Consumer Behavior – Tesco
The Reason behind purchase Consumer behaviour is the study of how consumers purchase, use and dispose of products (Solomon, 2011). The Consumer behaviour model is made up of experiences and acquisitions, thus self-concept and life style have a major influence on the behaviour of a consumer since internal and external stimuli directly influence consumer behaviour. Observations were carried out in Tesco’s, a British plc. that provides a wide variety of products such as groceries clothing and electronic equipment.
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We have decided to observe and investigate within Tesco’s how mpersonal/group influences and motivation influence consumer behaviour at all levels of the decision making process. Due to the rage of products offered we can gain a better understanding of consumer’s buying behaviour in a number of possible scenarios. The shopping store is split into two entrances; the first leads toa grocery section and the second section is split into an area where products ranging from shower gel to laptops can be purchased.
After having a two hour individual observation of consumers’ behaviour in UK’s most powerful grocery retailer on Canal Road Bradford, the five members of our group have made different observations about the way consumer purchase different products and the reason behind this. Our first observation is based on the influence that children have on their parents. Throughout the two hour observation all members commented strongly on how children influence their parents by asking repeatedly for products that they wanted.
Observer 4 witness one child place a product into the shopping trolley without asking for permission. This observation was not shared with other members of the group. This particular comment refers to the influence that children have on their parents and the way they determine their parents to buy different items due to repeated nagging. This is known as “PESTER Power” or “Parental yielding”. “Purchase decisions are not always the outcome of individual choice, but rather family members influence each other” (Hamilton and Catterall, p. 032 2006) and as families represent a primary reference group for a child, frequent contact between the child and other family members offers children a larger influence in the purchasing process. The extent to which parents let themselves be influenced by their children depends on a number of factors such as the responsibility parents give to their children but also on the parental style they adopt whether they are more or less permissive with them ( Solomon, 2009) . Although most parents are aware of the fact that their child has had a certain influence on the products they bought, many do not realise to what extent this can affect them.
Research conducted by the University of Vienna, has shown that the purchases triggered by children are double than the ones their arents are conscious of (Science Daily, 2009) Children use different strategies to convince their parents to make certain purchases such as bargaining, promising different things for example doing certain chores, or simply placing the products they want in the cart and leaving them there without their parents realising. Research shows that a child can make up to one purchase demand every 2 minutes and so influencing a major part of the products bought by a family (Solomon, 2009).
Two sweets knowing that these will keep their child occupied during their shopping ession and prevent them from being distracted by other more expensive products. We have established that children play an important role in the consumption buying process and that they influence in a lesser or higher degree the family’s purchase decisions, but as a consumer children are influenced by factors such as “Brand Personality” and “Peer Group Influence”. Brand personality is a major factor influencing children’s consumption choices.
Solomon defines brand personality as “a set of traits people attribute to a product as if it were a person” (Solomon, p. 469 2011). There are different factors that influence children to develop “brand personality” for example advertising, peer group influence or the meaning that certain brand has for them. When looking at the way shelves are organised in Tesco, observer 1 and 5 noticed that products such as toys and sweets have been placed on lower shelves in the child’s reach to attract their attention, stir their curiosity and in the end determining the child to ask their parents to buy that certain product.
The more expensive and well-known branded products were placed on the top and middle shelves while less-known products were placed on the bottom ones. This is a well know strategy that marketers, and in this context Tesco, undertake so leading brands would attract the interest of the child and in time would determine them to develop a preference for that certain brand. According to Solomon (2011) current research disagrees with the idea that that the understanding of the brand name evolves as they age. Children recognise brand names and in time develop preferences according to personal taste.
This is where the concept of conceptual branding comes into place and according to Solomon (2011) the child acknowledge he abstract features of a product only at the age of eight. Children will incorporate these ideas into their thinking and Judgment only a few years later and develop a self-concept regarding the way they wish to be perceived by others in their social group. Another perspective on this matter, according to (Haugtvedt et al, 2008), children can perceive advertising from a very early age but their understanding of those certain commercials evolves with time.
Many children by the age of 6-7 can “describe the purpose of commercials as trying to sell something” (Haugtvedt, 2008, 226) and as they reach the first grade, children develop preferences for certain brands and demand different items from those brands as they go shopping with their parents and little by little they understand the concept of money “as a medium of exchange”. The two theories although different, offer us a better understanding on the way children develop “brand personality” and the factors that influence them in their decision making process.
