Consumer behaviour is the study of consumers and the processes they use to choose, use or consume, and dispose of products and services. These include consumers’ emotional, mental, and behavioural responses, and consumer behaviour studies have used ideas from several sciences including psychology, biology, chemistry, and economics.

It is important to understand and analyse and keep track of consumer behaviour in marketing. The behavioural patterns, types and segmentation of consumers should be considered before taking any important decision in marketing.

Consumers may be taking so many decisions during the day. On the dress they want to wear, on the perfume, they want to use, and what they want to have for breakfast and lunch. When they think about all these as a part of their daily life, it will be possible for them to take many shopping decisions without giving them much thought. These decisions are very critical for marketers because knowing the processes behind customers’ decisions can be used to boost sales.

Understanding consumer behaviour is important

Studying consumer behaviour helps marketers to understand what influences consumers’ buying decisions. By knowing how consumers decide on a particular product, they can identify the products that are needed, and the products that are obsolete. Studying consumer behaviour also help marketers to decide how to present their products in a way that generates a maximum impact on consumers. Understanding consumer buying behaviour is the key secret to reaching and engaging potential customers and converting them to purchase from you.

A consumer behaviour analysis should give us an idea on:

  • What consumers think, and how they feel about various alternatives available among brands and products.
  • What really influences the consumers to choose between various options available in the market.
  • Consumers’ behaviour, and the decision-making process while researching and shopping.
  • How consumers’ environment including friends, family, media, etc. influences their behaviour.

Consumer behaviour is often influenced by different factors. Marketers should study consumer purchase patterns and figure out buyer trends. In most cases, brands influence consumer behaviour only with the things they can control. There are three categories of factors that influence consumer behaviour. They are:

  • Personal Factors: an individual’s interests and opinions can be influenced by demographics (age, gender, culture, etc.).
  • Psychological Factors: an individual’s response to a marketing message will depend on their perceptions and attitudes.
  • Social Factors: family, friends, education level, social media, income, all influence consumers’ behaviour.

Different types of consumer behaviour

Complex Buying Behaviour: This type of behaviour is seen when consumers are buying an expensive, infrequently bought product. They are highly involved in the purchase process, and consumers do detailed research before committing to a high-value investment. Buying an apartment, car or laptop are examples of complex buying behaviour.

Dissonance-Reducing Buying Behaviour: The consumer has high involvement in the purchase process, but they may find it difficult in determining the differences between brands. ‘Dissonance’ can occur when the consumer worries that they will regret their choice. Imagine you are buying a washing machine. You will decide on one based on the price and convenience. But after the purchase, you will ensure that you’ve taken the right purchase decision.

Habitual Buying Behaviour: Habitual purchases are characterised by the fact that the consumer has very little involvement in the product or brand category. Think of grocery shopping. You go to the supermarket and buy your preferred brand. Here you are exhibiting a habitual pattern and not any strong brand loyalty. You may also have options on the preferred brands, either this or that.

Variety Seeking Behaviour: Here, a consumer purchases a different product not because they weren’t satisfied with the previous one, but because they always look for variety. Like when you are trying out new toilet soaps coming in the market.

Knowing what types of customers the online stores attract will give a better idea of how to segment customer types.

Factors affecting Consumer Behaviour

Many things can affect consumer behaviour, but the most frequent factors influencing consumer behaviour are marketing campaigns, economic conditions, personal preferences, peer group influence and purchasing power. Segmenting consumers based on their buying capacity will help marketers to find out eligible consumers and this can lead to better results.

Customer Behaviour Patterns

Buying behaviour patterns are not synonymous with buying habits. Habits are developed as tendencies towards action, and they become spontaneous over time. But behavioural patterns show a predictable mental design. Each customer has his/her own unique buying habits, while buying behaviour patterns are collective and offer marketers a unique characterisation. Customer behaviour patterns can be grouped into a place of purchase, items purchased, time and frequency of purchase, method of purchase.

Customer Behaviour Segmentation

Customer segmentation and identifying types of buyers have always been important. Now that personalisation and customer experience are factors that determine a business’s success, effective segmentation is even more important. Traditionally, most marketers use six primary types of behavioural segmentation. They are benefits sought, occasion-based, usage rate, loyalty-based, user status based and customer journey stage.

Research shows that only 33% of the companies that use customer segmentation confirm that they find it very effective and impactful. Hence it is very important to find the segmentation technique that brings more clarity and suits your business.


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