Introduction and Thesis
A number of researches have been done in the field of consumer buying behavior, and consumer buying patterns. In order to understand what guides consumers, this paper takes a look at a number of scholarly articles published that discusses the points that guide consumers, and also conducts a qualitative research to understand from consumers what guides their purchase behavior. The emphasis is to understand how consumers are guided in their buying behavior. Marketers have gone to long depth to understand what influences consumers today and work out strategies to address them. It is easy to get carried away with what has been written by scholars and utilize these findings to influence consumers, but influencing consumers and guiding consumers are two different kettles of fish. Understanding what guides consumers is complex and requires a lot of research, and in order to do this, this paper employs both, qualitative and quantitative research methods. A few government white papers have also been included in this study to show how the government guides consumers.
In order to understand what guides consumer decision-making, this paper will include a number of subsections that address the various stakeholders in this decision-making, the methodology pursued to come to a consensus on what guides consumer decision-making, and reveals how exploratory research helps researchers understand things that are vague or unpredictable as in the case of guiding consumer behavior is concerned. We have studied in earlier chapters how the advancement of science and technology has made it easier for organizations and marketers to influence the buying behavior of consumers. The mass media is one such example that was mentioned, and so too, was the influence of word-of-mouth. We consider these factors in depth in our research on what guides consumer buying behavior. This paper also talks about the limitations in research as the focus on understanding human psychology is subjective and there is no way that organizations and marketers can completely understand what it is that guides consumers in their buying behavior. Consumers are dependent on factors such as human psychology, product awareness, and social influence in their buying behavior.
There are a number of stakeholders when it comes to guiding consumers, not least of all the consumers themselves. Every business has to consider the interests and grievances of their stakeholders before they embark on their project, and some of the issues that organizations has to consider are how to engage their stakeholders in the design and execution process of their business, how will they collect the required data from their stakeholders, how can the organization then convert the data into knowledge and execute them, and how will they finally design their innovation based on the outcome of these issues (Lewis, Young, Mathiassen, Rai & Welke, 2007).
“Stakeholders form a complex socio-technical entity with individuals with differing personal objectives coming together to build and achieve an organization’s goal” (Lewis, Young, Mathiassen, Rai & Welke, 2007). For example, in an Information Technology industry (IT), each stakeholder has differing perspectives on what they need based on their responsibility and role in the network. IT managers will have a different requirement to what an IT human resources manager requires. Similarly, working from an analytical position, stakeholders such as investors, process analysts, organizational strategists, workflow designers, workflow managers, facility managers, project managers, human resource managers, property analysts, and consumers, will have differing perspectives (Lewis, Young, Mathiassen, Rai & Welke, 2007). Process analysts develop conceptual models; Organizational strategists are forever busy strategizing the organization’s flexibility to remain competitive; Workflow designers seek to ensure the smooth co-ordination of interdependent work; while workflow managers, unlike workflow designers, have to ensure that the social structures and IT systems coordinating individuals’ interdependent actions are in place. Project managers have to coordinate and manage the work processes; while the human resource managers have to ensure that they are able to coordinate, develop, and manage human capital. Facility managers have to ensure that operations run smoothly by integrating people, processes, and technologies (Lewis, Young, Mathiassen, Rai & Welke, 2007). Investors are only worried about returns on their investment. For them, how and where the business is run is immaterial, and all they want to know is how much has the organization profited from their operations. Consumers are the primary stakeholders, for without them, there would be no business. Therefore, invariably all the above mentioned stakeholders work to ensure that the consumer’s needs are met.
Approach & Methodology
The paper will be perception-based, as it takes its research initiatives from both, qualitative and quantitative research methods. The reason for perception-base is because it would be hard to define exactly what guide’s a consumer’s buying behavior. As consumers keep changing their perception or loyalty to a particular brand because of the ‘guidance’ effect, this paper will remain perception-based. The paper will look at people where they are, and how they continually evolve in their social practices together. Also, this research is also based on phenomenological inquiry, where data is collected by interviewing people who have experienced guidance in their buying behavior to uncover the essence of their experience (Blythe et al., 2013). For the interview, interviewees will be given verbal and written information on the research process and allowed to ask questions before signing their consent. The interviews will have a number of broad and specific questions, and then they will be asked to define their perspectives in relation to those stakeholders.
The research design for this study will be exploratory and explanatory because of the use of qualitative and quantitative research methods. Exploratory research helps researchers understand things that are vague or unpredictable as in the case of guiding consumer behavior is concerned. It is done to develop a better understanding, and since this research considers research of literature (quantitative) and interviews experts and consumer groups (qualitative), this research follows an exploratory research design (Saunders, Lewis & Thornhill, 2003).
Consumer behavior is based on human psychology, his or her knowledge or information about a product or service, and how and what he or she needs from that product or service, and so, when it comes to researching what guides consumer behavior, a number of ethical considerations are necessary. First and foremost of these considerations is that the research must ensure that interviewees will be provided a complete picture and understanding on why this research is being conducted, and what is the nature of the research. Participants will also be told that they will be given the opportunity to ask questions to clarify any apprehension or doubt they may have. It is also important to understand that a non-biased result is published, and the people chosen for the research interview are also from a wide spectrum of audiences.
As this research is perception-based, it is bound to have both limitations and implications. The approach to this research is subjective in nature, and thus it involves the interpretation of results arrived from qualitative and quantitative research methods. Along with strong communication skills required while interviewing the various stakeholders in the research, the research also requires strong analytical skills, and understanding of stakeholder analysis and SSM. Though the perception-based approach is useful in bringing clarity to a number of complex situations by driving attention, and keen interpretation, they remain limited in developing a comprehensive understanding of a particular business research.
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