Being a successful marketer means understanding consumer behavior. And brands that do, tend to win the applause of their target audience and increase their brand health, share of voice, and ROI. Savvy companies globally harness the power of customer behavior analysis to guide them in complex decision-making.
More specifically, a consumer behavior analysis focuses on the following:
- Audience segmentation
- Identifying barriers and drivers for purchasing
- Competitive Insights
- Customer service intel
- Filling service and product gaps
- Staying relevant by identifying emerging trends
- Voice of Customer Innovations
- Revealing emotions & behavior
- Measuring brand success and understanding the impact
And we will drill down to show what a consumer analysis is and how it looks in action. Additionally, we will cover these topics:
- What is Consumer Behavior
- What is Consumer Buying Behavior
- Why is Consumer Behavior Important
- Types of Consumer Behavior
- Influences on Consumer Behavior
- How to Conduct a Consumer Analysis
- FAQS and Summary
And these statistics give context to the importance of considering customer behavior:
- 95% of purchase decisions are made based on emotion.
- Inflation is changing consumer spending—and in Germany, the total household spending is forecast to contract 2% over 2023.
- And European consumers are concerned with inflation too. 58% say they are worried about the increase in prices. Three out of five changed behaviors even when shopping for essentials.
- On the other hand, most French consumers associate consumption with pleasure; they place a high value on travel, dining, sports, culture, and entertainment-related goods and services. And recently, 79% of French customers placed more importance on “Made in France” goods because they believe they are helping the local economy and see domestic items as being of higher quality.
Consumers are still buying, even with inflation challenges–the juice just needs to be worth the squeeze. And brands can appeal to consumers’ picky appetites by better understanding customer behavior.
Let’s start by defining consumer behavior, explaining why it’s important, and what factors influence it.
What is Consumer Behavior
Consumer behavior isn’t who is buying but how they’re buying.
Consumer behavior describes a person’s purchasing patterns, including societal trends, recurring patterns, and environmental influences on those decisions. Brands analyze consumer behavior to understand their target market better, informing their marketing efforts so that their messaging, product, and services resonate with their audience.
And though there are similarities between consumer behavior and consumer buying behavior, they are slightly different.
What is Consumer Buying Behavior
Consumer buying behavior is more than buying habits and refers to the steps consumers take before purchasing (both online and off). This process could include search engine research, social media discussions, and various other activities.
Brands may analyze buying behavior to see where in the purchase path a consumer may be—this intel can help companies know how to gently nudge the consumer into the buying phase of the purchase path.
Why is Consumer Behavior Important?
Studying consumer behavior helps companies know what influences consumers to purchase.
By understanding consumer behavior, brands can close the market gap and pinpoint wanted/needed/desired items and products that consumers no longer want.
It helps marketers present their products or services in a way that appeals to and resonates with consumers. Understanding consumer behavior is the key to connecting with, involving, and convincing individual customers to purchase from you.
By analyzing consumer behavior, companies can understand the following:
- What consumers think and feel about brands, products, services, trends, etc.
- What factors influence consumer behavior when choosing between products or brands?
- Consumers’ buying behavior, such as researching online and what brand attributes are important
- How friends, family, media, trends, etc., influence behavior..
Types of Consumer Behavior
We know that consumers are fickle and capable of unpredictable behavior. Consumer behavior analysis is the study of these behaviors, and it’s hard to box in. From a product or service standpoint, customer behaviors can include buying, discussing, returning, complaining, eating, selling, trying on, throwing away, replacing, etc. The list can be endless and entirely dependent on the industry.
Additionally, there are four types of consumer behavior to consider:
1. Complex buying behavior
This is when consumers consider expensive purchases that are bought infrequently—think of a car. This buying behavior is highly involved in the initial purchase process, and often consumers will do a lot of research before committing.
2. Dissonance-reducing buying behavior
If you’ve ever had a hard time making a purchase based on being unable to differentiate between products—this is where dissonance comes in. The fear that you’ll make the “wrong” decision and regret it later becomes a part of your consumer purchasing behavior.
For example, you made a purchase decision on an espresso machine based on its price and ease of operation. But when you get home, you seek confirmation from online reviews or even friends and family that you made the right decision.
3. Habitual buying behavior
This behavior is most closely associated with day-to-day tasks where the consumer has little involvement in the product or brand category. Grocery shopping or getting gas for your car is an excellent example.
4. Variety-seeking behavior
Everyone likes variety—when you purchase a new lipstick, it’s not always because you disliked the previous one; you want to add a little variety to your look. Other examples may be scented lotion or flavored coffee.
Of course, all consumer behavior types are influenced, bringing us to our next section.
Influences on Consumer Behavior
So, what encourages consumers to say yes or no? Different factors can and do influence consumer behavior. They fall into three categories, Personal, Psychological, and Social.
