Monday, January 28, 2013

Consumer behavior

Consumer behavior according to Perner (para. 2) refers to the study of how groups, organizations and individuals who have the potential to buy a product or service and how they select, purchase or buy, the use and how they finally dispose the service, product or experience. Funfields Amusement Park offers ride services for both the young and the old alike. The park was opened in 1985 in the Whittlesea Alpine Toboggan Park and it featured several rides which included a Toboggan ride which a kind of sled that is used to transport people over snow. The sleds had the capacity to carry more than one person and they were mostly used to carry children down the snow. Other activities offered at the park are go-karting, other water rides and the latest addition was a pirate ship which all along had been located at sea world. Funfields Amusement Park is considering adding a new “aqua shak” which refers to a wet area which will offer interactive play while also the children can slide. The aqua Shak will also feature a “hydrostorm” where the container is filled with water and put under pressure until the balloon explodes thus making people in the vicinity wet. Funfields also had plans to build a water play area for toddlers. The young children could play in the water all day and they have referred to the facility as “Wacky waters” (Funfields, para. 1-5).
The proposed additions are targeting the children as both of them are directly or in some way targeting the children. The “Wacky waters” is meant for very young children who were previously not catered for in the facility. The facility will help the parents of children who were too young to use the facilities that were presently available in the park. Some people were not visiting the parks not because they did not want to but because they had young children who were not catered for. According to City of Whittlesea (pp. 9) the profile of the area is relatively younger than the average of Victoria. Between 2001 and 2006 there was an impressive rise of 3% in the population of children aged between 0-4 years old. This group had not been taped on before thus the programs are bound to succeed.
Issues Facing Consumers in Adopting this New Product or Service
However the adoption of new service by Funfields will depend on several factors. First is the consumer self concept for instance their take on such issues as climate change issue. The concept of self encompasses where the individual sees themselves now and what the individual want to be. As in the issue of global warming, many people have already recognized its effects and thus they are keen at making their stands about the issue known. Since people have become more conscious of the climate change issue, some people will be reluctant to visit the park because they will think that they are helping towards the worsening of the global warming condition (Rahbar & Wahid, pp. 73-83). Due to the massive water needs, the increased use of water according to the environmentally conscious consumers will lead to an imbalance in the natural flows of water thus worsening the already pathetic state of the global environment (Reid, pp. 28). The self concept of an individual is what brings about the lifestyles that the people have
Eroglu, Williams & Waller (pp. 420-434) also noted that the global financial conditions will also affect the consumers’ decisions. They will be more conscious of what they spend their money on thus in most cases they will want to spend their money on an entertainment which will offer them maximum enjoyment and value for their money. For instance the park can engage in high quality customer experiences so that they can bank on repeat customers. Moreover, the household structure also affects the acceptance levels of a new product. There are houses where there are many children while others have small numbers of children with considerable number of adults. The household structure has an important influence in the decision made in the house to purchase any particular product or service. The purchasing levels increase when the individuals can be made to appreciate the benefits that the products will have on the members of the family. The nature of the household should also be understood well for instance whether it is woman headed, man headed or any other form of family setting
Thirdly, there are cultural differences of the target population that the service is supposed to serve. The culture of an individual determines their belief system which in turn helps in attitude creation towards or against the product or service that the individual or family is being offered. Before individuals decide to pay a visit to a water park, they will have to consider the dress mode that they will be in during the leisure. The choice of attire and gender roles affect whether the facility will be successful or not. The background of the customers should be looked into carefully so that they can not have bad experiences brought about by any form of embarrassment that may arise from the course of their using the facility (Alam & Sayuti, pp. 8-10; Reid, pp. 28)
Consumer emotion and motivation also play an important role in the consumer acceptance of the services that they are being offered. Motivation stirs the consumer so that they recognize the need in them to consume the service of product that they are being offered. It makes the consumer think about the benefits that they will derive from consuming the product. Emotions are the temporary changes in the motivation of an individual. Raising the motivation of the adults who must accompany the young children to the park is of outmost importance (Hoyer & Macinnis, pp. 11-13).
