INTRODUCTION TO CONSUMER
The 1990s have
borne witness to dramatic shifts in the marketplace triggered by sharp
changes in the lifestyle patterns of the past and present and the radical
revolution in the telecommunication technology. Time tested concepts on
Brand loyalty and Mass Marketing, are being turned on their heads as they
fail to gauge the Behaviour of new generation customers. The behaviour is
characterized by the uniqueness of individual expectations, the preference
for multiple options, propensity to abandon Brand loyalty and switch to
competition Brands that give higher (perceived) value. The new breed is even
willing to import to satisfy specific requirement. It is difficult to
classify this generation by conventional Demographic factors and unless
their thought process and buying behaviour are fully understood, decisions
on product designs and packaging, Branding and Distribution channels are
likely to be misplaced. With the inevitability of change looming large over
the horizon, Indian companies must learn from their western counterparts;
not only to identify the sources, timing and direction of the changes likely
to affect India, but also the new competencies and perspective that will
enable them to respond to these changes, comprehensively and effectively.
Companies offering Product or Services will need to understand this new face
of the customers. The changing Demographic profile of the population in
terms of education, income, size of family and so on, are important by what
will be more substantive in days to come will be the Psychographics of
customers that is how they feel, think or behave. Markers will have to
constantly monitor and understand the underlying Psychographics to map their
respective industries are moving and decide what needs to be done, by way of
adding value that motivates customers to buy the company’s products and
influence the future industry structure.
This means to know about
the existence of the product in the market. It is the first stage of the
adoption process. The consumers are exposed to the product innovation. The
consumers at this stage are not interested in more information about the
It is defined as the process by which an individual selects, organizes and
interprets stimuli into a meaningful and coherent of the world. It is how we
see the world around us’. Two persons subject to the same stimulus under the
same conditions will react differently. A stimulus is any unit of input to
any of the senses. The study of perception is largely the study of what we
subconsciously add to or subtract from raw sensory to produce our own
private picture of the world.
In simple dictionary meaning ‘attitude; means a way of thinking is a learned
predisposition to behave in a consistently favorable or unfavorable way with
respect to a given object. Attitudes are learned may be because of a
previous experience with the product, information acquired from others, and
exposure to mass media. Attitudes are not permanent, they do change over a
period of time.
The study of consumers helps
firms and organizations improve their marketing strategies by understanding
issues such as how consumers think, feel, reason, and select between
different alternatives (e.g., brands, products);
The psychology of how the
consumer is influenced by his or her environment (e.g., culture, family,
The behavior of consumers while
shopping or making other marketing decisions;
Limitations in consumer knowledge
or information processing abilities influence decisions and marketing
How consumer motivation and
decision strategies differ between products that differ in their level of
importance or interest that they entail for the consumer; and how marketers
can adapt and improve their marketing campaigns and marketing strategies to
more effectively reach the consumer.
Understanding these issues helps
in adapting strategies by taking the consumer into consideration. For
example, by understanding that a number of different messages compete for
our potential customers’ attention, one learns that to be effective,
advertisements must usually be repeated extensively. It is also learnt that
consumers will sometimes be persuaded more by logical arguments, but at
other times will be persuaded more by emotional or symbolic appeals. By
understanding the consumer, the company will be able to make a more informed
decision as to which strategy to employ.
The "official" definition of
consumer behavior given in the text is "The study of individuals, groups, or
organizations and the processes they use to select, secure, use, and dispose
of products, services, experiences, or ideas to satisfy needs and the
impacts that these processes have on the consumer and society.
Behavior occurs either for the
individual, or in the context of a group (e.g., friends influence what kinds
of clothes a person wears) or an organization (people on the job make
decisions as to which products the firm should use).
Consumer behavior involves the
use and disposal of products as well as the study of how they are purchased.
Product use is often of great interest to the marketer, because this may
influence how a product is best positioned or how we can encourage increased
consumption. Since many environmental problems result from product disposal
(e.g., motor oil being sent into sewage systems to save the recycling fee,
or garbage piling up at landfills) this is also an area of interest.
