Consumer Behaviour Theories
Role theory (the perspective that much of consumer behaviour resembles action in a play) •Each consumer has lines, props and costumes that are necessary to a good performance. Since people act out many different roles they may modify their consumption decisions according the particular play they are in at the times. The criteria that they use to evaluate products and services in one of their roles may be quite different from those used in another role. •Another way of thinking about consumer roles is to consider the various plays that the consumer may engage in.
One classical role here is the consumer as a chooser – somebody who can choose between different alternatives and explores various criteria for making this choice. But the consumer can have many other things at stake than just making the right choice. •We are all involved in a communication system through our consumption activities, whereby we communicate our roles and statuses. We are also sometimes searching to construct our identity through various consumption activities. •The main purpose of our consumption might be exploration of a few of the many possibilities the market has to offer us. We might feel victimised by fraudulent or harmful offerings from the marketplace and we may decide to take action against such risks from the marketplace by becoming active in consumer movements. Or we may react against the authority of the producers by co-opting their products and turning them into something else as when military boots all of a sudden became normal footwear for peaceful women. •We may decide to take action as political consumers and boycott products from companies or countries whose behaviour does not meet our ethical or environmental standards. Hence as consumers we can be choosers, communicators, identity seekers, pleasure seekers, victims, rebels and activists. Market Segmentation (strategies targeting a brand only to specific groups rather than to everybody) •Depending on its goals and resources a company may choose to focus on just one segment or several, or it may ignore differences among segments by pursuing a mass market strategy. •In the internet based market Amazon tries to reach multiple segments at the same time while Google News UK focuses on being a search engine for information and news for consumers in the UK. •Age Consumers in different age groups have very different wants and needs and a better understanding of the ageing process of European consumers will continue to be of great importance to marketers. oWhile people who belong to the same age group may differ in other ways, they do tend to share a set of values and common cultural experiences that they carry throughout life. oMarie Claire, the French magazine, that is published in 25 editions and 14 languages, has noticed that its circulation and readership has fallen in past years due to primarily not keeping pace with its younger readers and their reading habits.
In the past article length was typically 9-10 pages and what is now desired is 2-5. Rather than concentrating on serious articles on contemporary women’s issues, the newer and younger readership is looking for something more fun and entertaining. Finding the balance of fun and serious has been the challenge in bridging women readers of different age groups. •Gender oDifferentiating by sex starts at a very early age – even nappies are sold in pink trimmer or blue trimmed versions.
As proof that consumers take these differences seriously market research has showed that many parents refuse to put their baby boys in pink nappies. oOne dimension that makes segmenting by gender so interesting is that the behaviours and tastes of men and women are constantly evolving. In the past most marketers assumed that men were the primary decision makers for car purchases, but this perspective is changing with the times. oSometimes, the gender segmentation can be an unintended product of an advertising strategy.
Wranglers launched a European campaign featuring macho Wild West values such as rodeo riding after an earlier campaign featuring a supermodel had made their sales of jeans to women grow 400% but put men off their brand. oSegmenting by gender is alive and well in cyberspace. In France a group of women started the first women’s electronic magazine and web portal called Newsfam. com. These entrepreneurs are hoping to reproduce the success of American sites like IVillage. com and Women. com. •Family structure oA persons family and marital status is yet another important demographic ariable as this has such a big effect on consumers spending priorities. oYoung bachelors and newlyweds are most likely to take exercise, go to wine bars and pubs, concerts and to the cinema and to consume alcohol. oFamilies with young children are big purchasers of health food and fruit juices while single parent households and those with older children buy more junk food. Home maintenance services are most likely to be used by older couples and bachelors. •Social class and income oPeople in the same social class are approximately equal in terms of their incomes and social status.
They work in roughly the same occupations and tend to have similar tastes in music, clothing etc. They also tend to socialise with each other and share ideas and values. •Race and ethnicity oAs our societies grow increasingly multicultural, new opportunities develop to deliver specialised products to racial and ethnic groups and to introduce other groups to these offerings. oSometimes this adaptation is a matter of putting an existing product or service into a different context. For example in Great Britain there is a motorway service station and cafeteria targeted at the Muslim population.
It has prayer facilities, no pork menus and serves halal meat. Further research into this area has shown that a halal service station was discussed as referenced but this does not appear to have been built. oTurks in Berlin do not have to rely solely on the small immigrants greengrocers and kiosks known from so many European cities as a Turkish chain has opened the first department store in Berlin, carrying Turkish and Middle Eastern goods only, catering to both the large Turkish population as well as to other immigrant groups and Germans longing for culinary holiday memories. As one of the fastest growing segments in the European food market, halal foods now has its own on-going marketing research organisations and media outlets for European managers and consumers. Product attachment theories •The hallmark of marketing strategies at the beginning of the 21st century is an emphasis on building relationships with customers. The nature of these relationships can vary and these bonds help us to understand some of the possible meanings products have for us. Here are some of the types of elationship a person may have with a brand; oSelf-concept attachment – the product helps to establish the user’s identity. oNostalgic attachment – the product serves as a link with past self. oInterdependence – the product is a part of the user’s daily routine. oLove – the product elicits bonds of warmth, passion, or other strong emotion. •Brand identities are thus potentially very closely linked with consumer identities and brands can elicit deep emotional engagement from consumers. Even brands we do not like can be very important to us because we often define ourselves in opposition to what we do not like.
Lecture 2 – cultural influences Culture (the values, ethics, rituals, traditions, material objects and services produced or valued by members of society) (etic perspective – an approach to studying culture that stresses the commonalities across cultures and emic perspective – an approach to studying cultures that stresses the unique aspects of each culture) •Consumer culture is becoming increasingly globalised and brands have become signs of a global ideology of cultural vale and power. •The process of globalisation has attracted a tremendous amount of interest in the last couple of decades.
But learning about the relationship between the global and the local in the practices of other cultures is more than just interesting – it is an essential task for any company that wishes to expand its horizons and become part of the international or global marketplace at the beginning of the new millennium. •This viewpoint represents an etic perspective which focuses on commonalities across cultures. An etic approach assumes that there are common, general categories and measurements which are valid for all countries under consideration.
One such etic study identified four major clusters of consumer styles when they looked at data from the US, the UK, France and Germany; price sensitive consumers, variety seekers, brand loyal consumers and information seekers. •One the other hand many marketers choose to study and analyse a culture using an emic perspective, which attempts to explain a culture based on the cultural categories and experiences of the insiders. For example cultures vary sharply in the degree to which references to sex and nudity are permitted.
One study analysed responses to advertising for controversial products including potentially offensive adverts related to sexual behaviour such as adverts for condoms, female contraceptives, underwear and STI’s. It was found that results for what was deemed controversial highly differed between the UK and New Zealand on the one hand and Turkey and Malaysia on the other. While negative reactions to sexual references differed, racist imagery was ranked among the most offensive in all samples.
Post modernism theory (a theory that questions the search for universal truths and values and the existence of objective knowledge) •The dominance of the brand, the possibility of engineering reality in the experience sector and the blurring of the fashion picture has been linked to major social change. One proposed summary term for this change is postmodernism. •Postmodernists argue that we live in a period where the modern order with its shared beliefs in certain central values of modernism and industrialism is breaking up.
Examples of these values include the benefits of economic growth and industrial production and the infallibility of science. •A key word is pluralism, indicating the co-existence of various truths, styles and fashions. Consumers and producers are relatively free to combine elements from different styles and domains to create their own personal expression. This pluralism has significant consequences for how we regard theories of marketing and consumer behaviour.
