Unlike the developed countries, the consumers of Bangladesh have some peculiar charactiristics. We may discuss the characteristics under the following major heads:
(1) Shopping habits : The consumers of our country usually buy their necessary consumer goods from within a distance of one mile from their residence. The buying area generally expands in bigger towns like Dhaka and Chittagong. Dacca is the largest city where most of the consumers go for shopping even upto three miles or more.
A substantial proportion of consumers living in Gulshan area, for example, go to New market or Baitul Mukarram for shopping. But in smaller towns like Comilla or Khulna people generally do not go far away from their residence to purchase their necessary manufactured consumer goods. As yet very few people, unlike the consumers in the developed countries like the U.S.A., go out to another city exclusively for shopping.
(2) Making purchase decisions: The male members of the family, usually the father or the husband, mostly make the purchase decision. The husband makes the purchase decisions for goods like toilet soaps, creams, blades, torch cells, pencils, etc. in majority families. In about one-fifth of the families decisions is made jointly by the husband and wife. But in joint decision also the wife does not make the purchase herself, her preference is just taken into account by the husband.
The housewife makes the purchase decision in minority of the cases . The influence of housewives is less prominent in smaller towns than in the bigger ones. The housewife mainly influences the purchase decision regarding the articles like cosmetics, crockeries, hies clothing and feeding bottles etc. which she will herself use.
The marketing significance of this characteristic of the consumers is that it is the husband who need to be persuaded and motivated if the goods are to be sold.
Of course, with the increased urbanisation and increased income of the population the trend may he reversed in the future. The influence of housewives in buying decision is becoming more important day by day in bigger cities like Dhaka.
(3) Smallness of purchases: The people purchase convenience goods mostly in small quantities and they also buy them as and when needed. The salaried people purchase these products in such a quantity which they would need during current month. There is little tendency among the consumers to buy in large quantities and thus to stock for some months to come.
(4) Period of purchase : In most of the cases there is no concentration of buying in any particular part like the begining of the month. Only 8.10 percent of the consumers buy their manufactured consumer goods at the begining of the month and 38.19 per cent spread out their buying throughout the month. Most of the consumers purchase the consumer goods when things beccome needed (89.73 percent).
The time of marketing in a month also differs depending upon the level of income of the consumers. It has been found that about 31.03 percent consumers having a monthly income upto Tk. 100 purchase when things become needed while only 0.71 per cent of the consumers with a total monthly income above Tk. 2000 buy manufactured consumer goods as and when needed.
(5) Day-time of shopping: The consumers mostly prefer to shop in the morning and the evening. In fact evening appears to be a very popular time for shopping for non-perishable consumer goods in Bangladesh. This time is preferred in our country because the climate makes morning and evening as hours suitable for outdoor movements. Morever, the menfolk remain engaged in the performance of their employments in the morning hours and thus naturally they prefer to shop in the evening.
(6) Days-of purchase in the week: Most of the consumers prefer sundays and the holidays as suitable for shopping. Some of the consumers are indifferent to a particular day in the week. There is also some preference for Friday and Saturday because of holidays observed in those days in many organisations.
(7) Loyalty to retailers: The consumers of our country have a fair degree of loyalty towards particular retailer. More than 50 percent of the consumers go to a particular retailer known to them. This high loyalty of consumers to a particular retailer seems to be a great advantage from the point of view of trade. The shop loyalty is, of course, poor in areas where there is a lot of migration and expansion.
For example, loyalty towards a particular retailer is very low in an area like Thakurgaon and Khulna where the urban population has increased very recently due to industrial growth as compared to Pabna where there has been relatively small immigration from outside in recent years. It is now believed that as the prices of goods differ from shop to shop, in future there would be little consumer loyalty towards retail shops. About 88 per cent of the consumers maintain this belief.
(8) Bargaining or higgling: One of the most important characteristics of our consumers is that they have the tendency to bargain while they go to shop.
Although bargaining is a time-consuming process in our economy most consumers are in possession of more time available for shopping and bargaining. Bargaining is comparatively more popular amongst less educated people. People with higher education shows little tendency for bargaing. In our country, since the prices vary from shop to shop, it is natural that the consumers would over the price of the products. The existence of bargaining decreases the efficiency of our retail trade.
(9) Consumers’ image of the retailer: Generally a consumers think that a retailer knows a lot about the quality of the goods he seeks. A very in significant of the consumer (11 per cent) thinks that the retailer does not know very much about the quallity of the goods they sell. In big cities like Dhaka, majority of the consumers think that the retailers are well informed about the quality of the goods. Most of the consumers also feel that shopping is now far from pleasing and enioyable job in Bengladesh. They further feel that retailers do not encourage consumers visiting their shops only for knowing what things are available and what are the prices. The consumers are also dissatisfied with the retailers in the sense that the latter do not display prices of the goods they sell.
(10) Consumers’ impression of foreign goods : Our consumers do not have any definite image of the superiority of the foreign manufactured consumer goods any longer. The study made by the BER of Dhaka University reveals that the more urban is a consuming area, the less are the consumers haunted by image of the superiority of foreign manufacturers. The reason for this may be that people with higher income and better experience of using manufactured goods are less influenced by the image of the superiority of the foreign made goods.
The rural consumers with less experience are oriented with the view that foreign goods are superior. After independence, the consumers are found to have more preference for the foreign goods because of the reason that numerous imitated goods (popularly known as zinjira made goods) are being sold in the market and the imitation is made so tactfully that many consumers are being deceived every day.
For example, “Lifebuoy” has been imitated as “Lifebouy” with the same coloured-packing in some cases everything else is imitated except for the fact that where “Made in England” is written, they would write “Made in Inland” or they would write ” Made as Japan” in place of ” Made in Japan”.