Major Theories of Consumer Behavior and Advertising

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Last updated: January 30, 2019

FCB Grid (Vaughn, 1980, 1986) uses involvement (high-low) and think/feel as the two dimensions for classifying product categories. This classification suggests that purchase decisions are different when thinking is mostly involved and others are dominantly involved with feeling. In addition, different situations also exist, resulting in decision-making processes, which require either, more or less involvement. The product category matrix is fabricated using these two dimensions.

Vaughn indicates that the horizontal side of the matrix is based on the hypothesis that over time there is consumers’ movement from thinking toward feeling. Also, Vaughn believes that high and low involvement (the vertical side of the matrix) is also a continuum, proposing that high involvement can decay to relatively low involvement over time. Vaughn developed a planning model by pulling together the major theories of consumer behavior and advertising to make the FCB Grid. Vaughn (1980) reviewed four traditional theories of advertising effectiveness from which effects on marketing have been noticeable.These four theories are Economic, Responsive, Psychological, and Social theories. Each theory is applicable to the four quadrants in the FCB Grid, and definitions and applications of each four traditional theories of the grid will be covered in the explanations later. Furthermore, Berger (1986) also referred to four different theories into human behavior in his paper to approach to the FCB Grid. According to Berger (1986), insight into human behavior can be viewed differently, depending on the theory.

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Socialists favor the theory of economic man, the search for value, the need for information with advertising seen purely as information – applicable to Economic theory. Freudian and other psychological theory gives us the notion of behavior governed by unconscious impulses – applicable to Psychological theory. There is also Pavlovian theory of purchases influenced by conditioning and repetition – applicable to the Responsive theory. Finally, there is the theory deriving from Veblen, of people as consumers who buy to join, emulate or belong to a group – applicable to Social theory.

Four quadrants are developed in the matrix based on these two dimensions (involvement and thinking/feeling) in the FCB Grid. The quadrants summarize four substantially major goals for advertising strategy: “to be informative, affective, habit forming or to promote self-satisfaction”” (Vaughn, 1980). The insight from Vaughn led to the conceptualisation of using a continuum of high involvement to low involvement, as well as a continuum of thinking and feeling, in order to form a space where we can position the products relative to each other. |[pic] |Figure 1 FCB Grid | | | |To view each quadrant in detail, move your mouse over the specified quadrant and CLICK. |[pic] | With this FCB Grid, advertisers can develop advertising strategy according to consumers’ relations towards a product according to information (learn), attitude (feel) and behavior (do) issues.

However, every theory needs scientific research, which can validate its conclusions. The primary grid validation study was conducted in the United States among 1,800 consumers across some 250 product categories.The results are that products and services were reasonably positioned as expected, and some ‘think’ and ‘feel’ items correlated with involvement, which corroborated that it was possible to have varying amounts of think and feel – high or low – depending on involvement (Vaughn, 1986). Also, international study about the Grid has been conducted by asking over 20,000 consumer interviews in 23 countries. This study indicates that consumer mental processes are quite similar throughout different countries in spite of communication distinctions in advertising (Vaughn, 1986).In spite of the successful validation of the FCB Grid by thorough research, Vaughn (1986) accentuated the importance of speculation about the involvement and think-feel dimensions. |[pic] |[pic] | |[pic] | According to Vaughn, this quadrant represents a large need of consumers for information because of the significance of the product; as a result, more thinking is required to make a purchase decision.Major purchases such as a car, house, appliance, insurance, furnishings, and almost any expensive new product; those which make consumers consider many factors such as function, price and availability in making purchase decision, are classified in this quadrant.

“Out of four traditional theories of advertising effectiveness, the Economic model may be appropriate to this quadrant” (Vaughn, 1980). The Economic model is a theory emphasizing a rational aspect of consumer who consciously considers functional cost-utility information in a purchase decision. The basic strategy model is the typical LEARN-FEEL-DO sequence where functional and salient information is designed to build consumer attitudinal acceptance and subsequent purchase” (Vaughn, 1980). Advertising strategy suggested by Vaughn is in long informative copy format and reflective, demanding that media literally “gets through” with key points of consumer interest.

|[pic] |[pic] | |[pic] |The purchase decision in quadrant 2 also has a high involvement level like quadrant 1; however, the importance of specific information is less than that of an attitude or holistic feeling toward a product. “The affective strategy is for highly involving and feeling purchases, those more psychological products fulfilling self-esteem, subconscious, and ego-related impulses requiring perhaps more emotional communication” (Vaughn, 1986). Example products are jewellery, perfume, fashion apparel, motorcycles, and wine for a dinner party.The Psychological model is appropriate in this quadrant; that is, an unpredictable consumer who buys compulsively is influenced by unconscious thoughts and indirect emotions. This is FEEL-LEARN-DO consumer process. “The strategy requires emotional involvement on the part of the consumers, basically that they become a feeler about the product” (Vaughn, 1980). For this type of product, the creative goal is executional impact and media strategies calls for dramatic print exposure or image-focused broadcast advertising.

[pic] |[pic] | |[pic] | In this area, consumers have minimal thought about the product and they have a tendency to form buying habits for convenience. Therefore, advertising which can create and reinforce habits of consumers is needed. “The habitual strategy is for those low involvement and thinking products with such routinized consumer behavior that learning occurs most often after exploratory trial buying” (Vaughn, 1986).Product examples are paper products, household cleaners, gasoline, most food and staple packaged goods. The Responsive theory – a habitual consumer conditioned to thoughtlessly buy through rote, stimulus-response learning – is suitable for this quadrant.

The hierarchy model to this quadrant is a DO-LEARN-FEEL pattern. The purchase decision in this area does not require consumer’s consideration about products. As time passes by, many ordinary products will be in the mature stage of the product cycle and progressively descend into this area.The creative element for this strategy requires advertising to stimulate a reminder for the product; therefore, consumers can continuously remember the habitual need for the product. Implications for media are small space ads, point of purchase ads and radio, all with the aim of high frequency.

|[pic] |[pic] | |[pic] | This area is for those products that can be likened with “life’s little pleasures” (Vaughn, 1986); those that can satisfy personal tastes.Products such as cigarettes, liquor, candy, movies or the decision to patronize a fast-food restaurant all appertain to this quadrant. A DO-FEEL-LEARN hierarchy effect is the consumer process for this area, and product experience is a necessary part of the communication process. This area is an application of the traditional Social theory: a compliant consumer who continually adjusts purchases to satisfy cultural and group needs for conformity. Advertising with imagery and consumer’s quick satisfaction from products are requisites.

As for creative strategy, consistent product imagery is needed. Billboards, point-of-sale, and

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