Consumer behavior can easily be named as one of the most important and tricky concept in marketing. One has to understand the needs of the end user before making a pitch for the product let alone marketing it. However, given that buying a product is more of a circumstantial decision, consumer behavior needs a lot of research to understand how, when, where and why would a customer buy the product we sell. A lot of emphasis is given to this topic as it decides an organization’s approach to the marketing strategy (Solomon, 2014). To understand the customer behavior it is primary to understand what the target market is. Realizing this will help a company narrow down the customer market, understand the purchasing pattern of specific customers groups and then develop strategies for marketing.
Say, a company sells automobiles for the middle class sector. The target would be customers who value money and are looking for the best possible price. Marketing to such customers would be price oriented highlighting the attributes that the automobile provides. At the same time the company would not adopt an online sale or marketing strategy as a customer would not buy an automobile without testing it. Understanding a customer psychology and figuring out why a customer would buy a product we sell would be the crux of marketing (Hanna, 2013). Several companies adopt methods such as surveys to understand what the customer wants, as asking the person what they need is better than guessing what they need. However, this approach may not always be true, especially when introducing new and innovative products (Juster, 2015).
Some of the key concepts that effect the customer decision making process and purchase pattern are income, cultural background, social environment, attitude, needs, alternate options, purchase power, lifestyle, personality, knowledge, perceptions and so on. Assessing these characteristics in accordance to the intended market and marketing through appropriate channel is necessary for success of a product. Marketing strategy has to be developed in such a way that product over powers all the above mentioned attributes and drives the customer to purchase the product especially in a highly competitive environment like the consumer electronics, where almost all forms of marketing are adopted to convince customers from different backgrounds for different purchasing needs (Mullen, 2013). Also, to ensure that the customer continues purchasing the product, which is to sustain the current customer base it is crucial to provide exemplary post sales services that would keep the customer satisfied.
Distribution Strategy (Place)
It is no wonder that place is in the 4P’s of marketing as the place you sell a product is as crucial as pricing or promotion strategy you develop to sell the product. Place in marketing terms can also be called as Distribution channel. It determines where exactly we are selling a product (Sa, 2014). A customer would not buy a pet online. Say the customer wants to buy a dog, the first thing they need is to touch and see if the dog is comfortable with them. The same goes with automobiles or one time investment machineries. Since in all these cases the touch and feel is required before making a purchase decision. Distribution channels empower the expansion of business. Product such as cosmetics can be sold retail in supermarkets and at the same time through online retailers expanding the customer base and increasing the chances of purchase. The dealer at each of these places also plays a crucial role, as most of the customers purchase products that are recommended by them (Lu, 2013). However, the decisions to determine the point of sales and the distribution channels can be complex depending on the product in question.
To decide on a distribution channel one must first understand all the attributes of the product in question, in which markets these products would sold and would the channel produce the revenue expected (Keating, 2013). Understanding if or not a customer would purchase a particular channel by placing ourselves in the shoes of the customer can help us decide if or not the distribution channel strategy is a good idea. An expensive high end product such as Bose Headphones should not be sold online as a customer would want to listen to it and determine if or not they are their money’s worth.
Deciding the distribution channel is equally dependent on the organization’s circumstances as well. Finance, network, places in which the company is present all play a role here. A small company that has very little investment to set up retail outlets at multiple places can be available over a huge area if they go with the online retail channel (Staelin, 2014). At the same time a microprocessor company would not sell their products online or retail but rather produce and sell them on request of the customer. Also, organizations should not adopt channels that are financially or logistically challenging.
Hence deciding a distribution strategy requires a thorough analysis of the company’s circumstances, the products attributes and the target markets requirements.
Hanna, N., Wozniak, R. and Hanna, M., 2013. Consumer behavior: An applied approach. Kendall Hunt Publishing Company.
Juster, F.T., 2015. Anticipations and purchases: An analysis of consumer behavior. Princeton University Press.
Keating, B., 2013. Distribution Channels: Understanding and Managing Channels to Market. Journal of Product & Brand Management.
Lu, Q. and Liu, N., 2013. Pricing games of mixed conventional and e-commerce distribution channels. Computers & Industrial Engineering, 64(1), pp.122-132.
Mullen, B. and Johnson, C., 2013. The psychology of consumer behavior. Psychology Press.
Sa Vinhas, A. and Heide, J.B., 2014. Forms of competition and outcomes in dual distribution channels: The distributor’s perspective. Marketing Science, 34(1), pp.160-175.
Solomon, M.R., 2014. Consumer behavior: Buying, having, and being. Engelwood Cliffs, NJ: prentice Hall.
Staelin, R. and Lee, E., 2014. Distribution Channels. In The History of Marketing Science (pp. 261-287).