What roles do personal or demographic factors play in consumer/customer decision to purchase product or service?


Rational consumer behavior has been a subject of intensive research and modeling, in academic and industrial circles. It is critical for companies to understand how consumers make their choices. With operational and profit margins forever slimming, for-profit companies are increasingly relying on finding unique compatitive advantages, to stay afloat. Understanding consumer behavior is imperative in succeeding on this path.

There are 5 basic needs believed to be satisfiable by purchasing a product (Arbuckle 2019). Physiological needs, safety needs, love and belonging needs, esteem needs, and self-actualization needs. This idea has been repeated by numerous researchers, who have strived to explain what needs are satisfied, by making purchases (Kaufman 2010). Each of these five is a personal factor.

Additional personal factors are: price sensitivity, cost / benefit analysis on the individual level, and regulations and legality, to name a few. An example of how regulations impact personal buying decisions is: I recently bought a Huawei phone, despite that I’m well aware that Huawei is banned in United States, and support and security patches for its phones may not be available. The regulation has been a consideration, but has not been an influence, in that purchase decision.

Demographic factors affect purchasing decisions. Only specific good and services are available in specific demographic areas – and this (un)availability affects purchasing decisions. Sometimes, a product is priced very differently based on demographics. For example, Brasil imposts more than 100% taxes on imported cars. This definitely affects consumer behavior: fewer people can afford a car in Brasil.

Demographics affect how an individual thinks of social status. This plugs into the “love and belonging needs” as well as “esteem needs,” indirectly. For example, North American consumers are strongly insentivized to buy Apple, not Android cellphones, because of the perception of higher quality by the North American demographic.

In conclusion, both personal and demographic factors contribute to buying decisions, on individual and institutional level, across the entire market.

References

Arbuckle, Dani (2019) What Are Needs From a Marketing Perspective? Retrieved from https://smallbusiness.chron.com/needs-marketing-perspective-47599.html

Kaufman, Josh. The Personal MBA: Master the Art of Business. New York: Penguin Group

On the Individual and Institutional Purchasing of Coffee


Using a product (goods or services) and the information from the readings, create a model of buyer behavior for the product. Next, create a model for an organizational buyer vs. an individual consumer.

~ * ~ * ~

This paper analyses buyer behavior, comparing and contrasting cases of an individual consumer, and an institutional buyer. This paper uses coffee as the product in the discussion. Coffee is a good choice for this discussion because both individuals, and institutions purchase it, sometimes in very large quantities. However, the behaviors of rational actors belonging to these two market segments are quite different.

For this discussion, I will restrict the georgaphical market segment to North America only, since I have the most knowledge of that segment. Consumer behavior changes significantly depending on the place in the world. In North America, coffee is a staple but also a luxury item. Coffee can be very cheap (free) or very expensive (e.g. the Blue Bottle brand). Consumers here expect higher quality, and are willing to pay the price. This, in turn, has lead to spectacular growth of Starbucks as a publicly traded company (Akdeniz, 2014).

In this paper I will use the Agile Marketing User Stories approach described by Fryrear (2019) to model the two buyer tiers. For this discussion, our model individual consumer is Bob. Bob lives in San Francisco, CA. Bob is an average coffee drinker, consuming 2 cups of coffee per day. One in the morning, and one at lunch. He tends to drink americanos, but occasionally switches to espressos. He prefers higher-quality beans at a higher cost. At home, he has several types of coffee. He rarely purchases more than 2lb of coffee at a time. He prefers local, independent, and less popular coffee brands. He slightly resents the social impact that Starbucks has had on the world and agriculture in developing countries.

Bob likes to try new sorts of coffee. The coffee shops that he visits have lists of coffee blends that they carry. For example, the Blue Bottle roasters near his house carry the Costa Rica Brunca Regulo de Rivas, Costa Rica Tarrazu Santa Teresa, Bella Donovan, and Winter Blend, to name a few (Blue Bottle Coffee, 2019). Additionally, his neighborhood supermarkets carry a variety of blends. Bob makes the selection based on (1) whether he has tried the blend in quesion, (2) weather he liked it, (3) how different it is from his believed preferences, (4) price, higher price suggesting higher quality, and (5) availability and convenience.

The coffee must flow. Bob will settle for a worse-quality coffee in the morning, rather than nothing at all. Bob makes periodic purchases. As soon as his house supply is expected to run out, he purchases 1-2lb more. He is also likely to buy prepared coffee every day. He is not price-sensitive. He is an established consumer, a repeat customer for most of this vendors, and he has an established purchase behavior that changes only slowly.

