In the previous articles, we had discussed the definition of marketing, the concept of value, segmentation, targeting and positioning and the marketing mix elements. If you have already read that move the next.
At the center of the entire marketing activity that you do is the customer or the consumer and it is important for us to understand how and what are the different elements that make the consumer so unique. So we'll start off from understanding what are the different factors that influence the consumer?
What are the different factors that influence the consumer?
There are 5 factors that essentially are influencing the consumer and basically influencing the decision that the consumer makes.
1. Environmental Factors
The first and most important elements that influence the consumer are environmental conditions. Say, for example, there is a certain political environment in the country, there's a certain technological environment in this society, all of which influence a consumer in certain ways.
There are different social classes. Say, for example, you have a middle class, an upper class, and a lower class. Each of these customers who identify themselves with one of these social classes will have a certain way of consuming. If you carry a product that is meant for the upper class, it associates yourself with that class of people or with that creed of people or with the people who are generally able to procure and use such products.
2. Societal Factors
The second important factor is the societal factors. In societal factors, one of the most important things to understand is the role of reference groups.
Now, there are a lot of groups that basically are reference groups, when consumers make purchase decisions.
Say, for example, many of you are students. You would have a group of friends who influence all the purchase decisions that you make, your mobile phone choices, your social media consumption choices, your t-shirt, and apparel choices, all of which are influenced by a set of friends that you have.
Because now you want to associate yourself as being part of this group, you will consume things that are also consumed by these people. So that is what we generally call as a reference group. And the reference group is very important because the reference group often is the direction in which you consume.
3. Cultural Factors
Culture is one of the major influences on how consumers behave. When I say culture, these are a set of societal norms that are generally acceptable for a vast number of people out there.
Say for example, if you take the Indian culture, there are different food habits, there are different dressing styles, there are different consumption patterns that you see, there are different festivals that you observe and there are different consumption patterns in different festivals.
All of these are influenced by culture, a culture that most of the people in the country share. There are also some subcultures that have a little deviation from the general culture that you see always.
4. Aspirational Groups
There are also aspirational groups. Many times you know that your immediate friend group or your immediate family doesn't necessarily have a certain consumption pattern, but you might find that the Indian cricket team is endorsing a certain product, a product that you want to consume because you aspire in with the kind of people who are consuming these products.
You look into Bollywood actors and actresses and they endorse a certain set of products and because you aspire to be part of that group, you will consume these products. So aspirational groups, as opposed to reference groups, are also important influences in consumer decision making.
There are also people out there who are experts in certain areas. Say for example, in your friend group, there might be a person who has the expertise and who has a greater understanding of digital cameras as compared to all the other friends that you have.
So, this person becomes somebody who we call in marketing literature as an opinion leader. Every time you have a certain doubt, or every time you have a certain requirement of consumption of a certain product category, you will reach out to this person. You'll ask this person as to what are the products out there and what are the parameters based on which you should make your consumption decision.
So, opinion leaders, reference groups, and aspirational groups all of them influence consumer decisions and consumer buying patterns in the market place.
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5. Personal Factors
There are, of course, a lot of other personal factors like the age of the consumer, the income of the consumer, the place that the consumer lives in, the life-cycle stage of the consumer. All of these patterns and all of these features also influence a consumer's decision making in the marketplace.
Now, that we have understood what are the key factors that influence the consumer, which is the societal factors, the cultural factors, your family, your friends, etc. and a lot of personal factors that are essentially influencing the consumer behavior.
Apart from these 5 key factors, there are lots of decision-making processes that consumers generally use to make a purchase decision. These processes are need recognition, search for information, evaluation of alternatives, product purchase and post-purchase behavior. All of these elements will be discussed in the next article. So stay tuned.
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