You are on page 1of 32

Chapter 1: Consumer behaviour and marketing

Consumer behaviour
Consumer behaviour is a relatively young scientific discipline that is researched within the
general context of marketing theory.
An intense study of Consumer behaviour started in the second half of the 20th century.
There are several fundamental reasons for this study and the emergence of a separate
1. The first is a very low level of marketing implementation in practice, regardless of
many years of the study and application of the concept. A significant development in
marketing has been achieved in marketing communications as well as brand
development and maintenance. Partial progress has been made with the process of
segmentation and target market selection, as well as in marketing of non-profit and
public sector.
2. Market competition increasingly accentuates the need to implement disciplines such
as marketing in order to achieve competitive advantage.
3. The increasingly successful application of communication and other technologies
requires orientation towards a closer and more thorough understanding of
consumers in the short term.
4. Development of the Internet is one of the most important factors, because it
revolutionised the research process, collection and use of information, customisation
of products and services, distribution and development of relations with partners.
Digital revolution grants consumers more power, greater amount of available
information, better selection, instant exchange...
Definition and application of consumer behavior
Definition of consumer behaviour: Consumer behaviour is a marketing discipline that
studies the behaviour of individuals, groups or organisations and the processes they use to
select, secure, use and dispose of products and services, experiences or ideas to satisfy
needs and the impacts that these processes have on the customers and society.
Each definition of consumer behaviour encompasses both individual and group consumers,
for it is obvious that there are specifics and differences in the context of individual
consumption and the consumption of group members.
The study of consumer behaviour follows a marketing stage that merked the consumer
awareness as the black box. In the consumer behaviour model, the blackbox marked the
processes in consumers' awareness, and symbolically implied the inability to anticipate the
course or content of those processes.

Main reason for developing a separate marketing discipline in the attempt to understand
consumers better is the need to apply new discoveries in practice at the corporate and
regulatory level. First of all, market strategy creation requires a detailed and sophisticated
understanding of consumers. Further, within the area of government policy-making, the
discoveries about consumer behaviour can facilitate the design of best solutions, not only to
stimulate but also to protect consumers. Thirdly, from a social marketing poin of view, it is
very important to understand, anticipate and to some extent control consumer behaviout in
order to protect society's interests. Finally, the study of consumer behaviour can gelp
consumers discover and understand some elements of their own behaviour, which can lead
to a more efficient consumption and a better fulfilment of needs in a more rational way and
with a higher level of consumer control.
There are three key stages in consumer behaviour:
a) purchase stage;
b) consumption stage;
c) divestment or disposal stage.
Purchasestage is very important for the discipline and it encompasses complex strctures and
elements that must be explored in order to understand consumers better. This stage has 5

problem/need recognition;
information search;
evaluation of alternatives;
purchase behaviour;
post-purchase behaviour.

Purchase stage is the foundation of the consumer behaviour model. However, researchers
are also increasingly interested in the consumption stage. This stage generates the elements
that influence current componenets of marketing success, such as consumer satisfaction,
concepts of value and benefits, building trust and dedication, crating loyal consumers and
long-term relations. Disposal stage is also generating more interest, in terms of future
consumption and consumer behaviour, as well as environmental protection and
consumption control within the context of potentially harmful consequences.
In consumer analysis nowadays, it is necessary to consider 5 basic principles regarding

consumers are sovereign;

consumer motivation can be understood though research;
consumer behaviour can be influenced;
all consumer influence should be socially acceptable;
consumer behaviour is a dynamic process.

Consumer sovereignty implies that consumers are free and independent in their decisionmaking and that their decisions are based on personal reasons and goals.
Identification of consumers' motivation is a primary goal of marketing and consumer
behaviour as a discipline. Every purchase is a complex process, regarding the purchase
stages as well as factors, variables and actions in each stage.
The influence on consumer behaviour implies marketing actions, adn is in fact the purpose
of developing a separate scientific discipline.
Socially acceptable infliences are a requirement consistent with the above principle.
Marketing operates in marketplaces with regulated conditions.
The dynamics of consumer behaviour process stems from continuous and rapid changes in
the environment. Innovation and branding processes are faster, life cycle of almost all
products is shorter, circumstances in technological supply and demand are constantly
Consumer behaviour and other scientific disciplines
Consumer behaviour is in relation with other disciplines, such as:

macro- and micro-economics;
demographic research;
language science, etc.
Final and organisational consumption

Consumers can be: individual, group and institutional/organisational.

Individualandgroupconsumers are usually analysed in terms of final consumption, which
means that they participate in a purchase in order to finalise the process of reproduction
Organisational/institutionalconsumers buy products or services in order to use them in the
production process and/or adaptation and further processing. Characteristics of
organizational purchase are:

organizational purchase is professional;

purchase is primarily done by a team;
there are clear formal procedures and processes;
there are fewer buyers;
purchases are less frequent but volume and value are higher.

Consumer behaviour model

This model includes 3 stages: input, process and output.
Input stage represents processes that lead to a consumer's ability to recognise the product
or service. There are two types of inputs in this stage: those undertaken by companies or
businesses, and environmental inputs that affect consumers. A company's marketing
influences are generally clear and quantifiable.
Processing of information and influences represents the second stage. It is a basis for
understanding decision-making. Psychological factors have the key role here (motivation,
perception, attitudes and personality traits), as well as the purchase process phases from
this stage: problem and need recognition, information search and evaluation of alternatives.
Output is the third stage and it encompasses the purchae stage and post-purchase
behaviour. Purchase at this stage implies the result of activities and processes from the
previous stages.
Finally, post purchase review implies the evaluation of purchase and the expression of
content or discontent with it. So-called cognitive dissonance is often present at this stage,
which is a state of insecurity and reassessment of decisions.
Consumer behaviour determinants
key determinants that influence consumer behaviour can be divided into two basic groups:
a) those influencing a consumer as a group member;
b) those influencing an individual.
Group determinants are cultural and social influences. Individual determinants are personal
and demographic characteristics of an individual, as well as psychological characteristics.
Cultural determinants are basic components of human behaviour in general, including
consumption. Culture can be said to represent the comprehensive spiritual and material
values of a community or a society. As such it emits values, belies, symbols, rituals, accepted
norms, the way of behaviour in given situations... culture is a dynamic category, meaning it
changes with time and various events. Culture consists of sub-cultures or individual
components. These components are religion, nationality, race and geography.
One of the elements of cultural influences is class organisation of a society, which implies
separation of each society into social classes. Classes are identified according to an affiliation
to a family, heritage, wealth, education, social system, profession... Phenomena such as
wars, natural disasters and revolutions lead to strong turbulences in economic and market
processes, causing crisis in the market structure and necessitating long periods of

Social determinants of consumer behaviour mainly refer to the influence of a family,

reference groups, roles and status that individuals have in a society. Family is certainly the
most important cell of a society that shapes individuals and affects their behaviour
permanently, in all situations, including consumption. Reference groups refer to various
types of clubs or societies in which people socialise. They are usually classified into primary
and secondary, formal and informal ones.
Personal or demographic determinants are one of the most powerful researchers' tools in
the process of understanding and predicting consumer behaviour in various situations
including consumption. Some of the factors such as age, gender, education and wealth are
often self-explanatory and can be examined by solid statistical demographic data. Lifestyle
can be characterized as a certain trend of behaviour that individuals choose under the
influence of a series of cultural, social, personal and psychological factors.
Psychological determinants mainly encompass four basic types: motivation, perception,
attitudes and learning.
Motivation is the driving force of an individual. Based on universal human needs, it leads to
desires and setting up of goals, which together form the basic of human activity. Perception
is how we view the world around us, or the way individuals react to the stimuli from the
environment. Attitudes express the relation of individuals toward their surrundings, entities,
phenomena and ideas.
Ethical aspects of consumer behaviour
By developing a scientific discipline such as consumer behaviour, we take the responsibility
to prevent all discoveries and understanding from being used in a way contrary to the
interests and rights of consumers. Whilst ethical review of marketing and other similar
disciplines is much more complex, at this point we can state that researchers have reached
some basic principles that marketers and consumers should follow in order to avoid ethical

threat others the way you want to be treated;

do only what the majority of your collegues would approve of;
only take actions that can be classified as universal ones in such circumstances;
ask yourself whether you could explain your behaviour to a large TV audience.

