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Buyer Behaviour: Attitudes and Persuasion

Introduction

According to Aaker (1997) attitude can be defined as the amount of affect or feeling for or against a certain stimulus that is usually stored in the long-term memory. Consumers’ attitudes go hand in hand with consumers’ beliefs, that is, the knowledge and inferences that a consumer forms about a product, their attributes and their positive outcomes. It is worth noting that consumers sometimes experience a halo effect, that is, a situation where consumers may assume that because a product is good or bad on one product features , then it is also good or bad on another. Marketers usually put all these factors in mind when developing marketing strategies which would create product’s superiority, and maintain the existing customers by winning their brand loyalties (Hill, Brierley & MacDougal, 2003, 123)

According to Morrison (2003), consumer behaviours entail the actions that consumers take relating to acquisition, disposal and usage of products and services. Looking at the consumers’ behaviour, marketers find it imperative to find out the right people involved in buying decisions and the roles those people play so that their marketing strategies target the right people. Therefore, a marketer usually looks at consumers’ behavioural intentions, that is, intentions of consumers to take some buying actions (Morrison 2003, 79).

Consumer buying decisions occur at different levels, they can be extensive, limited or routinely. Extensive decisions usually involve a situation whereby problem solving occurs when the buyers of a product procure more costly commodities that may also be uncommon. This usually requires information search and crucial evaluation. Sometimes the buyer may experience cognitive dissonance. When decision making is limited, it means that problem solving occurs when consumers are confronted with a strange brand but the product category is known. When the decision is routine, the consumer response behaviour occurs when the buyer purchase an item at low cost, low peril, a recurrently purchases product in which he/she has the product loyalty in (Purohit & Joydeep 2001, 130).

Case analysis on attitudes and consumer behaviour

Consumer’s attitude and persuasions have been one of the greatest areas that companies’ marketing teams are very interested in. Taking a case in the food and drinks industries, Companies and restaurants have been facing cut-throat competition each aiming at increasing its market share. In the market, consumers are faced with brand choices; therefore manufacturers are investing huge amounts of money in order to clearly understand the major factors that would attract the attention of buyers to their brands. Revealing such information significantly forms the basis of their marketing strategies (Reichert, Heckle & Jackson 2001, 13)

We spot marketing strategies in the verge of consumer attitudes and persuasions in McDonald Company in the U.S.A which operates a chain of restaurants and offers many food products. There have been high-profile government policies and warnings especially about unhealthy diets. Many Americans are now aware of the benefits of healthy diets, low fats and salt. To ensure competitiveness in this industry, McDonald Company has adopted many marketing strategies aimed at winning consumers’ attitudes about their products. McDonald has been trying to adopt communication strategies concerning nutrition in their products in order to win consumers. In the past, there has been many criticism and claims that McDonald Company has been promoting obesity. It’s worth noting that in many countries, measures have been made to ban fast food TV advertising which seems to promote obesity. McDonald being an international company has noted an attitude change in consumers. This has made the company to embark on many renovations of their products as well as adopt new marketing strategies to avoid losing customers. (Carolyn Yoon et al 2005, 432)

To clear its negatively brand image or rather its or rather its “Super Size Image” negative effects, which has been created, the company has adopted various mechanisms to put its brand in place (Amna & Campbell 2004, 579). The recent introduction its products named Hapi Meal Choices is said to have replaced high- fat French fries called Apple Dipper. The product is made by the company suitable for children. This is one aspect of product renovation as a strategy to persuade customers to buy its products.

In the efforts of promoting its food products as nutritious, the company has been made several approaches to shift people’s attention from unhealthy products. It does this by promoting the need for physical fitness as away of preventing obesity.

Consumer behaviour theories applied in the marketing

Consumer behaviour theory guides marketing when coming up with strategies which would ensure that they capture the attention of many consumers as well as increase the sales volumes. This theory upholds mostly the views of Sigmund Freud, especially on emotions and mental aspects which are usually applied by consumers in decision making about buying a product. Some consumer behaviour theories which are applied in market strategising by the companies include:

Economic theory

This theory construes that a consumer is always rational. Consumers seek to attain great satisfaction from their income (Squires, Biljana & Cornwell 2001, 392). This shapes their attitudes towards the products they want to buy. This is one aspect that companies have taken in mind while formulating strategies which will persuade consumers to buy their products.

Taking an example of McDonald Company, they have introduced two meals at one price as a buzz marketing strategy to persuade consumers who are keen on prices. Surprising enough is that, this strategy has allowed consumers to advertise their products on behalf of the company. Consumers in their quest to maximise utility are enticed by this method. McDonald in 2003 planned a six months event whereby they allowed customers to buy two meals at one price at specified hours. Since they had won consumers’ attitudes that they sell healthy meals, consumers took advantage of that. People had to look for their pair in order to get this food together. This was one action that enhanced the company to win many customers in all of its branches (Schlosser 2003, 190)

Jennifer and Aaker (2000) explain that consumers’ preference in this theory states that consumers are mostly concerned with utility maximisation. Taking the case of McDonald marketing strategies, we clearly understand the effective use of two meals in one prise strategy of marketing its products. Consumers seeking to maximise utility out of their budget constraints would prefer more to less. The company put that in mind. With the price of one plate, consumers could afford to have two plates. This attracted majority of consumers. In a significant way, economic theory does establish relationships between prices of the commodities consumers’ income and the realized sales (Voss & Gammoh 2004, 150).

