Consumer behavior is a vast area of study that has limitless opportunities that any firm can exploit to attract consumers to its product. It analyzes psychologies of how consumers think, feel, reason, and choose between different competing products. Business organizations always try their best to understand consumer shopping behavior to influence their marketing strategies. The marketing campaigns put in place to shift the client’s choice motivates a customer to choose product A over B. The overall goal of consumer behavior is to enable business organizations to improve and tailor their marketing campaigns to reach the consumer effectively.
Respondents’ Point of View
The first person interviewed is a student named Fahad, who needs to stay connected all the time with his distant family. Technology is important to all people, especially to students because a modern person should be conversant with all the basic technologies. Students are the most numerous group of users of technology, pushed by the desire to stay ahead of their colleagues or the need to have whatever they need on the palm of their hands. Technology is paramount to students due to the nature of the educational life structured by the university. The way the education system is structured fosters the need to have an all-round knowledge of the new technologies that are most beneficial to us. Students and majority of the youth are the largest consumers of technology.
The second informant is Majeed, who is a technology freak. Majeed prefers Samsung to Apple since he has used Apple before, but found it not effective in sharing, exchanging of files, and downloading movies. ‘I prefer Samsung’s phones, because, they give their customers more freedom to add a memory card and to download music without using iTunes’. Majeed can be referred to as the informed consumer in consumer behavior theory. He makes his decisions not based on emotional attachment like the first respondent.
The third respondent is Azuz, who coincidentally prefers Samsung to iPhone due to its flexibility and ease of use. He says, ‘I feel they are more flexible than Apple’s products. Apple makes things complicated and hard for a user to do things with the product. For instance, putting a song or a movie in a phone or tablet needs to have an iTunes and sync the device with the computer, long process. With Samsung either I connect my device to USB wire or connect the memory card to the computer’. Azuz applies the principle of maximization of satisfaction as the main reason he chooses his product.
Consumer Behavior Theory: The Respondents Perspective
A consumer is anybody who buys and utilizes goods and services for one purpose or another. The behavior of customers varies from product to product. This behavior is mostly referred as the actions causing the actual choice or the decision-making process that will finally lead to the client buying the product (O’Dougherty, 2007). Most of the times, businesses look for ways to find out how consumers make their decision to purchase product A over product B. In the following case, it is necessary to identify why the consumer will buy Apple product and not Samsung. Understanding consumer behavior is key to the successful product consumption by customers and the development of consumer loyalty. Market segmentation is one of the ways with the help of which the business can easily understand the behaviors of consumers.
Usually, businesses divide the market to understand each consumer fully on an individual basis. Based on the interview, respondents base their fondness for either Apple or Samsung on the theory of attitude, which is the main component in understanding consumer behavior. According to Dierks (2005), the attitude theory is based on three key elements.
The first element is the cognitive component, which includes consumers’ perception, knowledge, and beliefs in relation to the product. In the case of the first interview, the respondent stated that he prefers Apple to Samsung due to certain specific attributes that the product has. In his view, connecting with the family back home on a ‘visual basis’ is the key to maintaining a nostalgic feeling that he has. His choice of the Apple is based on the belief that for one to connect well with family back home, one needs to see them. Therefore, it is an advantage of Apple products to have FaceTime.
The affective component refers to the feelings that the consumer has towards the product or service. These ‘feelings’ ultimately push the decision to finally purchase Apple or Samsung. The two respondents in the interview prefer Samsung mainly because of the features and user friendliness that it offers to them. In other words, consumers may like or dislike a particular product simply because it does not offer satisfaction that another competitor product does.
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The third element in shaping consumer behavior is the conative aspect (Dierks, 2005). It solves the question of how the consumers behave or act towards the product. In the following case, the key question is what prompts clients to purchase either Apple or Samsung. These actions determine what will prompt the consumer, in this case, the respondents, to purchase the products.
