Taking marketing decisions in today’s dynamic world requires thinking, observation and intelligence based of data obtained through marketing research. The aim of marketing is to create value and to build strong customer relationship in order to capture value from customers in return. The aim of the marketing is to attract new customers and to keep current customers satisfied by delivering value and satisfaction. World largest companies such as DELL and Wal-Mart have kept their promises that they made to their customers that is why they are today world largest companies in their own industry. Wal-Mart promised customer “Always Low price. Always” and they kept it. DELL promised their customers to provide computers of their own choice on their doorsteps quickly, so they did. That keeps customers loyal to the company. (Rangun & Bell, March 26, 1999)
But agreeing of all the loyalty and other factors, customers are attracted by marketing and they go through decision making process and they are motivated by different factors. Lot of work has been done on how and why consumers are attracted by one product and not by other, and what makes them by some thing. Almost every marketing study agrees on one point that consumer motivation plays a very big part in making a buying decision. Among those studies some of them are Maslow’s Need Hierarchy theory, Murray’s list of human needs, McClelland theory of learned needs and Herzberg.
Maslow’s theory of needs and its application to marketing
Maslow published Hierarchy of needs in 1970. It explains how human are motivated to attain their needs. It is widely used by the marketing managers as it helps them to understand the motivational category of their target customer. According to Maslow what ever you are marketing, will fall in one of the listed category in Maslow hierarchy of needs. And once you know that in which category you should focus to, it will become much easier to market your product. He divided human motivation into five steps and named them as:
· Psychological Needs (food, clothes and shelter):
According to Maslow people first aim to satisfy their basic needs of life, without which they cannot survive. If your product falls into this category than your main aim is to make your customer buy from you not from your customer.
Example: if your product is a food item, why would a customer buy it from you instead of the restaurant across the street? That restaurant offers the same food as you do. The only thing which may inclined the customer to buy from your restaurant is you competitive advantage over your competitors. This competitive advantage may include lower price, better quality, fast service and nice environment. (Robbins, 2004)
· Safety and Security Need (Protection and Stability):
Once they have are satisfied for basic human life needs, they look for safe and secure place to work, to live, use etc. Products such as insurance, retirement plan and home alarm systems are promoted in this category. These products makes customer realize about the importance of their product to customer and how can these products save customer from difficulties. These ads stimulate the needs for such products and attract customer to buy. (Robbins, 2004)
· Social Needs (affection, friendship and belonging):
As described by Aristotle “Man is a Social Animal” Maslow says that once people have foods, shelter and safety they will look for friendships, and belonging with others. This category contains products, which helps a person in building friendships and belongings. Cakes, chocolates, flowers, cards and gift items are marketed heavily in this category. Advertisements stress on how these products can help in creating friendship and belonging with others and can make a person social. (Robbins, 2004)
· Ego or Self esteem needs (Prestige and status):
It says that people have a need for recognition from others, status, attention and recognition. The other part includes self-respect, competence, confidence and achievement. (Daft, 2001) People relate things to them self and drive out value. This category contains products, which create value for a user and allow him/her to get recognition from others. (Etzel, Walker, Walker, & Stanton, 2000) Cars can be taken as the best example. A 1600 cc Honda Civic can fulfill them same purpose as the Mercedes. But a person who is interested in acquiring self-esteem will go for Mercedes as it shows status and prestige. Advertisements for such products always show prestige, need for recognition, confidence and competence. (Robbins, 2004)
It can be best described in US Army slogan “ Be all that you can be”?. At this stage people don’t act due to some factors. They do what they want to do and remain natural as they are. They are hard working and motivated members of the society. People seek ways to grow their spiritual and personal level. These people want to help other and they want to be true to their desire and interests. (Robbins, 2004)
Marketing role is to realize customer about their need and how their product is useful in fulfilling that need. Maslow hierarchy helps to identify the category of need of your customers and the target market of your customers, and that makes marketing job easier in delivering their message to their target customers. (A Framework for thinking Ethically, 2008)
The consumer behavior model (or industrial model) and the Marketing effort
Consumer behavior is a study, which studies what customer buys, how they buy, where they buy and why they buy. (Etzel, Walker, Walker, & Stanton, 2000) These questions are not that easy to answer as they are dealing with human customers, whom behavior or actions cannot be 100% predicted. All the questions are answerable but “why” is the most difficult to answer. For that reason Consumer Behavior Model has been developed. It has three main elements that are:
Factors effecting consumer behavior (Culture, Social, Personal, occupation etc).
