In this article we will discuss about:- 1. Definition of Consumer Behaviour Research 2. Types of Information Sought in Relation to Marketing 3. Main Difficulties of Consumer Behaviour Research 4. Techniques.
Definition of Consumer Behaviour Research:
The consumer behaviour research is alternatively termed as motivation research or study of buying motives. Simply put, the term refers to the study of consumers behaviour or responses to a particular brand, product, or quality, and of the circumstances leading to such behavioural patterns.
According to Lawrence Lockley, the term consumer behaviour research is used to describe the application of psychiatric and psychological techniques to obtain a better understanding of why people respond they do to products, advertisement, and various other marketing situations.
The purpose of consumer behaviour research is to obtain the qualitative aspects of information about the consumer behaviour; that is, the ascertainment and appraisal of inherent and unknown qualities, habits, beliefs, attitudes, values, etc. of the consumers through the means of psycho-analysis and psychographics.
Types of Information Sought in Relation to Marketing:
The marketing management in general and the marketing personnel in particular are interested in the study of consumer buying behaviour for obtaining the following types of information:
1. Price Sensitivity:
Whenever the choice of a product depends on its price or whenever the primary demand of a’ product is price sensitive, a low-cost and low-price approach to marketing became the realistic basis.
On the other hand, where the consumers are more interested in non-price benefits such as technical assistance, after-sales service, product quality, etc., a low-price approach to marketing may not be beneficial to the particular market segments. Thus, consumer’s price sensitivity which influences the market should be sought in the consumer behaviour research.
2. Full-Line Purchasing:
The consumer’s interest in buying a ‘full-line’ of products or ‘systems’ as opposed to individual components directly affects the scope of marketing activity. Thus, consumer’s desire to buy either full-line of complementary products from a single buyer or a complete system of products to fulfill several related functions becomes the consideration to be known in the research.
3. Differentiation of Consumer Needs:
The information as to the variants of needs across customer groups, customer function or technology segments are always necessary to determine the differentiated marketing or market segmentation.
Main Difficulties of Consumer Behaviour Research:
The main difficulties involved in the conduct of consumer behaviour research are:
(1) A consumer may have multiple buying motives and is unable to express his main motive. This poses a challenge to the researcher in. the identification of the basic buying motive.
(2) A consumer may hesitate to explain his buying motive or give a misstatement of his motive. This misleads the researcher to identify the real motive for buying.
(3) A consumer nay be so ignorant that he cannot understand his inner urge that prompts him to buy or not to buy. The researcher does not get any clue to identify the buying motive.
(4) A consumer’s personality, his behavioural attitudes, beliefs and values undergo change with the changes in socio-psycho-economic structure. His buying motives also change on this account. Thus, the study of the consumer behaviour is not a one-shot affair but requires consistent and regular updating from period to period.
(5) The techniques used in the study of consumer behaviour are of empirical nature and not precise like mathematics or science. Thus, conclusions drawn may be imperfect and unsuitable for implementation.
In spite of these difficulties, it should not be construed that consumer behaviour research is a futile “exercise. Novel and modern techniques like projective tests which put emphasis on consumer perception and ambition have come to play a great role in this field of research.
Techniques of Consumer Behaviour Research:
There are a great number of techniques and methods to conduct consumer behaviour research.
The methods that find application in this research are:
(1) Experience and knowledge,
(3) Depth interviews, and
(4) Projective tests.
These are discussed below in brief:
(1) Experience and Knowledge:
This method refers to the estimation and assessment of the consumers’ traits and approaches to the buying habits on the basis of knowledge and experience gained by the marketing personnel through day-to-day dealings with the consumers.
Through regular contacts and rapports, the marketers come to knew of the different buying motives like quality, convenience, comfort, etc. expressed directly or indirectly by the consumers. These results, after appropriate analysis and interpretation, give guidance for decision actions on the marketing activities like distribution, pricing, etc.
This method involves the preparation of carefully worded questions by the marketing executive (in consultation with the psychologist in some cases) on various pertinent aspects relating to the product, its features, prices, specialities, eta. These questionnaires are then mailed to the selected groups of consumers in different market segments for their feed-back information.
Such information are then meticulously analysed with a view to understanding the consumers’ behaviour and attitudes. The drawbacks of this system are: inconsistency in replies, low rate of response, vague answers, wrong selection ‘of consumers for opinion, etc.
(3) Depth Interview:
It refers to the close rapport and free discussion for the purpose of exchange of views and ideas on the products and associated services between the marketer (the interviewer) and the consumers (the interviewees).
In this method, both the parties open their minds and unfold the truth even going to the sub-conscious state of mind. The processes of sensation-intuition-thinking-feeling on the part of the interviewer and the interviewee can figure out the reasons for particular attitude and behaviour.
The drawbacks of this technique are:
(i) The interviewer must be skilled enough to uncover the truth buried below the conscious mind of the interviewee; and
(ii) The interviewee must express his views without reservation and from his inner feelings. The other limitation is that this method is inapplicable in case of multiple consumers.
A model of depth interview technique to understand the consumer behaviour may be illustrated as under:
(4) Projective Tests:
There are various methods of applying these tests for the study of consumer behaviour. In projective tests, a stimulus situation projecting the inner aspects of a consumer’s personality is created concerning a product or service so that the consumer gets an opportunity to express his needs and his reactions.
The most common methods are:
(i) Thematic Appreciation Test (TAT),
(ii) Sentence Completion Test (SCT),
(iii) Word Appreciation Test (WAT) and
(iv) Paired Pictures Test (PPT).
These are discussed below in brief:
(i) Thematic Appreciation Test:
This test consists of presenting a series of pictures of persons in such shapes, sizes and forms which are neither properly structured nor in conformity with the real-life situations, but convey a there or an idea in action. The respondent is asked to glance through these pictures all at a time and state the story or course of events conveyed.
The analyst then interprets such statement and evaluates- for drawing conclusions. This test is designed to ascertain how a particular theme is appreciated by the respondent.
(ii) Sentence Completion Test:
This test consists of giving few sentences, complete or incomplete, that convey a particular idea or attribute or use for the product. The respondent is asked to complete these sentences by such phrases (out of giving ones) that fit well according to his opinion and conception about the product. The analyst interprets than to understand the respondent’s emotions and feelings so expressed through his chosen phrases.
(iii) Word Appreciation Test:
In this test, a single word is given instead of a phrase. The respondent is asked to write or quote a synonym or antonym that comes to his mind instantaneously. The analyst goes through the whole series of those synonyms and antonyms to get the idea or impression expressed by the respondent about the product or object.
(iv) Paired Pictures Test:
This test consists of presenting two pictures of the same person of animal in relation to the product of two different models or makes. The respondents are asked to express their ideas and make a choice between the two. This my, the analyst comes to know of the different attitudes concerning the set of pictures.