Chapter 2: Consumer behaviour research

Why research consumer behaviour?
Consumer behaviour research is aimed at looking at the ways individual decision-makers use
their available resources (time, money, effort) regarding consumption-related points. This
includes the questions of what these consumers buy, why, when and how often they buy it,
as well as how often they use the product or service they have bought. The aim of research
is to understand the methods of consumer purchase and use of products and services.
There are 3 basic groups of this research:
a) research for practical application purposes, where companies are marked as users;
b) research for consumer protection purposes done by governments and organisations
for consumer protection;
c) research for the purposes of general understanding of consumers, done by various
researchers from the academic community.
Approaches to consumer behaviour research
The expansion of consumer behaviour research occurred in the fifties and sixties of the 20th
century when the interest for the wider context of consumption increased. The relations
with psychology, sociology, economy and other sciences resulted in the use of their
discoveries and instruments to reach the goal of understanding consumers better.
Early researchers of consumer behaviour started with an economic theory according to
which consumers act rationally or objectively assess what products and services offer
greatest pleasure with the lowest cost. All this opened the door to the research of hidden
motives of consumers.
Freud's theory, based on the analysis of experiences and dreams of his patients, is founded
on the assumption that unconscious needs, especially bilogical and sexual, comprise the core
of motivation. He became known for the term motivational research. A few of the main
disadvantages of this type of research are: it is impossible to generalise results of the
research due to few examples, analysis is often biased, projective tests can't be adapted to
consumer behaviour research and claims of Freud's theory are not applicable to the area of
consumer behaviour.
Consumer behaviour research relies on 2 very different methodologies:
a) quantitative research;
b) qualitative research.
Positivism implies the use of an appropriate rigorous systematic procedure in order to
explain, control and predict consumer behaviour.

Types of consumer behaviour research

Regarding the goal of result application, we can classify research into:
a) exploratory;
b) conclusive.
Exploratory research is used as a general inquiry into a problem we know very little about.
They usually take place when diagnosing a situation, selecting different possibilities of action
or when discovering new ideas.
Within conclusive research, it is possible to distinguish between descriptive and causal
research. Descriptive research is used most frequently, whereas in consumer behaviour
research is used when researching characteristics of potential and existing consumers, their
behaviour, attitudes and so on. Causal research also starts with hypotheses and is focused
on discovering the cause of a certain event. The cause and effect relationship is very
significant in consumer behaviour, especially for marketers who want to determine whether
different marketing activities will influence consumers and to what extent.
Quantitative research is descriptive in nature and relies on using different techniques
derived from natural sciences. Qualitative research is undertaken on smaller samples and by
using differenct qualitative techniques.
Research process
There are 6 elementary phases of the consumer behaviour research process:

defining the problem and research goals;

collecting and evaluating secondary data;
primary research design;
primary data collection;
processing and analysis of collected data;
preparing a research report.


Quantitative research techniques
A survey is a quantitative technique used to collect written data on attitudes and opinions,
by using a questionnaire on a representative sample.

Individual contact with the examinee or personal surveys are usually conducted on
smaller samples due to high costs and longer implementation periods.
A postal survey allows the use of a larger sample on a wider geographic area.

A telephone survey is the fastest form of surveying, however it has certain

disadvantages. Whether dialling phone numbers is random or planned, a fair number
of respondants have an answering machine, while others hang up the phone.
An online survey is becoming a very popular way of data collection because of fast

An experiment is data collection technique used to measure how an independent variable

affects a dependant variable, while controlling all other effects. There are two types: natural
and laboratory experiments.
Observation is often used as a data collection technique in consumer behaviour research.
The goal of this technique is for the researcher to notice and record facts related to the
actual situation by observing consumers while they purchase and use products. It is
important to mention another detail - a distinction needs to be made between ordinary
observation which is random and unsystematic, and scientific observation which is carried
out according to a previously determined plan.
Within scientific observation, there are classifi cations based on other criteria, as follows:

Single and multiple observation, depending on whether it is necessary to apply the

technique in a certain moment or if the changes are monitored in a longer time
Individual and mass observation, depending on the number of cases observed.
Observation with participation and without participation, depending on whether the
researcher joins the object of observation or not.

There are various types of technical equipment used in observation such as:

Eye tracking camera;
Measuring voice range.

A panel is another quantitative research technique. However, it can be defined by

identifying differences in theoretical approaches. In practice, there are various forms of
panels, and the main ones are:

Consumer panel, which occurs in two forms: regular panel and individual panel. A
regular panel is when the researcher comes to the examinees home, in agreed time
intervals, and records packaging of used products, stocks and purchased quantities of
products, in order to get a clear picture of purchasing and consumption in a defined
period. An individual panel is when the examinee is keeping a record of purchasing
which he sends to the researcher by mail or otherwise in an agreed time period,

where a packaging of the used products may be enclosed depending on the

Bar code panel, this is based on using scanner technology;
Panel of TV viewers follows the exposure to different channels, but also to
advertising messages.
Online panel, which ensures quality data collected from interested and motivated

Content analysis can be viewed, depending on the approach, as a qualitative or quantitative

technique of data collection. Since content analysis is focused on content and on the
message form in the communication process, it is certainly significant for consumer
Qualitative research techniques
An in-depth interview is an unstructured, longer interview (lasting over 30 minutes) which is
carried out by well educated researchers. Their role is to stimulate and guide the
conversation towards a certain goal. Laddering is a technique used to focus questioning from
listing characteristics of the observed product to revealing characteristics of the consumer
himself. Hidden issue questioning is focused on researching values by indirectly discovering
what the examinee finds important, through a conversation about the examinees
experience with a certain product.
Focus group is a technique where a trained moderator discusses a certain issue with a group
of 8 to 12 examinees using a reminder. In a relaxed atmosphere, the examinees are
encouraged to participate in a discussion that usually lasts for about two hours. Even though
the whole process is recorded for later analysis, data interpretation is complex because a
larger number of examinees are included.
Projective techniques come from psychology and their purpose is to encourage examinees
to project their hidden motives, feelings, attitudes and beliefs through seemingly unrelated
things. There are a few types of techniques:

association technique;
completion test;
symbol technique.

Metaphor analysis occurs as a result of the fact that most communication is nonverbal, and
the fact that the majority of people think visually which is why it is hard for them to express
their attitudes, opinions or feelings about the research subject in words.
A case study is focused on a specific individual case.

