMS what they buy and where they buy it. You also need to consider the social surroundings for product use – people make different choices depending on who will be around the product is consumed. For instance, for entertaining influential guests, they might buy better-quality food than they would normally eat.

The temporal perspective in a situation includes not only the amount of time available for consumers to learn about, shop for, or use a product but also the time of day d time of year, the amount of time since the product was last used, the amount of time until payday, and so on.

You need to take a temporal perspective when use of your – products tends to vary with seasons or holidays. Can the product be positioned promoted differently at other times to help even out sales? For instance, ski resorts do this by setting up summertime activities to encourage year-round use of their facilities.

You also need to consider the ever-increasing time constraints on today’s consumers. In particular, 55 percent of Americans under age 50 complain of a lack of leisure time, and the percentage is even higher for two-income families. People are willing to pay more to make the best use of their leisure time, which means spending money on products that save time (microwave foods, lawn maintenance services) or on those to improve the quality of leisure time (recreation equipment, travel services).

Savvy marketers are catering to both types of time expenditures. In addition, people who are in a hurry will not spend a lot of time gathering information about alternatives, will limit the number of alternatives they consider, and will tend to stick to the tried-and-true solutions that have worked in the past. These behaviours make it difficult to convince people to switch brands or try new ones.

The fourth situational factor, task definition, describes why the consumer is seeking information about, buying, or using a product. A common task differentiation is between buying something for personal use and buying something as a gift. For example, a woman might buy a paperback book for herself but a hardbound copy of the same book as a gift.

Also, the kinds of items chosen as gifts will depend on the situation (wedding gifts tend to be more practical than birthday gifts) and on the relation of the recipient to the giver (a woman might buy silk pyjamas for her husband but not for her boss.)

The final situational factor is the antecedent state, or particular mood or condition affecting the consumer. The person may be anxious or bored, tired or energetic, strapped for cash or feeling flush. Moods can influence the consumer’s ability to process am retrieve information, the shopping process, and consumption behaviour.

Some people no out to the mall if they are feeling bored or depressed, go to a fancy restaurant or expensive stores if they’ve come into some extra cash, and make other such decisions based on momentary states.

Factors Affecting Consumer Buying Behaviour – What are the Factors that Influence Consumer Behaviour (Psychological, Economic and Sociological Factors)

Consumers’ behaviour does not remain uniform always and it meets changes rapidly. Its reasons mainly are the regular variations being introduced in the factors that influence the buyer behaviour.

The factors influencing buyer behaviour are of three types:

1. Psychological Factors

2. Economic Factors

3. Sociological Factors.

1. Psychological Factors:

Several psychological factors influence the behaviour of buyer while buying the items.

Psychological factors include the following factors:

i. Basic Needs

ii. Image

iii. Learning.

i. Basic Needs:

The buyer wants first to cater the basic necessities as it is must for him. His focus is only then shifted to purchase of other items.

A. H. Maslow has divided these necessities in the following classes:

(a) Physiological – These are the necessities must for life of a man. For example, food, water, air, etc.

(b) Safety Needs – Every man wants to live physical, economic and psychologically a safer life. For example, safety of permanent employment.

(c) Social Needs – Every buyer wants to cater the social needs after satisfying the above two kinds of necessities.

(d) Esteem and Self-Respect – These necessities are related to the passions for having prestige, reputation and honour in the society.

(e) Self-Actual Notion – These necessities are related to acquire maximum education and ability.

(f) Aesthetic Needs – The necessities as to understand and digest are included in these needs.

ii. Image:

Image depicts an impression of a particular product or the item in the mind of consumer.

It is of three kinds:

(a) Self-image – It is purported to an image that a man keeps for himself. Image of every person is distinct than others. For example, the behaviour of a clerk in post office is distinct than a clerk in Bank.

(b) Product Image – The concept of buyers for a particular item is called the product image.

(c) Brand Image – Brand of an item influences the buyers for having purchase of the same.

iii. Learning:

A buyer gets influenced of extraneous as also internal factors simultaneously. Learning is also a factor among them. Motives of a man direct the activities to perform. The motives matching with his activities give him satisfactions.

The manner of learning is the best. Repetition assists learning, so it is must. The buyer learns promptly the use or consumption of an item if it matches with his motive. However, if the item does not match with the motive, it takes long time to learn. If a man is suffering from teeth ache, his memory catches immediately the advertisement given on media for cure of teeth or the toothpaste relieving pain. Some names can be learnt easily such as – Aspro or Anacin.

Again if the buyer has learnt something about any item, he will behave differently than that who is unknown. Hence, learning too influences the buyers’ behaviour.

2. Economic Factors:

Economic factors are meant for the elements, related to the economic position of the consumer.

Following elements can be included within economic factors:

i. Personal Income – Personal income has a direct impact on the buying of the buyer. It is the yardstick of personal income that determines the extent of purchase of goods and items. An increase in income usually increases in the level of his consumption. It sometimes, reduces the consumption too as the consumer spends merely a part of his income and retains the rest as savings.

ii. Family Income – Income of the family too influences the buying behaviour of each and every man. A distinction will always remain between the purchase behaviour of a low income family and that of high income family.

iii. Income Expectations – Prospects of increase in income motivate a man to buy more but lesser if prospects are of decrease in income.

iv. Consumer Credit – The buyer does more purchase if credit facilities are provided.

v. Discretionary Income – It is the residual income after satisfying the needs of bread, clothes and residence of a family. It motivates the buyer to buy particular items.

vi. Government Policy – The direct and indirect taxes imposed by the government influence the buying parity of the buyers.