Most significantly pluralism does not mean that anything goes in terms of method or theory but it does mean that no single theory or method can pretend to be universal in its accounting for consumer behaviour or marketing practices. •Together with pluralism one European researcher has suggested that postmodernism can be described by six key features; oFragmentation – the splitting up of what used to be simpler and more mass orientated, exemplified by the ever growing product ranges and brand extensions in more and more specialised variations.
The advertising media have also become fragmented with increasingly specialised TV channels, magazines, radio stations and websites for placing ones advertising. oDe-differentiation – postmodernists are interested in the blurring of distinctions between hierarchies such as a high and low culture advertising and advertising and programming or politics and show business. Examples would be the use of artistic works in advertising and the celebration of advertising as artistic works. Companies such as Coca Cola, Nike and Guinness have their own museums.
The blurring of gender categories also refers to this aspect of postmodernism. oHyperreality – refers to the spreading of simulations and the making real of what was just fantasy. Disneyland is quintessentially hyperreal. Marketers are among the prime creators of hyperreality. oChronology – this refers to the consumer’s nostalgic search for the authentic and a preoccupation with the past. A postmodern way of looking at the same phenomenon is retro branding conceptualised as the revival or relaunch of a brand from a prior historical period that differs from nostalgic brands by the element of updating.
Retro brands are of relevance here as well because these revived brands invoke brand heritage which triggers personal and communal nostalgia. oPastiche – a recent book on postmodern marketing is a pastiche of a novel. The Marketing Code basically uses the format of the novel to discuss various marketing techniques, promoting the view that marketing is an art form rather than science. This play on The Da Vinci Code is a playful and ironic mixing of existing categories and styles which is typical of pastiche. Anti-foundationalism – this last feature of postmodern marketing efforts refers not to parody but to an outright anti marketing campaign. For example campaigns encouraging the receiver of the message not to take notice of the message since somebody is trying to seduce and take advantage of them. •Postmodernism has also been attached to such themes as the ability of readers to see through the hype of advertising. This may suggest that we are becoming more skilled consumers and readers/interpreters of advertising, recognising adverts as hyperreal persuasion or seduction attempts which do not intend to reflect our own daily experiences.
Younger consumers especially may be prone to detect and enjoy the self-referencing or intertextuality of advertising. Here the self-consciousness of the brand as a brand and the ambivalence that follow from it is seen as the entertaining aspect of the contemporary marketing. Consumer addiction •The pressure of consumer society is not only felt on the environment but also on the individual consumer, sometimes with negative outcomes. Compulsive buying is a physiological and/or psychological dependency on roducts or services. While most equate addiction with drugs, virtually any product or service can be seen as relieving some problem or satisfying some need to the point where reliance on it becomes extreme. Even the act of shopping itself is an addictive experience for some consumers. •Such compulsive consumption has been on the rise in Western societies throughout the last decades. But there is reason to believe that consumers in newly marketised economies are even more vulnerable.
For example evidence from Germany indicates that the rise of compulsive buying behaviour is bigger in the newly marketised parts of central and Eastern Europe compared with the Western parts. Finally over consumption should not be regarded strictly as an individual failure, but may also be viewed as a structural problem that has evolved in our affluent consumer society. Lecture 4 – perception Perception (the process by which stimuli are selected, organised or interpreted) and stages in the perceptual process •People undergo stages of information processing in which stimuli are input and stored.
However, we do not passively process whatever information happens to be present. Only a very small number of stimuli in our environment are ever noticed. Of these, an even smaller number are attended to. The stimuli that do enter our consciousness are not processed objectively. The meaning of a stimulus is interpreted by the individual, who is influenced by their unique biases, needs and experiences. These three stages of exposure (or sensation), attention and interpretation make up the process of perception. Sensation refers to the immediate response of our sensory receptors (e. g. Eyes, ears, nose, mouth, fingers) to such basic stimuli as light, colour and sound. Perception is the process by which these stimuli are selected, organised and interpreted. We process raw data (sensation), however, the study of perception focuses on what we add or take away from these sensations as we assign meaning to them. •The subjective nature of perception is demonstrated by a controversial advertisement developed for Benetton.
Because a black man and a white man were handcuffed together, the advert was the target of many complaints about racism after it appeared in magazine s and on hoardings, even though the company has a reputation for promoting racial tolerance. People interpreted it to mean that the black man had been arrested by the white man. Even though both men are dressed identically, people’s prior assumptions shaped the adverts meaning. The company’s goal was exactly that; to expose us to our own perceptual prejudice through the ambiguity of the photo. Such interpretations or assumptions stem from schemas, or organised collections of beliefs and feelings. That is, we tend to group the objects we see as having similar characteristics, and the schema to which an object is assigned is a crucial determinant of how we choose to evaluate this object at a later time. •The perceptual process can be illustrated by the purchase of a new aftershave/perfume. We have learned to equate aftershave/perfume with romantic appeal, so we search for cues that (we believe) will increase our attractiveness.
We make our selection by considering such factors as the image associated with each alternative and the design of the bottle as well as the actual scent. We thus access a small proportion of the raw data available to us and process it to be consistent with our wants. These expectations are largely affected by our cultural background. For example, a male consumer self-conscious about his masculinity may react negatively to an overly feminine brand name, even though other men may respond differently.
A perceptual process can be broken down into the following stages; oPrimitive categorisation – in which the basic characteristics of a stimulus are isolated, our male consumer feels he needs to bolster his image, so he chooses aftershave. oCue check – in which the characteristics are analysed in preparation for selection of a schema; everyone has his own unique, more or less developed schemas or categories for different types of aftershave such as down to earth macho, mysterious or fancy French. We use certain cues such as the colour of the bottle to decide in which schema a particular cologne fits. Confirmation check – in which the schema is selected oConfirmation completion – in which a decision is made as to what the stimulus is; the consumer decides he has made the right choice and then reinforces this decision by considering the colour of the bottle and the interesting name of the aftershave. Perception thresholds •There are some stimuli that people are not capable of perceiving – for example a dog whistle. Also some people are better at picking up sensory information than others. The science that focuses on how the physical environment is integrated into our personal subjective world is known as psychographics.
By understanding some of the physical laws that govern what we are capable of responding to, this knowledge can be translated into marketing strategies. •When we define the lowest intensity of a stimulus that can be registered on a sensory channel we speak of a threshold for that receptor. The absolute threshold refers to the minimum amount of stimulation that can be detected on a sensory channel. The sound emitted by a dog whistle is too high to be detected by human ears, so this stimulus is beyond our auditory absolute threshold. The absolute threshold is an important consideration in designing marketing stimuli.
A hoarding might have the most entertaining story ever written but this genius is wasted if the print is too small for passing motorists to read. •The differential threshold refers to the ability of a sensory system to detect changes or differences between two stimuli. A commercial that is intentionally produced in black and white might be noticed on a colour television because the intensity of colour differs from the programme that preceded it. The same commercial being watched on a black and white television would not be seen as different and might be ignored altogether. The issue of when and if a change will be noticed is relevant to many marketing situations. Sometimes a marketer may want to ensure that a change is noticed, such as when merchandise is offered at discount. In other situations the fact that a change has been made is downplayed as in the case of price increases or when the size of a product, such as a chocolate bar, is decreased. •A consumer’s ability to detect a difference between two stimuli is relative. A whispered conversation that might be unintelligible on a noisy street can suddenly become public and embarrassing in a quiet library.
It is the relative difference between the decibel level of the conversation and its surroundings, rather than the loudness of the conversation itself, that determines whether the stimulus will register. •The minimum change in a stimulus that can be detected is also known as the JND which stands for just noticeable difference. In the 19th century, Ernst Weber a psychologist found that the amount of change that is necessary to be noticed is related to the original intensity of the stimulus. The stronger the initial stimulus the greater the change must be for it to be noticed.
