Consumers are different, and they make purchasing decisions in different ways. This is influenced by many factors, and the age of consumer is among the most important factors that determine buying behavior. In this paper, three consumer personas of three generations and their main features in buying smartphones will be investigated. The paper will be focused on how customers make purchasing decisions and what influences them.
Persona Profiles for Generational Buyers
For each group of customers in a target market, a customer persona profile should be developed. It helps to understand all features of consumer group, and customer personas are very useful in marketing (Leibtag, 2013). In particular, customer personas determine the target audience of the product, the things customers in this audience like, how they usually spend their time, and how to provide them with information they need (Leibtag, 2013). I have interviewed several customers who had experience in purchasing smartphones.
The first persona includes children up to 16 years of age. They usually make purchases with their parents; however, if the sum is not large, they make purchases themselves. In their buying behavior, children usually pay attention to low price because they do not usually have much money. In addition, they like a bright package that attracts them because children like everything that catches eye. Children spend most time at school; thus, making purchases is a kind for rest for them. Children usually get information from various sources, including TV, radio, Internet, and street ads. They usually pay more attention to bright ads as compared to adults.
The second persona includes young people from the age group of 17 to 30 years old. In their purchasing decisions, they usually demand the quality of products and convenience of buying them. Usually, young people do not have enough time, and making fast purchases is important for them. Young people usually spend most of their time at work or in the university, and they have little time for making purchases. Thus, they prefer getting information from ads that are informative and laconic and that inform about the main benefits and innovations of the product as well.
The third persona includes people from 31 to 50 years old. These customers prefer buying products that are usual for them. They are old enough to have conservative buying habits, and they rarely buy something new. They spend most of their time with family and at work. They usually do not pay much attention to advertisements because their buying habits are conservative, and they rarely try new products. However, if the ad is attractive and it shows reasonable benefits of a new product, those customers can try it.
Descriptions of Buyers’ Purchasing Process
The purchasing process includes six main steps. They include definition of needs, the analysis of market, the definition of purchasing strategy, selection of a product, negotiation, and buying the product (EIPM, 2009).
Children have their own purchasing process. The definition of needs is usually quick and based on the bright images or low prices, or the influence of peers. The market analysis focuses mostly on studying several competitors with lower prices or interesting advertisement. Purchasing strategy is usually determined by parents. Product selection typically includes selection of the product with a lower price or the product with a positive image that attracts children. Negotiation is absent for everyday consumer products because they are bought easily without any contracts. Buying the product typically occurs in retail chains or online.
Further, young people from 17 to 30 years old define their needs based on different factors, for instance, recommendations from their friends or new market trends. They analyze the market, and they study each alternative carefully. The most important factors for them are quality and convenience. Purchasing strategy is aimed at a convenient buying process and maximum satisfaction. The product selected should have an optimal balance of quality, functions, and reasonable price as well as satisfy all needs. However, if the product is new, they are ready to pay higher price. Finally, the product is bought offline or online.
Older people from the age group 31 to 50 years old define a need for a new product when the previous one does not function properly. They rarely buy expensive products without need. The analysis of the market is slight because these customers prefer the goods they have purchased before or those similar to them, and they rarely analyze many alternatives. Purchasing strategy is aimed at buying a usual product. Product selected is similar to the one they have had, or a new one, if it attracts them in some way or satisfies their particular needs. Customers of this group typically make purchases in physical stores and less frequently online.
The products selected for this case are smartphones (in general, without attention to a particular brand or model). They were selected because the global smartphone market is large and it grows rapidly. Moreover, this tendency is likely to continue. For example, in 2015, there were about 1.43 billion of smartphone users in the world, while in 2016, this figure is expected to reach 1.46 billion, and in 2018 – 1.87 billion (“Statista, 2016a). Thus, this group of products is important to be studied by marketers because global demand grows.
Product Target Market
The target market for smartphones includes different groups of customers, and due to this fact, the product was chosen because different age groups of customers allow studying different consumer personas better. In particular, in the United States, age structure of smartphone users shows that people of various ages own them. The personas under study own smartphones in most cases. In particular, 86% of people from 18 to 24, 83% of people from 30 to 49, and 58% of people from 50 to 64 own smartphones (Statista, 2016b).
Technology Used in Purchasing
For all groups of customers, a typical technology that is used in purchasing process is the Internet. The Interned is used for various goals. First, consumers use it to find information on the product. It may be an official description and detailed characteristics from sellers’ or producers’ websites, or the information from other users, for example, customer feedback posted in social media or special websites. Second, consumers use the Internet to find information on several alternative products and compare them. For this, they can use special websites that provide product comparison information, or they can compare products themselves by analyzing available information. Finally, consumers can use the Internet to purchase products. Currently, numerous online retailers operate, and consumers can choose the best option in terms of price, delivery, and other services related to purchasing.
The use of the Internet varies in its peculiarities, depending on consumer personas’ types. For children, social media are very important because they visit such websites regularly and have time for that. Moreover, they pay much attention to ads and reviews of products, and bright and interesting ads can determine their decision to purchase a product. Purchasing online or offline often depends on their parents. For adults from 17 to 30, Internet is usually used for certain information because they rarely have much time. Thus, they look for exact information from reliable sources. This group of customers prefers purchasing online due to convenience and little time required. The third persona from 31 to 50 years old uses internet less frequently to look for information on the product because these customers usually know what to buy. They rarely buy goods online and prefer physical stores where the product can be ‘live touched’.
Store marketing should vary for each consumer persona to reach them all efficiently. For children, store marketing should be made eye-catching in order to attract them. It may include large and bright ads, both printed ones and ads on screens, that can attract children. Unusual ads are welcomed. It may be also possible to use different promotional campaigns, including campaigns with promoters dressed in costumes. For adults from 17 to 30, store marketing should be focused on laconic and informative ads. Such ads should provide information about the main features and benefits of the product. Discounts and special propositions should be used as well, especially for students who do not typically have much money. Promotion of innovative products is also positive for this age group. For the older people from 31 to 50, promotion and ads should be focused on the main features of the product, and they should not be unusual because for conservative purchasing habits, such a form is the best. Ads should stress the tradition, long life, quality and other ‘conservative’ features.
For children, the main purchasing influencers are opinions of their parents and family members, their friends and opinions from social networks, modern trends and ads, especially if these ads are bright and unusual, thus attracting attention. Children are usually influenced by their friends and their culture deeply; for example, if most friends have a particular smartphone, a child is likely to want it as well. Adults from 17 to 30 are usually influenced by information and innovation. They prefer products with the highest quality or innovative ones, and they trust the opinions of experts more. For people from 31 to 50, their culture is the main factor that influences their purchasing decisions because buying the same or similar product is a part of culture. Buying similar smartphones several times is usual for them.