elements of learning

elements of learning

Consumer Learning

Learning Objectives 5.1 To understand the elements of learning.

5.2 To understand behavioral learning, classical conditioning, and t he roles of stimulus generalization and discrimination in market ing.

5.3 To understand instrumenta l condit ioning and t he object ives and met hods of reinforcement .

5.4 To understand observational learning.

5.5 To understand how consumers process information.

5.6 To understand cognit ive learning as a form of consumer decision-making.

5.7 To understand the impact of involvement and passive learning on purchase decisions.

5.8 To understand how to measure the outcomes of consumer lea rning.

EARNING is applying past knowledge and experience to present circumst ances and behav- ior. For example, w hat comes into your mind when

–you see an ad for avocados? For consumers who are familiar with and love avocados, seeing an ad is fol- lowed by thoughts of a very tasty, creamy texture, yet fatty fruit. Li ke any successful brand, the advertiser- in th is case, Avocados from Mexico, a b rand made up of the Mexican Hass Avocado Import e rs Associat ion (M HA IA) and The Association of Growers and Packers of Avocados from Mexico (APEAM)-is looking to educate consumers that avocados are a healthy choice. The ad for Avocados from Mexico in Figure 5. 1 is teaching con- sumers that avocados have good fat s, are nutritious, fresh, and have no cholesterol. In positioning avocados

as healt hy, the Avocado from Mexico b rand is relying o n cognitive learning (discussed in t his chapter) by providing information and p redicting that consumers will process and store the information. Furthermore, t he goal of t he market er is to have consumers retrieve the informat ion that avocados are hea lthy when they are food shopping in p laces where avocados are sold. Stil l further, Avocados from Mexico created humorous ad s that were aired d uring the Super Bowl. These ads help to create brand awareness and social media activity around the brand.

The elements of learning-drive, repeated cues, response and rei nforcement-are il lustrat ed t hrough consumers’ decisions and choices. In the case of Avoca- dos f rom Mexico, this b rand is perceived as trustworthy

FIGURE 5.1 Mas to Love

learning Applying one’s past knowledge and experience to present cir- cumstances and behavior.

CHAPTER 5 • Consum ER LEARning 117


.;GOOD FATS The Dietary Guidelines for Americans emphasize good fats. like the fats found in avocados, as part of healthy eating pattems.

+ NUTRIENT-DENSE The Dietary Guideline$ for Americans focus on dietary shifts to choose me<e nutfoent-rich roods that provide fiber as well as other vitamins and minerals in place oi less healthy options.

)(NO CHOlES11:ROL Avocados’ rich and creamy texture makes them the perfect substitute for mayo or butter.

(9 ALWAYS FRESH Avocados From Mexico a re available year-round, so you can enjoy all their benefits. no matter the season.

. . Ill !:: ::s

and t he maker of healthy p roducts; t hese perceptions drive consumers t o purchase t he p roduct. The cues t hat consumers receive from the marketer-repeated mes- sages t hat are informat ive, fun, and attract attent ion- direct the drive and create the mot ivation to buy the b rand advert ised in Figure 5 .1 rather than compet- ing b rands. Repet ition means repeat ed promotions that d ifferentiat e the brand f rom competition in sev- e ral forms-that is, different ads focused around t he producfs image-carried t hroug h various communica- t ion channels. Response means consumers’ p urchases of the product aft er being persuaded to do so by it s

advertising. Reinforcement , which is t he f inal element of learning, involves reward ing those w ho try the new product. For consumers, the rewa rd is fee ling the same or even greater p leasu re when eat ing Avocados f rom Mexico t han w hen eating eit her other b rands of avoca- dos o r other f ruits.

Next, we discuss the elements o f learning and apply t hem to developing market ing strat egies aimed at getting consumers t o try and t o continue buying new products. The chapt er concl udes with a d iscussion of the methods used t o measure t he resul t s of learning

. expenences.

The Elements of Consumer Learning Learning Objective 5.1 To und erstand t he

e lement s of learning.

consumer learning The process through which consumers acquire knowl- edge from experiences with products and observations of others’ consumption, and use that knowledge in subsequent buying.

Learning is the process by which individuals acquire the purchase and consumption knowl- edge and the experience they apply to future, related behavior. Consumer learning is a process that evolves and changes as consumers acquire knowledge from experience, observa- tion, and interactions with others. This newly acquired knowledge affects future behavior. It ranges from simple and often reflexive responses to marketing stimuli (such as packaging, product colors, and promotional messages), to learning abstract concepts and making deci- sions about purchasing complex and expensive products.

