INTERNATIONAL CONSUMER MARKETS
International consumer markets are described as all the
individuals & households in international
markets who buy or acquire goods & services for personal
Markets (and those which they serve) have to be understood
before marketing strategies can be
developed. The consumer market buys goods and services for
personal consumption. At present, the
world consumer market consists of 6.2 billion people.
With respect to the individuals in the consumer market, the
behavior of the consumer is influenced by
the buyer’s decision process. Buyer characteristics include four
major factors: cultural, social, personal,
and psychological. Each of these factors is explored in detail.
Relationships are drawn between the
factors (and factor subparts) and the consumption purchases made
by consumers. Because many of
these factors are deep and long lasting in their effect, the
marketing manager should pay special
attention to acquiring information about them with respect to
the organization’s target markets. Several
examples are presented to illustrate how this might be done.
After the following section examines the influences that affect
buyers, a discussion is presented which
examines how consumers make actual buying decisions. Decisions
vary based on the degree of buyer
involvement and the degree of differences among brands. A
summary discussion is also presented in the
following that outlines complex buying behavior,
dissonance-reducing buying behavior, habitual buying
behavior, and variety-seeking buying behavior. Special focus is
directed toward a simple model of
buying behavior that explains most of the terms pertinent to the
study of buying behavior. The simple
model (consisting of five stages—need
recognition, information search, evaluation of alternatives,
purchase decision, and
postpurchase behavior) ties
together material about the buying decision process.
For new products, special situations affect the consumer choice
decision. It has been found that
consumers respond at different rates (depending on consumer and
product characteristics), gain
knowledge about the products in different ways, and become aware
of “newness” with varying rates of
consideration. Factors that speed the rate of adoption of new
products are covered and explained.
Understanding consumer behavior is difficult enough for
companies marketing within the borders of a
single country. The problem is compounded when a firm attempts
to market in the global environment.
The section briefly discloses differences between global and
local consumer markets. Lastly, marketers
must decide whether to adapt their products to match the demands
of the global marketplace or not. The
question of adaptation or standardization will be a topic for
debate for several years to come.
Introducing consumer buying behavior
a. Many different factors affect consumer buying behavior.
Buying behavior is never
simple. Understanding it, however, is the essential task of
buying behavior refers to the buying behavior of final consumers—
individuals and households who buy goods and services for
c. The consumer
market is all the individuals and households who buy or acquire
goods and services for personal consumption.
1). The largest consumer market, American consumer market,
consists of about 287 million
2). These people consume trillions of dollars of goods and
services each year.
3). The world consumer market consists of more than 6.2 billion
4). Consumers vary tremendously in age, income, education level,
2. Model of Consumer Behavior
a. Consumers make many buying decisions every day.
b. A model of consumer behavior helps managers answer questions
consumers buy, where they buy, how and how much they buy, when
and why they buy.
1). Learning about the what, where, when, and how much is fairly
2). Learning about the “why” is much more difficult.
c. The central question is: How do consumers respond to various
the company might use?
d. The stimulus-response model of buyer behavior shows that
marketing (made up of
the four P’s—product, price, place, and promotion) and other
stimuli (such as the
economic, technological, political, and cultural environments)
center on the
consumer’s “black box” and produce certain responses.
e. Marketer’s must figure out what is “in” the consumer’s “black
f. The “black box” has two parts.
1). The buyer’s characteristics influence how he or she perceive
and react to
2). The buyer’s decision process itself affects the buyer’s
3. Characteristics Affecting Consumer Behavior
a. Consumer purchases are strongly influenced by cultural,
social, personal, and
psychological characteristics. For the most part, the marketer
them, but they must be taken into account.
b. Cultural factors exert the broadest and deepest influence on
The marketer needs to understand the role played by the buyer’s
and social class.
is the set of basic values, perceptions, wants, and behaviors learned by a
member of society from family and other important institutions.
1). Culture is the most basic cause of a person’s wants and
2). A child learns or is exposed to the following values:
a). Achievement and success.
b). Activity and involvement.
c). Efficiency and practicality.
e). Material comfort.
j). Fitness and health.
3). Marketers are always trying to spot cultural shifts in order
to imagine new
products that might be wanted (the fitness and health craze in
the developed world of the late
90s for example).
d. Each culture contains smaller subcultures.
Subculture is a group of people
shared value systems based on common life experiences and
e. Subcultures might be nationality groups, religious groups,
racial groups, or geographic
area groups. Many of these subcultures make up important market
segments and many times products are designed for them.
f. Almost every society has some form of social class structure.
