• Course Introduction

        • Time: 42 hours
        • Free Certificate
        Consumer behavior studies individuals, groups, or organizations and how they choose, purchase, and discard products, services, experiences, or ideas. The discipline also examines these processes' effects on consumers and society. This is a broader definition than those used in the past, which focused more on the immediate experience of the buyer and the consequences of the purchasing process. There are several good reasons for studying consumer behavior. First, consumer behavior theory provides managers with the right questions to ask about specific consumers. Second, in addition to influencing consumers and companies, marketing practices designed to influence behavior can also affect society. Finally, successful marketing decisions by commercial firms, nonprofit organizations, and regulatory agencies require a solid understanding of consumer behavior. Numerous examples of actual business practices make it clear that successful firms can apply theories and information about consumer behavior daily because the more knowledge the marketer is armed with, the more likely a campaign is to resonate with the target consumer and succeed.

        • Course Syllabus

          First, read the course syllabus. Then, enroll in the course by clicking "Enroll me". Click Unit 1 to read its introduction and learning outcomes. You will then see the learning materials and instructions on how to use them.

        • Unit 1: Introduction to Consumer Behavior

          The analysis of consumers is key in developing a marketing strategy, primarily because consumers' reaction to a product or service determines the success or failure of that strategy. This process includes market analysis, market segmentation, marketing strategy, the consumer decision process, and outcomes.

          The market analysis thoroughly examines consumers, competitors, the company, and the relevant environmental conditions. From this analysis, we can reach market segmentation decisions.

          After one or more target market segments are selected, a marketing strategy is developed and implemented. Next comes the consumer decision process, which includes problem recognition, information search, alternative evaluation, purchase, use, and evaluation. Finally, the outcome of the consumer decision impacts the firm (such as with product position, sales, and satisfied customers), the consumer (such as with satisfied needs or injurious consumption), and society (such as the economy, environment, and social welfare). This unit introduces the study of consumer behavior and its importance in developing a marketing strategy.

          Completing this unit should take you approximately 3 hours.

          • 1.1: Consumer Behavior Overview

            A good basic knowledge of consumer behavior in its current state of development should provide managers with the right questions to ask concerning a proposed marketing activity. Some of these questions are:

            • What types of consumers are likely to buy our product?
            • How are they different from the consumers who won't buy our product?
            • How can we get our message to the consumers who are most likely to respond?
            • What criteria do consumers use when deciding which products/brands to purchase?
            • What strategies should be used to encourage consumers to choose our brand over the competition?
            • What's the highest price a consumer will pay for our product and still feel they're getting a good deal?
            • What can we do to satisfy our current customers and maintain their loyalty?
          • 1.2: Consumer Identity

            At the heart of the consumer behavior model presented are self-concept and lifestyle. This model demonstrates that how we think and feel about ourselves and how we live our lives determines most of our needs and desires, which drive our purchase and consumption decisions. Our culture, with its values, norms, and traditions, is a major influence on our lifestyle. Additionally, social classes and subcultures within any culture create differing self-concepts and lifestyles.

          • 1.3: The Stages of Information Processing

            The four major stages of information processing are exposure, attention, interpretation, and memory. Perception, a combination of the first three stages, consists of those activities by which an individual acquires and assigns meaning to stimuli. More specifically, it is the process through which those stimuli are chosen, organized, and interpreted.

          • Unit 1 Assessment

            • Receive a grade
        • Unit 2: The Consumer Learning Process

          Consumers acquire their attitudes, values, and beliefs through learning. The learning process occurs over time through such elements as culture, friends, family, and mass media. Marketing managers, therefore, are very interested in the nature of consumer learning.

          Consumer motivations are energizing forces that activate behavior and provide purpose and direction to that behavior. Although the concept sounds simple, motives for even the most basic products can be complex. The two most widely-used theories of motivation are Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs and McGuire's Psychological Motives.

          This unit covers the many characteristics involved in how consumers learn about a product and their motivation for making a product purchase.

          Completing this unit should take you approximately 6 hours.

        • Unit 3: Understanding the Consumer

          Self-concept refers to a person's beliefs about their own attributes and how they evaluate these qualities. The self-concept is a rather complicated structure. It consists of many attributes, and although one's overall self-concept may be positive, there are usually parts of the self that are evaluated more positively than others. For example, a person may feel better about their professional identity than their identity as a spouse/parent or vice-versa. Similarly, we tend to emphasize some attributes over others when we evaluate ourselves. We play various roles and draw on different skills and attributes depending on who we are with or the task at hand. What are some of the roles you play each day? How does your self-concept change as your roles change? How does your mood affect your self-concept? Marketers need to be aware of and consider the self-concept because consumers often purchase and use products to express, maintain, and enhance their self-concepts.

          This unit covers the role of consumer self-concept, personality, and lifestyles in consumer decision-making.

          Completing this unit should take you approximately 2 hours.

        • Unit 4: Influencing Consumer Attitudes

          Attitudes are an ongoing, general evaluation of people, objects, advertisements, or issues. Once a marketer identifies a product's dominant function, they can emphasize these benefits in their communications and packaging. Attitudes have three parts: affective (feelings), behavioral (response tendencies), and cognitive (beliefs). This trio is often referred to as the ABC Model of attitudes. The purpose of the ABC model is to emphasize the interrelationships among knowing, feeling, and doing. For instance, we can only accurately determine a consumer's attitude by identifying their beliefs about a product or service. After all, even if a researcher finds that consumers know Michelob Ultra has fewer calories and carbs than most beers, those findings don't indicate whether they think these attributes are good, bad, or irrelevant. They also don't reveal whether or not the consumers would rather purchase Beck's, Bud Light, or some other beer instead.

