“Buyer behaviour: The consumer decision-making process and purchasing a car”

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“Consumer behaviour describes how consumers make purchase decisions and how they use and dispose of the purchase goods or services” (Lamb, 2009. p140), therefore we can understand the importance of consumer behaviour for a marketer and as a vital process during the decision purchase process.

A marketer needs to identify who their consumers are in order to be capable of selling their products, generate revenue and profitability but also to be able to satisfy them for future purposes such as market share through recognition, and only once identifying their consumer’s behaviour can success be achieved.
In relation to purchasing a car why would it be essential for a marketer to be able to understand its consumers behaviour in order to target them more effectively?, this is mainly due to the fact of the car industry having a wide range of variety’s that car manufactures offer its consumers making it competitive.
The aim of this report will be to describe and explain the characteristics that affect consumer behaviour of a young adult named Tom aged 23, who is still in education but as well as part-time worker and currently owns a Volkswagen Golf. This young adult is recently doing his masters in university and wants a fairly cheap car that has a mature look to it but also delivers speed, outlining these characteristics will be the key in finding the best suited vehicle.
Discussing the relevance of the decision-making process to Marketers of cars in general will be mentioned in this report as well as recommendations of how they can influence the stages of the decision-making process.
Characteristics That Affect Consumer Behaviour
“Identifying specific personality traits that explain differences in consumers’ purchase, use, and disposition behaviour” (Hoyer, 2010). Consumers have several needs which have to be observed and identified in order for the business to meet its consumer’s behaviour.
Consumers behaviour are influenced during their purchasing process by four specific characteristics, such as cultural, social, personal and psychological factors, this is also seen mentioned by (Armstrong, 2009), “Consumer purchases are influenced strongly by cultural, social, personal and psychological characteristics, marketers cannot control such factors, but they must take them into account”. These four factors will be the key aspects towards what influential a consumer’s behaviour when purchasing a car.
In relation to Tom, who’s in education and has a part time job would be influenced during his decision making-process through psychological, as Andrews, S (2009) suggested it relates to his motivation and attitudes. In relation to Tom as a young adult his attitude would be a car with good performance, brand image and a mature look. According to Mintel (2009e) Younger life stage groups place greater importance than other groups on a car’s performance, brand image, style and design.
Another influence which would affect this consumer’s behaviour would be his personal characteristics such as his personal lifestyle, age and occupation, which can be also seen expressed by (Kotler 2010 p172-176). In Toms case this factor would related to firstly is occupation as a part time employee which means he has a limited purchasing power, but also a vehicle which fits his age range.
According to Mintel (2009a) young singles seek the credibility of brand image, style and design but also the speed of the vehicle, from this understanding the most recommended choice of vehicle which would meet this customer needs would vary between an Audi A3 which is capable in providing the maturity at a cheap price, while a BMW 1 series which may be slightly more expensive offering speed and maturity. These two options may be ideal in terms of their brand image, however other factors needs to be put in to account to meet his suitability.
The Types of Consumer Buying Decisions
Following relates to Figure 1.1
“Consumers buying behaviour refers to the purchasing of products for personal or household use, not for business purposes”. William M. (2010).
There are several factors which influence the buyers behaviour which can be defined as the decisions and actions of people involved in buying and using products, expressed by (William M. 2010).
These factors which influence buyer’s behaviour are the following Complex buying behaviour, Dissonance-Reducing buying behaviour, Habitual buying behaviour and Variety-Seeking buying behaviour.
Consumers go through complex buying behaviour when they are highly involved in a purchase and are aware of significant differences existing among brands. Dissonance-Reducing buying behaviour Consumers are highly involved in a purchase but sees little differences in the brand. Habitual buying behaviour Low consumer involvement and the absence of significant brand differences. Variety-Seeking buying behaviour Low consumers involvement but significant brand differences. Philip Kotler (2010).
