Professional Studies for Screen-Based Media
Foundation Degree South West
Consumer Buying Behaviour

Internal forces


Internal forces may be divided into two types: psychological factors and personal factors

Psychological factors
It is generally accepted that a certain type of person will favour a type of brand over another. Personality refers to the mental, spiritual and emotional characteristics that can be manifested in an individual's behaviour at a point in time. Personality is what a person is. If you visit Personality Tests you will be able to take different personality tests.

Two main personality theories used within the study of consumer behaviour are the psychoanalytical and trait theories. Sigmund Freud's psychoanalytical vision of the human personality concentrates on the interplay between the id, the ego and the superego. This Personality Theories Website will provide you with an in-depth understanding of Freud's and other important theorists ideas on personality.

The id is the source of strong inborn drives and pleasure principles. The ego controls the id. Through learning and experience the ego develops a person's ability to operate realistically and deal with the environment successfully. The superego internalises society's values and morals and sets the parameters of unacceptable and acceptable behaviour. Its role is to control the inborn drives of the id and persuade the ego to follow socially acceptable behaviour not just realistic behaviour.

Freud°s ideas have been extensively applied in marketing practice. Products and services can be designed to appeal to the id°s sense of pleasure. For example hotels, such as Hedonism in Jamaica, are positioned to appeal to people°s inborn drives for self-satisfaction. Sexy imagery in advertising like this ad for Gucci [link to Gucci ad] attracts people°s attention because its message speaks to their ids.

Many personality theorists have argued that personality consists of relatively broad, enduring and stable traits that can be used to explain people°s behaviour. Understanding what kind of message or product appeals to what type of personality trait can aid marketers when positioning brands.

For example, consumers with low self-esteem will tend to respond to messages of acceptance and belonging such as "if you dine in this restaurant you will feel appreciated and rewardedî. Likewise consumers who strive to present themselves strategically to others will purchase brands that will help communicate certain images. A 1969 ad for Concorde and Rolex illustrates how advertising messages can help an individual with high-self esteem communicate an appropriate image of success [link to the Concorde-Rolex ad]

Personal factors (attitudes, beliefs, values)
Personal factors such as values, attitudes and beliefs also have a directive influence on consumers’ behaviour. Values are relatively stable and generalised evaluations of what is right or wrong. They are central to the individual and set the foundations for attitudes and beliefs. Beliefs are thoughts people have about objects and actions, while attitudes are lasting evaluations of objects or issues. Unlike beliefs that are neutral, attitudes are emotionally charged. An individual is for or against an issue.

Successful products and messages will tend to resonate with consumers’ values. Because values are central to the individual, marketers can only attempt to modify consumers’ beliefs and attitudes.

For example, a tour operator like Thomas Cook can inform consumers that now they have exciting 2-week packages to the Amazon Jungle, by doing so they are adding to an existing belief system.

If a player in the market wanted consumers to re-evaluate their attitudes towards a certain type of airline, they could provide information that would challenge pre-existing beliefs. Recently, British Airways questioned the ‘benefits’ of travelling with low cost airlines by highlighting the nuisances of travelling without the usual ‘frills’. In practice, Marwell Zoo’s Publicity and Marketing Officer highlights the importance of understanding consumers’ values and attitudes towards their services.

Heather Moore, Marketing and Promotions Officer Marwell Zoo, Hampshire