This includes basic demographics such as age, culture, gender, and geographic location. For example, Gen Z isn’t going to buy the same type of health and beauty products as Baby Boomers.
However, it extends to other personal factors such as consumer likes, dislikes, cultural values, morals, and belief systems a consumer identifies with. If someone strictly advocates healthy food, you’ll never sell them a burger, no matter how many ads you flash in front of their eyes.
How consumers respond to an ad, a new product, or a message will depend on perceptions and attitudes. And this can boil down to how they perceive you as a brand. Do they like how you do business? Do they feel you align with their values? Do you appeal to their interest in camping, skating at the park, and their love of red wine? All of these factors go into how consumers decide what brands to support.
This might be one of the biggest influences—family, friends, and social media. Consumers are heavily influenced by and trust their family and friends more than they trust brands. And this trust extends to those they may follow on social media, like influencers.
Additionally, education level and income all play a role in influencing consumer behavior. If you’re running a deal on your TVs, $299 isn’t a deal to a consumer who doesn’t have $299 to spend.
The key thing to understand here is that a behavior analysis tackles all of this:
- What consumers buy
- Why they buy
- When and how often they purchase
- Motivating reasons for purchases – and much more.
For example, you may know that many of your consumers are women, and they buy your body wash. A behavior analysis would reveal that they buy it for many reasons, including appreciating the biodegradable packing.
Or they may think the packaging is misguided, with ingredients that harm the planet. This could lead to a behavior of not only purchasing from a competitor but becoming a brand detractor online.
Using social listening, a behavior analysis gathers structured and unstructured data, compiling it and segmenting it for rapid investigation by you and anyone in your organization.
And it’s important to note that this insight is essential for every part of your operation, from marketing (the usual suspects) to R&D, customer care, finance, and operations. Strategic decision-making should flow from this insight, as we’ll see below.
How to Conduct a Consumer Behavior Analysis
As mentioned, consumer analysis is used to meet various company needs––but how? We’ll speak to that in each use case below.
1. Gather Qualitative and Quantitative Data
Before you begin your analysis, you must gather quantitative and qualitative data. The best social analytics tools will offer data combining, allowing you to merge different data sets, including your customer data, into a single source of truth.
Why is this important? Keeping your data separated:
- Is an unnecessary complication.
- It denies you the chance to have a comprehensive view of the topic.
- Inconveniences the analysts who consider all related datasets for proper interpretation.
- It makes it more difficult for marketing professionals to do their daily tasks if the required data is scattered.
By combining your data into one area, you streamline your analysis, as now it can pull market, consumer, business, and your data from one place. This ability reduces time and human error.
With data combination, you create a single gateway with a single key when you merge related data; this way, you can better manage how the information is accessed.
2. Segment Your Audience
Your audience has a variety of consumers, and no two are alike; however, they tend to gather in groups. But if you’re only speaking to one segment, you miss out on many others. Maybe your audience not only loves the outdoors, but they love crafting too, and you never knew it.
As a brand, you must speak the language of many different segments. What you don’t know will hurt you – specifically, your revenue and your brand growth.
And there are many ways to slice and dice this data, such as:
- Demographic segmentation (age, gender, etc.)
- Psychographic segmentation (personality, values, etc.)
- Geographic segmentation (country, town, etc.)
- Other factors like behaviors (frequent actions and product use, preferred media channels, and online shopping habits)
There are many facets to you as a consumer, just as there are for your audiences. You are more than your name and age. You could be Jessie, who loves cats, geeks out on Marvel movies, loves her Tesla, and spends her days off at the park with friends.
An audience behavior analysis seeks out these aspects of consumers—just as ours does below. The audience insights below provide separate groups of top audience interests of the legendary beverage company Coca-Cola:
Using an analysis to dial into these specific consumer interests to see where your company can find a greater connection, return and reach can help you connect with multiple segments in ways that resonate.
3. Identify Key Drivers and Barriers
But what influences a consumer to buy, and what holds them back? For brands, this intel is critical. Understanding these outside influences on consumer behavior identifies areas brands can adjust in messaging, product packaging, and more to help usher consumers into the purchasing phase.
For example, the word cloud reveals attributes that are drivers and barriers to purchasing from this top eyewear company:
The size of the attribute indicates that it’s talked about most often; for instance, make it easy is one driver that’s discussed prominently among this customer base. And you can go deeper and discover the context behind these attributes for a detailed picture of what you’re doing right or wrong, according to your audience. When we peel back make it easy, we find consumers love this company because of its charity work and how they make it easy for their consumers to feel they’re making significant differences when they purchase from this company.
Understanding what attributes, emotions, behaviors, and things hold sway over your consumers’ wallets is crucial in capturing their attention and winning their favor.
