Consumer behavior is important from the marketing point of view of businesses because ultimately it is consumers who help firms improve their marketing strategies by understanding issues such as the psychology of how consumers think, feel, reason, and select between different alternatives (e.g., brands, products), the psychology of how the consumer is influenced by his or her environment (e.g., culture, family, signs, media), the behavior of consumers while shopping or making other marketing decisions; limitations in consumer knowledge or information processing abilities influence decisions and marketing outcomes, how consumer motivation and decision strategies differ between products that differ in their level of importance or interest that they entail for the consumer, and how marketers can adapt and improve their marketing campaigns and marketing strategies to more effectively reach the consumer.
In the Consumer Buying Behavior tutorial, there are situations in which multiple people may be involved in a consumer purchase decision, such as a child influencing a parent to choose a certain brand of cereal or a husband and wife deciding together to buy a house, but most of the time purchases are individual decisions. The business market is significantly different. While single person purchasing is not unusual, especially within a small company, a significant percentage of business buying, especially within larger organizations, requires the input of many. In the marketing literature those associated with the purchase decision are known to be part of a Buying Center, which consists of individuals within an organization that perform one or more of the following roles:
Buyer – responsible for dealing with suppliers and placing orders (e.g., purchasing agent)
Decider – has the power to make the final purchase decision (e.g., CEO)
Influencer – has the ability to affect what is ordered such as setting order specifications (e.g., engineers, researchers, product managers)
User – those who will actually use the product when it is received (e.g., office staff)
Initiator – any Buying Center member who is the first to determine that a need exists
Gatekeeper – anyone who controls access to other Buying Center members (e.g., administrative assistant)
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