Understanding the food consumer

All consumers are not the same. Consumer behaviour encompasses a broad range of disciplines, namely psychology, sociology and economics. Some consumers may have the same needs, but the way in which those needs are satisfied with wants, differs on an individual basis. Hence, we experience various types of decision-making processes when deciding how to satisfy needs.

When a consumer makes a purchase it is the whole sum total of thoughts, actions, processes that took place leading up to the purchase. If you are feeling hungry and wanting to order food, what makes you choose a particular restaurant or fast food brand? Were you prompted by an advertisement? Is it habitual? A recommendation? Or simply succumbing to a desire which lead to a thought, a need, a purchase?

Usually it is an image you hold in your mind of a particular food, stirring a desire leading to a particular brand that holds a certain meaning or promise for you – and some comfort!

We all buy with our hearts and minds all the time and make decisions based on brands that help us shape our minds and attitudes. Hence brands must be in sync with their customer’s wants and desires. It is also imperative that brands stay ahead of the curve with changing trends, delivering their promise and constantly improving their promise.

We also have different attitudes to the fulfillment of our needs when it comes to food.

Take a moment to think back to some of the most recent food purchases you have made. Was it a Habitual decision with little or no conscious effort? A complex decision making process, unsure of what you wanted? Was it sensory, stimulated by an advertisement, a picture? Or a ritual perhaps – Friday nights, fish n chips?

Perhaps next time your doing your grocery shopping, think about your actions leading to a purchase. Why did you decide to buy what you did? Was it an impulse type buy? Did you think about your decision a lot and compare product brands? Did you buy what you always buy because that’s what you have always bought?

Understanding consumer behaviour is great, but for food brands, the number one priority should be to segment, target and position your brand to identify which consumers are likely to purchase certain types of food products, and how those products should be positioned in consumers’ minds. Developing positioning strategies and compelling value propositions is essential.

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