What is Consumer Behavior in Marketing?

From sun-up to sundown, consumers face an onslaught of marketing messages. Will your messaging have that little something extra that makes them stop and take notice? You can either wait to get lucky or crack open your social listening tools to discover what consumers are doing and what makes them tick.

Odds are, you’d rather go with option two and score more consistent marketing wins. To that end, we’ll explore what consumer behavior means to marketing with a focus on:

  • What is consumer behavior?
  • Benefits of understanding consumer behavior
  • Gathering consumer behavior data

An understanding of consumer behavior should be a driving factor in your marketing decisions. It can make the difference between mediocre campaign performance and a home run. Crafting your marketing strategy around consumer behavior ensures your content is relevant to your audience. For messaging that appeals to your audience, you have to understand what’s driving them, as these stats suggest:

  • 69% of people surveyed by Nielsen said they turned to e-commerce to buy household goods for the first time during the pandemic. Knowing where to target your messaging pays dividends. For instance, Millennials outspend Gen Z and Boomers when stockpiling for quarantines.
  • How consumers shop depends on what category they’re interested in. For example, consumers tend to visit multiple e-commerce sites when looking for consumer electronics, home items, and furniture. Conversely, shoppers exhibit more brand intent when purchasing in the health & beauty or apparel & accessories categories.

With that, let’s explore how a deeper understanding of consumer behavior can propel your marketing endeavors!

The Importance of Continuous Consumer & Market Intelligence

What is Consumer Behavior in Marketing?

Consumers are forever adapting to new events, technological advances, and emerging trends. The speed, and always-on nature of social media, along with the 24/7 news cycle, ensures consumer behaviors are an ever-changing target for marketers.

No matter where you stand in your brand’s marketing hierarchy, your goal should be to develop an ongoing familiarity with what’s affecting your audience. That’s because messaging that hits the sweet spot today could be wildly off-base tomorrow.

You need to know where your consumers are talking, the key opinion leaders and influencers driving the narrative, how trends are reshaping audience perceptions, and how their likes and dislikes have changed. You also need to determine if new unmet needs are causing widespread shifts in consumer activity within your category. Social listening informs on all these, allowing you to fine-tune existing messaging or draft an entirely new campaign.

Using social listening to determine your marketing approach is fast becoming the norm rather than the exception. You need to speak to the negative behaviors and accentuate the positives with your campaigns. And social listening puts you right on the money. For example, here are the top trending consumer behaviors mentioned for an SVOD streaming service over the past month:


Consumer behaviors discussed on social media for SVOD streaming service. 12/28/21-1/28/22

The overwhelming discussions centered around cancellations indicate unmet needs or dislikes which should be explored further. If this were your brand, you’d need to get on the ball with messaging that addresses these consumer frustrations.

Benefits of Understanding Consumer Behavior

Keeping track of significant behavioral conversations that could spell disaster is one major benefit of analyzing consumer behaviors for your marketing. These types of issues demand immediate attention. Having relevant intel on conversational hot topics influencing consumer behavior at your fingertips means you’re not sipping a latte in the middle of a grease fire.

Social listening allows us to climb deep inside consumer behaviors to explore what’s driving their activity. And this will enable marketers to mind map campaign ideas based on what consumers are talking about.

Naturally, this process is excellent for your R&D department, but you don’t have to physically make something to tie your brand messaging to these behavioral drivers. For instance, if your brand manufactures consumer food products, you can spin your messaging towards trending behaviors and their underlying terminology.

What is consumer behavior manifesting that is top of mind with your audience? For example, if we analyze flavor profiles and look into the behaviors driving sentiment, we find the word “want” standing out prominently above the rest.


Isolating the conversations behind what people want lets us explore the discussion in depth. We find social media users overwhelmingly drawn to spicy food – and Korean flavors in particular.

With the vastness of social media, there are sure to be trending themes driving behaviors in your category that you can hitch your messaging to. Some may be good for one-off social media posts like the recent International Hot & Spicy Food Day, which happens every January 16. (The US National version is August 19). Others will be more appropriate for building a campaign around.

And somewhere in the middle is using the terms and hashtags in some of your casual social media messaging. For instance, Nücoconut makes premium coconut food products. But that doesn’t stop them from tying their keto-friendly coconut wraps to the #spicyfoods hashtag. It’s pretty smart, too – because though their products aren’t spicy, they know that’s what their audience is looking for right now.


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A post shared by NUCO (Nücoconut) (@cocobynuco)

Of course, your mileage will vary widely depending on what consumer behavior is doing in your industry at the moment. Either way, capturing consumer behavior data is the fast track to maintaining relevancy in your marketing. Let’s talk about how to get it!

Gathering Specific Consumer Behavior Data

In a grammatical context, what is consumer behavior, and how is it represented? Artificial intelligence capable of natural language processing (NLP) captures all the language used to express consumer behavior. It’s surprisingly easy to do – with the right social listening tools.

We can quickly discover the sentiment drivers and behavioral terms used in any topic discussed on social media. Lucky for us, whether people love something or hate it, they talk all about it online. That being the case, marketers never have to worry about not knowing what people are doing.

With the streaming service example we mentioned above, we demonstrated the capability of exploring behaviors related to a brand. You can do the same for your entire industry, a competitor, trends, products, and anything else that suits your fancy. But what if you want to dive into some specifics to find new marketing angles? That’s relatively straightforward, too!

Let’s say, for example, you’re fleshing out campaign ideas and want to find ways to tie messaging to the upcoming travel season. You can either dust off a previous campaign, rip off what worked for somebody else last year, or gather targeted insights relevant to what’s driving travel-related behaviors this year.

So, say you run a brief analysis on the travel industry and uncover a few of the consumer behaviors you want to target. We can create themes around those terms and apply them to the overall travel industry topic for more focused insights.

Here, we’ve created a dashboard with themes for love, want (wish), and anticipation, which we’ve applied to our travel topic. This gives us an overview of a very specific conversation which not only shows us volume, sentiment, geodata, demographics, etc., but it also gives us the top terms and hashtags relevant to our behavioral themes:


This level of consumer insight provides an array of options you can explore for travel-related marketing angles. Not only that, you already know that these are the conversations relevant to the majority of social media users yearning for travel. Isolating conversations using behavioral data in this way increases the likelihood of your marketing success.

Too many brands are spending time in the deep rough – off-topic with what’s really top of mind with their audience. You can do better. Expending a little energy analyzing consumer behaviors ensures you’re spending more time putting for birdie with your marketing. Reach out for a demo, and we’ll make sure your next campaign stays on the fairway!

The Importance of Continuous Consumer & Market Intelligence

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