Examining consumer behavior on transportation needs

Examining consumer behavior on transportation needs

The Wealthy Franchise is always going beyond the transaction and examining how buyers think. Our founder and CEO has a degree in psychology and this is a research paper he wrote many years ago for his degree at the University of Victoria that we thought was interesting.

If you are interested in discussing franchising, please call us at 778-676-3808 or contact at alistair@thewealthyfranchise.com


Examining consumer behavior


Transportation is an important part of everyone’s lives. In a place of urbanization, to get from point A to point B is not as simple as it was in the past where you could just walk down a street to the local shop area where all stores were located. Nowadays, we have many options of how to get around, which include: cars, walking, cycling, motor vehicles, scooters, the bus, and in some places trains (rail, sky train, and underground). But it gets even more complicated than that. For cars, we have regular cars that use gas, hybrid vehicles (combination of gas and battery usage), and the new cars that run on electricity. And now there is news of another up and coming choice, that “…the future of personal transportation may be the electric vehicle. The Economist warns us not to jump to premature conclusions: the advanced (and clean) diesel engine is about to land on U.S. shores.” (Forbes, 2013) Each one of these cars has advantages and disadvantages which will be discussed later in this report. Choosing your means of transportation can be affected by a number of factors, including: cost (fixed and variable), commute time, danger, impact on the environment, and involvement (low involvement on a bus, high involvement with a car.)  The purpose of this report is to examine all these factors in great details to help me make my decision for which means of transport I will choose.

Pre-Purchase Behaviour

Before I can start to plan and look at alternatives, I must recognize that there is a need or want that is not being currently met. There are a lot of factors that may influence my decisions that I have learned through my family, friends, and advertisements. For example, I am not a mechanic, and I have never compared the insides of Ferrari with those of a Toyota. However, I have been conditioned that a Ferrari is at the upper end of the quality spectrum for vehicles, while Toyota is at the lower end of the spectrum. These beliefs were most likely created by looking at different advertisements that Ferrari and Toyota created. Ferrari often does not include the price and instead shows a wealthy background (nice house, beautiful ocean.) Toyota often focuses on the price, explaining how good a deal their cars are.

There are also my internal believes affecting my decision. Some values that I have (which may have been formed at some point of my life through external forces) include the vehicle being cost effective (not too large of a payment, cheap on gas, and reasonable insurance premiums. Also, social class means a lot to me as I regularly attend business meeting with current and potential clients. I would want a vehicle that looks classy, is not too expensive, and appeals to both the older demographic of my business clients while at the same time impressing my friends which is a younger demographic.

Green energy is very popular in British Columbia as there are many pro environmentalists. However, electric and hybrid vehicles often cost more than regular gas use cars, often $10,000-$20,000 more for the purchase price. That being said, the electric use cars often receive government subsidies and use less or no gas.

It is also important to consider the commute time and the level of involvement in the mean of transportation. Riding your bicycle will add to a long commute time, and will require constant involvement as well as using your energy even before you get to work or school. Riding the bus will take a medium commute time and will require little involvement. You can actually read a book while you ride the bus as you need not focus on your surroundings (except not missing your stop.)

Lastly it is important to consider safety and protection from the elements as an important factor in vehicle choice. A motorcycle provides little protection from the elements and a crash can often result in a significant or fatal injury. When you ride on the bus, you have protection from the elements and you can rest assured you will arrive at your location safely.

Individual Influences

I am being affected by a number of influences that represent my own personality and “place” in society. For example, as a male there are certain colors and models of cars that would be perceived as strange if I were to drive it. Driving a pink smart car around town would surely turn some heads, and not in a good way! My age is also a factor that has to be considered. Certain brands are associated with different age demographics. Mustang (Ford) has often been characterizes are being a car for younger drivers. Cars such as Lexus are often driven by more mature drivers.

As a single male (not married) with no children, my vehicle choice will be different than if I had a family. Right now, I would consider a motorbike because I do not need to give my children rides to soccer practice. However, if I had a family with eight children, it would be more likely for me to own a minivan.

