Consumer – Concept, types, characteristics and behavior

We explain what a consumer is, the types that exist and differences with a customer. Also, its characteristics and behavior.

The consumer satisfies his needs by exchanging money for goods and services.

What is a consumer?

In economics, a consumer is called one of the economic agents involved in the production chain. Every consumer has a series of needs to satisfy, and he does so thanks to the exchange of money for the goods and services offered that he wants, and that a producer or supplier provides him.

Consumers are generally the bottom rung of the production chain. Are who buy the product or service already prepared and those who use it.

So they are buyers. Advertising dedicates its efforts to promote and motivate consumption to the consumer, and marketing studies the consumption patterns presented by its specific community.

In the different legal systems of the different countries, gives consumers a number of rights, which result in being protected from fraudulent sales methods or from coercive, unfair or false marketing methods.

In some economic theories it is preferred to use the term prosumer, referring to consumers who are, at the same time, producers.

But it is important to note that the consumer it is not a passive entity that simply buys what is offered. On the contrary: it plays a very active role in the selection of the offer, it is capable of modeling companies according to their needs and spending preferences.

Types of consumer

The personal consumer buys what he needs in his daily life.

We can speak of two types of consumer, classified according to whether or not they belong to an organization larger than themselves:

  • Personal consumer. He who buys what he needs in his daily life and thinks of himself and his family nucleus only.
  • Organizational consumer. One who buys for a company, institution or entire organization, or who takes into account the needs of a business that he runs or participates in.

Similarly, consumers can be classified according to their location in the consumption chain, as follows:

  • Final consumers. Those who make use of the goods or services acquired and who will exhaust their need for them once they have done so. They are the final rung of the chain.
  • Intermediate consumers. Those who are an intermediate link in the chain and not the end, that is, who buy and then make a new product with it and sell it, or who buy to resell merchandise at a higher price (normally called resellers). These consumers do not exhaust their consumption need, but constantly renew it (invest it).

Difference between customer and consumer

The difference between a customer and a consumer has to do with the process called loyalty, and what is a consumer’s continued preference for a particular brand or product, to which he is “faithful”. Thus, a loyal consumer would be a customer of the brand, while the rest of the market continues to be consumers.

Companies today are committed to creating customers, rather than having a market full of consumers, since the latter may vary in their consumption modes and may be erratic in their purchasing behavior.

Consumer characteristics

Today’s consumers are very different from those of early capitalism. The technological revolution changed them as much as the market in which they operate. Thus, broadly speaking, we could say that they respond to the following characteristics:

  • Are you connected. Today’s consumer uses the Internet as the favorite place to search for products and services, to the point that 63% of women and 77% of adult men spend no more than an hour without connecting with their cell phones.
  • Opinion is important. Today’s consumers share everything: their experiences, their opinions, and they like to feel taken into account. Social media and the 2.0 culture allowed the gap between company and customer to narrow, and today’s consumers are not willing to give it up.
  • They (dis) loyalty quickly. Today’s consumers are quick in their choice of consumption, they identify quickly with the brands that are handled in their language and that know how to take it into account, but with the same speed they can give it up and switch to another if it stops meeting their expectations .
  • Demand immediacy. Long waiting times and slow communication channels have no place in the contemporary consumer imagination. Everything must be fast and instantly.
  • Pursue authenticity. More than products and goods, it demands original experiences and seeks to feel safe from misleading advertising. They demand loyalty from their companies and in return offers to be an exclusive customer.

Consumer behavior

Consumers change their way of consuming: the current ones are very different from those of early capitalism. The technological revolution changed us as much as it changed the market and the dynamics in which we operate. Because, studies and reviews of consumer behavior are carried out every so often.

In these studies the way in which consumers search, buy, use, dry and evaluate their products and services is analyzed for daily or occasional use, for which the tools of marketing and financial analysis are used (among other disciplines such as psychology, for example).

The objective of any evaluation of consumer behavior is to establish how they prefer to invest their money, time and effort, and mobilize the productive apparatus to provide them with a more consistent and more satisfactory consumer experience, which translates into their predilection or loyalty for a brand , a product or a trend.