Environmental & Situational Influences on Consumer Behavior

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  • 0:03 My Surroundings Made Me Do It!
  • 1:35 Social Dimensions of Shopping
  • 2:17 State of Mind
  • 2:50 Time Plays a Factor
  • 3:27 Reason for Shopping
  • 3:51 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: David Whitsett

David has taught computer applications, computer fundamentals, computer networking, and marketing at the college level. He has a MBA in marketing.

We are surrounded by factors in our environment that influence our purchasing decisions. Some are constants, while others are more situational in nature. In this lesson, we'll examine some of these influences on consumer behavior.

My Surroundings Made Me Do It!

If you've ever been in a casino, you've probably noticed you hardly ever see a clock. They don't want you thinking about what time it is; they want you pulling the handle on the slot machine. Retail stores also set up the physical environment for a specific purpose. Milk and bread are on the opposite sides of the store so you have to walk the whole length. Impulse items like batteries and gum (which have higher profit margins) are right at the register.

The physical factors that a store can control - lighting, music, aromas, layout, etc. - are called atmospherics. The location of the store itself is also important, as evidenced by entities like Starbucks and McDonald's; it seems like there's one on every corner, right where you need them. They even embed Starbucks and McDonald's in other retail locations to make them close at hand.

There are some physical factors, like weather, that retailers have no control over. Some businesses can offer specials to try and entice people to come out anyway, like golf courses that offer discounted tee times during hot afternoons. Other businesses, like retail stores and car dealers, just have to put up with reduced foot traffic on a rainy day.

To separate environmental influences and situational influences in your mind, think of environmental influences being around you constantly, while situational influences have a time and space element to them; they're more temporary in nature. In this lesson, we're going to take a look at some of the environmental and situational factors that affect and influence consumer behavior.

Social Dimensions of Shopping

Have you ever gone shopping with a friend or a spouse? Did their presence influence your shopping behavior? Shopping with someone else can definitely affect the types of products you look at, or even the price level of the products you consider. A guy might to try impress the girl he's with by choosing a more expensive item than he normally would.

Let's say you're in a store and you notice a crowd gathered around an item. Are you curious? You go look. This phenomenon is know as herd behavior because you're mimicking the actions of the others around you, in this case the other shoppers. And yet, sometimes crowds can have negative connotations - long lines and crowded parking lots are two reasons some people prefer online shopping.

State of Mind

Mood can have a temporary, but strong influence on buying behavior. People's moods can be influenced by several factors, including whether they are sick or healthy, tired or not tired, etc. Some people actually get a ''high'' from shopping, thus the term ''retail therapy.'' There's even a well-known economic indicator called the Consumer Confidence Index (CCI) that expresses shoppers' pessimism or optimism regarding the state of the economy, the implication being that spending will increase or decrease based on consumers' moods.

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