Buyers’ behavior is usually affected by a number of factors. In order for buyers to settle on purchasing a given commodity, a series of processes has to take place in their minds. The process of making a decision on what item to purchase is a very complex process whereby buyers have to identify the problems and realize the items they do not have but needed. Whenever consumers realize that there is something that they are missing in their lives, they will attempt to devise mechanisms of acquiring that item. This is also a very complex problem as buyers will have to carry out extensive research so that they set their priorities right and get a good value for their money (Quester et al., 2011). There are several options that are available to the consumers during the buying process. These options affect the decision making process a great deal. The fashion and clothing industry is one of the most affected industries whereby consumers’ decision making process is greatly affected by the season, environment, purpose of purchase, money available and comfort/leisure.
Problem recognition also known as awareness of need comes out as a result of a difference between someone’s desired state and the actual state. In this stage, the buyer recognizes the problem and the need to have some items at his/her disposal. Once there is a difference between actual state and a state that is desired by a consumer then a problem has been recognized. Problem recognition can be as simple as realizing that a given attire is no longer fitting the user as desired or realizing that some clothes are no longer in fashion. Other factors that can stimulate a person’s recognition that he/she needs an item is a commercial advert that is used to promote the given item. Whenever a consumer wants to purchase a given item, he/she has to recognize the problem. According to Bruner and Pomazal (1986), Problem recognition is a very important aspect in the buyer behavior as all the other stages in the buying process rely on it. This stage is also regarded as the event trigger as it initiates the purchase decision. This phase also frames the problem solving situation. It is a very crucial stage and if not properly addressed then the buyer is most likely going to make a wrong decision. According to the authors, the process of problem recognition involves all the decisions made by the consumer that makes him/her to settle on a particular purchase. The problem in this case is the purpose for making a given purchase. During this stage, the consumers will identify the items that they need but apparently are not in their wardrobes. Once the problem is recognized, buyers will commence the buying process so as to bridge the gap between the desired state and the actual state.
According to Workman and Studak (2006), problem recognition styles which are associated with emerging adults can help marketers to understand the consumers in the clothing and fashion industry. The research carried out by the two authors established that both fashion followers and men reflected a need based approach to the process of problem recognition. However, fashion agents and women reflected a want based approach to problem recognition. It was later established that need based and want based approaches to fashion problem recognition had some relationship to the fashion consumer group membership and gender. (Workman and Studak, 2006). This research also established that the buying behavior depicted by men was totally different from the one portrayed by women in the fashion industry. This was attributed to the fact that they had different sets of problems that triggered the purchase. As men were being triggered by needs, women were triggered by wants thus the difference in the buying behavior. There are several causes of problem recognition which may include: A user being unsatisfied with a current product or service in the market. He/she will therefore devise means of achieving a better product with improved functionalities that meets all the desired user requirements. Problem recognition can also be caused by Items being out of stock. The users will realize that some items are no longer in stock and will therefore start looking for alternatives. They will make a decision based on the fact that some items are no longer in stock and therefore being forced to choose on the available options. The consumer needs and wants can also be another cause of problem recognition. In this aspect, different consumers have different needs, wants and tastes. a given decision will be reached at depending on the consumer needs, wants and tastes, a given decision will be reached at.
When consumers are choosing the kinds of clothes to buy, they first have to recognize the problem that is triggering the purchase process. The triggers in most cases are: Weather, whereby consumers will purchase clothes that are best suited for a given season. Hot and cold seasons triggers different types of purchases. Another trigger of the decision making process when buying clothes is the season whereby some items may be in fashion during a given period of time. In order for the consumers to be in fashion, they may also decide to purchase the product that is fashion so that they remain up to date as far as fashion is concerned.
Materialism involves an aspect of life that is majorly concerned with money and possession. This aspect is based on the organized creation and development of an aspiration to buy goods and services in ever larger amounts. There are several attitudes that consumers have formed towards money and material values. According to Tatzel (2008), this scenario leads to four basic types of consumers. The types of consumers emanating as a result of this are:
- Value seeker – this class of consumers is tight with money and materialistic
- Big spender – this class of consumers is loose with money and materialistic
- Non-spender – this class of consumers is tight with money and not materialistic
- The experience – this class of consumers is loose with money and not materialistic.
