Discussion Post Material Information:
Companies use different resources to learn more about the specific market segments they plan to target. Using the resources in this module, search for information using a zip code of your choice. Some options to consider include Beverly Hills 90210, Las Vegas 89101, Miami Beach 33139, or Manchester, NH, 03101. First, enter your chosen zip code to access information about that area. Review the information provided about the area. In your initial post, describe the attributes of the segments in your area and what strategies marketers should use if they were trying to reach someone in this area.
Consumer behavior is the study of how “individuals, groups, and organizations select, buy, use, and dispose of goods, services, ideas or experiences to satisfy needs and wants” (Kotler & Keller, 2012, p. 151). These are heavily influenced by cultural, social, and personal factors. Marketing is one part psychology, and to understand where, what, why, and how consumers buy, consumer motivations need to be understood.
The study of consumer behavior has two main categories: motivation and perception. Motivation is studying what it is that influences or persuades a consumer to buy. Many experts have studied motivation and how it impacts marketing decisions. The theories of two researchers, Freud and Maslow, have greatly shaped this area. Sigmund Freud believed that psychological forces that shape human behavior are unconscious. In other words, people do not fully understand what motivates them.
This has significant implications for marketing. Freud’s theory indicates that when making decisions about logos, packaging, and advertisements, consideration needs to be given to the less conscious elements of marketing such as the shape, size, weight, material, color, and even product placement in a store. For example, if Lucky Charms cereal is considering redoing its packaging, the company needs to consider how consumers might respond if its cereal was no longer in a tall, red, rectangular box with gold lettering.
- What does the box represent to consumers?
- Does it represent quality? Security (in that the box protects the cereal from being crushed)?
- How would consumers react to no box? To a box that was a different shape, like a triangle or a square?
- What about color choices? Certain meanings are associated with colors that go beyond being descriptive.
Individuals make connections with these aspects of a product in an unconscious way, so marketing professionals must consider what those colors and shapes may mean to a consumer and choose carefully, especially when changing an established brand or moving into a new cultural market.
To explain human motivations, Abraham Maslow developed Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. He argued that this hierarchy demonstrated why people were driven to fulfill certain needs at certain times. For example, if someone’s need for safety were not fulfilled, his or her purchases would not be based on meeting the need for esteem. For marketers, this means that they need to understand where in the hierarchy the product falls and then develop appropriate messaging and market targeting. Another example is that if an individual is concerned about where he or she is going to sleep next week, he or she is not as likely to be concerned with what movie is leading sales at the box office or the latest news on interest rates.
The second component of consumer behavior is perception. There are a few ways that perceptions can be categorized. The first, selective attention, comes into play because humans cannot internalize and react to all of the messages that they are bombarded with every day. A scan of the internet indicates that daily exposure to ads can range from as few as around 200 to as high as 30,000. Consequently, marketers need to identify ways to break through the clutter. There is no one right answer here, and success requires the right mix of channel, message, and offering (product or service).
Selective distortion comes into play as consumers view products through the lens of the preconceptions they already have about a product category, brand, or issue. For example, when some people see a cat, they think it is cute or soft. It may remind them of their childhood or give them a sense of companionship. For others, that same image of a cat may cause them to feel anxious because cats cause a bad allergic reaction, or maybe they were scratched or bitten when they were younger. Marketers need to try to identify and compensate for preconceptions. Consider the messaging BP (British Petroleum) used after the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. BP recognized that the preconception about the company and the work it was doing (offshore drilling) was negative and sought to offset that through a marketing campaign. The article BP Oil Spill Advertisements Since the Deepwater Horizon Disaster provides an overview and examples of the ads BP has run since the spill to try to repair its reputation.
Selective retention is another perception-based component that may reward companies with consumer loyalty. This theory outlines how people remember the good aspects or elements of a company or product that they like or are loyal to and how they disregard the good features of competitors. For example, someone highly loyal to the Apple brand may be well aware that Samsung is rapidly gaining in the cell phone market; however, selection retention maintains their connection and loyalty to Apple, and information in a Samsung advertisement would not be retained.
There is a specific buying process for consumers and businesses outlined in the text. The video The Consumer Buying Process provides additional details about that process and provides an example of how the pet supply store would use that process.