Characteristics of the Consumer Preferences Research Process

By Voicu, Mirela-Cristina | Global Economic Observer, January 1, 2013 | Go to article overview

Characteristics of the Consumer Preferences Research Process


Voicu, Mirela-Cristina, Global Economic Observer


Introduction

Studying the consumer's behaviour is not an easy task at all, and even less simple is observing only one aspect of this behaviour, like in the present case, the consumers' preference for a certain product, label or organisation. Along the research consumers may express their needs and desires and still may act in a totally opposite way; at times, it's possible that they aren't even aware of the true motivations behind their buying behavior, or they could react to factors determining last minute changes to their buying decision. Although the consumer decisions are relatively easy to notice and quantify, the psycho-physiological processes behind them are very difficult to take into account* 1.

Research related to consumer behavior looks upon its different dimensions and their relationship. The final aim of these investigations is to foresee and channel the future reactions of the demand agents, for a precise correlation between demand and supply. In this respect, all dimensions that lead to the manifestation of a certain behaviour must be studied and understood. Each of the dimensions of the consumers' behaviour we want to focus on within a marketing research imprints on it with certain specificity, a special way of approach. Therefore, the features of the consumers' preferences mark the conducted studies with certain specific features in this sense, which we must take into consideration when elaborating and conducting these studies, in view of observing the essence of this dimension of the consumers' behaviour.

1. The necessity of knowing the consumers' preferences

The preferences of the consumers are a positive motivation, expressed by the affective compatibility towards a product, sendee or trading form. We're not dealing with an internal bodily function, but a quality of objects that aims to fulfill our needs, quality acquired within the connection between man and the merchandise able to fulfill these needs.

Preferences can be triggered by: the features related to the material substance of the goods (shape, size, print, taste, colour, consistency, package, etc.); elements referring to label, name, use instructions that accompany the product; the statute granted to the person owning and using that particular product1 2. Theoreticians, at some point, had the tendency to limit the preference to the concept of choice; however choice and preference are two radically different entities: the first one is an action and the other one, a state of mind". Preferences are the result of a long-term relationship between the brand and the consumer, as the latter learns to associate the brand with a symbol and perceive it as having high quality. Following these deep connections created over the course of time, a strong emotion is developed which lies on the basis of preferences, remaining present even in the absence of the friendly symbol or of any other component feature.

Although a hardly comprehensible concept, it has been demonstrated that the consumers' preference can be measured effectively, and that their study can provide a more thorough understanding on the choices consumers make, when they decide to select a particular offerer as against the other, or even when they decide to continue the relationship with the offerer in time. Additionally, conducted studies have established various concepts related to the preference, such as the concept of the formed preference which underlines the idea that the consumers' preferences are not better defined, but rather formed along the process of choosing, a constructive point of view which suggests that different tasks and contexts highlight different aspects of the options, the consumer concentrating on different considerations leading to inconsistent decisions3.

Knowledge of consumer preferences is especially important with respect to the various activities carried out at the organizational level, necessary for its survival.For instance, if an entrepreneur must determine what features must have the product he wants to create, he will interview more potential buyers, asking them to mention the level of preference for each separate feature. …

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