If marketing is understood to be geared to the needs of the demanders and to corporate action, a distinction is made between two different views of customer orientation (Hüttner, 1999, p. 13):
The passive, reactive customer reference in the field of marketing. The readiness of a company to react appropriately to the perceived behaviour and needs of the customers through appropriate marketing and production of services.
The active customer reference in the field of marketing, i.e. the discovery of chances and possibilities for the targeted control and influence of the customer’s thinking, needs or actions.
In both orientations the starting point is the customer, because successful marketing can only take place on the basis of sufficient knowledge of the wishes and needs as well as the regularities and influencing factors of buyer behaviour (Hüttner, 1999, p. 13).
The term buyer behaviour describes the behaviour of private households with regard to the purchase of services, goods and the procurement behaviour of public and commercial buyers. The term consumer behaviour applies to the first mentioned area. The consumer is the person who makes the final consumption of a service or good. The second area refers to the organisational procurement behaviour. Here, the organisation describes the structured association of several persons who pursue certain objective or economic goals, such as authorities, intuitions or enterprises. Buyer behaviour is thus a generic term which covers the areas of organisational procurement behaviour and consumer behaviour and therefore also includes the entire demand side (Hüttner, 1999, p. 14). “While organizational buyer behavior can be characterized as rational and is subject to the conditions of procurement marketing and procurement logistics, the behavior of private consumers is more strongly characterized by individual factors (psyche, environmental influences and different purchase decisions)” (Hermanns et al., 2012, p. 31).
The following questions arise in connection with buyer behaviour (Hermanns et al., 2012, p. 32):
- How can the behaviour of the buyer be described in general, as in a group, as as an individual buyer?
- How does certain behaviour affect the buyer and for which service categories is it valid?
- What are the causes of behaviour?
- How long can certain conditions last and what changes can occur over time?
- Can buyer behaviour be influenced and if so, which actions are necessary for this? The basic prerequisite for the introduction and execution of targeted marketing activities is a detailed analysis of buyer behaviour. Both the behaviour and the interest of the customer, which influence his purchase decision and information processes, are thus at the centre of the marketing interest. In particular, from a marketing point of view, the consumer’s buying behaviour in the service and product context is taken into account. However, the social metatrends that also influence the purchasing decision are important. The analysis of consumer behaviour aims at making as precise statements as possible about the causal effects between purchasing behaviour and personality traits. This is an increasing challenge in the marketing process. The complexity, viability and individuality of customer-specific and social behavioral characteristics are increasing, while the predictability of customer behavior is decreasing (Gardini, 2014, p. 90).
With regard to consumer behaviour, the determining factors that control the selection and evaluation of service offers of consumers need to be explained. There are intrapersonal as well as interpersonal determinants. Here, intrapersonal determinants describe the interaction of different psychological variables that are individually created for each consumer (for example, attitudes, emotions, motives). While the interpersonal approach describes the consumer’s experiential environment, which is composed of the closer (e.g. reference group, family) and the wider social environment (class, culture, subculture) (Gardini, 2014, p. 95-96).
A common method for the analysis of demand behaviour is the classification of purchasing behaviour into specific classes (customer segmentation). Clustering algorithms are mainly used for this purpose. For example, K-nearest-neighbors, tree-based methods, K-means methods, support vector machines and density search methods are among the standard mathematical procedures of the algorithms used. Based on the classification of a customer to a certain customer group, it is possible to forecast his subsequent purchasing behavior. Furthermore, other analyses are used to evaluate the decision-making behavior of all customer groups. Here, probabilities are determined regarding the purchase decision of certain products. Due to increasing competition, the probability of purchasing similar products depends on the own price as well as on the prices of other products. Substitution effects in the demand for related goods should be measured in order to correctly anticipate purchasing behaviour. The evaluation of interactions between the individual products provides a basis for the use of targeted and effective marketing measures (Uflacker et al., 2017, p. 182f.).
The motives of consumers determine their way of acting and their buying behaviour. Why do they tend to buy certain products or services? To understand this, you have to understand the motivation. Motives are active motives that control behaviour. They are first of all a need, a drive, a wish which becomes a motive when it gains importance and leads to a
This triggers a state of tension that causes a consumer to fulfil this wish. This action goal refers to motivation (Kroeber-Riel & Weinberg, 1999, p. 56; Schiffman & Kanuk, 2000, p. 64).
From a marketing point of view, the decisive question is to what extent motivation and attitude can be influenced and what opportunities arise for the individual companies as a result (Schiffman & Kanuk, 2000, p. 199ff). The extent to which attitudes and behaviour can be influenced depends on the planned change. If, for example, a cognitive change is planned, i.e. pure knowledge about the services and products, information and rational appeals regarding the communication measures are sufficient. If, however, a concrete behavioural change is planned, the fear appeals and emotional nature are addressed. It is generally recognized that regular market analyses are a prerequisite for determining changes in certain influencing factors. These should provide information about which measures and characteristics are of particular importance. The decisive factor would be communication with the competition or information about the criteria and characteristics of the providers from the point of view of the customers, who, for example, are worse off than the competition (Gardini, 2014, p. 102).