Consumer behavior involves
services and ideas as well as tangible products.
The impact of consumer behavior
on society is also of relevance. For example, aggressive marketing of high
fat foods, or aggressive marketing of easy credit, may have serious
repercussions for the national health and economy.
There are four main applications
of consumer behavior:
The most obvious is for
marketing strategy—i.e., for making better marketing campaigns. For
example, by understanding that consumers are more receptive to food
advertising when they are hungry, we learn to schedule snack advertisements
late in the afternoon. By understanding that new products are usually
initially adopted by a few consumers and only spread later, and then only
gradually, to the rest of the population, we learn that (1) companies that
introduce new products must be well financed so that they can stay afloat
until their products become a commercial success and (2) it is important to
please initial customers, since they will in turn influence many subsequent
customers’ brand choices.
As a final benefit, studying
consumer behavior should make us better consumers. Common sense suggests,
for example, that if you buy a 64 liquid ounce bottle of laundry detergent,
you should pay less per ounce than if you bought two 32 ounce bottles. In
practice, however, you often pay a size premium by buying the larger
quantity. In other words, in this case, knowing this fact will sensitize you
to the need to check the unit cost labels to determine if you are really
getting a bargain. There are several units in the market that can be
There are two main categories of
research methods. Secondary research uses research that has already
been done by someone else. For example, marketers often find information
compiled by the U.S. Census very useful. However, in some cases, information
specific enough to satisfy a firm’s needs is not publicly available.
Original research that a firm does for itself is known as primary
There is no one perfect primary
research method. Each has strengths and weaknesses, and thus the appropriate
method must be selected based on research needs.
are useful for getting a great deal of specific information. Surveys can
contain open-ended questions or closed-ended, where the respondent is
asked to select answers from a brief list. Open ended questions have the
advantage that the respondent is not limited to the options listed, and that
the respondent is not being influenced by seeing a list of responses.
However, open-ended questions are often skipped by respondents, and coding
them can be quite a challenge. In general, for surveys to yield meaningful
responses, sample sizes of over 100 are usually required because precision
Surveys come in several different
forms. Mail surveys are relatively inexpensive, but response rates are
typically quite low—typically from 5-20%. Phone-surveys get somewhat higher
response rates, but not many questions can be asked because many answer
options have to be repeated and few people are willing to stay on the phone
for more than five minutes. Mall intercepts are a convenient way to reach
consumers, but respondents may be reluctant to discuss anything sensitive
face-to-face with an interviewer.
involve getting a group of 6-12 consumers together to discuss product usage.
Focus groups are especially useful if we do not have specific questions to
ask yet, since we don’t know what consumers’ concerns might be. Drawbacks of
focus groups include high costs and the fact that generalization toward the
entire population is difficult for such small sample sizes. The fact that
focus groups involve social interaction also means that participants may say
what they think will make themselves look good rather than what they really
believe (the social desirability bias).
involve in-depth questioning of an individual about his or her interest in
or experiences with a product. The benefit here is that one can get really
into depth . but this method of research is costly and can be extremely
vulnerable to interviewer bias.
Projective techniques are used
when a consumer may feel embarrassed to admit to certain opinions, feelings,
or preferences. The main problem with this method is that it is difficult to
Observation of consumers is often
a powerful tool. Looking at how consumers select products may yield insights
into how they make decisions and what they look for. Observation may help in
determining how much time consumers spend comparing prices, or whether
nutritional labels are being consulted.
Physiological measures are
occasionally used to examine consumer response. For example, advertisers may
want to measure a consumer’s level of arousal during various parts of an
Segmentation basically involves
dividing consumers into groups such that members of a group (1) are as
similar as possible to members of that same group but (2) differ as much as
possible from members other segments. This enables us then to "treat" each
segment differently—e.g., by:
Providing different products
(e.g., some consumers like cola taste, while others prefer lime) . Offering
different prices (some consumers will take the cheapest product available,
while others will pay for desired features). Distributing the products where
they are likely to be bought by the targeted segment.
