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Consumer Behavior in Marketing: Understanding the Psychology

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12th Sep, 2021
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Consumer Behavior in Marketing: Understanding the Psychology


Marketing Psychology majorly relates to the study of consumer behavior. Consumer behavior controls the entire market and is the backbone of demand patterns that exist in the economy. Thus, studying and evaluating what customers buy and why they buy it is crucial to marketing psychology.

Our choices as consumers stem from multiple factors like our rational thinking, social conditioning, state of mind, and personality traits. However, understanding what precisely regulates consumer buying behavior goes much deeper than these traits. Hence, brands and marketing analysts are increasingly relying on neuroscience, cognitive science, and data science to dig deep into consumer psychology and understand how the consumer’s brain works. 

All firms should have a thorough understanding of their target customers, how they think, and why they behave the way they do. Customer behavior research improves decision-making abilities by removing the element of the guesswork from consumer-facing decisions.

This article will explore the fundamentals of consumer behavior and see how studying this spectrum can help businesses make better marketing and advertising choices to attract the right audience and boost their sales.

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Who is a consumer, and what is consumer psychology? 

An individual, organizations, groups of people, all of these could be categorized as consumers. Consumer psychology studies their consumption by investigating personality, demographics, behavioral variables, lifestyle, occasions around them, usage rates of certain commodities, etc. Enterprises and businesses seek to understand these processes and consumers’ underlying motives concerning satisfying their wants and needs.

Businesses can make better and futuristic decisions by understanding what leads to a particular customer preference. These decisions can be regarding the marketplace’s needs and alter marketing trends to suit consumer demand. In a nutshell, consumer behavior involves the ‘when’, ‘where’, ‘how’, and ‘who’ of consumption patterns.

Types of consumer behavior

There are various kinds of consumer behavior based on two parameters, namely, consumer involvement and brand difference.

Consumer involvement means the degree to which a customer is involved while purchasing a product. On the other hand, brand difference indicates the degree or the extent to which differences exist between brands available in the market for that particular product, which a consumer must consider while making a purchase. The following are the types of consumer behavior based on these two factors:

1. Complex buying behavior: This behavior shows up when the customer is highly involved in the purchase, considering the brand differences. Investment options, insurance policies, home appliances, and cars are some good examples with plenty of brand differences.

2. Variety-seeking buying behavior: Here, the customer seeks variety in products to do away with monotony. For example, different flavors of drinks, biscuits, etc.

3. Habitual buying behavior: There are some products that the consumer will buy out of habit. For example, toothpaste, salt, or other commonly used items. Cigarettes or other things to which the customer is habituated also come under this category.

Factors affecting consumer behavior

There are various kinds of factors that influence consumer behavior. These factors change over a period and greatly depend upon the type of products. Social trends and individual behavior change over their lifetime. Also, all consumers never behave in the same manner. Studying and understanding consumer behavior helps businesses to become adaptable and flexible.

Top five essential factors influencing consumer behavior

1. Marketing factors

All marketing components, such as promotion campaigns, product pricing, and distribution zone, imply direct and indirect impacts on consumers’ purchasing decisions. Packaging and physical appearance can highly influence buyers to buy a particular product. 

The price charged on products or services consumed by consumers also affects the purchase decisions of the consumers. Therefore, businesses must consider the price preference of their target audience while fixing a product’s price. How and where the product is advertised is also a marketing factor that highly affects consumer behavior.

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2. Personal factors

Personal factors such as lifestyle, age, gender, occupation, and/or socioeconomic status of a customer may affect the purchasing power of the customers collectively or even individually. For example, the younger population prefers trending and fashionable clothes while professionals prefer formal clothing. Gender also affects the consumer’s behavior as girls can select a particular set of colors, and boys can choose differently. 

Education is another personal factor. For example, an educated person may spend more on books and other products that can stimulate their intelligence, whereas a poor person will spend wisely on essentials like food products. Thus, the income level, societal status, and other personal factors greatly influence consumer behavior.

3. Psychological factors

Learning attitudes, motives, and beliefs govern individual behavior vis-a-vis information and experience held by that person. For example, when consumers are delighted after buying a new brand product, they may repeat that purchase because of the pleasant experience. 

These experiences aid in the learning process of customers through which they acquire different attitudes and beliefs. These factors collectively guide their purchase choices. Motives also guide their choices to a great extent.

4. Socio-cultural factors 

There is a significant influence of cultural factors on the consumer buying process. We, as consumers, live in a complex society and cultural environment. The overall cultural context can influence the type of products and services we buy. We grow up to become individuals. Cultural factors include religion, race, castes, tradition, and moral-ethical values, etc. These elements are passed from generation to generation through educational institutions, family, social circumstances, and religious institutions. 

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Additionally, cultural diversity greatly influences clothing, food habits, personal choices, traditions, and customs. For example, consuming meat and alcohol is prohibited in some religious groups, or wearing certain accessories or clothing is strongly associated with some religious communities. 

5. Subcultural factors 

Each culture has various subcultures imbibed within them in the form of sub-castes, sub religions, regional languages, etc. These factors are closely associated with a consumer’s identity. If businesses focus on these aspects and make products that appeal to the subcultural identities of consumers, those products shall have more popular demand in the market.

What is the importance of studying consumer behavior? 

  • Studying and understanding consumer behavior helps businesses improve upon their marketing tactics.
  • It makes them more adaptable and flexible. 
  • A comprehensive understanding of consumer behavior helps them become more futuristic in their advertising and marketing strategies.
  • It makes them more consumer-centric as brands, and hence they occupy a solid and stable position in the demand cycles.
  • Understanding consumer behavior helps them decide the most profitable price range for their products. 
  • Overall, businesses become more reliable and stable with respect to their operations if they are well aligned with consumer behavior trends.

Are you a business-driven person? Are you determined to take your business miles ahead and are growth-oriented? Then, check out the Advanced Certificate in Customer Centricity offered by upGrad. It delivers this 12-week course with the renowned Kennesaw State University. The modules and syllabi are the best in the field and are curated by industry experts. This course gives you a 360-degree exposure to the nuances of understanding consumer behavior and trends. 


Consumer behavior is a significant component of the change in marketing psychology. It studies consumption patterns based on various aspects like marketing factors, personal factors, socio-cultural factors, geographical factors, demographic factors, etc. This strategy of consumer psychology is more complex than it seems. Understanding consumer behavior helps companies become more futuristic, adaptable, flexible, sustainable, stable, and profitable. Thus, businesses need expert analysts who can delve deep into the customer mentality and behavior to design innovative marketing/sales approaches. 


Aaron Edgell

Blog Author
Aaron is an experienced digital marketing leader across technology, education, and health & wellness. He has led award-winning agencies and completed the Harvard Business Analytics Program.
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1What is consumer behavior?

Consumer behavior is the study of the consumption and usage patterns of customers.

2Consumer behavior is the study of the consumption and usage patterns of customers.

Marketing relies heavily on studying consumer behavior to understand their customers' market trends, needs, and wants.

3What are the types of consumer behavior?

There are three main types of consumer behavior: variety-seeking buying behavior, habitual buying behavior, and high involvement buying behavior.

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