Reading: Influences on Consumer Decisions

What, Exactly, Influences a Purchasing Decision?

While the decision-making process itself appears quite standardized, no two people make a decision in exactly the same way. People have many beliefs and behavioural tendencies—some controllable, some beyond our control. How all these factors interact with each other ensures that each of us is unique in our consumer actions and choices.

Although it isn’t feasible for marketers to react to the complex, individual profiles of every single consumer, it is possible to identify factors that tend to influence most consumers in predictable ways.

The factors that influence the consumer problem-solving process are many and complex. For example, families with young children tend to make different dining-out choices than single and married people with no children. A consumer with a lot of prior purchasing experience in a product category might approach the decision differently from someone with no experience. As marketers gain a better understanding of these influencing factors, they can draw more accurate conclusions about consumer behaviour.

We can group these influencing factors into four sets, illustrated in the figure below. Each of these factors will be discussed in greater detail in the next four readings:

  • Situational Factors pertain to the consumer’s level of involvement in a buying task and the market offerings that are available
  • Personal Factors are individual characteristics and traits such as age, life stage, economic situation, and personality
  • Psychological Factors relate to the consumer’s motivation, learning, socialization, attitudes, and beliefs
  • Social Factors pertain to the influence of culture, social class, family, and reference groups

Factors Influencing Consumer Decisions. Three levels in image from top to bottom: the factors influencing consumer decisions, the consumer, and the consumer making process. The four main factors influencing consumer decisions at the top are as follows: Situational Factors, Personal Factors, Psychological Factors, and Social Factors. Bulleted list underneath Situational Factors consists of two items: Buying Task, Market offerings. Bulleted list underneath Personal Factors consisting of four items: Demographics, Life stage, Lifestyle, and Personality. Bulleted list underneath psychological factors consists of three items: Motivation, Learning, and Attitudes and Beliefs. Bulleted list underneath Social Factors consists of four items: Culture / subculture, Social Class, Family, and Reference Groups. The five steps in the consumer decision making process listed at the bottom of the graphic are as follows: 1: Need Recognition, 2: Information Searching and Processing, 3: Identification and Evaluation of Alternatives, 4: Purchase Decision, and 5: Post-Purchase Behavior.


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Introduction to Marketing I 2e (MKTG 1010) Copyright © 2021 by NSCC & Lumen Learning is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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