3. Sociological Factors:

Sociological factors have also provides certain clues to why a consumer behaves this way or that way. The sociologists to explain the behaviour of a group of individuals and the way in which it affects and conditions are individual’s behaviour in purchasing decisions.

These groups of individuals are:

i. Family

ii. Reference Group

iii. Opinion Leaders

iv. Social Class and Caste

v. Culture.

Here is an attempt to explain and to know their implications as consumer behaviour is concerned:

i. Family:

Each decision made by consumer are taken within the family and are affected by the desires, attitudes, value of the other family members.

The family effect on consumer behaviour can be traced in two ways:

(a) The family influence on the individual personality characteristics, attitude and the evaluate criteria, and

(b) Family is both a purchasing and consuming unit. A marketing manager is keenly interested to know the customers.

These are:

(i) Who influences the purchase?

(ii) Who does make decision of purchase?

(iii) Who does family purchase?

(iv) Who does actual use of the product?

It is seen often that – (a) It is mostly the house-wife that has an upper hand in influence the purchases. (b) Decision of purchase can be taken jointly by husband, wife and the children, Sometimes, opinion of children is given more importance. (c) The product can be bought by any person out of husband, wife and children (d) it is possible that the purchaser does not actually use the goods.

ii. Reference Groups:

Each consumer in the society is not only the member of his family but the members of some groups outside the family circle. There groups outside the family can be called as ‘Reference Groups’. Reference group is a social and professional group that influence the individual’s opinions.

These are:

(a) The groups that serve as comparison point.

(b) Groups to which a person aspires to belong.

(c) Groups whose social perspectives are assumed by the individual as a frame-work of reference for his own actions.

iii. Opinion Leader:

Opinion leader play an important role in influencing the consumer behaviour of their followers. The individual to whom such reference is made by a person is the opinion leader. The preferences, attitude, actions and behavior of the leader set a trend for others to follow in given situation.

iv. Social Class and Caste:

In India, we can think of three classes as Rich, Middle and Poor. Caste is the group of the membership by birth. These castes were based on activity specialisation of profession or occupation, we have four such broad categories as – (a) Brahmins (b) Kashatriyas (c) Vaishyas (d) Shudras.

Each class and caste develops its own standard of style, living and behaviour patterns. But in the eyes of Indian Constitution, all castes are equal.

v. Culture:

Culture refers to the social heritage of the society. According to Bidney D. – “Culture consists of the acquired or cultivated behaviour and thoughts of individuals within a society, as well as the intellectual artistic, and social ideals and institutions which the members of the society progress and to which they strive to conform”.

According to Howard J. A. and J.N. Sheth – “Culture consists essentially of traditional ideas and, in particular the value, which are attached to these ideas. Culture effects brand comprehension, attitude and intention to purchase.” Culture represents an overall social heritage, a distinctive form of environmental adaptation by a whole society of people.


In Indian Culture, we have some important basis of sub-culture. A sub­culture has its own beliefs, values and customs that set them apart from other members of the same society.

Factors Affecting Consumer Buying Behaviour – Factors that Influence the Purchases of Consumer

Many a factors influence the purchases of consumer like social, cultural, personal and psychological factors.

The same have been briefly explained below:

1. Cultural Factors:

Cultural factors such like the consumers culture, subculture, and social class greatly influence the purchase of the customers.

i. Culture:

Culture can be said to be the part of every society and determines the consumer’s wants and behaviour. The marketer has to analyse the culture of different groups, and countries to be able to target the same.

For example when an Indian chain of hotel like Taj group has to welcome its guest in India it has to take into consideration the Indian culture for the same. Thus the staff greets the consumers with a “Namaste” which reflects the essence of Indian culture.

ii. Subculture:

Culture may have different subcultures which can be divided on the basis of religions, geographic regions, and racial groups. This helps the marketer to make smaller portions of segment.

iii. Social Class:

Marketers have to look to market in a similar social class. Thus they could tailor the product as per different social classes. The factors which determine social class are wealth, income, education, occupation etc.

2. Social Factors:

Social factors like reference groups, family, role and status also impact the consumers behaviour. Reference groups have potential in forming a person attitude or behaviour. These groups could also include opinion leader a person known for his expertise and knowledge for a certain product.

Family and the roles of the husband, wife and children and their impact on marketing are crucial. For example most of the advertisements have started showing wife and children in their advertisements, because the consumer is nowadays very much influenced by his primary family.

Roles and Status are also important in marketing of services. The consumer has different roles in various groups to which he is affiliated like the groups, clubs, family, organisation etc.

3. Personal Factors:

Personal factors like lifestyle, occupation, economic situation, age, personality and self-concept can make a difference in the consumers’ buying behaviour. For example a person who is middle aged but in a respectful occupation would want to travel via airlines to his destination versus trains.

Also personality factors like dominance, self-confidence, aggressiveness could determine the consumer behaviour for particular service.

4. Psychological Factors:

Psychological factors like perception, motivation, learning, beliefs and attitudes could also affect the consumer behaviour.

Motivation speaks of the physiological needs, biological needs, and social needs of the consumers which the marketer has to understand.

