To What Extent Does Operant Learning Theory Offer a Model with Which to Understand and Manage Consumer Behaviour in the Design of Marketing Communication

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NAME:AJAYI, FRANCIS IFEDAYO

TAA CODE:214 BBMC

TOPIC:To what extent does operant learning theory offer a model with which to understand and manage consumer behavior in the design of marketing communication?

INTRODUCTION

Operant learning theory is one of the learning theories in Consumer Behaviour. From marketing perspective, consumer learning is the process by which individuals acquire the purchase and consumption knowledge and experience that they apply to future related behavior.

The term consumer behavior is the behavior that consumers display in searching for, purchasing, evaluating, and disposing of products and services that they expect will satisfy their needs. Marketing communication on the other hand is the tool that marketers use to persuade consumers to act in a desired way such as when making a purchase.

There are two schools of thought as to how individuals learn – behavioral theories and cognitive theories. Both contribute to an understanding of consumer behavior. There is a relationship between operant learning theory and management of consumer behavior. This paper is aimed at exploring the extent of which operant learning theory offer a model with which to manage the behavior that consumers display in searching for, purchasing, evaluating, and disposing of products and services that they expect will satisfy their needs in the design of marketing communication.

The write up is divided into seven sections namely introduction, general overview of consumer learning, operant learning theory, strategic application of operant conditioning, research issues emerging from behavioural learning theory, conclusion and references.

GENERAL OVERVIEW OF CONSUMER LEARNING

From the marketing point of view, consumer learning can be thought of as the process by which individuals acquire the purchase and consumption knowledge and experience that they apply to future related behavior (Leon G.S. and Leslie L.K 2009).

Learning can be defined as the process leading to relatively permanent behavioural change or potential behavioural change. As we learn, we alter the way we perceive our environment, interpret the incoming stimuli and therefore the way we interact or behave (http://allpsychology101/learning.html)

Behavioral theorists view learning as observable responses to stimuli, whereas cognitive theorist believe that learning is a function of mental processing. There are three major types of behavioral learning theories: classical conditioning, operant conditioning, and observational learning. Contemporary behavioral scientists view classical conditioning as the learning of associations among events that allow an organism to anticipate and represent its environment.

Operant learning theorists believe that learning occur through a trial - and – error process in which positive outcomes (i.e. rewards) result in repeat behavior. Cognitive learning theory on the other hand holds that two kinds of learning most characteristics of humans is problem solving. They are concerned with how information is processed by the human mind: how it is stored, retained, and retrieved.

OPERANT LEARNING THEORY

Operant conditioning is a process by which humans and animals learn to behave in such a way as to obtain rewards and avoid punishment. Operant learning theorists believe that learning occurs through a trial – and error process, with habits formed as a result of rewards received for certain responses or behaviors. This model of learning applies to many situations in which consumers learn about products, services and retail stores. For example, consumers learn which stores carry the type of clothing they prefer at prices they can afford to pay by shopping in a number of stores. Once they find a store that carries clothing that meet their needs, they are likely to patronize that store to the exclusion of others.

Operant conditioning was coined by behaviorist B.F. Skinner which is why it is...
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