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Consumer Behaviour Report

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Introduction

Apple Inc. is a large company operating in the market of consumer and software electronic devices. It offers a wide range of products, including personal computers, phones, and other devices. It occupies considerable share in the market and is a major competitor of such market leaders as HP, Microsoft, and Sony. Apple Inc. is launching a fourth generation of iPads in the range of its products.

This consumer behaviour report outlines general aspects of the Apple Inc., its history, and description of the company’s outstanding characteristics. Further, the iPad 4 target market is analysed with respect to different groups of consumers that are interested in the purchase of the new device. Next, target market behaviour is outlined in the framework of three consumer behaviour theories. Needs and motivation theory, personality traits theory, and theory of attitude describe and explain relationships between consumer behaviour and its origins, what motivates it, and how consumers make their choices about product brands or types of products. Finally, mixed marketing strategies recommendations are offered for the iPad 4 launching with respect to the price, product, place, and promotion policies.

Company and Current Product Description

Apple Inc. is a large company producing software and consumer electronic devices. The company is based in America. It was established by Steve Jobs, Ronald Wayne, and Steve Wozniak in April, 1976, in California. Apple is a world producer of a great variety of products, including portable music players, mobile phones, and personal computers. At the same time Apple provides peripherals and software services. Apple was ranked number 75 in 2010 on the Forbes 2000 List of companies (DeCarlo 2012). In the course of its performance on the market, Apple has created an exceptional position among consumers with the help of its distinctive advertising campaigns and products appeal. In the market of consumer electronic devices and software, Apple faces fierce competition in all its product lines. In particular, its personal computer products are highly competitive in the market with other world brands, including HP, IBM, and Sony. Another line of products, portable music players, is one of the biggest competitors for Creative Zen and Microsoft Zune brands, which offer analogous or advanced features. One of the outstanding features of Apple’s products is remarkable innovation and design that are present in all consumer goods.

The iPad 4 is a line of portable computers of the fourth generation that are designed by Apple. Mostly, iPad 4 is used as a platform for various visual and audio media; it offers a possibility of reading electronic periodicals and books, watching movies, listening to music, playing games, running different applications, and searching web content. Size and weight of the iPad 4 is between those of modern laptop computers and smart phones.

Target Market Profile

Target market of the iPad line of products has shifted with emergence of latest fourth generation from simple consumers’ consumption to the increased purchase of iPad 4 by business consumers (Arthur and Fox 2011). A lot of companies have been adopting iPad 4 in their offices among employees. iPad 4 has become a convenient means of business communication in different spheres (Sperling 2010; Worthen 2010). Expansion of the target market to the business audience is explained by the increased productivity of employees, reduced amount of paperwork as well as associated increased rates of revenues.

At the same time, another niche of the iPad 4 target market is the spheres of education and health care. A number of educational establishments have adopted iPad 4 in their classroom studying process. At the same time, it is considered as a useful tool for homeschooling (Williams 2010). Due to its design and simplicity, iPad 4 has also been established as a useful means of communication and socialization for children with autism (Harrel 2010). In the sphere of healthcare, iPads of the fourth generation have been actively used by the hospitals in the management of their supply chain.

Original target audience of the iPad 4 is a group of young consumers that are using device as an audio means to run numerous music applications. Latter include voice and guitar effects, processors, sound samplers, samples loops, sequencers for synthesized sounds, drum machines, virtual synthesizers, touch responsive instruments, etc. Moreover, iPad 4 has considerably increased use of social television. A lot of iPad consumers are using it as a handy second networked computer in order to communicate with their friends (AdWeek 2011).

Target Market Behavioural Analysis

There are numerous theories that explain consumer behaviour and their purchase of different products. Utilizing various aspects of human psychology and behaviour, sociologists, market research specialists, and economists have been attempting to explain consumer behaviour. It is worth considering three groups of theories that explain consumer behaviour: needs and motivation consumer theory, consumer personality theory, and consumer attitude theory.

Satisfaction of needs serves as a good motivation. At time passes, human needs change along with their motivation. There are numerous internal and external factors that affect change of needs and motivation. However, all needs are not satisfied simultaneously. When some needs are satisfied, other needs appear right away. At the same time, people often are not able to satisfy all of their needs due to different financial, personal, social, and cultural constraints (Poston 2009).

One of the basic theories of human motivation is the theory developed by a clinical psychologist Abraham Maslow. It is based on the general hierarchy of human needs. He has identified five fundamental levels of human needs and ranked them according to their importance. Genetic and biological needs are considered to be the most important, while psychogenic needs were identified to be the least important. According to the theory of needs, people need to have their basic needs satisfied before they can satisfy other groups of needs. Therefore, those unsatisfied needs of the lowest level become a motivation of the human behaviour. Once the lowest level of needs is satisfied, a person becomes concerned about fulfilling higher levels of needs. Hence, dissatisfaction of needs becomes a major motivational element. As a result, marketers are studying hierarchy of needs and means of their satisfaction in order to promote their products (Poston 2009).

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According to the Maslow hierarchy of needs, physiological needs (needs in air, water, food, house, shelter) are fundamental human needs that are on the lowest level of hierarchy. They are followed by the security and safety needs (protection, physical safety, security, and stability). Next in the hierarchy of needs are social needs. They include needs in having friends and affiliation to some social groups. Finally, the next group of higher level needs are egoistic needs. At this level, people are concerned about satisfaction of their material needs compared to other people. Last level of needs is considered to be self-actualization. It is the highest level in the needs’ hierarchy when people are attempting to attain higher level of achievements in life.

