Last Updated 16 Jun 2020

Consumer behaviour theory

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In the current state of understanding consumer behaviour attitudes are core concept in gaining knowledge of people’s personalities, behaviour and choices they make. In other words answering the question - “Why do people do what they do? ” Along with beliefs and identity they are main factor impacting on individual’s life since everyday choices are made embracing a certain attitude. Unless marketers try to define and pay attention to the psychological need which is encountered by the holding of an attitude they are in a poor position to predict when and how it will change. (Daniel Katz, 1960)

This essay will specify the factors and psychological processes that influence people’s needs and their perceptions of various products. Furthermore it will describe how marketers can apply the Functional Theory of Attitudes to understand and influence consumers’ attitudes and buying behaviour. According to Arnould (2004)”An attitude is a person’s overall, enduring evaluation of a concept or object, such as a person, a brand or a service” Attitude formation could happen in different ways and it is continual process which is influenced throughout an individual’s lifetime.

Some of the influences are internal such as values and beliefs but many of these influences are external, such as family, school, religion, work, peers and, to an increasing extent, the media. The views for companies are based on associations that they have linked them. The Functional theory of attitudes explains consumers’ reasons for holding or changing their attitudes. Daniel Katz (1960) distinguished four functions differing in what roles they perform for the individual.

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“According to functional theory, people form attitudes in order to organize, structure and summarize large amounts of information about an object (Grewal et al. 2004)” (Argyriou, E. , & Melewar, T. C. , 2011, pp. 433) The functional theory highlights the idea that attitude change occurs when message and motive match (Katz 1960) and suggests that an individual's attitude toward an object is largely determined by what "function" an attitude serves for the individual.

The first attitude function – the utilitarian is expressed in achieving desired needs, consumers stay away from brands which are unlikely to fulfil their needs. Utilitarian appeal contains informing consumers of one or more key benefits that are perceived to be highly functional or important to aimed consumers. The term “utilitarian advertising appeal”, is a creative approach that highlights the functional features of a product or a brand. The basic principle is the one of “expected reward” and a lot of the commercials use this function in order to focus on the product performance attributes or its benefits. For example, most of the automobile advertisings are emphasising on the utilitarian features and characteristics.

Place satisfaction is the “utilitarian value (of a place) to meet certain basic needs” (Guest & Lee, 1983, p. 234) These needs range from sociability to public services to and the perceived quality of, facilities, or visual appearance (Stedman, 2002,pp. 564) The ego-defensive function in which the individuals protects themselves from getting to know truths about internal feelings or the threats of the external world in order to protect their ego and self-image. (Katz, D. , 1960) Nowadays consumers want to be associated with a particular brand or product.

This comes from the fact that they want to build up and keep a particular self-image of themselves in the eyes of their peers. Products which aim to avoid anxiety-producing situations are most likely to be purchased. A perfume is a good example of an ego-defensive aimed product because it is used to rise individual’s self-esteem and position in the society. Advertising this kind of “tools” emphasises on the social acceptance, confidence, and sexual desirability in order to build a positive attitudes and association with the particular brand. “You are unique...

You are Magnifique! The new Feminine Fragrance. ” is the slogan of “Magnifique” by “Lancome” flattering ones’ Ego. The value-expressive function is the one from which the individual expresses attitudes which correspond to his personal values and to his concept of himself which brings him satisfaction. This is a central function because it stresses the importance of self-expression, self-development, and self-realization. Consumers could form a product attitude not because of its tangible functions or characteristics, but because of what it says about their personality.

“Places contain symbols of different social categories and personal meanings, and represent and maintain identity on different levels and dimensions. There is no social identity that is not also place-related and thing-related” (Grauman, 1983). The organisation of knowledge function is based upon the individual’s need of order, structure or meaning in their life. Striving for “ordering their universe” comes from the need of standards or frames when it comes to a new product or confusing situation. The consumer sorts all the messages while ignoring the less relevant information.

This could result in positive attitude toward the new brand or the new characteristics of the brand. For example, more information is required when a customer is buying car or the additional policies for a mobile phone contract. In conclusion, attitudes toward brands and products are used to predict preferences among brands, buying intentions, or actual choice behaviour. Measure of brand preferences is not the same as measures of intended or actual choice. Marketers have to consider attitudes toward the act of buying or using a product rather than attitudes toward the product itself.

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Consumer behaviour theory. (2016, Jul 23). Retrieved from

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