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Consumer Behavior, Eighth Edition SCHIFFMAN & KANUK. Chapter 7. Consumer Learning. The Importance of Consumer Learning to New Product Success. Why did these products fail? Listerine Toothpaste Ben-Gay Aspirin Why did Pocket Packs succeed?. Importance of Learning.

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Chapter 7 l.jpg

Consumer Behavior,Eighth EditionSCHIFFMAN & KANUK

Chapter 7

Consumer Learning

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The Importance of Consumer Learning to New Product Success

  • Why did these products fail?

    • Listerine Toothpaste

    • Ben-Gay Aspirin

  • Why did Pocket Packs succeed?

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Importance of Learning

  • Marketers must teach consumers:

    • where to buy

    • how to use

    • how to maintain

    • how to dispose of products

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Behavioral Theories: Theories based on the basis that learning takes place as the result of observable responses to external stimuli. Also known as stimulus response theory.

Cognitive Theories: A theory of learning based on mental information processing, often in response to problem solving.

Learning Theories

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Consumer Learning

A process by which individuals acquire the purchase and consumption knowledge

and experience

that they apply to

future related behavior.

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Intentional: learning acquired as a result of a careful search for information

Incidental: learning acquired by accident or without much effort

Learning Processes

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Consumer learning contd….

  • Example

  • some ads may induce learning (Brand names) even though the consumers attention is elsewhere (on a magzine article rather than the ads on facing page)

  • Other ads are sought out and carefully read by consumers for making a purchase decision.

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Elements of Learning Theories

  • Motivation

  • Cues

  • Response

  • Reinforcement

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  • The degree of relevance or involvement determines consumer level of motivation to search for

    • knowledge OR

    • information about a product or a service.

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  • Motives serve to stimulate learning,

  • Cues are the stimuli that gives direction to these motives e.g. an ad is a cue for consumer motivation for a specific product or service.

  • In the market place price, styling, packaging, advertising and the store displays all serve as cues.

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  • Marketers teach motivated consumer segments why and how their products will fulfill the consumers need.

  • Motives serve to stimulate learning.

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  • How individuals react to a drive or cue

  • How they behave constitute their response e.g. a marketer that provides consistent cues to a consumer may not always succeed in stimulating a purchase.

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Response contd…

  • However if marketer succeeds in forming a favorable image of a particular product in consumer’s mind.

  • It is likely that he or she will consider that product.

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A positive or negative outcome that influences the likelihood that a specific behavior will be repeated in the future in response to a particular cue or stimulus.

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Behavioral Learning Theories

  • Classical Conditioning

  • Instrumental Conditioning

  • Modeling or Observational Learning

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Classical Conditioning

A behavioral learning theory according to which a stimulus is paired with another stimulus that elicits a known response that serves to produce the same response when used alone.

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  • If you usually listen to the 9 o’ clock news while waiting for dinner to be served you would tend to associate the 9 o, clock news with dinner, So that eventually the sounds of the 9 o’ clock news alone might cause your mouth to water even if dinner was not being prepared and even if you were not hungry.

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Instrumental (Operant) Conditioning

A behavioral theory of learning based on a trial-and-error process, with habits forced as the result of positive experiences (reinforcement) resulting from certain responses or behaviors.

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Figure 7.2B Analogous Model of Classical Conditioning

Unconditioned Stimulus

Dinner aroma

Unconditioned Response


Conditioned Stimulus

9 o’clock news


Conditioned Stimulus

9 o’clock news

Conditioned Response


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Strategic Applications of Classical Conditioning

  • Repetition

  • Stimulus Generalization

  • Stimulus Discrimination

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  • Repetition increases strength of associations and slows forgetting but over time may result in advertising wearout.

Figure 7.3 Cosmetic Variations in Ads

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Three-Hit Theory

  • Repetition is the basis for the idea that three exposures to an ad are necessary for the ad to be effective

  • The number of actual repetitions to equal three exposures is in question.

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Three-Hit Theory

  • 1) to make consumers aware of the product

  • 2) to show cosumers the relevance of the product

  • 3) to remind them of its benefits

    according to others marketing scholars

  • 11 to 12 repetitions

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Stimulus Generalization

The inability to perceive differences between slightly dissimilar stimuli.

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  • It explain why some imitative “me-too” products succeed in the market place.


  • Consumers confuse them with original product they have seen advertised

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  • That an individual can learn to take dinner not only to the sound of 9 o’ clock news but also to the some what similar sound of Azan.

