Consumers are individuals or groups that drive the economy by purchasing goods and services. Consumer behavior tries to explain why, how and when people do not buy or do buy products and services (Schiffman & Kanuk, 2010, p. 12). As a matter of fact, it blends both aspects of sociology, psychology, social anthropology and economics.
In a broad perspective, consumer behavior tends to give us a better understanding of various consumer demographics and behavioral variables. Consumer behavior tries to give us a good insight on the influence of groups and the society on a given consumer. These groups can be friends, family and reference groups (Schiffman & Kanuk, 2010, p. 12). On the other hand, a consumer plays the roles of being a payer, user and buyer.
Consumer behavior can be further understood by looking at various buyer characteristics. This can be motivations, attitudes, personality, perceptions, lifestyle and knowledge.
Most of these consumer actions are directed towards the satisfaction of needs and wants. A consumer can not make a decision unless he/she has been influenced to do so. This can emanate from either internal or external influences. Internal influences can be psychographics and demographics that are further reinforced by individual characteristics (Nigel, 2007, p. 21).
External influences on the other hand, can be locality, culture, family, sex, social class or lifestyle. These aspects have an impact on the overall consumer decision. Behind the noble act of making purchases by consumers, there lies a decision process.
Consumer decision making process
This brings us to the consumer decision making process that goes through various stages. These include; problem recognition, information search, alternative evaluation, decision and then post decision evaluation (Nigel, 2007, p. 28). Problem recognition is where a consumer sees a significant difference between his two states (actual and ideal)
These individual notions are got from personal expectations and aspirations. In addition, consumers will know what is ideal through reference groups, culture and effective marketing. This will lead them to the next stage of information search that may be either internal or external.
Internal information search can be done by recalling experiences and feelings. Feelings are mostly a recollection of brands and products. Information about evaluation and attributes can also be recalled (Sandhusen, 2000, p. 32). On the other hand, external search revolves around information that is sourced from outside sources.
By doing this, consumers will be engaged in an ongoing search and pre-purchase. These external sources can be media search, independent search, retailers’ search and internet sources. Consumers engage in external search because of their ability, motivation and opportunity to process information (Schiffman & Kanuk, 2010, p. 12).
After this stage, consumers have to evaluate various alternatives. This is done by identifying alternatives and a good evaluative criterion. In addition, it involves the identification of brands which ends up with the rating of various product alternatives.
After this has been done, consumers are now free to make decisions. This is done by the selection and purchase of product alternatives. These decision rules can be either compensatory or non compensatory (Sandhusen, 2000, p. 39). Finally, the decision making process ends with post decision evaluation. This means that consumers will have to evaluate products as they use them. In the end, we will have dissatisfied and satisfied consumers.
Consumer behavior has in most occasions been influenced by various circumstances. These circumstances revolve around the purchase of a given good or service. It should be understood that there are various factors that influence a given consumer behavior (Joshi, 2005, p. 16).
These can be; cost of goods or services, number of alternatives considered, degree of information search, length of time to make a decision and the level of consumer involvement. In a broad perspective, they can be grouped as social, cultural, individual and psychological factors.
The impact of digital revolution on consumer behavior
This brings us to an important aspect of the impact of digital revolution on consumer behavior. It is undeniable that the internet (digital revolution) has changed the way people (consumers) obtain information about potential purchases. This therefore means that technology is changing their lives as consumers. Digital revolution has redefined marketing with more emphasis being laid on one-to-one marketing. This is aimed at attaining customers, selling more products and making profits.
Digital revolution has enhanced the customization of products and services (Bigne, 2005, p. 34). This means that promotional messages are being done in a different way that has never been seen before. In addition, it has enhanced relationships with distinct customers. As a matter of fact, there are various changes to the business environment as a result of digital revolution. These changes have increased consumer power and access to information. Because of this, consumers are more informed about products.
Since producers and manufacturers have access to various consumer patterns and preferences, more products and services are being offered. This is because digital revolution has increased and widened the market (Bigne, 2005, p. 39). In addition, consumers have access to interactive and instant exchanges.
This has redefined the normal and traditional behavior that they were used to. In this case, consumers can order for goods online and pay electronically. This evolution (to consumer behavior) has been enhanced by web connection and mobile phones.
The internet and digital revolution has changed the way consumers obtain products. A notable impact has been felt from the way consumers make purchases all over the world. Digital revolution has been characterized by the emergence of a one stop shop for all products and services. This has almost killed the traditional market place. Consumers can now access a variety of goods and services at the click of a button without any problem (Bigne, 2005, p. 39). This has ultimately changed their general behavior as consumers.
Increased access to information means that consumers are in a better position to make informed decisions. This can be done at their own time and convenience without any major concerns. Marketers on the other hand are in a better position to gather information about consumers. This enables them to devise new approaches to consumer behavior. In the long run, the general consumer patterns and behavior are altered.
The most significant impact of digital revolution on consumer behavior can be seen in the purchase of goods and services (Joshi, 2005, p. 18). This is characterized by e-shopping carts and numerous electronic pay services. Definitely, this gives a new definition to the general consumer behavior. In addition, consumers have learnt to adapt to the ever- changing electronic market. This means that they have embraced e-shopping in their daily lives.
Digital revolution allows and offers a responsive user friendly purchasing experience. In this case, consumers can get more value for their money as they purchase products and services. As much as digital revolution has had a positive impact on consumer behavior, there are various concerns that need to be attended to.
There is an argument that the social aspect of shopping is being eroded (Bigne, 2005, p. 76). This is because some people enjoy talking to shoppers and sales staffs.
Therefore, the social reward aspect of shopping does not exist in digital and online shopping. In addition, web access is still a problem to most consumers. This implies that low penetration of e-commerce in these areas will limit their use. There is need to deal with security concerns that have been brought about by digital revolution (Bigne, 2005, p. 98).
Digital revolution continues to have a big impact on consumer behavior. As a matter of fact, it has enhanced the customization of products and services. This means that promotional messages are being done in a different way that has never seen before. In addition, it has enhanced relationships with distinct customers.
On the other hand, there are various changes to the business environment as a result of digital revolution. These changes have increased consumer power and access to information. Because of this, consumers are more informed about products.
Consumer behavior has in most occasions been influenced by various circumstances. These circumstances revolve around the purchase of a given good or service. It should be understood that there are various factors that influence consumer behavior. These can be; cost of goods or services, number of alternatives considered, degree of information search, length of time to make a decision and the level of consumer involvement. In a broad perspective, they can be grouped as social, cultural, individual and psychological factors.
Bigne, E. (2005). The Impact of Internet User Shopping Patterns and Demographics on Consumer Mobile Buying Behavior. Valencia: University of Valencia press.
Joshi, R. M. (2005). International Marketing. New York: Oxford University Press.
Nigel, B. (2007). Marketing Research: Tools and Techniques. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Sandhusen, L, R. (2000). Marketing. New York: Barron’s Educational Series.
Schiffman, G, L., & Kanuk, L, L. (2010). Consumer Behavior. USA: Pearson Education.