As an economic concept, the consumer is the person, entity or organization that demands goods and services and is willing to pay for them. A more academic definition holds that it is any person who buys products or services to consume them. It is the final link in the entire production chain and, therefore, the final recipient of production. In marketing, the consumer is a key figure, since all the characteristics that will be studied to promote consumption are concentrated in him. When we speak of consumer, we refer to an economic category. In other words, they have a budget that they are willing to spend to satisfy needs of different kinds. Invest that budget in the acquisition of goods and services.

What is the consumer?

They are all those people or organizations willing to acquire goods or services to satisfy needs. For these actions, they have a budget earmarked for such purposes. Consumption, as an economic act , is analyzed to determine how the purchase decision process develops. A consumer differs from a customer by the type of relationship he establishes with a brand, product or service.

  • Types of consumers
  • Consumer behavior
  • What factors affect the consumer?
  • Lifecycle
  • Duties and rights
  • Differences between consumer and customer
  • Importance

Types of consumers

There are different types of consumers on the market. This segmentation is linked to your shopping habits:

  • The one who buys the best : It is the one, without distinction of gender, who acquires their goods and services observing those of the highest quality and cost. Their objective is to satisfy their needs and, above all, to obtain social status from the consumption of what they acquire. They represent approximately 17% of all consumers. The average age is 35 years. They are well informed and participate in technological advances.
  • The compulsive consumer : It is one who is quickly seduced by a product or service. He frequently uses the internet to buy. There is no prior reasoning before the purchase decision. Their average age is 34 years. The words “offer” or “promotion” act as triggers for the purchase decision.
  • The balanced consumer : It is the one who before a need analyzes his decision. Pay attention to the quality / price ratio. It represents 20% of consumers. Don’t make hasty decisions.
  • The struggling consumer : These make up 7% of the total. They make decisions in the context of anguish. They consider that the purchase of certain goods or services will improve their living conditions. They link the purchase with personal improvement.
  • The conservative consumer : They make up 20% of consumers. Their average age is around 44 years old. Don’t make hasty decisions. The budget you have has a great weight in the decision. It is difficult to influence by marketing actions.
  • Skeptical consumers : They are all those who do not feel comfortable buying. They only do so when the need is deep and must be met without delay. They try, as far as possible, to delegate the purchase actions to another person or member of the family group. They represent 10% of consumers.
  • Traditionalist Consumers : Like the previous guy, they are not comfortable shopping. However, they feel that their level of well-being is adequate. Therefore, they do not “need anything.” They are a complicated type of consumer for marketing strategies.
  • Parasitic consumer : This type is linked to public goods – especially services -, they enjoy the provision of these without contributing to their financing.

Consumer behavior

The behavior of the consumer refers to the set of studies and analyzes that allow us to determine the different processes that lead to the purchase and the psychology of the consumer .

When we refer to the purchase decision, we try to establish the reasons that lead a consumer to choose one brand or another, what needs that purchase satisfies, what are the pain points that motivate it, etc.

There are several factors that influence a consumer’s purchase decision. It is these factors that must be analyzed to determine how each type of consumer behaves in particular.

What factors affect the consumer?

There are six basic factors that determine consumer behavior when deciding to purchase a product or service and choosing a brand.

  • Cultural : Belonging to a certain community or group influences people when making purchasing decisions in order to fit into those groups. The consumption of certain goods or services leads the consumer to follow the rules. An example of this is belonging to a group with certain religious beliefs such as not eating meat on Easter holidays.
  • Lifestyle : This factor is determined by the income level of the consumer. The acquisition of certain goods causes the sensation of elevating people socially. Also its opposite, when they buy products or goods of lower value, the feeling of descent in the social scale is generated.
  • Motivation : When talking about this factor, it is necessary to consider the needs that are going to be satisfied. Not all have, in the mind of the consumer, the same importance. Eating, dressing, health, constitute first-order needs and will be those that the consumer will satisfy in the first place. Then you will try to satisfy other needs like travel, sumptuous goods, etc.
  • Personality : Each consumer has a different personality than others. This will determine shopping habits and how you will try to meet needs. To give an example is cough, let’s say that the way you dress is in relation to the personality and this will determine what type of clothing you are going to acquire.
  • Age : this is a key factor. The needs of an 8-year-old child are not the same as those of an adult, especially since that child is not in a position, by himself, to satisfy needs. Neither are the needs of a young person and those of an older adult the same.
  • Perception : Faced with the same need, consumers can choose between one brand, product or service or another. This has to do with the perception that each one has of them. It is an absolutely subjective factor and influences the purchase decision.


For economists and marketers , every consumer has a life cycle , with respect to a product / service or a brand. Compliance with this life cycle is the responsibility of said brand. All consumers experience an evolution in relation to products and brands.

Let’s analyze what are the stages of the life cycle of a consumer:

  • Acquisition : The consumer makes contact for the first time and purchases a product or service. This product may or may not be new to the market. The consumer comes to him for promotions, discounts, marketing actions or a new need.
  • Conversion : After their first purchase experience, the consumer feels satisfied and is willing to repeat the experience. Buy again.
  • Growth : In this stage, there is a synergy between the different consumers of a product. They grow and, at the same time, promote, if possible, greater consumption of the product or service.
  • Retention : The consumer has already become a customer. Choose the brand and the product on a regular basis. At this stage, so that the consumer cycle is not broken, companies must carry out loyalty actions. This means staying true to the brand and the product.
  • Reactivation : At this stage, the consumer, already a customer, will be tempted by the competition. This will happen especially if there are no recurring actions by the brand to keep it.

Duties and rights

From the second half of the 20th century , organizations that demanded the rights of consumers began to appear in the world, especially in the United States . Among the main claims was the consumer’s right to receive reliable information about products or services. They also demanded clear policies regarding returns or refunds.

Faced with this situation, each country began to enact laws establishing the rights of consumers. These laws protect consumers from misleading advertising, the right to free information regarding product quality, appropriate pricing policies, etc.

Differences between consumer and customer

Although both terms are often used without distinction, there are differences between the two concepts that should be taken into account.

A first difference is that the customer who buys a product or service is not always the one who consumes it. A case of everyday life is the person who does the household purchases and all the products that he buys are consumed by more than one person.

The second difference has to do with the person’s relationship with the product or brand . A customer establishes a regular relationship with the product or with the chosen brand. Instead, there is an anonymous relationship between the consumer and the product.

In short, the loyalty of a person with a product, brand or service makes the difference between customer and consumer.


From the point of view of the economic process , we can say that the consumer occupies the most important place in a long chain of production of goods and services. The final recipient of them.

Without the economic act of consuming, the entire production process would be meaningless.

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