This relationship is known as Weber’s Law. •Many companies choose to update their packages periodically, making small changes that will not necessarily be noticed at the time. When a product icon is updated, the manufacturer does not want people to lose their identification with a familiar symbol. Perceptual maps (a research tool used to understand how a brand is positioned in consumers’ minds relative to competitors) •In many cases, consumers use a few basic dimensions to categorise competing products and services and then evaluate each alternative in terms of its relative standing on these dimensions. This tendency has led to the very useful positioning tool of the perceptual map. By identifying the important dimensions and the asking consumers to place competitors within this space, marketers can answer some crucial strategic questions such as which product alternatives are seen by consumers as similar or dissimilar and what opportunities exist for new products that possess attributes not represented by current brands. Perceptual Interpretation (gestalt psychology, principle of closure, principle of similarity, figure ground principle) •Interpretation refers to the meaning that people assign to sensory stimuli.
Just as people differ in terms of the stimuli that they perceive, the eventual assignment of meanings to these stimuli varies as well. Two people can see or hear the same event but their interpretation of it may be completely different. Consumers assign meaning to stimuli based on schema, or set of beliefs, to which the stimuli is assigned. During a process known as priming, certain properties of a stimulus are more likely to evoke a schema than others. A brand name can communicate expectations about product attributes and colour consumer’s perceptions of product performance by activating a schema. One somewhat disturbing example of how this works comes from America. Children aged 3-5 who ate McDonalds French fries served in a McDonalds bag overwhelmingly thought they tasted better than those who ate the same fried out of a plain white bag. Even carrots tasted better when they came out of McDonalds bag. •Stimulus ambiguity occurs when a stimulus is not clearly perceived or when it conveys a number of meanings. In such cases consumers tend to project their own wishes and desires to assign meaning.
Although ambiguity in product advertisements is normally seen as undesirable to marketers it is frequently used creatively to generate contrast, paradox, controversy or interest. For example, a popular advert from Benson and Hedges cigarettes featured a group of people sitting around a dinner table while a man wearing only pyjama bottoms stands in the background. The ambiguous character yielded valuable publicity for the company as people competed to explain the meaning of the mysterious pyjama man. People do not perceive a single stimulus is isolation. Our brain tends to relate incoming sensations to imagery of other events or sensations already in our memory based on some fundamental organisational principles. A number of perceptual principles describe how stimuli are perceived and organised; •The gestalt; oThese principles are based on work in gestalt psychology, a school of thought maintaining that people derive meaning from the totality of a set of stimuli rather than from any individual stimulus.
The German word gestalt roughly means whole, patter or configuration and this perspective is best summarised by saying the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. oA piecemeal perspective that analyses each component of the stimulus separately will be unable to capture the total effect. The gestalt perspective provides several principles relating to the way stimuli are organised. oThe gestalt principle of closure implies that consumers tend to perceive an incomplete picture as complete. That is, we tend to fill in the blanks based on our prior experience.
This principle explains why most of us have no trouble reading a neon sign even if one of the letters is burnt out, or filling in the blanks in an incomplete message. The principle of closure is also at work when we hear only part of a jingle or theme. Utilisation of the principle of closure in marketing strategies encourages audience participation which increases the chance that people will attend to the message. oThe principle of similarity tells us that consumers tend to group together objects that share similar physical characteristics. This is, they group like items into sets to form an integrated whole.
This principle is used by companies who have extended product lines but wish to keep certain features similar, such as the shape of a bottle so that it is easy for the consumer to recognise that they are buying shampoo of brand X. oAnother important gestalt concept is the figure ground principle in which one part of a stimulus (the figure) will dominate while other parts recede into the background. The concept is easy to understand if one thinks of a photograph with a clear and sharply focused object (the figure) in the centre. The figure is dominant, and the eye goes straight to it.
The parts of the configuration that will be perceived as figure or ground can vary depending on the individual consumer as well as other factors. Similarly in marketing messages that use the figure ground principle, a stimulus can be made the focal point of the message or merely the context that surrounds the focus. Lecture 5 – the self Real/ideal self •Self-esteem is influenced by a process where the consumer compares their actual standing on some attribute to some ideal. The ideal self is a person’s conception of how they would like to be while the actual self refers to our more realistic appraisal of the qualities we have or lack.
We choose some products because we think they are consistent with our actual self, whereas we buy others to help us reach more of an ideal standard. And we often engage in a process of impression management where we work hard to manage what others think of us by strategically choosing clothing and other cues that will put us in a good light. •The ideal self is moulded by elements of the consumers culture such as heroes or people depicted in advertising who serves as models of achievement or appearance. Products may be purchased because they are believed to be instrumental in helping us achieve these goals.
Some products are chosen because they are perceived to be consistent with the consumer’s actual self while others are used to help reach the standard set by the ideal self. •In a recent study looking at the willingness of young healthy adults to take legal drugs to enhance their social, emotional and cognitive traits, people were much more reluctant to take drugs which promised to enhance traits that they considered fundamental to their self-identity, and more likely to take drugs which were viewed as being less central to their self-identity such as performance enhancing drugs for memory.
Advertising messages which promote enabling rather than enhancing were more favourably received as well. Apparently boosting one’s ability to concentrate is more easily accepted than boosting ones mood. Levels of the extended self (the definition of self created by the external objects with which one surrounds oneself) •Many of the props and settings consumers use to define their social roles in a sense become part of their selves. Those external objects that we consider a part of us comprise the extended self.
In some cultures people literally incorporate objects into the self – they lick new possessions, take the names of conquered enemies or bury the dead with their possessions. Although most don’t go that far, many people do cherish possessions as if they were a part of them. Many material objects ranging from personal possessions and pets to national monuments or landmarks, help to form a consumer’s identity. •In one study on the extended self, people were given a list of items that ranged from electronic equipment, facial tissues and television programmes to parents, body parts and favourite clothes.
They were asked to rate each in terms of its closeness to self. Objects were more likely to be considered part of the extended self if psychic energy was invested in them by expanding effort to obtain them or because they were personalised and kept for a long time. •A recent exploration of the conflicts Muslim women who choose to wear headscarves experience illustrates how even a simple piece of cloth reflects a person’s aesthetic, political and moral dimensions.
The Turkish women in the study expressed the tension they felt in their on-going struggle to reconcile ambiguous religious principles that simultaneously call for modesty and beauty. Society sends Muslim women contradictory messages in modern day Turkey. Although the Koran denounces waste, many of the companies that produce religious headscarves introduce new designs each season and as styles and tastes change women are encouraged to purchase more scarves than necessary. Moreover the authors point out that a wearer communicates her fashion sense by the fabrics she selects and by the way she drapes and ties her scarf.
On the one hand, women who cover their heads by choice feel a sense of empowerment. On the other hand, the notion that Islamic law exhorts women to cover themselves lest they threaten men’s self-restraint and honour is a persistent sign that men exert control over women’s bodies and restrict their freedom. As a compromise solution Nike designed a uniform for observant women in Somalia who wanted to play sports without abandoning their traditional hijab. The company streamlined the garment so that volleyball players could move but still keep their bodies covered. In an important study on the self and possessions, four levels of the extended self were described. These range from very personal objects to places and things that allow people to feel like they are rooted in their larger social environments; oIndividual level – consumers include many of their personal possessions in self-definition. These products can include jewellery, cars, clothing etc. The saying “you are what you wear” reflects the belief that one’s things are a part of what one is. Family level – this part of the extended self includes a consumer’s residence and its furnishing. The house can be thought of as a symbolic body for the family and often as a central aspect of identity. oCommunity level – it is common for consumers to describe themselves in terms of the neighbourhood or town from which they come. For farming families or residents with close ties to a community this sense of belonging is particularly important. oGroup level – our attachments to certain social groups can be considered part of self.