4. Competitive Insights
You can do this type of consumer analysis on your brand but also on your competition. Why wouldn’t you want to know why consumers prefer Brand X to yours? You should! A behavior analysis of your competitors can answer the following:
- Is your audience buying from your competitors?
- Why are they buying from your competitor?
- What features of your competitors’ products are essential to your consumers?
- What gaps are identified in your products when compared to your competitors?
On top of answering those questions, it can reveal what the competition is doing to gain consumer love—such as using the right hashtags. Effective hashtags are a big part of success on top social channels like Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok. And they go a long way in influencing customer behavior.
Above, Rival IQ, a tool in the NetBase Quid® ® suite, reveals effective hashtags companies use to attract health and beauty consumers.
5. Customer Service
Customer service is an integral element of consumers’ brand perception. And excellent customer service drives sales. As such, this is a critical part of any customer behavior analysis–consider these stats from a study by Zendesk:
- 61% of consumers will turn to a competitor after only one bad experience
- 81% say positive customer experiences increase the likelihood of them purchasing
- 70% of consumers say they’ve made purchasing decisions based on their customer service experience.
Consumer purchasing behavior is influenced by a brand’s ability to meet the needs of its consumers at the fundamental level—customer service. Does your consumer base feel you reply promptly? Do they think your representatives answered their questions and provided excellent service? These are things a consumer behavior analysis can reveal. But it goes beyond just identifying CX gaps…
6. Filling Product and Service Gaps
It’s not just certain brands, but all brands need to put their best foot forward if they’re going to impress and keep clients, and that means understanding product or service offering gaps in whatever you’re offering. It’s imperative to have intel you can trust, with markets evolving daily as consumers jump from trend to trend at a moment’s notice.
Accurate consumer research saves you valuable time and helps brands transform consumer intelligence into competitive intelligence, allowing you to stand taller than the rest.
Here’s how: A quick social media search created in Quid about Chipotle reveals a variety of conversations about them. Below, we have used filters to isolate outlier clusters (marked in green) that have an unusual amount of engagement compared to other groups on our map but aren’t current trends or critical conversations happening right now.
And ChipotleIsMyLife posts were viral at this point. This segment reveals that consumers use the hashtag #ChipotleIsMyLife to tag their posts about eating Chipotle’s food. This is excellent marketing data for planning future social media posts. However, Chipotle Bowls was another extensive conversation–this is great intel, as knowing which items outside of one’s typical purview (or specific search criteria) are receiving a good number of engagements is vital for planning future offerings.
7. Staying relevant by Identifying Emerging Trends
On average, a person sees between 4K-10K ads daily – all vying for their attention. How do you, as a brand, stand out?
According to Thomas Kirby, Director of Strategic Marketing and Intelligence at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC), you can use consumer analysis to hack the brain and discover human trends. But it’s not just about finding trends, according to Thomas Kirby. It’s about “what these trends mean to different people, so we can address these with the right message, with the right service, and really understanding the nuances behind those trends.”
Understanding why these trends are essential to your audience helps brands remain relevant by providing intel that guides product and service innovation based on consumers’ wants, needs, and desires.
You can do this by monitoring keywords and the conversation volume of potential consumers. Digging in to understand who drives the conversation—are they Gen Z or X? This intel defines messaging.
If you can connect with your target audience on a deeper level, you may increase customer retention and enhance your customer lifetime value. And social listening tools can aid you in discovering what these trends in human consumption are.
Your next ‘in’ may be in a TikTok challenge, or you’ll need to become more diverse in your approach. Monitoring social media trends and the corresponding consumer behaviors will help you stay relevant.
8. Voice of Customer (VoC) Innovations
Like discovering emerging trends, understanding your consumer’s voice is another part of consumer analysis. Using social listening gives companies the power to deliver what their consumer wants and understand the emotions driving these desires.
Behavior analysis can help any industry evolve its services and products, including healthcare, allowing brands to understand the patient’s voice better. For example, a patient may like the medication they are on but feel the packaging is hard to open. A consumer behavior analysis would uncover this deeply held truth.
Using social listening tools to build topics and themes that extract the needs, wants, loves, hates, and wishes of your patients/consumers allow brands to uncover consumer values and articulated needs, and unarticulated needs, which are revealed by consumer behaviors.
Using social analytics tools and applying themes to further segment research, we’ve pulled personal narratives – statements such as ‘I need/want, I wish,’ and ‘I love’ – and applied this theme to a consumer conversation on healthcare.
We can see that consumers say what they want – but are healthcare brands listening? Are you? This intel should guide product and service innovation and save any brand countless dollars on making the wrong updates to a product that isn’t doing so well. Consumer data will tell you everything you need to know.
9. Underlying Emotions & Shopper Behavior
What makes a consumer buy one thing over another? Well, many attributes affect this decision-making.
