Importance of understanding customer motives
The task of marketing is to identify consumers’ needs and wants accurately, then to develop products and services that will satisfy them. For marketing to be successful, it is not sufficient to merely discover what customers require, but to find out why it is required. Only by gaining a deep and comprehensive understanding of buyer behaviour can marketing’s goals be realised. Such an understanding of buyer behaviour works to the mutual advantage of the consumer and marketer, allowing the marketer to become better equipped to satisfy the consumer’s needs efficiently and establish a loyal group of customers with positive attitudes towards the company’s products.
Consumer behaviour can be formally defined as: the acts of individuals directly involved in obtaining and using economic goods and services, including the decision processes that precede and determine these acts. The underlying concepts of this chapter form a system in which the individual consumer is the core, surrounded by an immediate and a wider environment that influences his or her goals. These goals are ultimately satisfied by passing through a number of problem-solving stages leading to purchase decisions. The study and practice of marketing draws on a great many sources that contribute theory, information, inspiration and advice. In the past, the main input to the theory of consumer behaviour has come from psychology. More recently, the interdisciplinary importance of consumer behaviour has increased such that sociology, anthropology, economics and mathematics also contribute to the science relating to this subject.
2 Social and cultural influences
Culture is ‘learned’ behaviour that has been passed down over time, reinforced in our daily lives through the family unit and through educational and religious institutions. Cultural influences, therefore, are powerful ones and if a company does not understand the culture in which a particular market operates, it cannot hope to develop products and market them successfully in that market.
It is important to recognise that culture, although immensely powerful, is not fixed forever. Changes in culture tend to be slow and are not fully assimilated until a generation or more has passed. An example of this is the custom of marriage, which has been openly challenged in the UK over...
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...ms of qualifications and recognition above this. The final need is what Maslow termed ‘self actualisation’ which means self-fulfilment in terms of becoming all that one is capable of being and one has reached the pinnacle of personal potential.
It is argued that when more basic needs like hunger ant thirst have been satisfied, then individuals will move towards satisfying higher order needs towards the apex of the pyramid and look increasingly for satisfactions that will increase status and social acceptability. When the apex of the pyramid has been reached and other satisfactions have been achieved the prime motivation is then one of acquiring products and accomplishing activities that allow self expression. This can be in the form of hobbies, particularly collecting, which may have been desired for a long time, but have been neglected until the lower order needs have been satisfied. It is of course not possible to formulate marketing strategies on the hierarchy theory on its own. Its real value is that it suggests that marketers should understand and direct their effort at the specific needs of their customers, wherever the goods one is attempting to promote is in the hierarchy.