Social exchange theory

Social group influence on consumer behaviour is very common throughout the world. The theory stipulates that consumers’ behaviour in the market remarkably shows how they try to conform to groups’ norms in order to leap the benefits of socialization and avoid conflicting with the group members (Friestad & Wrigh 1994, 17). This is usually common in the clothing industry. Young people being fashion conscious always try to conform to the behaviour of others (Kotler & Levy 1973, 57). The theory holds similar views with that of reasoned actions theory whereby attitude towards buying a product by an individual is significantly shaped by the social pressure, that is, the power of other people in consumption decisions (Pratap & Posavac 2001, 170)

Companies that manufacture clothes have been trying to adopt marketing strategies ensure that they maintain majority of their buyers. Companies like Georgio Armani have been on the fore-front to ensure that their product remains popular and that they are fashion conscious. The attitude that has been created by the consumers over the years is that this company manufactures high quality products. Through strategies such as advertisement on the media has made this company remain on the top of others in the clothing industry. Some of its brand focus on young people and it holds many events such as music festivals and fashion show in colleges and club music festivals in many states. Such event acts as major marketing avenues for the company to gain more customers. Many companies have also noted the importance of social influence on consumer behaviour. This has led to an adoption of social marketing as a strategy to ensure that capture attention of many consumers as well as winning customers brand loyalty (Pratap ,Jain & Posavac 2001, 172)

Social marketing aims to change consumers’ behaviour in order to achieve socially desirable goals. Social marketing strategies majorly aim at the benefits and barriers to changes in behaviour. Companies undertaking this strategy have recognized that the inhibition and motivation in behaviour change varies across groups of consumers. They therefore carry out market segmentation according to such features as sex, age, income level, geographical location as well as demographic characteristics. For instance, Georgio Armani’s Armani Collezioni brand targets the lower segment for low income group. It is cheap and affordable (Hill, Brierley & MacDougall, 2003, 32).

Social marketing has been very effective in revealing consumer’s behaviour change. Companies have taken this strategy as a way that helps them gather information which would enable them to improve their services. For instance, Pacific gas and electric company located in California decided to offered free home inspections as a free services marketing strategy. It also advised the home owners on ways to improve energy efficiency in their homes. The company was able to gather information on peoples behaviour change and this helped in the modification of their program to incorporate the change (Oliver 1980, 471).

Cognitive consistency theories

Congruence and balance effect theories construe that consumers usually aims at maintaining consistency in their feelings, beliefs and behaviours. Inconsistency in thinking is postulated to produce psychological tension. For this reason, consumers avoid choices of products that would lead to cognitive dissonance in their beliefs. This makes consumers pay attention to information and products which favours their attitudes. According to Mitche (1986) cognitive dissonance theory construe that consumers make choices by looking at the positive features of the chosen alternative as well as ignoring the negative attributes. This means that they restructure their thinking to be consistently with their behaviours. With this knowledge, sellers have increasingly made use of advertisement as a mode of persuading people and winning their beliefs and attitudes about their products. Research has revealed there is a correlation between advertisement and attitudes (Folland 1987, 321).

Learning theories

One important theory which helps companies in making marketing strategies is conditioning theory. This theory looks at how consumer behaviour has been conditioned over time. The theory postulates that learned experiences significantly help in stimulus generalization (Laroche et al, 2001, 503). Consumers’ expectations of positive reinforcement usually induce helpful relational marketing behaviour (Ahluwalia and Burnkrant 2004, 33). Many companies adopt promotions such as prize winning completions as a way of persuading consumers to buy their products. Marketers recognizes the importance of finding the strengths of consumers’ willingness to buy a product and their attitudes towards that product. This is more important in that, by offering price promotions, the attitude of consumer to buy a product is enhanced making the m more willing to spend more on a product. Instrumental conditioning usually looks at the interaction between performance and rewards. It postulates that consumers responds well when rewarded sufficiently for buying a product. Rewarding consumers entices them to buy a product often. Companies have taken this into consideration in their marketing strategies (Miniard, Sirdeshmukh & Daniel, 1992, 235)

Conclusion

Consumer attitude and perception is one of the greatest areas studied by marketers when studying buyers’ behaviours. By uncovering vital aspects in people’s attitude and consumption behaviours, many companies have embraced various strategies aimed at maintaining as well as increasing their customers’ base. Often, business enterprises focus on maximization of profits. Owing to the fact that competition in the business world is usually stiff, sellers all over the world invest huge amounts of money on consumer behaviour research so that they enact strategies which will ensure effective running of their businesses. Various theories have been advanced that focus on consumer behaviour. These theories have been widely used by many decision makers when strategizing on how to market their products.

List of References

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