Finally, perception of the consumer is also important for the acceptance of a new product in that it will form how the consumer views the service which they are being offered. What the park needs to do is to study the perception of the consumers about the park and specifically how they view the proposed additions and this will help in the final decisions about the changes that need to be done by the management so that they can improve the perception of the consumers. What creates the perception of consumers is of very great importance to the organization as this will show the acceptance levels of the proposal. Perception of the consumer if not favorable for the firm can be changed for instance by increased marketing campaigns. The attitudes of the consumers also affect their acceptance of new products. The consumers most of the time compare what they are being offered against their own attitudes and thus any disparities make the consumers give the product a wide berth. The attitudes of the consumer about a company always offer a clearer picture of whether the consumers have it in high regard or they do not give it a second consideration after they hear about it (Srivastava, pp.340-352).
Consumer Response to these Issues
A consumer survey was conducted so that the views of the prospective consumers of the product could be established to ensure that the resultant product is what the consumers needed and not just a creation of Funfields Park. The interviews were carried out to get the view of one single mother of a baby girl aged 3 years, a married mother of a boy aged two and a half years and a widowed man who was a father of to twin boys aged four years and finally to a stay home grandmother who was taking care of her granddaughter. The sample that was taken was very representative of the market that was being targeted by the new product that was being offered by Funfields Park. All the respondents to the interview were from the city of Whittlesea which is the area where the product was to be installed. Due to the diversity of the above sample, different issues were raised concerning the new product that was being offered. One of the respondents was a Muslim woman who raised a very important issue that would be very important for the park if they were to tap into that sector of the market. This is the group that the previous service that the park was offering disadvantaged to a great extent. Since the children have little decision making capacity and the ability to consume, the parents or guardians were in the best position to articulate the issues that they consider important before they could adopt the product.
The target population was well informed about what was going on around them and thus they also had a better recognition of what they wanted to see for themselves and their children. When asked about their self concepts, they were articulate about what they wanted whether in the public eye and their ideals. Most of the people interviewed (three) out of the four were concerned about the volume of water that the project will need against the background of water shortages that were being brought about by global warming. Of particular concern was how the park would deal with the water issue amidst the scarcity that the world is facing. For the park to have substantial returns on their investment, they had to do according to the wish of the target population. Reid (pp. 28) stated that when Whitewater world a company that offered water games in Queensland State, they were faced with the same dilemma as the city was constantly experiencing water shortages. The manager of the park managed to convince the consumers that they will be able to engage in sustainable use of the resources that the nature provided. They installed eco-friendly Park that was involved in efficient use of the resources that nature gave them.
When asked about the amount of money that they were willing to spend on their babies, two of the respondent (the single mother and the stay home grandmother) were concerned about the global financial conditions that had had an adverse effect on their financial capabilities. There were also concerns that they would be much wiling to use the service if they were assured that they would get quality for their money. This included how they would be treated by the staff and the time that they will spend in the queues will determine whether they will consider coming to the park. The other two respondents were concerned about the experiences that they will get at the park and this would form the basis of whether they would visit the park again. Since most of the parents who had children below five years were in some form of employment, they also raised concerns as to the opening and closing hours of the facility. Since the charges for the access to the facility is charged on per day basis, the target people wanted to have the maximum time at the facility. The customers’ traffic patterns were also of a great concern since most of them could only get the time to take their children out on weekends and after they live their job stations. The quality of the service should be on that will ensure satisfaction of the customer and thus ensure repeat customers. Due to the concerns raised, the park must engage in cost cutting activities and then passing on the benefits to the consumers for instance they can engage in shorter opening hours during the off-peak times (O’Connor, pp. 132-133).