The role of marketing is to promote the product, considering all the above mentioned factors. If the product is not promoted considering all the above factors, there are chances that product will fail. People some times don’t like products which are not in accordance with their social and cultural life, but this attitude can be changed through marketing. Marketing can attempts to change the consumer attitude about the product through different means.
Example: Alcohol is not accepted in Muslim culture, but still people buy it through different means. Same with Mc Donald and KFC as they were first considered as American chains. They promoted their products with respect to local cultures and made advertisements showing social and personal value of that culture. (Mazur, 2005)
Buying Behavior (complex, Variety seeking, Dissonance reducing and habitual) of Consumer:
Technical products are more complex to buy therefore marketing should provide more information and should focus on competitive advantage they have on their competitors. Marketing should be done in accordance to the target market. If you customers are habitual buyers, marketing should be in a way that habitual buyers can be attracted. People seeking variety looks for different products, which can be easily differentiated from other products, they are innovators and likes to try new products as they are introduced to the market. Habitual buyers usually go through decision-making process while they are in stores, they don’t give much thinking to what they have to buy. Toothpaste can be taken as an example for habitual buyers. Marketing should consider these trends and should market their product according to their customer category. (IS-241 Decision Making and Problem Solving, 2008)
Consumers Purchase Decision (need recognition, information search, Evaluation of alternatives, purchase decision, post purchase decision).
Marketing should first realize customer of the product need, then help the customer in finding the product and then must provide competitive advantage so that customer can pick the product out of alternatives and decides to buy. Product should satisfy customer and marketing can help a lot in making customer realize that they have bought some thing valuable. This is very important with the customers buying complex items such as car and with customer who have dissonance reducing, such as buying carpets.
AIDA (Attention, Interest, Desire and Action) can be a very useful marketing tool to attract customers. (Robbins, 2004) It says that your advertisements should be that attractive that once customer sees your product he/she gets attracted to it and sees it. Once they give a glance to the ad, ad must create interest so that customer keeps on watching the advertisement. Customer should desire to buy a product once he/she is gone through the ad and finally he shall purchase it. This concept helps marketing managers in designing their advertisements according to their target customers. (Daft, 2001)
Another important job of marketing is to create belonging and satisfaction after the purchase decision is made. (Etzel, Walker, Walker, & Stanton, 2000) It has been observed that customers feel dissonance reducing as they purchase any product. This happens due to the alternatives present in the market or they observe other people using alternative products. So the job of marketing is to make customer feel that he/she has made the right decision and that he/she has some competitive advantage over others. (Daft, 2001)
Company’s Target Market:
1. A Framework for thinking Ethically. (n.d.). Retrieved October 19, 2008, from Santa Claura University: http://www.scu.edu/ethics/practicing/decision/framework.html
2. Daft, R. (2001). Organization theory and design 9th ed. Chicago: South-Western.
3. Etzel, M. J., Walker, B. J., Walker, S., & Stanton, W. J. (2000). Marketing. New York: McGraw-Hill Education.
4. IS-241 Decision Making and Problem Solving. (n.d.). Retrieved October 19, 2008, from training.fema.gov/EMIWeb/IS/is241.asp
5. Mazur, L. (2005). Holistic marketing for Long Run. Finance Week , 13.
6. Rangun, V. K., & Bell, M. (March 26, 1999). Dell Online. Harvard Business Review , 1-27.
7. Robbins, S. P. (2004). Organizational Behavior. New York: Pearsons.