What is consumer behaviour?

A consumer is someone who buys products or services for their own end-use. The term ‘consumer behaviour’ entered the marketing mainstream in the 1950s, after marketing stopped relying on economics and became a more multi-disciplinary area. From then onwards, the industry welcomed input from other disciplines such as psychology and sociology.


What is consumer behaviour?

This term refers to the study of consumers, their decisions and activities before, during and after making a purchase.

In other words, it involves analysing how people perceive products and their alternatives, how they’re influenced by external stimuli like the media, and how they respond to marketing.

Understanding customers’ buying behaviour is essential for ecommerce businesses. These behaviours provide insight into the market and highlight opportunities you can take advantage of.

Getting to know your target customers inside out allows you to optimise the experience they have with your business.

It’s important to bear in mind that these behaviours are complex and inevitably change over time. For instance, studies show that people are increasingly using mobile devices to search for products online with purchasing intent.

We’ve seen the proportion of mobile traffic steadily growing for our clients over the last few years, and this is something we take into account when we’re optimising a website.

We still see many websites that don’t accommodate mobile consumers and don’t adapt to meet consumers’ evolving needs.

If you fail to understand the market, you won’t be able to optimise your customer experience effectively and your conversion rate will suffer.


What influences customer behaviour?

These are some of the factors that affect people’s buying behaviour, according to Kotler and Armstrong’s 2008 model:

  • Psychological (motivation, perception, learning, beliefs and attitudes)
  • Personal (age and life-cycle stage, occupation, economic circumstances, lifestyle, personality and self-concept)
  • Social (reference groups, family, roles and status)
  • Cultural (culture, subculture, social class system)

As you can see, a number of factors come into play when people make buying decisions. Everything from their personal beliefs to their social class can influence their purchasing decisions.

It’s crucial to understand how these factors interact with each other, rather than looking at them in isolation.


How can you research consumer behaviour?

You can learn more about the consumer behaviours specific to your business by researching your customers and website visitors.

Ongoing user research is an effective way to gather insights into what your customers want, how they think and how they approach purchasing decisions. Asking the right open-ended questions can build a better picture of how people shop on your website.

Some helpful outlets for customer feedback are focus groups and surveys, but don’t underestimate the value of simply talking to your customers. Setting up surveys using tools like Hot Jar helps to uncover what people are thinking when they’re browsing your site.

This research should be a continual process because it’s always useful to have new data about your consumers. When put into practice, this information can be used to make improvements to your website through data-driven A/B tests.

Nina Mack

10th October 2017

Trying to increase conversions?

Get a free 15 minute CRO strategy call with a senior optimiser

Request a callback

Are you ready to improve your website’s conversion performance?