In this report, the consumer spending diary of the author will be recounted in detail. Over the course of several weeks, the author was asked to record all spending that was not a daily staple, as well as the reasons why these purchases were made. Following the diary, an overall analysis of the spending behaviour is provided, with aspects of cognitive and behavioural theories of consumer behaviour weighed against the author’s recorded spending habits. These are used to determine the level to which marketing and advertising play a part in these spending decisions.
This consumer behaviour diary dictates my major purchasing behaviours for weeks 2-6 of this course – in this diary, I will detail my purchases that are not normal parts of my daily routine (food, drink) or necessities purchased because I absolutely needed them (medicines, etc.). The consumer behaviours that inspired me to take these actions will also be examined, and I will look at the alternatives I had available to me, critically reflecting on the marketing influences that influenced my selection.
2. DIARY OF CONSUMER BEHAVIOUR
MONDAY – purchased hardcover edition of ‘Robopocalypse’ at Barnes & Noble. I purchased this because I am a fan of science fiction novels, and I had read a favorable review of it on the blog io9.com. It appealed to my love of the genre, and I was looking to buy a new book. While I could have purchased any other science fiction book, my reading of the review of Robopocalypse made me specifically interested in that particular book.
THURSDAY – purchased six-pack of Samuel Adams bottled beer at a Jewel. This is a regular bi-weekly purchase for me; I often spend time with friends at my residence on this night, and we will share the beer and talk. We all prefer this kind of beer, due to the taste. We have also seen Sam Adams commercials and billboards in the past, which led to our initial exposure and drive to try the beer. As a result, it is now a regular purchase, though not a daily staple.
SUNDAY – Purchased Norton anti-virus software online through their website. I was allowed a 30-day free trial through their website a month prior, and so it was time to go through with the purchase. I needed a consistent, regular antivirus software, and I was familiar with how Norton’s worked due to the free trial they gave me. This led me to avoid looking at alternatives, and stick with what was familiar.
FRIDAY – Went clothes shopping at Gap; purchased $75 worth of clothing, including a pair of brand jeans and a hooded sweatshirt. I purchased these because I found them to be in my taste and price range; they were on clearance, and I felt good trying them on. There were other alternatives for clothing, but my individual taste did not draw me to them, and I was looking for affordable clothing within the clearance section. I do not purchase clothes regularly; it is often a trip taken once every two to three months.
WEDNESDAY – ordered the Xbox 360 game ‘Bioshock’ used at a local used game store. I had heard of the game years ago when it had first been released, but held off on purchasing it due to its $50 price tag. Also, I did not have a gaming system at the time. In recent weeks, I purchased an Xbox 360, and have been slowly purchasing games as I complete them; I had heard on various websites and through word of mouth that this game was supposed to be good. It was a very good deal, purchasing the game for $9, by virtue of the fact that it was so old, and they had so many copies.
THURSDAY – purchased six-pack of Samuel Adams bottled beer at a Jewel, as per my normal pattern.
FRIDAY – Purchased new tennis shoes at a local shoe store. I needed new footwear to supplement my running gear, as my old shoes were becoming worn. I had received a mailer along with my Sunday newspaper that told of a blowout sale happening this weekend, and so I made it a point to attend that sale. Other alternatives to these shoes would not have been on sale, and I wanted to take advantage of the promotion I was told about through the newspaper.
TUESDAY – Bought ‘X-Men: First Class on Blu-Ray from Amazon.com. I had seen it in theatres, and I enjoyed it; I thought it was an aesthetically pleasing movie, and so I wanted to have it in high-definition. The decision to purchase it at Amazon.com came from an email it gave me tracking my past purchases, and reminding me that I would be interested in this Blu-ray, which was coming out that day. I took its advice and purchased the disk.
FRIDAY – purchased a George Foreman Grill at a local department store. I felt the need to have a fast, economical way to celebrate the end of summer, as I do not have a normal grill. George Foreman Grills were well known to me through the infomercials that run early in the morning, as well as the recommendations of friends. There are no well-branded or well known alternatives that come to mind, and so I associate “affordable, compact nonstick electric grill” with “Foreman Grill” in my mind. Luckily, due to the season and a rollback sale at the department store I went to, the grill was only $15, making it within my price range. I did not know about the sale beforehand; I purchased it upon seeing the sale, already at the store for the purchase of food and other daily staples.
