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Consumer Behavior: Internal and External Influence

Internal influences on consumer behavior

Internal influences on consumer behavior include attitude, experience, and perception (Sharma, 2006, p.42). The effect of these influences is not clearly known because they are not easily observable. However, they affect marketing strategies significantly. Consumer attitudes determine the shopping habits of consumers. Therefore, it is important for marketers to understand the various attitudes that consumers possess and the reasons behind them. This will enable them to develop strategies that augment the positive attitudes and eradicate negative attitudes. On the other hand, the consumer’s experience with a product determines the buying habits.

This affects marketing strategies based on consumer feedback. Marketers should seek consumer experiences with a certain product in order to develop marketing strategies that might help to eradicate unpleasant experiences that might make consumers shy away from buying their products or services (Sharma, 2006, p.43). Perception affects marketing strategies based on the consumer’s view of a product or service. Marketers should inculcate positive perceptions in consumers to motivate them to choose their product by highlighting its benefits. Marketers can use consumers’ values to position their products and services by conducting extensive research on consumers’ buying habits, perceptions, and attitudes towards their products and services (Sharma, 2006, p.45). This will ensure that they satisfy the consumers’ needs by offering products and services that are in line with the consumers’ needs.

External influences on consumer behavior

External influences on consumer behavior include culture, reference groups, and social status (Wright et al, 2008, p.38). Culture affects marketing strategies because cultural attitudes and beliefs determine what consumers use or consume. They are important for marketers because they determine the marketing strategy to adopt: whether to focus on a certain cultural group with similar needs or to focus on many cultural groups with different needs (Wright et al, 2008, p.39). Reference groups share the same values, beliefs, and preferences. Therefore, they affect consumer behavior and determine what people in a certain reference group purchase. Marketers develop marketing strategies that focus on the collective needs of the group and not on individual needs. A consumer’s social status determines what they can afford and what they cannot afford. Therefore, marketers set prices that make their products available to consumers in different social classes (Wright et al, 2008, p.39). Marketers might use cultural influences to position their products and services by capitalizing on the aspects of a certain product or service that appeals to a certain cultural group. Cultural segmentation may also be used to stress the value of a product or service thus influencing consumers to purchase them (Wright et al, 2008, p.40).

Reference groups

A reference group refers to a group of individuals with whom one identifies and who influence and determine one’s behavior to a certain degree (Foxall et al, 2008, p.63). Reference groups have a significant influence on consumer consumption habits. Types of reference groups include normative, comparative, indirect, contactual, aspirational, avoidance, and disclamant reference groups (Foxall et al, 2008, p.63). I belong to the comparative and normative reference groups. These groups have a significant influence on my purchasing power because I make most of my decisions based on their influence. I rarely rely on my intuition, likes, and values to determine what to buy or consume. Belonging to a comparative reference group makes me compare my thoughts and feelings toward certain products or decisions to those of other members. On the other hand, belonging to a normative reference group makes me adhere to the values and norms of the group. For example, I had a favorite restaurant that I always visited for dinner because they offered nice food and their customer service was excellent. However, after asking my friends what they thought of the restaurant, it turned out that most of them hated it. Their feedback changed my liking for the restaurant and I stopped dining there.

My motivation as a consumer

Many factors motivate me as a consumer. These include advertising, attitudes and perceptions, experiences, and personal preferences. My attitudes and perceptions toward certain products and services determine whether I purchase them or not. I would stop consuming a certain product if I had a bad experience with that product. For example, I had a favorite restaurant that I visited often for lunch because they had excellent customer service. However, the restaurant’s management was taken over by a new proprietor and their customer service became so poor that I stopped dining there. Personal preferences are developed from my reference groups and determine what I purchase. However, they play a minimal role in influencing my decisions relative to the other factors. Advertisements influence my purchasing habits significantly. This happens mostly with products that I have not tried before. Advertising affects consumer behavior through persuasion, education, and reassurance of the benefits of a product or service (Hoyer and Maclnnis, 2008, p.42). Advertisements compare products based on their benefits and as such, persuade consumers to purchase their product (Hoyer and Maclnnis, 2008, p.42). I am motivated to purchase a product if an advertisement highlights the benefits of the product, reassure me of its safety, and shows me why it is better than other similar products.


Foxall, G., Goldsmith, R., and Brown, S. (1998). Consumer Psychology for Marketing. New York: Cengage learning EMEA. 216

Hoyer, W., and Maclnnis, D. (2008). Consumer Behavior. New York: Cengage Learning.

Sharma, A. (2006). Consumer Behavior. New York: Global Vision Publishing Ho.

Wright, M., East, R., and Vanhuele, M. (2008). Consumer Behavior: Applications inĀ Marketing. New York: SAGE Publishing.