From the definition gathered from Philip Kotler (2010) on the types of buying behaviours, it allows us to identify that a consumer purchasing a vehicle would have a complex buying behaviour.
A complex buying behaviour can be seen when a good is expensive and is high expressive, this is the reason to why a consumer would need to research on this product in order to gain knowledge on its strengths and weakness in relation to the consumers needs. This can be seen similarly expressed by Thelma J. Talloo (2007).
In relation to this consumers who is in his early 20’s, will have various brands claiming to be capable of meeting his needs and for this reason it will make his buying behaviour a complex one as he will need to perform a deep investigation towards which brand is capable of meeting his needs.
This will involve the buyer to construct a learning process which will involve developing his beliefs on the best suited product in order to make a purchase choice. This buying behaviour is a complex one because it involves a high amount of involvement due to the fact of their being a wide range of car brands to buy from which meet the needs of different characteristics of a consumers.
This can be seen in Mintel (2009b) research on “Brand Preferences by Lifestage”, which showed that young singles compared to any other life stage commonly purchase brands such as BMW and Audi.
The Components of the Decision Making Process
Following relates to Figure 1.2
The buyer decision process is collectively five stages which consumers usually follow through before making their deliberate purchase. These five stages are, need recognition, information search, evaluation of alternatives, purchase decision and post purchase behaviour (Philip Kotler, 2008 p265). Consumers would often skip stages or even reverse stages, this is usually depending on the actually product and whether it is a complex or habitual buying behaviour (Philip Kotler, 2008).
The first stage of the buying decision process involves the consumer recognising what the actual problem or need is (Philip Kotler, 2008 p265). This will also mean that the consumer will realise and thus become aware of his desired state compared to his actual condition (M. Pride, 2007), which could be the core factor in motivating the consumer to purchase. In relation to the Tom he might feel as though the vehicle he owns is not meeting his current needs due to being old, he needs more maturity to be able to look presentable and this shows that he has identified his problem and realises this particular need and thus need recognition has been achieved as the first stage.
The next and second stage will involve the consumer to take up some research in order to broaden and gain in-depth information about his need recognition; this research however depends on the consumer’s level of drive towards the product (Philip Kotler, 2008 p266). The modern society has enabled consumers to conduct research through several options especially, such as the internet which according to Mintel (2001c) Over half (55%) of all internet users research products online before making a purchase. In relation to Tom it shows that he will be able to conduct useful research and thus gain a collective amount of vehicle which will suit his needs such as, Audi A3, BMW 1 series through the second stage being Information search.
This follows up to the third stage which is when consumers get specific needs met whether basic or desired needs, it involves the consumer using the information conducted from the stage before, by evaluating alternative brands in the choice and thus narrowing down his choices.
In relation to Tom’s purchasing behaviour he would narrow the brands depending on his characteristics, such as the his lifestyle being young but looking for maturity, also speed performance is a common need in young adults, as for Tom a desirable vehicle would be the BMW 1 series, however the price is quite expensive as seen in figure 1.4 even though it offers speed and maturity the value is too expensive, in relation to Tom its over his budget. We see from Mintel (2010d) “In UK, 43% of consumers say “Trying to add to my rainy day savings/emergency fund” is a priority for this year.” And for this reason why the Audi A3 would an alternative due to the price and this concludes the third stage being evaluation of alternatives.
This brings us to the fourth stage of the decision making process being the actual purchase decision. The consumer needs to make the decision of purchasing or not purchasing the product. This particular stage could either go both ways of the two, the first being that the consumer purchases the product which means the decision making process has been successful, or the second being that the consumer has a change of mind in terms of his suitability thus will effecting his final decision making the decision making process was unsuccessful.
For example in relation to Tom his intended vehicle to purchase may be the Audi A3 as seen in figure 1.3; which provides the his needs at a value of ?5,745 which is reasonable. However due to the vehicle holding a 1.6Litre it may result in Tom changing his mind due to fuel purposes; this act according to (Philip Kotler, 2008 p266-267) is called unexpected situational factors where factors may arise within the household that causes the decisions to change before going ahead.
