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The study of consumer behavior has become a critical element in the world of commerce as it influences the decisions made by manufacturing organizations and policy makers. Similarly, the findings of such studies could be shown to be important to individual consumers for ease of understanding personal behavior (Virvalaite, Saladiene, and Bagdonaite, 2015, p. 9). The studies regard the actions of the buyers while purchasing goods and services for individual or group consumption (Virvalaite, Saladiene, and Bagdonaite, 2015, p. 3). However, one must appreciate that the behavior can differ depending on the personal attributes and environmental factors affecting the buyer. For instance, internal or personal factors like tastes and preferences, availability of finances, and previous experiences could influence the purchasing trends observed with an individual (Dudovskiy, 2013, p. 1). Similarly, the environmental factor regarding the availability of particular products, the pricing effects and the influence of peers could also affect the purchasing behavior of the individual (Goh and Bockstedt, 2013, p. 334). One should also appreciate that the purchasing behavior of the customer may vary depending on the kind of goods or services involved. For instance, a consumer could be fixed on the amount and time of purchase of such basic goods as foods, but be flexible in the choices of luxury products (Goh and Bockstedt, 2013, p. 335). Therefore, the understanding of the factors that influence the behavior of consumers could be useful for predicting the future demand and hence the supply of the goods in the market.

Background of the Study

Beauty products may include a wide range of products sold in a retail market. While the market segmentation of the beauty products may affect the consumer behavior, one could appreciate that the behavior of the consumers in the high edge market segment and the low edge market segments could be similar. However, unlike in the case of the basic commodities, the consumer behavior for the beauty products could have a variety of influencing factors. This study therefore focuses on the consumer behavior as portrayed by the customers of body lotions in a middle-income market segment. Worth appreciating is that the market niche contains different brands and sizes of the products. However, individuals show preference to particular brands, packages in sizes as well as to the prices. Having observed keenly the behavior of the consumers in a retail outlet, the researcher could also confirm that differences in the trends could be observed in the terms of gender and age. Nevertheless, the retail outlets stock a wide range of products in varying packaging to provide the consumers with a range to choose from.

It is to be appreciated that the buyer behavior could be classified into four types. Firstly, the complex buyer behavior is described as to have a high brand value as well as involving intense informational search before the buyer conducts the purchase. Secondly, the routine or habitual behavior regards the situation where the buyer has no consultation but out of the usual habit, a purchase is made (Oliver, 2014, p. 17). Thirdly, the variety seeking consumer engages in a thorough search and tries various products before selecting the final product. At other times, large buyers may be limited in the choice between brands or varieties and hence settles on purchases with limited consultation. The study of consumer behavior could, therefore, be said to be complex and involving, yet important especially in the consumer market. 

Theoretical Framework

Understanding the process of consumer purchase requires one to understand the various stages and processes involved. The purchase process is explained by the ‘stage model’ which outlines the main stages involved while purchasing (Bruner II and Pomazal, 2013, p. 6). According to the model, the buying process starts way before the actual purchase. The process also gets concluded long after the actual purchase. The stage model outlines the five stages which a consumer has to pass through in the purchase process. These stages are the problem recognition, the information search, evaluation of the alternatives, the purchase decision, and the post-purchase behavior (Bruner II and Pomazal, 2013, p. 6). The importance of the stages cannot be over emphasized as the sellers and marketers must understand them for effective business. Nevertheless, one must understand that consumers overlook some of the stages at times. The consumers bypass some of the stages depending on the particular need at hand, the inherent buying behavior and the type of product. For instance, for the regular products which a consumer buys daily, then they must not follow the stages highlighted in the stage model (Rajput, Kalhoro, and Wasif,  2012, p. 485). In fact, marketers argue that often customers overlook the stage of information search and evaluation. However, the model normally works best for new products and with such goods without close substitutes.

Aims, Objectives, and Hypothesis

On a narrowed perspective, the focus of the study will be on the issues influencing the purchasing trend observed with the locals in regard to consumption of body lotions.  Accordingly, the objects are as outlined below.

a)    To understand how pricing affects the consumer choices

b)    To understand how peers influence the buyer’s choices

c)    To understand whether substitutes and display affect the buyer’s behavior

d)    To establish whether promotions have any effect on the consumer’s buying behavior

Hypothesis: External factors such as pricing, peers, availability of substitutes and promotion have a significant effect in influencing the consumer purchasing behavior for beauty products such as body lotions.

Research Questions

This study will be on a small scale, but will be focused on answering the following questions

  1. Can a consumer buy little, more or none at all because of the product prices?
  2. Does buying trends change in the presence of other people such as the peers?
  3. Does the buying behavior of an individual be influenced by the display and the availability of close substitutes?
  4. How does the promotion of the beauty products affect the consumer buying behaviors in the local market?

Research Rationale/Justification

Various studies have been done on the factors influencing the consumer behaviors in the retail market on many products. Among other findings derived from the studies, consumers behave differently and are influenced by external factors. For example, the market forces in high-end market segments may not be similar to the forces in the low-income markets. For example, the effect of a small price rise in the high-income market segment may not influence the purchasing patterns of the buyers (Goh and Bockstedt, 2013, p. 334). However, a small rise in prices in the low-income market may cause the consumers to purchase more of the close substitutes of the particular product. Similarly, a slight drop in the prices may cause the buying behavior to change by consumers purchasing more of the particular products (Virvalaite, Saladiene, and Bagdonaite, 2015, p. 9). Moreover, other factors may contribute to the decisions to buy in volumes or otherwise as influenced by government policies, the operations of monopolies and availability of financing options for the customers. Nevertheless, while the observations may be general, little efforts have been directed towards studying the effects of such external factors as highlighted towards the purchasing behavior of the people on the beauty products.  There is, therefore, a research gap on the effects of the external factors towards the cosmetics buying behavior of the people in a low-income market segment. Generalization of the findings from a high-income market segment could be erroneous and hence the need to have a customized study that has the primary focus on the local market.

Methodology (Theoretical Framework)

Methodologies in any research study explain the nature of the tools to be used as influenced by the kind of research as being qualitative or quantitative. This study, however, intends to embrace the qualitative methodologies. The data collection tools to be used will be structured questionnaires which will be self-administered in the local supermarkets. Canvasing with customers in the supermarkets will facilitate data collection. The formulation of the questionnaire will be guided by the study objectives and the guiding questions as outlined in the proposal (Angus, 2013, p. 3). The selection of the supermarkets and the respondents to be engaged will follow random sampling techniques (Dudovskiy, 2013, p. 7). The randomized selection ensures that the data collected is not biased as no previous knowledge of participation by the buyers will be required (Smith,  and Sorensen, 2013, p. 66). The data collected will be managed by being sorted and stored in computers. The analysis will involve the qualitative deduction of the responses provided and comparing them against a pre-defined scale (Silverman, 2013, 33). The findings will be presented in graphs and charts for ease of interpretation.

Ethical Considerations

The proposed study will observe the highest possible levels of ethics. First, the researchers will seek the approved and written consent of the participants in the study. Through the consent, the researcher will ensure that no coercion or forced participation in data collection is involved (Lazaraton, 2013, p. 6). Second, the researchers will high the obligation of safeguarding the information collected against the reach of unauthorized individuals. The study may also need to be authorized by the school and relevant authorities to ensure that the data collected in used for the sole purpose of the study stipulated.  Finally, as part of the management of the data collected, the researchers may need to destroy the questionnaires after the study to ensure anonymity of the sources of the information. 

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