Data collection techniques

In the primary data collection process, along with the selection of an appropriate technique
(or techniques) of the research, attention must be paid to the instruments which will be
used. In consumer behaviour research, the three main instruments are a questionnaire, test
and scales.
A questionnaire, as a primary data collection instrument, consists of a sequence of questions
related to the research problem. Depending on their form, questions can be open-ended or
closed-ended. Open-endedquestionsoff er the examinee the possibility to formulate an
answer independently. Closed-endedquestionsare answered by multiplechoice.Directand
indirectquestions, which can also appear in questionnaires, indicate the approach to asking
questions. The questions in the questionnaire need to be clear, interesting, unambiguous,
objective and short. A test is often used as a research instrument and it consists of a
sequence of connected tasks.
Scale is an important instrument in consumer behaviour research. Even though it can have
different uses, it is mostly used to examine attitudes. There is:

Likert scale, which became very popular due to the simplicity of answering, but also
of interpreting.
Semantic differential scale, which is formed based on bipolar adjectives which are
situated on opposite sides of an odd number of five or seven items.
Rank scale, which requires the examinees to rank objects according to certain

Sampling is a part of the total population on which the research will be conducted. It is
important for the sample to be representative. A sample is representative only if it has all
the characteristics of the group it is representing.
In probability sampling, all units of the basic set have the same, previouslyknown,
probability of being selected as a sample. The basic set refers toall units which have a specifi
c characteristic and are the subject of theresearch. A non-probability sample is used if there
is no need for the research results to be projected onto the entire population, but if it is
enough forthem to represent the population. Combined samples are selected through
several phases where combinations of different previously mentioned approaches can be


Chapter 3: Motives and motivation

Motivation certainly plays an important role as a variable that determines consumer
behaviour. In life and oft en in theory too, the problem of confusing or even identifying
needs, motivation, and goals appears. This proves a certain lack of understanding of the
Need is the first element of the motivational chain and therefore a precondition for the rest
of them. In other words, without it there are no motives or motivation to accomplish goals.
To define the concept, we can say that a need always implies a certain lack in a person. The
most common classifi cation is into two large groups of needs: inborn or biological needs,
and acquired needs. Inbornneeds, such as the need for food, water, clothes, shelter etc, are
a precondition of a mans biological existence. Satisfying these needs is therefore essential
and this is why they are also called primaryneeds. Unlike primary needs that are present in a
man since his birth, satisfying acquiredneeds: the need for prestige, achievement, power,
reputation, status etc., is not a precondition of a mans biological existence. These needs are
the product of the culture a person lives in and satisfying them is not a requirement for a
persons survival, which is why they are oft en called secondaryneeds.
Regarding the order of the elements in the so-called motivational chain, the last element is
undoubtedly goal. Goal is actually a specific external stimulant that acts as a landmark in a
persons attempts to satisfy their needs. More precisely it is a result of motivated behaviour.
Classification of goals is based on it. From a marketing perspective, at least two types of
classification have importance. The first one is the classification into generic and productspecific goals. Another classification of goals is into positive and negative ones. Positive goals
are always the desired goals toward which a persons behaviour is directed. Negative goals
are oposite of positive ones.
The space between needs and goals is not vacant. It is occupied with two more elements:
motives and motivation. It is not uncommon for these two to be considered one and the
same. Not differentiating them is one of the signs of not understanding either though.
Motive is a result of interaction between psychological and physiological processes within a
person, a totality of internal factors that stimulate one to activity, and that direct and
manage that activity. The most common classifi cation is into rational and emotional
motives. A fundamental determinant of rational motives is that they rely on the logic that
consumer behaviour is rational. Unlike them, emotional motives rely on the logic that
consumers choose goals using personal or subjective criteria such as pride, fear, attraction...

Maslows hierarchy of motives - Some theoreticians of motivation believe that there is a

hierarchy of needsand that new, higher-level needs are actualised only aft er the old ones
are fulfilled. In theory, Maslows hierarchy of motives or needsis oftenexploited. Abraham
Maslow founded it and based it on the identification of five levels of motives or needs:
starting with the lowest, biological ones,to the most complex, psychological ones. They are
all sorted in accordancewith their importance. Motives or needs were therefore classified
into:physiological (food, water, air, shelter, clothes, sex), safety and security(order, stability,
routine, familiarity, health, availability etc), social(belonging, friendship, love, aff ection),
motives or needs of ego or selfesteem(self-respect, reputation, social and professional status
and prestige,independence aft er a successful performance etc), and motives or needs
ofself-actualisation, self-realisation or self-fulfilment.
In the attempt to explain consumer behaviour, another theory is often used. It is
McClellands theory of acquired needs, which is based on the hypothesis that three types of
acquired needs are relevant for human motivation:

Need for achievement, which is characteristic for people who want to be successful
and to take responsibility in problem-solving. Research showed that more than four
fifths of the people with this type of need show a tendency towards risk-taking in
decision-making, and that they are successful managers.
Need for affi liation, According to McClelland, people with this need are more prone
to socialising than to success.
Need for power, or for gaining and establishing control over others. It can be
expressed in two forms: positive, whose result is a convincing and inspirational
power, and negative, which results in the desire to dominate and subjugate others.
Types of motivation

If motivation that stimulates a consumer is put under the microscope, there is no doubt that
as a rule it is not under the infl uence of only one, but of a number of motives: a specific
motivational combination. You are motivated to shop because it takes you out of the house
and interrupts the routine, but also because shopping is a sort of amusement, because it
enables you to meet friends, creates the feeling of pleasure and success that you achieve in
the process, etc. Motivation does not always take the same shape. On the contrary, a
differentiation between two types of motivation is rather common: positive and negative.
More precisely, the most common state in real life is that of a parallel existence and a
conflict of positive and negative motivational forces.
Regardless of the manifested form though, at least four types of involvement are relevant
for consumer behaviour. Permanent involvement is a longterm interest of an individual for a
certain product or group of products. The so-called situational involvement, or involvement
in the process of shopping, is entirely different. It does not have a characteristic of durability.
Cognitive involvement is the involvement manifested as contemplation during the

processing of purchase-related information. Finally, affective involvement, or the

involvement of emotions, must not be forgotten. This type of involvement cannot be
excluded during purchase of holiday gifts, a theatre play, the excitement or disappointment
caused by it, etc.
Exploring motives
Depthinterview is an individual interview consisting of long conversations that have not
been structured in advance. There are situations in which this method is especially effi cient
and therefore recommended. First of all, it is any situation where a detailed examination of
personal behaviour, attitudes and needs is necessary.
If values are the research subject, depth interview primarily uses two techniques: laddering
technique and technique grand tour. Laddering technique is based on the definition of the
final state that clients have in their relation with products and services. By the technique
grand tour, however certain dimensions need to be understood indirectly - through research
of details regarding clients experiences with certain products or services. Along with the two
above, a depth interview technique - although it is also adequate for focus groups - is a
critical incident technique. This technique, unlike the above two, can be carried out without
an examiner, using questionnaires as a means, whether in personal contact or through mail.
Group interview or focus group interview is oft en conducted. Unlike the depth interview, a
group interview, as the name suggests, is conducted with a small group of people (focus
group) that usually consists of 8 to 12 people. The method of conducting the interview is an
unstructured, casual conversation about the subject of interest, which a moderator has with
the examinees.
Projective techniques are mainly used as motivational research support. Five techniques are
used for the research of consumer behaviour: association technique, finalisation technique,
role-play technique, personalisation and psycho drawing.
1. Association technique involves showing items - words or images - as an incentive.
2. Finalisation technique is based on presenting an unresolved situation to the
examinees that they are supposed to resolve. The technique appears in three basic
forms: as a test of fi nishing sentences or stories, balloon test (fi nalising the situation
presented by an image), and comic finalisation test.
3. In role-play technique examinees become imaginary persons and are asked to
behave the way they would in a given situation.
4. In personalisation technique examinees give features and appearances of living
things to objects that normally do not possess such characteristics.
5. Finally, psycho drawing as a technique requests examinees to relate an object to a
certain colour, shape or symbol whose meaning is familiar. Using this method makes
it possible to measure the similarity or differences between products or services.