The target consumers also raised issues concerning their values, traditions which were part of their cultures. Most cultures have different definitions of fun which are shaped by the values and the traditions that the people hold. The new product will require that the children are accompanied by their parents thus the need for the comfort of the accompanying parent should of uttermost importance. Culture determines what a person wears and their general view of the different genders and their roles. The needs of the different customers’ should be catered for instance the Muslim woman had reservations about the privacy of the park. The response of the organization can come in the form of special staffing for some selected day of the week when the people who are keen about how they appear to the public can come and enjoy themselves without any worries in the company of the people whom they will not be ashamed to dress in the Bikinis around. The park can allocate selected women only days so that they can cater for the particular group of customer whose culture and beliefs restrict their public dress code. Only when services that adheres to the culture of an individual is offered will they be free to consume the product (Alam & Sayuti, pp. 8-10)
Those interviewed also agreed unanimously that their consumption of a good is informed by the attitude they form the first time they visited the facility. One respondent indicated that they had a very good experience when they used the Go karts and that they would be very glad to use the services of the park again. The only reservation that he indicated was that he was not allowed to enjoy the service with their child due to height restrictions imposed by the park codes of operations. The introduction of games for the children that will offer fun for the whole family was of a very significant nature to the expansion of the park activities.  The target consumers’ were had a great need to take their children out to go and enjoy the water games that which was being offered. Due to the high motivation levels among the parents, the park should be able to serve a large number of children as well as the adults who accompany them as most of the visits to the park were likely to degenerate into family affairs. The perception of the consumer about the products was fairly good as most of them knew what the new product that they were being offered was about and how they were going to benefit from it (Srivastava, pp.340-352).
Conclusion and recommendations
Funfields Park is in apposition to offer the new product as they already have other products which are going to be complemented by the arrival of the “Wacky Waters” which will be a product exclusively targeting the young children under five years old. The young children were not able to access the other products due to the height restrictions that are imposed on most of the fun activities at the park. The arrival of Wacky Waters which is currently being built in the United States will lead to an increase in visits by families which traditionally did not come due to limited fun activities for some members of the family (O'Connor & Prasad, pp. 67-107). For the product to be better utilized by the target population, an aggressive marketing campaign should be held to inform the consumers about the fun activities brought about by the introduction of the product. Due to the huge competition levels in the provision of fun services for the residents of the Victorian area, the company must embark in a marketing campaign that will differentiate them from the rest of the of the competitors, managing crises that they may face for instance bad publicity and other changes that may occur in the operation environment
The park will engage in a marketing strategy modeled under the four (4) Ps of marketing. First, the prices that the park will charge for the fun should be in line with the financial capabilities of the consumers. The prices will be reviewed over the time of operations to resonate with the realities that the customers face in their daily lives for instance discounts can be used to encourage the consumers to visit the park more. Secondly, the product that the firm offers to the consumers should be of high quality to ensure value to the consumer. The service that the park will offer is unique in the market thus it will serve the customer needs to the fullest. The features and other services that the product comes with will determine whether the product will be bought by the consumers. After an individual has made payment to access the facility, they will not only enjoy the services offered by the Wacky Waters section, but will also be able to enjoy all the other services offered as long as they are above the minimum height or age that is needed for the access. The right product will ensure that there are no losses which will arise from non-use or under-usage of the facility (Gordon, pp. 82-99).
Since there will be no shift in place, the new product will ride on the acceptance of the consumer of the establishment. The easy of access to the facility will ensure that the customers and fun lovers can plan their time well and enjoy the services offered. The final P, promotion, is very important for the park since many consumers do not have the information about the new product. Promotion helps in informing the consumers about the products that they offer and how it will satisfy their needs. This is the point where the park will state their policies concerning the environment, how they will deal with the diversity of the customers so that they will feel appreciated. The promotional activities should be targeted at the young families who have children under the age of five years with a clear message of the fun activities available for them. Mid to late week adverts on the radio have been effective at reaching the customers. Fliers have also been successful at informing the consumer of when the services are available and the charges (Gordon, pp. 82-99).
            The current economic climate has brought some problems to the consumer industry, but this can not prevent people from having fun. In Victoria area people visit water parks as a past time and thus the Funfields should engage in act ivies that will attract customers to the facility. Programs such as loyalty programs, special treatment of all the customers and considerations of the customer’s cultures will help in the acceptance and continued use of the product. The policy of the park should also be that of efficient use of water thus tapping onto the segment of customers who are environmental conscious.

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