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Consumer Behaviour

Consumer Behaviour



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Published by: api-3704742 on Oct 15, 2008
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Consumer Research is central to the success of a marketing strategy. Critically examine the
above statement in light of present business environment in India?

Consumer Research is the systematic collection of &analysis of consumer information for the purpose of important decision making in marketing. It is an important tool to study buyer behavior, change in consumer life styles & consumption patterns, brand loyalty & also forecast market changes. It is also used to study competition & Analyze the competitors product positioning & how to gain competitive advantage. Recently consumer research is being used to help create &enhance brand equity. This is a new role and decidedly different from the conventional one where it was used for just studying buyer behavior or for conducting feasibility studies etc. In fact because of this conventional role, consumer research till mid 1980s was considered a luxury, which only multinationals like lever & Procter & gamble & there like could afford. However it is not so now. This is because competition in all sectors has increased manifold after 1985 especially after 1991. Due to liberalization & globalization the competition has intensified & survival of an organization is at stake. There aim is now to gain & retain competitive advantage & consumer research plays an important role over here. Realizing this contribution more & more companies are turning towards consumer research. However there are still many who are skeptics of consumer research. There criticism is that consumer research conclusions are not dependable. There are various cases where the research has failed to deliver desired results or the product failed even though the research had shown that majority of customers preferred it. The classical example is that of coke, which failed to correctly understand customer\u2019s expectations & went ahead to launch New Coke. Its marketing research showed that 68% customers in US liked the taste of the new formula developed by the company. We all know that New Coke failed & in less than six months of its launch in the summer of 1985, the coke management had to re launch old coke under the brand name coke classic. This example also brings to fore a major limitation of most researchers, & that is they often respond to the \u201chere and now situation\u201d rather than taking a long-term view of the market. In fact many times researchers over look the background of the problem & comes up with recommendations, which are at times not feasible. Besides consumer research has often been de-linked from the business strategy. When that happens, most research reports become \u201cacademic\u201d in nature & are \u201cfiled\u201d. Therefore to make consumer research more effective it is important that it has a linkage with business strategy & should respond to future or emerging scenarios in the market place.

Do you agree that personality greatly affects the buying motives of consumers? Justify your
claim on the basis of some personality theories. Give examples.

An individual\u2019s personality represents another set of characteristics that contributes to an understanding of consumer behavior. Personality characteristics can be valuable guide to marketers. For example knowing that users of a brand of headache remedies are more likely to be compulsive led one company to advertise the product in an orderly setting that described a fixed routine.

Marketers have used four personality theories to describe consumers:
1) Self concept theory

2) Psychoanalytic theory 3) Social/Cultural theory 4) Trait theory

These four theories vary greatly in there approach to personality measurement. Self-concept theory is, arguably, the most relevant for marketers because it focuses on how an individual\u2019s self image affects his or her purchasing behavior. It recognizes that what we buy & own is a reflection of who we are. Extensions of psychoanalytic theory have also been widely used in marketing to develop qualitative insights into why consumers buy.

We will first describe self-concept theory, and then the more qualitatively oriented psychoanalytic &
social theories.

This theory holds that individuals have a concept of self-based on which they think are (the actual self) & a concept of which they think they would like to be (the ideal self). Self-concept theory is governed by two principles; the desire to attain self-consistency & the desire to enhance one\u2019s self-esteem. Attaining self-consistency means that individuals will act in accordance with their concept of actual self. For example, a consumer may see himself as a practical & self-controlled individual. He buys conservative suits drives a large four door sedan, & spend quiet evenings at home. Deep down, however he would like to be more carefree & reckless. If he were to act more like his ideal self, he might own a small sports car, dress in jeans & sports shirts & go to rock clubs. Such actions would enhance his self-esteem by drawing him closer to his ideal self.

Actual Self: - There is no actual self. Consumers have various role identities-Wife, Mother,

Working woman etc. One of these roles dominant in specific situations, the particular role will affect the individual\u2019s style of dress & behavior. The amalgams of the individual\u2019s roles make up the actual self. Applied to marketing, the concept of actual self says that consumer\u2019s purchases are influenced by the image they have of themselves. They attain self-consistency by buying products they perceive as similar to their self-concept. For Example; Enfield bullet is targeted to persons who consider or cherish to have an authoritative image. This is the reason for its higher sales among policemen & affluent agriculturists.

Ideal Self: - The concept of the ideal self relates to one\u2019s self esteem. The greater the difference

between the actual self and ideal self, the lower an individual\u2019s self-esteem. In a marketing context, dissatisfaction with oneself could influence purchases, particularly for products that could enhance self-esteem. Thus, a woman who would like to be more efficient, modern & imaginative may buy a different type of perfume or deodorant or tend to shop at different stores than a woman who would like to be more warm & attractive.

