Understand consumer behavior to thrive in a saturated market

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The marketplace has always been rife with competition, and it’s only getting smarter and tougher.

Jack Trout and Steve Rivkin assert that what this new kind of competition is often able to exploit is that buying behavior isn’t just about people and income, it’s also about how dissatisfied consumers are with present alternatives (Differentiate or die, survival in our era of killer competition 2nd edition).

According to Khan (2009, p.4), in Consumer Behavior and Advertising Management, consumer behavior can be defined as the decision-making process and physical activity involved in acquiring, evaluating, using and disposing of goods and services.

Markets are driven by sales and profits. Many have been involved in all the central issues about advertising from the business perspective. Yet, many have not come to terms with the fact that consumers are fundamentally human and can experience dissatisfaction.

Therefore, understanding their cognitive processes and finding ways to change their behavior is not negotiable.

For instance, failure to appreciate that consumers live within social grounds where their choices can be influenced by others could be detrimental for businesses. Inasmuch as the desire to lure customers is vital in marketing, so is relating such efforts to consumers and their socio-cultural context.  

This explains why some businesses are able make millions in the same business environment where others – perhaps in the same industry – struggle just to make sustainable returns.

This also brings the value of PR agencies to our attention. It is imperative for a business to have a working knowledge of how the target market thinks and why they behave the way they do. Success in the business world, especially today, cannot be left to chance.

When considering which advertising model to adopt, it is very important to keep consumers’ information-processing and behavior in mind.

It is also just as important to think of competitors because ignoring them can be detrimental to the success of the business. This is especially true for aspiring entrepreneurs who might be driven by the sheer desire to make money.

Many think they can just swim through the saturated marketplace while blindly ignoring the bigger fish. On the other hand, some are paralyzed by the fear of failure and never get their start-up running. That, of course, isn’t a wise move.

Entrepreneurs have got to acknowledge the fact that the business world has changed, dramatically so. What was true 50 years ago has become almost obsolete today.

For example, globalisation means that competition has grown to include businesses outside their territory, so businesses can no longer worry about local competitors only.

It is clear that businesses have to incorporate some key approaches if they are to thrive in today’s cut-throat environment. One such approach includes building a strong business brand. There are many books on branding but very few talk much about differentiation. If the topic does get mentioned, rarely do authors go beyond surface explanations about how branding is important.

On the other hand, entities like Young & Rubicam, a very large and talented global advertising agency, have done extensive work in this area. The firm has developed a system they call ‘‘brand science’’ and assert that ‘‘differentiation is first.’’ Differentiation is what defines a brand and distinguishes it from all others.

This concept of differentiation has been identified as the lifeblood of the business success. It is the very foundation of how brands are born and how they die. Master it and reap the rewards.


Teboho Polanka
Teboho is a Social Worker, Writer and Inspirational Speaker. He is in pursuit of MSc. in Managerial Psychology. Graduates are able to apply psychological principles and methods to tackle challenges in the work environment and provide effective practical solutions. Acting as industrial-organizational psychologists.