What was your last big purchase? A car? A home? Better yet think back to your previous purchase in general. Maybe it was groceries, gas, or office supplies. Have you ever considered why you purchase the specific products you do or shop at particular stores over others? The answers to these questions are essential to business, and the field of consumer behavior is dedicated to studying what processes consumers use to consume or discard products and services. Many factors drive our decisions as consumers, including those that are emotional, psychological, and behavioral. Three significant consumer responses are feelings, thoughts, and actions. When it comes to a person’s healthcare, they, in fact, are making consumer decisions about what services they are choosing to take or forego, what facilities to seek assistance at, and even which physician’s to select.
A person’s feelings like fear and enjoyment affect this process as people are reluctant to do things they are afraid of and tend to jump at the chance to consume products or services they have favorable emotions towards. Our thoughts enter the process because we, as consumers, have beliefs, opinions, attitudes, and intentions that predisposition us to seek or avoid certain products, brands, or services. Lastly, our actions also drive our consumption decisions, such as paying with cash and shopping at stores closer to your home or work.
For instance, if a person had a previous traumatic experience with a doctor, they will be more reluctant to seek medical advice at the first signs of symptoms since they relate a doctor’s visit with negative news. In the same respect, if you have a phobia of hospitals, you’re more likely to choose a primary care physician located in a small private office rather than a large healthcare facility. If you never carry cash with you, selecting a physician that doesn’t accept credit cards can increase the chances of frustrating situations when it comes time to handle your copay during your checkups.
Factors that affect which, when, how often, and where patients consume healthcare services can provide great insight into how you design and market your private practice. If you haven’t yet, read my lasts post on the highlights of building a brand strategy.