The last decision making process is the post Purchase which is the process undertaken after the actual purchase has been made, this is depending on the level of the customer satisfaction being met, this can be similarly expressed by (Philip Kotler, 2008 p271) This final stage also allows the consumer to gain first-hand experience of the vehicles performance and whether or not it met their need by meeting their personal expectations.
This could also have both effects one being successful that it was worth the purchase or unsuccessful which brings a discomfort experience also known as cognitive dissonance. In Tom’s case he might feel as though his purchase bring speed and maturity is just right, however on the other hand he might feel as though he will be useless in the long run as time changes so doe’s characteristics and the society.
Market Recommendation
It is essential for the marketers to be to identify the needs of their target market, which will thus allow them to meet there needs effectively. According to Mintel (2009e) the top three priorities of all car owners when considering their next car are price, reliability and fuel consumption. The first Market recommendation would be to guarantee their consumers that there products are reliable, but also capable of meeting their needs in terms of the fuel consumption suiting them financially. For example a young adult who are limited in terms purchasing compared to older adults will need a fairly cheap car with a slightly small engine litre for fuel purposes. Marketers can take advantage of these needs by promoting them regularly.
Marketer need to be able to meet the suitability of their target market, through the information gathered in the earlier topics such as the influential characteristics, or the components of their decision making. This will benefit marketers as it will allow them to intercept what consumers will be going through to make their purchase decision. For example the Audi A3 ‘The Audi A3 offers premium feel with low running costs. It is backed up by Audi’s impressive build quality and reliability’.(Autotrader 2009), this shows that it is capable of attracting young adults due to its reliability and low running cost.
Throughout this report we gain the understanding that consumer have several needs in which they may not be sure of, thus the reason why a decision process is needed. Marketers need to take account towards identifying the key aspects of their particular consumer target, in order for goods to be sold. This report has been able to identify these key aspects such as the various influential factors which affects consumers purchasing behaviours, for example personal factors. The report outlined the also consumer buying decisions, in which differs depending on the product level of usage and importance to the consumer, in this particular report we identified the purchasing of a vehicle a complex one. We were also able to analyse how the decision making process also allows the consumer to identify the best suited product beforehand. And lastly the market recommendations to manufactures of car brands on targeting their target market.
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Appendix Reference
Figure 1.1 (Mba lectures. (2010). Types of Buying Decision Behavior. Available: http://mba-lectures.com/marketing/principles-of-marketing/650/types-of-buying-decision-behavior.html. Last accessed 15 Mar 2011.
Figure 1.2 (Ruben A. Bravo Castano. (2010). The Consumer Decision-Making Process. Available: http://wsivalueonnet.com/2010/11/12/series-digital-marketing-and-the-consumer-decision-making-process-1-6/. Last accessed 15 Mar 2011.
Figure 1.3 Auto Trader. Audi A3. Available: http://www.autotrader.co.uk/classified/advert/201110381722795/sort/priceasc/usedcars/maximum-mileage/up_to_80000_miles/fuel-type/petrol/price-from/4000/maximum-age/up_to_10_years_old/transmission/manu. Last accessed 17 Mar 2011.
Figure 1.4 Auto Trader BMW 1 series. Available: http://www.autotrader.co.uk/classified/advert/201109380813951/sort/priceasc/usedcars/engine-size-cars/1-4l_to_16l/transmission/automatic/model/1_series/make/bmw/page/1/radius/1500/postcode/ha98el?log. Last accessed 17 Mar 2011.
Figure 1.5 Auto Trader. Fiat Stilo. Available: http://www.autotrader.co.uk/classified/advert/201109381019908/sort/priceasc/usedcars/maximum-age/up_to_4_years_old/model/stilo/make/fiat/page/1/postcode/ha98el/radius/1500?logcode=p. Last accessed 17 Mar 2011.

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