Consumer behavior is a field of study that examines the processes individuals and groups go through when selecting, purchasing, using, and disposing of products, services, ideas, or experiences. It seeks to understand the factors that influence consumers’ decision-making and their behaviors in the marketplace.
In 1969, John Howard and Jagdish Sheth published a groundbreaking book titled “The Theory of Buyer Behavior,” which laid the foundation for modern consumer behavior research. The book proposed a comprehensive framework that integrated psychological, sociological, and economic theories to explain consumer decision-making.
Howard and Sheth’s work emphasized several key aspects of consumer behavior:
- Motivation and Needs: Consumers are motivated by various needs, desires, and goals, which influence their behavior and drive their decision-making process.
- Perception and Information Processing: Consumers engage in a cognitive process of gathering, interpreting, and evaluating information to form perceptions about products or brands. These perceptions shape their attitudes and preferences.
- Attitudes and Beliefs: Consumers’ attitudes and beliefs towards products, brands, and marketing messages influence their buying decisions. These attitudes and beliefs are formed through personal experiences, social influences, and marketing communications.
- Social and Cultural Influences: Consumers’ behavior is influenced by social factors such as family, reference groups, social class, and culture. These factors shape consumers’ values, norms, and buying behaviors.
- Decision-Making Process: Consumers go through a series of stages in their decision-making process, including problem recognition, information search, evaluation of alternatives, purchase decision, and post-purchase evaluation.
Howard and Sheth’s work significantly contributed to the understanding of consumer behavior by integrating diverse perspectives and theories. Their framework has since been expanded and refined by subsequent research, incorporating concepts such as consumer involvement, decision heuristics, and online consumer behavior.
Understanding consumer behavior is crucial for businesses and marketers to develop effective marketing strategies, segment markets, design products, and communicate with target audiences. By gaining insights into consumers’ motivations, needs, perceptions, and decision-making processes, organizations can better meet consumer demands, create customer value, and build long-term customer relationships.