Last Updated 19 Mar 2021

A Report Into Consumer Behavioural Theory

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Understanding consumer behaviour allows us to engage more effectively with our target market and increase sales. It is vital we understand the needs of our target market and their motivation for purchasing Benecol or alternative products. Giving Value to a product after we understand our consumers’ needs and motivation for purchase can increase positive interaction with our market. When marketing a product, it is advised that the advertisement attaches itself best to the needs and value of consumers with relevant and engaging information. Creating a psychological struggle for customers as well as curing it can be vital to increase market share and customer satisfaction.Overcoming pre-purchase alternatives to Benecol is a great challenge due to the highly saturated market the brand finds itself in, although this is not impossible as promotion of the products health benefits can lift it. Consumers can be conditioned to relate to Benecol both consciously and unconsciously through various marketing and production techniques. Marketing strategies can be put in place which are directly or indirectly linked to the purchase or use of the product that gain short or long term boosts in sales or customer satisfaction such as sales promotions or school giveaways to promote health in children which improves brand reputation. Taking advantage of every point of interaction between the product and the consumer can greatly increase the likelihood that a customer will become loyal to the brand and perhaps even aid the increase of market share.

Introduction Consumer behavioural theory gives marketing departments the opportunity to gain a more effective understanding of the customers they have or wish to attain. The theories attached to this subject emotional, cognitive and psychological reaction to marketing and brand management. The following is a report on consumer behaviour related to the Benecol brand with the intention to gain a better organisational understanding of marketing theories and methods relevant to the specific brand.

Due to the market segmentation of Benecol, the report largely aims to focus on consumer behaviour closely linked to health and food products, as well as applying more general consumer behavioural theory where relevant. As the relevant theories to consumer behaviour in the case of Benecol are outlined, recommendations will be made in order to aid the company in customer acquisition, retention and satisfaction. Motivation and Need Recognition

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In assembling this report it was understood that many theories of behavioural aspects of marketing are derived from an organisation’s awareness and understand of its target markets’ needs and desires and those who utilise this most effectively are often the most successful brands. For instance, Coca-Cola has no health benefits, therefore it is marketed as hedonistic product and the more its target market become increasingly health-conscious the more Coke will play on its slogan ‘enjoy’, whilst also increasing its market share in other ways, i. e. hrough the purchase of shares in drinks companies that promote health (Macalister & Teather, 2010).

The need or desire that is recognised by Benecol’s products is clearly the reduction of cholesterol, the motivation for this is increased health as well as Benecol’s ease of use. The motivation for buying a product that increases the health of the consumer is self-evident in many ways. Value Theory Many researchers have suggested that consumers are ‘value driven’ and find that the enjoyment of a product is balanced between what is given and what is received (Torben, 2005).

In short, this theory argues the following factors are counted when a future purchase is considered: From this, it could be argued that Benecol’s price and quality are subjective to the customer as the benefits from use of said product are only noticeable long-term and the economic cost of the range are noticeably, although not unreasonably, higher than alternatives. However, the value the product gives to the consumer from a marketing perspective will be discussed in greater details through other behavioural theories as the above chart is too rudimentary to give explicit argument to Benecol’s potential without more exploration.

Information Processing Something highly intrinsic to the product value of Benecol is the emphasis on being ‘the only range of foods to contain Plant Stanol Ester, a unique cholesterol lowering ingredient. ’ (Rasio Plc. , 2011). Getting this information to the public through advertising happens through the brand website, but on television the advertising is focused on basic prompts that will motivate the audience into believing in the benefits of using the product.

One example is the latest UK advert which places stress on the convenience of the product with a line in fairly small print about the plant stanol ester underneath the visual of how easy it can be to help lower cholesterol. The information of stanols is considered secondary in marketing the convenience product and therefore is only likely absorbed by those already interested in the product or the advertising. Dissonance This theory is based on a consumer’s cognitive struggle where two beliefs that are reasoned to be true are not consistent.

This process of a cognitive clash brings about a motivation to come to a positive conclusion where a psychological compromise can occur to bring an end to the inconsistency, therefore ending the dissonance (Torben, 2005). By advertising the negative effects rival products can have on a consumer’s health, Benecol creates a struggle within the consumer’s mind that whilst they enjoy their regular food and dairy products, they are damaging to their health by creating large amounts of cholesterol.