In order for a segment structure
to be useful:
Each segment must
have an identity—i.e., it must contain members that can be described in some
way (e.g., price sensitive) that behave differently from another segment.
Each segment must
engage in systematic behaviors (e.g., a price sensitive segment should
consistently prefer the low price item rather than randomly switching
between high and low priced brands).
Each segment must
offer marketing mix efficiency potential—i.e., it must be profitable to
serve. For example, A smaller segment may be profitable if, for example, it
is price insensitive or can be targeted efficiently . Some segments are not
There are three "levels" of
segmentation. Levels here refer to the tradeoff between the difficulty of
implementing a segmentation scheme and the benefits that result.
The first level of
segmentation involves personal characteristics—e.g., demographics.
The trouble with this method of segmentation, however, is that there is
often not a good correlation between personal characteristics of consumers
and what they want to buy. Psychographics includes a bit more information
about the consumer than his or her mere descriptive characteristics.
The second level is
benefit desired—that is, segmenting on what someone wants rather than
who he or she is. Implementing segmentation on benefit desired is more
difficult. The benefit, however, is that one can now make product that
matches more closely a particular segment’s specific desires, and one can
promote, price, and distribute it according to the desires of the segment.
This method, then, lends itself extremely well to strong product
positioning—one make a product that offers specific benefits, and we
aggressively promote this fact to interested consumers. A drawback, however,
is some efficiency is lost in marketing communication.
The third level is
segmentation based on behavior. Behavior here refers to a person’s
response (or lack of response) to a given treatment. The rewards are often
great, because one can tailor the kind of deal we give a consumer to the
minimum concession needed to get that consumer to buy our (as opposed to a
Direct marketing offers
exceptional opportunities for segmentation because marketers can buy lists
of consumer names, addresses, and phone-numbers that indicate their specific
Culture is part of the
external influences that impact the consumer. That is, culture
represents influences that are imposed on the consumer by other individuals.
The definition of culture offered
in the text is "That complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art,
morals, custom, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man person
as a member of society." From this definition, one can make the following
Culture, as a "complex whole," is
a system of interdependent components.
Knowledge and beliefs are
important parts. Other issues are relevant. Art, for example, may be
reflected in the rather arbitrary practice of wearing ties in some countries
and wearing turbans in others.
Culture has several important
characteristics: (1) Culture is comprehensive. This means that all
parts must fit together in some logical fashion. (2) Culture is
learned rather than being something we are born with. (3) Culture is
manifested within boundaries of acceptable behavior.. (4) Conscious
awareness of cultural standards is limited. (5) Cultures fall somewhere on a
continuum between static and dynamic depending on how quickly they accept
Cultural rules can be categorized
into three types. Formal rules carry relatively explicit standards as
to how one should behave, and violations often carry severe sanctions.
Informal rules, on the other hand, are less explicit and may not carry
sanctions for violation. Finally, technical cultural rules involve
implicit standards as to what constitutes a good product.
Language is an important element
of culture. It should be realized that regional differences may be subtle.
Subculture is often categorized
on the basis of demographics. While part of the overall culture, these
groups often have distinguishing characteristics. An important consequence
is that a person who is part of two subcultures may experience some
Values are often greatly
associated with age groups because people within an age-group have shared
experiences. Regional influence, both in the United States and other areas,
Family Decision Making
The Family Life Cycle.
Individuals and families tend to go through a "life cycle." The simple life
cycle goes from
child/teenager ---> young single
---> young couple* ---> full nest
---> empty nest ---> widow(er).
A "couple" may either be married
or merely involve living together. The breakup of a non-marital relationship
involving cohabitation is similarly considered equivalent to a divorce.
full nest ---> single parent
This situation can result either
from divorce or from the death of one parent. Divorce usually entails a
significant change in the relative wealth of spouses. In some cases, the
non-custodial parent (usually the father) will not pay the required child
support, and even if he or she does, that still may not leave the custodial
parent and children as well off as they were during the marriage. On the
other hand, in some cases, some non-custodial parents will be called on to
pay a large part of their income in child support. This is particularly a
problem when the non-custodial parent remarries and has additional children
in the second (or subsequent marriages).
