Skip to content

Social Behavior of Consumers

Social Behavior of Consumers

Understanding consumers’ social behavior online and offline is essential to developing viable marketing communications strategies.


Describe how social media aids the study and measurement of consumer behavior


Key Points

  • Traditionally, consumer behavior is the study of individuals, groups, or organizations and the processes they use to select, purchase and dispose of products, services, experiences, or ideas.
  • The emergence of web technologies such as social media allow more opportunities for consumers, particularly younger generations, to experience more social interactions with people and organizations.
  • Brands must recognize the importance of demographic factors such as age and gender when assessing consumers’ social behavior online.
  • Companies commonly use behavioral targeting techniques to market to consumers based on their online behavior.

Key Terms

  • behavioral targeting: The range of technologies and techniques used by online website publishers and advertisers which allows them to increase the effectiveness of their campaigns by capturing data generated by website and landing page visitors.
  • customer relationship management: A widely implemented model for managing a company’s interactions with customers, clients, and sales prospects. It involves using technology to organize, automate, and synchronize business processes—principally sales activities, but also those for marketing, customer service, and technical support. Also known by the acronym “CRM. “
  • psychographics: the science of using psychology and demographics to better understand consumers

Social Behavior of Consumers

Digital and social media has spurred brands to develop research tactics that hone in on the social behavior of consumers online. Observing and understanding how consumers behave and interact with each other has led to the introduction of new semantic analysis technologies allowing companies to monitor consumer buying patterns based on shared and posted content. The data helps sales and marketing professionals improve segmentation to target prospects and customers.


Web User: Younger generations use web and mobile devices to increase their number of social interactions.

Consumer Behavior

Traditionally, consumer behavior is the study of individuals, groups, or organizations and the processes they use to select, purchase and dispose of products, services, experiences, or ideas. Their purchases are meant to satisfy needs. Research has shown that consumer behavior is difficult to predict, even for experts in marketing communications. Relationship marketing, customer retention, customer relationship management (CRM) and personalization are all tactics used to assess consumer behavior.

However, consumer behavior is also influenced by internal conditions such as demographics, psychographics (lifestyle), personality, motivation, knowledge, attitudes, beliefs, and feelings. Psychological factors include an individual’s motivation, perception, attitude and beliefs, while personal factors include income level, personality, age, occupation and lifestyle.

Types of Buyer Behaviors

Extensive research is often used to understand what appeals to buyers: colors, thought triggers, images and sounds; all of these factors address psychological buying behaviors. Societal buying behavior incorporates identification and suggestion to prompt a specific buyer behavior. When a company hires a spokesperson or personality to promote a product, they are utilizing societal buying behavior to connect buyer actions to that of the spokesperson or the personality involved. Similarly, psychographics are often used that offer insight into the lifestyle and personality traits of buyers.

Situational buying behavior involves a specific scenario or event that pressures a buyer to purchase product. Perhaps it is the fact that peers have bought the same product, or a certain product has become a “status symbol. ” Whatever the reason buyer behavior is often impacted.

Online Behavioral Trends

The advent of social networks and social media provides an easy way for people to connect on the web. People use social networking to meet new friends, find old friends, or locate people with similar problems and interests. The information people post and share, as well as the relationships they build online, often transfer into an offline setting. While some critics have attributed the decline of quality interpersonal communication and human relationships to the growth of social media, others point to web and mobile technologies as a way for younger generations to experience more social interactions.

Age and gender influence how web and mobile devices are used and how decisions are made. While adolescent females and adult women are found to be more active in sending SMS messages, males send and receive more audio calls. Psychologically, research shows that men seem to adopt technology faster and have more incentive to try new features. This might be due to a difference in male and female attitudes towards new technology. Women tend to view technology as a tool, whereas men view it as entertainment.

Recognizing the intersection between social behavior and web technologies is imperative for brands looking to advertise products and services that are relevant to buyers. To implement a viable integrated marketing communications strategy that incorporates these data, companies employ techniques such as behavioral targeting for understanding, collecting and analyzing online and offline consumer information.

Collecting and Analyzing Online Consumer Data

Brands commonly use behavioral targeting techniques to market to consumers based on their online behavior. Brands increase the effectiveness of their campaigns by capturing data on web visitors who visit their website landing pages. Websites identify visitors by assigning a unique ID cookie to each and every visitor to the site. This allows the platform to track users throughout their web journey and make rules-based decisions about what content to serve. However, when behavioral targeting is done without the knowledge of users, it may be considered a breach of browser security and even illegal depending on country privacy, data protection and consumer protection laws. To monitor and measure behavior on social media sites, companies use analytical tools provided by the social media platform or external vendors.

Again, this behavioral data can be combined with known demographic data and a visitor’s past purchase history in order to produce a greater degree of data points that can be used for targeting. Self-learning onsite behavioral targeting systems will monitor visitor response to site content and learn what is most likely to generate a desired conversion event (i.e. consumer purchase). Behavioral targeting can also be used to serve many advertisements across many different sites based on the likely demographic makeup of internet users. For example, a website may assume that an Internet user is male based on the user’s visit to football and male fashion sites.

Open chat
Scan the code
Can we help you?