Consumer Behavior in the UK Retail Market

Topic: Economics
Words: 2215 Pages: 8


The retail sector plays a crucial role in the UK’s economy by supplying goods and offering services to end-users. The manufacturers depend on the retailers to supply their manufactured products. Therefore, the retailers take over the manufacturers’ role in identifying and building consumer-base. The retailers’ performance is significant to the manufacturers’ business and helps determine sales rates. While the retailers make crucial efforts to obtain clients, the consumers respond differently to various products or services. Various factors influence consumer behaviors: social and cultural change, technology, marketing communications, and reference groups. The retailers can take advantage of the factors listed to prepare for future market changes. Although the business environment in the UK is dynamic, retailers can improve on the factors influencing consumer behaviors to survive in times of future business hurdles.

Consumer Behavior

Consumers’ dynamic purchasing behavior shifts according to the internal and external business environment. Consumer behavior is described as the study of clients and all activities associated with purchasing and consuming goods or services (Cruz-Cárdenas et al., 2021). The study involves how customers’ emotions, attitudes, and preferences affect their buying behaviors. When analyzing clients’ behaviors, the businesses utilize qualities such as demographics, personality, and behavioral lifestyles such as usage rates and occasions, brand advocacy, or willingness to provide referrals (Suwelack et al., 2022). Consequently, businesses and market researchers understand the people’s wants and consumption patterns. Therefore, the varying demographic and marketing elements among the UK population can be used to study consumer behaviors.

Consumer Behavior theories

Various theories help explain the dynamic consumer behaviors and how personal taste and income shape the economy. Consumer theories are microeconomic concepts that relate preferences to consumption expenditures and consumer demand curves (Cruz-Cárdenas et al., 2021). Five schools of thought inform consumer behavioral theories: psychoanalytic, Veblenian social-psychological, reasoned action, Maslow’s motivation-need, Hawkins Stern impulse buying (HR & Aithal, 2020). The theories consider three main factors: psychological, personal, and social. The psychoanalytic theory states that purchase decisions are influenced by consumers’ feelings, hopes, aspirations, and fears. The Veblenian social-psychological states that the clients make purchase decisions based on social and cultural norms (Suwelack et al., 2022). Therefore, the Veblenian social-psychological and psychoanalytic consider the personal interactions in the society.

Consumers purchase goods and services to fulfill needs that are personal or societal. Therefore, the reasoned action theory is based on the marketers’ need to associate positive impact with purchasing their products or services (Cruz-Cárdenas et al., 2021). Meanwhile, Maslow’s motivation-need theory is based on the hierarchy of needs. According to the theory, people purchase goods or services based on their need to fulfill psychological, safety, love, and self-actualization needs (Suwelack et al., 2022). For instance, people purchase alarm systems since they value safety and their properties. While there are many reasons for making purchases, little thought may go into it. Therefore, Hawkins Stern’s impulse buying states that people buy products based on external stimuli. The consumer behavioral theories explain why people make purchases, and internal and external business environmental changes influence purchase patterns.

Retail Market in the UK

Consumer behavior changes are significant in determining sales volume in the retail industry. The UK is a diverse country that is affected by various economic factors. The country is one of the developed countries with sundry cultural backgrounds and innovative technologies (Hamblin, 2020). Moreover, it is affected by natural pandemics like any other country. The retail industry is significant to the economy of the UK, contributing to about 5.2% of its Gross Domestic Product by 2020 (Office for National Statistics, 2021). The country’s retail market has doubled compared to its performance in the late twentieth century. According to the Office For National Statistics, technological advancements have greatly contributed to the change in retail market sales volume (2021). Therefore, various factors that affect consumer behavior patterns in the retail industry can be integrated to prepare for future business trends.