Chapter 4: Perception
Perception is a very interesting and important physiological category. The relevance of
perception for understanding consumer behaviour is exceptional, for it determines the level
of possibility to create and master communication by creating a companys image, brand,
products and other elements of vital importance for marketing in general. Perception of the
world around us determines individual attitudes, beliefs, evaluations, decisions and
reactions. The way people experience the environment, or the stimuli and incentives around
them, directly influences their reactions, purchase decisions and other types of decisions.
Definition of perception
The most common definition of perception is the one that describes it as the process by
which an individual selects, organise s and interprets stimuli into a meaningful and coherent
picture of the world.
Mowen and Minors definition is used to a similar extent and according to it perception is
(also) a process in which individuals are exposed to information that arouses their attention
and consideration, which leads to their understanding of it.
Even though the rational approachexplains that using perception we in fact see or hear what
actually happens around us, the process itself is much more complex. The objectivist
approach would be correct if every individual interpreted stimuli and incentives from the
environment in an identical way. In order to better understand and encompass all the
elements that influence perception, it is important to include bothemotional and irrational
elements, which are oft en called wishes and beliefs. In other words, people see, hear and
feel what they expect or want to see, hear or feel.
Elements that influence perception
The following elements have a crucial influence on the perception of reality:
a) sensory or sensorial factors;
b) involvement;
c) psychological andsocial factors.
Sensory or sensorial factors relate to senses that all people have. Humans have five senses:
sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch. The receptors for these senses are: eyes, ears, nose,
mouth and skin. The most common elements of perception:

for sight are colour, shape and size;

for hearing: tempo and volume;
for smell: pleasant and unpleasant scent;
for taste: sweet, salty and bitter;
for touch: soft , rough and damp.

Involvement is an interest or relevance that an individual gives to a certain purchase. The

greater the interest of an individual for a product or situation that leads to the satisfaction of
a certain need, the greater the probability of perceiving the stimuli related to that situation.
There are several factors that determine the level of interest of consumers or individuals:

type of product or need;

the nature of communication with an individual;
situational factors;
personal traits of individuals.

Generally it is considered that the greater the value or durability of a product or service, the
greater the consumers involvement and interest. Considering the risk that a purchase
carries, which is almost always related to high value products, consumers are highly involved
in the process of buying a house, flat, car, furniture and such goods. Further communication
with consumers regarding highly valuable products is almost always different from that
regarding daily consumables.
Perception progress stages
There are two basic approaches to perception process stages or to the dynamics of
perception. The first one presents the stages of exposure, attention and understanding, and
the second one is about perceptual selection, organisation of terms, and interpretation.
1. Exposure/selective perception stage
Every individual in the contemporary world is theoretically exposed to a potential influence
of thousands of stimuli. Starting with uncontrolled ones such as the ones coming from
nature and physical surroundings, to the determined ones that are launched with the
intention of reaching an individual and achieving some sort of communication and influence.
It is a fact that the increasing number of stimuli that people are potentially exposed to in a
modern society pollutes and overcrowds the space and atmosphere we live in. This leads
to the impossibility of individuals to perceive most stimuli they are exposed to due to the
physical impossibility to accept and consider such a huge number, as well as due to the lack
of interest or understanding, belief or value discrepancy, or for any other reason.
The process of selection of a small number of stimuli depends on individual expectations and
willingness to open up to the possibility of perception, as well as on the characteristics and
intensity of stimuli. Along with perception, an individuals previous experiences play an
important role in the process of stimuli selection. Still, the nature of stimuli plays the most
important role in the first stage of selection process. A stimulus is a raw material that
during selection creates attention in an individuals consciousness and lead to perception.
Human senses and the possibility of measuring environmental stimuli are limited: what
people hear, see, taste, feel or smell is in fact only a small segment of what happens in

nature. As perception is, among other things, the creation of a coherent picture of the world,
individuals often think that they have perceived something that in the objective world has in
fact never happened, or it has happened in a different way.
The absolute threshold of perception presents the level of stimuli intensity below which
people do not know of a stimuluss existence, and above which they become aware of it.
Very often it is eff ectively said that it is the line between something and nothing.
The differential threshold of perception is the next important component of understanding
the general concept of perception. It refers to two levels of a stimulus: one that does not
stimulate any perception, and one that does. This means that the change in stimulus that
causes the detection of the diff erence between the two is called diff erential threshold of
Webers Lawis in its logic an extension of JND, and refers to the fact that the relation
between two stimuli is not an absolute objectivised category, but depends on the intensity
of the primary stimulus. The phenomenon called sensory adaptation is related to Webers
Law and JND. People exposed to intensive stimuli adjust to them with time and stop noticing
them regardless of their intensity or attraction. Sensitivity of senses decreases as the
exposure to stimuli increases.
A very interesting and intriguing area within consumer behaviour discipline is subliminal or
unconscious perception. Basically it is selfexplanatory; it relates to the possibility or
assumption that people perceive stimuli without conscious understanding or under the level
of awareness.
Selective perception is a defence mechanism that selects stimuli in accordance with the
motives, expectations and interests of individuals, but that also depends on the nature and
intensity of stimuli. Four basic concepts regarding selective perception are:

Selective exposure is a sort of behaviour that exhibits openness toward the stimuli
that lead to pleasant and satisfying reactions i.e. that indulge individuals. People
instinctively tend to expose themselves to good music, pleasant odours, attractive
visual arrangements, etc.
Selective attention goes one step further and takes people specifically to those
stimuli that match the current needs and interests. Within the marketing context,
this implies a conscious search for and exposure to those messages and content that
match the current interests.
Perceptual defence is an extremely important mechanism of consumer perception. It
explains how it is possible for completely identical stimuli to be interpreted
differently, or to be noticed by one group of individuals and go unnoticed by another.
Perceptual blocking is a common mechanical method of defence from the vast
amount of stimuli in the contemporary world. Zapping, i.e. changing TV channels
using a remote controller is a good example.

2. Attention stage
Attention is actually a natural continuation of selective perception. It occurs when the
selective filter chooses a stimulus. There are several types of attention:

Pre-attention is a type of selection process, most commonly below the level of

awareness or at the border of it. It is a transitional stage between stimuli exposure
and the realisation of stimuli recognition.
Involuntary attention is mainly caused by exposing a person to extreme or dramatic
stimuli. Something that is new, unexpected, with strong impulses, that surprises,
catches or startles people, catches their attention regardless of their previous
inattentiveness. Th is attention is in theory called orientation reflex.
Voluntary attention, on the other hand, is a reflection of an individuals interest in
information, a contact or relation.
3. Organisation and interpretation stage

This stage is also called the understanding stage and it consists of two substages:
organisation and interpretation of stimuli.

