Consumers and Customers

Consumers are customers only. But customers in the commercial parlance apply to B2B as well as B2C cases. B2B can be a manufacturing unit buying machinery or B2C a factory buying lubricating oil. But usually our understanding of consumers is that they are individuals and buy FMCG for their own consumption. The consumer may also once in a while buy goods like Car, TV, Refrigerator, Fans, and the like. I am writing this article assuming that the consumers are individuals buying FMCG. The nature of problem and how they are addressed pertaining to this class of consumers.

Consumers appear to hold images of consumer products, and these images   can be viewed as symbols that communicate meaning about those who purchase them. A consumer might actually prefer certain products or brands because he or she perceives their images as consistent with his or her view of self-concept. Consumers form their self-concepts through psychological development and social interaction. Because the individual’s self-concept has value to him, he will act to define, protect and further it.

Products and brands are perceived by consumers as having images. Therefore, the individuals will be motivated to consume the goods. The brands that will be preferred are those that the consumer perceives as having images which are most consistent with his self-concept.

For example, the consumer may not perceive a strong match between the brand’s image and her actual self-concept. The consumer can have a strong preference for this brand because of similarity existing between the brand image and what she thinks about it. Consumers’ attraction toward a brand is because the ideal self-concept appears to be a motivating force behind the design of advertisements. Here, we see that the brand is effectively linked to a handsome model that many males might aspire to look like.

Significant marketing potential appears to be available to those who provide the proper kind of products to meet the needs of the market. Some have ventured into this market to sell specially designed products more attuned to elderly needs. Some examples are:

Food: Coca-Cola was concerned that the age group of 13 to 24 years which accounts for such an important part of its soda market (consuming 1 ½ times as much per capita as the general public) shrank in the 1980s, as it had moved more heavily to wine, orange juice, coffee, and tea beverages which were more popular with older consumers. In addition to that, a reduced orange juice had been marketed. Procter & Gamble offered High Point, a decaffeinated coffee, which is product older consumers buy much more than regular coffee. Kelloggs markets Special K, Product 19, and Just Right to provide more vitamins for older consumers (who are the second highest group in the consumption of cereal, behind only the under 12 market).

Cosmetics: Oil of Olay and others are now marketing skin care products which are designed to appeal to older women as well. Other companies are offering hair care products designed to meet the special needs of consumers over 40 or 50 also. The approach is a delicate one from an industry that has long been based strictly on its youth image. Companies are searching for ways to overcome the age by referring only to maturing skin rather than age.

Services: Airlines and lodging chains are offering discounts to older travelers. Sears Roebuck & Co. formed the Mature Outlook Club to woo customers over 50. Some life insurance companies are offering insurance benefits to the elderly.

Older consumers appear to place great importance on manufacturer’s brand names. They tend to buy fewer private labels and appear to demand guarantees and warranties more often than the average consumers do. Many of the over 65 shoppers are on low income items among this shoppers’ group.

There is also an impression that older buyers are generally less inclined to try new products, especially those that involve adopting new technologies. New product and service acceptance often comes as a response to a recommendation by others. This has important promotional implications for the marketer, and it means that messages must be well planned to take advantage of word of mouth communication. However, given the apparent high brand loyalty of this group manufacturers and retailers who properly serve those in this group can expect them to be loyal, dependable customers.

Consumer Responsibility:

Consider the following  novel responses that consumers have taken to resolve their perceived injustices:

One fellow burned his car on the   front doorstep of the manufacturer because he was disappointed with it.

An individual smashed a soda vending machine with fire when it failed to function properly.

Many consumers fold, spindle and mutilate their company card bills because their complaint has not been resolved properly.

Such incidents, as those indicated above show that consumers also fail to act responsibly.