Archive for Mix Marketing

Posted in B2B, Brand Managment, Consumer Behavior, CRM, eMarketing, Management, Marketing Mix (New Concepts) with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 1, 2011 by Consultant

Classical Theories of Motivation

The motivation concepts were mainly developed around 1950’s. Three main theories were made during this period. These three classical theories are-

  • Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory

Abraham Maslow is well renowned for proposing the Hierarchy of Needs Theory in 1943. This theory is a classical depiction of human motivation. This theory is based on the assumption that there is a hierarchy of five needs within each individual. The urgency of these needs varies. These five needs are as follows-

  1. Physiological needs- These are the basic needs of air, water, food, clothing and shelter. In other words, physiological needs are the needs for basic amenities of life.
  2. Safety needs- Safety needs include physical, environmental and emotional safety and protection. For instance- Job security, financial security, protection from animals, family security, health security, etc.
  3. Social needs- Social needs include the need for love, affection, care, belongingness, and friendship.
  4. Esteem needs- Esteem needs are of two types: internal esteem needs (self- respect, confidence, competence, achievement and freedom) and external esteem needs (recognition, power, status, attention and admiration).
  5. Self-actualization need- This include the urge to become what you are capable of becoming / what you have the potential to become. It includes the need for growth and self-contentment. It also includes desire for gaining more knowledge, social- service, creativity and being aesthetic. The self- actualization needs are never fully satiable. As an individual grows psychologically, opportunities keep cropping up to continue growing.

According to Maslow, individuals are motivated by unsatisfied needs. As each of these needs is significantly satisfied, it drives and forces the next need to emerge. Maslow grouped the five needs into two categories –Higher-order needs and Lower-order needs. The physiological and the safety needs constituted the lower-order needs. These lower-order needs are mainly satisfied externally. The social, esteem, and self-actualization needs constituted the higher-order needs. These higher-order needs are generally satisfied internally, i.e., within an individual. Thus, we can conclude that during boom period, the employees lower-order needs are significantly met.

Maslows Need Hierarchy ModelFIGURE: Maslow’s Need Hierarchy Model
Implications of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Theory for Managers
As far as the physiological needs are concerned, the managers should give employees appropriate salaries to purchase the basic necessities of life. Breaks and eating opportunities should be given to employees.
As far as the safety needs are concerned, the managers should provide the employees job security, safe and hygienic work environment, and retirement benefits so as to retain them.
As far as social needs are concerned, the management should encourage teamwork and organize social events.
As far as esteem needs are concerned, the managers can appreciate and reward employees on accomplishing and exceeding their targets. The management can give the deserved employee higher job rank / position in the organization.
As far as self-actualization needs are concerned, the managers can give the employees challenging jobs in which the employees’ skills and competencies are fully utilized. Moreover, growth opportunities can be given to them so that they can reach the peak.

The managers must identify the need level at which the employee is existing and then those needs can be utilized as push for motivation.

Limitations of Maslow’s Theory
  • It is essential to note that not all employees are governed by same set of needs. Different individuals may be driven by different needs at same point of time. It is always the most powerful unsatisfied need that motivates an individual.
  • The theory is not empirically supported.
  • The theory is not applicable in case of starving artist as even if the artist’s basic needs are not satisfied, he will still strive for recognition and achievement.
  • Herzberg’s Two factor theory

Herzberg’s Two-Factor Theory of Motivation

In 1959, Frederick Herzberg, a behavioural scientist proposed a two-factor theory or the motivator-hygiene theory. According to Herzberg, there are some job factors that result in satisfaction while there are other job factors that prevent dissatisfaction. According to Herzberg, the opposite of “Satisfaction” is “No satisfaction” and the opposite of “Dissatisfaction” is “No Dissatisfaction”.

