Consumer Behaviour

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Explain how consumers form evaluations of brands. Show how marketers seek to influence this process using examples from the marketing activities of an organisation of your choice

Introduction
Evaluation is the process of judging or determining whether an activity or product meet a specified criteria. According to Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, to evaluate is ‘to judge or calculate the quality, importance, amount or value of something. When consumers evaluate a brand, they are trying to get an overall picture of the brand, which will allow the consumer to take a stand as to what they think of that brand. Some criteria of evaluation of brands may include price, brand image, taste, functional characteristics, style and sometimes the way the consumer “feel” about a product. Consumer evaluation of brands involved both cognitive and psychological processes in selecting a course of action from multiple alternatives. The consumer decision-making process model (fig 1) will provide useful insights as to how consumer form evaluations of brands and how marketers seek to influence this process.

Fig 1: The customer decision-making process and its five stages Source: guuui.com, 2007

NEED OR PROBLEM RECOGNITION
“Problem recognition is the discovery of a discrepancy between an actual and a desired state of being. Thus problem recognition occurs when a need state is felt”. (Minor et al: 1998. p358).

The consumer-decision process model begins with the recognition by the consumer that there is a problem or a need. Problems and needs can be triggered by either internal or external stimuli. An internal trigger of a problem or need could include hunger, and external triggers could include in-store displays, intentional use of scents or publicity.

At this stage relevant internal psychological processes such as perception, learning and motivation could influence the consumer, especially if he or she has an internal drive to satisfy a need. Environmental influence factors such family, neighbours, may also be factors that influence need recognition in consumers. Other influences could include music, colour, temperature, layouts, food aroma, smell etc. For example smell in the Body Shop. The relevant internal psychological process that is associated with problem recognition is motivation.

Fig 2: Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
Source: Managing Change, 2001
Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs theory could give marketers potential useful insights on need recognition. Maslow’s theory has five levels. See fig 2 below Maslow’s hierarchy of Needs, approach is based on four premises: (1) All humans acquire a similar set of motives through genetic endowment and social interaction. (2) Some motives are more basic or critical than others. (3) The more basic motives must be satisfied to a minimum level before other motives are activated. (4) As the basic motives become satisfied, more advanced motives come into play. (Hawkins et al. p367). E.g. Yahama must first convince consumers that its motorcycles are safe before it can appeal to their ego needs

Marketers need to know what problems consumers are facing, how to develop the marketing mix to solve consumer problems and how to cause consumers to recognize those problems. This could be done through advertisements, in-store stimuli and sales representatives.

An example of how marketers seek to influence need process in consumers could be described in Evian’s marketing activities. Water is virtually cost-free from municipal agencies, yet millions of consumers now pay 1.000 times the price of municipal water to purchase bottled water. Fig 3

Marketers seek to influence consumers’ evaluation of this brand in the above advertisement through the following major purchase motivations: health concerns, nutrition and fitness, especially as consumers want natural, untreated and “pure” water. And the last factor could be “snob appeal” or status. As stated in Assael (1998....
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