The research is aimed at making a comparison between supermarkets and discounters in the United Kingdom. The research question for the subject area is what factors influence customer – buying behavior with a focus to supermarkets and discounters. The research compares different variables to identify the variables that may lead to different customer buying behavior between supermarkets and discounters in the United Kingdom. The second research question relevant to the topic of study is what factors influence the area of study. The third research query is what are the advantages and disadvantages of conducting such research.
The research has found that customer buying behavior is influenced or affected by a variety of factors. These are factors that customers find as importance enough to inform their decision making as to where they would buy their products, either from a supermarket or a discounter(Yee& Rashad, 2014). That is crucial as it informs the main research question that seeks to identify the factors that influence customer buying behavior in the United Kingdom. The research has also found that there are several advantages and disadvantages of researching in the topic area. This information is important in addressing the research question on the advantages and disadvantages of conducting this research. Finally, the research has unearthed the various factors that influence the area of study.
Comparison between Supermarkets and Discounters
This is the main stem of the research and is the basis on which the other research question gains their validity. The research utilizes the Institute of Grocery and Distribution as the main indicator of the current and future relationship between supermarkets and discounters. The Institute of Grocery and Distribution projects that customer spending in discounters will double over the period of 2013-2018 from £6.5 billion to £14.6 billion. The Institution also projects that customer spending in supermarkets will decrease by 8.2 % over the same period. The Institute of Grocery Distribution, therefore, indicates that the discounters are likely to adhere to customers more that supermarkets do now and in the future.
The next question that comes to mind is what are the factors that lead customers to shopping in supermarkets as opposed to discounters or vice versa? The first factor identified in the study is social situations, the second factor identified is advertisements, the third factor is time and lastly the fourth factor is perceptions(Gustafson, Hankins &Jilcott, 2012).
Social situations are an important factor in determining customer buying behavior. Social situations include social status, financial situation, social beliefs and family practices. Social status refers to the status and class that the individual seeks to be identified with. An individual is likely to shop in a place that that particular social class shops in. An example of how social status affects customer buying behavior is that those in the high social classes mostly shop in supermarkets as compared to discounters(Jain, 2011). Therefore, an individual who identifies with the social class will shop in the same place. Financial situation refers to the financial condition that an individual is currently in. In instances where a customer is financially stable; the shopping place of choice is a supermarket that is associated with the high-end customer. The same customer may at other times be facing turbulent financial times and is likely to opt for the discounter as a shopping destination. Social beliefs refer to the ideologies held by a customer in relation to supermarkets and discounters. An example of a social belief is the ideology that supermarkets have more quality products than discounters. An individual seeking quality products is likely to shop in a supermarket as compared to a discounter(Elizabeth & Lynn, 2014). Family practices refer to the practices that have been previously held by families or relatives. An individual who grew up accompanying his or parents to the supermarket or discounter is likely to continue with this customer buying behavior into adulthood(Torres & Martins, 2009).
The research found that advertisements are important factors that influence customer buying behavior. Current advancements in technology have facilitated advisements by supermarkets and discounters in social media platforms. Examples of these forums include Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and others social sites. Through these sites, supermarkets and discounters can connect and adhere to their customers and potential customers(Lynn & Pierre, 2012). The success of this advertisement measures has a bearing on customer buying behavior. A successful advertisement campaign is likely to lure more customers to the doors of the supermarket or discounter.
The research identified time as the third factor that influenced customer buying behavior. Time affects customer buying behavior in two ways. One way is through the length of time that shopping for a particular product takes in either a supermarket or discounter. That is determined by the efficiency of the staff, the availability of parking and the arrangement of products in the supermarket or discounter(Hamlett, 2008). Research showed that customers are likely to shop more in a place where they spend the least amount of time. Most clients want to get in and out within the shortest time possible. The second way that time affects customer buying behavior is the time of shopping. Customer needs and preferences tend to change with changing times of the day and changing seasons of the year(Maguire, Burgoine&Monsivais, 2015). The research found that customers are likely to shop in the place that address the changing needs and preferences of customers, according to the changes in time.
The fourth factor the research identified as influencing customer buying habits was perceptions. The perception of customers towards a shopping place is informed by several factors. Examples of these factors are observation, product presentations, customer friendly services and assistance that are forwarded to customers. The research realized that most supermarkets and discounters have taken measures to improve and advance the perceptions of their customers. An example of such measure is the employment of staff in their premises to assist customers as they make purchases. The research found that supermarkets are more attractive to customers in this area as they have employed more staff(Dave, 2013). Supermarkets and discounters further improve customer perceptions through the attractive packaging of their products and offering after-sale services like home delivery for heavy and bulky products(Fletcher &Kenway, 2007, May).
The research found that the study of factors influencing customer buying behavior between supermarkets and discounters has its disadvantages and advantages. The first advantage realized was that the research will provide valuable data to supermarkets and discounters that they can use to develop and grow. These entities will be able to adapt and make changes that may be holding them down(Odeh&As’ad, 2014). The second advantage as the research found is that it would promote competition that is likely to lead to better prices, quality goods, and better services for the ultimate customer(Nakazawa, 2014).
The research also found several disadvantages that come with these findings. One is that it is likely to lead the two different business operations to a common area of business going against the original idea of offering a variety to customers and bringing competition in the market. The second disadvantage is that further research done on the topic area is likely to be biased on the findings of this research. The result would be a distortion of the real picture and data as it is on the ground(Zachary, Palmer, Beckham &Surkan, 2013).
The research found that there are various challenges or limitations to the study of the topic. One of the challenges is the dynamism of all the factors that affect customer buying behavior. These include time, perceptions, and social situations. An example is changes in financial status that may change for the better or, the worse depending on the phases of life one is passing through. Such changes are bound to lead to considerable changes in the customer’s spending habits. Keeping track of such changes is very difficult and an uphill task during the research(Cummins, Flint & Matthews, 2014).
The research found that customer buying behavior is biased towards discounters as opposed to supermarkets. The current and future customer spending habits are an indication of this fact. That can be viewed in figure 1 that shows the progressive increase in customer spending in discounters in the United Kingdom. Figure one shows that the market share of discounters has been increasing steadily from the year 2012 to 2014. That information collaborates the data provide by the Institute of Grocery and Distribution that projects the amount of customer spending in discounters to increase and even double by the year 2018. Figure two shows the price comparisons between discounters and supermarkets. The figure shows that the prices of goods and products in supermarkets are higher than those in the discounters. That information collaborates the data found in the research that said that high-end customers are likely to visit supermarkets for shopping. The research also found that financially stable customers are likely to go for shopping in supermarkets as compared to discounters.
The research, therefore, found that the factors that influence customer buying behavior such as social situations, advertisements, time and perception are heavily biased towards discounters when compared to supermarkets. These factors are favoring the discounters in the United Kingdom currently and in the future. The research found that the supermarkets have a long way to go in catching up with the discounters in terms of customer buying behaviors. The supermarkets have to take drastic measures in order to halt the declining customer buying behavior in its premises. It is also important that supermarkets do this to improve its market share and stop discounters from running away with the majority market share among customers.
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