Learning And Memory
Lecture three explored learning and memory and the intricate connection between these aspects and consumer behaviour. Consumer learning is an essential component of consumer behaviour and it results from memory changes that occur due to information processing. The learning process takes place intentionally when a consumer recognises a problem that needs solution hence go gathering information that relates to specific products. This information helps the consumer to solve the problem at hand yet provides a bridging in the information gap. Nevertheless, consumer learning can also occur unintentionally and still have an impact on the behaviour of the consumers.
The learning process is essential for the consumers because it helps them adapt to the ever-changing environment and acquire new information about products that are launched into the market. This makes their experience with the products better. Therefore, when we see other people with some products and we follow to ask them about their experience with the products we are actually undergoing the process of learning by collecting information about the products. If I had need to change the scouring powder I usually use, I may or may not have other options or ideas of what other scouring powders available in the market. To bridge this information gap, I may ask a friend or friends about the best scouring powder they use. After listening to their experiences and take about the various options they provide, I have to choose the best to fulfil my desire to have a change of the scouring powder I use.
Therefore, for us to undergo the learning process as consumers there must be some fundamental elements that characterize the process. First, there must be motives that arouse us and increase our readiness to respond easily. The motive may be instigated by an external stimulus or inherent problem that we must solve. The other element comprises the cues, which are sets of stimuli that are not strong enough to arouse us but can provide us with direction to a particular motivated activity. It implies that cues influence the manner in which we respond to motives. Response is also an element that is essential in consumer learning since it is the mental or physical activity that the consumer brings forth or educes as a way of reacting to the stimulus. Reinforcement is the element that comprises whatever follows the response made by consumers and it is this that determines the consumers’ ability or tendency to make any repeat purchase. Since reinforced behaviour has a higher probability of being repeated, marketers work to ensure that they present products by providing information sufficient enough to cause reinforcement in the consumers.
Consumer learning process can either be achieved through classical conditioning or instrumental conditioning. Through classical conditioning, the established relationship between specific stimulus and a given response. When doing marketing and advertisement, the marketer may use ads or campaigns of varying complexities yet they all touch on memory of consumers, their ability to learn or process information and the perception. For instance a campaign such as the American “Got milk?” advertisement is simple to understand yet it contains supplementary information on the benefits of taking milk. This campaign is short and easily memorable. The milk moustache of “got milk” ad has become to be associated with taking milk and this is a form of classical conditioning in action (refer to campaign 3a).
Marketers can get information into the memory of consumers through the use of messages that are encoded into signs and symbols or even words. When consumers get this information through learning, they can retrieve it at any time from memory. Classical conditioning is used by marketers where brand names and brand associations are used to create brand equity hence brand loyalty. Advertisers also use classical conditioning when they repeat marketing endeavours to instil memory in consumers. However, we find that classical conditioning has its negative sides too. For instance, in the violent video games, the consumers become conditioned to accept shooting.
Apart from the classical conditioning, consumers also learn through instrumental condition where they learn to be associated with behaviours that generate positive outcomes and shun those that generate negative outcomes. Thus, when businesses use particular individuals with good standing in the society to endorse their products or be brand ambassadors, they are simply using operant conditioning to make people associate with the products because of the person or persons endorsing them (refer to campaign 3b). In the ad Bernie Mac is used to endorse the advertisement. Bernie Mac was a successful actor in family comedies in the US and therefore many consumers are likely to identify with the campaign or products being advertised on the virtue of Bernie Mac’s standing in the society.
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