We develop a framework to explain how the salience and convenience of a stockpiled product influence consumption incidence and consumption volume. In my observation show that stockpiling increases the consumption volume for most products. However, we find that stockpiling only triggers consumption incidence for high convenience products, and that this effect is partially mediated by the higher salience caused by stockpiling.
Introduction “I love to people-watch don’t you? People shopping, people flirting, people consuming … Consumer behavior is the study of people and the products that help to shape their identities.” (Solomon, 1999 Preface) Can we really find their identities shape from their shopping behavior? Will consumers be affected by other factor? This essay will observe and explain the consumer behavior more specifically.
Background I chose a Park’N Shop superstore which located in Olympic City Phase II and it is surrounding has many private residential and commercial buildings; such as Park Avenue, Central Park, HSBC and Bank of China Centre. I was an observer dated on 1st April, 2005 from 6:00pm to 8.00pm which is the rush hour and many people had left their offices and were going home. The superstore had many banners such as “Red Hot Real only at Park’N shop, Yellow Labels, Lowest price, Snack Carnival…” and most cabinets had labels containing statements and the “Yellow Labels” and showed it the “Lowest Price, 2 for $10, Buy 2 get 1 free.” That was the place not only selling the dry provision but also the fresh.
Observation One group was quite interesting which was made up of a woman, a man and a little boy; like a family. They brought a small calculator and they did some counting before they put something into their shopping cart. They walked around the superstore about 40 minutes and purchased a lot of products. I could find that their shopping cart included some commodities, junk food, groceries and most of it were promotional items like labeled with “the Lowest Price and Buy … get … free” and largest package of the product.
Finally, they went to the cashier and found that an Olay Mask was on sale for $10 each and limited 5 per person so they bought 5. They used some cash coupons and credit card to pay the bill and got some revenue stamps to redeem later. They seemed to be very careful in calculating in their shopping stratagem and saved at the superstore, but it was not that simple for us from the view of consumer psychology. In the following we will try to define the above group which I had observed their behavior. Were they doing this as they wanted? Or they were totally flowed into the most common purchasing pitfalls?
Longer time to fool around gives more chance for impulse consumption to occur. “The impulse to buy a specific item is temporary, and it centers on a specific product at a particular moment.” (Solomon, 1999 pp.31) The group had spent about 40 minutes walking around the superstore, it also means that the longer time they stay is no wonder that they will buy more when influenced by the surrounding such as the banner which showed that the “Lowest Price”. “To help products stand out, food marketers and supermarket managers use a variety of techniques…to help influence what ultimately ends up in your shopping basket.” (Jennifer, 1999 February, Family Circle Magazine, pp.118-119).
They may respond to it and to have consumption when they believe that the goods were the lowest price. In fact, we all know that some of the goods sold in the dispensatory such as shampoo is much cheaper than the supermarket. On the other hand, as we know shopping in a superstore is very convenient because we can put the goods into the cabinet easily and it can make the group do more impulse consumption; we buy more than we need. “”I saw some mild and picked it up.” Gallo says . “Then I spied a package of fresh ravioli and decided that would make a nice dimmer, so of course I had to buy a jar of pasta sauce.” “I couldn’t help it,” she admits. “I did it on impulse.”” (Jennifer, 1999 February, Family Circle Magazine, pp.118-119).
Consumer behavior is affected by the family structure. The group which I observed bought many junk foods than other older couples or office ladies/ men, because their family including a child. The child asked the adult to buy more and more junk food during the shopping and at the same time Park’N shop was doing their promotion of snacks so they also respond to this promotion. As my observation, they also bought many commodities for example cleanser and shower gel. This is quite simple that we can to imagine that a big family needs more commodities than the small; a bachelor needs a large number of instant noodles and cup noodles. So we can confirm the family structure more deeply from their buying behavior and can prove that the consumer behavior is influenced by family structure.
