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Assignment: 9428 Date of completion: 17/05 Word Limit: 3000

Buyer Behavior Analysis:

The psychology of buying

Influencing Consumer Behavior: The Changing Image of Fast Food.

Consumer behavior is the decision process and acts of people in buying and using products. Consumer behavior refers to the buying behavior of the ultimate consumer. In todays competitive era marketers have come to realize that their effectiveness in meeting consumers needs directly influences their profitability. The marketing principles states that whenever a firm creates a product it need to analyze the what, when, where, and how the consumers buy. By analyzing consumer behavior a organization can enhance the value of the company, can effectively target their customers and will be in a state to provide value and customer satisfaction. It also helps the organization to create a competitive advantage. Consumer behavior is a type of action which we perform throughout the day. Many product decisions involve extensive thought process while there are some products for which the consumers make instant decisions. Since a decade a drastic change can be seen in the consumer buying behavior model. Earlier the consumers were not so much aware about the product and service which they can avail but now before buying consumer tries to evaluate the product or service on various aspects. (Assael, 2005) The consumer behavior implies that before making purchase consumer tries to search for and process information in some systematic manner in an attempt to meet their needs. In simple words we can say that consumer behavior is the study of how people buy, what they buy, when they buy and how they buy. Consumer buying decision is influenced by various factors like Cultural Social Personal Psychological The cultural factors include the set of principles, ideas, and attitude that are acknowledged by a homogenous group of people. Culture defines what people buy, eat, travel and prefer, it can be further divided into sub-culture with geographic regions and human characteristics such as cultural and age background. Social class defines an open group of people who have similar social status and have similar preferences. The social factor determines the kind, quality and number of product that a group of people buy. The third factor i.e. the personal factor is

exclusive to a particular person. It includes the demographic factors of a person i.e. a persons race, religion, age, color and gender. The last factor psychological factor includes a consumers perception, ability, knowledge, lifestyle and personality. The psychological factor effects a consumer buying decision a lot as every individual have their distinct choice and opinion on every particular product, so this the vital factor which helps the buyer to take his decision in the buying process. (Eberts, Gisler and Brothers, 1995)

Stages of the consumer buying process:

The consumer buying behavior decision process includes five different stages: Problem Recognition/Need Awareness Information Search Evaluation Of Alternatives Purchase Decision Post-Purchase Evaluation.

Need Awareness This is the very initial stage at which the need is being aroused in the consumers mind. At this stage the consumer recognizes that their desired state is different from their actual condition.

Information Search At this stage the consumer starts searching information from different sources of the product required. The search could be internal or external. Internal search includes gathering information about the product within the consumers own social circle whereas external search includes collecting information from the outer environment it could be through Newspaper, TV, and Radio or may be from Internet. Evaluating Alternatives In this stage the consumer has a clear idea what they want and they start evaluating the features of the product. As there are many alternatives available in the market, the consumer evaluates the various alternatives on various grounds. It can be on the basis of brands, product price, features, or may be from consumers past purchase experience. Purchase Decision Once consumer evaluates the product in all aspects they intend to purchase the one which is achieving the highest level of expected satisfaction. This stage involves the exchange of money to pay for a particular product. The consumer finally at this stage decides to move forward with the purchase or not. Post-Purchase Behavior Once the product is purchased, the consumer will evaluate the products performance during its consumption. This is a very crucial stage in terms of marketing of any product because at this stage the consumer may go into satisfaction or dissatisfaction stage. If the consumer is satisfied with the product, it will lead to further purchase of that product by the consumer. Dissatisfaction occurs when the consumers expectations are not met, such dissatisfaction may lead into negative brand attitude and the chance of further purchase lowers. (Frewer and Trijp, 2007)

The changing image of fast food industry

The concept of fast food has been raised in the market in the year 1920s. The main mission with which the fast food industry operates is quick service. Fast food restaurants are also known as quick service restaurant. Fast food restaurants serve the food which are prepared quickly and consumed quickly with minimal table service. The basic belief is to minimize the processing and serving time to the consumers. Earlier fast food restaurants food were not considered as quality product because generally in these type of restaurants food are cooked in bulk in advance and are kept hot, sometimes even ready to take away. But today a lot of change can be seen in this industry due to the changing market trend and consumers preferences. Fast food chains have gained popularity with consumers for several reasons. One reason could be the low cost. As these restaurants serves the food at a very nominal cost, other reason is the less preparing time of the food. As everybody today have less time so availing food from these restaurants becomes a good choice for the consumers. As these industries have now started serving healthy and low calorie food, so this is also one of the reason why consumers have started liking the food. A research has shown that by 2025, the fast food industry will be transformed from a food provider to one that serves a specific health benefit. The balance in the food allows the people to eat fast food meal. Fast food industry in the market is being operated by different food chains. These companies are now trying to bring a revolution in this market by adopting various changes, the companies now focus on adding nutritional value, taste and health factor in the product. (Frewer, Risvik and Schifferstein, 2001)

