Gaining insight into consumer motivation—why people buy—is the best predictor of consumer behavior in a changing, shifting world. While consumer behavior changes as consumers progress through different life stages, the basic consumer personality that guides and directs their behavior is fixed over time. For example, bargain shoppers who religiously clip coupons and are willing to drive 30 minutes to save $5 will always be bargain shoppers—as young adults, as the heads of households of a growing family, as empty-nesters with no more children at home, and as seniors. The type of products those bargain shoppers buy at each of these major life stages will change, the amount of money they may spend will change with changes in income, where they shop will change, but their basic personality as careful, bargain-driven shoppers is fixed. So too for the impulse shopper who gains ultimate satisfaction in the process of shopping and buying. The things he or she buys will change, but the basic motivation and consumer mind-set is fixed.
So by understanding why consumers behave as they do, you have a looking glass into the future. Understanding why helps a company anticipate and prepare for changes in the cultural, economic, and political environment. It provides insight into how predictable changes in consumer demographics will impact consumer behavior. In essence, while the what, how, where, when, and how much of consumer behavior fluctuates, the why remains fixed and can be used to predict how change will impact the other factors of consumer behavior.