The other buyer tier is represented by AMCO, a call center company located in the suburbs of Evanston, IL. AMCO is an institutional buyer: it has a kitchen that needs to be supplied with coffee, for continuing normal operations. AMCO is a price-sensitive buyer: all coffee purchases by the company are bulk purchases, and the bottom line is affected by operational efficiency. AMCO has an established supply chain to stock their kitchen. Costco is a wholesaler from which AMCO buys the majority of food products that it needs. Since AMCO is thrifty, there is only one coffee brand that it buys: the Kirkland brand, owned by Costco. Kirkland is a whitelabel for Starbucks roasts (Baltuth, 2019). It provides a good quality-to-price ratio. AMCO is also interested in minimizing operational overhead by keeping things consistent. The coffee is bought every month, to fill up the reserves – it doesn’t have an expiration, and it never runs out, in AMCO’s storage.

The behaviors of the two buyers are quite different. AMCO does not buy single-portion, or prepared coffee. AMCO’s purchasing of coffee has been largely automated. Although initially quality was a concern, there is no feedback loop from AMCO’s employees to operations managers, and there is little way to make changes to the purchasing decisions. If an employee does not like Kirkland brand, for example, AMCO takes no action. AMCO is price-oriented.

In contrast, Bob is quality-oriented. Furthermore, Bob’s coffee buying is often unplanned and impulsive. He will buy a blend that he hasn’t seen before, making such a decision on the spot. He also buys coffee much more frequently: every day, as opposed to monthly purchases.

Despite the differences, there are many similarities between the two buyers. Perhaps the biggest one is that both are consistent. As mentioned previously, the coffee must flow. Both Bob and AMCO have learned that the negative impact on productivity due to lack of coffee, however small, is indeed noticeable. Both spend a good effort to guarantee availability. And both have set up patterns of buying that do not much change.

References

Akdeniz, Can. (2014) More Than Coffee: The Secrets of Starbucks Success (Best Business Books) (Volume 23) CreateSpace Independent Publishing

Fryrear, Andrea. (2019) Agile Marketing User Stories – Adapting an Agile Tool. Retrieved from https://www.agilesherpas.com/story-agile-marketing-user-stories/

No author. (2019) Subscribe | Blue Bottle at Home | Blue Bottle Coffee. Retrieved from https://bluebottlecoffee.com/store/coffee

Baltuth, Omar. (2019) Is Costco’s Kirkland Signature brand really just repackaged brand name products? Retrieved from https://www.quora.com/Is-Costcos-Kirkland-Signature-brand-really-just-repackaged-brand-name-products

Chicago :: Wicker Park :: Bars & Clubs


  • Lottie’s
    • Younger crowd? Open late. Two floors. American (cheesy white girl music)
  • Debonair
    • By far the better dancing for me – electronic, good racial mix, good interior, small and comfortable.
  • The Flat Iron
    • Debonair runs until 2am, and Flat Iron until 4am. Once the first closes, you go to the second
  • Nick’s beer garden
    • Open late until 4am. That’s the good thing about it. A “regular” bar. Two rooms, no live music.
  • The Emporium
    • It’s an arcade. Some live music. There is another Emporium in Logan Square, & it is better. Still, the smaller emporium is right by my house, so I don’t mind going there.
  • Whiskey Business
    • Across the street from Wicker Park Emporium. I never really got into it. I “don’t drink” in the sense that I try to drink only beer when I go out.

Some interview questions

We continue looking at asking, and answering, interesting interview questions.

In this context, PM = product manager. As opposed to a project manager.

  • How do you keep top performers engaged? Given a high-performance team, there is the challenge of keeping them around, and keeping them interested and engaged in the work they are doing – even if the work gets dull sometimes, or less than interesting. How do you motivate people, and keep them consistnetly interested in the work at hand?

I should also add here, for the benefit of the interviewee, that the behavioral questions have an implied time limit. Like in a debate. You should not spend more time than necessary answering a question. You should not spend too little time, out of fear of not demonstrating sufficient details. Effectively, I think every question is answered by two-four paragraphs’ worth of oration. Answer each question in a span of 2-5 minutes, and then wait for the interviewee to ask the nexst one.

Habitually, for me as an interviewee, it is a red flag when the first question from the interviewer is, “tell me about yourself.” That is ambiguous and uncomfortable. It is a green flag if the interviewer first introduces himself, talks about his role and functions, to make the intereviewee more comfortable. And also as the host, it is the interviewer’s task to welcome and greet the interviewee.