Social class is the
relatively permanent and ordered divisions in a society whose
similar values, interests, and behaviors.
1). Social class is not determined by a single factor such as
income but is
measured as a combination of occupation, income, education,
wealth, and other
2). Marketers are interested in social class because people
within a given social
class tend to exhibit similar behavior, including buying
behavior. This is most
evident in the selection of clothing, home furnishings, leisure
g. A consumer’s behavior is influenced by social factors. These
groups, family, and social roles and status.
h. A person’s behavior is influenced by many small
groups. There are several
specialized group formations within the larger configuration:
1). Membership groups are groups that have a direct influence on
behavior; they are groups to which a person belongs.
2). Reference groups are groups that that have a direct
(face-to-face) or indirect
influence on the person’s attitudes or behavior. People are
often influenced by
reference groups to which they do not belong.
a). An aspirational group is a group to which an individual
wishes to belong.
b). Reference groups expose a person to new behaviors and
c). Influence the person’s attitudes and self-concept.
d). They also create pressures to conform that may affect the
and brand choices.
e). An opinion
leader is a person within a reference group who, because of
special skills, knowledge, personality, or other
influence on others. Marketers try to identify opinion leaders
products and communications toward them.
i. A consumer’s purchases are also influenced by family members.
The influence can
be very strong because the family is the most important
organization in society. It has been extensively researched.
j. Marketers are interested in the roles and influence of the
husband, wife, and
children in the purchase of different products and services.
Buying roles change
with evolving lifestyles (such as more females working outside
Marketers try to identify the influencer role in a family unit
(such as children).
k. A person belongs to many groups and the person’s position
within each group can
be defined in terms of both role and status. A role is the
activities a person is
expected to perform according to the people around him or her.
Status is the
general esteem given to a role by society. People often choose
products that show
their status in society.
l. A buyer’s decisions are also influenced by personal
characteristics such the buyer’s
age and life-cycle stage, occupation, economic situation,
lifestyle, personality and
m. People change the goods and services that they buy over their
lifetimes. Part of
these changes are shaped by the family life cycle (stages
throughout which families
might pass as they mature over time). The traditional life cycle
stages are being
modified as people form new lifestyles (such single parenting).
n. A person’s occupation affects the goods and services bought
(software bought by
accountants, lawyers, and doctors).
o. The economic situation of the buyer is very important in
If a person fears losing their job, their purchasing habits
generally change. If the
person perceives that their economic situation is going to
improve, they might
consider making a major purchase.
p. People from the same social strata can have very different
lifestyles. A lifestyle is
a person’s pattern of living as expressed in his or her
psychographics (such as
activities, interests, and opinions). Lifestyle profiles a
person’s whole pattern of
acting and interacting in the world. It is more than the
person’s social class or
1). Examples include:
a). Activities (work, hobbies, shopping, etc.).
b). Interests (food, fashion, recreation, etc.).
c). Opinions (about themselves, social issues, business, etc.).
2). The most widely used lifestyle classification is the
(Stanford Research Institute) SRI Values
(VALS) typology. VALS classifies people according to their
tendencies by how they spend their time and money. A person
positions over time. It is felt that a person’s lifestyle does
affect their purchase
behavior. Groups are further subdivided based on
a). Self-orientation groups include:
1]. Principle-oriented consumers who buy based on their views of
2]. Status-oriented consumers who base their purchases on the
and opinions of others.
3]. Action-oriented buyers who are driven by their desire for
variety, and risk taking.
b). Resources can be either abundant or minimal depending on
the buyer has high or low levels of income, education, health,
energy, and other factors.
Note: See SRI’s Web site at
www.sri-bi.com for additional information. A survey can be
at the site to determine your SRI VALS position.
q. Each person’s personality and self-concept will influence
their buying behavior.
Personality is a person’s unique psychological
characteristics that lead to relatively
consistent and lasting responses to his or her own environment.
usually described in terms of traits (such as self-confidence,
sociability, etc.). Personality can be useful for analyzing
for certain brand or product choices.
1). A brand
personality is the specific mix of human traits that may be attributed
to a particular brand.
2). Five brand personalities might be:
r. The self-concept describes the self-image. The basic idea is
possessions contribute to and reflect their identities.
s. A buyer’s choices are influenced by four major psychological
perception, learning, and beliefs and attitudes):
1). A motive
(drive) is a need that is sufficiently pressing to direct the person to
seek satisfaction. A person has many needs at any given time and
they can be
biological or psychological. Several theories of motivation
a). Freud’s theory of motivation assumed that people are largely
about the real psychological forces shaping their behavior. A
not fully understand his or her motivation according to Freud.