A consumer may feel that landmarks, monuments or sports teams are part of the extended self. Self-image congruence model (the approaches based on the prediction that products will be chosen when their attributes match some aspect of the self) •Because many consumption activities are related to self-definition it is not surprising to learn that consumers demonstrate consistency between their values and the things they buy. Self-image congruence models predict that products will be chosen when their attributes match some aspect of the self.
These models assume a process of cognitive matching between these attributes and the consumer’s self-image. •While results are somewhat mixed, the ideal self appears to be more relevant as a comparison standard for highly expressive social products such as perfume. In contrast the actual self is more relevant for everyday functional products. These standards are also likely to vary by usage situation. •For example, a consumer might want a functional reliable car to commute to work everyday, but a flashier model with more zing when going out on a date in the evening.
Sadly there are examples of people using products by which the goal of enhancing the ideal self ends up conflicting with and damaging the actual self. •The body building craze in the US and the North East of England resulted in an increasing number of younger men using anabolic steroids for body building. This steroid use may bulk up the physique (and provide faster attainment of the ideal self) but it also damages the actual self since the steroids cause male infertility. •Research tends to support the idea of congruence between product usage and self-image.
One of the earliest studies to examine this process found that car owners ratings of themselves tended to match their perceptions of their cars – drivers of the sporty Pontiac model saw themselves as more active and flashier than did Volkswagen drivers. •Congruity has also been found between consumers and their mot preferred brands of beer, soap, toothpaste and cigarettes relative to their least preferred brands as well as between consumer’s self-images and their favourite shops.
Some specific attributes that have been found to be useful in describing some of the matches between consumers and products include rugged/delicate, excitable/calm, rational/emotional and formal/informal. •While these findings make some intuitive sense we cannot blithely assume that consumers will always buy products whose characteristics match their own. It is not clear that consumers really see aspects of themselves in down to earth functional products that do not have very complex of human like images.
It is one thing to consider a brand personality for an expressive image orientated product like perfume and quite another to impute human characteristics to a toaster. •Another problem is that of chicken and egg. Do people buy products because the product is seen as similar to the self or do they assume that these products must be similar because they have bought them? The similarity between a person’s self-image and the images of product purchased does tend to increase with ownership so this explanation cannot be ruled out.
Symbolic self-completion theory (the perspective that people who have an incomplete self-definition in some context will compensate by acquiring symbols associated with a desired social identity) •People use an individual’s consumption behaviours to help them make judgements about that person’s social identity. In addition to considering a person’s clothes, grooming habits and such like, we make inferences about personality based on a person’s choice of leisure activity, food preferences, cars or home decorating choices.
People who are shown pictures of someone’s living room for example are able to make surprisingly accurate guesses about their personality. In the same way that a consumers use of products influences others perceptions, the same products can help determine their own self-concept and social identity. •A consumer exhibits attachment to an object to the extent that it is used by that person to maintain their self-concept. Objects can act as a sort of security blanket by reinforcing our identities, especially in unfamiliar situations.
For example, students who decorate their room or house with personal items are less likely to drop out. This copying process may protect the self from being diluted in an unfamiliar environment. •The use of consumption information to define the self is especially important when an identity is yet to be adequately formed something that occurs when a consumer plays a new or unfamiliar role. Symbolic self-completion theory predicts that people who have an incomplete self-definition tend to complete this identity by acquiring and displaying symbols associated with it.
Adolescent boys may use macho products like cars and cigarettes to bolster their developing masculinity. These items act as a social crutch to be leaned on during a period of uncertainty about identity. Symbolic interactionist perspective (a sociological approach stressing that relationships with people play a large part in forming the self. People live in a symbolic environment and the meaning attached to any situation or object is determined by a person’s interpretation of those symbols) •If each person potentially has many social selves how does each develop and how do we decide which self to activate at any one point in time.
The sociological tradition of symbolic interactionism stresses that relationships with other people play a large part in forming the self. This perspective maintains that people exist in a symbolic environment and the meaning attached to any situation or object is determined by the interpretation of these symbols. •As members of society we learn to agree on shared meanings, The we know that a red light means stop of that McDonalds golden arches means fast food. •Like other social objects the meanings of consumers themselves are defined by social consensus.
The consumer interprets their own identity and this assessment is continually evolving as they encounter new situations and people. In symbolic interactionist terms we negotiate these meanings over time. •We tend to pattern our behaviour on the perceived expectations of others in a form of self-fulfilling prophecy. By acting the way we assume others expect us to act we may confirm these perceptions. Looking glass self (the process of imaging the reaction of others towards oneself) •Some stores are testing a new interactive mirror that doubles as a high resolution digital screen.
When you choose an article of clothing, the mirror superimposes it on your reflection so that you can see how it would look on you. A camera relys live images of you modelling your virtual outfit to an internet site where your friends can log on to instant message you to tell you what they think; their comments pop up on the side of the mirror for you to read. •They can also select virtual items for you to try on that will be reflected in the magic mirror. This process of imagining the reactions of others towards us is known as taking the role of the other or the looking glass self.
According to this view our desire to define ourselves operates as a sort of psychological sonar; we take reading by bouncing signals off others and trying to project what impression they have of us. The looking glass image we receive will differ depending upon whose views we are considering. •Like the distorted mirrors at a funfair our appraisal of who we are can vary depending on whose perspective we are taking and how accurately they are able to predict their evaluations of us. Body image (a consumer’s subjective evaluation of his or her physical appearance) •A person’s physical appearance is a large part of their self-concept.
Body image refers to a consumer’s subjective evaluation of their physical self. As was the case with the overall self-concept this image is not necessarily accurate. A man may think of himself as being more muscular than he really is or a woman may think she is fatter than is the case. •In fact, it is not uncommon to find marketing strategies that exploit consumer’s tendencies to distort their body images by preying on insecurities about appearance, thereby creating a gap between the real and the ideal physical self and consequently the desire to purchase products and services to narrow the gap.
Lecture 6 – motivation and values Motivation (an internal state that activates goal orientated behaviour) and goals (a consumer’s desired end state) •Motivation refers to the process that cause people to behave as they do. From a psychological perspective motivation occurs when a need is aroused that the consumer wishes to satisfy. Once a need has been activated a state of tension exists that drives the consumer to attempt to reduce or eliminate the need. This need may be utilitarian or hedonic.
The distinction between the two however is a matter of degree. The desired end state is the consumer’s goal. Marketers try to create products and services that will provide the desired benefits and permit the consumer to reduce this tension. •Whether the need is utilitarian or hedonic, a discrepancy exists between the consumer’s present state and ideal state. This gulf creates a state of tension. The magnitude of this tension determines the urgency the consumer feels to reduce the tension. This degree of tension is called drive.
A basic need can be satisfied in a number of ways and the specific path a person chooses is influenced by both their unique set of experiences and by the values instilled by cultural, religious, ethnic or national background. •These personal and cultural factors combine to create a want which is one manifestation of need. For example hunger is a basic need that must be satisfied by all; the lack of food creates a tension state that can be reduced by the intake of food products. The specific route to drive reduction is culturally and individually determined.
Once the goal is attained, tension is reduced and the motivation recedes. Motivation can be described in terms of its strength or the pull it exerts on the consumer, and its direction, or the particular way the consumer attempts to reduce motivational tension. Biogenic and psychogenic needs •People are born with a need for certain elements necessary to maintain life such as food, water, air and shelter. These are called biogenic needs. People have many other needs, however, that are not innate. We acquire psychogenic needs as we become members of a specific culture. These include he need for status, power, affiliation etc. Psychogenic needs reflect the priorities of a culture and their effect on behaviour will vary in different environments. For example, an Italian consumer may be driven to devote a good portion of their income to products that permit them to display their individuality whereas their Scandinavian counterpart may work equally hard to ensure that they do not stand out from their group. •This distinction is revealing because it shows how difficult it is to distinguish needs from wants. How can we tell what part of motivation is psychogenic and what part is want.
