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What is consumer behavior in marketing and why is it important?


Mar 23, 2018
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Major corporations, from Ford to Apple, have spent billions (if not trillions) of dollars studying consumer behavior. They want to know how consumers make buying decisions and what influences those decisions.

Your company might not be as big as Ford or Apple, but your annual revenue doesn’t decrease the value of consumer behavior. The more you know about what drives your target customers’ buying decisions, the more Knowledge Commerce products you can sell.

Since you probably don’t have billions or trillions of dollars to spend, however, you have to get creative about collecting and analyzing consumer behavior data. That’s okay. We’re going to walk you through the process and share several methods for getting to know your customers more thoroughly.

Plus, we’ll help you better understand what consumer behavior looks like and how to recognize it.


What is consumer behavior?

Consumer behavior is the series of behaviors or patterns that consumers follow before making a purchase. It starts when the consumer becomes aware of a need or desire for a product, then concludes with the purchase transaction.

You can also count repeat purchases under the umbrella of consumer behavior. For instance, some customers might buy every product you produce, while others will only buy one and disappear.

Through consumer behavior, you can also learn how customers interact with and use your products. This knowledge can help inform future decisions about product creation.

Definition of consumer behavior

Several factors go into the definition of consumer behavior, including the following:

  • How consumers behave individually and in groups
  • Why consumer behavior patterns change based on the types of products and services they purchase
  • When consumers are most likely to make a purchase
  • How a customer feels directly before buying a product
  • How that customer feels directly following the purchase
  • Which questions or objections contribute to the buying decisions
  • The number of touchpoints a customer makes with a brand or product before buying

We don’t mean to overwhelm you, but each of those factors is essential to understanding customer behavior. If you don’t know how to anticipate your target customer, how can you effectively market to him or her?

Why should you study consumer behavior?

Online entrepreneurs don’t always live near their customers. In fact, they might sell to people across the world.

Entrepreneurs can’t always just shake hands with their target audience members and get to know them. Research is often necessary.

You should study consumer behavior so you know how to create, market, and sell your digital products effectively. The more data you gather, the better your decisions become.

Imagine, for instance, that you’re creating an online course for people who want to learn how to play the guitar. You would probably enjoy more success if you knew several things about your target market:

  • Whether they had bought any other music-related educational products
  • How much time they have to devote to learning to play the guitar
  • What motivates them to learn guitar
  • How much money they can allocate to musical education
  • What pain points they experience
  • Whether they have any objections to learning the guitar online
  • What questions they have about online musical education

You can find the answers to all these questions, but only if you research consumer behavior. That’s why you need to find a place for this process in your workflow.

What is consumer behavior in marketing?

Consumer behavior in marketing is the response a target market exhibits to marketing materials. For instance, if someone in your target audience views one of your Facebook posts, how does he or she react?

You already know that marketing and advertising are essential parts of running your own business. However, that’s only one side of the coin.

“You can market and advertise every hour of the day for three months straight, but if you don’t know how your target market will react to those messages, you’re wasting your time. #Kajabi” — Tweet this!

Nobody can force consumers to buy your digital products.

Learning consumer behavior will help you build better marketing materials. You’ll produce better copywriting, select more appropriate images, and send messages to your audience that resonate with them.

In other words, you want every step you take in marketing your products to align with what you know about consumer behavior. And since consumer behavior changes depending on the product, you have to dig deep into the data available to you.

The three factors

Now that you have a basic understanding of consumer behavior and why it matters, let’s talk about what drives it. We all have intrinsic and extrinsic motivations when it comes to buying a product or service.

Think about your last trip to the grocery store. Several factors might have influenced what wound up in your cart, including the following:

  • Whether or not you brought and stuck to a list
  • How hungry you were
  • Whether you were devoted to following a specific diet
  • The items available at a discount
  • What the store had in stock
  • Whether the sales people talked to you about specific products

The people who are shopping for your Knowledge Commerce products are influenced by similar factors. You just have to figure out what they are and how you can leverage them to sell more products.



The first one is pretty obvious. How and what we buy depends largely on our psychological state before, during, and after a purchase.