What makes a consumer tick could be situational, psychological, social, sensory, or emotional. And since most purchasing decisions are made emotionally, this impacts marketing even more significantly. And this means it’s not enough to make a great product; you have to know how to connect with your consumer on a deeper level to entice them.
How do you do that? Consumer behavior analysis reads the sentiments and attributes behind social media posts and forum comments. NetBase Quid® captures and analyzes data from across the social web to reveal how a person feels, thinks, and acts – not only right now but throughout each stage of the purchase path.
Companies can drill down to have a deep understanding of the conversation happening at each stage, so they’ll know what kind of language to use to help move potential customers along, decreasing the time to purchase.
This helps brands identify when to jump in and connect a bit more or, perhaps, provide something different altogether. And it all works together to increase customer retention.
10. Measure your success
At this point, most brands know that to measure your impact, you need to benchmark performance consistently. And measuring volume is one thing, but understanding how that impacts your brand is another.
Below are many mentions, posts, positive sentiments, and potential impressions around this top streaming brand. But without exploring these metrics, we won’t know what’s causing them.
Clicking through, we discover that the spike in positive sentiment on March 7th is due to a much-desired movie released on this app. Consumers have been waiting for this latest installment for decades. This lets the brand know that this action was received with favor and why it was. Of course, they’ll have to monitor it to see if this movie continues to be met with enthusiasm by consumers and why.
Without the ability to pull back the curtain, a brand is left wondering what is causing a post to gain traction. And doing so requires a level of data analysis expertise in your organization.
What is an example of consumer behavior?
Consumer behavior could look like searching review sites when purchasing a tv or asking your friends’ opinions. It could look like researching the brand’s sustainability practices or views on equality and equity. Add color, style, and individual features—all of this goes into consumer behavior and how they decide what to purchase.
What are the four types of consumer behavior?
Types of consumer behavior help us understand when and how a customer may make a purchase. They are:
- Complex buying behavior
- Dissonance-reducing buying behavior
- Habitual buying behavior
- Variety-seeking customer
How do you identify consumer behavior
Analyzing demography is one method marketers use to identify consumer behavior. It is possible to predict behavior using statistics like age, income, geographic location, education, etc.
A consumer behavior analysis reveals what influences your target audience’s purchasing decisions. Without this intel, your brand is missing out on opportunities to set itself apart, increase consumer love and capture a more significant share of voice—to say nothing of growing revenue.
- Consumer behavior isn’t who is buying but how they’re buying. Outside influences such as demographics, psychological intel, and social can sway your consumers (and their wallets) one way or another.
- Consumer buying behavior is the steps taken before purchase, such as researching online, discussing your upcoming purchase with friends, or looking at reviews.
- There are four main types of consumer behavior: Complex, dissonance-reducing, habitual, and variety-seeking customers. Each plays a significant role in how your consumer approaches buying products.
- A consumer analysis reveals: What consumers buy, why they buy, when and how often they purchase, motivating reasons for purchases – and much more.
There are many ways to perform a consumer analysis. But it’s essential to use a tool that can merge data, i.e., market, consumer, blogs and forums, your data, etc. A social analytics tool that combines these datasets into one tool creates a single source of truth for everyone on your team to access. And you save time!
Some of the most critical parts of a consumer analysis to include are:
- Audience segmentation—who is your audience beyond their age and gender?
- Drivers and barriers to purchase—what’s holding them back from purchasing?
- Competitive insights—why are your consumers going to your competition? What behaviors are driving them there?
- Customer Service Insights—what aspects of your customer service could be deciding factors for your audience on whether to purchase from you or look elsewhere?
- Gap Identification—what are your consumers looking for that you can provide?
- Identifying emerging trends to stay relevant—these audience interests can be the difference between them picking you over a competitor. Trends are a powerful motivator for consumer behavior.
- Voice of consumer—Your consumers are telling you what they need, want, and desire—are you listening? These conversations can inform product and service innovations.
- Sentiment analysis—emotions are a driving factor for customer loyalty and any consumer’s purchase. Understanding these emotions can help brands understand shopper behavior.
- Measure your success—Benchmark. But don’t just look at mentions; understand what drives those mentions to understand better how it impacts your brand.
During the past few years, many brands realized the importance of data analysis expertise within their organization. And with democratizing data, brands are breaking down information siloes and working together to create a cohesive consumer experience. Using consumer intelligence software with robust dashboarding capabilities ensures that your team is all on the same page. And since everyone has the same data, there’s less room for error or miscommunications.
If you allow the data to tell the story, your team can collectively watch for signals to see if a new direction or approach is required. And since you’ll have many eyes watching the same thing in real-time, you can act quickly when needed.
The business world is only getting more crowded. If you’re ready for analytics that will set you apart and allow your brand to experience more significant results with less effort and time, reach out for a demo. Consumer behavior analysis can significantly amplify your brand’s efforts in 2023!