How to use consumer behaviour to drive customer action and loyalty.

Understanding Consumer Behavior
Image of the post author Geetika Chhatwal

Consumer behaviour is shifting more rapidly and drastically than ever before. Brands are trying to keep up with massive changes in consumer behaviour and preferences in virtually every sector, from groceries and fitness to banking and finance. Consumers continue to pivot their preferences and priorities with uncertainty, inflation, and an economic downturn. 

In the early days of the pandemic, an uncertain and dismal picture caused anxiety and depression, which led to panic buying globally. Those were short-term behaviours and did not last. However, many massive shifts due to the pandemic have stuck, including online shopping and the need for speed, efficiency, and convenience. 

The pandemic has changed certain habits for the long haul, with many consumers going to stores less frequently than before. Buyers are now more comfortable shopping online, and most consumers prefer a hybrid shopping experience combining the physical and digital worlds as convenience becomes paramount.

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With the growth of online shopping and technological advancements making online shopping as personalised as a store visit, consumers are exploring options beyond traditional brick-and-mortar stores and looking for a complete experience, be it physical, online, or hybrid. Businesses must adapt quickly to these changes and shifts in consumer preferences to remain competitive in a dynamic and ever-changing market. These changes have been taking place for some time, but the pandemic accelerated the rate of change unexpectedly. 

Some of the consumer behaviours that have drastically shifted post-pandemic are food and grocery delivery services. In the U.S., consumers did not regularly use grocery delivery services. According to some reports, about 15 percent of U.S. consumers tried grocery delivery services for the first time due to the pandemic, about 80 percent of those first-timers liked the service, and 40 percent said they would continue using it post-pandemic. 

While convenience and safety were the two reasons delivery services skyrocketed during the pandemic, the price will likely supersede convenience as we enter a time of out-of-control inflation. Consumers will try to make their money stretch further because savvy consumers know the premium they pay for using delivery services like Instacart. 

In this new economy, will they still be comfortable paying a premium and missing out on discounts for fuel when they don’t shop in person? 

Food delivery services also became more popular worldwide, and the takeout and delivery trend was rising. However, as people returned to in-person dining, food delivery apps took a hit. These apps will also follow the same path as grocery delivery services because when consumers buy from DoorDash, the prices are higher, and they cannot use vouchers. 

Many big retailers like Walmart are following shifts in consumer behaviour by offering pick-up and delivery with no markup on prices. Other delivery apps are double-dipping on price, and the consumer pays more than they would in the store. 

Brands need to understand that just as convenience and safety were top priorities during the pandemic, consumers prioritise value and price over everything else, given the current economic environment. 

The fitness market is also seeing massive shifts, and consumers now want an omnichannel approach to fitness, where they use at-home gym equipment and online classes and apps in combination with in-person classes. 

Many e-commerce brands capitalised on creating connections with their consumers by using hand-written-style notes to add to the unboxing experience.

Beauty and fashion brands made it easier for consumers to shop online by using machine learning and artificial intelligence to offer personalised suggestions, experiences, and Virtual try-on sessions using Virtual Reality to mirror an in-store experience. 

Brands need access to high-quality consumer data, insights, and business Intelligence to stay in the game, meet customers’ demands, and outpace the competition.  

In any business environment, enterprises need to clearly understand the psychology behind why consumers behave the way they do. Consumer behaviour is the study of consumers and analyzes how consumers decide what to buy, when, and how to buy. It seeks to understand the psychology behind consumers’ needs, wants, and desires and how they purchase, use and dispose of products and services. 

This study is critical because it helps brands understand the motivations and influences behind their purchases. It allows brands and marketers to develop the right products for the right audiences and market the product with the right messaging to convert prospects into buyers and retain them over time. 

Several factors come into play during the purchase decision stage, and these may include personal (age, culture, values, beliefs), psychological (brand perception), or social (friends, family, influencers, social media).