Perception is the act of Selecting, organizing and interpreting information to give it a meaningful experience. The consumer could go through selective attention (giving attention to few services), selective distortion (supporting information which they already believe in) and selective retention (retaining information which supports their belief).

Beliefs and Attitudes help in making a brand image and affect consumer buying.

Factors Affecting Consumer Buying Behaviour – Psychological, Cultural, Social and Personal Factors

1. Psychological Factors:

The terms Psychology is derived from Greek word ‘Psyche’ which means ‘soul’ or ‘spirit’. Psychology helps in understanding the consumer. Psychology means the ability to understand how peoples mind works which will be useful when trying to influence them. Person buying choices are influenced by psychological factors, which are – Motivation, Perception, Learning, Belief and Attitude.

Motivation is one of the major factors, which affects behaviour. Motivation is an internal feeling and person is motivated in totality and not in part.

Motivation = Value x Expectancy

Motivation = Strength of persons belief for any outcome x Strength of persons interest for any outcome

Motivation is derived from motives, which are further derived from Human Needs. Motives are those factors, which compels or drives a consumer to take a particular action. Motivation means to stimulate a person to act for this we have to know the various needs for satisfying them. One approach of defining need could be feeling of lackness/deprived of something and human tries to get rid of lackness.

There are various theories related with motivation but the most common one is of Abraham Maslow Theory, which is Hierarchy of Needs. According to Maslow – The behaviour of an individual at a particular moment is determined by the need, which is strongest.

Maslow says when more Basic Needs are satisfied then an individual tries to satisfy the Higher Needs. But when Basic needs are not satisfied then an individual should try to postpone efforts for the satisfaction of Higher Need.

2. Cultural Factors:

Culture is source of some of behavioural characteristics of a group of people and persons wants. Study of culture involves studying anthropology, which describes how human behaves. Study of culture is important because culture is collective paradigm of society where people’s lives that affects their behaviour which in term effects their purchase decisions.

Culture is associated with man and not with animals. The growing child acquires a set of values, perceptions, preferences and behavior through his or her family and other institutions. Each culture consists of smaller sub cultures, which provides more specific identification and socialization for their members. A sub culture includes nationalities, religions, racial groups and geographic regions.

When sub culture grows large and becomes dominant then companies often design specialized marketing programs known as Diversity marketing. A social class consists of members in a society who shares similar values, interest and behavior. Social classes can be on the basis of income, occupation, education and area of residence.

Basic Characteristics of Culture are:

(a) Culture as Learned Responses – means human learns everything from his family and society which have certain cultural characteristics which in turn prescribes human to behave in a particular way.

(b) Cultural as inculcated value (e.g. Punjabi) – Means culture is passed from Generations to generations by family.

(c) Culture as Social Phenomena – Individuals way of thinking and behaving is not related with culture but groups thinking and collectivism constitutes culture which is reinforced through society. So culture has its roots in society and it is a social phenomenon.

(d) Culture as an Adaptive Process – Means it adapts to the changes in environment due to change in value system.

(e) Culture is dynamic – Means culture patterns are never static over a period of time i.e. changes take place, change in culture may be due to –

i. Migration of peoples

ii. Climatic Changes

iii. Technological Changes or

iv. Wars.

3. Social Factors:

Consumer behaviour is also influenced by social factors such as reference groups – A persons Reference group consists of all the groups that have a direct (face-to-face) or indirect influence on the person’s behavior. Groups having a direct influence on a person are called Membership groups.

Some membership groups are primary groups such as family, friends, neighbours, are co-workers with whom the person interacts fairly continuously and informally. Secondary groups such as religious, professional and trade union groups are those groups with whom person interacts occasionally and usually in formal manner.

People are also influenced by groups to which they do not belong like Aspiration Group; that a person dreams to belong to and has deep and entrenched positive influence of members of that group on his mind. People hope to get referred for such groups and carry inspirational values from members of this group.

Formula one racer’s could be an inspirational group for few youths in India. Yet there is another reference group called as Disassociate group. These are those whose values or behaviors an individual rejects.

People many times like to disassociate themselves from certain group as these groups according to them follow value systems that are vote-face to their value system and beliefs. Try to figure out a group in your college that you always want to disassociate.

Manufactures are always try to influence opinion leaders, a group of consumers in the society who are enthusiasts and proactively adopts new products, because these opinion leaders offer advice or information about products for making a purchase or not to other consumers.

4. Personal Factors:

Consumer Behaviour is also influenced by personal factors such as:

(a) Age and Stage in the Life-Cycle:

Taste related with food, clothing, furniture, automobile and recreation are related with age. Purchasing/product choices are also affected by various stages a consumer is in his family life cycle.

(b) Occupation and Economic Circumstances:

Purchasing/product choices are also affected by occupation like white collar peoples (company presidents and executives) buy expensive clothes, shoes or lunch boxes while Blue collar workers will buy normal clothes, shoes or lunch boxes. Purchasing / product choices are also affected by economic circumstances.

When economic circumstances are favorable like Savings and Assets, More jobs or stability then consumer exhibits more purchasing and when economic circumstances are unfavourable like Debts, less jobs or non-stable job then companies re-design, re-position and re-price their products for continuity in business.

(c) Lifestyle:

People from the same sub-culture, social class and occupation may have different life-styles. Lifestyle is person’s pattern of living in the world as expressed in activities, interests and opinions. Life style portrays the whole persons interacting with his/her environment.