  • What is an ideal team size? Do you have something like that in your mind? There is a rule of thumb, the two pizzas rule: you should be able to feed your team a comfortable lunch with two pizzas. Can you comment on that?

So, in technology, for me personally, a fair team size and composition is the following: 1-2 QA’s, 1 designer, 1 PM, 4-6 engineers, one partner. The head count is then around 12. That sounds like 2 pizzas.

Look also at the organizational social science, that states the rule of thumb of 10 people. Less than 10 people don’t need a leader to agree on something. More than 10, and you’re looking at increasing communication difficulties requiring a leader to resolve opinions and be able to have good direction. Mongolian army did that before it was cool: they had units of 10 soldiers, and those were batched into units of 100. Those, of course, were grouped into units of 1000.

  • What are the challenges of hiring a good PM? What are the characteristics of a successful PM?

I think the last time we talked about it, the consensus was that a good PM offers a lot of flexibility, and understanding the business needs of the company. He doesn’t need to be very technical, but he does need to be a good communicator, making people feel comfortable, and making sure that the team is cohesive. PM is a very interdisciplinary job.

  • Have you done mentorship of junior members? How is such mentorship structured – if it is structured at all? Maybe it’s always spontaneous? Talk about being a mentor to junior team members.

I’d say, a good pattern (and therefore a good answer) is to do both: structured and unstructured mentorship. Me, for example. Anyone can come to me and ask a question (or on slack), and expect some useful response or advice. If a motivated intern sits next to me, I expect him to ask questions about how to structure code, etc. This is unstructured. On the other hand, we have a company-internal blog, to which I contribute. The blog talks about interesting challenges that the company is addressing, or the structure of things that we’ve come up with, or how things *should* be done – a theoretic discussion. In addition to that, the company hosts weekly lunch and learn, where a team member would talk about either a problem that was recently solved, or again about how things should be done in the future, or else touch on an interesting and relevant topic. So, mentorship should be a combination of formal and informal methods.

The days of the week

Let me talk about the days of the week for you.
  • Monday: must go to gym; plan for the week
  • Tuesday: most productive day at work. should go to gym. should socialize sober
  • Wednesday: most productive day at work. should go to gym. should socialize sober
  • Thursday: work from home. should socialize! should go to gym
  • Friday: work from office. go out at night. no gym.
  • Saturday: go out if you can. have a productive day. shopping. errands.
  • Sunday: no drinking! prepare for the week ahead.

Tools For Stress Relief


* how to sleep: weighted blanket, therapeutic mattress, eye mask, melatonin, ear plugs, plenty of water, no light / candle light, two alarms, climate control.
* pets, such as two cats. I’m not in a good position to talk about relationships, but being in a relationship should decrease stress. Having sex also obviously decreases stress.
* Good diet – feel great about yourself!
* Exercise. Being fit increases confidence and decreases stress
* Dress well. That improves your appearance to everybody else, and positively impacts everything.

Innovation vs Invention


Innovation is the process of improving existing processes, tools or products. The result of research and development is hopefully innovation, although it could also be invention. Innovation is discovery and improvement. It is the fuel that drives competitiveness in manufacture, and in other industries. Companies that don’t innovate are subject to falling behind their competitors.

Innovation is a core value of certain advertising agencies, and other digital businesses. An entire value proposition can be constructed from the hope of innovating in a market or industry segment. Innovation often leads to disruption. The result of innovation, sometimes, is the paradigm shift that forces an entire industry adapt to newly found practices.

Invention is the creation of new things, products and services. A new scientific instrument is invented. A process is invented; whereas innovation is hopefully a property of the new product or tool.

Internet was invented. The assembly line, as well as any machine or process, was also invented. All the tools and fruits of the industrial and digital revolutions have been inventions, in the very beginning. Inventing is closely tied with manufacture: an idea is not invented, it is the resulting tool or machine that is invented. Inventing can be a job: design of new things is by definition invention.

The two are similar and related. Innovation often leads to inventions. An invention without innovation is usually less market-competitive than otherwise. They are, however, different concepts. It is possible to invent a machine without being innovative. And if an innovation is not implemented, it can be left without the corresponding inventions.

Last Call Bar & Grill


Address: 26 N 5th St, Minneapolis, MN 55403

I think this is my fav club in MSP so far. A very young crowd, but at least it’s a decent dancefloor and the environment.