          Consumers have more choices available today than ever before and greater control over processing messages. They are no longer dependent on the traditional communications model, where others control the source of the communication, the message received, and the medium.

          This unit covers how marketers must understand how to influence a consumer's attitude as communicated through various appeal methods.

          Completing this unit should take you approximately 3 hours.

        • Unit 5: The Purchasing Process

          Consumers must select an outlet and a product when making a purchase. The manufacturer and the retailer must be aware of the decision sequence consumers use in choosing an outlet, as it will have a major impact on their marketing strategy. Consumers sometimes experience doubts or stress about the wisdom of a purchase. This phenomenon is known as post-purchase dissonance or, put more simply, regret. Whether or not a consumer experiences dissonance, most purchases are followed by product use, either by the purchaser or by some other member of the purchasing unit.

          Monitoring product usage, often through questionnaires, is important to marketers because it can indicate new uses for existing products, needed product modifications, appropriate advertising themes, or opportunities for new products.

          This unit covers the consumer's individual decision-making process and how that affects their post-purchase satisfaction.

          Completing this unit should take you approximately 6 hours.

        • Unit 6: Consumer Analysis and Marketing Strategy

          Customer management is a process for maximizing customer value that leads to better company profitability. Customer value is the revenue or profitability contribution each customer makes to the organization. The company will enjoy better profitability over the long run by maximizing customer value. "Over the long run" is important because a customer management initiative may not have a positive effect in the current period, but the company will realize its impact over time.

          An important principle you must understand is that customer management is a journey, not a destination. As the organization improves its customer management, the customer's needs or external forces change, requiring a change or improvement in the organization's management strategy.

          This unit covers the steps in the customer management process and how to determine customer value or profitability. We will also study the impact on customer experience and acquisition.

          Completing this unit should take you approximately 5 hours.

        • Unit 7: The Effects of Consumer Groups

          In its broadest sense, a group is two or more people with shared norms, values, or beliefs who have relationships with one another and who exhibit interdependent behaviors. The household is important to marketers because it is the basic purchasing and consuming unit for most goods. Family households are also the primary place where values and behaviors are passed on to subsequent generations. Marketers are mainly concerned with two main types of households: families and nonfamilies.

          This unit covers the various types of groups a consumer may belong to and how they could influence their decision-making.

          Completing this unit should take you approximately 3 hours.

        • Unit 8: The Influences of Class, Ethnicity, and Age

          A person's social class influences what they do with money, and their consumption choices reflect their place in society. Consumers typically purchase products as markers or signs of their social class. These products act as status symbols to allow others to know which class they belong to.

          A subculture is a part of a larger culture with distinguishing meanings, values, and behavior patterns that differ from the overall culture. An array of ethnic, religious, national, and regional subcultures characterize many societies.

          A generation is a group of individuals who experienced a common social, political, historical, and economic environment. A generation's shared location in history lends them a collective persona. The span of one generation is roughly the length of a phase of life.

          This unit covers how a consumer's social class, ethnic, racial, and religious subcultures may impact their purchasing decision. It also examines the typical characteristics of the different age subcultures.

          Completing this unit should take you approximately 4 hours.

        • Unit 9: Cultural Influences

          Culture acts as the lens through which consumers view products and helps determine product priorities that lead to a product's success or failure. Myths are stories containing symbolic elements representing a culture's shared emotions or ideals. The story usually focuses on a conflict between opposing forces, such as good versus evil. The outcome serves as a moral guide for listeners. They reduce anxiety because they provide people with guidelines about their world. Many marketers create their own myths that are passed along to employees, consumers, or the media.

          Cultural selection is the process by which many possibilities competing for adoption get winnowed down from conception to consumption. Global marketers need to adopt a strategy for implementing their products worldwide that will not offend the people of the country they are marketing to.

          This unit covers the influence of domestic and international culture on consumer behavior.

          Completing this unit should take you approximately 3 hours.

        • Unit 10: Informing Marketing Strategy

          In this course, you've learned the influence of households, social class, ethnicity, religion, and culture on consumer behavior. These components provide an even more expansive view of the customer and how to monitor and predict their behavior. Applying these components is a customer management strategy.

          Emotional branding is what strategy marketers use to break through the advertising clutter they have created to look for new ways to reach potential consumers. In the past, there were more differences between products. Today, the biggest difference between items is their image. Marketers try to focus on what the product means and ask consumers to buy into an identity rather than just buying a product. Emotional branding has had major influences on how we understand consumer behavior.

          This unit applies the study of households, social class, ethnicity, religion, and culture to the customer management model. It also examines the influence of emotional branding on consumer behavior.

          Completing this unit should take you approximately 7 hours.

        • Study Guide

          This study guide will help you get ready for the final exam. It discusses the key topics in each unit, walks through the learning outcomes, and lists important vocabulary. It is not meant to replace the course materials!

        • Course Feedback Survey

          Please take a few minutes to give us feedback about this course. We appreciate your feedback, whether you completed the whole course or even just a few resources. Your feedback will help us make our courses better, and we use your feedback each time we make updates to our courses.

          If you come across any urgent problems, email contact@saylor.org.

        • Certificate Final Exam

          Take this exam if you want to earn a free Course Completion Certificate.

          To receive a free Course Completion Certificate, you will need to earn a grade of 70% or higher on this final exam. Your grade for the exam will be calculated as soon as you complete it. If you do not pass the exam on your first try, you can take it again as many times as you want, with a 7-day waiting period between each attempt.

          Once you pass this final exam, you will be awarded a free Course Completion Certificate.