In the current business environment, marketers face the particular challenge of managing different consumer tastes and preferences in relation to the products and services offered. The over-saturating marketing initiatives, and consumer hesitation and guarded behavior play a great role when it comes to achieving marketing goals that enhance long-term brand loyalty and customer attractiveness. Several environmental stimuli influence consumer behavior, but the psychological influence plays the most important role because of its association with marketing communication and consumer interpretation of brand and service value (Chiu, Hsieh, Li & Lee 1682-1683).
Weight Watchers Company has a growing presence in South Africa. The company would like to expand to other parts of the continent. The company wishes to understand the consumer behavior of the African clients in order to offer them the best services and achieve a tremendous growth. With the concepts of consumer behavior learned in class, the following analysis incorporates the ideas of beauty, gender roles, culture, and lifestyle as recommendations for Weight Watchers Company entry to the rest of African countries.
Consumers in any marketing sector classify themselves into groups based in the products and services they prefer, their lifestyle and their modes of spending their income. The theory of lifestyle indicates that consumption is plays a significant role in the development and maintenance of consumer identity. Any customer will adopt the simplest lifestyle that is less costly, depending on his or her financial status. Presently, consumers have shown unpredictable consumption characteristics because of the advancement in technology and civilization. Each culture presents a group of people expressing various general needs, values, or lifestyle with different consumption modes (Loudon & Della 121-123). The following needs influence a certain purchasing power, and are reflected in different marketing segmentations depending on the type of products offered. In order for the Weight Watchers Company to gain full entry into the African market, it must consider the following lifestyle factors.
Firstly, the company should be able to define consumer’s lifestyle and relate it to the type of products and services they offer. Consumers fall under different lifestyles namely: Fashionista, Red sox Nation, environmentalist, hobbyists, hipsters, music enthusiast, trekkies, and gamer. The consumer’s brand personality defines their lifestyle. The company sales and marketing team should be able to conduct a research in different parts of the continent to determine their lifestyle. For example, most African consumers are fashionista. This is a lifestyle characterized by people who want products that make life easier. Being a developing continent, most of her consumers consider the price of the product before going into the value and quality (Lemelle 56). Weight Watchers Company being the global provider of weight management services should consider providing services at lower costs in some countries, for example Uganda and Sudan. Africans can pay higher prices for fewer goods because the prices keep on increasing, as more customers demand the services. The ability of any industry to understand its consumer behaviors determines its success. Consumers form the end users of products and services produced in an industry, and they face by many challenges making the right decision for the products they require.
Secondly, the company should understand the psychographics of its target customers. Psychographics have an influence on the consumer’s purchase decision based on the personal perceptions, product or service motivation and values, self and personality. In order for the consumers to gain good perception on the services offered y Weight Watchers, the company should provide adequate information regarding their services in terms of benefits, quality and user friendliness. Advertisement of their services will play a major role in ensuring more customers perceive their services. I addition, psychographics are related to personal traits that determine an individual’s ability to follow a given lifestyle. For example, a hipster lifestyle person would like to boost of their achievements and like expensive products and services, but their psychographics prevent them from acquiring these products and services because they lack the required resources (finances) (Davis 1).
Thirdly, the company management should focus on the geographical location of the area. Geography plays a significant role in influencing the behavior of a consumer. The population of an area and availability of physical features determine the lifestyle of people around. People living in tourist attraction areas are more likely to develop a different lifestyle in an attempt to mimic the visitors (Loudon & Della 126). For instance, people living near major coastlines have buying behaviors resembling that of people from the west. The company should consider offering different services to such people compared to those dwelling in villages.
A diversified area such as Africa cultural factors have the greatest influence on the consumer behavior through norms and values established by the societies where these consumers live. In addition to influencing consumer behavior, culture also reflects it. Marketing strategies have less significant effect on culture. Culture has an influence on the type of outfit used by consumers, the type of diet consumed, and where people live. By definition, culture is a combination of shared norms, rituals, traditions, and meaning by a group of people forming a society. The African culture is the most unique when it comes to buying and consumption of goods and services. Some African cultures claim that a fat person is a representation of good life and wealth. Weight Watchers will have difficult moments explaining to such consumers how being fat is a healthy problem. In Nigeria, girls are forced to feed on more food in order to be more attractive and energetic to bear children for their husbands once they get married (Alex 71-72).
In order to deal with the issue of culture and sell their services across Africa, Weight Watchers should consider the following cultural factors. Firstly, they should understand the ecology of every area they wish to put up their business. Ecology represents the way consumers are adapted to their habitat. They could encourage people to eat by introducing food products that have less significant on weight gain, but can maintain the good shape and beauty. In addition, the services offered should favor the climate and habitat of these consumers. Secondly, the company should understand the social structure of its target consumers. The social structure represents the way people maintain their social life. In the African culture, the father is the head of the family and has the authority to determine what the family consumes. The company management should focus more on family heads while designing their entry strategies. In addition, they should encourage men to try their services because they command the female counterparts once they are satisfied by the offered services.
On the other hand, consumer wants need identification and their expectations matched with social and economic factors. African consumers are open to new and different products and services from time to time. Their cultures determine the type of products and services they can used, which are adaptable to their needs and preferences. Moreover, people keep changing from time to time, and so do their tastes and preferences for products and services offered in the market. Some external influences of culture such as social status play a great role in designing the type of products to offer to a specific group.
The values and norms of a given culture determine their purchase behavior also. Values represent a general idea of bad and good goals while norms are rules that guide an individual between wrong, acceptable, or unacceptable. Some African norms are very strong, and in order for a company to break them, an extensive market research must take place. Weight Watchers have products such as skintight garments, which allow people to maintain a good shape. Some African norms, for example the Kikuyu culture in Kenya, term wearing skintight clothing as unacceptable (Brinkman 12). Their purchase behavior does not give room for buying smaller garments, which gives the company a bigger challenge convincing consumers to use such products.
Men and women have different upbringing and socialization in relation to other social, psychological, and biological factors that depict different behaviors. Gender has a significant effect on the consumer behavior of a given group of people. The fashion products and services offered by retailers into the market target different genders. Women are the most targeted because they tend to move by fashion compared to men (Mitchell and Walsh). The Weight Watchers Company also has a bigger target for women because they gain more weight faster than men do. Most market analysts working today view gender as the operational aspect in determining the type of products and services to offer to the market.
The service choice between men and women differs, calling for Weight Watchers Company to consider the targeted market before extending their services to the rest of the continent. Consumers chose one brand from another after evaluating their qualities. Gender difference, which refers to the social relationship and responsibilities of men and women, vary within different consumer groups. The fact that men and women perceive different products and services shows the importance of gender in planning any marketing strategy irrespective of the geographical location of the business. Women are warm, passionate, expressive, compassionate and understanding, the reason why the company should target more women than men to use their products. Gender has become a major factor of consideration in every marketing segmentation and targeting of customers today because many entrepreneurs have realized the need for offering different products for men and women.
Consumer behavior form a part of strategic marketing and any marketer must have the following information in mind while planning for the target market: the type of business and the type of goods and services offered. Different regions experience varying consumer behaviors depending on people’s culture. African culture presents a unique behavior that challenges many investors willing to put up businesses in this area. From the above analysis, it has been recommended that Weight Watchers Company should consider three aspects if consumer behavior. These are lifestyle, culture, and gender roles. The African market is very saturated and as such, marketers must understand fully each of these factors in order to win a bigger pool of consumers.
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