Organisation of stimuli is a process in which people do not observe each stimulus

individually but organise them into various principles, groups and processes.
Therefore, each stimulus is a part of a larger unit, which facilitates the understanding
and verification of a coherent picture of the world around us.
o Figure and backgroundis the first principle for explaining organisation of
stimuli. It claims that people group visual images into contrasts so that there
is always a figure that stands out, i.e. differentiates from a dull background. If
we put an object such as a pen, phone or a book on a table, then each of
these objects will be a fi gure with the table as a background.
o Grouping is the next principle of the Gestalt psychology and it is based on an
understanding of human perception similar to the previous case. This
principle is also about placing individual elements of stimuli into a wider
context by associating and grouping concepts and creating an understandable
picture of the world. Therefore, every image from the environment is placed
into a context where it is then given a specific meaning.
o Closure, the final principle of the Gestalt theory, explains the findings that in
case of an incomplete or unfi nished perception individuals tend to fi nd an
understandable and comprehensive meaning. If a stimulus is insufficiently
logical, not related to the situation or recipients experience, or if it is
purposefully partial in content and form, then the recipients either feel a
certain psychological pressure.


Interpretation of stimuli, along with organisation, is the final part of the perception
process, i.e. a part of the third stage, coming after the stages of exposure and
attention. Interpretation is the final action of attaching signifi cance or meaning to
stimuli. Interpretation follows stimuli organisation. Considering the entire process,
the inevitable conclusion is reached: that interpretation is an individual process and
that very often the interpretations of a single stimulus vary or differ greatly from one
person to another. The so-called perceptual distortionsare a very important aspect
for the consideration of stimuli interpretation. These distortions are contributing
factors that cause different understandings or variations in the way stimuliare
Perceptual semiotics

People interpret information both through the literal (semantic) and psychological meaning
of words. Therefore, there is a dichotomy between the process of learning and the semantic
meaning. This means that consumers interpret symbols and characteristics of products
based on their experience and cultural values. This phenomenon is studied by semiotics.
Semiotics is very important for the study of perception because it represents the foundation
of a correct understanding between the sender and recipient of a stimulus or a meaning.

Chapter 5: Personality
What consumers buy, which products and brands they prefer etc. depends, fi rst of all, on
personality traits. There are other elements of consumer behaviour that depend on the
personality features as well: what they buy, when and how the purchased product is used...
Personality concept
Personality represents the dynamicorganisation within the individual of
psychophysical systems thatdetermine his unique adjustments to the environment.


In the attempt to simplify all the presented definitions, personality could be said to
represent the totality of characteristics that determine behaviour, thoughts and emotions of
every person. These characteristics, in other words, influence peoples product selection, the
way they react to promotional activities of a company, when and where they consume
specific products, etc.


Determinants of personality
Heredity, one of the personality determinants, refers to the factors defined by birth: physical
appearance, facial attraction, sex, temper, muscle structure and refl exes. All these
characteristics are considered to be either completely or predominantly aff ected by who
ones parents are, i.e. their biological, physiological, and psychological structures.
One of the determinants of personality, as previously mentioned, is environment. In other
words, personality traits are not entirely dictated by heredity. Among the factors playing an
important role in the shaping of our personalities are those of the environment we live in:
the culture we were brought up in, the norms in our families, friends and social groups, and
other infl uences that we experience.
Situation is the third determinant of personality, a factor that influences the eff ects of the
heredity and environment on personality. Namely, it is undisputable that an individuals
personality, although generally consistent and congruent, tends to change in various
Personality traits
Personality traits imply a set of elements which enable ones personality to function as a
single structure. A large number of characteristics can be clearly identifi ed within the
personality structure. In an effort to identify basic personality traits, authors have displayed
certain discrepancies regarding the explanation of how relevant personality traits are for
consumer behaviour.TanjaKesic, for example, identified three basic characteristics. One of
them is consistency of personality, or the consumers regular behaviour when they
encounter familiar situations, without which frequent changes would lead to behavioural
confusion. Another significant characteristic is adaptability and flexibility of personality,
which in a way disables a complete consistency. Finally, one of the most signifi cant
characteristics is integrity of personality: the fact that various personality aspects and traits
are organised into a single unit. It goes without saying that the human development
accompanies a continuous rise of the integration ability to higher levels, making it more
complex and stable.
SchiffmanandKanukalso identified three characteristics significant for consumer behaviour
and the nature of personality. Yet, their approach to the issue of characteristics is slightly
different. Personality, reflects individual differences among people. Two individuals, in other
words, are never the same. Individual personality then becomes permanent and consistent.
This is what businesses have to base their communication with potential consumers upon.
Theories of personality traits
In the consumer behaviour research, four personality traits theories such as psychoanalytic,
behavioural, neo-Freudian or socio-psychological and personality trait theory are mentioned.

1. Psychoanalytic theory of personality

Founder of the psychoanalytic theory of personality was Sigmund Freud. The fundamental
postulate of the theory is the thesis that in the focus of human personality and motivation
are peoples unconscious needs or urges such as sexual and other biological ones. To prove
the above, Freud uses the premise that human personality is composed of three interrelated
systems: the Id, Ego and Superego.

According to Freud, the Id is a specific storage of basic physiological needs: food, drink, sex
etc. These are the needs that an individual wants to satisfy momentarily, without thinking if
or how it is possible. In other words, Id characterises an instinctive, unconscious, animalistic,
and therefore an unorganised impulse. The unconscious impulse, however, is also
characterised by the Superego, the humans internal expression of moral and ethic
behavioural codes.Ego is a part of personality that is developed aft er the Id, due to a
persons need to have a direct contact and relations with the external world in order to exist,
which the Id with its primary process of meeting the urges cannot provide.
2. Behavioural theory of personality
Behavioural theory of personality was founded by John B. Watson, and developed by B.F.
Skinner. Its fundamental assumption is that the human behaviour can entirely be explained
by the environment in which one is and the effects it has on a person. Human beings are
exposed to the effects of objective occurrences from their environment, and react to them
by certain actions or body behaviours. Thus, in this interrelation with the human body, the
processes and influences of the environment are manifested as causes and a persons
behaviour as a consequence.
Based on the above premises, logical is the opinion that the basic principle of the human
behaviour is the principle of legality, and that determinism is one of its underlying principles.
The essence of the behavioural theory of personality, apparently, is that the human being is
not an autonomous creature, gifted with the free will or some other internal forces, but the
result of learning and environmental influence.


3. Neo-Freudian theory of personality

The basic starting point of all neo-Freudian/socio-psychological theories of personality relies
on the premise that personality is not primarily instinctive or sexual and that, instead of
these variables, it is the social relations that are the foundation for the creation and
development of personality. Horneys socio-psychological theory (by Karen Horney, the
creator) classifies people into three types of personality. The first consists of the socalled
submissive or accommodating, the persons who are turned towards the others and,
accordingly, expect love and devotion from them. In the second group are the aggressive,
people characterised by their wish for success and an admiration of others. The third group
are the independent, people who are distinguished by the independence and self-confidence
as typical features of their personality.
Reismans social theory also classifies all people into three categories. The first are the
tradition-oriented, whose behaviour is based on the traditional values of the society they
live in, and who are therefore characterised by a low level of mobility and a slow acceptance
of changes. The self-oriented are in the second category. They depend on personal values
and standards, and this is also what their consumer behaviour is based upon. Finally, the
third category consists of the so-called other-oriented.
4. Personality trait theory
The theory of the character, traits or features is based on the premise that a consumers
personality consists of a certain number of traits or features such as sociability, relaxation,
inner control etc.
Most significant personality traits regarding theirinfluence on consumer behaviour
1. Consumer innovativeness
The traits related to innovativeness of a person refer to whether a consumer can be
identified as an innovator, the one who is, due to his/her personality structure, the fi rst to
buy and try a product or a service. This type of readiness is commonly tested observing three
types of features: innovativeness, dogmatism, and the social character of a consumers
personality. Consumer innovativeness i.e. the level of innovativeness implies an insight into
the nature and the levels of a consumers readiness for innovation. Such an insight can be
reached by the use of tools for studying innovativeness. Consumer dogmatism, on the other
hand, refers to entirely different traits. Dogmatism, in principle, denotes rigidity for the
unknown and the information opposed to personal beliefs.The third innovativeness-related
trait is the social character of personality. Regarding the social character, it is possible to
differentiate between two fundamental types of consumer personality. The first type
comprises personalities who are self-directed. Other-directed personalities are much more
inclined to seek advice from others than rely on their own criteria of evaluation.