Divorced parents frequently
remarry, or become involved in other non-marital relationships; thus, we may
full nest ---> single parent --->
Another variation involves
young single ---> single parent
Generally, there are two main
themes in the Family Life Cycle, subject to significant exceptions:
As a person gets older, he or she
tends to advance in his or her career and tends to get greater income
(exceptions: maternity leave, divorce, retirement).
Unfortunately, obligations also
tend to increase with time (at least until one’s mortgage has been paid
off). Children and paying for one’s house are two of the greatest expenses.
Note that although a single
person may have a lower income than a married couple, the single may be able
to buy more discretionary items.
Family Decision Making:
Individual members of families often serve different roles in decisions that
ultimately draw on shared family resources. Some individuals are
information gatherers/holders, who seek out information about products
of relevance. These individuals often have a great deal of power because
they may selectively pass on information that favors their chosen
alternatives. Influencers do not ultimately have the power decide
between alternatives, but they may make their wishes known by asking for
specific products or causing embarrassing situations if their demands are
not met. The decision maker(s) have the power to determine issues
One is bargaining—one
member will give up something in return for someone else. strategy is
reasoning—trying to get the other person(s) to accept one’s view through
Humans are inherently social
animals, and individuals greatly influence each other. A useful framework of
analysis of group influence on the individual is the so called reference
group—the term comes about because an individual uses a relevant group
as a standard of reference against which oneself is compared. Reference
groups come in several different forms. The aspirational reference group
refers to those others against whom one would like to compare oneself.
Associative reference groups include people who more realistically
represent the individuals’ current equals or near-equals—e.g., coworkers,
neighbors, or members of churches, clubs, and organizations. Finally, the
dissociative reference group includes people that the individual would
not like to be like.
Reference groups come with
various degrees of influence. Primary reference groups come with a
great deal of influence—e.g., members of a fraternity/sorority. Secondary
reference groups tend to have somewhat less influence—e.g., members of a
boating club that one encounters only during week-ends are likely to have
their influence limited to consumption during that time period.
Another typology divides
reference groups into the informational kind (influence is based
almost entirely on members’ knowledge), normative (members influence
what is perceived to be "right," "proper," "responsible," or "cool"), or
identification. The difference between the latter two categories
involves the individual’s motivation for compliance. In case of the
normative reference group, the individual tends to comply largely for
utilitarian reasons—dressing according to company standards is likely to
help your career, but there is no real motivation to dress that way outside
the job. In contrast, people comply with identification groups’ standards
for the sake of belonging—for example, a member of a religious group may
wear a symbol even outside the house of worship because the religion is a
part of the person’s identity.
Diffusion of Innovation
The diffusion of innovation
refers to the tendency of new products, practices, or ideas to spread among
people. Usually, when new products or ideas come about, they are only
adopted by a small group of people initially; later, many innovations spread
to other people. The saturation point is the maximum proportion of
consumers likely to adopt .
Several forces often work against
innovation. One is risk, which can be either social or financial. Another
risk is being perceived by others as being weird for trying a "fringe"
product or idea. Other sources of resistance include the initial effort
needed to learn to use new products (e.g., it takes time to learn to
meditate or to learn how to use a computer) and concerns about compatibility
with the existing culture or technology. Innovations come in different
degrees. A continuous innovation includes slight improvements over
time. A dynamically continuous innovation involves some change in
technology, although the product is used much the same way that its
predecessors were used—e.g., jet vs. propeller aircraft. A discontinous
innovation involves a product that fundamentally changes the way that things
are done—e.g., the fax and photocopiers.
Some cultures tend to adopt new
products more quickly than others, based on several factors:
The extent to which the culture is receptive to new things. In some
countries, such as Britain and Saudi Arabia, tradition is greatly
valued—thus, new products often don’t fare too well. The United States, in
contrast, tends to value progress.