Marketers search for relationship between their product and lifestyles. For e.g. if consumers are achievement oriented then company would aim their product at Achiever life-style.

(d) Personality and Self-Concept:

Each person has personality characteristics which influence his or her behaviour. Personality is person’s nature or the qualities which give one’s characteristics and individuality. Personality is often described in terms of such traits as self-confidence, dominance, sociability, defensiveness and adaptability.

There is also Brand personality that means specific mix of Human traits or associated with brands. The ideas is that brand also have personalities and consumer are likely to choose brands whose personalities match with them.

Factors Affecting Consumer Buying Behaviour – List the Factors that Influence Consumer Behaviour

Consumer behaviour refers to the selection, purchase and consumption of goods and services for the satisfaction of their wants. There are different processes involved in the consumer behaviour. Initially the consumer tries to find what commodities he would like to consume, then he selects only those commodities that promise greater utility.

After selecting the commodities, the consumer makes an estimate of the available money which he can spend. Lastly, the consumer analyses the prevailing prices of commodities and takes the decision about the commodities he should consume. Meanwhile, there are various other factors influencing the purchases of consumer such as social, cultural, personal and psychological.

The explanation of these factors is given below:

1. Cultural Factors:

Consumer behaviour is deeply influenced by cultural factors such as:

a. Buyer culture,

b. Subculture, and

c. Social class.

a. Culture:

Basically, culture is the part of every society and is the important cause of person wants and behaviour. The influence of culture on buying behaviour varies from country to country therefore marketers have to be very careful in analyzing the culture of different groups, regions or even countries.

b. Subculture:

Each culture contains different subcultures such as religions, nationalities, geographic regions, racial groups etc. Marketers can use these groups by segmenting the market into various small portions. For example marketers can design products according to the needs of a particular geographic group.

c. Social Class:

Every society possesses some form of social class which is important to the marketers because the buying behaviour of people in a given social class is similar. In this way marketing activities could be tailored according to different social classes. Social class is not only determined by income but there are various other factors as well such as- wealth, education, occupation etc.

2. Social Factors:

Social factors also impact the buying behaviour of consumers.

The important social factors are:

a. Reference groups,

b. Family,

c. Role and status.

a. Reference Groups:

Reference groups have potential in forming a person attitude or behaviour. The impact of reference groups varies across products and brands. For example if the product is visible such as dress, shoes, car etc then the influence of reference groups will be high. Reference groups also include opinion leader (a person who influences other because of his special skill, knowledge or other characteristics).

b. Family:

Buyer behaviour is strongly influenced by the member of a family. Therefore marketers are trying to find the roles and influence of the husband, wife and children.

If the buying decision of a particular product is influenced by wife then the marketers will try to target the women in their advertisement. Buying roles change with change in consumer lifestyles.

c. Roles and Status:

Each person possesses different roles and status in the society depending upon the groups, clubs, family, organization etc. to which he belongs. For example a woman is working in an organization as finance manager. Now she is playing two roles, one of finance manager and other of mother. Therefore her buying decisions will be influenced by her role and status.

3. Personal Factors:

Personal factors can also affect the consumer behaviour.

Some of the important personal factors that influence the buying behaviour are:

a. Age,

b. Occupation,

c. Economic situation,

d. Lifestyle,

e. Personality and self-concept.

a. Age:

Age and life-cycle have potential impact on the consumer buying behaviour. It is obvious that the consumers change the purchase of goods and services with the passage of time. Family life-cycle consists of different stages such young singles, married couples, unmarried couples etc. which help marketers to develop appropriate products for each stage.

b. Occupation:

The occupation of a person has significant impact on his buying behaviour. For example a marketing manager of an organization will try to purchase business suits, whereas a low level worker in the same organization will purchase rugged work clothes.

c. Economic Situation:

Consumer economic situation has great influence on his buying behaviour. If the income and savings of a customer is high then he will purchase more expensive products. On the other hand, a person with low income and savings will purchase inexpensive products.

d. Lifestyle:

Lifestyle of customers is another import factor affecting the consumer buying behaviour. Lifestyle refers to the way a person lives in a society and is expressed by the things in his/her surroundings. It is determined by customer interests, opinions, activities etc and shapes his whole pattern of acting and interacting in the world.

e. Personality:

Personality changes from person to person, time to time and place to place. Therefore it can greatly influence the buying behaviour of customers. Actually, Personality is not what one wears; rather it is the totality of behaviour of a man in different circumstances. It has different characteristics such as- dominance, aggressiveness, self-confidence etc which can be useful to determine the consumer behaviour for particular product or service.

4. Psychological Factors:

There are four important psychological factors affecting the consumer buying behaviour.

These are:

a. Motivation,

b. Perception,

c. Beliefs and attitudes.

a. Motivation:

The level of motivation also affects the buying behaviour of customers. Every person has different needs such as physiological needs, biological needs, social needs etc. The nature of the needs is that, some of them are most pressing while others are least pressing. Therefore a need becomes a motive when it is more pressing to direct the person to seek satisfaction.

b. Perception:

Selecting, organizing and interpreting information in a way to produce a meaningful experience of the world is called perception. There are three different perceptual processes which are selective attention, selective distortion and selective retention.

