Too Much Choices is Not Exactly a Good Thing

If I was a girl, I would go crazy if I saw Forever 21. Not in a good way. I think that store really did not take into consideration the consumer behavior that choices should be limited. There is a reason why some clothes brands have selected styles for different seasons and only the current season clothing’s are on the racks in the stores. There is a reason why a specific style of t-shirts are only sold in a few colors. There is also a reason why some restaurants have a limited menu for that month or season. There is a reason to everything.

People like choices. This is a known fact. We like customization of mass produced products. We like to buy iPod in our favorite color. We like to purchase our converse in red. We like choices because it gives us the ability to show our individual identity. However, it is human nature that too much freedom is not necessarily a good thing. It sounds contradictory. People always wanted freedom to choice, speech, etc, however it is true that when we have too much freedom, things happen. Lets say, people’s freedom of speech causes riots, boycotts. There are numerous things that could go wrong with too much freedom and choice. Bringing this theory into application of consumer behavior, I could extract that consumer behavior is also heavily impacted by the excess of freedom.

Forever 21 is the most popular retail store for teenagers today that carries the newest styles for a reasonable price. Since their clothing are priced at an affordable range, their customers are always never-ending. However, there is one thing that I don’t like about that store and it is the fact that it is so packed with clothes. I walked into the store in New York City with my girlfriend and we both stood there gazing at the rushing crowds of girls. It is absolute chaotic in that store and I have never felt the space so compacted with people. Though I know girls love that store because there are so many varieties and styles that you can choose from but the choices are infinite! My girlfriend could not lay her eyes on any specific piece of clothing because there were too many choices. This inspired me to write this post on how choices affect consumer behavior and by examining her consumer behavior, it brought out a really interesting point.

There are too many choices that it causes consumers to be extremely confused. Consumers have troubles picking out what they like because there are too many choices and maybe those choices are rather similar, making decisions very difficult. I think one of the individual qualities also affect consumer behavior as well. To a person who can’t make a decision, forever 21 would be the worst place to shop at. Unlike shopping at a place with limited styles and changes every season, it is perfect for those consumers that like the limited choices. Consumer behavior is strongly affected by first impression and I think I stressed this fact numerous times in my posts. I think consumer’s first impression on the clothes unconsciously gives them the decision whether they like it or not. If the forever 21 store does not have a main focus in the store, consumers have troubles with first impressions and might just leave without any purchases. When i say main focus, i mean more like a concentration. Like a painting for example, if a painting does not have a main concentration of character that grabs the viewers attention, then the painting failed to engage the viewers within the few seconds they have layer their eyes on it. I think this goes the same for stores. Forever 21 does not have a main focus when I walk in. There are just piles of clothes and different styles of clothes lying everywhere. I think consumers constantly feel the need to know where to start, and forever 21 really doesn’t consider much about the flow of the store. The flow of the store affects consumer behavior as well because it takes the consumers through an intended path that lets them see all the choices of the store. However, forever 21 and its infinite choices really creates the ultimate confusion to people, especially me. I think forever 21 is a popular retail store today so they should put into more consideration the consumer behavior and how their store really does not take into account of that matter.

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Customer Service does matter!

Customer service does make a difference in consumer behavior and this is a known fact. We don’t realize how easily we are affected by others and our impression on them and its affect on our behavior. There are various experiences I have with customer service that’s why I have came with the conclusion that my consumer behavior is heavily impacted on my experiences with the customer service. There are various types of customer service you could experience, and one of the worst customer service experience I had was actually in a restaurant in Lafayette. There is a restaurant in Lafayette called Bluefin Bistro. It is considered one of the proper, high-end restaurants downtown in Lafayette. Since it is a somewhat high-end restaurant, you would expect good customer service compared to the other restaurants on campus. However, I was wrong and that my experience led me to never walk into that restaurant again.

Every time I go there, the waiter/waitress always have a rather bad attitude. When you walk in, they would let you wait in the front desk to be seated for a long time while the waiters chat on the side. When they reluctantly led us to the table, they would ask what we wanted to drink. Last time i was there, the waitress accidentally spilled my water while handing to my friend her water. Usually, that would alright, knowing that these things happen. However, the waitress did not say anything at all, not even a simple apology. She simply left without a word. I had to use all the napkin on the table to wipe off the water on my clothes and shoes. I was drenched and she came after a while handing me a dirty towel she wiped the water on the floor with and expects me to wipe it on my clothes. It was ridiculous. I am not typically the rude customer, however, I believed an apology was somewhat respectful. The rest of the meal was unenjoyable mainly because I was looking if the waitress would say, or do anything but she didn’t. She simply acted as if she didn’t do anything and carried on with her conservation with the other waitress in the back. It is important that manager of restaurants or stores know that the people they choose to work there as customer service are the ultimate impression they give the customers. Customers are first in contact with the people there working in the store, eventually, these customers will react to the store according to the impression they get from the people working there.

