As we discussed, the decision-making process for consumers is anything but straightforward. There are many factors that can affect this process as a person works through the purchase decision. The number of potential influences on consumer behavior is limitless. However, marketers are well served to understand the KEY influences. By doing so they may be in a position to tailor their marketing efforts to take advantage of these influences in a way that will satisfy the consumer and the marketer (remember this is a key part of the definition of marketing).
For the purposes of this tutorial, we will break these influences down into three main categories: Internal, External and Marketing. However, those interested in learning more about customer buying activity may want to consult one or more consumer behavior books, where they will find additional methods for explaining buyer behavior.
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For the most part, the influences are not mutually exclusive. Instead, they are all interconnected and, as we will see, work together to form who we are and how we behave. For each of the influences that are discussed, we will provide a basic description and also suggest its implication to marketers. Bear in mind, we only provide a few marketing implications for each influence; clearly there are many more.
We start our examination of the influences on consumer purchase decisions by first looking inside ourselves to see which are the most important internal factors that affect how we make choices.