Let’s say that you’ve just broken up with your significant other. You’re lonely, vulnerable, and a bit depressed.

If you head to the supermarket, you’re likely to stock up on comfort food. It might not be healthy, but it’s what your psyche wants.

But let’s move away from food for a minute and go back to our example about the online course for beginner guitar players.

Psychological factors might involve regret. Maybe your target customers always wanted to learn music, but they’ve put it off for years. Or perhaps they’re motivated by the desire to play a song at a friend’s wedding or to better appreciate music.


Have you ever felt personally drawn to a brand or product? Maybe the packaging resonated with you, or perhaps you felt empathy toward the brand’s message.

Some brands, for instance, donate a portion of their revenue to charity. They feel strongly about a specific cause, so they use their businesses to help further the cause.

That’s not the only factor, though. You might feel drawn to brands and personalities that don’t take themselves too seriously or that use humor on a regular basis. Maybe you’re more likely to buy a product if the seller shares your political, religious, or moral beliefs.

Understanding these critical aspects of consumer behavior can make you a much better marketer. You’ll learn that your brand isn’t a good fit for everyone. That’s okay. You just need to find a way to get your brand message in front of the people who are a good match for it.

External Motivators

It’s hard to admit, but we’re all easily influenced. Peer pressure doesn’t stop when we graduate high school.

Let’s say that your best friend has just bought an online course on clean living. She raves about the information she learned and the new perspective she’s gained on diet, exercise, and healthful living.

You’re automatically more likely to buy that course. Someone you trust has endorsed it, so you don’t see it as a risky proposition. If you’d just encountered the course while surfing the Internet, you might not have given it a second thought.

Other external motivators can be more fleeting. Maybe you see a product that a famous celebrity or industry expert has recommended. Just a headshot and a quote from that influencer can cause you to click the “buy” button.

3 types of buyers 

Motivation is just part of the puzzle. Consumer behavior also comes down to buyer types.

Let’s start with an easy comparison. In one corner, we have a wealthy hedge-fund manager whose annual income exceeds seven figures. This person invests and saves wisely. In the other corner, we have a convenience-store clerk who also saves wisely, but whose income leaves no room for discretionary spending.

Obviously, you’ll find it easier to sell your product to the hedge-fund manager. He has more disposable income than the convenience-store clerk, and therefore more freedom to buy what he wants.

Those aren’t the only aspects of buyers that should concern you, though. The convenience-store clerk might have to save up for six months to buy your online course, but if he really wants it, he’ll sacrifice other pleasures to get it.

Let’s look at the three basic types of buyers and how they influence consumer behavior.


The unconflicted buyer is often the most difficult to anticipate. These buyers are neither spendthrifts nor tightwads; their buying decisions depend on their state of mind at the time of the decision, their desire for the product, and timing.

You can’t control any of those variables.

An unconflicted buyer doesn’t make buying decisions based on available cash. Instead, he or she is more likely to be swayed by psychological, social, and personality factors. You have to do lots of consumer research to reach these buyers and lead them in your marketing funnel.


A tightwad doesn’t spend money frivolously. He or she wants to hang on to every last cent, so your product has to be super appealing to convince that person to open up the wallet.

Many people assume that tightwads either have no money or refuse to spend it on anything. Neither is actually the case.

A tightwad can have a negative bank balance or millions of dollars in investments and cash. It all depends on his personality and upbringing. Many people who come from wealthy families and do well for themselves appreciate their money and spend it only when they want or need something badly.

To convince tightwads to buy your product, you have to make it as appealing as possible. Overcome all possible objections, provide a bargain nobody can refuse, and make sure you live up to your brand promises.


On the opposite end of the spectrum, spendthrifts go through cash faster than a triathlete goes through water. They don’t leave money sitting in a bank — they take it shopping.

However, you have to consider the psychology of a spendthrift. People with this trait often make impulse purchases. They don’t spend hours comparing products or analyzing their decisions. Instead, they see something they want and buy it.

This contrasts against the tightwads who does spend hours weighing options. You’ll target these consumers at different levels of the sales funnel.

For tightwads, you want to make contact near the top of the sales funnel. Produce content and marketing copy that helps them make informed decisions.