In case of selective attention, marketers try to attract the customer attention. Whereas, in case of selective distortion, customers try to interpret the information in a way that will support what the customers already believe. Similarly, in case of selective retention, marketers try to retain information that supports their beliefs.

c. Beliefs and Attitudes:

Customer possesses specific belief and attitude towards various products. Since such beliefs and attitudes make up brand image and affect consumer buying behaviour therefore marketers are interested in them. Marketers can change the beliefs and attitudes of customers by launching special campaigns in this regard.

Factors Affecting Consumer Buying Behaviour – Various Factors Influencing Consumer Behaviour

I. Cultural Factors:

Culture, subculture, and social class are particularly important in buying behaviour.

1. Culture:

Culture is the most fundamental determinant of a person’s wants and behaviour. It consists of the learned values, norms, rituals, and symbols of society, which are transmitted through both the language and symbolic features of the society. The growing child acquires a set of values, perceptions, preferences, and behaviours through his or her family and other key institutions.

A child growing up in the United States is exposed to the following values- achievement and success, activity, efficiency and practicality, progress, material comfort, individualism, freedom, external comfort, humanitarianism and youthfulness.

2. Subculture:

Each culture consists of smaller subcultures that provide more specific identification and socialization for their members. Subcultures include nationalities, religions, racial groups, and geographic regions. Many subcultures make up important market segments, and marketers often design products and marketing programmes tailored to their needs.

3. Social Class:

Virtually all-human societies exhibit social stratification. Stratification sometimes takes the form of a caste system where the members of different castes are reared for certain roles and cannot change their caste membership. More frequently, stratification takes the form of social classes.

Social classes are relatively homogenous and enduring divisions in a society, which are hierarchically ordered and whose members share similar values, interests, and behaviour.

II. Social Factors:

In addition to cultural factors, a consumer’s behaviour is influenced by such social factors as reference groups, family, and social roles and statuses.

1. Reference Group:

Generally speaking a reference group can designate to any person or group that serves as a point of comparison (or reference) for an individual informing either general or specific values, attitudes or behavior. Every human being because of his sociable nature prefers to evaluate his abilities and opinion based on the comparison of others abilities and opinions.

According to Philip Kotler, “a person’s reference groups consist of all the groups that have a direct (face to face) or indirect influence on the person’s attitudes o- behaviour”. Reference groups are of different types.

According to Herbert Hyman, reference group is “the type of group that an individual uses as a point of reference in determining his own judgments, preferences, beliefs and behaviour.”

2. Family:

Family members can strongly influence buyer’s behaviour. The family is the most important consumer buying organization in society, and it has been researched extensively.

3. Roles and Statuses:

A person participates in many groups – family, clubs, organizations. The person’s position in each group can be defined in terms of role and status. A role consists of the activities that a person is expected to perform. Each role carries a status. A Supreme Court justice has more status than a sales manager, and a sales manager has more status than an office clerk.

People choose products that communicate their role and status in society. Thus company presidents often drive Mercedes, wear expensive suits, and drink Chivas Regal scotch. Marketers are aware of the status symbol potential of products and brands.

III. Personal Factors:

A buyer’s decisions are also influenced by personal characteristics. These include the buyer’s age and stage in the life cycle, occupation, economic circumstances, lifestyle, and personality and self-concept.

1. Age and Stage in the Life Cycle:

As a person passes through different stages of his life he needs different set of products. Further the tastes, habits of persons change with age. They eat baby food in the early years, most foods in the growing and mature years, and special diets in the later years. Taste in clothes, furniture, and recreation is also age related. Consumption is shaped by the family lifecycle. Some recent work has identified psychological life-cycle stages. Marketers pay close attention to changing life circumstances – divorce, widowhood, remarriage – and their effect on consumption behaviour.

2. Occupation and Economic Circumstances:

Occupation also influences a person’s consumption pattern. A blue-collar worker will buy clothes, work shoes, and lunchboxes. A company president will buy expensive suits, air travel, country club membership, and large sailboat. Marketers try to identify the occupational groups that have above-average interest in their products and services.

Product choice is greatly affected by economic circumstances; spendable income (level, stability, and time pattern), savings and assets (including the percentage that is liquid), debts, borrowing power, and attitude towards spending versus saving.

Marketers of income-sensitive goods pay constant attention to trends in personal income, savings, and interest rates. If economic indicators point to a recession, marketers can take steps to redesign, reposition, and reprise their products so they continue to offer value to target customers.

3. Lifestyle:

People from the same subculture, social class, and occupation may lead quite different lifestyles. A lifestyle is the person’s pattern of living in the world as expressed in activities, interests, and opinions. Lifestyle portrays the “whole person” interacting with his or her environment.

Marketers search for relationships between their products and lifestyle groups. For example, a computer manufacturer might find that most computer buyers are achievement-oriented. The marketer may then aim the brand more clearly at the achiever lifestyle.

4. Personality and Self-Concept:

Each person has a distinct personality that influences buying behaviour. By personality, we mean distinguishing psychological characters that lead to relatively consistent and enduring responses to environment. Personality is usually described in terms of such traits as self- confidence, dominance, autonomy, deference, sociability, defensiveness, and adaptability.

Personality can be a useful variable in analyzing consumer behaviour, provided that personality types can be classified accurately and that strong correlations exist between certain personality types and product or brand choices. For example, a computer company might discover that many prospects show high self- confidence, dominance, and autonomy. Related to personality is self-concept (or self-image). Self-concept is the totality of person’s thoughts and feelings with reference to himself or herself as the object.

