Posted By Jack Davis
Factors That Influence The Decision Making Process
There are many things in the lives of consumers which sway their perception of brands, products, companies and shopping stores. These influential elements can define what kind of consumer we are and how we act when we are shopping. Influences are broken down into two categories: Internal Factors & External Factors.
Internal influences to the decision making process
Internal influences to the consumer decision making process are usually related to the thoughts, feelings, attitudes, lifestyle and personal circumstances of the consumer. They may have personal values which mean they have specific requirements to buying behaviours and require more emphasis to be placed on different steps of the process.
To use a real world example, take a vegetarian. A vegetarian will spend much more time researching products to make sure that it complies with their own values and requirements. But even within segments of consumers there are many things which can affect the buying behaviour. If the consumer simply refuses to eat meat or cannot eat it for health reasons then they may just check the details of the food in question to ensure that no traces of animal meat are contained within. However, another consumer may check for details like how the food was processed and whether the product was free range or battery raised.
Their motivation & Emotion
Whilst these two elements work together to change consumer habits they are almost opposites of each other. Motivation is the long term goals of the consumer and are the ultimate ends to the consumers means. Emotion is the consumers short term state of being and can define quick decisions and eventually influence motivation and lifetime goals.
All consumers have a long term lifeplan, even if it is really vague. A widely adopted goal is the need to buy a house, have a car and raise children but there are many different goals which the consumer may work towards for a long time but the day-by-day processes are influenced by the emotions of the consumer.
A person may have a full time job and a motivation to buy a new car. The consumer may have money problems and become more and more stressed about the need to fulfill the long term goal. As their emotion grows more desperate they can be more swayed by credit cards, hire purchase agreements or loans from banks. This is a real life example of how motivation can set long term goals but emotions can affect how the consumer sets a plan to achieve it.
Attitudes are to do with the consumers direct experiences with the brand or products in question. These attitudes are learned over time and can create an advocate from a consumer which is means repeat sales, good word of mouth and positive reviews which is exactly what a company should be aiming for. Companies can develop these positive attitudes over time by simply delivering what is promised to the consumer and making them feel valued as an individual. Failing that you could just send them incentives! Loyalty schemes like the Tesco Clubcard, Nectar Card or even a Nandos loyalty program can encourage positive attitudes and repeat business by offering the consumer a better experience by viewing the company more positively. These attitudes can be profited from by setting up affiliate programs and encouraging customers to view the positives and portray them across to other consumers in order to create another customer.
The most common misconception is that a negative attitude is bad for a company. In fact many customers actually strive to create a negative attitude on purpose to capture the attention of more consumers. This is widely adopted in TV advertising and can be seen by the current example of the Go Compare adverts which have a rather annoying opera singer with crudely put together rhymes about getting cheap car insurance. This advert usually provokes a groan from viewers and a hand reaching for the mute button but that negative attitude has actually inspired a strong market presence. Think about it: if you have seen the advert then it is likely reading this has got the tune in your head and the character (irritating as it is) is unmistakably connected to Go Compare. So, by having a negative attitude towards the adverts, the consumer has actually developed a strong connection between it and saving a few pounds on car insurance meaning that when you sit down at your computer to look for new car insurance you are more likely to click on the Go Compare link or just visit them directly.
“The Self” refers to the image that the consumer sees when they imagine themselves. There are different types of the self, one which the consumers sees as their identity and another which the consumer will portray to others in order to conform to the local policies and social norms. This outward portrayal can be influenced very easily because as a species we are generally socially conformant, meaning we will try to blend in with the crowd if we can even if that means doing something which we wouldn’t normally do.
Charity collectors in the street actually capture a lot of people by simply catching their eye, walking towards them and initiating a conversation confidently. Many of us who haven’t come across them before, unused to the bold nature of conversationalist charity collectors, will stop and engage them because they are unsure of how to act so they follow the example of the person in front. Many of us are not charitable people, we are content with simply paying our own bills and working towards a long term goal but this is not seen as a social norm. The collectors make them part with their money by appealing to the consumers emotions (making them feel guilt for having money) and influencing the outward self by making them appear generous and kind even if it is against the consumers inward self.
External influences to the decision making process
This is the opposite of the internal influencers, it is the effect of the world around us which defines what we do and don’t do in certain situations, including purchasing products. These external influencers can also be called sociocultural influences as they are influenced by the community in which we live.
The culture in which we live and the company we keep can heavily influence our buying behaviour and what we perceive to be a good product/service. Culture can create needs and strong emotions which can affect long term goals. One example is the current craze of the iPad culture which involves getting all the Apple products possible to conform to a culture of friends which deem themselves technologically superior by having expensive and well designed hardware. Many users who have the latest iPhone know at least two or three other people who have the latest iPhone meaning that there is a strong sociocultural influence from friends to buy the latest Apple products. Although few would go as far as to sell vital organs like one particular Apple fan. Although this is a very specific example there are many companies which aim marketing campaigns at a technology focused market segment.
A subculture is simply a further breakdown of a culture into an even smaller group of people based on similar demographic, or geo-demographic, qualities. Some examples of this can be breaking a vegetarian community down into those who are from an Asian heritage. This is a perfect example of finding a culture from a value or belief and further breaking it down by finding a group who have another similar beliefs.
The household structure
The way a house is structured can affect the consumer decision making process because the number of people and their own personal preferences into brands and products can change the buying behaviours of the rest of the household. Going back to the example with vegetarians we can assume that a household of two adults and two children are going to buy much less meat if only one of the house is adverse to eating it. There are various reasons this could happen:
- If the person is religious then they will not be able to eat meat or come into contact with anything which has been used to cook or prepare meats. This makes it difficult to manage different cooking utensils and many times the rest of the family will join with eating Quorn.
- If the person is vegetarian for health reasons then the rest of the household may be uncomfortable eating in front of the person when they are unable to. This will influence less animal meat to be bought out of courtesy.
- If the person simply doesn’t like, animal meat then it may be that the rest of the house stops eating as much because it is too expensive to buy two different types (meat and Quorn) or because the smell would be unpleasant to them.
While this may sound like an unusual situation, it is actually a surprisingly common factor which means the mix of different values/beliefs in a household can change the buying behaviours of all of them.