Herzbergs view of satisfaction and dissatisfaction
FIGURE: Herzberg’s view of satisfaction and dissatisfaction

Herzberg classified these job factors into two categories-

  1. Hygiene factors- Hygiene factors are those job factors which are essential for existence of motivation at workplace. These do not lead to positive satisfaction for long-term. But if these factors are absent / if these factors are non-existant at workplace, then they lead to dissatisfaction. In other words, hygiene factors are those factors which when adequate / reasonable in a job, pacify the employees and do not make them dissatisfied. These factors are extrinsic to work. Hygiene factors are also called asdissatisfiers or maintenance factors as they are required to avoid dissatisfaction. These factors describe the job environment / scenario. The hygiene factors symbolized the physiological needs which the individuals wanted and expected to be fulfilled. Hygiene factors include:
    • Pay- The pay or salary structure should be appropriate and reasonable. It must be equal and competitive to those in the same industry in the same domain.
    • Company Policies and administrative policies- The company policies should not be too rigid. They should be fair and clear. It should include flexible working hours, dress code, breaks, vacation, etc.
    • Fringe benefits- The employees should be offered health care plans (mediclaim), benefits for the family members, employee help programmes, etc.
    • Physical Working conditions- The working conditions should be safe, clean and hygienic. The work equipments should be updated and well-maintained.
    • Status- The employees’ status within the organization should be familiar and retained.
    • Interpersonal relations-The relationship of the employees with his peers, superiors and subordinates should be appropriate and acceptable. There should be no conflict or humiliation element present.
    • Job Security- The organization must provide job security to the employees.

     

  2. Motivational factors- According to Herzberg, the hygiene factors cannot be regarded as motivators. The motivational factors yield positive satisfaction. These factors are inherent to work. These factors motivate the employees for a superior performance. These factors are called satisfiers. These are factors involved in performing the job. Employees find these factors intrinsically rewarding. The motivators symbolized the psychological needs that were perceived as an additional benefit. Motivational factors include:
    • Recognition- The employees should be praised and recognized for their accomplishments by the managers.
    • Sense of achievement- The employees must have a sense of achievement. This depends on the job. There must be a fruit of some sort in the job.
    • Growth and promotional opportunities- There must be growth and advancement opportunities in an organization to motivate the employees to perform well.
    • Responsibility- The employees must hold themselves responsible for the work. The managers should give them ownership of the work. They should minimize control but retain accountability.
    • Meaningfulness of the work- The work itself should be meaningful, interesting and challenging for the employee to perform and to get motivated.
Limitations of Two-Factor Theory

The two factor theory is not free from limitations:

  1. The two-factor theory overlooks situational variables.
  2. Herzberg assumed a correlation between satisfaction and productivity. But the research conducted by Herzberg stressed upon satisfaction and ignored productivity.
  3. The theory’s reliability is uncertain. Analysis has to be made by the raters. The raters may spoil the findings by analyzing same response in different manner.
  4. No comprehensive measure of satisfaction was used. An employee may find his job acceptable despite the fact that he may hate/object part of his job.
  5. The two factor theory is not free from bias as it is based on the natural reaction of employees when they are enquired the sources of satisfaction and dissatisfaction at work. They will blame dissatisfaction on the external factors such as salary structure, company policies and peer relationship. Also, the employees will give credit to themselves for the satisfaction factor at work.
  6. The theory ignores blue-collar workers. Despite these limitations, Herzberg’s Two-Factor theory is acceptable broadly.
Implications of Two-Factor Theory
The Two-Factor theory implies that the managers must stress upon guaranteeing the adequacy of the hygiene factors to avoid employee dissatisfaction. Also, the managers must make sure that the work is stimulating and rewarding so that the employees are motivated to work and perform harder and better. This theory emphasize upon job-enrichment so as to motivate the employees. The job must utilize the employee’s skills and competencies to the maximum. Focusing on the motivational factors can improve work-quality.
  • Theory X and Theory Y

In 1960, Douglas McGregor formulated Theory X and Theory Y suggesting two aspects of human behaviour at work, or in other words, two different views of individuals (employees): one of which is negative, called as Theory X and the other is positive, so called as Theory Y. According to McGregor, the perception of managers on the nature of individuals is based on various assumptions.