Benecol is then introduced as an alternative to health-damaging products that bridges the psychological inconsistencies in the consumer’s mind by offering a products that helps prevent cholesterol whilst not taking enjoyment away from eating. By offering advertisement reinforced with clinically proven information, the customer is also limited in averting the dissonance caused by Benecol’s initial information about rival product. Benecol therefore markets by initiating dissonance and then promoting a solution to end the consumer’s self-conflict.

Balance Theory and Modelling This motivational theory argues that ‘people desire cognitive consistency in their drive to achieve psychological balance in their thoughts, feelings and social relationships’ (Dacko, 2008). In relation to marketing, consumer can be attracted or put off of a product due to a linked influencer even if it is not directly linked to the product, also known as modelling. For example, a woman could be attracted to an anti-wrinkle cream if she sees it endorsed by Dame Helen Mirren because she is a fan of the actress’ work and beauty.

Similarly, if an organisation were thinking of using Accenture, a deal could have been negatively affected due to the unrelated infidelities of Tiger Woods, had the latter not ceased to sponsor him when they did. The theory promoted by Benecol is the trifecta of a person balancing convenience, taste and health. Ergo, Benecol is promoted as a product that does not impede on the consumer’s convenience from daily routine in preparing food, manages to taste as good as unhealthy products whilst being a product that promotes good health.

Although it has done in the past with Carol Vorderman, Benecol currently does not market its product using celebrity endorsement, something that its rivals, Activia and Actimel do in the UK. Although these products are not exactly the same as Benecol, they produce many products in the same market advertising similar benefits, such as yoghurts and mini-drinks that aid well-being. Pre-purchase Alternative Evaluation This theory bases its argument on the focus that a customer makes a cognitive and emotional decision on the alternatives to the product in question before a purchase is made.

Through judging the price, quality and branding of the products in question cognitively, a consumer will then make their decision based on the positive or negative effects that the previous factors will have on their life. As Benecol is marketed as an alternative to unhealthy dairy staples such as yoghurts and spreads, it is undeniable that the market that Benecol is placed in is highly competitive. Benecol spread is nearly twice as expensive as similar products including own brand olive spreads that cost under half the price for twice the weight of product (Ocado, 2011).

The following is a statement from international brand analysts Datamonitor in a report for the UK dairy industry: ‘From the consumer's point of view, dairy products may be used directly as food or beverages, or ingredients for other home-made foods. There are a wide range of foods and drinks that can be used in similar ways to dairy products, so if dairy prices raise too high, it is easy for consumers to replace them with alternatives. This reduces the pricing freedom of retailers and market players.

Some of the alternatives may have advantages for retailers, such as cheaper storage or higher margins. The threat of substitutes is assessed here as strong, although dairy products are important parts of most peoples' diet and are unlikely to be completely replaced’ (Datamonitor, 2008). From this we see that Benecol has the challenge to promote the positive effects it can have on a consumer’s life rather than any economic benefits it may possess, unless it was marketed in a way that suggested it could save customers money in the long-term as a prevention of high spending due to ill-health.

This however is playing on consumer fear and would not be recommended as a means of increasing customer acquisition, retention or satisfaction. Classical Conditioning This theory refers to an argument that consumers can be programmed into acting without being conscious of their conditioning. Through classical conditioning it is argued that by stimulating different emotional states in a consumer through the use of marketing, product placement, packaging or use, the consumer’s approach to the product becomes altered to act immediately with a certain approach to a product that is involuntary (East, Wright, & Vanhuele, 2008).

With Benecol, it could be argued that consumers are conditioned into both positive and negative emotional reactions through our marketing. The deep mint green logo surrounded by a heart blended with soft, sky blue backgrounds in our packaging and advertising is warming and few products in the same or similar markets share the same colour scheme so not only are we unique in our packaging so when customers do see similar colours, they are quickly linked back to Benecol which aids them to buy more.

As mentioned in relation to other theories of consumer behaviour, fear plays a large part in motivating one to purchase an item which promotes health. Although as a company it would not be ethical to play on fear to boost sales, there is no denying the very real possibility that consumers are motivated to purchase goods when they are conditioned to understand that not doing so could lead them to health problems down the line.

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