The experience of when  you walk into a store and see a friendly lady asking if you to find anything, is definitely better than walking into a store where a mean looking lady stares at you wherever you go. These impressions we get unconsciously affect our decisions whether to come back to this store or not. If we always had a good experience with the customer service, then it is most likely that we will be back again. I was in Saks Fifth Avenue, a retail store in Chicago and the customer service there the absolute best. They are usually mid-aged women who are extremely friendly and they do not give the customers any feeling of pressure. Some stores, the customer service continuously ask the customers what they are looking for, the new products, etc. as a sign of friendliness, however sometimes this overly friendly becomes bothering the customers. I hate it when I walk into the store and the server continuously follows behind me and watches what I’m looking for. That type of pressure that the people give off makes me not want to go back to that store again.

The customer service at Saks Fifth Avenue is simply the best you could ever have. They are extremely nice and they do not follow you or give you too much advice that it makes it seem like they are advertising their products. They are there when you need and once in a while, they would come over and ask if we are finding everything alright. From my experiences, I really think that customer service affects consumer behavior because consumers only buy from places that they feel comfortable. You would feel held back to buy clothes from a store where the customer service is absolutely horrible. As a result, from the retail management point of view, I really think it is important that retail stores focus a lot on training their customer service because serving people is actually not an easy task. You have to hold back your personal feelings or thoughts and keep on a friendly smile. Your patience has to be absolutely good while facing difficult customers. It is not as easy as it seems but customer service does mean a lot!

What’s Your Favorite Color?

I never really had a favorite color so this post is going to be my curiosity on people’s favorite colors. I have a friend who loves purple, when I say purple, it could mean any shade of purple, they love it all. I never had this feeling towards any specific color because I usually go for a simple shade of grey or black when it comse to clothing or accessories etc. However, there are people who really have a specific color they like and that color could really mess with their consumer behavior when buying products. So that “purple craze” friend of mine would buy anything that is purple, even things that she doesn’t usually use or want when it isn’t purple. Apparently, color heavily influence the possibility of a consumer buying a product in the color they like, or even the possibility of a consumer buying a product they didn’t want before but do now. My friend doesnt usually wear G-Shock watches, she has more of a conservative plain style. However, after seeing that this brand of watch came out with a purple one, she decided to buy it. I asked her, ” Do you like it because its purple? Or do you like it because of the watch itself?” She couldn’t answer me, she only smiled and purchased the watch. It is amazing to see how colors do affect consumer behavior in the most surprising way. I think color choices gives consumer the ability to have a deeper connection with a product. Lets say you are at Target and you see a vase. You might not have any feelings at all when you see it at first glance. However, if it is purple, the color you are crazy about, you would notice it, and take into deeper consideration whether to comment on it or even give it a second chance in buying it.

This is just my theory. However, I do strongly believe personal qualities and favorites do affect consumer behavior. This is one reason why I think when Apple came out with the mini ipods and ipod nanos, they used a set of colors that are most common to be peoples favorite color and made them unique. People were crazy about the ipods because you could get it in the color that you like! Customization is definitely an issue that is discussed all the time when it comes to customer behavior. As a result, I strongly think that during the process of a consumer viewing a product to buying a product, a lot of thinking in the mind is going on. Ever since the first impression at a glance to considering buying a product, a lot of thought processes and connections are made between the consumer and the product that enhances their possbility of purchasing it. Consumers behave in a certain manner, and i think if people could pick out the certain qualities of their thought process, one could really better understand consumer behavior.

Everybody loves IKEA

I love IKEA for many reasons and not just because of the Swedish meatballs that they serve in the food court. Ikea is one of the best furniture company that provides people with the neweset designs and innovations for furniture / interior designs. I went to IKEA this weekend to buy some furniture with some friends and I really felt compelled to write this post on IKEA. I think IKEA is very popular and well-known because the designers and marketing group really put into thought the affordability of their products. When consumers who want to buy designed products or furniture, they would expect to buy an unique designer bar stool for about $500-1000+. Designer products and furniture are definitely not affordable and reasonable to most people. Like they say, designed products and brand names are priced for the 1% of the population that can afford luxurious items. IKEA really targeted the population because they made sure their prices are within the affordable range of the 99% that is ignored.

