Psychology 2990A/B Chapter Notes - Chapter 7: Polo Shirt, Rorschach Test, Consumer Behaviour

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Chapter 7: Consumer Psychology
The Scope of Consumer Psychology
We don’t consciously perceive most of the messages around us
Even if we are unaware of the details, we are aware of the process of advertising (we don't
like it)
Results from survey for American Association of Advertising Agencies:
o54% said they deliberately avoid products that overwhelmed them with ads
o60% said opinions about advertising more negative than previous years
o61% said amount of ads they’re exposed to are “out of control”
o69% interested in services/products that helped them eliminate/block ads
o45% said amount of marketing/advertising detracted from quality of daily life
While they may annoy us, ads can also inform and entertain us
Study of consumer behaviour that launched I-O psychology
Dates back to 20th century work of Walter Dill Scott on advertising and selling
In 1921 John B. Watson began to apply his ideas about human behaviour to problems in
business world
oHe proposed human behaviour can be conditioned and therefore can be predicted or
controlled like any other kinds of behaviour
oHe brought experimental and survey methods to marketing
oHe insisted advertising should focus on style and image not substance and fact
oHe pioneered celebrity endorsements
1960s – Association for Consumer Research was founded, first textbooks on consumer
behaviour published, Society for Consumer Psychology was founded as Division 23 of
American Psychological Association
Research Methods in Consumer Psychology
Consumer psychology research relies on techniques like lab experiments and surveys
Surveys and Public Opinion Polls
Premise for surveys: people can/will express their feelings/reactions/opinions/desires when
Survey method works well but there have been big failures in predicting election results
Advantages and disadvantages of various techniques:
Mail Telephone Personal Interview Online
Cost Low Moderate High Low
Speed Slow Immediate Slow Fast
Response Rate Low Moderate High Self-selected
Geographic Flexibility Excellent Good Difficulty Excellent
Interviewer Bias N/A Moderate Problematic N/A
Interviewer Supervision N/A Easy Difficult N/A
Quality of Response Limited Limited Excellent Excellent
Difficulty is the complex and changeable nature of human behaviour (opinions can vary
depending on even the day of the week)
People tend to respond to surveys/polls with statements/answers they believe will enhance
their status
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2448 people received mail-order catalogue then surveyed, which found 10% of those who
purchased products from it said they have never bought anything from that company, 40%
who didn't purchase said they did
Mail surveys with contact info to prove validity had better response rates
Sending a photo of a women identified as the researcher got better response rate than if photo
was a man
Telephone survey response rates have gone down because of caller ID (tendency to screen
calls is higher among ages 18-29, single persons, African Americans, people with children,
and in larger cities)
Online surveys more popular since their fast and cheaper (Consumer Reports conducted its
first annual online product survey in 2003 to 4 million, return rate 25%, was 14% before)
Focus Groups
Focus Groups – small samples of consumers who meet in groups of 8-12 to describe their
reactions to product, package, ad, or ideas and issues being promoted by political candidate
Members are selected to match targeted consumer/voters, usually get paid
Can be structured on basis of age, income, education level, or any other variable
Focus groups structured differently for different segments of population
Are videotaped and observed through 1 way mirrors
Data collected more qualitative than questionnaires/surveys
Participants may distort their answers
Virtual focus groups conducted online are low cost and greater efficiency (members not
influenced by each other and don't hear each other so more private for sensitive topics)
Motivation Research
Used to get deeper, undistorted, hidden motivations
Ernest Dichter was pioneer in this field, building on Freudian psychoanalysis to discover
unconscious motivations for neurotic behaviour, he applied it to consumer behaviour
oFirst success was with packages cake mix (introduced in 1940) that consumers
rejected, he questioned female consumer sample and found they felt guilty about
doing little/no work to bake a cake for their family
He suggested that they give consumer something to do to fill this urge and
solve the problem like having them use real egg instead of including dried egg,
which led to huge sales and Dichters fame and riches
Projective techniques include Rorschach Inkblot Test, Thematic Apperception Test, and
sentence completion test
oTheory behind projective technique use: when people are presented with ambiguous
stimulus like an inkblot, people project their needs, fears, and values onto the stimulus
when interpreting it (same basis for employee selection and consumer behaviour)
oExample of projective technique use: women react positively to tray that kills roaches
but still buy old-style sprays, so they had women draw pictures and write a story about
roaches, found that all roaches in pic were male and symbolized men who the women
said abandoned them and use the spray as a means of expressing built up hostility
Direct questioning would not have gotten this result
oProjective tests are low in reliability and validity
oProjective techniques have been successful in studying consumer behaviour but ad
industry does publicize failures so not sure of extent of success
Observations of Shopping Behaviours
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Consumer surveys and motivation research techniques share weakness: reveal only what
people say they believe or will do, and intention don't always coincide with actual behaviour
Some consumer psychologists prefer to observe what people actually do and also look at sales
Sales data can reflect factors other than the one being evaluated, without adequate control
over all possible influencing variables, the cause of any increase or decrease in sales cannot
be determined precisely
Video cameras or human observers in stores is more direct way to investigate purchase
oResearchers have watched mothers shop for cereal with children: 65+% of the time
children ask for specific product and more than half the time mother buys that product
oSupermarket observers found dog food was often purchase by adults but dog treats
were purchased more by kids or elderly and since treats were on higher shelf making it
harder for elderly/kids to reach, by moving it to lower shelf sales improved overnight
Costly and time consuming, also problem with the sample of shopping behaviour as different
locations attract customers with different needs and incomes, problem also with the variety in
types of shoppers at the same store at different times of day or week
Also a lack of control over other influencing variables (in all observational research studies)
Despite limitations, it often reveals valuable marketing info that would be difficult to obtain
any other way
Useful variation is to observe people actually using the product
oHuggies baby wipes sales decreased so they had caregivers put camera in eyeglass and
saw that they change more on bed than on table and they struggled with wipes and
lotions requiring two hands so they changed it to a push button only using one hand
Involves measuring brain activity and functions in response to marketing and advertising
Subjects are connected to devices that scan activity in various part of brain through
electroencephalography (EEG), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and position emission
tomography (PET)
Used to test effectiveness of ads and appeal of new products by examining brain waves
(measures attention second by second and how emotionally engaged you are)
Study of how brain waves changed in response to the different product presentation adults
were watching allowed researchers to accurately predict what other products the subjects
would say they would purchase
In study men showed 66 pics of different types of cars, sports cars were rated most desirable,
brain images showed increased activity in self reward center of brain normally activated only
by stimuli such as sex/chocolate/cocaine, sight of sports cars released opiates in brain related
to lust/pleasure showing how deeply pleasurable these sports cars were perceived
Study of 200 TV viewers showed TV ads in morning were far more stimulating to areas of
brain associated with attention, concentration, short-term, long-term memory, and positive
emotional engagement; than same ad shown at night (primetime not prime for advertisers)
Testing Reactions to Ads
Most direct approach to test ad effectiveness is to ask people for their reactions (sample must
be representative of product target market)
3 other techniques for testing effectiveness of ads:
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