The more similar to each other that members of a culture are, the more
likely an innovation is to spread—people are more likely to imitate similar
than different models. The two most rapidly adopting countries in the World
are the U.S. and Japan. While the U.S. interestingly scores very low, Japan
distance: The greater
the distance between people, the less likely innovation is to spread.
leadership: The more
opinion leaders are valued and respected, the more likely an innovation is
to spread. The style of opinion leaders moderates this influence, however.
In less innovative countries, opinion leaders tend to be more conservative,
i.e., to reflect the local norms of resistance.
Our perception is an approximation of reality. Our brain attempts to make
sense out of the stimuli to which we are exposed.
Factors in percpetion.
Several sequential factors influence our perception. Exposure
involves the extent to which we encounter a stimulus. Most of this exposure
is random—we don’t plan to seek it out. Exposure is not enough to
significantly impact the individual—at least not based on a single trial In
order for stimuli to be consciously processed, attention is needed.
Interpretation involves making sense out of the stimulus. Weber’s
Law suggests that consumers’ ability to detect changes in stimulus
intensity appear to be strongly related to the intensity of that stimulus to
Several factors influence the
extent to which stimuli will be noticed. One obvious issue is relevance.
Consumers, when they have a choice, are also more likely to attend to
pleasant stimuli (but when the consumer can’t escape, very unpleasant
stimuli are also likely to get attention—thus, many very irritating
advertisements are remarkably effective). Surprising stimuli are
likely to get more attention—survival instinct requires us to give more
attention to something unknown that may require action. A greater
contrast (difference between the stimulus and its surroundings) as well
as greater prominence (e.g., greater size, center placement) also
tend to increase likelihood of processing.
Learning and Memory
Learning involves "a change in the content or organization of long term
memory and/or behavior." The first part of the definition focuses on what we
know (and can thus put to use) while the second focuses on concrete
Pavlov’s early work on dogs was known as classical conditioning.
Pavlov discovered that when dogs were fed meat powder they salivated. Pavlov
then discovered that if a bell were rung before the dogs were fed, the dogs
would begin salivating in anticipation of being fed (this was
efficient, since they could then begin digesting the meat powder
immediately). Pavlov then found that after the meat had been "paired" with
the meat powder enough times, Pavlov could ring the bell without feeding the
dogs and they would still salivate.
In the jargon of classical
conditioning, the meat powder was an unconditioned stimulus (US) and
the By pairing the bell with the unconditioned stimulus, the bell
became a conditioned stimulus (CS) and salivation in response to the
bell (with no meat powder) became a conditioned response (CR).
Instrumental, or operant,
conditioning, involves a different series of events, and this what we
usually think of as learning. The general pattern is:
Behavior ---> consequences --->
behavior is more or less likely to be repeated
There are three major forms of
operant learning. In positive reinforcement, an individual
does something and is rewarded. He or she is then more likely to repeat the
is the opposite. It should be noted that negative reinforcement is
very different from punishment.
In general, marketers usually
have relatively little power to use punishment or negative reinforcement.
Several factors influence the
effectiveness of operant learning. In general, the closer in time the
consequences are to the behavior, the more effective the learning. However,
it is not necessary to reward a behavior every time for learning to occur.
Even if a behavior is only rewarded some of the time, the behavior may be
There are two kinds of memory. When you see an ad on TV for a mail order
product you might like to buy, you only keep the phone number in memory
until you have dialed it. This is known as short term memory. In
order for something to enter into long term memory, which is more
permanent, you must usually "rehearse" it several times. A special issue in
memory are so called "scripts," or procedures we remember for doing things.
Scripts involve a series of steps for doing various things (e.g., how to
send a package).
Perspectives on Consumer Behavior
and Motivation: People
considered several perspectives on behavior as a way to understand what
motivates the consumer. Each of these perspectives suggests different things
as to what the marketer should do and what can (and cannot) be controlled.
The Hard Core Behavioral
perspective is based on learning theories such as operant and classical
conditioning. These theories suggest that consumers must learn from their
own experiences rather than merely observing other people who
overeat and get sick.