IKEA gives the 99% of the population the ability to own designed furnitures and this really captured the loyalty of consumers to buy from IKEA. Consumers buy from companies they trust and knows what they want. I think a lot of brands or companies design for the people without asking the people what they really need. However, IKEA knows exactly what the consumer needs and would pay for. As a result, IKEA is properous today because of their strategy of solving the real problem that people have when purchasing furnitures. IKEA furniture also allows people to do-it-yourself, mainly because it would make transporting furniture a lot easier. If a table for example, is easily assembled, it means it could be easily disassembled. When a product is designed so that it bring convenience to the user, the product becomes functional at the utmost level. If a designer table that costs $1000 could not be disassembled and is heavy, it creates more problems for the users. As a result, IKEA really put into thought the idea of convenience for their consumers as well.

Another thing that IKEA really puts into consideration of their furnitures would be the choices. IKEA makes sure the consumers have their own choices, so their individual tastes does not get lost. IKEA keeps the design of the furnitures simple so customers can mix and match their furnitures. Their catalogue makes sure there are various styles in furnitures and interior designs so it covers the taste of most people. This idea of customization within a mass produced products shows the broadened range of customers that buys from IKEA. Everything in IKEA are designed to give customers the ability to customize and modify for own purposes. Similiar to the shelving unit I purchased at IKEA, it gives the ability to change it into any orientation ( vertical, horizontal, diagonal) that I want, I could also mix and match different colors etc. There are blogs online that discusses different possibilities one can change and modify their IKEA furniture. This shows that IKEA is really sucessful in designing for the people. Consumers knows when a company is aware of what they want, just like IKEA.

Starbucks routine

Starbucks is a coffee shop that everybody knows, 9 people out of 10 knows what Starbucks Coffee is. There are various types of customers that goes to Starbucks. There are those that go there once in a while to chat and try new coffee and those who goes there on a regular day to day basis. Whether those loyal customers choose to take their coffee on the go and in a hurry or choses to relax and enjoy their coffee, Starbucks captured the hearts of a lot of people. Those people who goes to Starbucks daily sure shows the consumer behavior of routine that shows the successfulness of Starbucks as a coffee shop. Coffee shops are meant to provide coffee that gives people some time to relax or feel satisfied through a long day of work. As a result, those people that goes to Starbucks everyday at a certain time, shows the integration of Starbucks within the lifestyles of people. Starbucks become a part of their life that it feels necessary and even dependent.

The main goal of Starbucks as a coffee shop is rather different from other famous coffee shops such as Peet’s Coffee in West Coast or even Greyhouse, on campus. Starbucks Coffee does not strive for the same type of environment and customers as Greyhouse mainly because Starbucks is a commercial coffee shop that is more like a fast-food restaurant and chain stores. The coffee that Starbucks serve is different as well because they serve the same coffee throughout all the chain stores and their coffee beans are from the same provider. It’s entire coffee shop characteristics are different from Greyhouse, which makes coffees more personal compared to a fast-paced corporate coffeeshop. The interiors of both types of coffeeshop also differ as well if you take a close look at the differences. The Starbucks at the Union only has a few tables and chairs lying around with one or two sofas. The furniture that Starbucks choose are not meant to be for comfortable sitting so the furnitures are hard wood and the sofas are not meant for relaxation or long-term sitting. However, the furniture at greyhouse including the tables, sofas, you could tell that Greyhouse is meant for customers to sit and relax there. As a result, analyzing the interior design of the coffee shops, it is inevitable that consumers behave through the environmental hints the store gives customers. If the coffee shops have comfortable table, it is most likely consumers are going to sit down and actually enjoy that cup of coffee. However, if you place a hard wood chair with a small table in a noisy coffee shop, customers are most likely not to sit down and relax there. The cozy ambiance along with the smell of coffee beans are all little things that coffee shops use to make customers chose to stay and read a book while enjoying their coffee. I think consumer behavior is heavily affected by the environment and what the environment hints consumers to act and think. The interior designs definitely put thought into designing a coffee shop because in order for consumers to behave in a certain manner, people must lay out the foundation for them to do so.

I think Starbucks as a national corporate coffee shop is very successful because they really captured the hearts of people. Those people who goes to starbucks everyday shows that Starbucks became more like a routine. By doing so, Starbucks is making a lot of money through these loyal customers. Loyalty is one of the main values that keep the business at a steady pace. If these customers continue to trust Starbucks, it is most likely Starbucks will always have customers. When a coffee everyday becomes a routine, one could really spend a lot of money on just simply coffee. However, it is a routine, just like brushing one’s teeth or eating breakfast, it is hard to change. There is a friend of mine that buys a cup of Starbucks everyday, and I asked them if they feel like drinking it everyday. She replied, “I dont think, I just get one.” So basically, I do feel like when this behavior of getting coffee becomes a routine, you stop thinking about if you actually want to drink one. Consumer behavior heavily relies on loyalty and sometimes maybe routine. Consumers no longer behave rationally when it comes to coffee, for coffee could mean more than just a cup of coffee, but more, a part of their lifestyle. I think by analyzing Starbucks and their customers, one could really understand consumer behavior at another level.

