Consumer Buying Behavior – Psychological Aspects

Posted in Marketing & Strategy Articles, Total Reads: 5039 , Published on July 05, 2014

No matter what the background of a person may be, or what the income of that person is, when it comes to buying all customers behave in similar fashion based on what are they purchasing. Through this article I shall try to explore certain psychological aspects of buying behaviour of consumers in Indian context based on my observation.

First and foremost what matters to customers when they purchase an article or go for a paid service, is the utility. Customers perceive everyday articles to be of different value than those of occasional items. Similarly, they perceive personal services like parlour to be of different value than that of an auto fare. Based on the utility the classification of products are as follows:

  1. Every day use for sustainability (for eg:- grocery, toiletries etc) – In this type of products customers generally do not experiment. They go for those products which they ‘trust’, which are already established brands and which are cost effective (price is as par with the quantity, quality is at an optimal level).
  2. Luxury/ recreation purposes (for eg:- technical gadgets like radio, television; cosmetics, dresses, shoes etc)- In this type of products customers generally buy high end products (the word high end is subjective to the buying capability). These are generally one time buy. Customers go for those products with which perceived value attached is high.
  3. For maintaining or upgrading standard in society (for eg:- cars, phone, watches, jewellery, house, furniture, showpieces, expensive dresses which are worn on social gathering etc) – In this type of products customers go with the trend. They do not differentiate between the utility of the products, if they can afford a high end phone they will go for it and they will not save money to buy an expensive car, this is because both are high end products. It is worth mentioning here that for these type of products customers go for aesthetic beauty.
  4. For emergency purposes (for eg:- medicines, baby products) – In this type of products customers do not experiment and they are influenced highly by word of mouth communication because they believe that this medium gives ‘actual’ review of the products. For this segment, specially, customers think more expensive the products are more enhanced is the quality.

Secondly, what matters to customers is the frequency of buying a product. Also quantity of consumption comes into play.

  1. Regular buy (for eg:- food)
  2. Occasional buy (for eg:- toothpaste, jewellery etc)
  3. One time buy (for eg:- property, insurance etc )

Type of buying

Does quality play a role?

Does quantity play a role?







One time



Thirdly what matters is how the products are being consumed. Products for five sense organs:

Type of consumption

Examples of products

What do customers look for?

  • internal consumption- for mouth

Food, chocolate, drinks, medicines


  • external consumption- for skin, nose

Skin care products, scent

‘trust’ factor associated with the brand, appealing factor

  • products for 2 sense organs- eye and ear

Dresses, shoes, show pieces, soft toys, home, car

Aesthetic beauty, trends

All these parameters are interlinked and two other influencing factors are the culture/ the present surroundings of the customers and their buying capacity. These result in variation of buying behaviour. But at the end of the customers do behave in an unpredictable manner and the changed behaviour is due to several factors like sudden change in the environment where the customer is taking the buying decision; sudden recall of any past incidences; entry of external influences like  gain of knowledge about other product or schemes,  word of mouth advertisements etc.

Again on the basis of location the buying behaviour varies. Like north Indians are price sensitive people, if the price of biscuit falls by even 1 rupee they tend to switch brands; whereas the south Indians focus on quality, they are ready to pay more and they never compromise on quality.

But the situation is different in case of service industry which includes restaurants, movie theatres, transport services like aeroplane, bus, fitness centres like gym, yoga, medical treatments in hospitals, beauty therapies in parlour, saloons etc.

What does a customer look for when he/she avail a particular service? In order to answer this question let us see the first parameter i.e need of service.

Type of need

Type of services

Buying behaviour

Physiological need

fitness centres, medical clinics

Customer does not compromise on quality

psychological need

restaurants, movie theatres, beauty therapies

Consumer’s perceived value of the service matters a lot. Here ad agencies can play a vital role in defining the perception of people.

situational need

transport service

Cost is the last thing that a customer considers in case of emergency situation

Thus, buying behaviour differs from product and service sectors and consumers can be influenced accordingly by proper segmentation.

The article has been authored by Twisa Dandapat, TAPMI Manipal

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