- Category: Resources
- Published: 04 September 2014
There are various factors influencing the decision-making process of buyers or consumers. Some of these factors are internal, while others are external. Internal factors, otherwise known as personal influences are individualistic in nature (Quester, 2011). External factors are outside the control of consumers, and have both direct and indirect impact on the consumption patterns of consumers (Armstrong, 2003). Business people and marketers refer to these factors as external influences because their sources emanate from the outside of a buyer rather than from within (Quester, 2011). Both the internal and external influences are inert-connected and work together in assisting the buyer decision-making process (Foxall, 2005). Today, buyers are faced with a variety of product selection due to fierce competition among companies and, thus, the understanding of the consumer behavior’s influences is vital to the success of any business. This paper practically explores these influences on a consumer who recently bought a car in light of relevant theories.
Marketing is concerned with satisfying consumer wants and needs. When a need is not satisfied, it motivates consumers to seek satisfaction. Therefore, motivation is the want that is strong enough causing the buyer to seek satisfaction (Belch & Belch, 2007). Buyers have different types of motives. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, is one of the best known paradigms for elaborating these types of motives. Maslow managed to categorize five groups of needs: physiological, safety, social, esteem, and self-actualization (Maslow, 1970). Some motives are more basic than others (Arnould, 2006). The more basic motives are mostly satisfied before other motives can be activated. The individual under study has been motivated to buy a car to satisfy his safety, esteem and self-actualization needs. According to him, his Ford Fusion car is fitted with airbags making him safer. Moreover, he bought the car because it suites and wants others to think better of him and, thus, boosting his esteem and self-actualization. Australian Ford Motor Company incorporate all these motivational factors in attracting its customers. Despite the appropriateness of the Maslow theory’s application to marketing, some critics have noted vagueness as what is considered deficiency for an individual may not be necessarily for another (Foxall, 2005). However, the application of the theory in buying in the context of this study, is feasible.
Perception is a psychological factor. It is the process by which people organize, select, and interpret information in forming the world’s meaningful picture (Foxall, 2005). Perception influences buyers’ acquisition and consumption of products through the tendency of assigning meaning to things such as symbols, color, and taste (Khosla, 2010). The Top-Down theory developed by Gregory (1974) states that perception includes making inferences on what people see and attempting to make the best guess. Moreover, he argues that past experience and prior knowledge are crucial in the perception (Gregory, 1974). The buyer in question is obsessed with the blue color and all his purchases surround this color. It is, therefore, not surprising he bought the blue Ford Fusion car. However, there is a possibility of forming incorrect tendencies leading to errors of perception (Foxall, 2005). This may make the buyer to regret the purchase made upon realizing that there are defects on the item bought.
Learning is also a very important buyer’s internal influence. It refers to the change in the behavior or process of a buyer arising from experience and occurs throughout the buyer decision process (Quester, 2011). Learning is essential for all processes of consumption. The learning and involvement model states that learning under high involvement conditions highly motivates the consumer to learn, whereas learning under low involvement conditions involve passive learning and most consumer learning happens in this context (Gilovich et al., 2006). The buyer under the study was involved in cognitive learning under high involvement because when he realized needed a posh car, he began looking and searching for ads, articles, and reviews on the internet. He learned from the new pieces of information and decided to venture into the business of buying the Ford Fusion. Learning, however, occurs when new information is obtainable motivating buyers, otherwise low involvement would be inevitable (Foxall, 2005). Leaning is important in the buyer decision-making process.
Personality is a psychological factor. It is the inner psychological characteristic of people leading to consistent response to the environment (Kuester, 2012). If marketers are capable of identifying the personality profile of their target markets, advertising could show buyers of the similar type utilizing the product. The Five factor Personality Theory identifies basic personality traits formed by genetics during the early learning stages: extroversion; instability; agreeableness; openness to experience; and conscientiousness (Hirsh et al., 2012). Using these personality traits, marketers use brand personality to characterize brands as perceived by buyers (Quester, 2011). The Ford Fusion is a high class car for openness to experience and conscious buyers. These traits describe the personality of the buyer under study. Nevertheless, some companies have undergone losses due to brand personality since consumers are dynamic and prefer customer-friendly prices (Belch & Belch, 2007). Good personality branding is appropriate and economical.
