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MANAGING CONSUMER BEHAVIORS & UNDERSTANDING CONSUMER PERCEPTIONS
Understanding consumer behavior is a pursuit that answers why, when, how, and where people buy or do not buy products. Consumer behavior is an area that combines topics such as economics, media studies, sociology, and psychology. Predicting and understanding consumer behavior is a challenge for experts and novices alike. Perception can be a biological process by which a person's brain interprets and organizes stimuli so as to gain awareness and understanding of one's environment. Perception can also be psychological and social phenomena. The paper surveys literature that proves the correlations and implications between consumer perception and consumer behavior.
Managing Consumer Behaviors & Understanding Consumer Perceptions
Perception is a large determinant or factor apart of behavior. Therefore, gaining understanding of consumer perceptions can illuminate the reasons behind certain types of consumer behaviors. With accurate data reflecting the connection between consumer behaviors and consumer perceptions would prove very useful to media producers, advertisers, media psychologists, media distributors/conglomerates, and other groups. The articles to be discussed and explored in this paper focus on a specific consumer behavior, which is the act of consumption. The articles study consumer behaviors and perceptions that occur during the act of consumption or the exchange or the transaction. The articles describe the process of consumption for the consumer. They also describe the consumers' perceptions and behaviors during consumption. Through close analysis, the paper will prove the existence of and the scope of the relationship between consumer perceptions and consumer behaviors.
The first article is concerned with customer/consumer experience of service while shopping. This study first describes the increased attention paid to customer perceptions by organizations. Companies, especially in the 21st century global economy, are extremely concerned with and aware of the importance of positive customer experience. Organizations are becoming more acutely aware that it costs less to keep an old customer than seek out and keep a new customer. (Schneider, White, & Paul, 1998) Therefore, the authors assert that organizations that are more in tune with and concerned with the quality of the customer experience make an investment into the company and ultimately generate more revenue for the company by designing, caring about, and understanding the customer experience and the customer perception of service quality. (Schneider, White, & Paul, 1998) How the organization perceives the customer experience and how the actual customer experience plays out may be very different. The authors argue that if the organization is not in tune with the customer experience, the organization will lose credibility in the eyes of the consumer and the organizations will suffer lower customer retention. (Schneider, White, & Paul, 1998) Thus, the urge of the study comes from a position that validates the significance of the customers' perception of service quality and the direct correlation between the customers' perception and the customers' (current & future) behavior.
The researchers surveyed employees and customers of a major bank. Customers were surveyed via telephone and via mail. The customers were randomly selected by the market research firm conducting the surveys. From the data gathered, the authors noted seven customer perception scales. (Schneider, White, & Paul, 1998) From their findings, the authors noted that services between departments directly related to overall customer perceptions. Overall customer perceptions directly related to the global service climate, the service climate of the entire organization, wherever office may be located. The authors believe that their findings validate organizational practices or applied organizational studies in the workplace as having a direct effect on efficiency, service quality, customer perception of service quality, and financial success. (Schneider, White, & Paul, 1998) Their findings imply and confirm that organizational policies have direct affect on customer perception of quality. The findings also validate that customer perception of quality directly relates to revenue generated by the organization. (Schneider, White, & Paul, 1998) Limitations to the research include lack of diversity in industry and participant population. The researchers also state a limitation to their study is lack of evidence of how long it takes for organizational climate change to affect customers as well as how long it takes customer to affect an organization. (Schneider, White & Paul, 1998) The article definitely validates the connections among customer perception, organizational climate, and revenue.
The second article the paper will focus upon questions the accuracy of the customer perceptions regarding inflation and prices. The authors seek to understand how consumer perceptions of prices come to pass -- what factor and conditions contribute to the construction of perceptions regarding inflation as well as in which behaviors such perceptions manifest. (Christandl & Garling, 2011) The authors' main argument is that consumer perceptions of inflationary prices are generally inaccurate and that these perceptions, regardless of accuracy, have a direct affect on what kinds of consumer behavior in which they engage. (Christandl & Garling, 2011) One aim of their study is to determine how consumer perceptions of inflation and price are constructed; they are determined to link price perceptions to consumptive behavior patterns. (Christandl & Garling, 2011) The research would aid such groups as marketing firms, advertising agencies, consumers, and company executives.
The researchers used volunteers and performed an in-person study. All of the participants were undergraduates of the University of Gothenburg, all of the participants were women (ages 19 -- 45), and all of the participants were offered a gift voucher (monetary value) in exchange for participation. (Christandl & Garling, 2011) The researchers conducted four experiments calling in volunteers to the lab individually and in groups. Based on their findings the researchers narrowed the conditions under which consumers more accurately extrapolated accurate perceptions regarding inflation and prices. (Christandl & Garling, 2011) Some factors included how information is presented to consumers, for what duration of time information is presented to consumers, and the size of the group to which the information is presented directly affect perception construction. (Christandl & Garling, 2011)
Limitations to the study included homogeny of the population studied and the limited number of participants in the study. The authors themselves question the accuracy of their theories when applied to larger or general populations, though the factors they determined are valid and logical when considering consumer perception and subsequent consumer behavior. An implication of their research is the great degree to which consumers misperceive inflationary prices. This implication exposes and partially invalidates the perception of consumers that they are saving money by consuming less. The implication also partially invalidates consumers' excessive demands for wage increases because of inflation. (Christandl & Garling, 2011) This is an intriguing article to study because it focuses upon a consumer perception and consumer behavior that comes before the act of consumption, though it is a part of the consumption process. The other articles generally focus upon the consumption process itself and occasionally the aftermath of consumption. This article shows another way in which consumer perception affects consumer behavior.
The following article the paper will discuss is an interesting twist on consumption that applies a great deal more in the 21st century landscape than that of the late 20th century, when the article was written. The researchers examine the generalizing power of customer perceptions when the consumers are students and the service is teaching or education. The authors consider education as a service or product and that students are the consumers of this product. (Schneider et al., 1994) For the purposes of their study, the authors consider that teachers are service providers that have a variety of customer transactions with internal and external consumers of their services. Furthermore, the authors notice a gap in service literature they seek to fill, which is endeavoring to locate any connection between the behavior of service deliverers (teachers, professors) during a service encounter affects other behaviors of the service deliverers with regard to other aspects of their jobs. (Schneider et al., 1994)
The study was conducted at a social science university in one of the mid-Atlantic states of the United States of America. The researchers conducted the study and gathered information across nine academic departments of the university. (Schneider et al., 1994) The authors disseminated a questionnaire based on interviews they conducted and also of similar studies conducted in the 1980s at colleges in the U.S.A. (Schneider et al., 1994) The students were asked to provide ratings for professors and department chairs regarding quality of service and general efficacy.
One major finding of the study is that for students, professor and department chair efficacy comes from services behaviors within and outside of the classroom. A service deliverer was not perceived as effective on the rating scale if there were inconsistencies in behavior between the classroom setting and outside of the classroom. (Schneider et al., 1994) This finding shows how sensitive the relationships among educators and students truly are. This research would prove most useful to administrators, staff, and faculty of colleges and universities. Sometimes sources for funding come from statistical data gathered from students regarding the quality of their higher education. At many universities and colleges in the U.S.A., ratings provided by…[continue]
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