Both are profoundly formed by culture so the distinction is problematic at best. As for the biogenic needs we know from anthropology that satisfaction of these needs leads to some of the most symbolically rich and culturally based activities of humankind? The ways we want to eat, dress, drink and provide shelter are far more interesting to marketers than our need to do so. •In fact human beings need very little in the strict sense of the word. Charles Darwin was astonished to see the native Americans of Tierra del Fuego sleep naked in the snow.
Hence the idea of satisfaction of biogenic needs is more or less a given thing for marketing and consumer research because it is on the most basic level nothing more than a simple prerequisite for us to be here. Beyond that level and of much greater interest to marketers is a concept embedded ion culture such as wants. Utilitarian (a desire to achieve some functional or practical benefit) and hedonic needs (an experiential need involving emotional responses or fantasies) •Another traditional distinction is between the motivations to satisfy either utilitarian or hedonic needs.
The satisfaction of utilitarian needs implies that consumers will emphasise the objective, tangible attributes of products such as fuel economy in a car, the amount of fat in a hamburger and the durability of a pair of jeans. •Hedonic needs are subjective and experiential. Here consumer might rely on a product to meet their needs for excitement, self-confidence, fantasy etc. •Consumers can be motivated to purchase a product because it provides both types of benefit. For example, a mink coat might be bought because it feels soft against the skin, because it keeps one warm through the winter and because it has a luxurious image.
But again the distinction tens to hide more than it reveals because functionality can bring great pleasure to people and is an important value in the modern world. Biological and learned needs •Early work on motivation ascribed behaviour to instinct, the innate patterns of behaviour that are universal in species. This view is now largely discredited. The existence of an instinct is difficult to prove or disprove. The instinct is inferred from the behaviour it is supposed to explain. It is like saying that a consumer buys products that are status symbols because they are motivated to attain status which is not a satisfactory explanation. Drive theory focuses on biological needs that produce unpleasant states of arousal. We are motivated to reduce the tension caused by this arousal. Tension reduction has been proposed as a basic mechanism governing human behaviour. In a marketing context, tension refers to the unpleasant state that exits if a person’s consumption needs are not fulfilled. A person may be grumpy or unable to concentrate very well if they haven’t eaten. Someone may be dejected or angry if they cannot afford the new car they want.
This state activates goal orientated behaviour which attempts to reduce or eliminate this unpleasant state and return to a balanced one called homeostasis. •Those behaviours that are successful in reducing the drive by satisfying the underlying need are strengthened and tend to be repeated. Your motivation to leave your lecture early to buy a snack would be greater if you hadn’t eaten in the previous 24 hours than if you had eaten breakfast only two hours earlier. If you did sneak out and experienced indigestion after wolfing down a packet of crisps you would be less likely to repeat this behaviour the next time you wanted a snack.
Ones degree of motivation depends on the distance between ones present state and the goal. •Drive theory, however, runs into difficulties when it tries to explain some facets of human behaviour that run counter to its predictions. People often do things that increase a drive state rather than decrease it. For example, people may delay gratification. If you know you are going out for a five course dinner you might decide to forgo a snack earlier in the day even though you are hungry at the time. •Most explanations of motivation currently focus on cognitive rather than biological factors in order to understand what drives behaviour.
Expectancy theory suggests that behaviour is largely pulled by expectations of achieving desirable outcomes – positive incentives – rather than being pushed from within. We choose one product over another because we expect this choice to have a more positive consequence for us. Thus the term drive here is used more loosely to refer to both physical and cognitive (i. e. learned) processes. Maslow’s hierarchy •One influential approach to motivation was proposed by the psychologist Abraham Maslow. Maslow’s approach is a general one, originally developed to understand personal growth and the attainment of peak experiences.
Maslow formulated a hierarchy of biogenic and psychogenic needs in which certain levels of motives are specified. This hierarchical approach implies that the order of development is fixed – that is, a certain level must be attained before the next higher one is activated. •Marketers have embraced this perspective because it indirectly specifies certain types of product benefits people might be looking for depending on their environmental conditions. •At each level of Maslow’s hierarchy different priorities exist in terms of the product benefits a consumer is looking for.
Ideally an individual progresses up the hierarchy until their dominant motivation is a focus on ultimate goals such as justice and beauty. Unfortunately this state is difficult to achieve, most of us have to be satisfied with occasional glimpses or peak experiences. •One study of men aged 49-60 found respondents engaged in three types of activities to attain self-fulfilment; oSport and physical activity oCommunity and charity oBuilding and renovating •Regardless of whether these activities related to their professional work, these so called magnetic points gradually took the place of those that were not as fulfilling.
The implication of Maslow’s hierarchy is that one must first satisfy basic needs before progressing up the ladder. This suggests that consumers value different product attributes depending upon what is currently available to them. The application of this hierarchy by marketers has been somewhat simplistic, especially as the same product or activity can satisfy a number of different needs. While eating is certainly necessary for our survival it can also very much be a social act (belongingness), a status ct as in the consumption of champagne or other expensive wines and fine cuisine and an act through which the gourmet cook or the caring parent can obtain self-actualisation. •The house gives us shelter but is also a security device, a home for the family, a status object and a space for actualising our personal aspirations and aesthetic tastes. •Another problem with taking Maslow’s hierarchy too literally is that it is culture bound. The assumptions of the hierarchy may be restricted to a highly rational, materialistic and individualistic Western culture.
People in other cultures may question the order of the levels specified A religious person who has taken a vow of celibacy would not necessarily agree that physiological needs must be satisfied before self-fulfilment can occur. Neither do all people in Western cultures live according to Maslow’s hierarchy. In fact, spiritual survival can be seen as a stronger motivator than physical survival as can be seen from patriots or freedom fighters giving their life for the idea of nation, political or religious fanatics for their beliefs or suicidal people drawing the consequence of a spiritual death by ending their physical lives. Similarly, many Asian cultures value the welfare of the group (belongingness needs) more highly than the needs of the individual (esteem needs). The point is that Maslow’s hierarchy, while widely applied in marketing, is only helpful to marketers in so far as it reminds us that consumers have many different stages in their lives – not because it exactly specifies a consumer’s progression up the ladder of needs. It also does not take account of the cultural conformation of needs. Psychoanalytical perspective The idea that much of human behaviour stems from a fundamental conflict between a person’s desires to gratify his/her physical needs and the necessity to function as a responsible member of society. •The struggle is carried out in three internal systems; oId – immediate gratification, directing a person’s psychic energy towards pleasurable acts without regard to the consequences. oSuperego – the person’s conscience working to prevent the id seeking selfish gratification. oEgo – meditating between the other two Consumer involvement Consumer generated content, where ordinary people voice their opinions about products, brands and companies on blogs, podcasts and social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace and even film their own commercials that thousands view on sites like YouTube, is one of the biggest marketing phenomena of the last few years. •Although many marketers find this change threatening because they are now forced to share ownership of their brands with users, this new form of user participation is here to stay. The reality is that companies can no longer rely on a push method to inform customers about their products.
There is now a vibrant two way dialogue that allows consumers to contribute their evaluations of products within their respective web communities. Consumers are embracing this trend for several reasons, the technology is readily available and inexpensive to use, internet access allows a surfer to become somewhat of an expert on anything in a matter of hours and people trust their peer’s opinions more than that of big companies. •So marketers need to accept that this new reality of consumer generated content – even when they don’t necessarily like what is being said about their brands.
