Consumer Learning

Consumer Learning

Importance of Learning

l   Marketers must teach consumers:

–   where to buy

–   how to use

–   how to maintain

–   how to dispose of products

Learning Theories

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

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

Learning Processes

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

l   Incidental: learning acquired by accident or without much effort

Elements of Learning Theories

l   Motivation

l   Cues

l   Response

l   Reinforcement

Neo-Pavlovian Conditioning

l   Forward Conditioning (CS Precedes US)

l   Repeated Pairings of CS and US

l   A CS and US that Logically Belong to Each Other

l   A CS that is Novel and Unfamiliar

l   A US that is Biologically or Symbolically Salient

Strategic Applications of Classical Conditioning

l   Repetition

l   Stimulus Generalization

l   Stimulus Discrimination


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

l    Cosmetic variations reduce satiation.

Substantive Variations

Three-Hit Theory

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

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

Stimulus Generalization and Marketing

l   Product Line, Form and Category Extensions

l   Family Branding

l   Licensing

Product Line Extension

Product Form Extensions

Product Category Extensions

Stimulus Discrimination

Instrumental Conditioning

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

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


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

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

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

l    Example: Ad showing wrinkled skin as reinforcement to buy skin cream

Consumers Learn by Modeling

Appeal to Cognitive Processing


l   Information is stored in long-term memory

–   Episodically: by the order in which it is acquired

–   Semantically: according to significant concepts

Split Brain

Peripheral Route to Persuasion

The Elaboration Likelihood Model

Phases of Brand Loyalty

l   Cognitive: Loyalty to information

l   Affective: Loyalty to a liking

l   Conative: Loyalty to an intention

l   Action: Loyalty to action