strategic applications of classical conditioning to consumer behavior are?

strategic applications of classical conditioning to consumer behavior are?

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Product introduction was consistent with the

elements of learning

P&G’s researchers observed that women cleaning rooms and making beds sprayed

Febreze at the end (for no apparent

reason, since the rooms were already clean).

P&G interviewed women and analyzed the observed behavior according to

the elements of learning.

Drive and Cue: A woman walks into a dirty room.

Response (learned routine): She cleans the room

Reinforcement: She sprays Febreze in the cleaned room and smells it. She feels good

about a job well done. Spraying Febreze at the end rewarded her for her work and therefore

she will use it in the future.

off,” reinforcement has not occurred. Because of the absence of reinforcement, it is unlikely that the customer will visit the restaurant again.

Figure 5.2 applies the four elements of learning to Procter & Gamble’s introduction of Febreze, a spray that eliminates bad smells. The figure illustrates the effects of Febreze’s initial positioning, which did not follow the principles of learning; the product did poorly. When the product was repositioned in a manner consistent with the principles of learning, it sold much better. 1

There is no single, universal theory of how people learn. Broadly, there are two models of learning: behavioral and cognitive. Next, we describe these theories and their applications to consumer behavior. Afterwards, we explain how consumers store, retain, and retrieve information, as well as cognitive learning and how learning is measured.

Classical Conditioning Learning Objective 5.2 To understand

behavioral learning, classical conditioning, and the roles of stimulus generalization and discrimination in marketing.

Behavioral learning is sometimes referred to as stimulus-response learning because it is based on the premise that observable responses to specific external stimuli signal that learning has taken place. Behavioral learning is not concerned with the process of learning, but rather with the inputs and outcomes of learning-that is, in the stimuli that consumers select from the environment and the observable behaviors that result. Three forms of behav- ioral learning with great relevance to marketing are classical conditioning, instrumental (or operant) conditioning, and observational (or modeling) learning. Instrumental (or operant) conditioning and observational (or modeling) learning will be discussed later in this chapter.

120 PART ii • THE Consum ERAs An inDiViDuAL

behavioral learning {stimulus- response learning) The premise that observable responses to specific external stimu li signal that learning has taken p lace.

classical conditioning A form of behavioral learning stating that anima l and human alike, can be taught behav- iors and associations among stimu li through repetition. some describe it as a “knee jerk” (or automatic) response to a drive that builds up through repeated exposure to a stimulus.

message repetition When consumers hear the brand name and brand message over and over within a period of t ime.

Classical conditioning is viewed as a “knee-jerk” (or automatic) response that builds up through repeated exposure and reinforcement. For instance, if Tyler’s friends compliment him on his expensive Prada boots, he is likely to save money to buy a pair of Prada sneakers. If he sees an actor he likes in a movie wearing Prada sneakers, Tyler will immediately recall his friends’ compliments and feel good about himself and his prior purchase. Ivan Pavlov, a Russian physiologist, developed the concept of classical conditioning. Pavlov maintained that conditioned learning results when a stimulus that is paired with another stimulus that elicits a known response produces the same response when used alone. Pavlov demonstrated what he meant by “conditioned learning” in his studies with dogs. Genetically, dogs are always hungry and highly motivated to eat. In his experiments, Pavlov sounded a bell and then immediately applied a meat paste to the dogs’ tongues, which caused them to salivate. After a number of such pairings, the dogs responded the same way-that is, they salivated-to the bell alone as they did to the meat paste.

Applying Pavlov’s theory to human behavior, consider the following situation: For sev- eral years during high school, you always binge watched your favorite shows-which begins with the show’s musical theme-with your best friend every night at 9:00p.m. Then you and your best friend went to different colleges. After you settled down in your new dorm, at 9:00p.m. you turned on your computer to watch your favorite show and the show’s musi- cal theme came on. You immediately thought about your friend and felt sad about watching the show alone. Feeling sad when you think about a best friend from whom you are now separated is a natural, human response and is therefore an unconditioned stimulus (i.e., a stimulus that occurs naturally in response to given circumstances). Furthermore, before you started watching the show with your friend every night, the show’s musical theme was a neutral stimulus that elicited neither behavior nor any feelings. Later on, while watching the show alone, the same music triggered a particular response-feeling sad-so it has become a conditioned stimulus (i.e., a stimulus that became associated with a particular event or feeling as a result of repetition). Feeling sad whenever you hear the music is a conditioned response (i.e., a response to conditioned stimulus). The music triggered sadness because of the role of repetition in the process of conditioning. You heard the same musical theme while watching this show with your friend for years, and always at the same time; if you had done so only occasionally, the music would not have triggered sadness. Figure 5.3 depicts Pavlov’s model and an analogous example of classical conditioning.