Assumptions of Theory X
  • An average employee intrinsically does not like work and tries to escape it whenever possible.
  • Since the employee does not want to work, he must be persuaded, compelled, or warned with punishment so as to achieve organizational goals. A close supervision is required on part of managers. The managers adopt a more dictatorial style.
  • Many employees rank job security on top, and they have little or no aspiration/ ambition.
  • Employees generally dislike responsibilities.
  • Employees resist change.
  • An average employee needs formal direction.
Assumptions of Theory Y
  • Employees can perceive their job as relaxing and normal. They exercise their physical and mental efforts in an inherent manner in their jobs.
  • Employees may not require only threat, external control and coercion to work, but they can use self-direction and self-control if they are dedicated and sincere to achieve the organizational objectives.
  • If the job is rewarding and satisfying, then it will result in employees’ loyalty and commitment to organization.
  • An average employee can learn to admit and recognize the responsibility. In fact, he can even learn to obtain responsibility.
  • The employees have skills and capabilities. Their logical capabilities should be fully utilized. In other words, the creativity, resourcefulness and innovative potentiality of the employees can be utilized to solve organizational problems.

Thus, we can say that Theory X presents a pessimistic view of employees’ nature and behaviour at work, while Theory Y presents an optimistic view of the employees’ nature and behaviour at work. If correlate it with Maslow’s theory, we can say that Theory X is based on the assumption that the employees emphasize on the physiological needs and the safety needs; while Theory X is based on the assumption that the social needs, esteem needs and the self-actualization needs dominate the employees.

McGregor views Theory Y to be more valid and reasonable than Theory X. Thus, he encouraged cordial team relations, responsible and stimulating jobs, and participation of all in decision-making process.

Implications of Theory X and Theory Y
Quite a few organizations use Theory X today. Theory X encourages use of tight control and supervision. It implies that employees are reluctant to organizational changes. Thus, it does not encourage innovation.
Many organizations are using Theory Y techniques. Theory Y implies that the managers should create and encourage a work environment which provides opportunities to employees to take initiative and self-direction. Employees should be given opportunities to contribute to organizational well-being. Theory Y encourages decentralization of authority, teamwork and participative decision making in an organization. Theory Y searches and discovers the ways in which an employee can make significant contributions in an organization. It harmonizes and matches employees’ needs and aspirations with organizational needs and aspirations.

These theories are building blocks of the contemporary theories developed later. The working mangers and learned professionals till date use these classical theories to explain the concept of employee motivation.

 

Advertisements

Posted in eMarketing, Marketing Mix (New Concepts) with tags , , , , , , , , on November 29, 2011 by Consultant

B2B Marketing: Why Generating Leads Isn’t Enough Anymore

If you’re like most B2B marketers, you diligently plan and execute campaigns to drive new opportunities and, ultimately, increase revenue. But unless you’re ready to rethink marketing’s role, you may be throwing precious budget dollars out the window and missing opportunities to drive real customer value.

Customer buying behavior is evolving, and demand management is evolving along with it. Today’s B2B marketers can’t focus only on generating leads and turning them over to Sales. They need a new process for creating effective, targeted programs that hit the right people at the right time via the appropriate channel.

Here are four key steps to ensure your B2B marketing evolves to meet today’s challenges.

1. Develop a lead-management process

Marketing and Sales must work together to design a more integrated—and collaborative—process that addresses goals, metrics, and activities at crucial lead stages.

That process includes…

  • Identifying key business drivers to optimize demand generation
  • Mapping out the customer lifecycle (from suspect to prospect, lead, and customer)
  • Building marketing programs for nurturing and qualification
  • Defining a Sales-ready lead
  • Determining how leads should be passed to Sales and tracked

2. Master your customer data

Organizations might have thousands, or even millions, of contacts from tradeshows, partner events, and old website leads. And data from social media monitoring and capture have added to the volume of data that organizations have to sift through. Developing marketing initiatives for an unwieldy database results in wasted budget and resources—and, more important, missed revenue opportunities.

You need a data strategy to develop a comprehensive view of your customers and their interactions. That means starting with a clear understanding of what customer data you have today—from all available sources—and where there are gaps.

The sources of information that feed the database are critical; just as critical, however, is how that information is collected, stored, and managed… because that’s what will help you make decisions about to whom you should market.

Define your customer

Who in your customer’s organization is the buyer of the services that your company sells? Who influences the sale? Who approves it? A multilevel view will help you target messaging and better arm your sales force with the information it needs.

Cleanse and standardize your data

In B2B marketing, obtaining prospect information, such as company, title, contact name, and email address, is paramount. Use reference libraries to standardize domestic and international mailing addresses. Implement email address formatting and domain validation to ensure higher deliverability.