Not all learning is deliberately sought. Although much learning is intentional (i.e., it is acquired as the result of a search for information), a great deal of learning is incidental, acquired by accident or without much effort. For example, some ads may induce learning-by providing information like in the ad featured in Figure 5.1-without learning being deliberately sought, whereas other ads are sought out and carefully read by consumers contemplating major purchases. Learning consists of four elements: motives, cues, responses, and reinforcement.

118 PART ii • THE Consum ERAs An in DiViDu AL

motivation The driving force within individu- als that impels them to act.

cues stimuli that direct motivated behavior.

response Reaction to a drive or cue.

reinforcement in learning, particularly in instru- mental conditioning, it is a reward, in the form of pleasure, enjoyment, and other benefits, for a desired behavior. in con- sumer behavior, it is the benefits, enjoyment, and uti lities that con- sumers receive from products purchased.

MOTIVES Uncovering consumer motives is the primary objective of marketers who seek to teach consum- ers how they can fill their needs by buying certain products and brands. Unfilled needs lead to motivation, which spurs learning. For example, men and women who want to take up bicycle riding for fitness and recreation are motivated to learn all they can about bike riding and prac- tice often. They may seek information concerning the prices, quality, and characteristics of bicycles and learn which bicycles are the best for the kind of riding they do. These consumers will also read any articles in their local newspapers about bicycle trails and seek online infor- mation about “active vacations” that involve biking or hiking. Conversely, individuals who are not interested in bike riding are likely to ignore all information related to that activity. The degree of relevance, or “involvement,” determines each consumer’s level of motivation to search for information about a product or service and, potentially, engage in learning.

CUES Cues are stimuli that direct motivated behavior. An advertisement for an exotic trip that includes bike riding may serve as a cue for bike riders who might suddenly “recognize” that they “need” a vacation. The ad is the cue (or stimulus) that suggests a specific way to satisfy a salient motive. In marketing, price, styling, packaging, advertising, and store displays are cues designed to persuade consumers to fulfill their needs by buying specific products.

Only cues that are consistent with consumer expectations can drive motivation. Thus, marketers must provide cues that match those expectations. For example, consumers expect designer clothes to be expensive and to be sold in upscale retail stores. Thus, high-fashion designers should sell their clothes only through exclusive stores and advertise only in upscale fashion magazines. Each aspect of the marketing mix must reinforce the others if cues are to become stimuli that guide consumer actions in the direction the marketer desires.

RESPONSES In the context of learning, response is an individual’s reaction to a drive or a cue. Learning can occur even when responses are not overt. The automobile manufacturer that provides consistent cues to a consumer may not always succeed in stimulating a purchase. However, if the manufacturer succeeds in forming a favorable image of a particular automobile model in the consumer’s mind, it is likely that the consumer will consider that make or model when he or she is ready to buy a car.

A response is not tied to a need in a one-to-one fashion. Indeed, as noted in Chapter 3, a need or motive may evoke a whole variety of responses. For example, there are many ways to respond to the need for physical exercise besides riding bicycles. Cues provide some direction, but there are many cues competing for the consumer’s attention. Which response the consumer makes depends heavily on previous learning; that, in turn, depends on how previous, related responses have been reinforced.

REINFORCEMENT Reinforcement is the reward-the pleasure, enjoyment, and benefits-that the consumer receives after buying and using a product or service. For the marketer, the challenge is to continue to provide consumers with an ongoing positive product or service, thus reinforc- ing future purchases. To illustrate, if a person visits a restaurant for the first time, likes the food, service, and ambience, and also feels he or she received value for the money paid, that customer was reinforced and is likely to dine at the restaurant again. If that person becomes a regular customer, the restaurant’s owner should further reinforce the customer’s continued patronage by, for example, giving the customer a free drink and recognizing the person by name upon arrival. Of course, the quality of the food and service must be maintained, as they are the key elements reinforcing the customer’s continued visits. In contrast, if a patron leaves a restaurant disappointed with the quality of the food or the service or feels “ripped

FIGURE 5.2 Procter & Gamble’s Febreze Source: Charles Duhigg, “How Compa- nies Learn Your Secrets,” nytimes.com February 16, 2012.

Product introduction contradicted the four elements of learning

P&G launched and positioned Febreze as a

colorless spray for making stinky clothes and rooms’ interiors odorless.

P&G assumed that people living with bad smells had a problem/

need for Febreze, which they did not.

Febreze was not selling because people who live with bad smells-such

as smoke or pets’ odors- do not notice them.

P&G was trying to teach consumers a new

behavior, but one of the four elements of learning -the cue-was missing

because the targeted consumers did not notice

the bad odors.

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