Marketers try to develop brand images that match the target market’s self-image. It is possible that a person’s actual self-concept (how she views herself) differs from her ideal self-concept (how she would like to view herself) and from her others-self- concept (how she thinks others see her).

IV. Psychological Factors:

A person’s buying choices are influenced by four major psychological factors motivation, perception, learning, beliefs and attitudes.

1. Motivation:

A person has many needs at any given time. Some needs are biogenic; they arise from physiological states of tension such as hunger, thirst, discomfort. Other needs are psychogenic; they arise from psychological states of tension such as the need for recognition, esteem, or belonging. A need becomes a motive when it is aroused to a sufficient level of intensity. A motive is a need that is sufficiently pressing to drive the person to act.

2. Perception:

A motivated person is ready to act. How the motivated person actually acts is influenced by his or her perception of the situation. Perception is the process by which an individual selects, organizes, and interprets information inputs to create a meaningful picture of the world. Perception depends not only on the physical stimuli but also on the stimuli’s relation to the surrounding field and on conditions within the individual.

3. Learning:

When people act, they learn. Learning involves changes in an individual’s behaviour arising from experience. Most human behaviour is learned. A drive is a strong internal stimulus impelling action. Cues are minor stimuli that determine when, where, and how a person responds.

4. Beliefs and Attitudes:

Through doing and learning, people acquire beliefs and attitudes. These in turn influence buying behaviour. A belief is a descriptive thought that a person holds about something. Beliefs may be based on knowledge, opinion, or faith. They may or may not carry an emotional charge. Manufacturers are very interested in the beliefs people carry in their heads about their products and services.

An attitude is a person’s enduring favourable or unfavourable evaluations, emotional feelings, and action tendencies toward some object or idea. People have attitudes toward almost everything, religion, politics, clothes, music, and food. Attitudes put them into a frame of mind of liking or disliking an object, moving toward or away from it. Attitudes lead people to behave in a fairly consistent way toward similar objects.

Factors Affecting Consumer Buying Behaviour – Influence of Social, Cultural, Psychological and Personal Factors

The four factors that influence the way people perceive stimuli are:

1. Social factors.

2. Cultural factors.

3. Psychological factors.

4. Personal factors.

Social and cultural factors influence us from outside whereas psychological and personal factors influence us from within.

1. Social Factors:

How people see things and the way they behave are influenced by the people to whom they relate. The important social factors which influence the buyer’s behaviour are – Family influence, reference group influence, etc.

i. Family Influence:

As the fundamental social unit, the family’s influence of consumer behaviour is most important and fundamental. Family acts as a purchasing unit and may be supplying needs of perhaps two or more generations. In Indian families, the parents not only look after the needs of their children but also of their grand-children.

Indian families as a purchasing unit is fundamentally different from their western counterpart. In an Indian family, grandfather who is not even the bread earner can decide on how his grand-children be brought up. The mother in law can decide on behalf of the housewife.

One’s view about religion, politics, etc. is influenced by the family. One’s attitude towards materials’ possession and thrift are shaped by the family. The family makes the children adopt particular form of purchasing behaviour. In many cases, children imitate the elders. For example, if you ask a young person why did you open your account in this bank, you may get an answer “my dad had it here”. The bank is perceived as the desirable because of the person’s family influence.

ii. Reference Group Influence:

A group that serves as a reference point and influences an individual’s affective responses, cognitions and behaviour, influences a person’s thoughts and actions. Most people rely on several reference groups for information on a particular decision and on different reference groups for different decisions. For example, an individual going on honeymoon may consult one reference group or groups and while taking a loan for a car may consult other reference groups.

Knowing the reference and using those reference groups, play an important role in designing marketing strategies. Take an example, when it comes to buying a credit card, people may look for opinion leaders like the bread earner or the grown up son in the family and other professionals like a finance specialist, the family accountant guides in choosing the card. In such cases the credit card marketers should identify and reach those reference groups used by personal and corporate clients.

In reference group, role of the opinion leader is crucial. Opinion leader is perceived as the role model. Usually a person who is perceived as successful should be chosen as the role model. It can be a sports person for a product related to health and fitness, a film star for a product related to beauty. If the person is extremely successful, he can have considerable influence on other kinds of products unrelated to his field like Visa has used Sachin Tendulkar or Hyundai used Shahrukh Khan or BPL uses Amitabh Bachchan as the opinion leaders.

iii. Roles and Status:

Roles are the patterns of needs, goals, beliefs, attitudes, values and behaviour that are expected of an individual occupying a particular position in the society. Every individual has a specific role or position within each group to which an individual belongs. In a family individual may act as husband/father, wife/mother, son/brother or daughter/sister and the same individual may be in the role of sales person, supervisor and on Sundays the same person may assume a role of social worker or adult education instructor.

Each role can affect how the individual behaves when purchasing the tools related to the role. In other words, people’s perception changes according to the role they play.

Status is the positioning of an individual within a group, organisation or society. Generally, individuals are ambitious and are desirous to achieve higher status within the given role. This desire affects their buying behaviour. Such individuals are interested in prestigious brands and service offerings and willing to pay whatever prices are set. For a status conscious person, the common perception is higher the price greater the status. Based on this the advertisers design their ads which appeal directly to desire of status people. For example, an advertisement may claim that carrying a particular credit card is a sign of success.

