2.0. Literature Review
According to Voinea & Filip (2011, p.14), the attitudes and aspirations of the current buyer have changed significantly, with many consumers focusing on authenticity and affordability of products. The internet revolution has played a major role in this, as many people can compare prices, and get information concerning product safety at the tip of their hands on their smartphones. The other landmark in the change of consumer behavior is in the way of purchasing, which is steadily and rapidly shifting from purchase from physical stores to online stores. This transformation explains why Amazon, the world’s largest e-commerce site ranks number four with regards to net worth (Statista, 2019). This section of the paper will single out some of the changes in consumer behavior, and further, analyze these changes theoretically, and systematically.
2.1. Content Consumption
According to a 2014 publication by Ma, the steady shift in information technology from television sets, radios, and magazines, to the increased use of the internet to access information has significantly changed the consumer behavior (p.56). In the publication, Ma (2014, p.56), also proceeds to explain that the transformation of the conventional media devices that were less mobile to mobile devices that still serve the same purpose, has changed the way people prefer to access information. Most people no longer have to wait for night hours to be able to get back home and settle and listen or watch. Currently, media content is being consumed 24/7 with no hindrances of time and mobility (Ma, 2014, p.57). This explains why there was a sudden internet boom, with most companies struggling to establish their business online, to capture the newfound attention on smartphones and laptops.
2.2 Changes in Demand
Loubou et al. (2011), in a publication focusing on consumer behavior of Generation Y, explains the fact that, as opposed to the baby boomers, the millennial generation is focusing more on the purchase of products online, and is more inclined to purchase environmentally friendly products, as opposed to those which are not (p.2). Loubou et al. (2011) state that this change is the motivation behind the proliferation of green labels and organic labels used as marketing strategies by most companies (p 8-9). Some companies have even gone a step further to use fraud in the sale of their products, branding them as organic even when they are not. The millennial generation is so influential due to its fast-growing statistic, with projections indicating that by the year 2025, they will form ¾ of the global population (Pew Research Center 2010, p.2). Consumer motivation globally is, therefore, generally shifting towards a demand for novelty, convenience, conformity, and fashion. Crowded traffic, noisy shopping malls, shortage of parking position, account for some of the reasons why the millennial generation find online shopping convenience. Regarding a publication by Slavica et al. (2019), the other noticeable trend or change in consumer buying is that, as opposed to the earlier on statistics that indicated that people age 35-50 form the largest percentage of shoppers, this has changed to working-class people aged 18-35. Discussed by Loubou et al. (2011) in their publication briefly, the other thing that needs more expounding is on the issue of ecofriendly products taking the lead over other products. In an article by White et al. (2019), they explain that this change has resulted from the increased awareness concerning environmental degradation from materials such as plastics. Currently, buyers would go for products that promote the concept of reusability, refills, and recyclable packaging. Products with these characteristics are much more expensive, but still, sell more than the other products that are not ecofriendly.
2.3 Product Reviews
The other notable change in consumer buying is the increased dependence on reviews to guide buying. According to an article by Holleschovsky & Constantinides (n.d, p.2), this change has been facilitated by the ability of customers to rate and review products or services that they have paid for either immediately or sometime after using it. Holleschovsky & Constantinides (n.d) in their publication, explain that the rise of the web as an interactive platform has made it possible to effortlessly compare market offers or to look for related advice given posted by consumers who have used the product and service before (p.2). These online reviews summarize experiences and are subjective opinions and attitudes expressed by customers (Holleschovsky & Constantinides, n.d, p.2). Personal experiences and opinions for services and products have thus grown to become the most reliable form of information seeking second to Google Search (Holleschovsky & Constantinides, p.2)
2.4 Theoretical Explanations
Consumer behavior can be referred to as the propensity of an individual to pick a product or service, subject to environmental, social, political, or economic factors (Consumer Behavior, n.d, p.36). With regards to consumer behavior, the Marshallian economic model explains that people will buy goods or services based on the type that gives them the greatest satisfaction, as well as based on their tastes and the relative prices of the goods or services (Consumer Behavior, n.d, p.42).
