Changing Environmental Circumstances

Consumers sometimes encounter changes in their environmental circumstances which lead to problem recognition. On of the most significant of these situations are the family’s changing characteristics. Different lifecycle stages produce needs for different products. Consequently as the family evolves, new problems are continually being recognized which result in different assortments of goods over time.

It is also significant to realize that early product triers also tend to be heavy users. Thus, the marketer of anew product might engage in a two step consumer identification program. First, heavy users of products within the same category as the to be introduced item should be characterized in terms of relevant background and behavioral variables so that a marketing program which appeals tot these persons can be developed. Second, once the product is introduced description of the earliest triers should be obtained quickly so that the marketer may develop inducement for consumer with similar backgrounds.

Another important force in the consumer’s environment which leads to problem recognition is the influence of reference groups. As we identify with different reference groups, their standards are likely to influence our consumption patterns. For example, tie code of dress among a college student’s fraternity or sorority group may cause that student to recognize a problem with his or her current wardrobe. Several items of new clothing may be purchased so that the person fits with this reference group.

Changing financial circumstances

The financial status of the consumer has a very important relationship to problem recognition. The present or anticipated financial picture may trigger problem recognition as the consumer determines what purchase can be afforded. A consumer, for example who inherits $50,000 or receives a $2000 salary increase, or receives an income tax refund of $800 may begin to consider new alternative ways of spending or saving the money. The person may substantially alter his or her desired state in a positive direction based on a financial windfall. Problem recognition, in this case, may lead to purchasing a new car, a new boat, a dishwasher, or taking a vacation. If on the other hand the consumer expects to lose his or her job and livelihood then the financial expectations and desired state will be altered in a negative direction.

Marketing Activities

The marketer frequently attempts to precipitate problem recognition through promotional efforts aimed at the consumer. With such efforts the marketer seeks to have the consumer perceive a difference of sufficient magnitude between her desired state (ownership of the product) and her actual state (not owning it) to engage in search evaluation ad purchasing activity for the marketer’s brand.

Although such marketing efforts may have some influence on problem recognition on the part of the consumer, it is ordinarily not an easy process to accomplish. As we learned in the discussion of information processing consumers have the capability of filtering out any messages in which they are not interested or with which they disagree. Consequently marketing activity may achieve its greatest effectiveness once consumer problem recognition has already occurred. For instance, many consumers who take movies with older model portable video cameras may be dissatisfied with the bulkiness of them compared to the newer, extremely compact 8 mm format camcorders. As a result, this group may be highly receptive to Sony ads for its 8 mm camcorders emphasizing the small size and ease of recording. The marketer’s job then is to develop a marketing mix that appeals to such dissatisfied consumers as well as to potential customers who are new to camcorders. Decisions regarding product features, prices, distribution, and promotion may then be molded to suit particular desired segments of potential buyers. Thus, with many consumers having already engaged in problems recognition and accepted the merits of 8 mm camcorders the marketer’s promotion activity is much more likely to fall on fertile ground than when he is trying to convince uninterested and unbelieving consumers that there is a better product available.