Spendthrifts, on the other hand, are more likely to convert on a coupon code or an advertisement that shows up in their Facebook feeds.

Collecting consumer behavior data

Understanding the types of buyers and the motivations that encourage consumers to purchase products is important. However, you can’t just assume that your target audience falls into one basket or another.

Instead, you have to conduct your own market research to get to know your customers. What makes them tick? Why do they buy one product and not another?

Since every business’s target audience is different, you can’t rely solely on third-party data. Fortunately, Kajabi offers built-in analytics tools to help you get to know your target audience.

Track that data over weeks, months, and years to refine your knowledge about your audience. Our tools are extremely easy to interpret and simple to set up, so you don’t need any specialized knowledge.

Outside Kajabi, you can also use several other strategies to get to know your audience. Following are some of the best strategies and tools for tracking and interpreting consumer behavior.

Customer reviews

Many people won’t buy a product until they read reviews. That’s why companies like Amazon display reviews so prominently.

While customer reviews are no-doubt beneficial for other consumers, they can also be informative for businesses. When you read reviews of your own products or those of your competitors, you can better understand what your target audience wants.

You might notice, for instance, that lots of people complain about a particular facet of online courses in your industry. If you create a product that fixes the problem, you can convince more people to convert.

You’re looking for patterns and consistent comments among many reviewers. That’s why you might need to branch out and look at competitor reviews, as well.

Q&A sites

Sites like Yahoo! Answers and Quora can offer tons of free information about consumer behavior. People ask and answer questions about products all the time.

Start by searching these sites for your brand name. If people are discussing you, you’ll want to know about it.

From there, conduct broader search queries related to your digital products and niche. What are people interested in learning? What have they said about your competitors’ products? What irritates or delights them about available solutions to their problems?

Again, you’re looking for patterns. Collect as much data as you can, then find intersecting points that might help you better understand your target audience as a whole.



When you have a large enough audience, surveys can become your most powerful tool for consumer behavior research. You can ask your audience anything you want, catalog the answers, and look for connecting threads.

The best surveys are generally short. People are busy, so you don’t want to turn them off with 10 pages of questions.

Additionally, focus on very specific questions that relate to your products. Don’t bother with information you don’t need because you’ll waste your time and theirs.

Consider offering an incentive for survey participation, such as a free download or a coupon for one of your Knowledge Commerce products. You’ll get more answers that way.

Focus groups

Traditionally, focus groups took place offline. Consumers gathered in a conference room or other meeting space, and the event was conducted by an independent third party.

The Internet makes focus groups far easier and much less expensive. You can use any software program that allows you to interact with multiple people in real time. For a small focus group, Skype can work as a free, international option.

The goal of a focus group is to better understand consumer behavior. You can show the participants advertisements, marketing materials, product information, and anything else on which you’d like their opinion. You usually compensate the people who participate with cash or with free products.

Keyword Research 

Good old Google can be your best friend when it comes to inexpensive consumer behavior research. You can tell a lot about people based on what they search for.

A free tool like Ubersuggest allows you to enter a given keyword and learn the search volume, average cost per click on paid ads, competition level, and related keywords. Figure out what the most common keywords are related to your niche and how they might influence your marketing materials.

Target those keywords when you publish content online. You’ll have a better chance of ranking for them in the SERPs (search engine results pages) and getting more eyes on your content.

Google Analytics

You can use Google Analytics to learn plenty of information about your target audience, such as which blog posts they read most on your website or how many people bounce from your sales pages. When used in conjunction with Kajabi’s built-in analytics, you have plenty of data on your side.

Google Analytics, for instance, will tell you where your site’s visitors are coming from. Maybe you get most of your traffic from Twitter, or perhaps you’re gaining lots of organic traffic from the search engines.

This information will tell you where your target audience spends a lot of time--on Twitter, for example, or on Google conducting searches.

From there, you’ll know where to prioritize your marketing  efforts. Not only will you convert more customers, but you won’t waste time on traffic sources that don’t convert.

Competitor analysis

Don’t forget to take a long, hard look at your competitors. Understanding how they convert their customers can help you boost your own game.