Here a few of the many consumer generated campaigns seen recently; oLucasfilm made clips of Star Wars available to fans on the internet to mash up at will to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the epics release. Working with an easy to use editing programme fans can cut, add to and retool the clips. Then they can post their creations to blogs or social networking sites. oHonda is UK is sponsoring a new blog network, 2TalkAbout. com, that lets audiences publish their views on well-known brands as well as respond to other people’s views.
Although the online community is completely independent of Honda its engineers and associates will regularly log on to and respond to feedback giving users direct access to the brand. Consumer values •Our deeply held culturally informed values dictate the types of products and services we seek out or avoid. Values are basic, general principles used to judge the desirability of end states. Underlying values often drive consumer motivations. Products this take on meaning because they are seen as being instrumental in helping the person to achieve some goal that is linked o a value such as individuality or freedom. •All cultures form a value system which sets them apart from other cultures. Each culture is characterised by a set of core values to which many of its members adhere. Some researchers have developed lists to account for such value systems and used them in cross cultural comparisons. •One approach to the study of values of the means end chain which tries to link product attributes to consumer values via the consequences that usage of the product will have for the consumer. Since consumers are not necessarily willing or able to communicate their underlying desires to marketers various other techniques such as projective tests can be employed to assess desires. •Types of consumer values include; oEfficiency – referring to all products aimed at providing various kinds of convenience for the consumer. oExcellence – addressing situations where the experience of quality is the prime motivation. oStatus – where the consumer pursues success and engages in impression management and conspicuous consumption. Aesthetics – searching for beauty in one’s consumption oEthics and spirituality Cognitive dissonance •The theory of cognitive dissonance is based on the premise that people have a need for order and consistency in their lives and that a state of tension is created when beliefs or behaviours conflict with one another. The conflict that arises when choosing between two alternatives may be resolved trhough a process of cognitive dissonance reduction where people are motivated to reduce this inconsistency (or dissonance) and thus eliminate unpleasant tension. A state of dissonance occurs when there is a psychological inconsistency between two or more beliefs or behaviours. It often occurs when a consumer must make a choice between two products, where both alternatives usually possess both good and bad qualities. By choosing on product and not the other the person gets the bad qualities of the chose product and loses out on the good qualities of the one not chose. •This loss creates an unpleasant dissonant state that the person is motivated to reduce.
People tend to convince themselves, after the fact, that the choice they made was the right one by finding additional reasons to support the alternative they chose, or perhaps by discovering flaws with the option that they did not choose (this is sometimes called rationalisation). Lecture 7 – learning and memory Behavioural learning theory (the perspectives on learning that assume that learning takes place as the result of responses to external events) •Behavioural learning theories assume that learning takes place as a result of responses to external events.
Psychologists who subscribe to this viewpoint do not focus on internal thought processes. Instead they approach the mind as a black box and emphasise the observable aspects of behaviour. The observable aspects consist of things that go into the box (the stimuli or events perceived from the outside world) and things that come out of the box (the responses or reactions to these stimuli). •This view is represented by two major approaches to learning, classical conditioning and instrumental conditioning. People’s experiences are shaped by the feedback they receive as they go through life.
Similarly consumers respond to brand names, scents, jingles and other marketing stimuli based on the learned connections they have formed over time. •People also learn that actions they take result in rewards and punishments, and this feedback influenced the way they respond in similar situations in the future. Consumers who are complimented on a product choice will be more likely to buy that brand again while those who get food poisoning at a new restaurant will not be likely to patronise it in the future.
Classical (the learning that occurs when a stimulus eliciting a response is paired with another stimulus which initially does not elicit the same response on its own but will cause a similar response over time because of its association with the first stimulus) and operant conditioning (the process by which the individual learns to perform behaviours that produce positive outcomes and to avoid those that yield negative outcomes) •Classical conditioning occurs when a stimulus that elicits a response is paired with another stimulus that initially does not elicit a response on its own.
Over time this second stimulus causes a similar response because it is associated with the first stimulus. This phenomenon was first demonstrated in dogs by Ivan Pavlov, a Russian physiologist doing research on digestion in animals. •Pavlov induced classically conditioned learning by paring a neutral stimulus (a bell) with a stimulus known to cause salivation response in dogs (dried meat powder). The powder was an unconditional stimulus because it was naturally capable of causing the response.
Over time the bell became a conditioned stimulus, it did not initially cause salivation but the dogs learned to associate the sound of the bell with meat powder and began to salivate at the sound of the bell only. •This basic form of classical conditioning primarily applies to responses controlled by the automatic (e. g. salivating) and nervous (e. g. eye blink) systems. That is, it focuses on visual and olfactory cues that induce hunger, thirst or sexual arousal. When these cues are consistently paired with brand names consumer may learn to feel hungry, thirsty or aroused when later exposed to the brand cues. Classical conditioning can have similar effects for more complex reactions too. Even a credit card becomes a conditioned cue that triggers greater spending, especially since it is a stimulus that is present only in situations where consumers are spending money. People learn that they can make larger purchases when using credit cards and they also have been found to leave larger tips than they do when using cash. Conditioning effects are more likely to occur after the conditioned and unconditioned stimuli have been paired a number of times.
Repeat exposures increase the strength of stimulus and prevent the decay of these associations in memory. •Conditioning will not occur or will take longer if the conditioned stimuli is only occasionally presented with the unconditioned stimuli. One result of this lack of association may be extinction which occurs when the effects of prior conditioning are reduced and finally disappear. This can occur for example when a product is overexposed in the marketplace so that its original allure is lost. The Lacoste polo shirt with its distinctive crocodile logo is a good example of this effect.
When the once exclusive crocodile started to appear on baby clothes and many other items it lost its cachet and was soon replaced by other contenders such as the Lauren polo player. •Stimulus generalisation refers to the tendency of stimuli similar to conditioned stimuli to evoke similar conditioned responses. Pavlov noticed in subsequent studies that his dogs would salivate when the heard noises that only resembled a bell (e. g. keys jangling). People react to other similar stimuli in much the same way that they responded to an original stimulus. A chemist shops bottle of own brand mouthwash, deliberately packaged to resemble Listerine mouthwash may evoke a similar response among consumers who assume that this me too product shares other characteristics of the original. Those look alike tactics work and companies have targeted well-known brands ranging from Unilevers Blue Band margarine and Calve peanut butter to Hermes scarves. Similar colours, shapes and designs are all stimuli which consumers organise and interpret and up to a point these tactics are perfectly legal. Stimulus discrimination occurs when a stimulus similar to a conditioned stimuli is not followed by an unconditioned stimuli. In these situations reactions are weakened and will soon disappear. Part of the learning process involves making a response to some stimuli but not other similar stimuli. Manufacturers of well established brands commonly urge consumers not to buy cheap imitations because the results will not be what they expect. •Operant conditioning also known as instrumental conditioning occurs as the individual learns to perform behaviours that produce positive outcomes and to avoid those that yield negative outcomes.
This learning process is closely associated with the psychologist B F Skinner who demonstrated the effects of instrumental conditioning by teaching animals to dance, pigeons to play ping pong etc. by systematically rewarding them for desired behaviours. •While responses in classical conditioning are involuntary and fairly simple, those in instrumental conditioning are made deliberately to obtain a goal and may be more complex. The desired behaviour may be learned over a period of time, as intermediate actions are rewarded in a process called shaping.
