Influences on Consumer Decisions

Learning Outcomes

  • Explain the factors that influence customer decisions

What, Exactly, Influences a Purchasing Decision?

While a purchase decision-making process itself appears quite standardized, no two people make a decision in exactly the same way. People have many beliefs and behavioral 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 purchasing process are many and complex. For example, as groups, men and women express very different needs and behaviors regarding personal-care products. Families with young children tend to make different dining-out choices than single and married people with no children. A consumer with much 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 behavior.

We can group these influencing factors into four sets, illustrated in the figure below:

  • 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.
The consumer is in the middle of the following: Factors influencing consumer decisions, and the consumer decision-making process. Factors that influence consumer decisions can be grouped into 4 categories: Situational, personal, psychological, and social. These categories are explained in the text preceding this image. The consumer decision making process consists of five stages: 1. Need recognition. 2. Information searching and processing. 3. Identification and evaluation of alternatives. 4. purchase decision. 5. post-purchase behavior.

Practice Question


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