However, the Psychodynamic perspective did not exist for long, as the behaviorist scientists took their turn in deciding what influenced the customer’s decisions. Around the 1920s, behaviorists theorized that the customer’s decision is due to external factors. This perspective came as an opposition to the Psychodynamic theory, and its downfall was that it ignored the subjective factors. In the next decade, new behaviorists included emotion, the state of mind and introspection in determining the behavior of the consumer. A new trend emerged, called the Cognitive Approach.
The Cognitive Approach is the closest to our current understanding, and it combines the rational aspect of the buying process with the emotional aspect. According to this approach, consumers are considered users of information they obtain from external sources. Then, through their emotions, they filter that information and decide which product they would like to buy. The Cognitive Approach changed continuously, offering an analytical tool for understanding consumer behavior. It has created some key insights into determining consumer patterns.
The studies about consumer behavior helped scholars in the management field to develop new management and marketing tools to attract clients. This was possible by using the Cognitive Approach to establish what factors influence the act of purchasing. By using those factors, businesses can manipulate consumer behavior. Modern marketing schools still use this approach to emphasize certain stimuli that attract clients. When brainstorming, and testing a new product, management teams often create various decoys to test the customer’s response.
Long ago, consumers purchased goods to fulfill basic living needs such as washing, feeding, and clothing. With the diversification of products, quality, price, and other differences which were more visible due to the establishment of branding and trademarking, the market expanded beyond local boundaries. With the expansion of the market, the average income increased and buyers could purchase more goods. Customers purchased products that had interesting designs or that were used in particular seasons, such as sunglasses, umbrellas and so on. The emotional side of the consumer started to be more important.
Looking at the consumer behavior models that have existed in the past, we can describe the consumer behavior of present times. This modern behavior is based on personal likes and dislikes and rational calculation of cost-effective purchases. It is consumer behavior that drives the development of specially-designed services and products, delivered in an always-available fashion, regardless of recognition or appreciation of the provider of services.
Do you believe we have entered a new era of customer behavior?
The next section will present the current understandings and practices in the management of companies which influence new theories on customer service.