Key Influences on Consumer Decision Making

33 Key Terms and Concepts

Anti-brand community: This term is characterized as a group of individuals who are bonded together by their mutual dislike, distrust, and aversion of a brand or product.

Aspirational reference groups: These groups of people are not known to consumers personally, but instead represent a set of ideals that others admire usually because of their popularity and celebrity status.

Atmospherics: A situational factor/influence on consumer decision making, atmospherics is the sum total of all physical aspects in a retail environment that the retailer controls and should monitor to create a pleasing shopping experience for customers.

Brand community: This term is characterized as a group of passionate and enthusiastic consumers who are bonded together by their interest in a brand or product.

Conformity: Both social comparison and informational social influence often lead to conformity, which is a long-lasting change in beliefs, opinions, and behaviours that are consistent with the people around us.

Crowding: A situational factor/influence on decision making, a crowded store may result in a lower number of visitors converting to buyers, but it may also create “herd behaviour” in which some customers are more likely to purchase when part of a crowd.

Deindividuation: The loss of individual self-awareness and accountability when an individual is absorbed into a larger group.

Discretionary income: Discretionary income represents the amount of money we have left over to invest, save, or spend, after paying personal income taxes and necessities. Young adults often have to pay necessities like student loans and credit card debts, but also may pay less taxes, all of which effects their discretionary income. Discretionary income is different than disposable income because it takes necessary expenses into consideration.

Disposable income: Disposable income represents the amount of money we have left over to invest, save, or spend, after paying personal income taxes. Seniors and retirees typically have more disposable income due to paying lower personal income taxes. Discretionary income is derived from disposable income.

Family lifecycle: The family lifecycle represents the various stages we pass through from early adulthood to retirement. At each stage of the lifecycle consumer preferences are defined by different needs and wants and influenced by different forces.

Hedonic shopping experience: The family lifecycle represents the various stages we pass through from early adulthood to retirement. At each stage of the lifecycle consumer preferences are defined by different needs and wants and influenced by different forces.

Heuristics: Also known as “mental shortcuts” or “rules of thumb”, heuristics help consumers by simplifying the decision-making process.

Influencer: An influencer is characterized as someone who is well-connected; has influence on consumers’ decision making; has both reach and impact; and is identified as a trendsetter.

Informational social influence: When we change change our opinions and behaviours in order to conform to the people closest to us, we use the term “informational social influence”. We justify our changed opinions because we believe those people have accurate and reliable information that also serves our contexts.

Layout (store layout): An interior variable, the layout refers to the design of the space inside a store as well as the placement of displays and other items customers come in contact with.

Location: Store location is a situational factor/influence on decision making. Retailers who are located where consumers expect and want them to be, such as in high pedestrian traffic zones, tend to enjoy a higher volume of customers.

Mere exposure: This term describes our preference to like things that we have seen more often, or more frequently. Increased and frequent exposure to a product may result in our developing a preference for the product that we wouldn’t otherwise have.

Non-conformity: This term describes situations where an individual (or group of individuals) reject or fail to go along with the rules, laws, and social norms of a larger group or society.

Normative social influence: This term best describes situations in which we express opinions or take on behaviours that enable us to be accepted by others and avoid rejection or social isolation.

Mood: A situational factor/influence on decision making, a consumer’s mood expresses a temporary state of mind and feeling at a particular moment. It can also be expressed as the predominant emotion we are feeling.

Opinion leaders: These are people who have the ability to influence others; they often set trends and norms that others conform to.

Private acceptance: This is the result of conformity and is described as a real change in an individual’s opinions.

Proximity: The term describes the extent to which someone or something else is near to us.

Reference group: A group of people that is often made up on opinion leaders who have influence on the attitudes, opinions, and behaviours of others.

Social class: A term used to describe groups of people who have the same socio-economic status within society. Social class may be measured using income, education, and profession; however, classifications can often be incorrect because indicators might be misleading (e.g. someone with high school education can be a high income earner).

Social comparison: When we compare our opinions to those of the people around us, we are engaging in social comparisons. Informational social influence often follows social comparison.

Social influence: Social influence occurs when our beliefs and behaviours begin to match those of the people we’re closest to. This may be subtle or it may be something we seek out by asking our friends for their opinions.

Social norms: These are socially accepted beliefs about what we do or should do in particular social contexts.

Time-starved: A term related to the situational factor/influence on decision making, “time”, it conveys a sense of customer urgency to make purchases quickly and efficiently to meet their entire set of needs.

Transition zone: The space immediately inside a retail store where customers pass through before engaging with merchandise and sales representatives. The transition zone serves as a place where customers can orient themselves and plan their route in the store.

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