What is Stimulus Response Model
The starting point to understand buyer behaviour is the stimulus-response model. Marketing and environmental stimuli enter the buyer’s consciousness. The buyer’s characteristics and decision process lead to certain purchase decisions. The marketer’s task is to understand what happens in the buyer’s consciousness between the arrival of outside stimuli and the buyer’s purchase decision.
A consumer’s buying behaviour is influenced by cultural, social, and personal factors. Cultural factors exert the broadest and deepest influence. Culture is the fundamental determinant of a person’s wants and behaviours. Each culture consists of smaller subcultures that provide more specific identification and socialization for their members. Subcultures include nationality religion, racial groups, and geographic region.
Multicultural marketing grew out of careful marketing research revealing how different ethnic and demographic niches did not always respond favourably to mass-market advertising. Virtually all human societies exhibit social stratification. This stratification sometimes takes the form of caste system where members of different castes are reared for specific roles and they cannot change their caste membership.
More frequently the stratification takes the form of social classes, relatively homogeneous and enduring divisions in society that are hierarchically ordered and whose members share similar values, interests, and behaviour.
Social classes have several characteristics:
(a) Those within a class tend to behave more alike than persons from two different social classes.
(b) Persons are perceived as occupying an inferior or superior position according to their social class.
(c) Social class is indicated by a cluster of variables (occupation, income, etc.) rather than by any single variable.
(d) Individuals can move up or down the social-class ladder.
(e) Social classes show distinct product and brand preferences in many areas.
(f) Social classes differ in media preferences. There are also language differences among them.
In addition to cultural factors, a consumer’s behaviour is influenced by such social factors as reference groups, family, and social roles and statuses A person’s reference group consists of all the groups that have a direct (face-to-face) or indirect influence on his/her attitudes or behaviour. Groups with a direct influence on a person are called membership groups.
Some memberships groups are primary such as family friends, neighbours, and co-workers with whom the person interacts fairly continuously and informally. Some membership groups are secondary groups such as religious and professional groups that tend to be more formal.
People are significantly influenced by their reference groups in at least three ways. One, they expose an individual to new behaviours and lifestyles, influencing attitudes and self-concepts (how one views oneself). Two they create pressures for conformity that may affect actual product and brand choices Three, people are also influenced by groups to which they do not belong aspirational groups are those a person hopes to join, associative groups are those whose values or behaviours an individual rejects. The buyer evaluates these elements together with the monetary cost to form the total customer cost.
Manufacturers of products where group influence is strong must determine how to reach and influence opinion leaders in these reference groups. An opinion leader is a person who through informal, product-related communication, offers advice or information about a specific product or product category Marketers try to reach opinion leaders by identifying demographic and psychographic characteristics associated with opinion leadership, while also identifying the media preferred by the opinion leaders.
Buying roles and buying decisions constitute consumer decision-making behaviour. A customer can adopt various buying roles like initiator, influencer, decider, buyer, preparer, maintainer and disposer. A buyer’s decisions are also influenced by personal characteristics.
These include the buyers age and stage in the life cycle; occupation and economic circumstances; personality and self-concept; and lifestyle and values. Each person has personality characteristics that influence his or her buying behaviour. Kotler has defined brand personality as the specific mix of human traits that may be attributed to a particular brand.
Jennifer Aaker identified the following five traits:
1. Sincerity (down-to-earth)
2. Excitement (daring)
3. Competence (reliable)
4. Sophistication (upper class)
5. Ruggedness (outdoorsy).
Consumers choose and use brands that have a brand personality consistent with their own self-concept. Although in some cases the match may be based on the consumer’s ideal self-concept (how he would like to view himself), in certain cases they are influenced by others’ self-concept (how he thinks others see him).
A lifestyle is a person’s pattern of living as expressed in activities, interests and opinions. Lifestyle portrays the whole person’ interacting with his or her environment. Marketers search for relationships between their products and lifestyle groups. Lifestyles are shaped partly by whether consumers are money-constrained or time-constrained. Consumers who lack time are prone to multitasking.
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