An Important Note on What Affects Consumers

The goal of marketing is to attract customers who can actively benefit from the products being offered. Products are created to satisfy a need or desire that a customer may have. To most effectively bridge the gap between the customer and the product, understanding the thought process and the factors that affect the purchase decision is crucial.


Consumers are humans, so there is a long list of factors that contribute to that final sale. This long list can be broken down into four categories: cultural, social, personal, and psychological. No category is more important than the others, they all come together to form the decision making process for consumers in day-to-day life.


Now onto the important part, analyzing the different factors and how to be aware of them. Culture is a hard one to break down because it’s such a broad concept. Beginning there is the broad culture, which can be described as the day-to-day actions of living that a consumer takes. Looking more in-depth at culture, it is reflected in family life and economic status, creating the macro image of culture. To go farther into culture, there are several subculture categories that can inform about how consumers make decisions on a more tailored basis. Subcultures include religion, nationality, racial groups, geographic regions, and social classes. These cultural factors affect consumers on a day-to-day basis, shaping their decision patterns, making them important to keep in mind when marketing a product.


Social is the next facet of the consumer’s decision making zeitgeist. Social factors, while similar to cultural ones, are specific to the interactions between individuals and within societal frameworks. A consumer’s reference group is the most important factor for marketers to be mindful of. This is a group of people a consumer will have in mind when making a purchase decision. Reference groups can include anyone that the consumer interacts with in any form. A celebrity endorsing a product, if it resonates, would still be included in this. Breaking into a consumer’s reference group is a powerful tool, because by nature reference groups are connected, meaning entering one allows for a continued effect. Reference groups will often include family, friends, celebrities, and (in recent years) influencers.


Understanding the individual consumer is an important piece of the puzzle. The personal factors that contribute to the consumers behavior include their age/life-cycle stage, occupation, financial situation, lifestyle, and personality. Understanding how these factors interact with the product being sold is important. While cultural and social factors are crucial in having a product enter the realm of thought for a consumer, it is important to address these personal factors, needs, and desires to convert them from a possible purchase to an actual purchase.


The final category is full of the terms marketers are used to using when discussing a consumer, the psychological factors. What motivates the consumer? What do they perceive about the product? What has their experience with it been? These are the factors to consider when shaping the product that exists and how it is presented. Once the consumer is understood, this is portion of understanding how the consumer works is about positioning the product, whatever the product is, in the consumer’s life. Understanding how the consumer interacts with a product is one of the most powerful tools to be used in marketing.


Understanding consumers is the first step to ensuring that the product being sold is the right one for your customer  base. Marketing comes with the goal of making the consumer’s life easier by bridging the gap between them and what they need.  Understanding that need is an important part of that job.