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RELATION OF CONSUMERS' BUYING HABITS TO MARKETING METHODS

By MELVIN T. COPELAND ROM the standpoint of consumers' buying habits, merchandise sold in retail stores can be divided roughly into three classes ^:— ( i ) convenience goods; (2) shopping goods; (3) specialty goods. Using this classification, one of the initial steps in laying out a sales or advertising plan is to determine whether the article to be sold will be purchased by consumers ordinarily with shopping or without shopping, at points of immediate convenience or in central trading districts, with insistence on an individual brand, with merely brand preference, or with indifference to brand. This preliminary analysis facilitates the determination of the kind of store through which the market for the specific product should be sought, the density of distribution required, the methods of wholesale distribution to be preferred, the relations to be established with dealers, and, in general, the sales burden which the advertising must carry. Convenience Goods Convenience goods are those customarily purchased at easily accessible
1 The methods of marketing goods for retail (iistribution are essentially different from the methods of marketing goods for wholesale consumption. In the one case it is necessary to select marketing methods whereby the goods can be parceled out in small lots to individual consumers; in the other the sales are made in wholesale lots for large scale use, as in manufacturing or in construction work. Mr. C. C. Parlin, manager of the Commercial Research Division of the Curtis Publishing Company, has divided merchandise for retail distri-

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stores; examples are canned soup, tobacco products, electric light bulbs, safety razor blades, shoe polish, laundry soap, crackers, popular magazines, confectionery, and tooth paste. The consumer is familiar with these articles; and as soon as he recognizes the want, the demand usually becomes clearly defined in his mind. Furthermore, he usually desires the prompt satisfaction of the want The unit price for most articles in this class is too small to justify the consumer's going far out of his way or incurring the expense of a street-car fare in order to procure a special brand. It is for such reasons as these that a product subject to this type of demand gains a large sales advantage when it is purveyed in numerous stores located at points easily accessible to consumers. The consumer is in the habit of purchasing convenience goods at stores located conveniently near his residence, near his place of employment, at a point that Can be visited easily on the road to and from his place of employment, or on a route traveled regularly for purposes other than buying trips.
bution into two classes—convenience goods ami shopping goods. (Merchandising of Textiles, pp. 5-6.) In the case of shopping goods he made a distinction between men's shopping goods and women's shopping goods. In the classification explained in this article, convenience goods are defined to include practically the same merchandise as was included by Mr. Parlin in convenience goods. The category of merchandise included in shopping goods in this new classification, however, differs from Mr. Parlin's classification, and a new class—'Specialty goods—is added.

283 for most convenience goods to be sold through wholesalers. Shopping Goods Shopping goods are those for which the consumer desires to compare prices. usually can be delayed for a time after the existence of the need has been recognized. Many of the retail outlets commonly utilized for this purpose at the present time are small unit stores. Convenience goods. drug stores. women's gloves.* but it is in the trade in convenience goods that chain store systems have shown the greatest development. and hardware stores. Typical shopping goods are gingham cloth. and these "repeat" purchases enable the stores handling such wares to secure adequate patronage with reasonably small investments in stocks of merchandise. constitute an exception. Usually the consumer wishes to make this comparison in several stores. to obtain this widespread distribution it is customary 2 A unit store is a store. this is in contrast to the usual attitude in purchasing convenience goods. One of the essential characteristics of chain store systems is the combination of the advantages of large scale operation with those of small scale selling by locating branches at points which can be reached easily by consumers for the purchase of convenience goods. The purchase of shopping goods. owned and managed 33 an independent unit for the sale of goods through personal salesmanship. but fundamentally the buying habits are the same in all districts. furthermore. however. Because of the desire of consumers to purchase this type of merchandise at easily accessible stores. The typical shopping institution is the department store. Whenever a manufacturer of a product in this category elects to sell directly to unit stores.RELATION OF CONSUMERS' BUYING HABITS TO MARKETING In sparsely settled districts. quality. chinaware. Shopping goods are purchased largely by women. the volume of sales . the immediate satisfaction of the want is not so essential as in the case of most convenience goods. The few chains of specialty stores. the distance a consumer must travel to reach a store carrying convenience goods necessarily is greater than in densely populated districts. and novelty articles. the store catering to the shopping trade must have a central location which attracts shoppers from a wide territory. Because of the variety of merchandise which must be carried to satisfy the shopper and the relative infrequency of purchases of shopping articles by the average consumer. consequently. to be sure. Ordinarily a special trip is made to the shopping center for the purpose of buying such merchandise. moreover. the specific store in which the purchase is to be made is not determined until after the offerings of at least two or three institutions have been inspected. A majority of these stores are unit stores. The exact nature of the merchandise wanted may not be clearly defined in advance in the mind of the shopper. without an elaborate departmental organization. which for reasons to be indicated later operate on the principle of one store in a town. he must develop a large sales organization and arrange for his salesmen to visit the retailers at frequent intervals. the manufacturer of a convenience article must aim to secure distribution of his product through a large number of stores in each territory. Typical retail establishments carrying convenience goods are grocerjr stores. As a rule. In order to justify the expenses of operation in such a location. are purchased at frequent intervals ljy the average consumer. and style at the time of purchase.