Reference groups such as peers play a major role as they are primary reference groups thus their influence will be stronger as they ave frequent contact with the individual (Kerrane, B 2011). A reference group is “A group whose presumed perspectives, attitudes or behaviours are used by an individual as the basis for his or her perspectives, attitudes, or behaviours” (Arnould et al. , 2004, p609). The primary social agents in a child’s life are families and friends.
Families provide children with cultural norms and values therefore are seen as the main influencers in the consumption buying process. Peer group pressure will influence buying decisions. Yeung, et al. 2003 states that individuals that are part of ant to appear to their peers, as an perceive Judgment’s from the outside, and therefore the products and the brands they choose are of highly importance (Kerrane, 2011). According to Layard and Dunn (2010), most peers are exposed to the same type of advertisements and will develop a conceptual thinking process.
Thus this reinforces the fact that this will determine children to influence their parents’ buying decisions when choosing particular brand names in Tesco. Observer 1 and 2 noticed that two girls were making their own decisions on the type of clothing they wanted. For example, they remarked how one girl choose out a small grey skirt as part of her school uniform but when her mother choose the trousers from a lower value range, she demanded the skirt from the more expensive modern brand.
Piacentini and Mailer (2004) state that children from all social grouping (reference group) realises the value of clothing brands and the way they provide them with conformity and acceptance in their reference group and this applies in the case of the items that the little girl wanted as it would have helped her conform to her social group (Marshall, D p. 203). Marketers are aware of “peer group influence” and in many cases, companies would chose popular members from a certain group to wear different clothing item or use different electronics, to promote their products and determine the other group members to purchase their products.
This happens due to the fact that in a group there are leaders and followers. In this case the latter group tries to be similar to the leaders either by adopting their behavioural features or by trying to purchases the same products. This will give them the feeling of belonging and acceptance from the other group members. This is because some ndividuals may feel they have to purchase the same products their peers have brought or they will be considered as not normal. This is because when in groups, they have a certain norm that each individual has to abide by in order to be considered a part of that group.
Hence individuals will try to purchase the same as their peers to please them which in turn leaves individuals with no sense of individuality. Conspicuous consumption is where you want to convey to others which group you belong to. Within this observation you can infer that they will be some element of conspicuous consumption as the girl may feel they have to buy a certain roduct to show that she belongs to a certain group. Consumption is therefore seen as a means to establish and express variations between social groups and can be classified as an affiliation motive which is a drive to be with people (Kerrane, 2011).
Thus this observation is linked to the motivation theory in that individuals who were shopping in groups could be motivated and influenced by each other to purchase and consume the same products as your reference group. Motivation is the key driving force of influencing peers within a group, thus impacting consumer’s buying behaviour. Solomon defines motivation as “the processes that lead people to behave as they do. It occurs when a need is aroused that the consumer wishes to satisfy’ (Solomon, pg. 1 54 2011).
Such processes include needs, desires, drives, goals and behaviour. Consumers are motivated to satisfy needs to reduce feelings such as tension, anxiety and frustration. Thus, this drives and directs a consumer’s behaviour towards achieving their goals. However this drive has to be strong enough for the consumer to act upon (D’Souza, 2008). Goals can lead to positive and negative (Solomon, 2010). Consumer wants can be described as the way in which a consumer satisfies their needs and is strongly influenced by their experiences and culture/ beliefs (Warren, 2011).
As mentioned previously, motivational conflict may occur as a result of consumers having more than one motive when selecting products to satisfy their needs. This was evident during the observation period as approach-approach conflict was witnessed where observer 2 observed a consumer choosing between two playstation3 games. Eventually a game was chosen and although the consumer appeared happy with his chosen product, consumers may often experience a feeling f cognitive dissonance.
Cognitive dissonance can be described as post purchase concerns a consumer may experience regarding the decision they made about a product Cobber, 2010). This may occur as a result of the rejection of a similar desired product Cobber, 2010). A further observation was that Observers 1, 3 and 4 observed a number of consumers enter the store to buy a product and then leave. Such products included snacks, paint and tobacco. This observation was not shared by observer 2 and 5. This observation relates to an aroused need that a consumer wishes to satisfy urgently.
According to Solomon, “needs creates a state of tension, which drive a consumer to attempt to reduce or eliminate it” (Solomon, pg. 1 54 2011). This state of tension determines the urgency of the time it takes the consumer to reduce or satisfy the need (Solomon, 2011). This provides an explanation as to why consumers urgently purchased products to gain immediate gratification to satisfy and reduce these needs. One example to explore is the consumer that purchased tobacco, if this consumer did not need the tobacco urgently then perhaps the consumer would have stayed in the shop for longer or browse for similar products.