We recommend using the SWOT analysis:

  • Strengths
  • Weaknesses
  • Opportunities
  • Threats

What are your competitors’ strengths? Do they have more social media followers? Have they produced more products? What about their weaknesses?

Look for opportunities to overcome your competitors’ advantages, then analyze the threats they pose in terms of market share.

Once you have this data, you can extrapolate information about your shared target customers. What do they have in common? How can you beat your competitors by reaching your target audience first?

Blog comments

Consider keeping a spreadsheet of blog comments. It might seem like an unnecessary bit of administrative work, but it can help you speed up your analysis of consumer behavior.

Divide up comments based on their content. For instance, you might want one spreadsheet for positive responses and another for negative. Look for requests and gripes that can help you better understand what your target audience wants.

For instance, you might see the same questions pop up numerous times. Lots of people obviously want to know the answer, so create a blog post that provides an in-depth solution. You’ll attract lots of new eyes to your content, then hit them with a compelling CTA.

Twitter insiders

If you don’t want to conduct your own focus groups, you might take advantage of Twitter Insiders. This consumer-centric program involves a collective of more than 12,000 consumers from different parts of the world who are willing to offer their input for brands and businesses.

You can ask the Insiders to perform specific activities and report back on their experiences. Activities include things like viewing a video, reading a product description, and even brainstorming ideas.

Google Trends

Check out Google Trends if you haven’t already. It’s a fantastic (and free!) tool that allows you to track keywords based on distinct criteria.

For instance, you can limit the graph data to a specific keyword, a particular part of the world, a date range, and other variables. If you see that a keyword is picking up speed, you can focus your marketing materials on it to take advantage of its popularity.

Government data

The U.S. government publishes copious amounts of data concerning consumer behavior. Much of it is available for free online.

The Small Business Administration (SBA), for example, publishes lots of small business statistics and data.

If you’re interested in specific information, conduct a simple Google search. Before the search query, however, type “” without the quotes. It’ll look like this:


Social Media 

Lastly, don’t forget about social media. It’s a gold mine of information about consumer behavior.

Start with brand mentions. Social listening refers to the practice of paying attention any time someone mentions your brand on social. You’ll want to track these conversations and participate when it’s appropriate.

Don’t limit your research to your own brand, though. You can search any social media site for mentions of your niche or industry. Tack on the word “learning” or “courses” in your search query to further narrow the results.

Use Kajabi to turn your knowledge and content into products you can sell

We understand that creating a profitable business can be hard. That’s why we created Kajabi in the first place.

It’s the ideal platform for Knowledge Commerce professionals who want to turn their knowledge and content into products they can sell. Why give away your knowledge when you can get paid?

You’re not alone, though. At Kajabi, we help our customers every step of the way, and we boast industry-leading tools and resources to help you become profitable as quickly as possible.

Using consumer behavior for your business

Consumer behavior influences all buying decisions, regardless of the product or service. If you’re familiar with consumer behavior related to your Knowledge Commerce products, you can produce marketing copy that’s more effective.

We define consumer behavior as the actions a consumer takes before, during, and after buying a product. These behaviors are informed by psychological, social, and emotional variables that influence buying decisions.

There are three types of buyers: unconflicted, spendthrifts, and tightwads. Each of these buyers makes purchase decisions differently, so you have to target them at different points on the sale funnel.

First, though, you need to collect consumer behavior related to your target audience. Read customer reviews, visit Q&A sites, run surveys, and conduct focus groups. You can also use tools like Google Analytics, Google Trends, and Twitter Insiders.

Mine your blog comments, research government data, and participate in social media. Don’t forget about your competitors, either. Understanding how your competitors win over your customers can help you convert more consumers.

Once you’ve collected consumer behavior data, use it to create better marketing copy.

What have you noticed about consumer behavior that might help your fellow Knowledge Commerce professionals?


Further materials:

Check out Kajabi’s free downloadable ebook resources.
Attend free Kajabi webinars Monday - Friday to answer your questions about Kajabi's capabilities.
Tune in to the Kajabi podcast, Kajabi Edge to hear interviews with Kajabi Heroes.

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