has found it possible to operate time after the specific need has been a grocery department at a profit. other than price.accept the merchandise without shoperally strong. is much to rely upon the service. It is sel. As in the case of shopping inconvenient to consumers. Conversely. Examples of spefactors of location. Whereas convenience goods are tunity for shopping. convenience goods ordinarily cannot provided a satisfactory selection of carry a large enough variety and range merchandise can be effected in that of products to offer an attractive oppor. but men's purchases of spegoods. therefore. acteristics associated with the brand or The number of stores selling shop. the consumer prefers to deal with a store offering an attractive variety of Specialty Goods styles and sizes from which to select. for the to reach the store selling specialty rental is high and the delivery interval goods. handicap it in goods are purchased by both men and developing a business in convenience women. or unit stores or through both department the general reputation of the retail stores and chain stores.284 HARVARD BUSINESS REVIEW must be large. Consumer. and phonographs.goods. This facilitates the ping. high-grade furniture. The average size of the shop. It is because of distinctive charor a specialty line. When a manufacturer is laying cialty lines are a larger proportion of out his marketing plans. organization.in the case of shopping goods. which enable shoes. The felt by the consumer.the store that the consumer is prepared ping goods. ing. From the manufacturer's standpoint. it ordinarily is necessary for shopping goods usually is not adapted the consumer to put forth special effort to the convenience goods trade. Specialty goods are those which have Purchases are made by each individual some particular attraction for the con. which induces sequently. and cialty goods are men's clothing.cialty article may be postponed for a ample. make the purchase without shopping. and smaller than the number of convenience prices of merchandise offered by that stores. a convenience line. tempt to distribute his product through For specialty good^s the manufacboth department stores and scattered turer's brand. the con. Specialty to the shopping trade. for ex. The type of store for quality and service stands out store selected depends upon whether it prominently in the mind of the conis a shopping line. sumer. quality.customer at infrequent intervals.a specialty line calls for selected distrisumer determines in advance the nature bution.store. furthermore. in contrast to the general dis- . vacuum a department store to cater effectively cleaners. In purchasing specialty goods. purchased at stores that are easily acA store location suitable for trade in cessible. it follows of the goods to be bought and the store that the type of store which handles m which the purchase is to be made.store as generally being fair and to ping store is large and its credit gen. In numerous lines of specialty marketing of shopping goods directly goods. men's consumers' buying habits. he the total sales of such merchandise than ordinarily finds it inconsistent to at. the retailer's brand. such as men's shoes and clothfrom manufacturer to retailer. the actual purchase of a spedom that a department store. a specialty store generally is him to put forth special effort to visit located at a point to which customers the store in which they are sold and to can be drawn from a wide area.

Retailers must be chosen who can be relied upon to use aggressive selling methods in attracting customers to their stores. Although these stores also sell staple groceries. furthermore. are specialty goods. The manufacturer of specialty goods who works out his plan of distribution systematically on this basis also often finds it advisable. however. men's cloth- . are clearly convenience goods. exclusive agencies are granted to retailers for the distribution of specialty goods. Because of the part which each individual retail store handling the merchandise plays in the sale of the specialty goods. for example. Staple groceries. medium. The piece goods departments are likely to remain shopping departments. Although women's ready-to-wear suits generally are shopping goods. their patronage is secured primarily on the basis of the specialties 285 that they carry. An exclusive agency is seldom. Shoes. Women's shoes which feature style novelties border on the shopping classification.RELATION OF CONSUMERS' BUYING HABITS TO MARKETING tribution essential for convenience goods. In case of several commodities. The dealers who are to handle the specialty line must be carefully selected on the basis of their ability to attract the class of customers to whom the product will appeal. in the same city. border on the classification of convenience goods. Frequently. the care with which these stores must be selected. on the other hand. and the methods of cooperation which are essential between the manufacturer and the dealer. for example. anywhere from one hundred to several hundred grocery stores are carrying convenience goods. In the shoe trade. The manufacturer of women's novelty shoes. on the other hand. The manufacturer of cheap work shoes. ordinarily must place his product in a larger number of stores than would be required were he selling medium-grade dress shoes for men. the articles tend to fall into more than one of these three categories.and highpriced shoes for both men and women are specialty goods. Because of the limited market for such specialties and the volume of business necessary to justify carrying such a stock. justified for any line which is not a specialty line. which tend to fall into the class of specialties. that manufacturers have found it practical to operate retail branches. if ever. The common grades of work shoes. Several retail stores also have developed specialty reputations for women's ready-to-wear. cannot advisedly leave the shopping institutions out of consideration in planning his sales program. fancy groceries. the average department store now seems to be faced definitely with the question of whether its merchandising should be primarily on a shopping basis or whether at least some of its departments should be developed on a specialty basis. a few manufacturers recently have been developing standard trade-marked . through his national or local advertising. lines. In view of the conditions in the women's ready-to-wear field and also in several other fields. ordinarily only one or perhaps two or three stores in a city can obtain enough business on these goods to warrant taking on a line of fancy groceries. to assume part of the burden of focusing the demand on individual stores. specialty goods are especially suited to distribution by direct sale from manufacturer to retailers. It is only in the marketing of specialty goods. In each city there usually are from one to three stores which have a high reputation for specialties in groceries.

