Marketers and business owners everywhere constantly seek to understand how they can better meet customer needs and anticipate their wants and desires in order to offer the best possible products and services. Today’s customers really know what they want and travel through a five-stage purchase cycle accordingly. this is:
- The recognition stage – when the customer knows that they need, want or desire something.
- The search stage – when the customer looks for solutions to their need and seeks out products or services which might fulfil it.
- The comparison stage – where the customer will consider the options and weigh them up against each other, to see which will best fit their needs.
- The decision stage is when the purchase is actually made.
- The post-purchase evaluation stage is when the customer will decide whether or not they were happy with their decision and their purchase. If they are, they may leave a favourable review. If they aren’t, they may return it for a refund or exchange.
But what actually influences the behaviours in this cycle and why should marketers seek to understand the underpinning psychology at play?
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What makes your Customers Tick?
By understanding what influences consumer behaviour, it becomes far easier to target customers and to deliver sales and marketing strategies in response. Let’s identify the four key influencers of consumer behaviour and analyse each.
1] Psychological factors
These factors include perception, motivation, learning, consumer beliefs and experience.
- Motivation allows customers to focus on a goal and desire in order to fulfil a series of needs, such as social, psychological or self-esteem.
- Perception is what customers use to see and sense the world. Perceptions are entirely unique according to the individual and decision-making based on perception varies accordingly. This is a strong factor when considering brand awareness.
- Customers use learning and experience to research products before they decide whether or not they buy them. In terms of knowledge, they may have experience with a brand and use that as a basis for deciding whether to choose that brand for another product purchase.
- Beliefs and attitudes shape how a customer sees a brand, which has a significant bearing on whether or not they will decide to purchase from it.
2] Personal factors
These are also described as market demographics and include variables such as age, interests, personality traits, career and financial position. These factors can change over time. They also allow customers to be grouped by similar factors, such as gender or age, in order to predict certain behaviours.
Behavioural predictions can be made more accurately when these groupings become more niche. Today’s rich sources of data allow marketers to far better identify subgroups which share certain characteristics.
Highly targeted marketing campaigns can then be delivered which appeal to these niche interests in a way that makes the customer feel understood by the brand.
3] Social Factors
All individuals belong to different groups and have a defined social status, even if they aren’t overtly aware of it. Customers can be influenced into buying or not buying a product or a brand depending on the views that their social group holds.
These social factors are akin to cultural factors in some ways, but they are easier to change. They can also be adjusted by fads and trends, as well as by online influencers.
4] Cultural Factors
These are similar to social influences, and they can include elements as diverse as social class, purchasing culture, sub-culture and groups of affiliation.
Effective marketers are wise to focus their campaign efforts on aligning brand values with the social or cultural norms of their target market. For example, some customers will always want to find the best-priced deal. Others will want designer brands.
Today’s consumers are smart about what they want, but marketers who understand social position and class can better create campaigns that appeal to that group’s aspirations and needs.
Ultimately, the key lies in really knowing your customer and considering the psychological, social, personal and cultural factors that shape groups.
By using rich data and digital intelligence to really mine into customer motivations and influencing factors, marketers can become far more effective in creating impactful campaigns that drive excellent ROI.
In-depth customer analysis, combined with niche segmentation and effective marketing campaigns based on target characteristics allows brands to really stand out and to carve out meaningful relationships with loyal customers in an age where the customer is king – and expects only the best.