2. Cultural Factors:

Human perception and behaviour is predominantly influenced by the particular culture in which the people live. Cultural influences emanate from the culture at large, from various sub-cultures and from social class.

i. Culture:

Culture is a complex of symbols and artifacts created by a society and handed down from generation to generation as determinants and regulators of the human behaviour. Culture contains habits, skills, art, institutions and values of a given group of people at a particular place and time. Although, world-over people have same basic needs but how these needs are transferred into wants and how people go about satisfying those wants vary greatly as a result of their diverse cultures.

To a large extent, culture dictates the way people are expected to behave and it both guides and influences personal and group interactions. For these reasons, understanding culture is critical to understanding of consumer perception worldwide.

It is important for marketers to remember that what is an accepted custom or belief in one country, can have diametrically opposite or no value in another country.

For example –

a. White colour is associated with wedding in western cultures where as in India, it is associated with widowhood in most part of India.

b. Bargaining for goods and services is common in India, as compared to western traditions, where bargaining might be considered rude and abrasive.

c. In China, since negotiations can sometimes involve loss of a face, they usually negotiate through intermediaries. This allows them to convey their ideas without fear of embarrassment.

d. In France, it is extremely important to be on time for meetings and social occasions. There is no such thing as being ‘Fashionably late’.

When doing business in India, apparently Indian business people are familiar with American customs, they speak English, they shake hands when they meet other business people, they typically dress in western business style. But there are number of cultural differences which influence the way business is done. Many Indians are vegetarians on religious grounds.

They avoid alcoholic beverages. The menu is often different from the United States. McDonalds forms one of the best examples of making cultural studies in India and bridging the cultural gaps. McDonald’s introduced the Indian version of BIG MAC. It has mutton instead of beef. Foreigners are amazed that McDonald’s offer vegetable burger too which is developed scientifically to offer roughly same nutritional value. The challenge before McDonald’s was to open a beefless restaurant and to render the system to serve 100 per cent vegetarian products.

Consumer does not know the efforts that McDonald has put into creating the world’s first eggless mayonnaise. The kitchen is designed to offer vegetarians a clean view of the vegetarian section run by green approved crew members who never touch anything to do with non-veg. line. The probability of cross-contamination is none. Even the cleansing towels are kept separate. All these efforts are to make consumer “perceive” McDonald’s as a household name in fast food.

ii. Sub-Culture:

Within the culture there are segments that share distinguishing meanings, values and patterns of behaviour that differ from those of overall culture. The sub-cultures may be based on factors such as national origin (Indian, German, Polish etc.), race (Asian, Aryan, American, African), Geographic region (South East Asian, New England), or religion (Hindu, Muslim, Catholic). The members of sub-culture share certain values and attitudes with one another. Marketers who aim to target sub-culture should understand its member’s need and wants to develop strategies to meet them.

iii. Social Class:

Social class is a division of a ranking within the society based on education, occupation and type of residential hood. The class system may be based on religion, workmanship or landed wealth. The social classes tend to have varying attitudes and values that are reflected in the consumer behaviour of their members.

The typical class structure is:

a. Upper class.

b. Upper middle class.

c. Middle class.

d. Working class.

e. Lower class.

Middle class and working class combined makes the mass market for any country. The members of these classes may have comparable incomes but their sources of income and use pattern may be quite different. The differences between these groups should be identified and strategies should be designed accordingly. Upper and upper middle class, form the affluent consumer.

Some researchers have attempted to identify difference between middle class and working class and they are broadly classified as under.

3. Psychological Factors:

The psychological and personal factors operate from within the influence of the individual’s buying behaviour. Motivation and perception are psychological factors. These factors are at the foundation of all behaviours.

Learning from the previous experiences, beliefs and attitudes are the other psychological factors that influence the consumer behaviour.

i. Learning:

In context of consumer behaviour learning means changing one’s behaviour on the basis of past experience. For example, when a child burns the fingers by touching hot plate, he or she learns not to touch it and the child’s mother capitalises on this experience by saying “hot, don’t touch it” when the child approaches a gas stove or electric iron.

ii. Beliefs and Attitudes:

Belief is a specified, deeply held conviction. A person might believe that a saving institution (UTI, Postal deposits) pay more interest than a commercial bank (State Bank of India or any other scheduled bank). This belief influences the person’s attitude and behaviour as he or she will transact business with institution and not the commercial bank.

Marketers who are well conversant with consumer beliefs and attitude look for opportunities as to when these beliefs and attitude are erroneous therefore, act to correct them. However, as a result of selective distortion, advertisements that communicate messages that conflict with people’s beliefs must be produced in a way that will reduce the likelihood of target audience dismissal.

An attitude is a positive or negative education, feeling, or tendency towards something. Beliefs are accepted facts right or wrong but attitudes are more likely feelings (good or bad). People possess attitude about everything, be it materials or human-being. It is very difficult to change and it greatly affects the buying behaviour. For example, the attitude towards thrift and use of credit significantly affects the banking behaviour.

a. People have attitude towards thrift. They should always save a fixed portion of income.

b. People have attitude towards use of credit i.e., it should be used only for emergencies or major purchases.

4. Personal Factors:

Personal factors along with other above mentioned factors modify how an object is perceived. The most important personal factor is the consumer personality. A person with strong id factor may perceive the sensuousness in an object as a positive stimulus while a person with strong super ego will perceive negatively the same object.