Match the data

Data-matching is about creating links between records from various data sources to create a richer, more accurate customer profile. B2B matching is complex because of the variations in company naming conventions and sites that can span addresses. As a best-practice, you should continually refine and test your matching rules based on results.

Generate insight

Once you have the data, you’ll need to generate insight on the following.

  • Whom to target
  • What stage of the cycle your target is in
  • What products or services your target is interested in
  • How your target likes to be contacted or receive information
  • What the cadence of communication should be

3. Become a content marketer

These days, buyers are more likely to take the initiative. Long before they talk to a sales rep, buyers go online for product information, comparison-shopping, and peer recommendations via social media. If you’re going to engage with those potential customers, you must win their trust and build a relationship by providing objective, informative content.

Once you’ve generated content, use it across different channels and touchpoints. Consider writing a case study, opinion, or best-practices piece, and then repurposing it for your website, blog, Twitter stream, and outbound email.

Remember, this isn’t the time to sell! Instead, focus on answering the questions prospects may have early in their buying process, and position your company as the helpful expert. Offer independent research or third-party thought leadership that supports your solutions. And encourage a permission-based ongoing dialogue so that you can stay in touch (and stay top-of-mind) as the buyer gets closer to a decision.

4. Embrace multiple channels and measurement

Go beyond email marketing to ensure you are reaching your targets via their preferred channels. How do you determine the right marketing mix and cadence of communications? One word: test.

The optimal mix of the best message, channel, and timing depends on your company and its customers. Start with a baseline, and work in easy A/B tests (challenger, champion). As the program matures, you can add multivariate tests—but keep it simple in the beginning.

Set up a measurement plan before executing any marketing program.  Nothing is worse than realizing after the first campaign has gone out that measurement was left off the table and you now have to scramble to answer that ever-important question: So how’s the campaign doing?

* * *

Many marketers recognize that they face challenges in one or more areas outlined in this article. For example, you might have the vision and the organization for success, but legacy systems limit your ability to market effectively. Or, you have data, but no data strategy to determine what to keep, what you’re missing, what’s of value, and how to derive insight. Or maybe you want to be more customer-centric, but you organize around product lines or channels.

By ensuring that your B2B marketing evolves, you can…

  • Identify gaps in customer information.
  • Decrease marketing expenditures and waste.
  • Improve the quality and deliverability of campaigns.
  • Invest in customer segments based on value.
  • Improve the return on marketing investment.

Moreover, you will seem a more critical and vital partner—with Sales and the rest of the company—in generating top-line revenue growth while being accountable for the costs of generating that revenue. That perception will make it easier for you to justify additional investments in marketing and protect you from cutbacks in tough times.

Posted in Consumer Behavior, eMarketing, Marketing Mix (New Concepts) with tags , , , , , , , , , on November 28, 2011 by Consultant

Consumer Behavior and Marketing Strateg

 The study of consumers helps firms and organizations improve their marketing strategies by understanding issues such as how
  • The psychology of how consumers think, feel, reason, and select between different alternatives (e.g., brands, products);
  • The the psychology of how the consumer is influenced by his or her environment (e.g., culture, family, signs, media);
  • The behavior of consumers while shopping or making other marketing decisions;
  • Limitations in consumer knowledge or information processing abilities influence decisions and marketing outcome;
  • How consumer motivation and decision strategies differ between products that differ in their level of importance or interest that they entail for the consumer; and
  • How marketers can adapt and improve their marketing campaigns and marketing strategies to more effectively reach the consumer.

Understanding these issues helps us adapt our strategies by taking the consumer into consideration. For example, by understanding that a number of different messages compete for our potential customers’ attention, we learn that to be effective, advertisements must usually be repeated extensively. We also learn that consumers will sometimes be persuaded more by logical arguments, but at other times will be persuaded more by emotional or symbolic appeals. By understanding the consumer, we will be able to make a more informed decision as to which strategy to e

Posted in Consumer Behavior, eMarketing, Marketing Mix (New Concepts) with tags , , , , , , , , on November 28, 2011 by Consultant

 Marketing Tracks in  Consumer Behavior

Consumer behaviour is key to the impact that society is having on the environment.As well as what people consume directly in the home and elsewhere, our fulfilment of needs and wants lies behind many of the activities that create environmental impacts, such as the production of food and other goods.While new and more sustainable technologies offer great promise, they cannot in themselves ensure sustainability. Only people’s choices can lead us away from unsustainable patterns of consumption.