Factors Influencing Consumer Behavior in the UK Retail Market

The UK society is dynamic and influenced by various factors that change consumer behavior. The country’s retail industry deals with various products or services whose demand may change with time. Culture, marketing communications, technological developments, and references are significant in determining purchase behaviors. While the listed factors have significantly contributed to the UK retail market’s success, the sellers can take advantage of future survival. Consequently, the retail market in the UK can stay afloat in the business through effective integration of factors determining market changes. Therefore, effective implementation of microeconomic factors leads to a successful retail market in the UK.

Cultural and Social Change

Cultural and social changes are crucial for determining purchase patterns among consumers in the UK’s retail market. Various cultural and social factors influence consumer purchase decisions (Fernandes et al., 2021). Culture involves a way of living of a group of people, including knowledge, beliefs, traditions, morals, and values. The UK is a multicultural society, and the different groups have varying purchase patterns. For instance, the meat retailing market is affected by religious traditions since the Muslim community does not consume pork and its related products. The fashion industry in the UK is greatly affected by the different social classes. The upper social classes would consider expensive brands compared to the lower classes. Multiculturalism in the UK affects consumer behaviors in the country’s retail market.

Meeting Cultural and Social Needs for Retail Business Success

The UK population has dynamic cultural and social qualities that retailers can integrate to remain relevant in the market. The country’s youth population has significantly grown over the past three years (Djafarova & Bowes, 2021). The population is estimated to record steady growth in the coming years. The youths are interested in the fashionable and trending products in the clothing sector. Moreover, their purchase decisions are greatly influenced by celebrities and trending topics. The retailers in the fashion industry can track modern clothing trends and specialize in producing clothes for youths. The retailers would attract the growing youth population and remain profitable in the fashion industry.

The UK is among the many countries that attract foreign populations due to its growing economic pattern. Consequently, multiculturalism is greatly influenced in the country, leading to diverse social needs. The growing international population in the UK calls for different cultural needs in various economic sectors. For instance, the growing Chinese population influences the choice of foods in restaurants with frequent Chinese customers. Therefore, introducing foreign cuisines among the food retailers will make the business sustainable (Bux et al., 2022). Therefore, the changing youth and international population influence the purchase behaviors within the UK retail market.

Marketing Communications

Marketing communications involve using different channels and tools for promoting products or services. The communication channels include traditional and digitized advertisements. The UK’s technological advancement has led to the adoption of information technology to promote products or services. Consequently, the retailers utilized digitized platforms to market their products and services (Napawut et al., 2022). Social media platforms attract many people in the UK, making them significant for marketing communication. TikTok is the fastest-growing social media platform attracting millions of UK residents (Stokel-Walker, 2021). Moreover, the platform integrates trending social issues in the country. The choice of marketing communication is crucial in attracting consumers to the UK’s retail market.

Improving Marketing Communication For Future Sustainability

Effective marketing communication can help UK retailers to attract more clients. Technological advancements have led to new social media platforms and marketing tools. The technology is expected to improve in the coming years further. Therefore, UK retailers should be updated with social media trends. The retailers could create their business profiles on the commonly used social media platforms for marketing communication. Adopting newly developed marketing features within the social media platforms could help influence purchase decisions among potential clients. The retailers can utilize the data from the marketing communication channels to target specific clients for a successful business. Since the communication channels are crucial in determining purchase decisions, UK retailers can utilize the trading platforms to attract more consumers.

Technological Developments

Technology is significant in influencing consumer behaviors by easing business activities. The UK is a developed country that has made great strides in business technology. The technology is integrated within the country’s financial, medical, and other significant sectors. Consequently, many business transactions are conducted through technologically-enabled platforms. Credit and debit cards allow buyers to pay for their products and services by electronic means (Fisher et al., 2021). The e-commerce platforms allow retailers to promote and sell their products or services online. The advancements have influenced purchasing patterns since many clients prefer to conduct business transactions in the comfort of their homes. Therefore, technologically-enabled retail businesses in the UK attract many consumers.

