Questions to Ask When Studying Consumer Behavior

July 15, 2022 by Stefanini

Know Your Customers: Maximize Your Marketing Efforts

Understanding how your customer behaves helps you offer the right product or service that meets their needs and desires, even when they don't know what they want. Knowing what to offer, to whom and when helps drive effective marketing. We need to know what's inside consumers' minds to understand accurately.

First, let's review a couple of terms:

  • Consumers - are people who use services and products
  • Shoppers and Customers – are the people who buy products and services

When we need to get inside the actual mind of a consumer, we turn to consumer research. Let's talk about the difference between market research and consumer research:

  • Market research is an organized, systematic effort to gather information about customers or markets. It is a vital component of any business strategy and provides information about market needs, size, competitors and customers. It tends to be factual and statistic based. It is the "WHAT" of customers and markets.
  • Consumer research is information that enables a company to determine why their customers behave how they do about their brand. With this information, organizations can use insight to affect purchase behavior. It is the "WHY" of customers and brands.

12 Survey Questions to Ask for Effective Consumer Behavior Research

1. Who purchases your products and services?

Is it females or males? Is your target audience children? Low income or wealthy? Demographics are essential, but they are only part of the equation.

2. Who makes the buying decision?

Often, a purchase is made by someone who did not make the decision. Say a restaurant wants to update its interior – an architect or interior designer makes the buying decision.

3. Who influences purchase decisions?

A great example of this is children. The mom or the dad buys the product. Sometimes, one parent decides and the other buys. However, the child is the primary influencer.

4. How are purchase decisions made?

Take the example regarding children -- a child goes to their mom and requests a toy. Then, the mom relays that request to the other parent, who buys the toy based on the child, who is the primary influencer. This is an orderly fashion of purchase decisions, which is something a marketer should know.

5. Why does the customer buy?

Consider what the customer's needs are when buying a product. In the above example, a parent buys a toy for their child., and each customer buys a product for different reasons. Now, you can analyze behavior based on why they are buying.

6. Where is the product purchased?

Is it at a discount store, online or a high-end retailer? Knowing this relays information about how far a customer will go to buy a brand.

7. Why does a customer prefer one brand over another?

Most consumers have brand preferences – when you determine why the customer favors one brand over another, you will see several features that the customer prefers.

8. When do people buy a product?

Is the "when" seasonal, external or internal?

9. What is the product's perception?

Is the item seen as a good value? Is it premium or luxury? Product perception is a large part of creating word of mouth, so you need positive perception, so your customer recommends it to someone else.

10. What social factors influence a buying decision?

Some people may never understand why others buy Audis or BMWs. A person with a high net worth may feel strongly about these brands because their social standards dictate that. Social factors play a significant role in purchase decisions.

11. What role does lifestyle play?

For example, consider a person who loves yoga – they are more likely to purchase a yoga mat.  Say another individual loves cycling – they are likely to buy a helmet. Learning about lifestyle is a critical part of consumer behavioral studies.

12. What role do demographics play in buying decisions?

Imagine a toy company shows its products on a news channel, or the interior design service courts a startup with a limited budget? Would they be able to capture their customer's attention? Furthermore, an older adult will probably buy different products than a teenager.

There are more aspects to consider, like economic conditions, purchasing power and the benefits the customer seeks.

Influencing Your Audience: It's Psychological

Consider how we -- as humans -- process information and make decisions. For example, consumers rarely actively consider a purchase decision or brand. They are driven almost exclusively by instinct and intuition. So, how do we design research that delivers information, insight and inspiration?

Let's look at the differences concerning information, insight, inspiration and impact:

Information: lays the foundation. Information is the most basic output of any consumer research as we gather data and facts about consumers to describe the marketplace, the target consumer and their behavior. Information lays the foundation and includes:

  • Demographics
  • Product and brand usage
  • Behaviors and habits
  • Media usage

Insight: connects emotionally. Distilling information is key to identifying insights about a target consumer's motivations. Gathering and filtering information means taking what you know from a base of information and asking questions. Why are people the way they are?

Why do they feel the way they do? Where is that spot in their emotional and logical minds (or both) where we need to aim the marketing message? Ultimately, an insight is a discovery about an underlying motivation that drives consumers' actions.

  • Beliefs and values
  • Motivations
  • Conflicts

Inspiration: activating insights and telling stories. It's not enough to identify an insight; an insight has to inspire consumers to act on them.

That means communicating insights in a way that fits into a consumer's lifestyle and popular culture, which requires thoroughly understanding the world around your consumer and inside their hearts and minds.

  • Lifestyles
  • Conversations
  • Cultural trends

Impact: measuring if it worked. Consumer research has to measure changes that marketing efforts create in how consumers think, feel and act. Often this means tracking key attitudinal and behavioral measures over time as gathered through various research efforts.

  • Outputs
  • Outcomes
  • Return on investment

Finding the sweet spot

Bringing studies and brand insight together helps you develop your brand purpose. Hitting your strategic sweet spot allows you to engage with and persuade faster, meaningfully and with less effort (read: less investment).

Furthermore, by performing studies, you will understand several factors:

  • Attitudes: Consumer attitudes often affect their beliefs regarding specific products. Using consumer behavior models helps marketers create campaigns that appeal to consumers.
  • Cultures: Evolving cultures impact on marketing campaign's design. Studying consumer psychology can help you understand cultural nuances, helping you determine your product's target market.
  • Perceptions: Studying consumer perceptions about your brand might help you uncover negative opinions, which you can work on to improve your offering.
  • Lifestyle: Comprehending consumer lifestyles can allow you to tweak your products to meet their specific requirements.

Final Thoughts

Understanding your customers is critical to success. You can employ many methods to unearth what goes into the purchase decision process, and it starts with asking the right questions.

By understanding what drives your customers' decisions, you can offer your customers the correct information at each stage of the consumer journey. You will improve your marketing strategy and ensure you meet your customers' needs.

Understanding your target audience is key to reaching them. Stefanini offers digital marketing solutions to get essential demographic info into your hands.

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