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Article Review: Consumer Behavior Statistics

April 17th, 2008

consumer-behavior-trends.jpgThis second article in our series about consumer behavioral trends and marketing was written by Angela Cantu along with some much-needed copyediting by me in order to make it suitable for publication. It is a summary and analysis of some important statistical information on consumer behavior and marketing trends.

Articles Reviewed:

Gunter, M. & Smith, J. W. (2001, December 24). What Shoppers Want. Fortune Magazine. Retrieved March 1, 2002, from http://www.business2.com/articles/ mag/0,1640,36161,00.html

Princeton Survey Research Associates. (1999, March). Consumer Behaviors, Experiences, and Attitudes: A Comparison by Age Groups. Retrieved February 14, 2002, from http://research. aarp.org/consumer/d16907_ behavior_1.html.

Wirthlin Report. (1999 March). Buying Influences: Consider the Source. Retrieved February 14, 2002, from

Summary and Analysis:

What do consumers want when they are looking to purchase products? That is a question many executives ask themselves when trying produce advertisements for the public. While many marketers depend on research and economic studies, others turn to surveys by using information sources from within their company such as questionnaires or customer feedback information.

J. Walker Smith, president of Yankelovich Partners, one of America’s leading analysts in consumer trends, believes that many “came out of the nineties feeling prosperous, self-confident, and in control.” However, consumers now are at a point where especially the baby boomers need to feel a sense of satisfaction with products that are “nonmaterial and intangible”.

In order for consumers to feel a level of satisfaction when it comes to purchasing products, many Americans turn to five different forms of media. They are television news sources, newspapers, radio, Internet, and news magazines. In the Wirthlin Report, 58 percent of consumers turn to the television, 23 percent to the newspaper, 13 percent to the Internet, and only one percent to magazine articles. According to research done by the Wirthlin Report, they know that Americans are conscientious shoppers who like to comparison shop before spending their money.

Research done by their associates has found that when consumers are looking to purchase certain items, they turn to certain kinds of media. The television seems to have a major impact on consumers who are looking to purchase less expensive items such as medications or household items. The newspaper has an influence among consumers looking to purchase appliances or investment items such as stocks. In addition, magazine articles tend to influence larger purchases like computers or vehicles.

Along with the decision to purchase also comes the need for a certain level of education. In this regard, researchers say that television is a medium used by many who have little or no education while those who are “highly” educated turn to print media like magazine articles and newspaper advertisements. The Internet also seems to have an impact on large numbers of consumers who are turning to the web for customized items. Internet research allows consumers the flexibility to virtually create their items as they would like them. For instance with vehicles, the consumer can choose the color they want for the vehicle, decide on what options they want, and even have the choice of having it delivered to their homes. Similar options are available for computers.

When consumers are deciding to purchase items, the question of how credible the companies are comes into play. Consumers turn to a variety of sources when it comes to determining how credible the product’s brand is. Some of those sources are consumer reports, friends, radio news, network television, news articles, and the Internet. Everyone is different and depending on your level of education, one has the right to determine what sources are believable, somewhat believable, or not believable at all.

Another study done by the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) closely relates to the information sources chosen by consumers, and that is also their level of vulnerability. Their research found that a large number of consumers are vulnerable to advertisements that are fraudulent or deceptive.

Many reasons contribute to consumers who are taken advantage of by deceptive advertising or fraudulent claims. These include factors such as what level they conduct their business, what behavioral patterns they have, their attitudes, and their level of education. The AARP study was conducted with participants from the older group aged 65 years or more and the group of younger consumers aged 18 to 64. They analyzed the group with the vulnerability index, the lowest score being zero for low vulnerability and the highest score being 29 for a high vulnerability, and they found that the older consumers were more affected by deceptive advertisements.

In one survey, the AARP found 21 percent of those aged 75 or older and 11 percent of those aged 65 to 74 had a high vulnerability index. In addition, those with a low vulnerability index were only 5 percent of those aged 75 or older and almost zero with those who were 65 and under.

As marketers begin trying to appeal to their audience, they also have to take into consideration whether or not consumers will be satisfied with their products. The AARP found that 82 percent of consumers in their survey were not satisfied with their purchases in at least one instance. Meanwhile, researchers found that the younger consumers had more complaints and were more adamant in doing something about the problem versus those over 65.

Advertisers have found it nearly impossible to appeal to everyone since Americans are very diverse in their expectations of brands and products. Most advertisers now turn to a variety of information sources to determine whether their products are successful. Once marketers have received feedback on their products, they begin to market them to the appropriate audience.

2 Responses to “Article Review: Consumer Behavior Statistics”

  1. comment number 1 by: Article Review: Consumer Behavior Statistics · AARP, Discounts, Baby Boomers, Seniors, Health, Travel, Financial Planning, Family

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  2. comment number 2 by: Arjun

    The articles that you reviewed to write this article are more than 5 years old. All of your statistics are inaccurate because this information changes yearly. I am certain the in 2008, more than 13 percent of people used the Internet to make educated decisions about shopping.

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