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My Most Recent Shopping Experiences: A Buyer’s Psychology and Behavior Analysis on Shopping Activities

A society’s culture is a reflection of its traditions, norms, values, and religious customs, and the shopping habits of individuals are particularly shaped by these factors. Consumer behavior depends on attitudes, motives, experiences, perceptions, values, culture, professions, and reference groups of society.

I grew up in the East African region, to a middle-class family and while my economic power was low, there was plenty to choose from and buy, but shopping activities were heavily influenced by my cultural upbringing. It has always been dictated by quality over quantity. So it’s no surprise that some of these values changed once I moved to the United States, this environment suddenly brought with it a broader context, an endless supply of products that stretched beyond what I could comprehend, and a level of convenience which I had never seen before.

Here are some examples of my most recent purchase experiences, why they are linked to common shopping activities, and what you can learn as a marketer from my experiences:

  1. Acquisitional shopping: Some two months ago, a family friend of mine invited me over to the state of Texas for a summer vacation, to be with my friend, I needed to travel to the state which required that I purchase a plane ticket to Houston from Miami. This is an example of acquisitional shopping. It is based on the value that a customer derives from a product or service that facilitates his/her need or accomplishes a task. Human beings are in constant motion and will be required to travel every so often from one place to another and while marketers cannot influence the frequency of acquisitional shopping, they can position themselves during periods when consumers are most likely considering the need for acquisitional shopping. during vacation months where most people are in a higher position to want to travel.
  2. Epistemic shopping: I was recently interested in purchasing a pair of gym shoes, the kind that I could abuse but also feel comfortable and stylish while working out in them. For about two weeks, I scoured the internet pouring through about a dozen web pages learning about the variety of gym footwear, the differences of each, and what kind of benefits they provide. This is an example of epistemic shopping, commonly known as window shopping. The activity is considered fun by many because of the time spent actually looking through pictures or physically walking into a store and trying on different products, but for the majority, it’s an activity that allows one to personally evaluate the product he/she may want to purchase soon. Because there is a myriad of product options out there, the opportunity for marketers here is to find ways to edify the customer and enrich their shopping experience, the better and more interactive their shopping experience is, the more likely they are in a position to buy.
  3. Impulsive shopping: As a technology enthusiast I am guilty of often buying products that I had not planned to buy, most recently it was a gaming console, accompanied by a few digital game titles in the preceding weeks. Impulsive shopping is a common phenomenon in today’s economy, more and more people are purchasing without consideration but more so for the enjoyment, excitement, and happiness of owning new things. I would argue here that marketers have a big opportunity to exert their influence on impulsive shoppers. With technology and access to data, marketers are using marketing hype and scarcity to fuel demand for certain products and services, with compelling advertising promotions, by targeting consumers who would not need to think twice about purchasing items even though they don’t necessarily need them.

To be a successful marketer today, it is important to expand your context beyond domestic boundaries because consumers’ shopping habits all around the globe are influenced by their culture and geographical boundaries. An understanding of these cultural beliefs and the shopping activities of consumers can be a source of insight for businesses to find ways of aligning their activities with those of consumers to attract them to purchase.




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