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Consumer influence is a key topic in behavioral economics, where heuristics, framing, and market inefficiencies impact how consumers make decisions.
Define the concept of heuristics, and recognize the relevance of influences on decision-making
Organizations must understand their targetmarket, most notably how they make decisions and what influences are important to the decision-making process.
By understanding the consumers' needs, decision-making processes, and values, an organization can better fill consumer needs and produce products and services that align with what consumers want.
Even if the organization perfectly fulfills the consumer need, other competitors may do so as well. As a result, understanding heuristics (models for making decisions) is critical to successful advertising.
Understanding how consumers view (or frame) the organization and the brand based upon external influencers is important to building a strong community that views the organization in a positive light.
It's also worth noting that not all consumer decisions are rational or economically efficient. Advertisers must keep in mind that not all decisions are grounded in predictable factors.
Advertising is largely a process about influencing the decision-making process of a given target market. This influencing of the consumer is a behavior-oriented pursuit, where the business would like the consumer to perform a certain behavior. This behavior will create a relationship between the business and the consumer. Influence is a big part of marketing and advertising, and consumer influences and decision-making processes are central to smart advertising.
Behavioral economics is the study of the psychological, social, emotional, and cognitive inputs that influence a consumer. Consumer influence from the behavioral economics point of view would divide the consumer influence into three categories: heuristics, framing, and market inefficiencies. Of course, there are plenty more perspectives on what influences consumer behavior, but these three concepts are a great starting point for considering consumer influence.
As a field of study, heuristics are one of the more interesting and useful areas to consider when looking at decision making. Heuristics are simple, efficient rules and processes that humans use to form judgments and select between various options. For example, people often use constructs like logic, probability, and rational choice theory to determine the best among many options.
If you think about it, most decisions have an almost infinite number of opportunity costs (i.e. alternative options for the utilization of time and/or capital). As a result, almost every decision will have a high number of potential choices. For example, a health conscious consumer will use logic and rationality to purchase a soft drink that isn't packed full of sugar. As a soft drink manufacturer with an understanding of the heuristics of this target market, creating an option that is low cost, low sugar would appeal to that particular type of of consumer.
As an organization, particularly as an advertiser, the objective is to identify what is important to a consumer in terms of how they will make a purchasing decision. Filling their decision making needs, and aligning with their process of heuristics, is a task that requires knowledge of key consumers, an understanding of what's important to them, and the ability to be the best option among many.
Framing is another interesting consumer influence. Framing is basically just how people and societies organize, communicate, and perceive reality. Think of it as the consumer's frame of reference, which is influenced by mass media, friends, family, religion, education, and just about everything else in the social structure.
As an ethical advertiser at an organization, framing is the opportunity to ensure that the stereotypes, perceptions, and assumptions about the organization's brand are accurate and aligned with what the company strives for and believes in. Red Bull does a lot of work with extreme sports, because they believe that their product and that lifestyle fit together well. They want to be framed within the context of social icons in daring exploits (at least, this is how the person writing this frames Red Bull).
Finally, there are also market inefficiencies in consumer influence. All this means is that not all decisions are necessarily rational or built on a predictable assumption. Sometimes people make irrational purchasing decisions, and that has to be considered when determining what might (or might not) influence consumer behavior. Other market inefficiencies include intervention from governments, unfair competition (monopolies), and a variety of other unique factors which may render a consumer decision unpredictable.
In order for an organization to have a positive impact on a target market, they must understand what influences the decision-making process of the individuals within that segment. By understanding heuristics, market inefficiencies, and framing, an organization can interact with consumers in an authentic, organic, and relevant way to better inform prospective consumers on the benefits they could receive for purchasing a given product or service.