1). These ideas spawned the field of motivation research.
b). Maslow’s theory of motivation sought to explain why people
are driven by
particular needs at particular times. He believed that needs
in a hierarchy (beginning with physiological needs and then
safety, social, esteem, and self-actualization needs). Under
this idea, a
person would try to satisfy the most important needs first. The
1]. Physiological needs.
2]. Safety needs.
3]. Social needs.
4]. Esteem needs.
5]. Self-actualization needs.
is the process by which people select, organize, and interpret
information to form a meaningful picture of the world. The
remember that two people with the same motivation and in the
may act differently because they perceive the situation
differences in perception can be accounted for by three
a). Selective attention is the tendency of people to screen out
most of the information to which they are exposed.
b). Selective distortion is the tendency of people to interpret
information in a
way that will support what they already believe.
c). Selective retention is the tendency of people to retain only
part of the
information to which they are exposed, usually information that
their attitudes and beliefs. An interesting side bar is the
subliminal advertising where some researchers attempted to
consumers below the conscious thinking and perception level.
agree that no link has been found between this somewhat devious
and consumer behavior.
3). Learning is described as changes in an individual’s behavior arising from
experience. Learning occurs through the interplay of:
a). A drive (a strong internal stimulus that calls for action).
b). A drive becoming a motive when it is directed toward a
c). Cues are minor stimuli that determine when, where, and how
d). Cues can influence a buyer’s response to an impulse.
e). If the experience is rewarding, then the response is
f). The practical significance of learning theory for marketers
is that they can
build up demand for a product by associating it with strong
motivation cues, and providing positive reinforcement.
4). A person’s beliefs and attitudes are acquired through acting
and learning. A
belief is a descriptive thought that a person holds about
a). A belief may be based on real knowledge, opinion, or faith.
b). Beliefs may or may not carry an emotional charge.
c). Because beliefs make up product and brand images, they are
marketers. People tend to act on their beliefs.
5). An attitude
is a person’s consistently favorable or unfavorable evaluations,
feelings, and tendencies toward an object or idea.
a). Attitudes put people into a frame of mind of liking or
moving toward or away from them.
b). Attitudes are difficult to change.
c). A person’s attitudes fit into a pattern and changing one
require changing others.
d). A company should try to fit its products into existing
attitudes rather than
try to change them.
4. Types of Buying-Decision Behavior
a. Buying behavior differs greatly depending on what is being
b. More complex decisions usually involve more buying
participants and more
Complex Buying Behavior
buying behavior occurs when consumers are highly involved in a
purchase and perceive significant differences among brands.
d. Consumers may be highly involved when the product is
purchased infrequently, and highly self-expressive.
Dissonance-Reducing Buying Behavior
Dissonance-reducing buying behavior occurs when consumers are highly
involved with expensive, infrequent, or risky purchase, but see
among brands. After these purchases, it is common to experience
dissonance (after-sale discomfort) when they notice certain
disadvantages of the
purchase or hear favorable things about brands not purchased.
occurs with after-sale communications to support claims and make
better about purchases.
Habitual Buying Behavior
buying behavior occurs under conditions of low consumer involvement
and little significant brand difference.
g. In these cases, consumer behavior does not pass through the
sequence. Ad repetition creates brand familiarity rather than
Variety-Seeking Buying Behavior
h. Consumers undertake
variety-seeking buying behavior in
by low consumer involvement, but significant perceived brand
i. In such cases, consumers would do more than usual brand
5. The Buyer Decision Process
a. The buyer decision process examines how consumers make buying
There are five stages within the process: need recognition,
evaluation of alternatives, purchase decision, and postpurchase
model seems to imply that consumers pass through all five stages
purchase. In more routine purchases, however, a person might
skip or reverse
some of the stages. Marketers need to focus on the entire buying
than on just the purchase decision.
recognition is the first stage of the buyer decision process in which the
consumer recognizes a problem or need.
1). The need can be triggered by internal stimuli when one of
the person’s normal
needs rises to a level high enough to become a drive.
2). A need can also be triggered by external stimuli (such as an
3). At this stage, the marketer needs to determine the factors
and situations that
usually trigger consumer need recognition.
search is the stage of the buyer decision process in which the consumer
is aroused to search for more information; the consumer may
heightened attention or may go into active information search.
Information can be
obtained from several sources:
1). Personal sources such as family and friends.
2). Commercial sources such as advertising and salespeople.
