Sociology

Factors that Influence Consumer Purchasing Decisions



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When we are shopping, we would like to think that we are savvy and well controlled buyers of goods and services. In reality, an amazing amount of well designed manipulation, thought planting and playing with our logical flaws goes on. With everything coming at us from product placement in stores to the latest bargain that includes rebates, coupons or steep discounts for bulk purchases, we are vulnerable to coming home with much more than we had intended to buy.

Internal factors involve the simple need for an item or can be a set of complicated behavioral issues that involve using shopping to relieve stress, conflict or problems in life. These internal factors include our responses to various economic incentives in relation to our desire or need. When we have the money, we will pay more for perceived quality when there might not be any real improvement in functionality.

Conversely, when we are short on money, we will pay as little as possible for functionality that may not last, requiring more frequent replacement spending that adds up to more cost than getting better quality in the first place. Sadly, we may pay more in the long run for something, like a prepaid cell phone plan, that costs much more per month than the monthly fees for a two year contract that comes with a better phone.

We will pay more for the name and the reputation of the company that manufactures or produces foods, goods and services. If our forays into the off-brands or into unknown territory result in great disappointment, or if we expect a certain level of quality and service, then we will simply pay more, even if we have to cut back on other purchases. 

With the availability of information, reviews and comments over the internet, we have spent more time in researching the claims that are made about products, goods and services, but may still make decisions based on other factors, such as delivery fees, ease and convenience of shopping close to home, dealing with a reputable store or online auction site, impulse or simple desire.

Product placement, special deals, bait and switch, loss leaders, rebates, coupons, going out of business sales and other issues may motivate us to buy things that we had not planned to buy, or even to buy something that cost more than we were intending to pay. There is a reason why candy is placed at the one spot in the store where children can see and reach and where the adults are inclined to be corralled into an area for extended periods of time. The same goes for the travel sized, convenient or appealing other items that are placed at the cash register.

When debt, a lump sum windfall, or a savings goal is added in, we are inclined to purchase more expensive items when the need is acute, on impulse, or when a special event is involved. Cars, homes, furniture, school or new job wardrobes are examples of shopping decisions that are based on debt, a savings plan, or a windfall that helps to get more expensive items.

During these times of lost jobs, forced retirements and otherwise doubtful and lowered incomes, it is much more apparent that people are finding that formerly unacceptable thrift shops and discount stores are perfectly fine ways to shop! People may never stop going to Big Lots and the 99 cent store chain, now that they have discovered perfectly good things for far less cost.

Finally, we get envious, want to impress, have cravings or go crazy for special events such as weddings and holiday seasons. The Fourth of July is always a time when a new barbeque or patio setup is desired. Thanksgiving is for improving the decor and food. Christmas is the worst holiday of all for excessive spending that overwhelms all ability to use logic and self control. The neighbors or friends new anything spurs desire to have something new, too.







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