the manufacturer can undertake not only to direct the active demand to his particular product. sales were not directly stimulated by the sugar refiner. with the featuring of prices and bargains that are supposed to appeal to the shopper. The increase in the sale of crackers in packages. the individual manufacturer seldom can afford to assume the burden of stimulating demand which cannot be specifically directed to the product of his own factory. but also to arouse latent demand by stimulating a larger number of consumers to want his product or by making previous consumers desire to use more of his product at a specific price. either entirely upon their own initiative or as a result of the sales efforts of the retailers by whom it is sold. and the advertising problems of manufacturers are quite dissimilar for shopping. When the American Sugar Refining Company. has given greater significance to brands of crackers and has facilitated the use of aggressive sales methods by cracker . For an unbranded product. in 1912. ing. must pursue merely passive selling methods or. women's ready-to-wear. furniture. shopping. and numerous other departments are being developed in several department stores as specialty departments. the volume of the demand ordinarily depends upon the quantity that consumers elect to buy. the tendency during recent years has been for an increasing proportion of convenience goods to be branded. they will afford attractive outlets for manufacturers whose distribution otherwise would be through specialty stores. in order to be able to offer low prices. for instance. silverware.286 HARVARD BUSINESS REVIEW sold in bulk. A brand is a means of identifying the product of an individual manufacturer or the merchandise purveyed by an individual wholesaler or retailer. the demand depended upon the amount consumers wished to purchase or were induced to purchase by retailers who featured the article. for example. The real demand for any commodity is the quantity which consumers will buy at a specific price. began to put out sugar in packages bearing the company's trademark. If the product is branded. well-coordinated policy for a store as a whole. for example. but it also could practically undertake to induce consumers to use more sugar. and specialty goods are sold both branded and unbranded. If a product is unbranded. in contrast to the former bulk sales. as. and he. brands do not play the same part in the merchandising plans for all three classes. in canning fruit. the company not only was in a position where it could inform the consumer regarding the merits of that particular brand. In these specialty departments the emphasis is shifted from comparative prices and comparative styles to the special qualities and characteristics of the merchandise carried. For such an unbranded product the manufacturer must rely chiefly upon his ability to produce cheaply. Relation of Brands to Buying Habits Convenience. In so far as department stores develop specialty departments. In other department stores the merchandising is still almost entirely on a shopping basis. for example. direct his sales efforts chiefly toward wholesale and retail merchants. on the other hand. convenience. but generally without a conscious. When sugar was With the development of the package trade. Because of the differences in the buying habits of consumers in purchasing these classes of goods. and specialty merchandise. at most.