This graph above depicts that how the taste and preferences of people are now being changed means people are now ready to spend on having good food and outing. Fast food industries have been witnessing rapid growth on the existence of massive investment. Currently market is highly filled with young population and the working schedule of the people are hectic and the number of working women have also increased, so the fast food chains have immense market potential. In recent years an enhancement can be seen in the income level of the middle-class households, means the people are now ready to spend on various things and the ready to eat and cost advantage with the fast food items makes it more popular among the masses. To keep the market share mounting the companies have adopted various strategies which we can discuss. The strategies are: Healthy Fast Foods Convenience Fast foods Fresh Fast Foods Regional Fast Food Green Fast Food Healthy Fast Food A change have been noticed in the consumer buying behavior as the buyer are now more focused towards having a healthy and low calorie food. So the companies have revised their menu and have started serving healthier meals to the consumers. Healthy food includes high nutritious values and health benefits, in making healthy food the companies need to design a product which is healthy in nature but the taste should not be decreased. As a result companies conducted various research programs then manufactured kind of food which is having high nutritional value and taste as well.

To further understand the healthy food point, we can take example of the worlds most famous fast food restaurant chain i.e. MacDonalds. Mac is one of the oldest fast food chains which were being established in the year 1940 in United States. Since then the company has grown by leaps and bounds only by innovating and revising their menus. The company is now being operated in 119 countries and serves around 58 million customers every day. Its menu primarily includes hamburgers, cheeseburgers, chicken burgers, French fries, soft drinks, shakes and desserts. But the key food which made Macdonald's so much popular among the kids was the Happy Meal. The happy meal offers a burger, soft drink and a toy for the kid, the attractive packaging of the meal attracts the kid very much. (Graci, 2010) MacDonalds has been a leader in offering its customers a number of healthy food options. It has recognized the significance of nutritional value in food. The company has made immense research and did proper planning and then launched various type of healthy food in their menus.

As we have discussed earlier consumers buying behavior is effected by his or her psychology. So, here in this case the consumers psychology influenced him to go for a healthier meal in fast food restaurants. Macdonalds clearly examined all the healthy factors in the food and then introduced various meals like it has introduced a new healthy bubbly drink called Fruitizz, the drink contains no added sugar, color or flavors and constitutes only fresh fruits and vegetables. Therefore, we can say that the company firstly analyzed the consumers psychology then introduced the product according to their taste and preferences.

Convenience Fast Food Fast food as the name itself suggests food which can be consumed anytime and anywhere. The fast food chains have grown so rapidly because of the convenience in purchasing and consumption of these foods. Fast food includes menus which are prepared within a very short period of time and can be consumed while you are doing any type of work. This concept got a build up due to the busy lifestyle of the people in todays time period. Convenience foods are generally manufactured by the companies to save the time of their consumers. As the image of fast food industry is being changed the companies are adopting various strategies to nurture this industry. For this the companies firstly analyzed the society and the changing environment then found that people today have less time to select, prepare and eat food, so they tried to manufacture the kind of product which can be easily consumed. As the buyers today are not having much time to spend to go into a restaurant and have their meal, so the fast food joints tried to serve the consumers according to their convenience like they introduced ready to eat food, home delivery system, take away food and food raped in an easy way so that consumers can intake it anytime and anywhere. (Pride and Ferrell, 2004)

Here we can discuss the strategies adopted by Pizza-Hut. Pizza hut is a fast joint which serves pizzas accompanied with salads, pasta, breadsticks and garlic bread. It was being established in the year 1958 in the US and is one of the biggest joints in serving pizzas. The joint is now in 94 other countries and is the beginner who started the home delivery pattern of food. The key element which this joint evaluated while making marketing strategy is on the social factor i.e. the

changing consumer buying behavior and then started serving convenient food. For the convenience of the consumers the joint introduced various types of offers like: strive to present the product to the consumer when and where the consumer wants, delivery of food on time or otherwise free next time. It has also started serving various types of wraps and take away food. Various other brands have also started offering wraps and convenient food like Macdonalds, Sub-Way, Dominos, Papa Johns. In this ready to eat food business one company i.e. Maggie has made tremendous growth and has set mindset in peoples mind that instant food means Maggie.