2. Cognitive personality factors

The second group of traits is related to the cognitive personality factors. A special attention
should be paid to the need for cognition here, regarding which it is possible to identify two
types of personality. The first are the persons with a high level of cognition, or the biggest
effect may be obtained by a message loaded with information and product descriptions.
Unlike this type, there are personalities with a lowlevelofcognition. Due to the structure of
their personality, the form of the recommended message is entirely different. It is not a
message loaded with a bulk of information, but a message that uses visual effects, a
message given by an attractive person or a prominent expert for instance.
3. Consumer's ethnocentrism
A separate group of personality traits are the ethnocentrism-related ones. Depending on
the intensity of that reaction, it is possible to identify two large groups of consumers: highly
ethnocentric and lowly ethnocentric ones.
4. Consumerism and possession
The last type of consumer personality traits we are going to mention are traits associated
with consumerism and possession. Regarding the highlighted features, it is also possible to
identify several types of consumer traits. Special attention should be paid to three of them:
consumer materialism, fixed consumer behaviour, and compulsive consumer behaviour.
Regarding the consumer materialism as one of consumer personality traits, two basic types
of consumer personality can be identified: those who find possession important for their
personal identity and life, and those who find possession irrelevant.
The self-image
Personality traits or features are something that exists independently from a persons will.
This is why, when it comes to personality traits, variables can be reached by research. The
self-image is, however, associated with a concerning person. It implies a mode in which a
person, in our case a consumer, perceives himself. It depends on this perception what he will
buy and what he will not. It is quite natural for consumers to buy what pleases their selfimage and avoid what does not fit in it. For a long time, the so-called single-dimension
concept of the self-image dominated. It is an approach based on the thesis that consumers
have only one self-image, the self-perception that is constant and therefore their relation
towards products and services is constant. This approach is definitely suppressed now,
having been replaced by the socalled multi-dimensional concept of the self-image. Its
fundamental premise is that human beings behave differently in various situations.
If self-image is defined as a way people perceive themselves, it is logical to wonder how it is
created and developed. To reply to a question formulated this way, several answers may be
given. Accordingly, several theoretical approaches can be identified. Some say, for example,

that self-image is a product of the so-called self-evaluation. In other words, self-image is

formed by individuals based on their personal opinion of what is socially acceptable and
what is not. For the others, the basis of self-image formation is social comparison, the
formation of self-image based on how the self is perceived compared with the others.
Finally, a theory of incorrect scanning is also mentioned. Simply, those keen on becoming
good managers select the information that supports this argument and reject the rest. It
means that they perform a perceptual scanning - they perceive themselves as what they
want to be rather than what they actually are.
Brand personality
Brand personality implies attributing of features and characteristics of a personality to
different brands in a broad range of products.
There are different types of brand personalities. One of them is the dominantly functional
brand personality. Mercedes is a car that provides safety. Safety is therefore a functional
feature of this brand. Brand personality can also be symbolic. Pumas trainers on an athlete
suggest that their footwear is made for athletes. Brand personality can also be associative.
Philips appliances remind us of tradition, Sarajevo beer offun, socialising etc.
Application of personality traits or features in marketing
The application of personality traits and features for the prediction of consumer behaviour
is of considerable importance. Prediction usually refers to one of the two areas. The first
may be identified as sensitivity to social influences. More precisely, it is about how much and
in which forms a consumers behaviour is related to various infl uences he is exposed to in
his environment by other individuals, groups, organisations and associations. The second
area of prediction refers to the choice of a product and a brand: how important is the
structure of personality traits for what products and brands, packaging etc. a consumer will
choose. Thee next area of the application of personality traits in marketing is market
segmentation. It has become clear that the classic segmentation criteria are not suffi cient
for market segmentation and that some other variables, particularly the ones regarding
personality traits should be applied.


Chapter 6: Learning as a factor of consumer behaviour

Definition of learning
A large number of the defi nitions of learning can be found in theory. For some, learning is
an individual activity which results in adopting knowledge, skills and habits. For others, it
may imply an activity that causes behavioural changes. For Lingrin, learning represents every
change of behaviour as a result of practice, experience or interaction with the environment.
Some theoreticians define learning as a process where an experience or an exercise
produces changes in activity performance.
All of them are characterised by an understanding that the learning process is different from
other similar processes by a few variables. First of all, it can be separated from the similar
processes by changes in the probability for repeated occurrence. More precisely, by
expanding the learning process, the probability to acquire a correct answer increases. The
distinction from similar processes can also be seen from the changes that occur in reaction
speed. As the time of its duration increases, the learning process decreases the time of a
correct reaction. Learning can also be diff erentiated from other processes by the increase of
width and strength of reaction. In other words, the longer the learning process, the greater
is the width and strength of a reaction to certain stimulation.
Learning is not something static, insusceptible to change. On the contrary, it is a process; it
keeps evolving and changing by newly acquired knowledge or experience. It means that the
new knowledge and experience are the basis for the future behaviour in similar situations.
Elements of the learning process
Motivationis by its meaning a central element of the learning process, the one that creates a
need for learning and stimulates the learning process.
For example, if someone wishes to become a good tennis player, it will motivate them to
collect basic information on tennis, accessories used in that sport, a tennis school and an
intensive training, follow-up others achievements etc. If such a desire does not exist, it is
logical that all the mentioned information, training, and other tennis-related activities will be
ignored. Several important motivation defining factors can be identified:


Clues are the second element of the learning process. They are actually stimuli which direct
the motives to learn. Let us imagine an advert for a sports centre. By its meaning it is a clue
to the sport fans that they can exercise in the centre, but also that they can improve their
play, spend their holidays, etc.

Response is the third element of the learning process. It implies the way individuals react to
an urge or a clue, i.e. the way they behave. That, of course, does not mean that each urge or
clue will automatically have a response.
Reinforcement is the last element of learning. It implies every increase of the probability
that a response will happen in the future as a reaction to clues or stimuli. Reinforcement can
manifest in two forms: negative and positive.
Another element relevant for consumer behaviour and closely related to the learning
process is forgetfulness, i.e. the loss or disappearance of the facts acquired during the
learning process. It is indisputable that forgetfulness follows learning and that each learning
process indicates it as one of its consequences.
Forms of social learning
Theoreticians have also provided several diff erent classifi cations of social learning forms.
For some, three basic types of learning can be identified:

conditional learning (classical, instrumental and observational);

model learning (learning by identifi cation, imitation and role playing);
learning by insight or cognition.
Behavioural learning theories

Behaviourism is one of the most infl uential trends in psychology, which was founded by J.B.
Watson in the beginning of the 20th century. The term is self-explanatory. The word
behaviourism originates from the English word behaviour. As a subject of the study,
behaviourism only focuses on objective behaviour i.e. such behaviour and behavioural eff
ects that can be observed and measured objectively. In other words, this means that
behaviour occurs as a result of an incentive, a stimulus from the environment. Behaviour is
just a response to a stimulus, a reaction that is in fact inevitable and that does not depend
on the human will or cognitive features.
1. Conditional learning
Conditional learning is based on a Stimulus-Response principle. Learning is a result of a great
number of repetitions of conditional stimuli and automation of responses to them. More
precisely, if a person responds to a familiar stimulus in a predictable way, it means that
learning is achieved. In other words, learning is readiness to behave and respond in a certain
way in a specifi c situation and in the presence of a stimulus. Finally, there is no learning
beyond conditional learning: all learning is necessarily conditional.
Classical conditioning is based on a thesis that an organism is a passive entity and that it can
be taught certain behaviour by multiple repetitive actions that produce such behaviour.