There are four types of consumer behaviour:

  1. Complex buying behaviour

This type of buying behaviour is associated with big-ticket purchases, like buying a home or a car, where consumers invest a lot of time and energy. 

2. Dissonance-reducing buying behaviour

This type of consumer behaviour is often seen when a consumer is highly involved in the buying process but takes longer than usual because they do not want to regret the decision. This happens when multiple brands are very similar, and choosing one is tricky.

3. Variety-seeking behaviour

This behaviour is exhibited by consumers who opt for a different brand, even if they were happy with their previous purchases because they value variety. 

4. Habitual buying behaviour

Consumers that purchase the same brand because of habit rather than brand loyalty are in this category. 

A grasp of the type of consumers your brand attracts will allow you to segment your market based on consumer characteristics.  

Marketers also need to understand buying roles and who is the decision maker regarding their specific product. In a family, for instance, the parents make major buying decisions; however, in some cases, young children are highly influential in the decision. In fact, unlike in the past, the younger cohorts, Generation Alpha (those born after 2010) and Gen Zs (those born between 1995-2010), make many important buying decisions regarding what they wear, eat, or travel. 

There are six major buying roles brands need to take into consideration:

  1. Influencer(s): Several people may be involved in the purchase decision in many cases, but they may not all be consumers. Influencers are those who can exert influence in the final decision. These could be bloggers in today’s world or friends and family whose advice commands weightage in the purchase decision. 
  2. Gatekeepers are usually family members who control the information flow regarding a product within a household. 
  3. Initiator: This is the person who first initiates the purchase idea. 
  4. Decider: This person has the final say in the purchase decision and decides whether or not to buy the product. He also may determine how and where to buy it. 
  5. Buyer: This is the person who ends up buying the product.
  6. User: This is the person who consumes or uses the product purchased. 

Consumer behaviour helps with market segmentation, as it goes beyond the essential demographic elements like age, gender, and location to explore the behaviour patterns customers exhibit when interacting with a particular product, brand, or website. This concept is instrumental in e-commerce and online shopping environments. 

Here’s how e-commerce brands use consumer behaviour to segment customers and users based on their level of engagement with the website, app, or product page. 

They segment or group their customers by their attitude toward their brand, level of brand recognition, usage, frequency and timing of purchase, and purchasing patterns or tendencies, like special occasion buying behaviour. 

This allows them to tailor their marketing messages and create compelling campaigns to achieve their goals. 

By utilising behavioural segmentation, brands can get a complete picture of their customers and filter them by the highest levels of engagement. For instance, brands can track those who regularly open their emails or visit their product pages. Marketers can also target ads with the most appealing messaging to customers based on their needs. For instance, an online shoe store can show those interested in athletic wear more running shoes and sneaker ads, and at the same time, serve ads with formal shoes for those interested in evening shoes. 

Another significant shift in consumer behaviour is related to a demand for personalised and customised products, especially amongst the younger cohort of Gen Zs. Using behavioural segmentation, brands can provide more refined personalised experiences to win business. Brands can gain deep insights into their consumers’ needs, wants, desires, challenges, preferences, and concerns to gain a competitive advantage. Upselling and showing complementary products and replenishment reminders based on customer history and interests can reduce cart abandonment and boost brand loyalty. 

The use of behaviour segmentation beyond the purchase also helps provide a high level of customer service to cement the relationship with the customer, leading to higher retention rates, more repeat business, referrals, and brand loyalty. 

Using behavioural segmentation, brands can unearth invaluable data and insights that may otherwise never have been discovered.

Understanding consumer behaviour comprehensively helps brands improve performance across channels to diversify their marketing efforts. Brands can use these insights to adjust brand messaging, packaging, design, features, pricing, and more to stay ahead of the competition and boost brand equity

Kadence International helps leading brands make game-changing decisions. If you are looking for a research partner to help better understand your customers, we would love to help. Simply fill out our Request for a Proposal here.