Consumer Recognition 287 When a brand has any significance at all. if his product is eral brands oi merchandise. it serves primarily as a cause for recognition. . as. he must consider the attitude in which the consumer ordinarily approaches the purchase of such an article.similar in general quah'ties and in extern and style than directly competing ternal appearance. other things being equal. style. for the manufacturer to count upon the family brand to develop more than consumer recognition without the presentation of sales arguments for each article bearing the brand. cannot hope Consumer recognition soon shades ordinarily to secure many sales merely into consumer preference. and women's suits —pattern. consumer by a retail salesman. except in a few cases where retail stores have reputations which practically render it unnecessary for them to have brands placed on the merchandise which they sell. it occasionally is possible to arouse the interest of the consumer to a point of preference. The experience of retail dealers indicates that for shopping and convenience goods the common brand aids in promoting consumer recognition. If the consumer's previous acquaintance with the brand has been favorable. by which is meant a brand or trade-mark that is applied commonly to a group of different products turned out by a single manufacturer. serves primarily to establish consumer recognition for all products in the group as soon as the consumer becomes acquainted with one article bearing the common brand. and price are considered by the consumer. If it is a specialty line. When sevbecause of brand. (2) preference. the recognized brand will be selected from among other unrecognized brands or from among unbranded merchandise. are offered to the goods shown in other stores. The attitude of the consumer may be that of: ( i ) recognition. or if the manufacturer's or dealer's advertising has made a favorable impression. the recognition of a known brand Consumer Preference sways the choice. the one Consumer recognition—an acquaintance with the general standing of the brand—^probably is the only attitude toward that brand which the manufacturer of a typical shopping line ordinarily can establish in the mind of the average purchaser by means of advertising and sales efforts. When a manufacturer undertakes to focus the potential demand upon his product with brand identification. however. When the selection narrows down to a choice between articles of this sort approximately equal in pattern. If the product has some special feature. before brand. Specialty goods are all branded. A family brand. which are higher in price or less popular in pat. but large quantities of merchandise in this class still are sold unbranded. It is unsafe. Among shopping goods there has been some increase in the number of brands. ginghanis. The manufacturer of such goods. or {3) insistence. cotton fabrics dyed in fast colors or fast-colored silk goods loaded with a minimum of tetra-chloride of tin. and price. the experience of the consumer with one article bearing the brand is likely to establish in the minds of consumers at least an attitude of preference for other articles bearing the same brand. for example. however.RELATION OF CONSUMERS' BUYING HABITS TO MARKETING manufacturers. style. For some products—such as silk goods.

a substitute may be taken by the consumer. "Have you the X brand?" If the retailer does not have that brand in stock. consumer recognition. the sale has proceeded one step further. To warrant undertaking to develop this attitude. When the consumer approaches the purchase of an article in this attitude of mind. If the consumer has the attitude of insistence. or perhaps the retailer's recommendation has created a preference. or. If the consumer has no familiarity whatsoever with the brand of product to be purchased. for example. This practise of asking for brands is common for many consumers in the purchase of convenience articles. the consumer often approaches the retailer with the question. the product . or pattern of article. in its special features. The brand comes first in the consumer's mind and signifies to him the quality. the manufacturer of that brand has taken the initial step in consummating the sale to the consumer. but ordinarily it is not strong enough in this class of merchandise to make him insist on that brand to the point of visiting a less convenient store to make the purchase. One of the first steps to be taken by a manufacturer. the entire sales burden rests on the salesman in the store visited. The manufacturer of an electrical washing machine. undertakes to present his sales arguments in such a way as to lead the consumer to insist upon the purchase of his particular make. the manufacturer of such a machine seeks to convince the consumer that his is the machine which should be purchased and that a store carrying thi. if the retailer specifically urges another brand in the place of the one called for. he accepts no substitute unless it is an emergency. The difference between no standing at all in the mind of the consumer. is chosen. and consumer insistence is one of the degrees to which the selling process has been carried with the consumer before he visits a retail store to make his purchase. Marketing costs generally are high. is to make an elementary analysis of the habits of consumers in buying articles of the sort he is producing. style. If the consumer recognizes the brand.288 HARVARD BUSINESS REVIEW must be so individualized in quality. Consumer Insistence The third stage in which the demand for branded articles manifests itself is consumer insistence. If the manufacturer has established consumer preference. This attitude of consumer insistence holds commonly in the purchase of specialty goods. another brand ordinarily is accepted by the consumer. In purchasing convenience goods. or in the service rendered by the manufacturer or retailer as to differentiate it distinctly from competing articles and to induce consumers to put forth special effort to secure that brand. consumer preference. for example. In such cases the consumer has a preference for the brand asked for. It is because the consumer generally has merely the attitude of brand preference in purchasing convenience goods that it is essential for the manufacturer of such a product to place his wares on sale in a large number of stores in each territory. advertising. The strength of the brand depends upon the degree of preference in the mind of the consumer. it remains merely for the retail salesman to close the sale. who is seeking to effect economies in selling his product.s brand should be sought out. The formulation of an effective marketing plan for which previous experience. Through advertising. or the type of container that he wishes to obtain.

This approach assures the tion and the advertising program in maximum results from the sales efforts accordance with the analysis of the buy.RELATION OF CONSUMERS' BUYING HABITS TO MARKETING 289 must start with a consideration of the ing habits of consumers among whom consumer. .veloped.that are put forth. the next step is to adjust the the market for the product is to be deplans of retail and wholesale distribu.

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