A purchase decision can be strongly affected by the situation in which people find themselves. In general, a situation is the circumstances a person faces when making a purchase decision, such as the nature of their physical environment, their emotional state, or time constraints. Not all situations are controllable, in which case a consumer may not follow their normal process for making a purchase decision. For instance, if a person needs a product quickly and a store does not carry the brand they normally purchase, the customer may choose a competitor’s product.
Marketers can take advantage of decisions made in uncontrollable situations in at least two ways. First, marketers can use promotional methods to reinforce a specific selection of products when the consumer is confronted with a particular situation. For example, automotive services can be purchased that promise to service vehicles if the user runs into problems anywhere and at anytime. Second, marketers can use marketing methods that attempt to convince consumers that a situation is less likely to occur if the marketer’s product is used. This can also be seen with auto products, where marketers explain that using their product will prevent unexpected damage to their vehicles.
The current state of economic conditions has a direct impact on buyers. While, in certain cases, a consumer’s financial status is controllable (i.e., able to control wasteful spending), in other instances what the consumer has available for spending is affected by economic factors that are beyond their control. Clearly, if someone has suddenly lost their job, the impact on purchasing may be immediate and force major adjustments in what is purchased.
Additionally, expectation of future economic conditions could impact purchasing. For instance, if the sentiment exists that the economy is posed to grow than buyers may feel that engaging in purchasing of expensive items holds less risk than if the same decision were made during times when the forecast is for an economic slowdown.