Technological Integration For Business Sustainability

Technological developments are crucial in determining consumer behaviors since it empowers them to choose retailers. The UK retail market can integrate technology to understand consumer behaviors and determine purchase patterns. The technology can help predict purchase behaviors and feed the consumers with information that is most likely to influence their decisions. The utilization of social media and business performance data helps in determining business performance (Obermayer et al., 2021). Therefore, UK retailers can integrate business analytics to project future business performance. If the analytics predict declined performance, the retailers can develop effective strategies to improve their business. Moreover, automation and digitization of business activities among the UK retailers would help serve the increasing UK internet users.

Consumers use a smartphone and other smart technologies to research products, ask sales questions, and purchase products based on their needs. Moreover, the technology has made the consumers more connected with the retailers in the UK. The retailers can use the connection to build a friendly relationship with their consumers (Obermayer et al., 2021). For instance, fashion retailers can automatically reply to consumers based on their questions. Moreover, the retailers can utilize the social media platforms’ features to target specific consumers with unique needs. A cordial relationship between retailers and consumers would improve purchasing patterns and clients’ attitudes towards the businesses (Watson & Popescu, 2021). Therefore, businesses can remain sustainable through technology integration that influences consumer behaviors.

Reference Groups

While consumer purchase decisions are made at individual levels, various people may influence the clients’ buying choices. Human beings are urged to impress others and always want to look better than them (Zafar et al., 2021). Consequently, the consumers will purchase goods or services that would put them in a dominant societal position. Reference groups are those who influence consumers’ purchase decisions (Zafar et al., 2021). The reference groups could be very large or small, depending on the consumer’s choice. For instance, the youth population is influenced by clothing choices by celebrities. Meanwhile, family members can influence consumers’ choice of products or services.

The reference groups are of two types depending on the set levels of purchasing patterns and lifestyles: secondary and primary. While the primary reference groups involve a set of people the consumers meet daily, the secondary is usually formal and speaks less frequently (Zafar et al., 2021). The primary reference groups have a stringer and direct impact on the consumers’ lives and purchase decisions. Meanwhile, the secondary reference groups have less power in influencing consumers’ purchase decisions. The primary groups include close relatives and family members, while the secondary groups include professionals and the consumers’ acquaintances.

Utilizing the Reference Groups for Retail Business Sustainability

The reference groups are a crucial target population by the retailers in the UK market. The retailers can adopt various marketing strategies to influence purchase patterns among potential consumers. Demographic segmentation help reach specific people that can influence others to purchase particular products or services. For instance, the children can influence their parents’ purchase decisions. Consequently, the retailers selling toy cars can target the children through frequently utilized media, such as cartoon networks. The targeted children will pressure their parents to purchase the toys advertised. Meanwhile, when promoting reading materials among UK parents, the retailers can adopt a referral program to attract other parents. The primary reference groups are significant in giving honest opinions to potential consumers.

The UK is diverse, and various people have adopted unique cultural characteristics. Some of the developed cultures act as aspirational groups for particular consumers. For instance, the developed HipHop culture influences the youths’ choice of fashion. Consequently, the retailers can use HipHop musicians to promote their products among the youths. Meanwhile, multiculturalism in the UK has led to the development of dissociative groups that the consumers abhor. For instance, some people are associated with social vices such as racism. Consequently, the consumers would reject products associated with such groups. Therefore, UK retailers should avoid dissociated groups when promoting their products or services. The choice of a targeted reference group significantly influences purchase patterns among consumers.


The UK retail market is significant to the country’s economy. The market offers many job opportunities, making it easy to acquire goods or services from manufacturers. The changes in consumer behavior influence the retail market performance. Five theories help explain the factors influencing consumer behaviors in the retail market. Cultural and social changes, technological developments, marketing communications, and reference groups impact consumer behaviors. The retailers in the UK can take advantage of those factors to remain sustainable in the business. Therefore, UK retailers should improve on influencing consumer purchase patterns to avoid future business risks.


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