The author has attempted to explain how materialism can affect the buyer behavior by considering the above four classes of consumers. In the clothing and fashion industry for instance, buyers are always driven by materialism whereby they desire to acquire items that they feel are satisfying their needs without paying much attention to other aspects of life. The consumers here are driven by the amount of money they have and the amount of items that they can purchase. According to the author, materialism and well-being impact each other negatively. Even though money and possession hold strong attractions, the process of acquiring them is always marred by instances of decline in well being. It has been established that consumer well being is related to low financial aspirations and being low in materialism. According to Miller, McIntyre and Mantrala (1993), materialism also plays a role towards determining the buyer behavior especially among women and high income earners. Men in the fashion industry are not affected by this aspect. Women are always triggered by their wants and the need to look outstanding in the society. Many women would therefore make additional efforts to so as to acquire new clothes as much as possible. Since women are always being driven by their desires and wants they will buy more in an attempt to satisfy their wants. Men on the other side are not driven by their wants but instead they are driven by the needs. They will only purchase those items that they feel are necessary.
Consumer happiness is also related to consumer satisfaction and consumer well being. It involves the process whereby consumers are contented with the current situation or a new action leads to more suitability hence making them more comfortable. There is a series of decisions that can be made by the consumers but in the long-run bring them gloom. Some aspects of the consumer buying behavior like materialism, affects consumer happiness negatively. According to Tinzel (2008), materialism and consumer happiness/ well being impact each other negatively. This is attributed to the fact that materialism is mainly concerned with the acquisition of commodities and spending money while it takes no consideration of the consumer satisfaction. The more the concept of materialism prevails; the amount of consumer happiness is also reduced in the same order. As consumers buy more (becoming more materialistic), more money is spent in the process and less savings are made. This leaves the consumer unsatisfied in other sections due to financial starvation as all the resources available are spent in acquiring clothes and other fashion related accessories. According to Workman and Studak (2006), each of the two sets of consumers (men and women) attempts to purchase clothes and fashion accessories that will make them happy. The men are mainly concerned with savings while women are concerned with looks. These two aspects will affect the buyer behavior of the two classes of consumers. Miller, McIntyre and Mantrala (1993) on the other hand states that consumer buyer behavior is always inclined towards making the buying process a good experience. This is achieved through social inclusion and performing the buying process with other social aspects of life in mind. Currently there are a number of consumers whose buying behavior is directly related to the aftermath of the shopping/ buying process. Most consumers will strive to purchase items that will give them a boost in their social lives hence making them happier. This aspect is contrary to the proposal found in materialism whereby buyers tend to purchase as much as they can without taking into consideration the aftermath of the purchasing process.
Different consumers have different buying behaviors which depend on environmental factors, gender and financial well-being. The consumers decision making process when buying clothes is affected by a number of factors. Since it is not possible to satisfy all the requirements when purchasing a given commodity, buyers are required to make a compromise and choose those products that meet most of their needs and ensure that they get the right value for their money.
Bruner, G. and Pomazal, R., (1986) Problem recognition: The first crucial stage of the consumer decision process, Journal of Services Marketing, Vol. 2(3) pp 43-53.
Miller, C., McIntyre, S., and Mantrala, M., (1993), Toward formalising fashion theory, Journal of Marketing Research, Vo. 30 (May) pp 142- 157.
Quester, P., Neal, C., Pettigrew, S., Grimmer, M., Davis, T. & Hawkins, D. (2011). Consumer behaviour: Implications for marketing strategy (6th ed.). Sydney: Irwin-McGraw Hill
Tatzel, M., (2003), The art of buying: Coming to terms with money and materialism, Journal of Happiness Studies, Vol. 4 pp 205-403.
Workman, J. and Studak, C., (2006) Fashion consumers and fashion problem recognition style, International Journal of Consumer Studies, Vol. 1 (1) pp 75-84.