Frequently Asked Questions about Consumer Behavior
In marketing, consumer behavior is the study of how - and why - individuals and groups make purchasing decisions. These are the fundamental questions of the field of market research, as these important insights can drive business decisions into what products and services to sell as well as the best ways to sell them. And, while these questions aren’t new, researchers today have new tools to gain valuable insights into consumer behavior.
The migration of so much of our buying behavior to online platforms, from product research to comparison shopping to purchase and post-purchase reviewing, has created vast amounts of information for data analysis. Sophisticated customer analytics can harness this data to describe consumer shopping habits in great detail - and, when combined with regression analysis and other statistical techniques, predictive analytics can be created to forecast and influence future purchasing decisions.
The field of behavioral economics has also revolutionized the study of consumer behavior. This relatively new discipline combines economics with psychological insights into cognitive biases to better understand economic behaviors ranging from the decisions of individuals to global investment patterns. The emerging subfield of consumer neuroscience focuses on explaining buying behavior, creating opportunities for so-called neuromarketing approaches that leverage these insights to create more effective branding and advertising.
The study of consumer behavior is the principal concern of market research analysts, who are responsible for understanding what products people want, who will buy them at what price, and what type of marketing strategy can reach them most effectively. While traditional market research approaches have relied heavily on consumer focus groups and surveys, the new world of marketing analytics is increasingly demanding a strong understanding of digital marketing tools and data analysis techniques as well.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, market research analysts made a median annual salary of $63,790 as of 2019. These jobs are projected to grow much faster than the average across all occupations, as more and more industries and companies seek to gain a competitive edge by using data-driven market research approaches to better understand consumer behavior.
Yes, you can. Coursera offers a number of courses and Specializations on consumer behavior and related topics, including cutting-edge customer analytics and neuromarketing approaches. These courses are offered by top-ranked business schools from all over the world, including the University of Pennsylvania, Copenhagen Business School, and IE Business School. By learning online with Coursera, you can get a high-quality education remotely at a significantly lower cost than on-campus students - a combination that makes for an easy purchasing decision for a growing number of students as well as mid-career professionals.
The skills or experience you may need to already have before starting to learn consumer behavior include having a basic understanding of marketing strategies, the ability to grasp basic supply and demand concepts, and some knowledge about data analytics (consumer browsing and buying patterns, for example). You may also want to know a bit about how to develop spreadsheet modules to analyze data, evaluate risk, and optimize business decisions.
The kind of person who is best suited to learn consumer behavior is one who is interested in understanding, analyzing, and dissecting customer browsing and buying patterns to use for business purposes. A person who may benefit from learning consumer behavior is interested in what psychologists call “heuristics,” which are the mental shortcuts we take to make the choices we do daily. Someone who would be best suited to learn consumer behavior may want to research, extract, organize, and describe data to support business decisions, product launches, and product sales. In addition, the type of person who may be well suited to learn consumer behavior is interested in the emerging fields of consumer neuroscience and neuromarketing and how it is used in businesses. A person who works, or plans to work in a corporate setting, or who plans to be an entrepreneur or product designer may be well suited to learn about consumer behavior and what makes consumers tick.
Learning consumer behavior may be right for you if you want to continue on a career path in sales, if you want to understand the consumer decision-making process, or if you need to make managerial decisions by analyzing how consumers make choices. If you need to develop product marketing strategies such as viral marketing, develop a brand’s visual identity and benefits to customers, or learn to derive customer insights from sets of data, learning about consumer behavior may be right for you. In addition, if you would like to work in a global setting where you explore international markets and industries for new ideas or expansion, learning about consumer behavior may be beneficial for you.
This FAQ content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.