3). Public sources such as the mass media and consumer-rating
4). Experiential sources such as handling, examining, or using
d. The relative influence of these information sources varies
with the product and the
1). Generally, the consumer receives the most information about
a product from
2). Yet, the most effective sources tend to be personal.
legitimize or evaluate products for the buyer.
e. As more information is obtained, the consumer’s awareness and
available brands and features increases.
f. Marketers should carefully understand consumer’s sources of
information and the
importance of each source.
Evaluation of Alternatives
evaluation is the stage of the buyer decision process in which the
consumer uses information to evaluate alternative brands
choices. Several basic
concepts help to explain the consumer-evaluation process:
1). The consumer arrives at attitudes toward different brands
2). In some cases consumers use careful calculations and logical
3). In other instances, consumers buy on impulse and rely on
4). Sometimes, consumers make buying decisions by themselves. At
the consumer uses friends, buying or consumer guides, or
5). Marketers should study buyers to find out how they actually
h. The purchase
decision is the stage of the buyer decision process in which the
consumer actually buys the product. Generally, the consumer’s
will be to buy the most preferred brand; however, two factor’s
can come between
purchase intention and the purchase decision. They are:
1). The attitude of others. How much another person’s attitudes
individual choices depends both on the strength of the other
toward the buying decision and on an individual’s motivation to
that person’s wishes.
2). Purchase intention is also influenced by unexpected
situational factors. If
unexpected situational factors arise as the consumer is about to
purchase intention may be affected.
behavior is the stage of the buyer decision process in which
consumers take further action after purchase based on their
dissatisfaction. Determinates are:
1). The relationship between the consumer’s expectations and the
perceived performance. The larger the gap between expectations
performance, the greater the consumer’s dissatisfaction.
2). Some sellers might even understate performance levels to
satisfaction with the product.
dissonance is buyer discomfort caused by postpurchase conflict and it is
k. It is very important to satisfy customers because a company’s
sales come from two
basic groups: new customers and retained customers.
1). Because it is more expensive to attract new customers than
to retain current
ones, it is important to keep current customers happy.
2). A satisfied customer also tells others about their
6. The Buyer Decision Process For New Products
a. A new product
is a good, service, or idea that is perceived by some potential
customers as new. The product may have been around for a while,
are interested in how customers learn about products for the
first time and make
decisions on whether to adopt them.
b. The adoption
process is the mental process through which an individual passes
from first hearing about an innovation to final adoption.
Adoption is defined as the
decision by an individual to become a regular user of the
Stages in the Adoption Process
c. The five stages of the adoption process are:
1). Awareness—where the consumer becomes aware of the new
product, but lacks
information about it.
2). Interest—in which the consumer is stimulated to seek
information about the
3). Evaluation—in which the consumer considers whether trying
the new product
4). Trial—in which the consumer tries the new product on a small
scale to improve
his or her estimate of its value.
5). Adoption—in which the consumer decides to make full and
regular use of the
d. The marketer must plan how to help the consumer move through
Individual Differences in Innovativeness
e. People differ in their innovativeness or readiness to try new
f. Five different adopter categories can be identified as:
1). Innovators are venturesome and they try new ideas at some
risk (2.5 percent).
2). Early adopters are guided by respect. They are opinion
leaders in their
community and adopt new ideas early but carefully (13.5
3). The early majority are deliberate. Although rarely leaders,
they adopt new
ideas before the average person (34 percent).
4). The late majority are skeptical. They adopt an innovation
only after a
majority of people have tried it (34 percent).
5). Laggards are tradition bound. They are suspicious of changes
and adopt the
innovation only when it has become something of a tradition
itself (16 percent).
Influence of Product Characteristics on Rate of Adoption
g. The new product’s characteristics will also influence the
rate of adoption. Five
characteristics that are especially important to consider are:
1). The innovation’s relative advantage or the degree to which
it appears superior
to existing products.
2). The innovation’s compatibility or degree to which it fits
the values and
experiences of potential customers.
3). The innovation’s complexity or the degree to which it is
difficult to understand
4). The innovation’s divisibility or the degree to which it may
be tried on a limited
5). The innovation’s communicability or the degree to which the
results can be
observed or described to others.
h. Other characteristics such as initial and ongoing costs, risk
and uncertainty, and
social approval also affect the rate of adoption.
Consumer Behavior Across International Borders
i. For companies operating in many countries, it is more
difficult, but just as
important to understand the consumer behavior of the
j. Sometimes the differences can be obvious, but most likely
they will be subtle.
k. Failing to understand such differences in customs and
behaviors from one country
to another can spell disaster for a marketer’s international
products and programs.
l. The marketer will have to decide on the degree of adaptation
that will be appropriate for the international marketplace.
Which is the best course
of action is open to debate.