North Wales Management School - Wrexham University

Why it’s important to study consumer behaviour

Posted on: May 31, 2022
Illustration of a man spending money, with a small man on a ladder looking into his head

Understanding the importance of consumer behaviour is critical for any marketer. By learning how and why people choose one product or service over another, marketers can:

  • identify which products or services people want – and just as importantly, identify which products and services they don’t want.
  • effectively shape their marketing strategies and marketing campaigns to help influence consumers’ actions.
  • fine-tune their marketing efforts. For example, they can uncover new customer demographics, enhance their messaging, and even predict future market trends.

What is consumer behaviour?

Consumer behaviour is the study of people’s motivations and reasons for selecting the products and services that they buy. It also examines things like people’s buying patterns and habits. 

It’s an area of interest for marketers as well as psychologists, economists, and even biologists and chemists.

There are several categories used to label the different facets of consumer behaviour:

  1. Habitual buying behaviour. Also known as routine buying behaviour, this consumer behaviour is influenced by repetition and brand familiarity in purchase decisions, and typically covers everyday items that a person buys frequently without much thought.
  2. Impulse buying behaviour. This behaviour occurs when buying decisions are made in the moment – without planning or research – based on an immediate desire. A common example of impulse buying is purchasing chocolate or sweets while in the queue at the supermarket. 
  3. Complex buying behaviour. This can include both limited and extended decision-making behaviours. It covers the purchases that people make after giving the matter some thought, or conducting research into their options.
  4. Dissonance-reducing buying behaviour. Dissonance-reducing buying occurs when a consumer is engaged in their purchase – typically an important one – but can see little difference between brands or products. This can be unsettling for some consumers, as they worry they’ll regret their decision post-purchase.

Studying consumer behaviour: how to get started

Consumer behaviour studies can be as cursory or as in-depth as a business likes – but the more high-quality data and information a marketer has to work with, the better their marketing strategy will be.

Collect data

Marketers typically have a wealth of information and data already at their fingertips, and by collating it and reviewing it, can glean insights from:

  • Company data, such as product usage reports and sales reports.
  • Customer feedback, including reviews, surveys, and complaints.
  • Online engagement, including website data from Google Analytics, Google Trends, and keyword research.
  • Bespoke market research, such as focus-group findings and competitor analysis’.
  • Social media, including gauging brand sentiment on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, as well as looking at blog comments, newsletter subscription data, and so on.

Group – or segment – customer types

Every business has at least a general understanding of its target market. But digging deeper, through customer or market segmentation, means that marketers can better understand the individual wants and needs of each of their customer types. Crucially, this differentiation means that they can then effectively tailor their marketing strategies and messaging to each of these groups.  

Segmentation should consider a number of characteristics and demographic traits, including:

  • age
  • gender
  • location
  • consumer needs (what are the products that are considered essential to this persona?)
  • shopping habits (do they prefer to shop online or in store? How regularly do they buy from the brand in question – and how often, ideally, should this be?)
  • prefered marketing channels (do they engage with marketing on social media sites? What about email newsletters or television advertising?)

Once the customer segments have been created, they can each be given a persona, which is a fictional archetype that represents the segment.

Consider customer motivations

After identifying and segmenting their customer types – both existing and potential – marketers should consider the purchasing motivations for each of these personas.

Studying consumer behaviour typically considers three general motivators. These are:

  • Psychological factors. People’s beliefs and feelings play a huge role in their purchasing decisions. How they feel about a brand, its products, its service, and how they feel it compares with its competitors, all feed into their actions as a consumer.
  • Personal factors. A person’s age, gender, location, financial situation, and so on, all help determine the types of products and services they’re interested in, their likes and dislikes, and the marketing they’re most likely to engage with.
  • Social factors. A person’s environment will help shape their behaviour. What are their friends and family members buying? What’s culturally appropriate for them? What media are they consuming, and how is that influencing their behaviour?

Create a customer behaviour analysis

A customer behaviour analysis is a hugely useful piece of research. It takes the qualitative and quantitative data from each of the previous research stages – data collection, market segmentation, and motivation analysis – to create a thorough understanding of customers’ behaviours and influences.

This data should be compared against the existing customer experience to gain:

  • a deeper understanding of the customer journey and the consumer decision-making process.
  • better insight into consumer preferences and consumer purchase behaviour.
  • recurring trends.
  • common issues that might impact customer satisfaction or buyer behaviour.
  • further insight into behaviours.

Marketers can also consider questions such as:

  • What new products might be of interest to the persona?
  • Are there different products that might also be relevant?
  • What are consumers’ expectations for their customer relationship?

Apply the analysis to a marketing strategy

Equipped with a comprehensive customer behaviour analysis, marketers can create data-driven strategies and campaigns that maximise their consumer research. Within their marketing mix, they can optimise marketing content, select the most effective marketing channels for their target audience, and simultaneously focus on new customer growth as well as existing customer retention.

Using the available research and analysis, marketers know:

  • who to target.
  • what motivates the target demographic.
  • which products are likely to be of interest to this group.
  • why they’re likely to choose one particular product or service over another.
  • when they shop, as well as their shopping habits.
  • where they get their marketing messaging, as well as where they tend to shop.
  • how to influence their consumer buying behaviour.

Take your consumer behaviour studies to the next level

The study of consumer behaviour is a key component of the 100% online MBA Marketing degree at North Wales Management School, part of Wrexham University. You’ll learn how to create strategic marketing campaigns and use analytical techniques to turn data into actionable insights.

This flexible Master of Business Administration degree is taught online and part-time so you can study at your own pace on your own terms, making it perfect for busy working professionals who want to transform their career prospects.