Situational Influences / Marketing Strategies / Customer Behavior Case Study Example
Behind every visible act of making a purchase, lies a decision process that a consumer goes through in order to make choices and reach the final decision. The study of consumer behavior is crucial for marketers as there are well-observed implications of consumer behavior on framing appropriate marketing strategies (Frank et al, 2010).
It can be defined as behaviors that are performed by decision-making units in the process of purchase, usage, and disposal of goods and services. Needs and attitudes of consumers influence their purchasing decisions and the process of decision making is influenced by various factors, such as situational influences, external influences, internal influences, and decision-type influences (Blythe, 2013). The case of Kate stuck between the options of buying an Apple iPhone 5 or Samsung Galaxy S4 as a birthday gift for her boyfriend is discussed in the context of situational influences. After analyzing the theoretical and practical aspects of situational influences in regard to the case, three marketing strategies are suggested for marketers to best utilize the situation for marketing the product.
Situational influences are all those factors that are particular and specific to a time and place which do not follow from the knowledge of the stable attributes of the consumer and these factors have an effect on the current behavior of the consumer (Lantos, 2010). Depending on the situation, consumers behave differently. These situational influences can be categorized based on five dimensions:
- physical surroundings such as store location, interior décor, music, smell, etc.;
- social surroundings that include other individuals present in the specific situation;
- temporal perspective that deals with the effect of time on consumer behavior;
- task definition that determine the reason for consumption activity; and
- antecedent states which include features of consumer that are not going to last forever, such as moods and momentary conditions (Hoyer & MacInnis, 2008).
Out of the above-mentioned five situational influences, two situational influences are discussed below:
Situational factor 1: Physical surroundings
An important situational factor is physical surroundings that play a crucial and critical role in making the consumer purchasing decision. Various attributes of physical surroundings are part of situational influences.
They include the location of the store, music, interior décor of the place where the consumer is present for seeing and observing the product or service, smell or aromas, temperature including air conditioning or heating, range of choices provided either by the product category or across various categories, and so on. Atmospherics is the sum total of all physical features of a retail environment and it influences the judgments of the consumer in regard to the quality of the store and its brand image (Foxall, 2009).
Among physical surroundings, there are certain colors and color characteristics that assist in the creation of a feeling of excitement interest arousal. The use of brighter colors arouses the feeling of interest and attention more. Similarly, the use of warm colors, such as red and yellow are more attention arousing than cool colors like grey and blue. Aromas of odors also affect consumer shopping behavior as the existence of a scented environment makes the consumer visit again the store due to a pleasant experience. Music in the foreground also drives the image of the store, as it becomes part of the shopping experience (Foxall, 2009).
Situational Factor 2: Temporal perspectives
The temporal perspective is related to dealing with the effect of time on specific behavior attributes exhibited by the consumer. When there is limited purchase time, it also limits the time of search and the type of search. The consumer interpretations of this type of situational component typically reflect the time that is relative to some past or the future event (Enis & Roering, 2012). Time since making the last purchase, time since or until the next meal, and time constraints imposed by other events are some of the examples of personal periods and temporal perspectives that can result out of situational influences. Some examples of temporal influences include seasonality of the product, the urgency of the product or service to be consumed, for instance taking snacks between lectures, time available for shopping that can either be limited or in access, and also the lasting duration of the previous product which is in relation to the disposal situation (Oliver, 2010).
Application to the case- Temporal perspectives
In regard to the case, the situational influence of the temporal perspective dimension applies well. Limitation of time is an important limiting factor for making the purchase decision. Kate is running out of time for purchasing the birthday gift for her boyfriend John. She has already explored various smartphones by visiting stores and websites to know the best option available. The need of urgency is driving the decision of Kate as there is not much time left and she has to quickly make a decision from the two choices she has narrowed down to i.e. iPhone 5 suggested by the best friend of his boyfriend, or Samsung Galaxy S4 suggested by the sales representative.
The temporal perspective looks at the time available for shopping in the situation whether the consumer is in a state of being rushed or has come out in the market for a leisurely shopping excursion (De Mooij, 2010). In concern to the case, the consumer Kate is not searching the smartphone out of the desire for getting a leisurely shopping experience. She is in a rush for taking the quick purchase decision. Therefore, this situation has influenced her choice in the decision-making process wherein she has narrowed down the choices in accordance to the best opinion she can get through knowing the personal choice of John through his best friend, and through the expert advice by a sales consultant.
Application to the case- Task definition
Task definition determines the purpose of buying and consuming a particular product. The purchase purpose can be categorized into three purposes: the first purpose is the personal use, second is the household use and the third is for the use by someone else, for instance, a gift or buying with the expectation of reimbursement from the individual for whom the purchase is being made. In concern to the level of involvement, when an individual buys something for a loved one or friends, there is an increase in the level of involvement (Ammi, 2013).