But there are many conflicting explanations as to why people consume:

  • some economic (to do with prices and technology)
  • some environmental (fulfilling physical needs such as shelter and food)
  • and some cultural (consumption as central to social identity).
Methodologically, consumer behaviour research uses the following types of research designs:
Based on questioning:
  • Qualitative marketing research – generally used for exploratory purposes – small number of respondents – not generalizable to the whole population – statistical significance and confidence not calculated – examples include focus groups, in-depth interviews, and projective techniques
  • Quantitative marketing research – generally used to draw conclusions – tests a specific hypothesis – uses random sampling techniques so as to infer from the sample to the population – involves a large number of respondents – examples include surveys and questionnaires
Based on observations:

  • Ethnographic studies -, by nature qualitative, the researcher observes social phenomena in their naturalsetting – observations can occur cross-sectionally (observations made at one time) or longitudinally (observations occur over several time-periods) – examples include product-use analysis and computer cookie traces
  • Experimental techniques -, by nature quantitative, the researcher creates a quasi-artificial environment to try to control spurious factors, then manipulates at least one of the variables – examples include purchase laboratories and test markets

Researchers often use more than one research design. They may start with secondary research to get background information, then conduct a focus group (qualitative research design) to explore the issues. Finally they might do a full nation-wide survey (quantitative research design) in order to devise specific recommendations for the client.

Posted in Consumer Behavior, eMarketing, Marketing Mix (New Concepts) with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on November 28, 2011 by Consultant

 Decision Makers

 Finally, a point to consider is, given the characteristics of your offering, what type of decision maker will most likely be interested in purchasing from you. It may be beneficial to rank your prospects based on the following classifications. While you may not be able to make this classification of the prospect prior to the first contact, if your sales personnel are sensitive to these characteristics it can strongly influence your sales strategy.
Ultra Conservative – don’t rock the boat, whatever they purchase must be consistent with their current way of doing things.

  • They are most likely interested in products/services that are improvements to existing offerings rather than something new.
  • Once established as a customer they are seldom inclined to review alternatives.
  • Very negative to technically complex offerings or offerings requiring extensive user education.
  • Cost effective offerings are only of interest if they don’t disturb the status quo.
  • They are likely to react positively to any volume purchasing opportunities.

Conservatives – are willing to change, but only in small increments and only in a very cost effective manner.

  • Will consider new products/services but only if related concept has been proven to be effective. More likely to purchase improvements to existing offerings.
  • Will probably want to review competitive offerings, but will gravitate to best known offering with lowest risk decision.
  • Negative to neutral when considering technically complex offerings or offerings requiring extensive user education.
  • Strongly influenced by cost effective offerings and/or ‘best price’ opportunities

Liberals – regularly looking for new solutions, willing to make change (even major change) if the benefit can be shown.

  • Will usually consider new products/services even if the related concept has not yet been proven to be effective, but only if the potential benefits can be specified and understood.
  • Wants offerings that make effective use of technology, but is not interested in offerings just because they use a certain technology.
  • Will always want to review competitive offerings, but will usually choose the one offering the greatest benefit, even if there is some risk involved.
  • Neutral to positive when considering technically complex offerings or offerings requiring extensive user education.
  • Usually concerned with keeping employees informed and educated, so will often consider educational offerings.
  • Strongly influenced by offerings that most closely deliver the ‘end results’ desired, even if they are not the most cost effective.
  • Often are on social trend bandwagons so react positively to offerings that address these needs.

Technical Liberals – enamored with the benefits provided by high tech solutions and any purchase decision will be biased by the technical content of the offering.

  • Usually consider new products/services even if the related concept has not yet been proven to be effective.
  • Often consider just because they use a certain technology.
  • Will always want to review competitive offerings, but will usually choose the one offering the most hi-tech features, even if there is some risk involved.
  • Consider themselves technically competent and will expect leading edge use of technology.
  • Positive to fanatic when considering technically complex offerings even when requiring extensive user education.
  • Conversion costs usually not a major concern if technical benefits are there.
  • Not particularly concerned with keeping employees informed and educated, so educational offerings are not of great interest.
  • Strongly influenced by offerings that most closely deliver the ‘end results’ desired, even if they are not the most cost effective.