Make you feel confusion. I chose this group as my observance most important factor was and found that the small calculator they brought along. They usually used the calculator when they considered the items labeled “Buy … get …free” before putting into their shopping cart. This act seems to be so clever to save money, but in fact this is the one technique that causes consumer confusion. “When consumers see an item promoted as ‘4 for $2′ instead of ’50 cents each’, they’re not sure whether you must buy four to get the deal. So they do.” (Psychology Today, April 1999). In research, the group bought 2 of 650mL DETTOL shower Foam because the item on Yellow Labels ‘2 for $49.9 and for 1 is $42.9. In really, I do not think that a family needs 2 bottles of Shower Foam in the same time, but they did it.
“When involvement is low, an anchoring perspective suggests that a multiple-unit price promotion could stimulate more sales by making salient a higher than normal purchase quantity. Although each promotion offers the same discount… (Brian, Robert and Stephen, FEBRUARY 1998 JOURNAL OF MARKETING RESEARCH pp.73) Although the group spent much more time to count their goods than other people, they still were low involvement to do shopping in superstore compare with to buy a TV. They were influenced by the surrounding to stimulate themselves and respond to information which is provided by the shop manager.
Package size can to increase the consumer usage. An interesting phenomenon I found from observing was they also used the calculator when they decided to buy some large package goods such as rice, potato chips and peanut oil. The large packaging usually is economy packaged and after counting we can find that we can save money from this way. At the same time, I also believe that it can grow up the usage of this kind of product.
“Part of the reason acceleration in usage volume occurs is because larger packages are perceived as less expensive to use than smaller packages.” (Package World. January 1997, p.8 Package size Increases Usage – To A Point) Most of consumers including the group may not consider what they really need and use, at that moment the lowest price is more the concern as the result, consumers will always consume more than we need, actually.
Limitation leads more purchase. From my research they bought the Olay Masks, finally, at the cashier which means it was an impulse buy that means they do not need it nor planned for it But why did they buy it? Perhaps we can find the reason from the article “The Bottom Line” from The Supermarket Journal April 1998. From the research of article they did the same price for goods, one had a limit of 12 and the other had no limit, the result is so surprising that doubled the sales occurred. It means that when the shop set the limit, people buy it more than they need or plan. The Olay Masks had a limit of 5 which affected the group to buy 5 for each.
Compulsive Consumption. Cash coupons and revenue stamps are same ways that the marketer to keep relationship with consumer. (Solomon, 1999). The group paid the bill with the cash coupons and a Visa card that means they can save money in this Park’N Shop only, if they have a coupon once they will consume again. As we know to encourage more consumption, bank provides a bonds system for the consumer to exchange some gifts like supermarket coupons. It makes the cycle for your consumption when you pay the bill by Visa card then you have bonds to exchange the cash coupons and at the same time using the cash coupon is quite difficult for us to avoid buying more than that.
Another thing is revenue stamps, Park’N Shop always does that promotion through revenue stamp and redeem. They set the to be every $50 for one stamp, when the consumer collects a certain number of stamps to be pay half for the goods (eg.Cooker) they will get it. This is the other way to keep the relationships with consumers.The consumers can get the revenue stamp in Park’N Shop only, than it may form a habit, further more they become a loyal shopper. All of this behavior we call compulsive consumption. (Solomon, 1999)
From the above, I found that the group were ?-mode at the being that means they know what they need and the goal with conscious behavior, but after they went into the superstore they turned in the mode, they went into subconscious behavior and bought more than needed. The major points of these phenomenons are that they were stimulated by the environment and lead our conscious even though they thought that every thing was under their control. (HKU SPACE Consumer Psychology note)
We often think that detergent, shampoo, rice, noodle etc…. are our basic needs as commodities, but in fact most of that is educated by marketer. Basic needs are instincts which are species specific, an innate propensity… for an example; we feel hunger and need to eat something, but not to appoint a type of food typically. External factor such as culture, subculture, Demographics, Family, Marketing activities affect us started when we were born. These factors stimulate our internal feelings – emotions, attitudes, perception and as the result the consumer make a decision to consume.
In conclusion, we can find from observing the consumer behavior can not only shape their identity, but also know more about what the marketer is doing. We always consume not going into conscious behavior but into subconscious behavior. All surroundings can influence and stimulate us by the dispose, advertising and promotion. Consumer behavior is so complicated for us to explore in this short essay, but we must know that how close relationship between the marketer strategies and consumer behavior.