Consumers and their needs are at the core of marketing. The past decades have witnessed a shift from a mere sales- and product-oriented approach (whereby marketing was a matter of pushing already existing product lines and creating awareness for those products) to a consumer-oriented approach (whereby products fit identified needs of well-delineated consumer segments, i.e. products need to be positioned). In order to be able to anticipate today's rapid changes in consumers' motives and needs, a decent understanding of the underlying mechanisms is a sine qua non. The objective of this course is to introduce the student to the principles of consumer behaviour. We start from formal theories and concepts and discuss their usefulness in developing effective marketing strategies in nowadays world with a great importance of digital technologies.
Most sessions will be organised around the consumer's purchase decision process, consisting of Need Arousal, Information Search and Processing, Brand Evaluation and Attitude Development, Purchase, Consumption and Postpurchase Evaluation. Other sessions address specific consumer-specific or environmental variables that affect this decision process.
This course aims at providing students with a better understanding of consumer buying behaviour in order to be able to describe, explain, and predict how consumers will behave under various marketing conditions and actions.
Topic 1: Introduction to Consumer Behavior & Consumer Perception
Many factors at the time of purchase dramatically influence the consumer´s decision making process.
Marketers need to be concerned about a consumer´s evaluations of a product after he or she buys it as well as before.
Perception is a three-stage process that translates raw stimuli into meaning.
The design of a product today is a key driver of its success or failure. Products and commercial messages often appeal to our senses, but because of the profusion of these messages most of them won´t influence us.
The concept of a sensory threshold is important for marketing communication.
Subliminal advertising is a controversial but largely ineffective way to talk to consumers.
We interpret the stimuli to which we do pay attention according to learned patterns and expectations.
The field of semiotics helps us to understand how marketers use symbols to create meaning.
Topic 2: The Self, Personality and Motivation
The self-concept strongly influences consumer behavior.
Products often play a key role in defining the self-concept.
It is important for marketers to recognize that products can satisfy a range of consumer needs.
A consumer´s personality influences the way he responds to marketing stimuli, but efforts to use this information in marketing contexts meet with mixed results.
The way we evaluate and choose a product depends on our degree of involvement with the product, the marketing message and/or the purchase situation.
Our deeply held cultural values dictate the types of products and services we seek out or avoid.
Consumers vary in the importance they attach to worldly possessions, and this orientation in turn influences their priorities and behaviors.
Topic 3: Attitude Formation and Persuasion
Understanding attitudes is important to consumer researchers.
Attitudes are more complex than they appear.
Attitudes are formed in several ways.
Consistency is important in attitude formation.
Attitude models are used to identify specific components of an attitude towards a brand, a product or an advertisement.
Persuasion can change attitudes.
Likelihood of persuasion depends on the source¿s credibility and attractiveness.
A buzz can be a very effective marketing tool.
The appeal of a message often depends on fear, sex and humor.
Topic 4: Social and Group Influences
Others, especially those who possess some kind of social power, often influence us.
We seek out others who share our interests in products or services.
We are motivated to buy or use products in order to be consistent with what other people do.
The things that other consumers tell us about products (good and bad) are often more
influential than the advertising we see.
Online technologies are accelerating the impact of word-of-mouth communication. Social networking is changing the way companies and consumers interact.
Certain people are particularly likely to influence others¿ product choices.
Topic 5: Individual Decision Making
Consumer decision-making is a central part of consumer behavior, but the way we evaluate and choose products (and the amount of thought we put into these choices) varies widely, depending on such dimensions as the degree of novelty or risk in the decision.
A purchase decision actually is composed of a series of stages that results in the selection of one product over competing options.
Decision-making is not always rational.
Our access to online sources changes the way we decide what to buy.
We often fall back on well-learned ¿rules-of-thumb¿ to make decisions.
Consumers rely on different decision rules when they evaluate competing options
Topic 6: Project proposal presentation
Conclusions, Question and Answer session for the Exam.