Thus, this consumer was driven by the goal to obtain tobacco therefore this influence’s the consumption buying process as the consumer excluded the surrounding environment to find only the tobacco products. The need of this consumer was hedonic and can be classified as a negative emotion meaning since it can indicate addiction. An observation made by all observers was that consumers purchased not only necessity products such as food but other non-necessity products such as alcohol and electronics. This was evident as we observed almost all consumers drift from one half of the store to the other.
After looking at different products such as clothes and laptops observer 1 and 3 observed consumers debating whether or not to buy the product even after they had left the product and carried on browsing. An interesting fact regarding this observation was that even if consumers did not buy, they still felt the urge to satisfy their “‘d” by Just looking at the products they desired, thus indicating psychoanalytical motives. According to Freud the human psyche is divided into three parts which includes the ‘d, superego and the ego.
The id represents the unconscious mind and is “driven by the pleasure principle”, thus it trives for gratification of its wants and needs (Cherry, 2011). This is reflected in the behaviour of the consumer wanting to give into their needs and desires of having products that appeal to them unconsciously. According to Freud the factor stopping consumers from behaving un-socially and disruptive is the ego (Cherry, 2011). The ego represents the reality principle (AllPsych. com, 2004) and functions within the conscious and preconscious but also contains elements of the unconscious (Rowell, within the observed behaviour of the consumer.
The consumer viewed products that ppealed to their ‘d; however the ego prevents disruptive behaviour, since, if consumers got what they wanted they would behave in an un-sociable manner. As a result of consumers not satisfying their id they are washed over with the feeling of anxiety or tension (Cherry, 2011). As mentioned in the observation consumers did experience some feelings of tension as they debated with themselves whether or not to purchase the product even after they had carried on browsing.
According to Maslow consumers have psychological needs that can be identified using a pyramid known as MasloWs ???hierarchy of needs”. MasloWs hierarchy of needs is comprised of five stages including physiological, safety and security, social, ego and self- actualisation that follows a chronological order whereby the lower level needs have to be satisfied before you satisfy the higher level needs. This indicates that motivation is driven by the need to fulfil each stage of the pyramid. As observed in Tesco’s consumers purchased food as a psychological need that can be identified at the lower level of MasloWs hierarchy.
Food is a basic physiological need that consumers must satisfy to survive and to also progress through the hierarchy. There are criticisms with this theory in that some consumers may not need to satisfy their lower level needs but may want to satisfy their social needs in that they may purchase food so that they could have a family dinner, thereby they are not satisfying the lower level needs but the needs at the top of MasloWs hierarchy triangle. This criticism is supported by Murrays theory, he argues that needs are not fixed. Murray developed a “basic list of 22 human needs” (Kerrane, 2011).
Consumers prioritise these needs differently as priorities of one consumer differ from another. A further observation carried out by observer 1 was that one consumer spent a prolonged period of time looking at a range of similar products (mobile phones), once satisfied with the product selection the product an order was placed to purchase the product. This observation relates to the level of involvement of the consumer. Involvement is central to motivation and refers to a consumer’s perceived importance attached to a product and is based on “needs, values and interests” (Solomon, pg. 63 2011). The meaning portrayed by the product (brand), perceived risks and total number of lternatives to choose from will influence the level and type of involvement of a consumer (Crab. Rutgers, 2011). The type of involvement portrayed through this observation was ego involvement. Ego involvement refers to the importance of self- concept when purchasing a product. If a consumer chooses the wrong product it could cause a negative reflection upon their own image. This is related to the theory of meaning with regards to consumer behaviour where consumption is regarded as meaningful.
Levy stated that ‘People buy things not only for what they can do but for what they mean’ (Lew pg. 118 1959). These meanings are not fixed so can evolve over time and not everyone has the same meaning for a particular brand. As mentioned previously a drive has to be strong enough for the consumer to act on it thus indicating consumers firstly have to be motivated to purchase products and the products they do purchase have to have a meaning of some sort. In this particular observation the consumer browsed several products to identify which if any would best match their needs with regards to their self-concept.
Goods give a concrete specific products that they can relate themselves to hence the consumer purchased a ertain brand of mobile phone to communicate their identity of status. This observation highlights Murrays theory in comparison with Maslow as consumers have different needs and will prioritise them in different ways. To conclude, from our observations we have noticed that consumption is different amongst different consumers and this is due to consumers having different attitudes and expectations for a product they like to purchase.
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