The Social Learning
Perspective, in contrast, allows for vicarious learning--i.e.,
learning obtained by watching others getting good or bad consequences for
behavior. The models that may be observed and imitated include peers
and family members as well as relevant others that may be observed in
advertising. Certain people are more likely to be imitated than
othersGenerally, observations are made of overt behavior, but some room is
made for individual reasoning in learning from others. This perspective is
clearly more realistic than that of the "Hard Core" view.
The Cognitive approach
emphasizes consumer thinking rather than mere behavior.Here, the
emphasis is on how people reason themselves to the consequences of their
behavior. It is often somewhat more difficult to attempt to "get into" a
consumer’s head than it is to merely observe his or her behavior, and what
we "observe" is somewhat more subjective.
The Biological approach
suggests that most behavior is determined by genetics or other biological
bases. By this perspective, it is suggested that consumers eat the foods
they eat in large part because the body craves these foods. The main
implication of biological determinism is that the marketer must
adapt--for example, food advertisements are more likely to be effective
when people are hungry, and thus they might better be run in the late
afternoon rather than in the late morning.
The Rational Expectations
perspective is based on an economic way of looking at the World. The
Psychoanalytic perspective is based on the work of historical
psychologists such as Sigmund Freud who suggest that (1) much behavior has a
biological basis which is (2) often sexual in nature, and (3) that early
experiences in childhood will have a profound, but unconscious effect
on later life. Although modern psychologists certainly recognize that early
experiences may influence later psychological well being, the psychoanalytic
view has largely been discredited today as being much too centered on the
issue of sex.
Properties of motivation:
Motivation is described through several properties:
composed of energy and direction.
A person may or may not have enough motivation to engage in a given
Motives may be
overt, hidden, and multiple.
Some motivations are publicly expressed (e.g., the desire to buy an energy
efficient house), while others (e.g., the desire to look wealthy by buying a
fancy car) are not.
are driven by the desire for tension reduction
(e.g., eliminate thirst or hunger).
be driven by both internal and external factors.
have either a positive or negative valence--people
may either be motivated to achieve something (e.g., get a promotion at work)
or avoid something (e.g., being hospitalized without having adequate
motivated to achieve goals.
Achieving these goals may require sustained activity over time (e.g.,
exercising every day for months or years) as opposed to just taking some
maintain a balance between the desires for stability and variety.
reflects individual differences.
Different consumers are motivated to achieve different things, and it may be
difficult to infer motivations from looking at actual behavior without
understanding these differences in desired outcomes.
Personality and consumer
Traditional research in marketing has not been particularly successful in
finding a link between personality and consumer behavior. Emotion.
Emotion impacts marketing efforts in several ways. One purpose is to get
attention to a stimulus (since emotionally charged individuals tend to
be less predictable than calmer ones, there has been an evolutionary
advantage in paying attention to emotion). Secondly, emotion influences
Consumer attitudes are a composite of a consumer’s (1) beliefs about, (2)
feelings about, (3) and behavioral intentions toward some object within the
context of marketing, usually a brand or retail store. These components are
viewed together since they are highly interdependent and together represent
forces that influence how the consumer will react to the object.
The first component is beliefs. A consumer may hold both positive
beliefs toward an object (e.g., coffee tastes good) as well as negative
beliefs (e.g., coffee is easily spilled and stains papers). In addition,
some beliefs may be neutral.
Consumers also hold certain feelings toward brands or other objects.
Sometimes these feelings are based on the beliefs (e.g., a person feels
nauseated when thinking about a hamburger because of the tremendous amount
of fat it contains), but there may also be feelings which are relatively
independent of beliefs.
The behavioral intention is what the consumer plans to do with respect to
the object (e.g., buy or not buy the brand). As with affect, this is
sometimes a logical consequence of beliefs (or affect), but may sometimes
reflect other circumstances.
Consumers often do not behave consistently with their attitudes for several
He or she may be unable to do
demands for resources.
attitudes is difficult. In many situations, consumers do not consciously set
out to enumerate how positively or negatively they feel about mopeds.
Attitude Change Strategies.
