Why You Need to Know About Consumer Behaviour
You might have clicked through to this article with some idea of what consumer behaviour is, or you may have no idea what it is, and you’re just curious.
Either way, I’m here to tell you a bit more about it and of course, why you should consider some further research on the subject. Especially if you’re an entrepreneur, just getting into marketing, or have a general interest in it.
I first came across the concept of consumer behaviour while studying for my master’s degree in marketing at university last year. An ‘equation’ put together by Zubin Sethna and Jim Blythe, which forms my preferred definition of it is as follows:
Cognition (thought processes), Affect (emotion), Conation (intended behaviour) + Personal and Environmental Factors = Consumer Behaviour
That might be a little too academic, but in layman’s terms, consumer behaviour is about how and why we decide to exchange stuff in our life. Be that either a product or a service.
The good part of that is most people already have an innate idea, if they think about it, of the concept. Though what most people don’t consider, is what influences consumer behaviour, as a lot of the time, it’s not all that obvious.
A seasoned marketer will know that they can influence customers behaviour by adapting any of the elements in the equation above. They will also know, just as Sethna and Blythe put it:
Good marketing doesn’t stop at the point of sale.
Let’s look at a practical example.
We can do this by dissecting the definition equation using an example that recently hooked me into making a purchase decision.
Let’s take “thought processes” first.
I know that I’m on a constant mission to improve my writing as well as my chances of succeeding at it. So when I came across an article that described a course for writing on Medium, my thought processes were influenced by this information because it was relevant to me.
Following that lead, I came across a webinar hosted by Tom Kuegler about tips for writing on Medium. During that webinar, he used language that heavily influences intended behaviour, which is to become a better writer on Medium. There’s also the emotional element by strategically cheerleading you on in that pursuit.
He also levied on the personal factor with this encouragement, because he feeds customers, i.e. me, an ‘ideal self’ which is being a successful writer.
Lastly, especially now given the times, he’s able to utilise the online environment to influence his customers into eventually becoming members of his Medium Mastery Program and involvement in a community, which is the service he sells for a premium.
So why is knowing about consumer behaviour important?
Tom does a great job at marketing his course because he considers all of the elements that make up his potential customers’ consumer behaviour.
If any elements were off — say the lead about the course didn’t provide me with enough relevant information. Or if, when Tom got my attention, he didn’t put any emphasis on my intended behaviour and only focused on the emotional aspects of the sell. It’s quite likely that he would have lost me as a customer.
But learning about consumer behaviour isn’t just about improving sales funnels. You can also use the general theory to track industry trends, or even create them. For example, I wrote about how Monzo bank became the U.K’s most recommended brand (not the best bank, but overall brand) in 2019 below:
How Monzo Bank Became the UK’s Most Recommended Brand
Inspiring branding lessons from fintech
They were able to influence each aspect of the model equation and make having a bright orange bank card a trend.
You can also use the concept as a way of analysing the overall marketing strategy of your business, including retaining customers or getting repeated business. That is what the quote earlier “good marketing doesn’t stop at the point of sale” means.
By using the consumer behaviour model, you’re able to identify parts of a marketing and communications strategy can adapt to produce better results according to how your customers behave.
You might be able to tell that this stuff fascinates me, both academically and practically. But I genuinely believe that knowing the consumer behaviour concept, in particular the model, is an essential part of any marketing strategy.
If you would like some further resources, I would recommend checking out the book by the authors I already mentioned called Consumer Behaviour by Sethna and Blythe. But some more popular books on the subject include Nudge Theory by Case Sunstein and Richard Thaler, books by Martin Lindstrom as well as pretty much anything by Seth Godin, but the book We Are All Weird is a good one by him.