Attitudes are connected to beliefs. An attitude is the overall product’s favorable or unfavorable evaluation (Khosla, 2010. Attitudes are usually developed during the information search or as a result of using the product. Attitudes play a key role in the design of the product by making the efforts of the designer to match the attributes of the product to customer attitudes and beliefs (Kuester, 2012). The theory of attitude formation argues that attitudes are composed of cognitive, behavioral, and affective elements (Critcher & Gilovich, 2010). The cognitive component holds that attitudes consist of consumer’s knowledge and beliefs, the affective component representing the feelings or emotional reactions of consumers to a product, and the behavioral component insinuating the consumer’s tendency in responding in a certain way towards the product (Khosla, 2010). All these components apply to the Ford Fusion’s buyer who strongly believe and is emotionally attached to this posh car making him to behave a particular way in buying the automobile. Beliefs and attitudes may be such strong to a certain product causing obsession, which sometimes may lead to buying of a faulty item (Belch & Belch, 2007). However, attitudes are formed after an experience which is often positive tending.
Human beings are social animals who love to be in groups. Groups are composed of two or more individuals sharing set of values, norms, or beliefs and interact in accomplishing individual or mutual goal (Quester, 2011). Virtually all consumer behavior occurs in a group setting. One of the group influences is the reference group concept. The reference group model covers on the information, normative, and identification influences, which inspire an individual as the basis for his/her present behavior (Kuester, 2012). In the marketing perspective, reference group serves as the frame of reference for buyers in their purchasing or consumption behavior (Foxall, 2005). The presumed values and perspectives or reference groups are used by buyers in taking decisions. Though the Ford Fusion car is attributed to most celebrities, the buyer in question is not influenced or moved by this reference group, but he bought the car to elevate his esteem status and be respected in the society. This disproves the reference group model in that it does not influence all buyers by acting as opinion leaders.
Culture is the broadest external influence on the behavior of consumers. Culture influences buyers through the values and norms established by the society they live in (Quester, 2011). Culture is often inculcated, that is, it is passed down from one generation to successive generations through institutions such as family and religion (Arnould, 2006). The consumer culture theory involves the study of consumption behaviors and choices from the cultural and social perspectives, and refers to culture as invented, leant, shared, satisfies needs, dynamic, and similar but different (Schouten & McAlexander, 2005). These components of culture make it to be sub-sectioned into sub-cultures. A sub-culture is distinct culture group or a segment that share set of meanings or values differing in particular perspectives from those of the overall culture (Arnould & Thompson, 2005). These sub-cultures are relevant units of marketing research analysis and include categorization by region, age, sex, and caste. The Australian Ford Motor Company classifies its sub-culture by caste or social class such as chief executive officers (C.E.O), and working class. Ford Fusion is a posh car meant for C.E.Os (Davison, 2013). The sub-culture, thus, groups the buyer as a C.E.O. However, the individual is not C.E.O questioning the sub-culture grouping.
Both the internal and external factors influence the buying decision of consumers. Internal influences include: motivation, perception, learning, personality and attitude. Motivation makes the buyer to seek the satisfaction. Perception influences buyer’s acquisition and consumption of products based on certain parameters. Learning results from processing of information and causes changes in memory in buying the product. Personality are inherent traits that determine the type of products to be bought. Attitude are pre-conceived beliefs by consumers towards a given product. On the other hand, external influences involve group influence and culture. Group influence also known as reference group are the opinion leaders influencing buyers in the market. Culture refers to the norm and values influencing buyer behavior. From the above analysis, the buyer of the Ford Fusion is highly influenced by the internal factors. However, the external factors have little or no influence of his buying behavior of the posh car.
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