Changing attitudes is generally very difficult, particularly when
consumers suspect that the marketer has a self-serving agenda in bringing
about this change (e.g., to get the consumer to buy more or to switch
One approach is to try to change affect, which may or may not involve
getting consumers to change their beliefs. One strategy uses the approach of
classical conditioning try to "pair" the product with a liked
stimulus. Finally, products which are better known, through the mere
exposure effect, tend to be better liked--that is, the more a product is
advertised and seen in stores, the more it will generally be liked, even
if consumers to do not develop any specific beliefs about the product.
People like to believe that their behavior is rational; thus, once they use
our products, chances are that they will continue unless someone is able to
get them to switch. ----One way to get people to switch to one brand is to
use temporary price discounts and coupons; however, when consumers buy a
product on deal, they may justify the purchase based on that deal (i.e., the
low price) and may then switch to other brands on deal later. A better way
to get people to switch to our brand is to at least temporarily obtain
better shelf space so that the product is more convenient. Consumers are
less likely to use this availability as a rationale for their purchase and
may continue to buy the product even when the product is less conveniently
located. (Notice, by the way, that this represents a case of shaping).
Although attempting to change beliefs is the obvious way to attempt attitude
change, particularly when consumers hold unfavorable or inaccurate ones,
this is often difficult to achieve because consumers tend to resist. Several
approaches to belief change exist:
held beliefs. It is
generally very difficult to attempt to change beliefs that people hold,
particularly those that are strongly held, even if they are inaccurate.
importance of beliefs.
Consumers are less likely to resist the addition of beliefs so long as
they do not conflict with existing beliefs.
It usually difficult, and very risky, to attempt to change ideals, and only
few firms succeed.
One-sided vs. two-sided appeals.
Attitude research has shown that consumers often tend to react more
favorably to advertisements which either (1) admit something negative about
the sponsoring brand or (2) admits something positive about a competing
brand Two-sided appeals must, contain overriding arguments why the
sponsoring brand is ultimately superior.
The Elaboration Likelihood Model
(ELM) and Celebrity Endorsements.
The ELM suggests that consumers will scrutinize claims more in important
situations than in unimportant ones.
The ELM suggests that for
"unimportant" products, elaboration will be low. However, for products which
are either expensive or important for some other reason elaboration is
likely to be more extensive, and the endorser is expected to be "congruent,"
or compatible, with the product.
Several approaches to appeal may be used. The use of affect to induce
empathy with advertising characters may increase attraction to a
product, but may backfire if consumers believe that people’s feelings are
being exploited. Fear appeals appear to work only if (1) an optimal
level of fear is evoked--not so much that people tune it out, but enough to
scare people into action and (2) a way to avoid the feared stimulus
is explicitly indicated. Humor appears to be effective in gaining
attention, but does not appear to increase persuasion in practice. In
addition, a more favorable attitude toward the advertisement may be created
by humorous advertising, which may in turn result in increased sales.
Comparative advertising, which is illegal in many countries, often
increases sales for the sponsoring brand, but may backfire in certain
Influences, and Lifestyle
The consumer faces several possible selves. The actual self reflects
how the individual actually is, although the consumer may not be aware of
that reality In contrast, the ideal self reflects a self that a
person would like to have, but does not in fact have. The private
self is one that is not intentionally exposed to others. The key here is to
keep in mind which kind of self one is trying to reach in promotional
Individuals will often seek to
augment and enhance their self concepts, and it may be possible to market
products that help achieve this goal.
Self-concept often translates into a person’s lifestyle, or the way that he
or she lives his or her life. Attempts have been made to classify consumers
into various segments based on their lifestyles. For example, both
"Achievers" and "Strivers" want public recognition, but only the Achievers
have the resources to bring this about. A global analogue is the Global
Specific circumstances often influence consumer behavior. Consumers whose
attention is demanded elsewhere are likely to disregard commercial messages.
Consumer Decision Making
Consumer decision making comes about as an attempt to solve consumer
problems. A problem refers to "a discrepancy between a desired state
and an ideal state which is sufficient to arouse and activate a decision
Consumer Problem Recognition.