For example the owner of a new shop may award prizes to shoppers just for coming in, hoping that over time they will continue to come in and eventually buy something. •Also, classical conditioning involves the close pairing of two stimuli. Instrumental learning occurs as a result of a reward received following the desired behaviour and takes place over a period in which a variety of other behaviours are attempted and abandoned because they are not reinforced. A good way to remember the difference is to keep in mind that in instrumental learning the response is performed because it is instrumental to gaining a reward or avoiding punishment.
Consumers over time come to associate with people who reward them and to choose products that make them feel good or satisfy some need. •Operant conditioning occurs in one of three ways. When the environment provides positive reinforcement in the form of a reward the response is strengthened and appropriate behaviour is learned. For example, a woman who is complimented after wearing Obsession perfume will learn that using this perfume has the desired effect and she is more likely to keep buying the product. Negative reinforcement also strengthens responses so that appropriate behaviour is learned. A perfume company for example might run an advert showing a women sitting alone on a Saturday night because she did not use the fragrance. The message to be conveyed is that she could have avoided the negative outcome if only she had used the perfume. •In contrast to situations where we learn to do certain things in order to avoid unpleasantness, punishment occurs when a response is followed by unpleasant events (such as being ridiculed by friends for wearing an offensive smelling perfume).
We learn not to repeat these behaviours. •When trying to understand the differences between these mechanisms, keep in mind that reactions from a person’s environment to behaviour can be either positive or negative and that these outcomes or anticipated outcomes can be applied or removed. That is, under conditions of both positive reinforcement and punishment, the person receives a reaction after doing something. In contrast, negative reinforcement occurs when a negative outcome is avoided, the removal of something negative is pleasurable and hence rewarding. Finally when a positive outcome is no longer received extinction is likely to occur and the learned stimulus response connection will not be maintained (as when a woman no longer receives a compliment for her perfume). Thus, positive and negative reinforcement strengthen the future linkage between a response and an outcome because of the pleasant experience. This tie is weakened under conditions of both punishment and extinction because of the unpleasant experience. •An important factor in operant conditioning is the set of rules by which appropriate reinforcements are given for a behaviour.
The issue of what is the most effective reinforcement schedule to use is important to marketers because it relates to the amount of effort and resources they must devote to rewarding consumers in order to condition desired behaviours; oFixed interval reinforcement – after a specified period has passed the first response that is made brings the reward. Under such conditions people tend to respond slowly immediately after being reinforced, but their responses speed up as the time for the next reinforcement approaches. For example, consumers may crowd into a store for the last day of a seasonal sale and may not reappear until the next one. Variable interval reinforcement – the time that must pass before reinforcement is delivered varies around some average. Since the person does not know exactly when to expect the reinforcement, responses must be performed at a consistent rate. This logic is behind retailer’s use of so called secret shoppers. Since store employees never know exactly when to expect a visit, high quality must be constantly maintained. oFixed ratio reinforcement – reinforcement occurs only after a fixed number of responses. This schedule motivates people to continue performing the same behaviour over and over again.
For example a consumer might keep buying groceries at the same store in order to earn a gift after collecting 50 books of trading stamps. oVariable ratio reinforcement – the person is reinforced after a certain number of responses, but they do not know how many responses are required. People in such situations tend to respond at very high and steady rates and this type of behaviour is very difficult to extinguish. This reinforcement schedule is responsible for consumer’s attraction to slot machines. They learn that if they keep feeding money into the machine they will eventually win something.
Cognitive learning (the learning that occurs as a result of internal mental processes) •Cognitive learning occurs as a result of mental processes. In contrast to behavioural theories of learning, cognitive learning theory stresses the importance of internal mental processes. This perspective view people as problem solvers who actively use information from the world around them to master their environment. Supporters of this viewpoint also stress the role of creativity and insight during the learning process. Lecture 8 – Attitudes
ABC theory (a multidimensional perspective stating that attitudes are jointly defined by affect, behaviour and cognition) •Most researchers agree that an attitude has three components; affect, behaviour and cognition. Affect refers to the way a consumer feels about an attitude object. Behaviour involves the person’s intentions to do something with regard to an attitude object. Cognition refers to the beliefs a consumer has about an attitude object. These three components of attitude can be remembered as the ABC model of attitudes. •This model emphasises the interrelationships between knowing, feeling and doing.
Consumer’s attitudes towards a product cannot be determined simply by identifying their beliefs about it. For example a researcher may find that shoppers know a particular digital camera has 10x optical zoom lens, auto focus and can also shoot quick time movies, but such findings do not indicate whether they feel these attributes are good, bad or irrelevant or whether they would actually buy the camera. •While all three components of an attitude are important their relative importance will vary depending on a consumers level of motivation with regard to the attitude object.
Attitude researchers have developed the concept of a hierarchy of effects to explain the relative impact of the three components. Each hierarchy specifies that a fixed sequence of steps occurs en route to an attitude. Principle of cognitive consistency •According to the principle of cognitive consistency consumer’s value harmony among their thoughts, feelings and behaviours and they are motivated to maintain uniformity among these elements. This desire means that, if necessary, consumers will change their thoughts, feelings or behaviours to make them consistent with their other experiences. This consistency principle is an important reminder that attitudes are not formed in a vacuum. A significant determinant of the way an attitude object will be evaluates is how it fits in with other related attitudes already held by the consumer. Self-perception (an alternative explanation of dissonance effects, it assumes that people use observations of their own behaviour to infer their attitudes towards an object) •Self-perception theory provides an alternative explanation of dissonance effects.
It assumes that people use observations of their own behaviour to determine what their attitudes are, just as we assume we know the attitudes of others by watching what they do. The theory states that we maintain consistency by inferring that we must have a positive attitude towards an object if we have bought or consumed it. •Self-perception theory is relevant to the low involvement hierarchy since it involves situations in which behaviours are initially performed in the absence of a strong internal attitude. After the fact, the cognitive and affective components fall into line.
Thus buying a product out of habit may result in a positive attitude towards it. •Self-perception theory helps explain the effectiveness of a sales strategy called the foot in the door technique which is based on the observation that a consumer is more likely to comply with a request if they have already agreed to comply with a smaller request. The name of this technique came from door to door selling when the salesperson was taught to plant their foot in a door so the prospect cold not slam it shut. A good salesperson knows they are more likely to get an order if the customer can be persuaded to open the door and talk.
By agreeing to do so the customer has established that they are willing to listen. Placing an order is consistent with this self-perception Social judgement (the perspective that people assimilate new information about attitude objects in the light of what they already know or feel. The initial attitude as a frame of reference and new information are categorised in terms of this standard) •Social judgement theory assumes that people assimilate new information about attitude objects in the light of what they already know or feel.
The initial attitude as a frame of reference and new information are categorised in terms of this standard. Just as our decision that a box is heavy depends in part on other boxes we have lifted, so we develop a subjective standard when making judgements about attitude objects. •One important aspect of the theory is the notion that people differ in terms of information they find acceptable or unacceptable. They form latitudes of acceptance and rejection around an attitude standard. Ideas that fall within a latitude will be favourably received while those falling outside the zone will not.
There are plenty of examples of how latitudes of acceptance and rejection are influencing marketing practices and consumer behaviours in Europe. Recently childhood obesity has become an alarmingly European issue, prompting the Belgium parliament’s ban of Coca Cola machines in Belgium’s elementary schools. Likewise European attitudes towards smoking have clearly evolved towards a latitude of rejection – providing GSK with the opportunity to launch new anti-smoking products such as nicotine replacement gums and patches.
Furthermore a positive attitude towards consumption of nicotine replacement therapy has been shown to be the single most influential factor in establishing a behavioural desire to quit smoking. Nowadays in more and more European countries pubs, bars, restaurants and other public facilities have faced new legislation banning smoking in public rooms. The widespread acceptance of this legislation, also among smokers, reflects these changing attitudes towards smoking. •Messages that fall within the latitude of acceptance tend to be seen as more consistent with ones position than they actually are.