Coupons don’t really save you any money

You would always think that coupons are almost like the best thing ever. The feeling of when you purchase something a price lower than it usually is is amazing. You feel as though you have saved some money and it is your gain that you have bought this product. I really don’t think that that’s the case after the experience I had with subway. In purdue, they give out coupons for various places, including subway. Theres a coupon saying “free 2 cookies” and I thought that I could get 2 free cookies just by a purchased of any sub, however that’s not the case. I don’t want to buy a 1 foot long sandwich because I can’t finish the whole sandwich, therefore, i would buy just a 6 inch, however, you have to purchase a large drink that goes with the sandwich in order to get the free cookies. I didn’t want a drink, especially not a large one, but I thought using the coupon could really save the money. However, it turns out, it did not save me any money, instead, it cost me even more money. The worst thing is, I spent money on something I didn’t really want. I think coupons automatically gives consumers the feeling as if they are saving money, but I think analyzing the consumer behavior gives us a better insight into the actual mistakes we make.

There are a lot of coupons you could find in the newspaper, magazines and online, however, I really think that coupons sometimes makes consumer buy things that are unnecessary. Because you think that you save money by using the coupons, you suddenly feel the urge to buy the product. In terms of consumer behavior, people are most likely to use coupons if they have a chance to save money. I think it is the idea of “saving money” that makes you want to “waste money.” Maybe you never thought of buying that item, but once you see the coupon, you buy the product. The consumer’s mind is easily affected various external factors. Coupons are advertisements for stores that makes people want to go to their store. It is a marketing strategy that never fails until today. Unfortunately, it is hard to change the minds of consumer behavior, however, after my experience, i will never use coupons because it seems like a good deal. Its funny how consumers learn only after they make a mistake and experience it for themselves.

 

Ebay Dilemma

Recently, my girlfriend has purchased a handbag on ebay and came across some problems that lead me to think about ebay as a business. Basically, she has purhcased a handbag and constantly think that she has been tricked that the bag is not authentic, rather, a fake. However, paid for the price of an authentic, she debates and doubts continuously about the possibility of being tricked on ebay. Ebay has been a business that is extremely popular for a long time where people can buy products for a discounted price by bidding. However, there are so many frauds that trick people’s money and cause a lot of problems on Ebay that leads people to not trust Ebay as a business. There are so many types of frauds that could happen on Ebay that it is rather fascinating to see how many people try to earn money from frauds. A lot of people sell unauthentic products but list the items as authentic. Some misreport some condition issues and tricks the consumer entirely on what they wrote for what they really are. Other frauds can go about the process of purchasing an item, some problems could be stealing products and reporting them as lost in shipping. Various types of frauds could happen and it really struck me as a consumer that Ebay is not a safe place to purchase items.

I think Ebay failed in the fact that it allowed its consumers to hurt their company brand and trust. I know that ebay is great because it gives consumer a space in the retail market to sell their own things, however, when a company gives too much freedom to the people, there will always be people who misuse this power. I am really disappointed with ebay because I think that ebay tries to prevent these frauds, but these frauds really is human nature of people that can’t be stopped, but only minorly prevented. I think after realizing all the  different types of frauds that could happen, it heavily hurts the consumer behavior and this does not just goes for me. I know that ebay’s trust to consumers are not credible and it has become a fact that hurts ebay greatly. People hold back in buying on ebay because they know or heard of the possibilities of being tricked. My girlfriend, for example, she purchased a handbag, but feels doubtful about its authenticity. These dilemmas are not worth the lowered price. You might as well purchase an authentic item from either the actual store or a famous retail store, so there won’t be any possibility that could lead consumers to doubt its true value. It is understandable that consumer behavior has a strong impact on their trust and what they’ve heard from others. Other people’s opinions have a great effect on a person’s consumer behavior. If their friend has been tricked on ebay, they are most likely not to buy from ebay. As a result, I really think consumers already lost the credibility of that company and it is very obvious that consumers do not trust ebay as a honest company. There are so many various forums that test the authenticity of various items that are listed on ebay. This just shows not only the failure but also the lack of protection ebay provides to their customers, leading the consumers to create an impression that will always be permanent.