Guide to buying behaviour: types, tips and influences

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 11 July 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

One marketing term that professionals use to describe customers' actions and thought processes when they decide to buy and use products is buying behaviour. It comprises multiple variables, including the customer's motivations, mood, product accessibility and mentality. Knowing more about the behaviour of potential customers can help you take account of it for marketing purposes and improve profitability. In this article, we discuss what influences this kind of customer behaviour, explore the different types and provide steps for how to affect and influence customers' buying behaviour.

What is buying behaviour?

Buying behaviour is a marketing term that describes consumers' thoughts, feelings and actions when they buy and use a product or service. Professionals in marketing and sales look to understand and influence this behaviour to create better interactions with customers and generate more sales. These behaviours include interacting with physical and digital marketing materials, researching and searching for businesses and speaking with them directly.

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What influences customer behaviour?

A combination of internal and external factors influences this type of customer behaviour. Here are some of the internal factors:

  • Personal factors: Various factors about the potential customer can affect what they want to buy and for what reasons, such as their demographic, morals, values and personal beliefs.

  • Cultural factors: Likewise, cultural values, geographic location and being a member of a particular group can also affect what items a person considers important.

  • Social factors: The actions of others within a social circle can affect buyer behaviour, as can their expectations and social statuses, as these affect what a prospective customer believes to be normal.

  • Psychological factors: Psychological factors also affect buying decisions and behaviours, like customer motivation, education, socialisation, reinforcement, perception, modelling, beliefs and attitudes.

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Here are some of the notable external factors that influence customer behaviour:

  • Geographic availability: The positioning of stores may significantly impact customer behaviour because if there's only one store within a locality, customers may be more loyal. In contrast, customers may be more likely to try different stores if multiple shops exist in the same location.

  • Price: Customers are more likely to be hesitant when products have a high price, meaning they may be less likely to buy multiple items.

  • Quantity required: Durable and expensive items may be less attractive for repeat purchases, whereas customers may buy disposable items regularly.

  • Time of purchase: Seasonal or limited-edition products may only be available at a specific time of year, impacting consumer behaviour.

  • Payment methods: Some customers prefer to use a specific payment method, so if a shop doesn't make that a possibility, a customer may shop elsewhere.

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Types of buyer behaviour

Buyer behaviour falls into four main categories. Customers can display various behaviours depending on the factors involved, such as what they want to buy, how much they want to spend and how regularly they purchase items. Here are the main types to be aware of:

Complex buyer behaviour

Customers showing this behaviour exercise caution when purchasing something, and their involvement in the process is high. They perceive the purchase as having a high-risk level, so they often conduct extensive research on products and businesses. This behaviour typically emerges when a customer wants to buy something expensive or if it's a rare purchase. They may consult with salespeople and discuss their decision with experts, family and friends to gain advice. To make an effective decision, they may compare similar products to see which they prefer.

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Dissonance-reducing buyer behaviour

These buyers seek items that fulfil specific requirements, and the nature of these products may affect how regularly the consumer purchases them. Their involvement in the buying process is typically high, as they want to ensure the product or service is fit for its intended purpose. This type of behaviour occurs when customers have limited purchase options, so they decide based on factors like location, availability and budget. The items that encourage this kind of behaviour include supplies for one-off projects, hobby items or sports equipment.

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Habitual buyer behaviour

Buying decisions based on habit often dictate what a person buys. For example, they might regularly use a particular item or choose an item that's the least expensive. Either way, there is usually only one criterion the habitual buyer looks to fulfil. Their involvement in the buying process is usually low, as they perceive little difference between the available products. Customers convey this type of behaviour when shopping for low-cost, everyday items, like toothpaste or razors. This can also apply to food staple items, for example, milk.

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Variety-seeking buyer behaviour

This type of buyer seeks to find new experiences through their purchases, which influences what they buy. They don't consider trying new brands and products to be a risk but rather a new and interesting experience. Their decision to buy a new product doesn't arise from dissatisfaction with another product but simply a desire to try new things. Low-cost products that come in many variations attract these buyers, such as food and drinks, cosmetics and clothing.

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Tips for influencing buyer behaviour

Here are some tips for influencing buyer behaviour and using it to the company's advantage:

Research the buyer behaviour

Businesses gain an understanding of buyer behaviour by conducting market research in various ways. Some businesses analyse existing data sets, such as sales performance data and customer profile information. They also conduct surveys and request feedback from buyers to understand their motivations and gather suggestions for improvements. This kind of research can reveal the frequency at which people purchase products, when and where they buy and what caused them to make the buying decision, such as whether they interacted with an advert. These patterns can then give marketers ideas for how to encourage favourable behaviour.

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Market to the buyer behaviour

Once a business understands what type of buyer behaviour its customers are exhibiting, it can customise its marketing approach. For complex consumer behaviour, a company might educate salespeople on the advantages of its product and make plenty of detail available online for customers doing independent research.

Habitual purchasing behaviour depends on familiarity, so branding and advertising so that customers feel comfortable with a company's product may be advantageous. A business might take the opposite approach for variety-seeking behaviour, branding each product or line to feel new and exciting. If customers exhibit dissonance-reducing behaviour, consider focussing on loyalty campaigns or providing exceptional service to impress and keep customers who buy a product without knowing the brand.

Take advantage of existing tools and data

It's possible for a business to analyse sales data with software or other automated sources to create visualisations and summaries of customer behaviour. These tools can allow you to analyse large amounts of data much more quickly. Suppose you're employed by a large company. In that case, you might also consult with other departments like purchasing, marketing or sales to see if they're already collecting data on demand and customer behaviour patterns that may be useful.

Use available data

The data you gather from buyer behaviour research can help a business in areas other than marketing. For example, it may be possible to identify a gap in the market by understanding what customers want. You may also discover an opportunity to release a new product based on customer demands.

Your data may reveal that placing items in a different location, such as closer to the checkout point, can increase the number of sales by encouraging impulse buying. You may also learn useful information about how customers prefer to interact with brands and how brand images appeal to them. This information can help you adjust the look and feel of the store to make it more appealing to buyers.

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