Essays on Consumer Decision-Making External Factors - McDonalds Case Study

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The paper "Consumer Decision-Making External Factors - McDonald's " is a perfect example of a marketing case study.   Consumer behavior refers to the conduct exemplified by consumers in the process of searching, buying, using, evaluating and disposing of products. Factors that influence consumer behavior can either be internal or external. Internal factors involve the consumer’ s inherent attributes, such as motivation, perception and learning. External factors are those that emanate from outside sources. They include reference groups, the family unit, social class, culture and sub-culture, innovations, policy and consumer protection. The objective of this discussion is to explore the influence of external factors on decisions that consumers make.

To this end, this discussion will focus on the fast-food industry, with reference to the marketing strategy employed by McDonald's to influence and retain its customers. The emerging trends in globalization have rendered companies striving to remain globally competitive and profitable. This has significantly altered work schedules, with a majority of workers feeling constrained on resources especially time. Time poverty has increasingly become a factor of critical concern for the working majority, and any developments meant to save on time have been received without much consideration, the concept of fast food being the foremost.

In an effort to save on time, workers have gradually got accustomed to having quick meals on trains, buses and their workplaces. The popularity of the fast-food industry is inevitable, as the majority of the working people that are overwhelmed with hectic work schedules find fast food outlets as a huge relief from the prevailing constraints on time. There are several factors that influence the marketing strategies used by fast-food companies. Foremost are concepts that involve culture, social stratification/demographics, reference groups, and families/ households.

They are discussed below. Culture In a research undertaken by Hirschman (1985) on modern trends in employment, he indicates that the 21st century has witnessed a drastic rise in the number and concentration of migrant workers, working women, and foreign students in major cities such as New-York and London, a factor that has significantly contributed to the success and expansion of the fast-food industry. With the increase in multi-national companies that are establishing their presence across borders, and coupled with the proliferation of immigrant workers and international students in major cities of the world, the concept of cultural diversity has become a key factor of consideration for marketers when developing a market mix for consumers. Culture is a complex whole that comprises the knowledge, beliefs, laws, customs morals and other habits that are acquired by virtue of interacting with the larger society.

According to Hirschman (1985), culture influences individual attitudes, personality, religious beliefs, material possessions and other attributes that define individuals. Culture provides a framework for social reference exemplifying what is regarded as acceptable or norms of a given society.

An evaluation of the culture of a given group provides a lens through which marketers can filter the options available to the target market and the product improvements or modifications that are required to effectively meet customer expectations (Hirschman, 1985). Culture is fundamental in shaping behavior as it determines the norms that society subscribes to. Individuals who violate norms face penalties that could range from social disapproval to complete banishment from society. Culture is however learned through interaction with other members of the society.

Learning by observing the consequences of either adhering to or deviating from social norms is a voluntary activity that is motivated by social needs (Schlosser, 2002). It should, however, be noted that consumers seldom notice the influence of culture on their buying habits. This explains why certain aspects of human behavior may be acceptable within some cultures, yet they are reprimanded in other cultures. The concept of healthy food, for instance, has been a major concern of many fast-food consumers around the globe. This has not escaped the attention of McDonald’ s management.

In an attempt to address the health concerns that have been a threat to the survival of the fast-food industry, McDonald's has responded by incorporating organic food ingredients into their menus in most of the outlets.

References

Bateman, T. S., & Snell, S. A. (2004). Management: The new competitive landscape [2nd Ed.]. McGraw-Hill: New York, NY.

Hirschman, E.C. (1985). Cognitive processes in experimental consumer behavior. Research on Consumer Behavior, 1, pp. 67-102.

Hamansu, S. M. (2008). Consumer behavior

[cit. 05.12.2010] Available at http://knol.google.com/k/consumer-behaviour#

Macdonald, E., & Sharp, B. (2000). Brand awareness effects on consumer decision making for a common, repeat purchase product: A replication. Journal of Business Research 48 (1), 5- 15.

Schiffman, L. G., & Kanuk, L. L. 2000. Consumer behavior (7th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

Schlosser, E. (2002). Fast food nation. New York, NY: Perennial.

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