The strategic applications of classical conditioning to consumer behavior are associative learning, repetition, stimulus generalization, and stimulus discrimination.

ASSOCIATIVE LEARNING Contemporary behavioral scientists view classical conditioning as learning the associations among events that enable consumers to expect and anticipate events. Rather than being a reflexive action, this is seen as cognitive associative learning-not the acquisition of new reflexes, but the acquisition of new knowledge about the world. From this viewpoint, the consumer is an information seeker who uses logical and perceptual relations among events, along with his or her own preconceptions, to form a sophisticated representation of the world.

REPETITI0N FORMS ASSOCIATION In advertising, message repetition is the key to forming associations between brands and fulfillment of needs. For example, having a healthy mouth and good oral hygiene are a human need (i.e., unconditioned stimulus), which many consumers associate with the word Crest. Why? Because after more than 50 years of repetitive advertising and uncountable ads, when hearing or seeing the name “Crest,” consumers think of a premium product for keep- ing their mouth and teeth healthy and protected from bacteria, diseases, and deterioration.

FIGURE 5.3 Classical Conditioning

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Unconditioned Stimulus Meat paste


Unconditioned Response .. Salivation

Conditioned Stimulus Bell 1—–‘


Conditioned Stimulus .. Bell 1———…

Unconditioned Stimulus I—–. Dinner aromas


Conditioned Response Salivation

.. Unconditioned Response • Salivation

Conditioned Stimulus 6 o’clock news



Conditioned Stimulus .. 6 o’clock news

,. Conditioned Response


Crest is a conditioned stimulus and the consumers’ associations are conditioned responses. Furthermore, consumers associate Crest with scores of versions of toothpaste, toothbrushes, teeth whitening, flossing, and mouth-rinsing products, all marketed under the Crest brand name. Both the conditioned stimulus and the response are results of hearing or seeing Crest’s advertisements again and again-in other words, repetitively.

Repetition increases the strength of the association between two stimuli and slows down forgetting this connection. However, the amount of repetition that aids retention is limited. Although repetition beyond what is necessary for the initial learning aids retention, at some point an individual becomes satiated with numerous exposures, and both attention and reten- tion decline. This effect is called advertising wear-out, and marketers reduce it by using different ads expressing the same message or advertising themes.

Although all advertisers use repetition in trying to teach consumers, not everyone agrees on how much repetition is enough. Some marketing scholars believe that just three exposures to an advertisement are needed: one to make consumers aware of the product, a second to show consumers the relevance of the product, and a third to remind them of its benefits. This exposure pattern is called the three-hit theory. Other researchers suggest that as many as 11 to 12 repetitions are needed to achieve the three objectives. One study indicated that email

122 PART ii • THE Consum ERAs An inDiViDuAL

stimulus generalization Responding the same way to sl ightly different stimuli.

product line extensions Additions of related items to an established brand because they are likely to be adopted, since they come under a known and trusted brand name, which is a marketing application of stimu- lus generalization.

advertisements that consumers found relevant influenced their learning and attitudes much more than the number of exposures. 2 Recent research has concluded that up to 10 exposures will maximize advertising effects on attitudes, whereas more exposures are needed to maxi- mize effects on brand recall. 3

STIMULUS GENERALIZATION AND BRANDS’ EXTENSIONS According to classical conditioning theorists, learning depends not only on repetition but also on individuals’ ability to “generalize.” Pavlov, for example, found that a dog could learn to salivate not only to the sound of a bell but also to similar sounds such as jangling keys or coins. Responding the same way to slightly different stimuli is called stimulus generalization.

Stimulus generalization explains why some imitative “me too” products succeed in the marketplace: Consumers confuse them with the original product they have seen advertised. It also explains why manufacturers of private-label brands try to make their packaging closely resemble that of the national brand leaders. They are hoping that consumers will confuse their packages with the leading brand and buy their product rather than the leading brand.