Therefore, those marketers who are aware about the motivation and hierarchy of human needs promote their products more effectively and secure higher levels of sales and revenues for companies. The iPad 4 is used by people to satisfy their higher levels of needs. With the help of iPad 4 people are socializing and satisfy their social needs. At the same time, iPad 4 is a comparatively expensive device, making it also a means of satisfaction egoistic and self-actualization needs since it serves as a sign of high income and social status (Poston 2009).

The personality theory of consumer behaviour

Another big part of literature explains personality theory of consumer behaviour. Psychologists have been explaining consumer behaviour based on the needs and motivation theory. Sociologists explain consumer behaviour and purchase of goods using social concepts and social categories like belonging to a specific social class, impact of reference groups, influence of peers, life cycle of a family, as well as many other concepts that explain consumer behaviour. Whereas they have identified different classes and groups of consumers based on numerous social characteristics, this did not bring enough explanation of the available behavioural individual differences. There is extensive evidence of people from the same social groups behaving differently. As a result, personality theory of consumer behaviour has been developed to explain individual differences inside different social groups. In general, personality is defined as a personal disposition that underlies human behaviour (Sanford 1968; Lazarus 1971).

Personality trait theory is widely applied in the marketing analysis. There have been numerous attempts to explain purchase of different kinds of goods in the framework of the personality trait theory. For example, there are a lot of studies that have examined consumers’ preference with respect to automobile brands. According to some studies, around sixty percent of the automobile brand choices were explained with the help of individual personality characteristics (Evans 1959). Steiner (1961) has extended the research of Evans by studying the relationship between the automobile brands and consumers’ loyalty to brands with the help of individual personality characteristics. Similar studies were conducted for other groups of products (Brody and Cunningham 1968).

Overall, the evidence from studies of consumer behaviour in the framework of the personality theory suggests following implications. First, application of the standardized measuring instruments of personality brings comparatively weak relationships between consumer behaviour and personality traits. It is found that there is a considerably stronger relationship between the latter in cases of specially developed instruments for measuring personality traits. Next, relationship between personality traits and consumer behaviour is substantially influenced by the specification and definition of the consumer behaviour per se. There is a lot of evidence in the literature showing different results for consumer behaviour that fall in one of the following categories: brand loyalty, product type choice or brand choice.

Similar to findings in the literature, choice of iPad 4 by consumers is largely affected by numerous personality characteristics. People from the same social groups may or may not choose purchasing of the device. This is exactly explained by the individual characteristics of people.

The theory of a customer attitude towards different products 

Finally, consumer behaviour in the market is often explained with their attitudes towards different types of products or products’ brands (Smith et. al. 2008). According to the latter, attitude of people towards different products evolves and develops over time. It identifies several ways in which people’s attitude may be established. First approach is method of classical conditioning. According to it, people establish their attitudes towards different products over many years through continuous learning and revealing the products’ attributes. As a result, attitude of consumers towards different products is slowly reinforced.

Another way of establishing people’s attitude is called instrumental conditioning. According to it, people consume new products due to specific reasons. Consequently, they develop either positive or negative perception of the product. This sets a background in their further attitude towards these products.

Finally, according to cognitive learning theory, people’s attitude towards different products is established similarly to the instrumental conditioning approach. The only difference is that cognitive learning process is primarily based on the mental evaluation and processing of new products (Smith et. al. 2008).

There are a lot of different models developed in the framework of attitude theory of consumer behaviour that would explain relationship between consumer choice of products and their attitude towards them. For example, theory of cognitive dissonance and self perception theory belong to the general stream of attitude theory of consumer behaviour. There is discussion in the literature with respect to the timing of attitude and consumer behaviour. Some studies show that consumer behaviour comes as a result of the people’s attitude. On the other hand, other researches find that consumer behaviour often precedes formation of people’s attitude to different products. Moreover, they suggest that based on the experience with different products and past behaviour, attitude towards consumption of different products can be modified and developed.

Self perception theory explains that consumer behaviour is majorly motivated by the available opinion on consumer’s taste, attitude, and personality. All these factors jointly affect decision of a consumer either to buy or not to buy certain products (Smith et. al. 2008). Another theory that connects consumer behaviour and their attitude towards products is a social judgment theory. According to the latter, a consumer constantly evaluates new information that appears about the existent product and takes into account public opinion about it.

Finally, balance theory of consumer behaviour is one more attempt to explain relationship between consumer behaviour, their choice of specific products, and their attitude towards them. In the framework of this theory, a consumer attempts to balance three aspects about the product: his/her own opinion about the product, opinion of other people about the product, and finally, information about the product that is communicated by the product marketer. Taking into account this information, the consumer establishes his/her attitude and makes a decision about a purchase (Smith et. al. 2008).

Hence, purchase of the iPad 4 on the market can be attributed towards the available attitude that people have, both as a community that affects each other’s opinion as well as individual consumers. iPad marketers should be concerned with the information that they communicate about their product since latter becomes a major factor in establishing attitude towards the product among consumers.

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