To ensure that I could effectively observe consumer behaviors, I decided to go to the local grocery store called Quickshop. This is one of the most popular chain grocery stores in my area, and it is where I go shopping for all my groceries. Here, I chose two aisles: The Cereal Aisle and the Bread Aisle, to help in my analysis on how consumer behavior varies for different products. Additionally, the realization that consumers behave differently depending on the time of day, I decided to split my visit into two sessions. First, I went on Wednesday at around 2 pm when the number of shoppers are few. Second, I went back in the evening at around 6 pm as the store is usually packed with people heading home.
Progression Through the Consumer Behavior Process
For this observation, a total of 5 consumers were considered. The first three, A-B-C were in the Cereal Aisle, while the rest, D and E were in the Bread Aisle. (See Details in Appendix). When making a purchasing decision, consumers usually undergo a process that has several stages. These include; recognition, information search, alternative evaluation, purchase decision, and lastly post purchase behavior (Finney, 2014). In this observation, the study population recognized the need to purchase either cereal or bread. This is the first step of the consumer behavior process. Without this need, the consumers would not come into the store and go to those specific aisles. At the store, consumers tend to be presented with many options, most especially for cereals. The store has always stocked up on many cereal types. This leads to the next step in the process, information search. The consumers are more likely to base their choice on the information they know about price, value and even product familiarity. If they have heard that such a product should have a price ranging in a lower level, it is highly possible that will not purchase it because it will appear overpriced. Similarly, if a consumer obtains information that the value of the product is poor, then the consumer will most likely go for the alternative. After making the purchase decision, all 5 consumers showed unique post purchase behavior. Some seemed to be in a hurry after making their choice, thus they quickly headed to the cashier and paid, before leaving hurriedly. Others, on the other hand, seemed more interested on the other alternatives, thus they stayed in the aisles for much longer, even though they never changed their mind on the choice already made.
How Consumers Determine Value for their Various Purchases
When considering how consumers determine the value of a product, it is very important to understand that even for a single product category, what constitutes value is still very personal and idiosyncratic (Madzharov, Block & Morrin, 2015). There are, however, four definitions that can generalize what consumers use. One, value is a low price; two, value is anything I want to find in a product; three, value is the equality I get for the price I part with; and lastly, value is what I get in return of what I give.
Therefore, it is clear that most consumers determine value in terms of money they are using, and the benefits they get in return. Various studies indicate that indeed there are some consumers who equate value with product price (Noel, 2014). In this observation, consumers proved to determine value uniquely basing on the four cues mentioned above. For instance, consumer A is one who equates value with price. This is because he went to the cereal aisle, compared the prices, and picked the cheapest without making other considerations and left immediately. The second consumer B is one who equates value with what she hopes to find from the product. The satisfaction obtained is what value is to her. This is why she even considered the ingredients used in the cereals before making a choice. This determination of value is clear as she also decided to still look at the other alternatives even after making her purchase decision. Probably just to be sure that the right choice was made. Consumer C is the kind who considers value to be equivalent to what he receives. This is in terms of quantity. He came in, considered the cheapest product that was also more in terms of quantity and left.
Consumer Perception Process
Perception is the process through which a consumer forms an opinion on various stimuli being received from the sensory organs. The five senses of an individual help in the consumer perception process. This process argues that a consumer is bound to pick a product basing on the opinion formed due to color, sound, touch, taste and even smell (Madzharov, Block & Morrin, 2015). The process features three major steps; exposure, attention and interpretation. In this observation, two consumers B and C seemed to be very different from each other. Their difference was also evident in how each one of them progressed through the consumer perception process. For example, consumer B considered ingredients used in the cereal by going through the list printed on the cover. She tried to smell the pack, maybe to be sure that it indeed contained what was indicated. She shook the pack a bit then finally she looked content that that was the product she wanted. For consumer C, the focus was majorly on the price. It was as if he had heard about it somewhere because he charged towards it immediately without even considering other products next to it. After looking at the price, he weighed the product on his hand. After this, he seemed content and left immediately.
How Manufacturers Motivate Consumers to Pick their Specific Brand
From this observation in the Quickshop store, it is clear that manufacturers use different tactics to lure consumers into purchasing their products. First, the packaging of the products play an important role. Consumers always prefer to go for presentable products, even though the quality inside may be questionable. All five consumers went for products that were packed uniquely, ignoring the products whose packages were dull. Second, there were banners available in the store alerting consumers of the available brand products. From this observation, four consumers picked products that were being advertised on the banners, only one went for an unknown brand. Third, the brands that were offering discounts received more sales compared to those whose prices were just normal. The discount offer was clearly printed and indicated at the aisles where the cereals and bread were placed.
From this observation, it is clear that there are certain internal influences that affect consumer behavior. Perception, motivation, and attitudes are good examples of what these internal influences are. The consumer behavior becomes influenced uniquely because we all live and grow up in different environments. Therefore, what will trigger a stimuli for one individual may not trigger the same for another. This is why consumers have different preferences when it comes to the products they want. These internal stimuli are what determine what a consumer perceives value to be, and how they react to products. These are also some of the factors that consumers need to take into account when looking forward to increasing sales.