3. OVERALL SPENDING BEHAVIOURS
On average, I purchased 2-3 luxury items each week that fell outside of my daily staples. My budget is small, so my preferences are often to purchase one or two luxury items instead of a range of smaller, less valuable items. In terms of my exposure to media, I am most often actively cognizant of ads that are contained within websites, especially ones I frequent (such as Facebook and blogs like io9.com). I use the Internet quite a bit, leading me to find deals on websites like Amazon and Barnes and Noble and rely on them to dictate my purchases. I pick and choose trusted sources (favorite reviewers, friends and family) as my chief recommendations. I will often choose items that my friends have already formed associations with (e.g. Sam Adams beer) in order to fit in or provide something that can be commonly enjoyed in a social setting.
Mass communication is one primary source for my information on consumer products – the Internet, billboards and written literature on a product will often influence my purchasing decisions. Trailers and banner ads on websites attracted me initially to ‘X-Men First Class’ in the theatre, leading to my decision to buy the Blu-ray. Commercials and ads for Gap and the Foreman Grill made me aware of their products, making them a top choice when I needed clothes and cooking equipment.
Cognitive consumer behaviours often deal with a consumer’s response to information and their ability to understand what is being told to them. The ways in which cognition is used to effectively sell a product include making the consumer understand that their product matches their needs. This is conveyed through information, which the consumer learns and uses to differentiate the product from its competitors. By recalling this information and the differentiation, the consumer will remember what brand or product they decided they wanted to get (Wells et al., 2011).
Cognition is definitely a factor in my purchasing and consumer behaviour; I often feel the need for a specific kind of entertainment, and so I take the information that I have gained from other sources of advertising and marketing to make the choice of one game over another (hence why I picked Bioshock over another type of game). The features inherent in the George Foreman Grill (its compact nature, alleged healthiness of grilling) were what drew me to it instead of purchasing a standard grill. My choice of beers when hanging out with friends comes from conditioned learning, as the repetition of the ritual leads me to associate these outings with Sam Adams beer.
Behavioural consumer behaviours stem from an action-oriented way to make people want to buy things. Often, when marketing a product, advertisers will offer a product for trial, to allow consumers to try it risk-free and open them up to the possibility of buying it. Putting it on sale or facilitating an easy purchase will make it easier for someone to want to buy it. Remaining in contact with the customer maintains a strong form of continuity and makes them feel cared for as a customer. Undesirable behaviours, like moving on to a new product, are painted as a bad thing to do, thus discouraging them from doing so (Wells et al., 2011).
My spending habits are often fueled by behavioural responses; lowering the price of something, like in Amazon Deals of the Day or when it is used at GameStop or on clearance at Gap, makes it easy to buy these things. I was allowed the free trial of the antivirus software, leading me to try it and decide I liked it. I knew how it worked, and so I would go forward with the purchase. Other factors that influenced my decision making was source credibility bias – in the case of Sam Adams, I had it on good authority that my friends liked the beer, and so I was more inclined to try it. After that, I became loyal to that brand. This loyalty extends to other choices, like the decision to buy the film I had seen in theatres and liked; therefore, I wanted to watch it again.
In conclusion, the consumer behavior I showcased over the preceding weeks covered in the diary demonstrated very clear patterns in what influences my spending. My first priority is often to save, and so promotions and the like will speak clearly to me – my consumer behaviour will typically be based first around what I can afford, and how I can get something for less money. Within that scope of options, I will then pick when I have seen in advertisements, what has been recommended to me by friends, and many other factors. Given the greater recognition of what compels me to purchase things, I will be much more aware of what I buy and the reasons why I am doing so.
Wells, Spence-Stone, Crawford, Moriarty & Mitchell. (2011). Advertising: Principles and
Practice, 2nd ed; Pearson Education Australia, Frenchs Forest.