The Importance of Understanding your Customers’ Buying Behaviour

February 11, 2009 at 5:46 pm 8 comments


Whether your customers are consumers or other businesses, understanding their buying behaviour is one of the important aspects needed for small business marketing success.

Customers will base their buying decisions on both rational and emotional reasons. Usually customers will look at a category on a rationale basis eg. buying breakfast cereal and then decide, especially for repeat customers on the brand eg Kellogg’s Corn Flakes on an emotional basis.

To get your customers to have an emotional attachment to your brand is one of the keys to keeping them loyal and them not being influenced by competitors’ offerings of lower prices or other incentives.

Gaining a better understanding of your customers’ buying behaviour is based on knowing the following:

How aware are customers of your brand or business compared to your competitors?

Reasons for buying
The reasons include the rational which I call the head part eg. convenience and the important emotional reasons which is of course is to do with feelings eg. happiness.

How often do they buy?
Such as weekly, monthly etc and this information can aid you with the timing of your marketing tactics.

Current usage
This is helpful because sometimes the person buying the products or services may not be the person actually using the products or services. Think of parents buying for their family.

Reasons for usage
This is simply the main reasons why they use or consume your products or services and again the reasons will be based both on a rational and emotional basis.

What do they buy?
If you have a range of products and services it is a good idea to understanding which particular products or services they buy on a regular basis.

Where do they like to buy?
This refers to the distribution channels eg. via your website. Understanding this will assist you to decide where you need to focus your attention.

Where do they gather their buying information?
Today there are so many sources of information it is helpful to understand where they get the information to help with their buying decisions eg from friends or colleagues.

Are they an exclusive customer?
In some product or service categories the customer may have a set of three or four brands they choose from and this may give you more information about your competitors.

The more you understand about your customers’ buying behaviour the easier it is to strengthen your relationship with them and focus your marketing strategies and tactics to grow your business. 


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Entry filed under: Customer Behaviour. Tags: , , , , .

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8 Comments Add your own

  • 1. gopalshenoy  |  February 13, 2009 at 11:23 pm

    Excellent article Susan.

    One more thing I would like to add to this is to make it easy for customers to buy. I call this the “last mile problem”. Some companies have complex pricing structures that the customer who was about to hand the money over, decides not to buy.

    I had written a post about this on my blog


  • 2. kiran  |  February 14, 2009 at 2:25 am

    Good thoughts about Customers’ Buying Behaviour.Thanks.

  • 3. Dave Brock  |  February 14, 2009 at 7:30 am

    Great post. The same thought process is critical in helping companies establish their Routes To Market, setting up the most effective channels to distribute their products!

    • 4. Susan Oakes  |  February 14, 2009 at 8:08 am

      Gopal, that is a good point about pricing as often we look at this from a company’s point of view instead of a customers. Why do you think some companies continue to do this, especially these days? I will read your post.

      Thanks for your comment Kirin.

      Dave, in your experience do many companies go through a process like this? Like many things today there seems to be so many options including distribution channels to choose from.

  • 5. Dave Brock  |  February 14, 2009 at 8:15 am

    Susan, thanks for the question. The problem is they don’t. Typically, they approach things from the inside out. Inevitabliy, they don’t build the right channels and go through several fits and starts trying to get it.

    It’s so much easier and more effective to start with the customer. What do they buy? Who do they buy from, How do they buy, etc. All the points you raise are equally valid in building the most effective channels.

    If you start with the customer and look at the value delivery chain back to your company, you not only have the route to market, but you have defined your “complete product offering” in a very comprehensive way that customers really value.

    Whether you are designing a new product, designing marketing program, building a channel, all is easier and more effective when you start from the outside (the customer) and build inward.

    Thanks for the great post and for continuing the discussion.

    • 6. Susan Oakes  |  February 14, 2009 at 8:29 am

      Dave, I think your last sentence and especially the words “easier” and “effective” sums it up very well.

  • 7. JakeM  |  February 16, 2009 at 6:46 pm

    It’s important to know your market and to be able to really relate to them. That’s true on every level from retails salespeople on the floor to the guy who’s writing your ad copy.

    Good reminder.

    • 8. Susan Oakes  |  February 17, 2009 at 5:13 pm

      Thanks for your comment Jake. What is interesting that people know the importance of really understanding your market but don’t always take the steps to put that knowledge into simple action to strengthen relationships.

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