Self Helpers – consistently defines/designs solutions to their problems, likes to acquire tools that help in the innovation process.

  • Will usually consider new products/services, but the related concept must have been proven to be effective.
  • Often consider just because they use a certain technology that is relevant to the development program they have underway.
  • Will always want to review competitive offerings, but will usually choose the one offering the most effective ‘do it yourself’ features.
  • Usually consider themselves technically competent and will expect very effective use of proven technology.
  • Not especially inclined toward technically complex offerings, would rather have user friendly, but thought provoking, offerings.
  • Conversion costs usually not a major concern if offering promises potential for innovation.
  • Usually concerned with keeping employees informed and educated, so educational offerings are of interest.

Posted in Consumer Behavior, eMarketing, Marketing Mix (New Concepts) with tags , , , , , , , , on November 27, 2011 by Consultant

Multichannel Consumer Marketing Plan

A multichannel consumer marketing plan enables you to reach consumers by the channels they prefer and to increase revenue per customer. Research firm Epsilon Targeting reported that households buying from retailers with a multichannel strategy spent an average of $832 in 2010, compared to spending $385 with retailers selling through a contact center and $360 for retailers operating an online strategy.

Online Information

Identify the channels that consumers use to obtain product information before making purchases. According to consultants Booz & Co., consumers use online sources to carry out product research and to obtain contact information for other marketing channels, such as store locations or contact center numbers. Provide comprehensive product and contact information on your website. Consumers also visit product review sites, social media such as Facebook and forums to check the opinions of other consumers. Set up a forum on your website and monitor review sites to understand consumers’ perceptions of your products.

Purchasing Channels

Select the channels that enable you to reach consumers cost effectively. Consumers buy products through mail order, contact centers, catalogs, retail outlets, e-commerce sites and TV shopping channels. Analyze your sales records to identify current channels that provide the main source of revenue. Review competitors’ websites to see if they use channels that you have not considered. You may miss opportunities by ignoring channels. Booz & Co. reported that German businesses that focused on single channels wasted more than $1.5 billion a year in unproductive marketing.

Integrated Strategy

Develop an integrated multichannel strategy, not a fragmented multiple channel strategy. An integrated multichannel strategy ensures that you offer consistent marketing messages and quality of customer experience across all channels, according to consultants McKinsey and Company. A consumer can research products on your website, contact your call center to obtain more detailed information and visit a retail outlet to inspect or purchase the product, with a consistent experience at each stage.

Data Analysis

Collect sales and contact data from all your channels to build a complete picture of consumers’ research and purchasing patterns. Use the data to match channels, personalize communications and make special offers based on consumers’ preferences. The data from multichannel marketing provides the basis for building an effective one-to-one marketing program with individual consumers, according to Epsilon Targeting.

Posted in Consumer Behavior with tags , , , , , , , on November 21, 2011 by Consultant

Cultural  Influences

Humans are inherently social animals, and individuals greatly influence each other.

A useful framework of analysis of group influence on the individual is the so called reference group—the term comes about because an individual uses a relevant group as a standard of reference against which oneself is compared. Reference groups come in several different forms.

  • The aspirational reference group refers to those others against whom one would like to compare oneself. For example, many firms use athletes as spokespeople, and these represent what many people would ideally like to be.
  • Associative reference groups include people who more realistically represent the individuals’ current equals or near-equals—e.g., coworkers, neighbors, or members of churches, clubs, and organizations. Paco Underhill, a former anthropologist turned retail consultant and author of the book Why We Buy has performed research suggesting that among many teenagers, the process of clothes buying is a two stage process. In the first stage, the teenagers go on a “reconnaissance” mission with their friends to find out what is available and what is “cool.” This is often a lengthy process. In the later phase, parents—who will need to pay for the purchases—are brought. This stage is typically much briefer.
  • Finally, the dissociative reference group includes people that the individual would not like to be like. For example, the store literally named The Gap came about because many younger people wanted to actively dissociate from parents and other older and “uncool” people. The Quality Paperback Book Club specifically suggests in its advertising that its members are “a breed apart” from conventional readers of popular books.

