Internal and external influences on consumer behavior can completely shift their perception of a brand in an instant. There are many factors at play when it comes to the items consumers buy, and why they choose to purchase them. By delving deeper into these internal and external consumer behavior factors, brands can better target their messages.
Information gathered when looking into the behavior of consumers can help inform on future marketing strategies. This deeper understanding is especially useful in a time where consumers expect more personalized communications from brands. A thorough study of the issues impacting consumers and their buying behaviors arms a brand with the insight needed to create impactful marketing strategies.
Adjusting Messages for External Influences on Consumer Behavior
External forces can impact the underlying values of a brand’s target demographic, and can drastically change shopping behavior patterns. CoverGirl faced this challenge as today’s young consumers are vastly different from those the brand targeted at its inception in 1999. To connect with these younger consumers, the brand partnered with a more diverse group of spokespeople and adopted the personal empowerment tagline “I Am What I Make Up.” The brand had an existing audience of more traditional makeup users before this revamp. CoverGirl managed to hold onto this existing audience while also reaching a new pool of consumers by carefully understanding the external factors that influenced their entire target demographic. These external factors often include:
- Religious: Religious restrictions can change a person’s product needs, and those changes are often event-based. Lent is a prime example. During this period from March to April, religious believers may fast or give up certain luxuries, meaning they may become less prone to make impulse purchases. However, the fasting could increase the need for other items like bottled water and vitamins.
- Political: Where consumers fall on the political spectrum, and if they’re political at all, will directly impact sales in several categories. Consumers who are strong candidate supporters may have parties or socialize more during election periods. Political involvement could increase spending on items like snacks and alcoholic beverages, or drive more visits to restaurants.
- Economical: During economic highs, consumers may splurge on brand name products, restaurant dining, and other non-essentials. During economic downturns, bulk purchasing and cost savings often become the focus of consumer shopping habits.
- Family: Family status changes throughout a consumer’s life, causing them to go through different stages that change their purchase behaviors. A consumer may become more frugal and seek out more value brands when they have a family as opposed to when they were single. After children grow up and move out, older consumers may begin to splurge on more luxury items as their household expenses go down.
- Friends: Consumers can be influencers and influencees in their social relationships. They may be the one their friends turn to for advice on specific topics. Alternatively, they may have a friend to whose opinion they usually defer. This category includes friends in the digital space, as well as the influencers they follow.
When CoverGirl updated their brand, they had to take these factors—as well as many others—into account. The brand noted their target demographic had become more liberal in social, religious, and family views, often redefining traditional values while becoming more socially conscientious. To align with those external influences, CoverGirl rebranded under an umbrella campaign of self-expression. This integrated marketing strategy allowed them to keep their existing fans while pulling in the attention of new ones.
Leveraging Mobile Marketing to Drive Subconscious Buying Behaviors
Mobile marketing allows brands to connect with consumers when they’re more likely to make a purchase. The internal factors that may influence a consumer’s buying behavior often include:
- Timing: Consider a consumer on their way home after a long day at work. During their commute, they may receive a text message about a dinner deal at a local QSR. If this message reaches them as they’re thinking about dinner—particularly during a time when they’re exhausted from work—it’s more likely to lead to a visit.
- Proximity: Consider the same consumer—mentioned above—and how close they are to a particular restaurant. If the message is sent based on the consumer’s location, they are more likely to visit because of the restaurant’s proximity.
- Familiarity: The more familiar a consumer is with a brand, the more likely they are to consider that brand when making a purchase decision.
- Incentives: If there are incentives such as discounts or rewards for making a purchase, a consumer is more likely to purchase that product.
By aligning with a target audience and leveraging mobile marketing, brands can cultivate loyal shopper relationships.
These internal purchase drivers are factors Shopkick focuses on as part of a shopper priming strategy. Consumers in the shopping aisle are often overwhelmed by in-store signage. Shopkick directs consumers’ attention to specific brands, limiting in-store distractions. Then, consumers physically pick up the product to scan it’s UPC and receive kicks (reward points) which build brand affinity. The simple act of handling the product creates a sense of ownership over it, making them more likely to make a purchase. Increasing the incentive in the event of purchase subtly conveys scarcity, making consumers more likely to purchase while the incentive is still available.
Internal influences on consumer behavior can impact them in the moments before they make a purchase decision. Meanwhile, external factors will change their general shopping behaviors. By aligning with a target audience and leveraging mobile marketing, brands can cultivate loyal shopper relationships. Brands must continuously update their marketing as trends change; monitoring and catering to the influences that impact shopper behavior is imperative.
Image courtesy of Monkey Business Images