In understanding consumer behavior, economists have argued over the years that, consumers follow one simple principle, mainly the principle of maximization of needs (Krishna & Reddy, 2011). In the three interviews, all the respondents clearly follow this principle. In the interview, they all decide which of the two products will give them maximum satisfaction. First respondent, a student named Fahad considers how the product will assist him in interacting at a personal level with his family back home. On the contrary, the other two informants, Majeed and Azuz, consider the compatibility of the two products concerning watching movies, downloading music, and sharing files from a personal computer. Krishna and Reddy, (2011), argue that the economic model of understanding consumer behavior considers a given set of needs, tastes, and income level. These factors help to predict the way in which the consumer will prioritize money for the purchase of goods and services.
The economic model of consumer behavior states that the lower is the price of the product the higher is the probability of its selling. On the other hand, the lower is the price of substitute goods the lower are the sales of the competing product (Krishna & Reddy, 2011). This model further suggests that, the higher is the real income, the higher is the demand for the product while higher advertising expenses will translate into higher sales. It, however, does not relate to inferior goods. It is only applicable to products that have a loyal customer base, who are willing to pay a top dollar for that product. The other aspect of understanding consumer behavior is gaining a deeper understanding of the motivation of the consumer. The concept of motivation is what gives energy to the overall behavior of a consumer. The development of consumer behavior can be motivated by physiological needs. The urge to have something like food and other life sustaining necessities activates the needs (Batra & Kazmi, 2008).
In the case of big brands like Apple or Samsung, the need to have a particular product may not be necessarily triggered by hunger. On the contrary, the inner voice tells the client what needs and wishes will be met because of the purchase. Furthermore, emotional needs also characterize and predetermine consumer behavior. The thought of owning an Apple or Samsung phone itself is enough to trigger the consumer to purchase the product. In this aspect, some of the respondents and IT students simply need to look up to Steve Jobs and the use of an iPhone. This example is enough to push them to acquire one (Batra & Kazmi, 2008). The respondents may be motivated by the thought of benefits using either Apple or Samsung would bring to them.
The need to connect with his family on the screen rather than via text or phone calls might have triggered the first respondent to purchase Apple and not Samsung product. Sometimes, the need for a particular product is present but one cannot relate to it until one is confronted with the scenario that would trigger the need. A good example is when one of the respondents had used iPhone before, but only realized its limitations when he was uploading files to the phone and exchanging them using his personal computer.
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Personality shapes most of consumer behavior. In the second interview, the respondent is clearly stating that he is a ‘technology freak’ and hence the need to sample both the products. The personality of the consumer shapes buying behavior. Most of the people purchase products based on who they are as personalities. It is almost unheard off to find individuals buying a phone that does not resonate with their personality. A footballer, for example, will purchase a Ferrari rather than a Toyota, not because he needs the car but because of the personal traits that he possesses and the kind of image that he wants to portray. All models of watches tell the time, but what is the reason one would buy a ten thousand dollar watch and not a five hundred dollar watch. The answer is due to his personality. One may have the resources to purchase the Rolex, but may not admire that brand. In comparison, Apple products are more expensive that many models of Samsung, the perception of the two products is key to understanding of the consumer. Consumers have perception towards a particular product.
Many factors arise in terms of understanding consumer behavior. The cultural background of the consumer may also influence his purchase or use of a particular product. Consumer behavior is complex and ever changing as many substitute products come into the market. Before the Galaxy brand, Apple’s iPhone had the largest market share in the United States for mobile handsets. It had created a ‘cult-like’ following concerning mobile handset market. The Galaxy model changed the way customers perceived the iPhone, it was a revolution, and it made the features possible that could not be used or accessible from the iPhone. Even though, the Galaxy model has disrupted iPhones’ dominance, there are those core clients that will always prefer the iPhone to the Galaxy model.
In conclusion, consumer behavior is a complex subject that will need further research. It is hard to predict consumer behavior to develop criteria for identifying businesses’ market segment and design products for that market.