Consumer behavior degrees help students learn why consumers in specific segments of society purchase certain products and services. The study of consumer behavior typically falls under marketing, psychology or economic degree programs. Undergraduate consumer behavior programs may be a concentration under the scope of a business administration degree, while graduate level degrees might focus entirely on the consumer decision making process.
Business students who aspire to work in marketing research typically pursue consumer behavior degrees. In some universities, a degree in consumer behavior may provide a broader perspective to the function of marketing. Degree programs may only require an introductory course in ways consumer behavior can be tracked, evaluated and used to introduce new products. Students could go on to take courses in advertising, direct marketing and business to business selling that apply buying behavior concepts.
In a degree program that focuses on business applications of consumer behavior, students may take courses in marketing research. These courses teach the different methods that researchers use to collect and analyze data, including Likert scales and focus groups. Since marketing research relies on statistical knowledge and manipulation, students also learn how to incorporate regression analysis and interpretation. Regression analysis is a statistical technique that examines differences in plausible outcomes given changes in certain variables.
Consumer psychology programs are another one of the types of consumer behavior degrees. Rather than exposing students to the various business functions and applications, psychology programs dig deeper into the mental processes behind decision making. Psychology programs look at the various societal, individual and economic forces that drive consumers to choose one product over another. These types of degrees are typically offered at the graduate level.
Economic degrees also focus on the influence that demographics play in buying behavior. These types of consumer behavior degrees may be titled "consumer economics." Besides looking at individual choices, economic degrees examine conglomerate behavior and sociological forces that direct that behavior. For example, students in these courses may learn why many consumers may purchase substitute products when prices sharply increase.
Regardless of the exact title, consumer behavior degrees and courses attempt to explain why one set of consumers will purchase Product A over Product B. Marketers use certain associations, images, slogans, and advertising messages to appeal to the values of distinct target markets. This would not be possible without marketing research or the study of consumer psychology. The study of data mining techniques may also be incorporated into consumer behavior degree programs, which helps researchers to discover associations between demographic factors and purchase behavior.