This company has made its product like people can prepare it within 2 minutes and have it. (Schiffman and Kanuk, 2007)

Fresh Fast Food Earlier, when fast food joints have been launched it gained popularity very quickly but after a due course of time controversies started on the freshness and hygiene of the food which these joints are offering. As fast food serves food stuff which is prepared within a short duration, for this the restaurants used to cook the meal in advance and at the time of serving they just reheat the product and serve. To preserve the food for a longer duration restaurants used to make the food high amount of oil in it and different types of preservatives were being used, which ultimately made the food unhealthy. People started referring fast food as junk food, the food which is having low nutritional value and unhealthy for the body. Increasing awareness about the risk of fast food made the consumers either to shift to some healthier options and modifications or to avoid the consumption of fast food. So, the companies tried to change the image of the fast food by introducing newer kind of food with more nutritional value and freshness. To maintain the freshness of the food restaurants are now serving the food which is prepared in front of the consumers, this is possible only with the help of high technological equipments. The companies also started making products with fewer preservatives and low salt and sugar. By analyzing these requirements we can say that companies evaluated the personal needs of the buyer and then worked on them, as personal factor states that the buyer decides to purchase anything on the basis of their personal need and beliefs. (Schlosser, 2012) Regional Fast food Today the food culture has travelled across the borders and a lot of change can be seen in todays consumers taste and preferences. As the taste and culture has travelled across various countries changes in the food can be noticed. The fast food chains when started diversifying their product regionally they started facing huge challenges in the market. When these fast food joints entrepreneurs decided to elaborate their chain in various other countries, initially the product were being launched successfully and the return from these products were also excellent, but

after a due course of time companies started facing challenges in terms of customer satisfaction because the products which were launched in other countries were actually from a different country and they were following their own preparation method, so the consumers started shifting. So to meet these challenges companies made a massive research and came to a point that they will be serving the products according to the taste and preferences of the local buyers. Here we can say that the companies analyzed the social factor means they evaluated the eating habit and choice of people with geographical areas and then made the product. Social factor defines the taste, preferences and belief of people of a particular region or area. (Schlosser and Wilson, 2007) In this area many global companies have worked upon like when MacDonalds was being introduced in china in the year 1990, initially people liked it but after some time people started disliking the product and after a research it was being found that Chinese people have a habit of having sweet content in their meal, so then MacDonald's revised its menu and started adding sweet in their food stuff then the sales ultimately went up. MacDonalds also revised its menu in India as there in India people are more of vegetarian in nature and in non-vegetarian also they prefer to have lamb or chicken meat. Whereas, MacDonalds was serving beef meat and some of the products were made with beef oil. So, in the end company have to change their menus and serve the food according to the local tastes. We can say that social factor also influences a lot whenever any product is manufactured. (Smith, 2011)

Green Fast Food

Green this is the term on which every organization is now giving due attention. Fast food industry is a type of industry which is now present everywhere and there are many issues related

with this industry which requires inspection. We have already discussed in this report that fast food industries main motto is to serve the food quickly and which is easy to carry. The food packaged in this type of restaurants weather eat-in or take-out requires some amount of natural resources are supposed to be used. As these joints are creating food which we can easily carry and these food consumes massive amount of paper for packaging purpose, which is ultimately affecting our natural resources and forests. Now the world is becoming a greener place to live, so organizations are trying to make a mark in this respect by adopting various green measures like these chains are now using packaging material which is made up of recyclable paper wraps and cardboard boxes. Some of the MNCs are also pursuing the conversion of used cooking oil into bio-fuels for transportation of vehicles, heating and in other purposes. Overall we can say that ultimately, it is we the buyer who can make a difference in the environment by adopting some good habits like when buying fast food , ask for less packaging for your order and carry your own cloth bags to reduce the consumption of natural resource. These small changes can make our planet more greener and a blissful place to live. (Soloman, 2010)

Conclusion The consumer behavior model explains that whenever a consumer is making any purchase s/he tries to evaluate the product on various grounds and then makes the final decision of purchase. It is also true that the buyers decision is effected by various other factors. By analyzing this report it is being clear that the fast food industry has done a lot to achieve the growth and has also changed the consumers perception in terms of fast food industry. As the report shows that this industry has seen a significant rise over the past couple of years. This is the only industry which benefited from economic meltdown as people have shifted their food spending from dinning outside at restaurants to fast food products. In the near future we can expect a massive growth in this industry.

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