This particular situational influence is chosen for the case because Kate is making the decision of purchasing the smartphone for her loved one and it is because of this reason that she opted to choose either an iPhone 5 or Samsung Galaxy S4 out of a range of smartphones available in the market. As the purpose of purchasing a smartphone is John’s birthday, Kate visited a large number of retail stores and also searched websites to know about smartphones and their features that could prove to be worthy of giving to her loved one. She even consulted John’s best friend to know the phone that would most appropriately match the personality, preferences, and lifestyle of John. It proves the high level of involvement of Kate in making the purchase decision.
Application to the case- Social surroundings
The dimension of social situation specifies the role of the others and their influence in making a purchase decision. These social surroundings can include types of customers making purchases in the store, crowding and the level of queues, whether others will recognize the consumer, and whether the product will be purchased privately or in public. Shopping with the family or just hanging out with friends is also part of the social situation dimension (Huffman et al, 2013). This dimension is selected because Kate is influenced by the expert advice of a sales consultant in a store. Furthermore, her boyfriend will consume the product i.e. the smartphone publicly and others will be recognizing it as John’s special birthday gift from his girlfriend. Therefore, the salesperson as an expert in selling smartphones and knowing their features influenced Kate to include his suggestion in the form of Samsung Galaxy S4 in her final two choices she made.
Consumer behavior has implications for marketers as they have the opportunity to utilize the situation of the consumer in the best possible manner to market the brand or the product (Pride & Ferrell, 2011). Following marketing strategies are recommended for the situational influence of task definition including the 4Ps and segmentation of the specific product type i.e. luxury watches. The situational influence of task definition is selected for developing marketing strategies aimed at catering to different tasks or reasons for the purchase of the product.
Marketing strategy 1
The first marketing strategy is for personal use by the consumer.
Segmentation: The market is segmented into various age groups and on a demographic basis. Teenagers, adult women, and adult men are the segments for which the product is made.
Product: The product is presented as a highly advanced and highly innovative watch with innovative features that add to the stylish and sleek design of the product. Its characteristic feature includes the features that make it the coolest for the targeted segment. As the reason for purchase is personal use, the product is made available in a large range with variety in the type of look (Roger, 2010).
Price: The price of the product will include both premium and discounted prices so that the consumer can make the decision of purchasing the branded product according to the income level (Roger, 2010).
Place: The place will include both retail stores and internet shopping portals. Due to the advent of e-commerce business, it is necessary to be present on shopping websites so the well-sorted features of the product and other related details can influence that customer in a convenient manner (Roger, 2010).
Promotion: The promotional tactics will include use of social media for promoting the product. Advertisements emphasizing the worth and features of ray-ban watches and how the brand enhances the status and personality of the user will be aired and published in electronic and print media respectively (Kengthon, 2011).
Marketing strategy 2
It utilizes the situation of giving the watch as a gift to someone as a symbol of care and affection or to reimburse the benefit from someone who is given the gift. The segmentation includes people giving the product as an obligation gift, such as for birthdays, and people giving the gift as a form of showing their love and affection (Kotler, 2010).
Product: The product includes offering watches that might be of interest to the consumer. For instance, people seeking gifts for loved ones can be offered beautiful looking and lovely design watches with the option of customizing the straps or dial as per the request. Other segments can opt from a range of luxurious watches offered by the manufacturer (Kotler, 2010).
Price: Customized products always cost high. As the task situation includes high involvement and attention from the consumer, the price can be set high to make the best use of the situation and satisfying the customer (Kotler, 2010).
Place: Distribution will be at selected stores as it makes the consumer feel the worth of the customized product, thus adding to the gesture of love and affection the consumer wants to show the intended individual. The other segment watches will be made available in a large number of stores (Kotler, 2010).
Promotion: Ads focusing on the watch being shown as a memorable gift will be aired. Additional services, such as free gift packing for the customized watches will be offered to make the consumer feel valuable by the company (Kotler, 2010).
Marketing strategy 3
It employs the task influence of buying a long-lasting tough or decorative product. The market segmentation includes consumers looking for a long-lasting watch and those looking for a dress watch.
Product: It will be marketed as the tough and long-lasting watch along-with the range of decorative watches.
Price: The price will be set in medium to high range as both tough and decorative items cost high.
Place: Various retail stores will offer the product as it is related to everyday use and utilitarian purpose.
Promotion: Promotional ads will feature the long-lasting and decorative features of the watches with focus on starting price range for the product so that the consumer can become interested in the product (Karadeniz, 2009).
Marketing strategies are related to the situational influence on the consumer. Various situational influences affect the consumer decision-making process and out of five situational factors, social surroundings, temporal perspective, and task definition are concerned with the case study. Three marketing strategies are framed according to the situational factor of the task definition. A well-framed marketing strategy can help in reaching the intended consumer in an effective manner. It should utilize the intended reason for purchasing the product or the service in the best possible manner.
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