Repetition, as mentioned above, is a precondition of automation of a response to a specific

stimulus, converting the response to the stimulus into behaviour as a personality trait. Its
essence, in other words, is to increase the force of association between the conditioned and
unconditioned stimulus. The increase of the force of association also means that the process
of forgetfulness decreases by repetition.
Another term associated with the classical conditioning is generalisation of stimuli. The
starting point is that learning does not only depend on repetition but also on the persons
ability to generalise. Generalisation is simply a phenomenon of stimuli similar to the
conditioned ones causing a conditioned response of the same intensity, i.e. an equal
response to somehow different stimuli. It is possible to talk about two areas of application
for generalisation in marketing at least. One is associated with the consolidation of the
entire family of products under the same brand. The second area of generalisation
application is licensing, i.e. allowing a brand to be used with other manufacturers products.
Discrimination of stimuli is the third term related to the classical conditioning. Simply put, it
is a phenomenon that is just the opposite from that of generalisation. Therefore, unlike
generalisation which implies identical responses to somewhat diff erent stimuli; the result of
discrimination is a selection of one among several similar stimuli.
Instrumental conditioning is another principle or a form of conditional learning. Classical
conditioning bases learning on the stimulus-response principle. Instrumental conditioning
introduces the element of reinforcement into this equation. In other words, there is a
possibility of choosing a response from among several alternatives, assuming that only one is
2. Model learning
Model learning generally implies learning based on the experience of others. Simply put, it is
a consequence of observing the behaviour of others. More precisely, model learning implies
imitating responses of others and acting accordingly. Several types of learning can be identifi
ed within model learning: identifi cation, imitation and role-playing.
Learning by identification is the only one that, according to some authors, cannot be
identified as some sort of conditioning. Some other elements are relevant instead. First of
all, it is the role of emotional and motivational factors, as well as the emotionally established
relation with the model. Secondly, it is the adoption of global forms of behaviour as our own
permanent ways of response. Thirdly it is the adoption of complex forms of behaviour rather
than specific responses. And finally, it is relevant that the adopted forms are permanent and
that they manifest through a long period of time.
Another type of model learning is learning by imitation, a mechanism frequently used for
explaining learning social behaviour. Behaviourists define imitation as a form of


conditioning(a child will repeat all other peoples responses if those responses stimulate the
childs sensors at the moment of him doing the same action on his own, accidentally).
Finally, the third type of model learning is learning by role-playing. Role implies the
expected behaviour related to a certain status. Such behaviour is important for both the
society and the individual. For the society, roles harmonise the activities of the society
members. For the individuals, role as the expected behaviour enables them to handle
various situations easily, knowing what is expected of them.
3. Vicarious or observational learning
Vicarious learning, in a certain way, is a type of model learning. It differs from the above
mentioned forms of modelling though. Analysing vicarious learning as a separate type of
learning, Albert Bandura defines it as learning by observation.The observed behaviour of
someone else, a role model, does not automaticallylead to the same or modified behaviour
of the observer. On the contrary,the observed behaviour of the role model can become the
motive to behavein the same manner only if it is rewarded or at least is not punished. In
sucha situation the person who observes other peoples actions concludes that acertain
reward can be achieved by the same behaviour.
Finally, there are four stages of observational learning:

Attention: Focusing ones attention onto a model. Most attention goes to a model
that is competent, high-ranking, popular, attractive and admired by others.
Retention: This involves verbalising the steps of behaviour or visualisation.
Reproduction: The teacher provides feedback in case of an incorrect answer or hints
at what the correct answer might be. This is also called the controlled exercise.
Motivation: Motivation starts with vicarious reinforcement.
Cognitive learning theories

In an attempt to provide a solid defi nition of cognitive learning, we could say that it is
learning based on mental activities. The starting point is the assumption that learning cannot
be all about the stimulus-response relation, the association between a stimulus and a motor
response. On the contrary, learning implies a knowledge about relations among specific
Information processing implies a consumersprocessing of the information about a product,
taking into considerationits features, the brand, comparison with other brands, etc.
If information processing is defi ned as above, at least two relevant assumptions can be
made. Firstly, the larger the cognitive abilities the greater the ability to gather more
information about a product, and the greater the skill of integrating the information about
several product features. Secondly, the greater the experience with the category of the
product, the greater the ability to use the product information efficiently.

The information, however, is briefl y kept in the short-term storage or the so-called working
memory. It can have one of two fates in this storage. If the information is not repeated, as a
rule, it will be lost within thirty seconds. One of the storages where the information is kept is
long-term storage. As the name suggests, this is the storage where the information is kept
for a longer period of time. How long this retention is going to last depends on many factors.
The stored information is not passive; it does not just wait to be recalled into the awareness.
More precisely, the stored information is continuously reorganise d, updated and profiled as
new insights arrive. Due to these characteristics and the route of information, it is logical
that consumers are more prone to rememberthe information about new products that
belong to a familiar brand. The reason for this is the fact that the memory of the information
regarding such products is under less influence from competitors advertisements than
would be the case of a product with a new brand name.
Within the cluster of cognitive theories it is possible to mark a large number of them:
learning by insight, learning by trial and error, etc. One of them, however, is particularly
relevant for consumer behaviour. It is the theory of involvement as a separate cognitive

Chapter 7: Attitudes
Definition of attitudes
Morgans definition of attitudes claims that they are tendencies to react to certain people,
objects or situations, whether positively or negatively. John Mowen based his defi nition of
attitudes on Morgans one, defining attitudes as one of the variables in consumer behaviour.
He finds that attitudes imply a signifi cant amount of commitment or the pro or con feeling
with respect to a stimulating object such as a person, a product, a company or an idea.
If we compare all the above defi nitions to each other, we notice that they have some
elements in common:
1. An attitude always refers to something, to an object. Regarding consumer
behaviour, this object can be a product, type of product, brand, price, shop, etc.
2. Attitudes are not genetic but a result of learning. Regarding consumerbehaviour they
are the result of:
- experience with a product;
- exposure to the infl uence of mass media;
- information acquired from others
- family members;
- friends, acquaintances, etc.