Consumers often note problems by comparing their current, or actual,
situation, explicitly or implicitly, to some desired situation. In terms of
the "big picture," what is compared may be the totality of one’s lifestyle.
Problems come in several
different types. A problem may be an active one (e.g., you have a
headache and would like as quick a solution as possible) or inactive--
you are not aware that your situation is a problem (e.g., a consumer is not
aware that he or she could have more energy with a new vitamin). Problems
may be acknowledged (e.g., a consumer is aware that his or her car
does not accelerate well enough or unacknowledged (e.g., a consumer
will not acknowledge that he or she consumes too much alcohol). Finally,
needs can be relatively specific (generic), as in the need for enjoyment
(which can be satisfied many different ways), or specific, as in the need
for professional attire to wear at a new job.
Creating problems for consumers
is a way to increase sales, albeit a questionably ethical one. One way to
create new problems, and resultant needs, is to create a new ideal state.
There are two main approaches to
search. Internal searches are based on what consumers already know.
Thus, it may be important for certain firms to advertise to consumers before
they actually need the product. A problem is that some excellent ones which
are not remembered, or have never been heard of, are not considered.
External searches get people to either speak to others (getting
information by word of mouth) or use other sources (such as advertisements
now sought out or yellow page listings). Consumers often do not consider all
alternatives. Some are not known (the "unawareness" set), some were once
known but are not readily accessible in memory (the "inert" set), others are
ruled out as unsatisfactory (the "inept" set--e.g., Glad bags attempts to
get "bargain bags" into that set), and those that are considered represent
the "evoked" set, from which one alternative is likely to be purchased.
The amount of effort a consumer
puts into searching depends on a number of factors such as the market (how
many competitors are there, and how great are differences between brands
expected to be?), product characteristics (how important is this product?
How complex is the product? How obvious are indications of quality?),
consumer characteristics (how interested is a consumer, generally, in
analyzing product characteristics and making the best possible deal?), and
situational characteristics (as previously discussed).
Two interesting issues in
decisions are variety seeking (where consumers seek to try new brands
not because these brands are expected to be "better" in any way, but rather
because the consumer wants a "change of pace," and "impulse" purchases.
Impulse purchases are, generally speaking, unplanned, but represent a
somewhat fuzzy group.
Public Policy Issues
There are certain marketing
practices which may harm consumers. Two main issues are (1) deceptive
marketing practices (such as misleading advertising) and (2) the marketing
of dangerous or otherwise harmful products (e.g., tobacco). The following
are some ethical problems that occur in marketing, and the question arises
as to which, if any, kind of government intervention is appropriate.
efforts may encourage excess consumption
(e.g., products that consumers cannot afford and do not really need).
However there are many gray areas--e.g., cosmetics, video games, and even
something as politically correct as a gourmet coffee houses. A special case
involves marketing to children, whose parents may be coerced, often out of
guilt, to buy questionable items aimed at children.
depletion and waste disposal issues associated with the above consumption.
Some European countries have mandated that manufacturers be required to take
back packaging materials for their products.
Products claim benefits which really do not result from use of the product
(as is done by numerous manufacturers of nutritional supplements);
advertising may be misleading (may not indicate the true cost of a product
up front or may contain "fine print" that the consumer is unlikely to see or
unhealthy (e.g., many
children’s foods contain excessive fat).
Government action is often
considered, although it may not always be effective. For example, although
the government requires the use of warning labels on some products,
manufacturers will often try to "water down" the warnings as much as
possible. Further, the prevalence of warning labels today may desensitize
consumers since reading all of them carefully would provide the consumer
with information overload.
Another issue is anti-competitive
behavior. Antitrust laws are generally aimed at prohibiting firms from
conspiring to "fix" prices or collectively drop service levels. Antitrust
law is, however, a "thorny" area. Consumers may benefit, for example, as
some less efficient firms are driven out of business, and may benefit from
the efficiencies which may or may not materialize when large firms "gobble
up" smaller ones--a defense used in the Microsoft trial.