Psychological Influences

Examining consumer behavior

Looking at Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, transportation could fall under safety needs (keeping you warm and dry) or esteem needs (being associated with a certain class). (McLeod, 2007) Therefore, my motivation for choosing a certain vehicle would derive from seeking a certain satisfaction. That satisfaction from a psychological perspective would come from being warm and dry while looking classy and feeling good about myself. Since safety is the second lowest level on the hierarchy of needs table, it should receive the most attention. However, most consumers including myself would not choose a vehicle that keeps you “safe” in preference to looking “cool.” This is perhaps a major fault in human thinking.

Other factors that could be clouding my judgment may include selective attention, selective distortion, and selective retention. Selective attention is when you are able to focus on one stimulus while ignoring all other stimuli. Selective distortion is interpreting information in a way that confirms what you already believe. Selective retention follows selective distortion but only allowing you to remember that confirms your beliefs. These phenomena could affect my decision making process by selecting which advertisements I am going to pay attention to and which I will not. If the advertisement is about safety, and I feel defensive about my decisions concerning safety, I may tune the message out. My mind will choose which memories it wants to bring forward when it comes to the decision making time, which will most likely involve the commercials showing social class instead of safety.

External Influences

I am also affected by external factors such as my environment and culture. Growing up I always played video games such as Midnight Club (which was a car racing game) and watched movies such as 2 Fast 2 Furious. These games and movies helped shape my beliefs that transportation was more than “just getting from point A to point B.” I therefore developed beliefs that the most important thing was having a car that would help you gain attention from the opposite sex. These beliefs transferred into attitudes that I now have that owning a customized vehicle in superior to riding the bus.

Purchase Behaviour

Once all the research is done, it is now time to make a choice and finalize the purchase. Vehicles are often the second largest purchase most people make, after a property. It took a very short amount of time to find what I wanted. I decided to start by looking online as it was the most convenient (easy access to information, no pushy sales agents.)  I considered purchasing new from a dealership, purchasing second owned from a dealership, and buying online. I decided the values that were most important to me were low cost and a small work time commute. I therefore decided to go with a scooter, as it fit those two criteria. I went with a Honda 2013 PCX 150 scooter than I found on usedvictoria.com. The scooter only cost $3000 and uses very little gas. I did not know much about different kinds of brands or alternative choices. I did see that the owner of this scooter had bought the same scooter three months earlier for $4000. Due to a back injury the owner had suffered at work, he could no longer ride the scooter. The owner was able to provide receipts and a check up that was done at Canadian Tire just before I purchased it saying that the scooter had no problems with it.

Post-Purchase Behaviour

My post purchase behavior did not involve any cognitive dissonance (so far.) I am very satisfied with my purchase as it has been saving me a lot of commute time. I have been used to riding the bus around town for the last two years but find it takes up a lot of my time waiting for buses and then journeys are slow with all the stops.. However, there may be some cognitive dissonance when it starts to rain and I am out around town riding my scooter. It has not cost me a large sum of money (minus the $3000), but when I sell the scooter eventually I will receive a lot of that money back as Honda scooters do not depreciate as fast as cars do. (Honda, 2013)


Over all, I am quite happy with my purchase, but it only took place two weeks ago. At this time, I have no behavior or choice I would have changed. I spent a lot of time before making the purchase thinking about what it was exactly that I wanted, and I made sure those values were reflected in the vehicle I bought.

I found it very hard to find information about scooters, and discussing the topic with friends; there are others who are interested in riding scooters. The scooter industry is not doing enough marketing as there is little guidance on the different brands and options. Scooters are environmentally friendly, so it would be productive for environmental groups to encourage more scooter usage.

It would also be helpful to have received a manual, although perhaps I did not receive one because I bought it online. There is also a lot of confusion regarding the laws around scooter usage. You do not need a motorcycle license which most people do not know. The companies that are selling scooters in the area need to do a better job educating the market about their products.

Works Cited

Honda. (2013). CMH Honda vehicles: quality motorbikes you can trust. Retrieved from http://www.cmhhonda.co.za/honda-vehicles-motorbikes.aspx

Kelly-Detwiler, P. (2013, September 7). Efficient Cars: Emerging Clean Diesels May Give Electric Vehicles A Jolt. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/peterdetwiler/2013/07/09/efficient-cars-emerging-clean-diesels-may-give-electric-vehicles-a-jolt/

McLeod, S. (2007). Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Retrieved from http://www.simplypsychology.org/maslow.html





Leave a Reply