Consumer Buying Behavior – Influencer in Consumer Behavior

The actions and decisions of individuals who purchase products for their personal use constitute consumer buying behavior. The process involved in purchasing products can differ from buyer to buyer and from product to product.

Consumers don’t always pass through all five stages; they may reverse or skip some. When you buy your regular brand face wash, you go directly from the need to the purchase decision, skipping information search and evaluation.

The Consumer Buying Process:

Consumer making purchase decisions follow a series of steps.

Need Recognition:

The buying process begins when a consumer recognizes a product need or want. An advertisement, a free sample, or a product display can trigger need recognition. Marketers need to identify the circumstances that trigger a particular need by gathering information from a number of consumers. Then they can develop marketing strategies that spark consumer interest.

Information Search:

The buyer then searches for information about and compares alternative products. Consumers often search for limited amounts of information. Surveys have shown that for durables, half of all consumers look at only one store, and only 30 percent look at more than one brand of appliances. We can distinguish between two levels of engagement in the search. The milder search state is called heightened attention. At this level a person simply becomes more receptive to information about a product. At the next level, the person may enter an active information search; looking for reading material, phoning friends, going online, and visit stores to learn about the product.

  • Information Sources:
  • Personal: Family, friends, neighbors.
  • Public: Mass media, consumer rating organizations.
  • Commercial: Website, advertising, dealers, displays, and packaging.
  • Experiential: Examining, handling, using the product.

Evaluation of alternatives:

After searching, compares alternative products. How does the consumer process competitive brand information and make a final value judgment?

No single process is used by all consumers, or by one consumer in all buying situations. There are several processes, and the most current models see the consumer forming judgments largely on a conscious and rational basis.

Some basic concepts will help to you understand consumer evaluation process. Firstly, the consumer is trying to satisfy a need. Secondly, the consumer is looking for certain benefits from the product solution. Thirdly, the consumer sees each product as a bundle of attributes with varying abilities to deliver the benefits. The attributes of interest to buyers vary by product- example:

  • Hotels – Cleanliness, location, price, etc.
  • Tires- Safety, price, quality, tread life.
  • Mouthwash- Effectiveness, color, flavor, price.

Consumer will pay the most attention to attributes that deliver the sought after benefits. We can segment the market for a product according to attributes and benefits important to different consumer groups. 

Purchase Decision:

After evaluating the different options, the consumer decides on a product, uses it, and determines how well it performs expectations. In the evaluation stage, the consumer forms preferences among the brands in the choice set and may also form an intention to buy the most preferred brand. In executing a purchase intention, the consumer may make up to five sub-decisions; brand   , dealer, quantity, timing, and payment method. The consumer level of satisfaction or dissatisfaction determines future purchases. After buying a product, especially something expensive, consumers sometimes worry that they bought the wrong brand or that they should not have bought the product at all.

Several factors, some within individuals and some external, affect the buying decisions of consumers. People are influenced by social factors (family, members, peers), psychological factors (attitudes, personality), personal characteristics (age, education), and specific conditions that exist at the time of a purchase decision.

Consumer attitudes toward a firm and its products certainly affect the success or failure of its marketing strategy. If enough consumers have strong negative attitudes toward some part of a firm’s marketing mix, the firm may try to change consumer attitudes to make them more favorable. Changing negative consumer attitudes to positive ones is usually a long, difficult, expensive task.  

Some factors influences on consumer purchase decisions:

Social factors:

Family: parents, siblings, children, grandparents.  (Example- a woman buys the same brand of dishwasher her mother always had.)

Roles: As parent, spouse, student, child, employee, and member. (Example- a man orders flowers to send his wife on love day.)

Social class: Group of people with similar values, lifestyles, and behavior, often classified by income, education, occupation, religion, or ethnic background. (Example- wealthy art lovers from all over the world come to auctions in New York.)

Reference group: People such as co-workers with whom a person indentifies and shares attitudes and behaviors. (Example- An operator chooses the same kind of PC her associates use.)

Culture: Values, behaviors, and ways of doing things shared by a society and passed down from generation to generation.  (Example- American likes soft drink colder than Europeans.)

Subculture: Group that shares values and behaviors different from those of the broader culture to which it belongs.  (Example- an American lady of original background shops at a specialty food store.)


Motive: Reason or internal force that drives a person toward a goal. (Example- A student gets a haircut before a job.)

Perception: The way people select, organize, and give meaning to the things they see, hear, taste, touch, and smell. (Example- A mall shopper smells cookies and stops at the cookie shop to buy some.)

Attitudes: A person’s overall feeling about something. (Example- A person donates money to a human rights organization.)

Learning: An individual’s behavior changed caused by experiences and information.

Personality: traits, experiences, and behaviors that make up a person. (Example- An outgoing woman with many friends racks up huge long distance phone bills.)


Personal characteristics such as age, marital status, family size, sex, race, income, education,  and occupation. (Example- A working couple takes their young children to a day care center.)


Conditions that exist when a person is making a purchase decision, such as unexpected circumstances, amount of time for the decision, or expectations for future employment. (Example- A man who is laid off from his job puts off buying a new car.)

# Industrial Buying Behavior:

The purchase decision making of organizations such as manufacturers, service providers, institutions, government agencies, and nonprofit groups is referred to as industrial buying behavior. Buying decisions by organizations typically differ from consumer purchases in many ways.

Firstly, organizational transactions are usually much larger and less frequent than typical consumer purchases. Organizational buyers, who must meet exact product specifications, tend to be more concerned than consumer about quality and the services offered by sellers. Buyers usually seek more information and base decisions less on emotional factors than consumers do.

In small companies, one person (owner) is responsible for purchase decisions.

In large firms, the responsibility for buying decisions rests with several individuals who make up a buying center.