What is Consumer Behaviour? [Ultimate Guide]

Wouldn’t it be great if marketers know exactly what drives their target audience to choose a particular product over others? This knowledge, if analyzed and brought into use correctly could result in selling anything to anyone.

No matter how manipulative it seems, crafting marketing strategies based on the consumer behaviour is a common practice now. Marketers market their product keeping in mind the emotions and reasoning ability of the target audience, entrepreneurs present their pitch deck keeping in mind what the investor actually wants from them, and even products are built according to what the customer is willing to buy in the market.

All thanks to consumer behaviour.

But what exactly is consumer behaviour and how does it work? Let’s dive deeper into its mechanics.

What Is Consumer Behaviour?

Consumer behaviour is the study of individuals’, groups’ and organizations’ decisions with regard to the selection, purchase, use, and disposal of goods, services, ideas, or experiences to satisfy their needs and wants.

In simple words:

Consumer behaviour is the study of how consumers make decisions about what they need, want, and desire and how do they buy, use, and dispose of goods.

Importance Of Consumer Behaviour

Consumer behaviour is very important to understand what influences the buying decisions of the consumers and why does it so.

By understanding how consumers decide on a product it is possible for marketers to fill in the gap and identify which product is needed and which products are obsolete in the market. It also helps marketers decide how to present their products such that they have maximum impact on consumers.

Factors Influencing Consumer Behaviour

Psychological factors

The perception of a particular problem is unique to every individual and so is the perception of different products. Psychological factors can be influenced by the present situation, perception of needs and problems, the ability to process information and their individual attitude. Thus, marketers have to focus how they portray their product and what psychological effect it has on consumers.

Personal factors

Personal factors are governed by an individual’s personal choices and preferences, interests, likes and dislikes. The sub-factor influencing personal factors can be age, gender and personal issues.

Socio-Cultural factors

Social influence is one of the major driving forces while making a decision. Social class, income, living society, company an individual keeps; workplace, etc. can have a major effect on consumer behaviour. Of course, influencers and other opinion leaders have a major role in an individual’s decision-making process too. Other factors include religion, race and nationalities.


The theories that decide on how a consumer comes to decide what he needs are discussed below.

Freudian theory

Sigmund Freud’s theory states that behaviour is guided by subconscious needs. It is governed by three factors namely Id, superego and ego.

Id is the impulsive need of thirst, hunger and sex an individual has.

Superego is an individual’s expression of society’s morals. Thus it is what bounds Id from impulsive behaviour such that an individual fulfils his needs in a manner that is accepted by the society.

Ego is an individual’s conscious control over the impulses and restrictions created by Id and Superego.

Maslow’s theory of hierarchy

Behaviour runs from bottom to top and is dependent upon the lowest unmet needs. The hierarchy pyramid designed by Maslow is shown below:

maslow's need demand

Herzberg’s two-factor theory

Frederick Herzberg stated that behaviour is guided by two factors that go hand in hand. These are motivation and hygiene. Hygiene can be stated as dissatisfaction and motivation can be passed on as satisfaction. Consumer behaviour is in your favour when satisfaction is highest and dissatisfaction is minimal.

How Consumer Behavior Works?

To understand how Consumer Behaviour works we need to understand how Perception works.

What Is Perception?

Perception is the process by which we select, interpret and organize data to create a logical sequence which is meaningful. Perception can be dependent on the stimuli we receive, how we respond to those stimuli and the conditions of our surroundings when we receive the stimuli.

Now, every marketer works on maximizing their gains through perception. This is an essential topic of consumer behaviour as the perception of a product is the make it or break it deal for the given product’s life cycle.

The four cornerstones of perception are:

Selective attention

Selective attention is when you select some particular inputs/stimuli and choose to ignore others in a group of stimuli. Basically, in simpler terms, not all information reaches and connects to you. You perceive the information you relate to.

Selective retention

Selective retention is when you remember the parts of the stimuli that support your personal feelings and beliefs and forget the inputs that do not. In easier terms, you remember the information that connects to you at a psychological level.

Selective distortion

Selective distortion is when you twist inconsistent information to abide by your personal beliefs and feelings. When an ambiguous input is provided, you at times may bend the information as per your will to fit in your existing set of values and beliefs. Thus there are chances that subtle marketing tactics may backfire and thus most marketing strategies are much directed.

Subliminal perception

Subliminal perception is when sublime messages influence you without having a direct role in the information provided. The basic example being: how deodorants use lifestyle marketing to subconsciously associate the fragrance to leading a better life. Subliminal perception is basically how you subconsciously associate to a particular product because of a stimulus that is not directly provided.

Consumer Buying Process

Now consumer behaviour eventually boils down to this step. How a consumer decides on which product he is going to buy. This is based on a set of steps each consumer follows:


Problem Recognition

When a consumer realizes that he has a problem with the existing products, needs replacement or has to buy a new product because his demands require a purchase. He sets the chain in motion.

Information Search

The consumer looks for prospective replacements or products that will fit his requirement perfectly. The sources of information are usually personal (based on personal research), public (based on public opinion), commercial (information pushed in by the vendor), experiential (a previously used product).

Evaluation Of Alternatives

Based on the consumer’s research, they decide which products are to be shortlisted. And which one of the competition is to be eliminated. The two basic models of choice are:

Conjunctive: Where the minimum threshold acceptable quality of all attributes is the deciding factor.

Lexicographic: When the most important attribute is preferred even if that means a slightly lesser quality in other aspects.

For example: If you are buying a cell phone and you go for a model with a good overall processor, RAM, camera and display. It is a conjunctive choice.

But if you require a really good camera and go for a model with an exceptional camera but sub-par processor, it is a Lexicographic choice.

Purchase Decision

As it suggests, after factoring in all the pros and cons of a product, the consumer makes the purchase decision at this step.

Post-Purchase Behaviour

Depending on the user experience, the consumer may recommend the product to people or slash the product if their experience isn’t good. The post-purchase behaviour of social influencers is very important to the initial market and this may be the most underrated point of influence that your product creates.

Go On, Tell Us What You Think!

Did we miss something?  Come on! Tell us what you think about our article on consumer behaviour in the comments section.

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  1. thank you sir . really it is helpful.i read this article
    just 10 minutes before my exam of consumer behavior, and i wrote very good in my exam.

  2. Thank you admin for providing valuable information and I really appreciate and love your posts, I am a student of marketing and I get almost every topic here in a very precise and useful manner. Thanks a lot


What is Consumer Behaviour? [Ultimate Guide]

by Anuj Nawal