Along with personality the personal factors that affect the perception of a consumer are the occupation, economic status, age and family life cycle. An IT professional perceives a new software as an essential item, a socially conscious urban youth may perceive the same software as an object, possessing which will enhance his social status. A traditional businessman will perceive it as a tool to attract modern customer so on and so forth.

Like­wise, the new software will be perceived as a necessity, luxury or a super luxury commodity, depending on the economic status. With a person’s age the way we look at things undergoes a change. In fact this difference in seeing something differently is called “generation gap”. But generation gap is simply not a biological phenomenon. People in the same age group may perceive the same object differently.

Advertisers sometimes use this concept to make the advertisement memorable. For example, the old grandma in Ayurvedic Concepts. An old fashioned traditional lady is perceived to have fixed ideas, but the ad harps on the fact that grandma comes up -with most modern scientific solution to the problem faced by the younger generation. The ad is focusing on the “no generation gap” concept, since it is commonly perceived otherwise, people tend to remember the ad.

Likewise, family life cycle plays an important role in making up consumer perception. If a man is in his bachelorhood, honey-mooner stage, family stage, family stage with small kids, grown up kids or is in the empty nest (no kids) stage will affect how he perceives objects around him.

Factors Affecting Consumer Buying Behaviour – With Examples

Several factors determine the buying behaviour of consumers.

These factors are interrelated and interdependent. Some of these factors are as follows:

1. Personal Factors:

Factors relating to personality are important determinants of a buyer’s behaviour.

These factors are given below:

(a) Age – A person’s age determines his needs and preferences. For example, children require baby foods, toys, games, etc. Teenagers prefer higher education, trendy clothes, motorcycles, etc. Stage in life cycle also influences consumption behaviour.

(b) Income – Income level determines buying power of a person. Borrowing power and saving habits also influence the capacity to buy. For instance, easy finance has boosted the demand for houses, cars, and white goods.

(c) Occupation – Consumption pattern depends on the occupation of a person. For example, teachers buy simple clothes, books, etc. whereas top corporate executives buy expensive clothes, luxury cars, club membership, etc.

(d) Personality – Dominant personality traits determine the buying behaviour of consumers. Self-confidence, sociability, defensiveness, adaptability are examples of such traits. Personality is generally enduring but may change as a person matures or by sudden events.

(e) Life Style – Activities, interests and opinions determine life style. Activities include work, hobbies, vacations, sports, clubs, entertainment, social events, community work, shopping, etc. Interests relate to home, family, job, community, media, food, fashion, recreation, etc. Opinions about self, society, business, politics, culture, economy, education, etc. also influence life style of a person.

2. Social Factors:

Consumers live in society. The types of products and services they buy are influenced by the social environment in which they grow up.

The influence of various social factors on consumer behaviour is given below:

(a) Demographics – Age, education, language, sex, income, occupation are important demographic factors.

(b) Family – The family in which a person is born and grows has major influence on his buying behaviour. For example, buying pattern of rich family is different from that of a poor family. In metros, nuclear family is replacing joint family. The emergence of working women also influences the consumption pattern of the family.

(c) Reference Group – A reference group consists of persons with whom an individual identifies himself. The individual decides his consumption pattern with reference to such a group.

(d) Roles and Status – An individual plays several roles e.g., father, husband, son, brother, manager and so on. Buying behaviour in one role may be different from that in another role.

A person’s status in society depends upon his occupation, income, family history, etc. For example, the status of a manager is higher than that of a factory worker. Higher status people show different buying behaviour as compared to low status people.

3. Cultural Factors:

Culture is the aggregate of learned beliefs, values, customs, religion, etc. It is the way of life and thinking. Culture influences eating habits, food preferences, and dress style of people. For example, Hindus worship the cow and, therefore do not eat beef. Individuality, tolerance and activity are typical cultural values in India.

Cultural patterns vary from one part of the country (e.g., south) to another (North). People in Southern states prefer rice, whole those in Northern states prefer wheat. Culture has a pervasive influence on the behaviour of consumers. Social class also affects the behaviour of consumers. For example, health, conscious people spend money on fitness equipments.

4. Psychological Factors:

Psychology of an individual influences his buying habits and choice of brand.

Psychological factors are as follows:

(a) Self-Concept – As consumers, we buy products and services that fit our self-image. Marketers of clothing, cars, shoes, jewellery, eyeglasses need to assess the self-concepts of their customers.

(b) Beliefs and Attitudes – Every customer has certain attitudes towards products and holds some beliefs. For example, a consumer may have the belief that products sold in Malls are over-priced. Marketers need to understand the attitudes and beliefs of customers. They should fit products into existing attitudes and present facts to create positive beliefs.

(c) Perception – Perception is the process by which a consumer recieves, organises and interprets the marketing environment. Since a consumer is exposed to numerous products and advertisements, he focuses only on a select few which are of interest to him.

(d) Learning – From his experience of purchase and consumption, a consumer learns some lesson which influences his buying behaviour in future. For example, from his bad experience with an unbranded product a consumer way decide to buy only branded items in future.

(e) Motivation – Motives are what lead a person to act or behave in a particular way. Abraham Maslow has presented a fivefold classification of human needs. A study of why and how a consumer is motivated to buy certain products and services helps the marketer in understanding the consumer behaviour.