Things Affecting Consumer Decisions - Explained
What types of Things Affect Consumer Decisions?
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Table of ContentsWhat types of things Affect Consumer Decisions? How Economic Conditions Affect Consumer DecisionsHow Psychological Factors Affect Consumer DecisionsHow Perception Affects Consumer DecisionsSelective ExposureSelective PerceptionSelective RetentionHow Consumer Learning Affects DecisionsHow Social Influences Affect Consumer DecisionsHow Cultural Characteristics Affect Consumer DecisionsHow External Circumstances Affect Consumer Decisions
What types of things Affect Consumer Decisions?
The influences that often affect or change the decision that a consumer makes, include:
- Economic Conditions - Economic conditions are a major factor in the decisions we make because they affect our budget - which affects what we can or cannot afford. Economic conditions also affects our confidence. For example, if we believe that our resources may dwindle or that our purchase may lose value, we may forgo making a purchase. When economic times are good, we are more likely to purchase or incur debt.
- Psychological Factors - This has to do with our attitudes or our behaviors. How we process information affects our understanding or how we see things. That's going to have a huge influence on our decision making. Different people have different psychology or psychological makeup, and so they make different decisions.
- Social Influences - This has to do with the people who surround us. This can be friends that are with us when we make a purchase or just the people with whom we associate and will know what we purchase. We may also make decisions to purchase because we want to be like others.
- Cultural Characteristics - Culture influences the way we view things in terms of our values and our beliefs. So, that's definitely going to come into play when we make a purchase. For example, do we think it's important to have a nice car or do we think it's important to have a car that will get us from point A to point B.
- External Circumstances - This has to do with conditions at the time of purchase. Things like store displays, environmental factors (weather or the temperature), music in the store, etc. As marketers, we need to consider all of these sort of additional factors.
Each of these is discussed further below.
How Economic Conditions Affect Consumer Decisions
Economic trends have a direct impact on consumer confidence. For example, if we know that lots of people are losing jobs or if we hear that the economy is contracting (meaning it's getting smaller or less money is circulating), our consumer confidence is going to decrease. Having low consumer confidence means that we're going to spend less in anticipation of hard times.
Another way economic conditions affect us directly is through our income level. If the economy is good and we have a high-paying job, we'll have more money to spend. That may translate into more purchases for most people. On the other hand, if things are not going so well or we're stuck in a job that doesn't pay us as well as we would like, that's going to have a negative impact on our purchasing ability and habits. All right.
Next, there is the economics of a particular decision. For example, if we have the option to buy a large amount of something at a lower price per unit versus being able to buy one unit at a higher price per unit, that's the economics of that particular decision. In other words, we have to consider what makes sense.
How Psychological Factors Affect Consumer Decisions
Individual psychological factors play heavily into the way that we make decisions as people.
In consumer decision making, there is a connection between the needs and the motivation to meet those needs. As we recognize, a need a drive is created in us to meet that need. This psychological process will ultimately result in the decision to make a purchase or do something to satisfy our needs.
The next psychological factor to consider is perception. Technically, perception is the mental impress we receive as a result of an external stimuli. In its simplest form, perception is how we see things. Perception is different for everybody. Importantly, it will affect the decisions that we make and the purchases that we make. If we perceive a product to be a good option or a good way to meet our need, we're more likely to buy it. We discuss perception in greater detail below.
The next psychological factor to consider is learning. Learning occurs when we are exposed to something and we take mental note of it. We then use that learning to process future information and make decisions about it. Of interest, learning is something that happens differently for everyone. As such, a marketer must take into account the extent or nature of the learning a potential customer has undergone. We discuss learning in greater detail below.
All of these psychological factors contribute to why different consumers will make different
decisions even in a very similar situation.
How Perception Affects Consumer Decisions
Perception is the way we gather and make sense of information that we encounter. So, we're accepting information and then putting the meaning to it or making sense of it. Interestingly, perception differs from one person to the next. If the information is the same, why don't we come to the same perception? Let's begin be talking about some of the reasons.
Selective exposure is a process where we do not attend to certain things. We decide we're not going to listen or think about something to which we are exposed. We don't do this consciously. Our brain has a way of shutting out certain things.
Selective perception concerns whether we're going to accept the information to which we're exposed and process it consciously. The alternative would be to consciously refuse to listen or tune certain things out intentionally.
Selective retention is where we remember the things that either stand out to us. This is particularly common with positive positive occurrences or things that fit better with our way of thinking.
These factors combined explain how different people perceive the same things very differently.
How Consumer Learning Affects Decisions
The definition of learning is a change in behavior or thinking due to experience. So, learning contributes to the purchase decisions we make. It can be direct or indirect, meaning we can learn from our own experience or we can learn to learn by somebody else's experience.
Another important aspect of learning to consider is reinforcement. Marketers make sure there is plenty of reinforcement to the messages that we put out there. It consistency of the message tends to create trust or confidence in the consumer's mind.
Another interesting thing about learning is that the attitudes and beliefs that we develop through learning help to set our expectations. For example, if we have the experience of buying a product and we learn that that product is reliable, that's our new attitude that we develop. Then our expectation is that it will continue to be reliable or it will work every time.
How Social Influences Affect Consumer Decisions
Social influences includes any external influence related to the personal interaction with others. One factor involved here is family status. So, if you're a single person buying just for yourself, you're probably going to make a different decision than someone who is married and has children. So. family status will have a big influence on the purchase decisions that we make.
Another factor is reference groups. This has to do with the groups of other people with whom we as an individuals identify or would like to identify. The way we see ourselves in comparison to these groups has a lot of influence on the decisions that we make.
Next we have opinion leaders. These are individuals who for one reason or another come to be seen as kind of authorities with the opinions that they put out there. So, if one of these opinion leaders says that a product is good. lots of people are going to believe that that product is good.
Lastly, a tendency toward conformity influences many people heavily in their decisions. Conformity fits back in with this idea of reference groups and opinion leaders. In the case of conformity, people want to be like the people who they see as similar to themselves. As such, conformity has a strong influence on our decision making.
How Cultural Characteristics Affect Consumer Decisions
Cultural characteristics often dictate or set the groundwork for our personal values. We learn our values from our culture. So, that means that the things that we think are important or the things that we think are good or bad typically goes straight back to the culture that we grew up in or that we were exposed to. So, culture has a heavy influence on our values. From there our values tend to dictate our priorities. As consumers, our priorities lead to preferences. These preferences affect the purchase decisions that we make.
How External Circumstances Affect Consumer Decisions
External circumstances often influence our purchase decisions. One external circumstance to consider is the time and attention that someone has to dedicate to a purchase decision. For example, a hasty purchase decision may be different from a well-thought-out decision.
Another issue that comes into play with purchase decisions is the number of options. If there are many choices, our decision tends to become more complicated.
Next is the urgency of need. If you need something very badly, you will buy whatever is available.
Another consideration is environmental factors. While many of these factors cannot be altered (such as the weather), we can affect the conditions at the place of purchase. This might include making the environment as welcoming and conducive to purchase as possible.
All of these external circumstances affect consumer decision making. So, these are things we need to consider and try to understand as marketers.