A subset of Human behavior
Viewing consumer behavior in such a broad context suggests it is actually a subset of human behavior. That is, factors affecting individuals in their lives also influence their purchase activities. Internal influences, such as learning and motives, as well as external factors, such as social expectations and constraints, affect us in our role as consumers as well as in our other capacities. In fact, it is often difficult to draw a distinct line between consumer related behavior and other aspects of human behavior. To illustrate next door neighbors might find lawn problems to be a convenient topic for striking up a conversation. However, this can quickly lead to a serious discussion of the merits of Scott fertilizers, lawn Bird Sprinkles and sears riding mowers.
The fact that consumer behavior is a subset of human behavior is to our advantage.’ Several disciplines collectively referred to as the behavioral sciences have studied human behavior for some time, and we can draw upon their contribution for understanding consumer behavior. This borrowing has been quite extensive and includes theories used in explaining behavior as well as methods useful in investigating it. In fact, this borrowing is so- extensive that consumer behavior is often said to be multidisciplinary in nature. The behavioral science disciplines that have most contributed to our understanding of consumers are:
1) Psychology: study of the behavior and mental processes of individuals
2) Sociology: study of the collective behavior of people in groups
3) Social psychology: study of how individuals influence and are influenced by groups.
4) Economic: Study of people’s production exchange and consumption of goods and services.
5) Anthropology; study of people in relation to their culture.
For maximum impact this requires that marketing efforts be closely coordinated and compatible with each other and with other activities of the firm.
Several limitations of the marketing concept have been noted, especially in regard to the degree to which attempting to satisfy consumers wants and needs can generate negative consequences for society. To illustrate, convenience packaging has contributed to a solid waste disposal problem for society, and the propellant formerly used in many aerosol sprays has been linked to depletion of the ozone layer of our atmosphere. Adjustments to the marketing concept that incorporate societal objectives have been made to alleviate such shortcomings. For example, several fast food chains have reduced the volume of their packaging and have undertaken information campaigns to raise the consumers’ awareness of environmentally kind products. However, the basic need to understand consumers is skill fundamental to these revised schemes.
Several major activities can be undertaken by an organization that is marketing – oriented. These include market opportunity analysis, target market selection, and marketing mix determination which includes decisions on the proper combination of marketing variables to offer consumers. Each of these is briefly discussed below with examples to illustrate the relevance of consumer behavior to their accomplishment.
Market Opportunity analysis
This activity involves examining trends and conditions in the market place to identify consumers’ needs and wants that are not being fully satisfied. The analysis begins with a study of general market trends, such as consumers’ lifestyles and income levels, which may suggest unsatisfied wants and needs. More specific examination involves assessing any unique abilities the company might have in satisfying identified consumer desires..
A variety of recent trends have resulted in many new product offerings for consumer satisfaction. For example, companies attuned to the fitness interests of Americans have been quick to offer such new products as exercise bicycles, weight training books, and clothing. In the health care field, companies sensing consumers’ unmet medical needs have offered coin operated blood pressure testing machines at shopping centers and other convenient locations. Also, low priced minor surgery centers without meals or overnight accommodations are now available.