What Is Consumer Behaviour? (With Importance and Types)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published June 9, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Various factors influence consumers' attitudes towards brands, manufacturers, and service providers. You can study the way customers interact with products through various mediums and use this to predict their attitudes and opinions of other goods and services. Understanding what influences the behaviour of target consumers can help you improve their perception of a company and its offering. In this article, we examine consumer behaviour, outline the benefits you can enjoy from studying it, and explore the various types of behaviour among consumers.

What is consumer behaviour?

There are two primary aspects of consumer behaviour. The first involves the set of behaviours and attitudes that influence a consumer's decision to purchase a good or service. The other aspect involves the professional study of these behaviours by companies, researchers, and institutions. Areas of interest include what consumers buy, the reasons for their purchases, and the location of their purchases. By studying these aspects of buyer behaviour, researchers can also observe consumers' emotional and psychological responses. This study also applies the theories of disciplines like psychology, economics, and biology.

The primary purpose of studying the behaviour of consumers is to improve the influence or appeal of a product on its target audience. Your understanding of buyer behaviour can help provide a direction in your product development, product design, and marketing strategies. By evaluating how every feature of a product encourages engagement, you can recognize which features to emphasize to improve your sales. Understanding consumers' attitudes towards certain products can also improve the process of converting potential customers.

Related: What Is the Consumer Decision-Making Process? (A Guide)

Benefits of studying buyer behaviour

Here are some benefits you can enjoy from studying the attitudes and behaviours of consumers:

Effective production systems

The essence of developing products and services is to meet the needs of clients and customers. Studying their interactions with products can help determine the aspects they pay attention to and the ones they find less appealing. With this information, you can improve the efficiency of your production process by allocating more resources to areas that attract more customers. This can help you convert more customers with the same or lower cost of production. You can also observe competitors and identify consumers' responses to their products. This allows you to recognize how to improve your products.

Develop competitive pricing

Studying buyer behaviour allows you to determine the effect of pricing on their purchases. Various factors influence the conversion of potential customers, and pricing can play a role where most variables are similar. For instance, you can find that customers purchase the more affordable product of a competitor where other variables like positioning and design are similar. Studying consumers' attitudes to products can help you determine how price informs their decisions and make optimal adjustments to your prices.

Related: How to Calculate the Cost of Goods Manufactured (COGM)

Identify and forecast trends

Studying consumers' attitudes gives you insights into the needs and opportunities within a marketplace. You can forecast trends through the changes in customer preferences and act preemptively to meet them. With new demands, you can improve existing products or develop new products that fit the trend within a target market or niche. This also gives you a competitive edge as you constantly innovate to meet changing needs and access new niches in the market.

Effective STP strategies

Segmentation, targeting, and positioning strategies are an essential part of improving the profitability of products. You can improve the effectiveness of these strategies by understanding consumers' attitudes towards specific products. You can target consumers with similar preferences and needs to improve the reach of products. This also improves the process of differentiation which involves distinguishing between customers based on their preferences. For instance, you can improve the reach of your products by differentiating the approach to your Gen Z customer base from the millennial customer base.

Related: What Is a Market Segment? Definition, Benefits, and Steps

Acknowledges diverse needs

Conducting extensive studies on the behaviour of your consumers gives you insights into the various factors that influence purchasing decisions. The variety of factors influencing their purchasing decisions is similar to their diverse needs. By acknowledging their diverse needs, you can foster innovation in your production and marketing to appeal to your customer base. This also helps you determine how you can use one product to cater to diverse needs and satisfy the value consciousness of consumers.

Recognizes the role of fellow consumers

Brands and manufacturers play a significant role in shaping consumers' attitudes toward a product. Yet, consumers also influence the attitudes of fellow consumers toward various products. For instance, some customers seek advice before purchasing products or trying out new services and the people they seek advice from influence their choices. These influential consumers can be influencers, product testers, brand advocates, or gatekeepers. You can improve the reach of products and services by appealing to these consumers' needs.

Improves consumer satisfaction

There are a few ways to satisfy a consumer that are more effective than identifying their needs and meeting them. Observing buyer behaviour allows you to identify their specific needs and develop products that meet their expectations. You can also use your knowledge of consumer attitudes to project features they're likely to enjoy and exceed existing expectations.

Related: What Is Customer Satisfaction and Why Is It Important?

Types of consumer behaviour

Here are some of the unique ways that consumers behave:

Complex buying behaviour

This kind of behaviour involves in-depth emotional and mental considerations. Consumers who exhibit this behaviour have high involvement in deciding when and why to buy a product. This behaviour is common when consumers are buying a good for the first time or making a very important or expensive purchase. For instance, when a customer is buying a car or property, the implications of their choice are long term. This consideration and the desire to make the best possible choice encourages a complex buying behaviour where customers conduct extensive research before making a choice.

Information influences this kind of behaviour among consumers. You can appeal to consumers planning to make significant purchases by providing a wide array of information. These can include detailed reviews, infographics, expert opinions, and social media interactions. You can also employ a customer service team to answer customer questions and provide additional information to improve their familiarity with the products. These information sources can contribute to consumer confidence in a product and encourage purchase.

Habitual buying behaviour

This behaviour is observable when consumers purchase everyday items. The habitual nature of these purchases leads to low conscious or emotional involvement in distinguishing between manufacturers. The leading factor with this behaviour is usually the cost and packaging. For instance, with products like toothpicks or toiletries, customers are likely to purchase visually appealing and affordable products. It's important to select a competitive price and visibly position brand names to influence this behaviour.

Variety-seeking behaviour

This is another form of behaviour among consumers with low emotional and conscious involvement. You can identify this behaviour where products offer a variety of features or qualities. This variety leads to a constant curiosity among consumers to try something new. With new tastes, textures, and colours available, the desire to try something new is frequent and low risk. For instance, with a product like ice cream, a consumer can select a new brand to experience a different flavour. This makes variety the principal influence on this behaviour rather than dissatisfaction with another product.

You can influence this form of behaviour by providing variety to your consumer base across products. Using the example of ice cream, you can provide multiple flavours with appealing packaging. This allows consumers to fulfill their desire for variety across your portfolio of products by trying out as many flavours as they like. You can also apply consumer differentiation when determining the best way to design packages and products. This helps you appeal to the widest possible consumer base within a market.

Dissonance-reducing behaviour

This behaviour is also known as limited-decision-making behaviour, which involves consumers deciding between limited options. The lack of variations also leads to consumers making high involvement decisions between products. An instance of this behaviour involves a consumer looking for a kettle at a supermarket. With four kettles made in similar shapes, litre capacity, and durability, the distinguishing factor is cost.

It's likely for the consumer to exclude the most expensive kettle and consider the features of the other three with similar prices. You can influence this form of behaviour by identifying competitive prices and offering other incentives to encourage purchases. For instance, as the manufacturer of the most expensive kettle, you might offer more durable and stain-proof metal that other brands don't.

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