Consumption and the extended self: - Another dimension of self-concept theory is applicable

to consumers. Not only does our self-image influence the products we choose but also the products we choose frequently influence our self-image. Certain products have symbolic value. They say something about us and the way we feel about ourselves. For example, when we buy a certain suit or dress, we may anticipate that it enhance our self-esteem


Freud\u2019s psychoanalytic theory stresses the unconscious nature of personality as a result of childhood conflicts: Id, ego & superego. The id controls the individual\u2019s most basic needs & urges such as hunger, sex & self-preservation. The source of all innate forces that drive behavior, the id operates on one principle: directing behavior to achieve pleasure & to avoid pain. The id is entirely unconscious, with no anchor in objective reality. A newborn baby\u2019s behavior for example is governed totally by the id.

The ego is the individual\u2019s self-concept & is manifestation of objective reality as it develops an interaction with the external world. As manager of id, the ego seeks to attain the goals of id in a socially acceptable manner. For example, rather than manifest a basic need to be aggressive in antisocial ways, an individual may partially satisfy this need by buying a powerful sports car. The superego is the leash on the id and works against its impulses. It does not manage the id but restrains it by punishing unacceptable behavior through the creation of guilt. Like the id, it operates in the unconscious and often represses behavior that would otherwise occur based on the id. The superego represents the ideal rather than the real. It motivates us to act in a moral way. According to Freud, the ego manages the conflicting demands of the id and the superego. The way the child manages these conflicts (particularly sexual conflicts) determines the adult personality. Conflicts that are not resolved in childhood will result in defense mechanisms (strategies that the ego uses to reduce tension) and will frequently influence later behavior in a manner of which the adult is unaware.


A number of Freud\u2019s disciples shifted from his view of personality in two respects. First they sought that social and cultural variables, rather than biological drives are more important in personality development. Second, Freud\u2019s understanding of personality focused primarily on observations of emotionally disturbed people. His disciples subsequently believed that insights into personality development should also rely on observations of people who function normally in the social environment. Kevin Thorny, a social theorist believed that personality is developed as an individual learns to cope with basic anxieties stemming from parent child relationships. She hypothesized three approaches to coping with this, anxiety; compliance; a strategy of moving towards people and stressing the needs for love, approval and affection; aggressiveness moving against people and stressing the need for power, strength and manipulate others; and detachment; moving away from people and stressing the need for freedom and self-reliance. In one of the few studies relying on social theories of personality to explain purchase behavior, when developed a compliance-aggressiveness-detachment (cad) scale based on Thorne\u2019s Work. In applying the cad scale, when found that compliant types used more cologne and after shave lotion and bought old spice deodorant and Van-Heusen shirts and detached types drank more tea and less beer.


Trait theory states that personality is composed of a set of traits that describe general response predisposition. Trait theorists construct personality inventories and ask respondents to respond to many items, perhaps agreeing or disagreeing with certain statements or expressing likes or dislikes for certain situations or types of people. These items then are statistically analyzed and reduced to a few personality dimensions. A number of studies have used personality traits to segment markets. A study of smoking behavior found that heavy smokers scored higher on heterosexuality, aggression and achievement and lower an order and compliance. Heavy smokers are more likely to orient towards power and competitiveness and may be more influenced by sexual themes and symbols. They are not as compulsive or submissive as non- smokers.

However consumer behavior researchers have seen drawbacks in using personality characteristics to explain consumer behavior. Personality theories are meant to describe envying patterns of behavior. Quite often, the focus is an aberrant, rather than typical, behavior. To apply measures developed for these purpose to consumer behavior assumes that consumers are motivated to buy based on deep- seated drivers. The consumer behavior is a day-to-day affair clearly unequivocal results are to emerge, consumer behavior researchers should develop there own definitions and design there own instruments to measure the personality variables that go into the purchase decision.


How can the principles of instrumental conditioning be applied in advertising? In what ways
do applications of instrumental conditioning differ from those of classical conditioning? Give


The principles of instrumental conditioning can be applied to advertising and sales promotion strategy. The role of advertising is to increase consumer\u2019s expectations for reinforcement. Communicating product benefits to convince consumers that they will be satisfied if they buy the product can do this. The role of sales promotion is to create an initial inducement to try the product by offering free samples, coupons or price deals. If the product is satisfactory, many consumers will continue to buy even if incentives are withdrawn. However, these strategies can be successful only if the product is a source of Satisfaction and reinforcement. Advertising and price inducements cannot support a poor product for long.

In case of classical conditioning, a secondary stimulus is paired with a primary stimulus that already elicits a particular response. As a result of this pairing an association is formed. Eventually, the secondary stimulus elicits the same reaction as primary stimulus. An effective advertising campaign links a product to a stimulus that evokes a positive feeling. Advertisers accepted classical conditioning concepts of repetition and contiguity on a widespread basis. Advertisers frequently used jingles and themes in radio commercials. The advent of television lent new dimensions to advertising by providing more variability through the video component. A consumer-oriented approach to advertising resulted in greater variation as advertisements were directed to particular consumer segments.

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