A court battle between two famous designers of women’s shoes centered around stimulus generalization. Louboutin’s red sole shoes-with a shade named “China Red”-have been popular with the rich and famous and are very expensive. Yves Saint Laurent (“YSL”)- another high-end maker of women’s shoes-also produced four models of all red shoes with red soles. Louboutin sued YSL saying that no one should be able to use the color red on the sole of the shoe even if the entire shoe is red. In other words, Louboutin was concerned that consumers will “generalize” upon seeing the red soles and assume that YSL’s shoes were made by Louboutin. It claimed that the red soles are an iconic trademark that only it could use in order to avoid confusion among the two brands. Following extensive litigation, YSL discontinued making shoes with red soles.4

There are four strategic applications of stimulus generalization to branding and manag- ing product lines: product line extensions, product form extensions, family branding, and licensing. 5

Product line extensions are additions of related items to an established brand; these are likely to be adopted because they come under a known and trusted brand name. 6

For example, what comes to mind when you see the Tide Laundry detergent symbol? The most likely answer is the color orange, clean clothes, and the distinctive container sold in supermarkets. Most consumers associate Tide with clean clothes. However, most consum- ers think of Tide as a product that is used at home or in laundromats for washing clothes in washing machines. So, although most consumers associate Tide with washing clothes in a washing machine, they do not associate Tide with dry cleaning. Why did Procter & Gamble (who owns Tide) “interfere” with consumers’ long-established cognitions by introducing Tide Dry Cleaners? Each time consumers go to a Tide Dry Cleaner, they are “rewarded” with clean clothes and superior service. When the new Tide Dry Cleaners are advertised carrying the Tide brand name, consumers are likely to associate them with the many, prior rewarding experiences of using Tide laundry detergent. In learning terms, consumers will apply what they already know about Tide detergent to its new service and probably try the new service. The extension of the Tide line to services is also a form of family branding, which consists of marketing different products under the same brand name. Furthermore, dry cleaners in the U.S . market are one of the few industries that is still dominated by mom and pop stores. It is an industry that is ready for a trusted name brand to change the market.

The two Mr. Clean products shown in Figure 5.4 are examples of line extensions under a brand name that has been a best seller since the 1950s and represented by a mascot that consumers view as a strong, tenacious, competent, dependable, and friendly “person” (see Figure 3.1).

FIGURE 5.4 Mr. Clean’s Product Line Extensions

product form extension offering the same product in a different form but under the same brand, which is a mar- keting application of stimulus generalization.

family branding marketing a whole line of products under the same brand name, which is a mar- keting application of stimulus generalization.

licensing An application of stimu lus gen- era lization that contractually allows affixing a brand name to the products of another manufacturer.

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Offering the same product in a different form but under the same brand is a product form extension. For example, Listerine, a mouthwash in the form of liquid and a leading brand, introduced Listerine PocketPacks-a solid form of its product. Clorox Bleach-one of the most recognized brand names among clothing-care products-has been sold only as a liquid since its introduction many decades ago. Building on the brand’s universal recognition as a quality product, the company introduced Bleach Gel.

Another strategy stemming from stimulus generalization is family branding, which consists of marketing different products under the same brand name. For example, Campbell’s, originally a marketer of soups, continues to add new food products to its product line under the Campbell’s brand name, such as chunky, condensed, kids, and lower-sodium soups; fro- zen meals named Campbell’s Super Bakes; and tomato juice.

Licensing is contractually allowing a well-known brand name to be affixed to the prod- ucts of another manufacturer. The names of designers, manufacturers, celebrities, corpora- tions, and even cartoon characters are attached, for a fee (i.e., “rented out”) to a variety of products, enabling the licensees to achieve instant recognition and implied quality for the licensed products. Some successful licensors include Liz Claiborne, Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein, and Christian Dior, whose names appear on an exceptionally wide variety of products, from sheets to shoes and luggage to perfume.7 For example, the Italian automobile brand, Ferrari, continues to expand with licensing agreements with theme parks (e.g., mega- rollercoaster in Abu Dhabi); Oakley (sunglasses); Puma (clothing and sport accessories); Cobra (golf equipment); Microsoft, Sony Polyphony, and EA (video games); Movado (watches); and LEGO. Licensing is big business. Companies that license their brand names are able to grow their brand awareness with licensing deals . Companies that make products are able to enter into a market with a well-known brand name (e.g., Ferrari) without having to build brand recognition. Figure 5.5. presents the top five companies that license their brand names, along with sales from licensing and examples of branded licensed products.

Corporations also license their names and trademarks to marketers of related products. For example, Godiva chocolates licensed its name for Godiva liqueur. Corporations also license their names and logos for purely promotional purposes: for example, the phrase


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