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Stimulus Generalization and Marketing

  • Product Line, Form and Category Extensions

  • Family Branding

  • Licensing

  • Generalizing Usage Situations

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Figure 7.5 Product Line Extension(adding related products to an already established brand)

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Product form extensions

  • Such as crest toothpaste to to crest whitestrips,

  • Listerine mouthwash to listerine paks

  • Bath soaps to liquid soaps

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Family branding

  • The practice of marketing a whole line of company products under the same brand name

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Family branding

  • The practice of marketing a whole line of company products under the same brand name.

  • A strategy that capitalizes on the consumers ability to generalized favorable brand associations from one product to others: e.g Nestle

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  • Allowing a well known brand name to be affixed to products of another manufacturer.

  • A strategy that operates on the principle of stimulus generalizations.

  • Examples: names of designers, manufacturers, celebrities, corporations and even cartoon characters are attached for a fee i.e rented.

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Figure 7-8Shoe Manufacturer Licenses Its Name

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Stimulus Discrimination

The ability to select a specific stimulus from among similar stimuli because of perceived differences.



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Brand A


Legs too tight


Brand B


Tight in seat

Stimulus Situation (Need good-looking jeans)


Brand C


Baggy in seat


Brand D


Perfect fit

Repeat Behavior

Figure 7.10 A Model of Instrumental Conditioning

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Instrumental Conditioning

  • Consumers learn by means of trial and error process in which some purchase behaviors result in more favorable outcomes (rewards) than other purchase behaviors.

  • A favorable experience is instrumental in teaching the individual to repeat a specific behavior.

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Instrumental Conditioning and Marketing

  • Customer Satisfaction (Reinforcement)

  • Reinforcement Schedules

    • Shaping

  • Massed versus Distributed Learning

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Positive Reinforcement: Positive outcomes that strengthen the likelihood of a specific response

Example: Ad showing beautiful hair as a reinforcement to buy shampoo

Negative Reinforcement: Unpleasant or negative outcomes that serve to encourage a specific behavior

Example: Ad showing wrinkled (smooth) skin as reinforcement to buy skin cream


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Observational Learning

A process by which individuals observe the behavior of others, and consequences of such behavior. Also known as modeling or vicarious (observational)


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Model or observational learning

  • Consumers often observe how others behave in response to certain situations (stimuli) and the ensuing (subsequent) results (reinforcement) that occur


  • The imitate (model) the positively reinforced behavior when faced with similar situations.

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Cognitive Learning Theory

Holds that the kind of learning most characteristic of human beings is problem solving, which enables individuals to gain some control over their environment.

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Figure 7.12 Appeal to Cognitive Processing

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Information Processing

A cognitive theory of human learning patterned after computer information processing that focuses on how information is stored in human memory and how it is retrieved.

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Figure 7.13 Information Processing and Memory Stores

Sensory Store

Working Memory (Short-term Store)

Long-term Store












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  • Information is stored in long-term memory

    • Episodically: by the order in which it is acquired

    • Semantically: according to significant concepts

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Table 7.1 Models of Cognitive Learning

Promotional Model

Tricomponent Model

Decision-Making Model

Innovation Adoption Model

Innovation Decision Process

Sequential Stages

of Processing



Awareness Knowledge



















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Involvement Theory

A theory of consumer learning which postulates that consumers engage in a range of information processing activity from extensive to limited problem solving, depending on the relevance of the purchase.

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Figure 7.14Split Brain Theory

  • Right/ Left Brain Hemispheres specialize in certain functions

Figure 7.14

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Figure 7.15Encouraging Right and Left BrainProcessing

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Issues in Involvement Theory

  • Involvement Theory and Media Strategy

  • Involvement Theory and Consumer Relevance

  • Central and Peripheral Routes to Persuasion

  • Measures of Involvement

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Central and Peripheral Routes to Persuasion

A theory that proposesthat highly involved consumers are best reached through ads that focus on the specific attributes of the product (the central route) while uninvolved consumers can be attracted through peripheral advertising cues such as the model or the setting (the peripheral route).

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Elaboration Likelihood Model (ELM)

A theory that suggests that a person’s level of involvement during message processing is a critical factor in determining which route to persuasion is likely to be effective.

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The Elaboration Likelihood Model




Central Route

Peripheral Route

Message Arguments Influence Attitudes

Peripheral Cues Influence Attitudes

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Measures of Consumer Learning

  • Recognition and Recall Measures

    • Aided and Unaided Recall

  • Cognitive Responses to Advertising

  • Copytesting Measures

  • Attitudinal and Behavioral Measures of Brand Loyalty

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Phases of Brand Loyalty

  • Cognitive

  • Affective

  • Conative

  • Action

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Figure 7.19

Brand Loyalty As A Function of

Relative Attitude and Patronage Behavior

Repeat Patronage



Relative Attitude






Spurious Loyalty