Bentham’s theory, also in close relation to the perception captured in the Marshallian economic model also views man as carefully weighing and calculating anticipated pleasures and pains from action taken. By the time Bentham’s theory became renowned in the late 19th C, another theory, the “marginal-utility” concept of value was developed jointly by Switzerland’s Walras, Australia’s Menger, and England’s Jevons and Marshall (Consumer Behavior, n.d, p.43). According to this theory, the economic man maximizes his or her utility and achieves this by prudently computing the ”felicific” implications of any purchase (Consumer Behavior, n.d, p.43). Last but not least, as explained by Stankevich (2017), the process of decision making involves stages that come before the consumer decided to buy a product. These pre-stages are normally indispensable and changes or influences on them also affect consumer behavior (p.10).
2.5. Controversies or Critiques of Literature on Consumer Behavior Change.
There are a few literatures that have been published criticizing the theories of change in consumer behavior like Kotler (2006, p.33), who levels the idea that it is an extremely problematic task to reveal the motivations to people purchasing behavior, as the influences that drive them are countless and act in varying combinations, some of which a very personal or based on one’s personality. According to Consumer Behavior (n.d, p.45), the consumer behavior theories have also been criticized for generalization, most people in the same social or economic class might make different decisions—for instance, some rich people are not conscious about their spending, while others choose to “fit in” with the lower social classes and not “stand out”.
The deduction from this analysis is that consumer behavior has drastically taken a different turn, with consumers becoming more environmentally conscious, seeking convenience, seeking for the best, and looking for affordability. This change in consumer behavior has largely been fueled by technological change, which has allowed buyers to be able to make price comparisons over a large number of online e-commerce platforms and compare reviews on the products. Consumers have also shifted from traditionally interacting with product content on TV, radio, and magazines, to using the internet to read blogs and articles on smartphones, laptops, and tablets. Even though there are theories to explain consumer behavior change, there are several also that criticize the forms, for example, for being too general or simplistic about the number of factors that can affect the human decision-making process.
Consumer Behaviour: Chapter 2-Retrieved from: https://repository.up.ac.za/bitstream/handle/2263/29162/02chapter2.pdf?sequence=3&isAllowed=y
Holleschovsky, N., & Constantinides, E. (n.d). Impact of online product reviews on purchasing decisions. Retrieved from: https://ris.utwente.nl/ws/portalfiles/portal/5399228/Impact+of+online+product+reviews+on+purchasing+decisions++Final+WEBIST+2016.pdf
Kotler, P., & Lane, K. (2006). ”Marketing Management” 12th edition, oxford.
Loubou, P., Alexander, E., & Kalchev, G (2011). Online shopping behaviors and characteristics of Gen Y consumers in Bulgaria and Croatia: Who, What, How Much and How Often? Journal of Euromarketing, ISSN 1528-6967, IMDA Press, Hummelstown, PA, 20 (1/2). pp. 85-101
Ma, T. (2014). Preliminary Analysis on the Consumer Behaviors in Group Purchase Website under O2O Mode and Strategies. Modern Business, 34, p. 56-57.
Pew Research Center. (2010). Millenials: A Portrait of Generation Next Confident. Connected. Open to Change. Retrieved from: https://assets.pewresearch.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/3/2010/10/millennials-confident-connected-open-to-change.pdf
Voinea, L., & Filip, A. (2011). Analyzing the Main Changes in New Consumer Buying Behavior during Economic Crisis. International Journal of Economic Practices and Theories, 1 (1).
Stankevich, A. (2017). Explaining the Consumer Decision-Making Process: Critical Literature Review. Journal of International Business Research and Marketing, 2 (6).
Slavica Tomić, Ksenija Leković & Jelena Tadić (2019) Consumer behaviour: the influence of age and family structure on the choice of activities in a tourist destination, Economic Research-Ekonomska Istraživanja, 32 (1), p.755-771,
Statista (2019). The 100 largest companies in the world by market value in 2019(in billion U.S. dollars). Retrieved from: https://www.statista.com/statistics/263264/top-companies-in-the-world-by-market-value/
White, K., Hardisty, D., & Habib, R. (2019). The Elusive Green Consumer. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from: https://hbr.org/2019/07/the-elusive-green-consumer
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