Consumer Behavior: Why People Buy Things They Don’t Need


Companies have shown great interest in studying consumer behavior in modern times. This is mainly done insofar as to satisfy their needs. According to Pamela Danziger, more than 40% of consumers in the US are discretionary buyers. She points out that spending on necessities has reduced gradually from 67% in 1930s to just about 58% in the current period. She also believes that most consumers buy discretionary items to gratify their concrete, conspicuously felt necessities.

In this regard, she categorizes discretionary buying into four groups namely utilitarian, indulgences, lifestyle luxuries and aspirational luxuries. Moreover, she categorizes discretionary consumers in five classes. These include Self-Expressives, Careful Indulgers, Impulsives, Conflicteds and Bargain Hunters. Eventually, Danziger comes up with fourteen justifications that she believes consumers use as excuse for their discretionary buys.

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These include Quality of Life, Pleasure, Beautify the Home, Education, Entertainment and Planned Purchase. Others include Emotional Satisfaction, Replacing Existing Items, Stress Relief, Hobbies, Gift for Self, Impulse Purchase and Status. Consequently, she encourages companies to tap into consumer’s needs in order to satisfy them (Danziger 22).

What are the key points of this book?

The book defines discretionary purchases and distinguishes them from necessities. It also recounts the changes in consumer behavior from the 1930s to date. One of the main points in consumer behavior is their ever-increasing focus on discretional purchases. In this regard, the book focuses on discretional purchases, which the author categorizes into four groups namely utilitarian, indulgences, lifestyle and aspirational luxuries.

The book also categorizes discretionary consumers into five groups namely Self-Expressives, Careful Indulgers, Impulsives, Conflicteds, and Bargain Hunters. Later on , it gives fourteen justifications, which the author believes causes consumers to buy discretionally. These are Quality of Life, Pleasure, Beautify the Home, Education, Entertainment and Planned Purchase, among others. Ultimately, the author advices companies to value consumers’ needs in order to market their goods and services (Danziger 12).

Has the author presented any new or interesting ideas? What are they?

Yes, the author expresses several interesting ideas on how to study consumer behavior. She does this by giving percentage influence of each factor on consumer behavior. This is very important as it enables companies to emphasize on areas with good returns.

For instance, while categorizing discretionary consumers, she gives percentage of each group. This is very useful in understanding consumer needs and desires. Another idea that is presented is the justifications for discretional purchases as it enhances further analysis of consumer behavior (Danziger 8).

How do the ideas in this book relate to other things you have read in any of your other business classes?

Pamela Danziger introduces several ideas, which are very important in conveying consumer characteristics, and ideas. For instance, she points out that companies should not only focus on branding as a marketing strategy, instead, they should add to that by closely monitoring consumers’ desires and needs, which are always dynamic.

Moreover, several examples of justifications for discretionary purchases by consumers have been learnt. These include quality of life, impulse and entertainment, among others. Other ideas include the types of discretionary consumers, notable changes in consumer behavior over the years (Danziger 5).

Is this book helpful for managers? How?

Yes, the book is very useful to managers. This is mainly because of its insightful ideas on consumer behavior and marketing strategies that are very crucial for managers. Mangers are credited with the responsibility of executing company policies and goals. Marketing of products is one of the main objectives. It is quite important to note that these products cannot be sold successfully if consumer behavior is not studied. Furthermore, manager need to understand fully, the consumer needs and desires (Danziger 12).

Is this book helpful for business students? How?

Yes, this book is quite essential for business students whose aims are to understand better ways of improving management, marketing and hence profitability. In addition, students who grasp ideas of this book have the ability to make good judgments on consumer needs and desires. They are also able to improve their skills in marketing and consumer psychology(Danziger 10).

Would you recommend this book? To whom would you recommend it?

Yes, the book is well elaborated with significant ideas on consumer behavior as well as their characteristics about discretional purchasing. The book would benefit business students as it enables them to conceptualize fully the concept of consumer behavior. The book would also benefit marketing managers as it helps them to understand their targets and satisfy their needs. Moreover, companies that satisfy customer needs are likely to gain competitive edge (Danziger 155).

What is your overall opinion of this book?

This book is highly objective and contains vital information on consumer behavior. It contains the secrets of discretional buying, which are very important to marketing managers. Moreover, it also helps students to understand the motives behind purchases for discretional items.

In addition, the book is well cited as it contains information with credible evidence and research that supports those ideas. This is very essential in proving authenticity of information. Furthermore, Danziger is well acquainted with business ideas since she is the president of Unity Marketing Company and enjoys more credibility as an expert that deals with consumer psychology and marketing (Danziger 42).


Necessity purchase have decline over the years. This has paved way for discretional buying. Most companies are in the process of tapping on consumer needs and desires. Therefore, this makes their studying of consumer behavior quite essential for marketers. The book provides crucial ideas that can assist companies in understanding consumer behavior. It also encourages company to tap in understanding consumer needs and desires as this would help increase their sales (Danziger 12).

Work Cited

Danziger, Pamela. Why People Buy Things They Don’t Need. Wokingham: Kaplan Publishing, 2004. Print.


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