This process is called an assimilation effect. On the other hand messages falling in the latitude of rejection tend to be seen as even further from ones position that they actually are resulting in a contrast effect. Balance theory (considers relations among elements person might perceive as belonging together and peoples tendency to change relations among elements in order to make them consistent or balanced) •Balance theory considers relations among elements a person might perceive as belonging together.
This perspective involves relations among three elements so the resulting attitude structures are called triads. Each triad contains a person and their perceptions, an attitude object and some other person or object. •These perceptions can be positive or negative. More importantly people alter these perceptions in order to make relations among them consistent. The theory specifies that people desire relations among elements in a triad to be harmonious or balanced. If they are not, a state of tension will result until perceptions are changed and balance is restored. Elements can be perceived as going together in one of two ways. They can have a unit relation where one element is seen as belonging to or being part of the other (something like a belief) or a sentiment relation where the two elements are linked because one has expressed a preference (or dislike) for the other. A couple might be seen as having a sentiment relation. If the marry they will have a positive unit relation. The process of divorce is an attempt to sever a unit relation. •Balance theory reminds us that when perceptions are balanced attitudes are likely to be stable.
On the other hand when inconsistencies are observed we are more likely to observe changes in attitudes. Balance theory also helps explain why consumers like to be associated with positively valued objects. Forming a unit relation with a popular product may improve one’s chances of being included as a positive sentiment relation in other people’s triads. •This balancing act is at the heart of celebrity endorsements in which marketers hope that the stars popularity will transfer to the product or when a non-profit organisation gets a celebrity to discourage harmful behaviours. It pays to remember that creating a unit relation between a product and a star can backfire if the public’s opinion of the celebrity endorser shifts from positive to negative, This happened when Pepsi pulled an advert featuring Madonna after she released a controversial music video involving religion and sex. The strategy can also cause trouble is people question the star product unit relation. This happened when the singer Michael Jackson who also did promotions for Pepsi subsequently confessed that he did not drink soda at all. Lecture 9 – Individual decision making
High, limited or low involvement decisions •One helpful way to characterise the decision making process is to consider the amount of effort that goes into the decision each time we must make it. Consumer researchers have found it convenient to think in terms of a continuum which is anchored at one end by habitual decision making and at the other extreme by extended problem solving. Many decisions fall somewhere in the middle so we characterise theses as limited problem solving. •Decisions involving extended problem solving correspond most closely to the traditional decision making perspective.
We usually initiate this careful process when the decision we have relates to our self-concept and we feel that the outcome may be risky in some way. In that case we try to collect as much information as possible both from our memory (internal search) and from outside sources such as Google (external search). Based on the importance of the decision we carefully evaluate each product alternative, often considering the attributes of one brand at a time and seeing how each brands attributes shape up to some set of desired characteristics or outcomes that we hope to achieve though our choice. Limited problem solving is usually more straightforward and simple. In this case we are not nearly as motivated to search for information or to evaluate each alternative rigorously. Instead we are likely to use simple decision rules to choose among alternatives. These cognitive short cuts enable consumers to fall back on general guidelines instead of having to start from scratch every time we need to make a decision. •Both extended and limited problem solving modes involve some degree of information search and deliberation though they vary by the degree to which we engage in these activities.
At the other end of the choice continuum however lies habitual decision making, choices that we make with little or no conscious effort. Many purchase decisions are so routinized that we may not realise we have made them until we look in our shopping trolleys. We make these choices with minimal effort and without conscious control. Researchers call this process automacity. •While this kind of thoughtless activity may seem dangerous at worst or stupid at nest, it is actually quite efficient in many cases.
The development of habitual, repetitive behaviour allows consumers to minimise the time and energy spent on mundane purchase decisions. On the other hand habitual decision making poses a problem when a marketer tries to introduce a new way of doing an old task. In this case consumers must be convinced to unfreeze from their former habit and replace it with a new one – perhaps by using digital banking rather than the local branch of the bank or switching to self-service petrol pumps instead of being served by an attendant.
Perspectives on decision making (rational, behavioural, experiential) •Traditionally consumer researchers have approached decision making from a rational perspective. In this view people calmly and carefully integrate as much information as possible with what they already know about a product, painstakingly weighing the pluses and minuses of each alternative and arriving at a satisfactory decision. This traditional decision making perspective incorporates the economics of information approach to the search process. It assumes that consumers will gather as much data as they need in order to make an informed decision. Consumers form expectations of the value of additional information and continue to search to the extent that the rewards of doing so exceed the costs. This utilitarian assumption also implies that the person will collect the most valuable units of information first. They will absorb additional pieces only to the extent that they think they will add to what they already know. In other words people will put themselves out to collect as much information as possible as long as the process of gathering is not to onerous or time consuming. This process implies that steps in decision making should be carefully studied y marketing managers in order to understand how consumers obtain information, how consumers form beliefs and what criteria consumers use to make product or service choices. Companies can then develop products or services that emphasise the appropriate attributes and marketers can tailor promotional strategies to deliver the types of information consumers are most likely to desire, via the best channels and in the more effective formats. Professor Beckmann acknowledges the value and limitations of this perspective. While consumers do follow these decision making steps when making some purchases, such a rational process does not accurately portray many purchase decisions. Consumers simply do not go through this elaborate sequence every time they buy something. If they did their entire lives would be sent making decisions leaving them with very little time to enjoy the things they eventually decide to by. Some of our consumption behaviours simply don’t seem rational because they don’t always serve a logical purpose.
Other purchase behaviours are undertaken with virtually no advance planning at all. •Still, other actions are actually contrary to those predicted by rational models. For example purchase momentum occurs when these initial impulses actually increase the likelihood that we will buy even more almost as if we get caught up in a spending spree. •Researchers are now beginning to realise that decision makers actually possess a repertoire of strategies. A consumer evaluates the effort required to make a particular choice and then they choose a strategy best suited to the level of effort required.
This sequence of events is known as constructive processing. When the task requires a well thought out rational approach we will invest the brain power required for the decision otherwise we look for short cuts or fall back upon learned responses that automate these choices. •Researchers are also beginning to understand the role that controlling the information flow can have on consumer’s decisions as increased control leads to increased performance. These new insights promise to be particularly important in the new online nvironments where marketers have the potential to integrate active communication systems back into mass communication where controlling the information flow can particularly influence the quality of consumers decisions, memory, knowledge and confidence. •Research on information structure (the amount of information in a choice set) is also relevant in the new electronic marketplaces where consumers are regularly faced with information overload when making decisions. One study suggested that consumers adapt their acquisition of information in response to changes in information structure.
When a choice set contains more information per element, fewer acquisitions are made, more time is spent per acquisition and customers are more selective in their information acquisition. •Other recent research has identified how consumers integrate the internet into other product information sources such as retailers and media during their search for information. Car buyers, for instance, often see the manufacturer and dealer internet sources to substitute for more traditional information search via visits to car dealerships. Some decisions are made under conditions of low involvement. In many of these situations our decision is a learned response to environmental cues as when we decide to buy something on impulse that is being promoted as a special offer in a shop. A concentration on these types of decisions can be described as the behavioural influence perspective. Under these circumstances managers must concentrate on assessing the characteristics of the environment that influence members of a target market such as the design of a retail outlet or whether a package is enticing. In other cases consumers are highly involved in a decision but still we cannot explain their selections entirely rationally. For example, the traditional approach is hard pressed to explain a person’s choice of art, music or even partner. Instead the experiential perspective stresses the gestalt or totality of the product or service. Marketers in these areas focus on measuring consumers affective responses to products or services and developing offerings that elicit appropriate subjective reactions.