Reference groups come with various degrees of influence. Primary reference groups come with a great deal of influence—e.g., members of a fraternity/sorority. Secondary reference groups tend to have somewhat less influence—e.g., members of a boating club that one encounters only during week-ends are likely to have their influence limited to consumption during that time period.

Another typology divides reference groups into the informational kind (influence is based almost entirely on members’ knowledge), normative(members influence what is perceived to be “right,” “proper,” “responsible,” or “cool”), or identification. The difference between the latter two categories involves the individual’s motivation for compliance. In case of the normative reference group, the individual tends to comply largely for utilitarian reasons—dressing according to company standards is likely to help your career, but there is no real motivation to dress that way outside the job. In contrast, people comply with identification groups’ standards for the sake of belonging—for example, a member of a religious group may wear a symbol even outside the house of worship because the religion is a part of the person’s identity.

Perception

Background.  Our perception is an approximation of reality.  Our brain attempts to make sense out of the stimuli to which we are exposed.  This works well, for example, when we “see” a friend three hundred feet away at his or her correct height; however, our perception is sometimes “off”—for example, certain shapes of ice cream containers look like they contain more than rectangular ones with the same volume.

Factors in percpetion.  Several sequential factors influence our perception.Exposure involves the extent to which we encounter a stimulus.  For example, we are exposed to numerous commercial messages while driving on the freeway:  bill boards, radio advertisements, bumper-stickers on cars, and signs and banners placed at shopping malls that we pass.  Most of this exposure is random—we don’t plan to seek it out.  However, if we are shopping for a car, we may deliberately seek out advertisements and “tune in” when dealer advertisements come on the radio.

Exposure is not enough to significantly impact the individual—at least not based on a single trial (certain advertisements, or commercial exposures such as the “Swoosh” logo, are based on extensive repetition rather than much conscious attention).  In order for stimuli to be consciously processed, attention is needed.  Attention is actually a matter of degree—our attention may be quite high when we read directions for getting an income tax refund, but low when commercials come on during a television program.  Note, however, that even when attention is low, it may be instantly escalated—for example, if an advertisement for a product in which we are interested comes on.

Interpretation involves making sense out of the stimulus.  For example, when we see a red can, we may categorize it as a CokeÒ.

Weber’s Law suggests that consumers’ ability to detect changes in stimulus intensity appear to be strongly related to the intensity of that stimulus to begin with.  That is, if you hold an object weighing one pound in your hand, you are likely to notice it when that weight is doubled to two pounds.  However, if you are holding twenty pounds, you are unlikely to detect the addition of one pound—a change that you easily detected when the initial weight was one pound.  You may be able to eliminate one ounce from a ten ounce container, but you cannot as easily get away with reducing a three ounce container to two (instead, you must accomplish that gradually—e.g., 3.0  –> 2.7 –> 2.5 –> 2.3 –> 2.15 –> 2.00).

Several factors influence the extent to which stimuli will be noticed.  One obvious issue is relevance.  Consumers, when they have a choice, are also more likely to attend to pleasant stimuli (but when the consumer can’t escape, very unpleasant stimuli are also likely to get attention—thus, many very irritating advertisements are remarkably effective).  One of the most important factors, however, is repetition.  Consumers often do not give much attention to a stimuli—particularly a low priority one such as an advertisement—at any one time, but if it is seen over and over again, the cumulative impact will be greater.

Surprising stimuli are likely to get more attention—survival instinct requires us to give more attention to something unknown that may require action.  A greater contrast (difference between the stimulus and its surroundings) as well as greater prominence (e.g., greater size, center placement) also tend to increase likelihood of processing.

Subliminal stimuli.  Back in the 1960s, it was reported that on selected evenings, movie goers in a theater had been exposed to isolated frames with the words “Drink Coca Cola” and “Eat Popcorn” imbedded into the movie.  These frames went by so fast that people did not consciously notice them, but it was reported that on nights with frames present, Coke and popcorn sales were significantly higher than on days they were left off.  This led Congress to ban the use of subliminal advertising.  First of all, there is a question as to whether this experiment ever took place or whether this information was simply made up.  Secondly, no one has been able to replicate these findings.  There is research to show that people will start to giggle with embarrassment when they are briefly exposed to “dirty” words in an experimental machine.  Here, again, the exposure is so brief that the subjects are not aware of the actual words they saw, but it is evident that something has been recognized by the embarrassment displayed.