3. Consistency as one of the important characteristics of attitudes. Attitudes generally

portray the behaviour they reflect. This means that the coherence of attitudes is not
inevitable. More precisely, different intervening variables can produce behaviour that
is not a reflection of ones own attitudes.
Complexity of attitudes
If, based on the above defi nitions of attitudes, we want to identify their mostrelevant
characteristics, along with the three listed ones: their dispositionalcharacter, the fact that
they are not genetic but acquired, and that they influence behaviour and its consistency;
then we must not fail to mentionanother characteristic of attitudes: their complexity.
The complexity of attitudes, as one of their most relevant characteristics,comprises three
attitude components: cognition, affect and conation.
Cognitivecomponentimplies that there is certain knowledge andassumptions about the
attitude objects. Such knowledge, assumptions andperceptions usually take the form of
Affectivecomponentrefers to the fact that attitudes always include emotionstoward the
attitude object.
Finally, connotativecomponentimplies a tendency to do something aboutthe attitude
object, to take certain action.
Influence of attitudes on consumer behaviour
Both personal and social attitudes have a strong infl uence on the behaviour of humans,
particularly consumers. What has to be thoroughly analysed though is what sort of influence
this is, how intense it is, how much the character of the attitude structure can be used to
predict consumer behaviour, etc.
There are two variables that must be mentioned in this analysis. The answer primarily
depends on the social adequacy of the attitude. This means that some types of behaviour
are less the result of a personal judgement of individuals that could result in the contempt of
the group, and more the result of their desire to fit in by a socially adequate and rewarding
behaviour.On the other hand, the extent to which an attitude can be use to predict
consumer behaviour also depends on how strong the attitude is with respect to the product.
Generally we can say that stronger attitudes enable a more reliable consumer behaviour
prediction regarding the planning of a purchase, the use, promotion with other consumers,
etc., and vice versa.
However, regardless of this general level of analysis, there is no doubt that it is possible to
mark the situations in which the infl uence of attitudes on consumer behaviour is certain.
Some of them are worth pointing out. One of them, for instance, is the level of consumer

involvement in every specific case. If, in other words, it is a situation with the higher level of
consumer involvement, which is always the case with a purchase of valuable, expensive
products such as a car, home appliances, then the attitude structure can be used effectively
to predict consumer behaviour.
The infl uence of attitudes on consumer behaviour is also related to the specifi city of
attitudes. Simply stated, the more general an attitude is and the more ambiguous and
abstract the attitude object is, the lesser is the infl uence of the attitude on consumer
Accordingly, this infl uence is greater the more specific the attitude object is. The influence
of an attitude regarding a portable computer of a specific brand, for instance, is much
stronger than a general attitude toward the computer technology.
Finally, we must mention personality traits as a variable that influences consumer behaviour.
Certain types of personality are, simply, more appropriate for the infl uence of various
intervening variables on their behaviour. Some personality types, for instance, are easy to
become subject to the infl uence and attitudes of a group. The rest of them, on the other
hand, are less susceptible to such external influences and are more likely to adjust their own
attitudes and behaviour.
The opposite from the above is not uncommon: for behaviour to precede attitudes.
Regarding this situation, it is possible to identify two theoretical approaches:
1. Cognitive dissonance theory;
2. Attribution theory.
Cognitivedissonance theory is based on the thesis that dissonance always occurs when a
consumer has contradicting thoughts about the object of an attitude or conviction.
Regarding this, i.e. the opposing thoughts in regard with the attitude or conviction object,
two situations are possible: one that refers to the time before the purchase and the other
one about the time after the purchase. The latter, post-purchase dissonance, occurs after a
purchase. Namely, after it, under the infl uence of experience, new information etc., a doubt
can occur regarding the choice and the product, which all results in the change of attitude.
Post-purchase dissonance with consumers does not suit the businesses. Therefore they take
certain actions in order to disable or minimize it. One of the more efficient methods of
achieving this is doubtlessly by offering larger warranties to consumers.In order to minimize
the possibility of post-purchase dissonance, a large number of companies decide to develop
a consumer loyalty program.
The attributiontheory focuses on an individuals continuous efforts to discover and interpret
the causes of the events he witnesses. The central topic of the theory is the understanding of
what people identify as a cause or reason for their own behaviour and the behaviour of

others.This theory claims that people, while discovering what the causes of someones
behaviour are, are trying to establish whether this behaviour was induced by some extreme
causes from the individuals environment, or by some internal ones such as motives,
attitudes or capabilities.
People often tend to relate the causes with either a person or institution, or a situation, and
they are likely to observe very complex processes and phenomena through a simplifi ed
cause-effect spectrum. This particularly happens when there isno additional information or a
thorough insight into a specific situation or social-interactive relations.One of the attribution
forms is also attribution toward others. It is always present when an individual asks the
why question in relation to a statement or action of another person - a family member, a
salesperson, a direct provider etc. The consumers will, for instance, by evaluating the words
or actions of a salesperson, try to decide whether the salespersons motives match their
Attitude formation
Generally we could say that attitudes are the result of socialisation. It isimportant to be able
to identify a number of mechanisms in the process ofattitude formation. Four most
important mechanisms were identified in1935 by Allport:

Integration mechanism, which results in attitude formation based on a gradual

integration of individual experiences during a lifetime on a rational basis.
Imitation mechanism, through which attitudes are assumed based on social heritage,
through primary groups and other agents of socialisation. A source of permanent
attitudes, for instance, can be the imitation of parents, older brothers or sisters, etc.
Trauma mechanism, which results in the formation of a permanent attitude due to a
certain shock, dramatic events from childhood, fears, prejudices etc. More precisely,
these are individual experiences whose emotional involvement and intensity leads to
Differentiation mechanism, which assumes that based on the formed attitudes, new
ones are formed regarding the objects that the individual has not had enough
experience with.

A large number of factors influence attitude formation. Relying on some social psychologists,
there are three basic types of these factors: general, social and personal. The first, general or
universal factors are those that, albeit indirectly, influence the social scene in general, such
as the development of production forces and production relations, the historical
development in general. Social factors, i.e. belonging to a certain community or a group,
include the characteristic norms and values, attitudes and beliefs of the communities and
groups that individuals belong to and identify with. Personal factors are sometimes marked
as specific conditions andmechanisms of attitude formation.


In the life cycle of existing attitudes, two routes are possible, at a theoretical level: their
petrifaction and their change. Petrifaction of attitudes implies their solidification,
fossilisation, resistance to all eff orts to modify or change them. In other words, petrifaction
implies the preservation of old attitudes. People are not immune to this type of affinity.
Research shows that it increases with age. The second, relatively more common route in the
life cycle of attitudes is the change of acquired attitudes. In an average mans life, this route
is in fact rather common. At least two types of situations lead to it: attitudes being acquired
relatively recently, or not being deeply ingrained.
The goal of the majority of businesses is to win over the consumers. A goal defined like this
leads to another logical assumption: that the consumer attitude change is a strategic interest
of most companies. One of the strategies used to change attitudes is doubtlessly relating a
product with the target group, event or cause. More precisely, pointing out a relation of
certain products or brands with respected groups or events serves the function of changing
the attitude toward those products orbrands.
Another strategy is the so-called conflict resolution. For instance, if you persuade a
consumer that his negative attitude toward a product or a brand is not opposing some other
attitude, it is not impossible that this will make him change his evaluation of the product or
brand from negative to positive.Changing the conviction about competitors brands or
product categories is another strategy used for attitude change. This strategy uses the logic
of comparative presentation of yours and your competitors brand(s).
Influence of mass media on the attitude formation and change
A number of variables infl uence attitude formation and change. A significant one is the
media for mass communication or mass media. Thereare two basic types of media: classical,
such as the print, radio and television,and new media such as teletext, videotext, hypertext,
multimedia and the Internet whose influence is becoming more profound.
The influence in the conditions of a high level of involvement is present if the mass media
influence is realised in situations when the consumers are interested in buying a certain
product or brand. The existence of an increased interest in gaining the information about the
product or brand via mass communication is logical.
Trust in the communication source as an assumption that influences what source of effect
the increased interest of consumers for the information is going to have, is not something
that exists beyond the objective reality.