Through the process of classical conditioning, operant conditioning, and observational learning, I learned that consumers base most of their purchasing decisions on the process of learning. Learning is how everyone absorbs and keeps data or obtains skills. Learning encompasses the use of information acquired either recently or through experience to make appropriate decisions. The consumer then bases his future behavior in similar situations.
A good example of this is behavioral learning. The latter involves the association between a response and a stimulus. Consequently, this association will make a change in the consumer's behavior and attitude towards a given commodity. For instance, one can associate drinking an advertised beverage with the satisfaction of thirst. In the future, the consumer becomes more likely to purchase the product.
With observational learning, there is an insight into man's capacity to learn through observation (Douglas Greer, DudekSinger & Gautreaux, 2006). Such scenarios happen mostly under instrumental conditioning. For instance, when punishing a child for failing an exam, an observer (another child) will be less likely to fail the next exam. Observational learning also explains that it is because role models have attractive traits like success, skills, or appearance that the observers will have the mentality to admire. When used in advertisements, this will make them positively received, and it will most often lead to positive consumer behavior.
Classical and Operant Conditioning
Both Classical and operant conditioning are psychological responses that advertiser manipulates to convince the consumer to obtain their product (McSweeney & Murphy, 2014). Classical conditioning is common because it is had a lot of influence on the school of thought of Behaviorism. In this type of conditioning, learning occurs when the environmental stimuli are associated with correspondence to the naturally occurring stimuli. Therefore, classical conditioning is perceived to associate a neutral stimulus is to the naturally occurring reflex action. A classic example, when the bell rings near the kennel, the dog starts salivating. The notion here implies that the dog develops a mindset that the ringing bell means it is time for food, thus, the dog automatically salivates as a reflex response.
Another example, in the case of classical conditioning, the buyer will respond to a stimulus unconsciously, for instance, the buyers will salivate when they see a picture of tasty food. On the other hand, operant conditioning, the advertisements aim at changing the buyer's behavior by use of reward or punishment (Rachman, 2015). For example, when a company offers to reimburse their customers in case they are not satisfied with the product or service, it is a form of operant conditioning. The company motivates its customers by offering a warranty or undertaking free repair or replacing the faulty item. The reimbursement aims to make the customer feel recognized.
With classical conditioning, advertisers aim at making the buyers associate the commodity on offer with a particular emotion or response in the bid to make the consumer buy it. For instance, most advertisements for fast-food restaurants will work to make their food look tasty and delicious. The food outlets male impressive adverts and menus with unique names that make the customer develop the urge to purchase the food, at least to satisfy their anxiety. Such adverts bear the intention to trigger the mindset of the unsuspected customer. The marketing team presumably creates catchy features to attract the attention of the buyer, thus, probably motivating the buyer. Another example is the association of an expensive sports car with sex by relating it with beautiful models.
In addition, in advertisements, everyone seems to be having a great time using the product. The buyer will then associate the fun and good vibes with obtaining the product making him more likely to buy it. There is also the experience of beating something that is usually unpleasant. For example, there are the advertisements of soaps where dirt is related to unpleasant monsters, or even bug spray with the insects depicted as such.
Moreover, there is the use of music while advertising. Happy and repetitive music aids in making the buyer feel happy when he or she hears it. Here, the buyer will then relate the happy feeling with the commodity and be more likely to obtain it. There has been the use of jingles in advertisements, and this is because they stick in the mind, especially those that rhyme. Today there is the use of tunes made from popular music. The buyer will remember the tune and will unconsciously make an association of the tune with a product, making him more likely to buy the product.
Operant conditioning emerges where the buyer receives a reward for obtaining the commodity. This reinforces the behavior, making the buyer more likely to continue buying the product. A good example is the use of coupons. The buyer will use them to buy a commodity for the discount, then go on to get the product even when the coupons are no longer available.
Nevertheless, free offers are another good example of operant conditioning. An example of this is the 'Buy four, get two free' phrases. A good variation of positive reinforcement would be to offer the buyer a free sample, then a coupon that can be used for a large discount, then one for a smaller one. This way, the buyer will become more accustomed to using the commodity and will end up buying it at the full price next time.
Negative reinforcement is another variation of operant conditioning. More often than not, negative reinforcement stops the consumers from doing something. For instance, there is an increase in the price of a commodity during certain periods, for instance with electricity firms in peak hours. This will discourage the user from using a lot of electricity at these hours. In addition, salespeople have the habit of calling people at inconvenient times in the bid to convince them to obtain the product. This is negative conditioning in the sense that the consumer will buy the product to stop the salesperson from continuing to bother him or her.
In sum, a very effective advertisement is one that targets interested buyers, and it enhances its effectiveness by using the various types of conditioning, for instance, operation, conditioning, and observational learning. However, I came to the realization that the most effective form of conditioning is the one that appeals to the commodity's relevance, in addition to the usefulness of the information provided; rather than trying to appeal to their emotions.
Douglas Greer, R., DudekSinger, J., & Gautreaux, G. (2006). Observational learning. International Journal of Psychology, 41(6), 486-499. doi: 10.1080/00207590500492435
McSweeney, F., & Murphy, E. (2014). The Wiley-Blackwell handbook of operant and classical conditioning. Chichester, Sussex, UK: Malden, MA.
Rachman, S. (2015). The evolution of behavior therapy and cognitive behavior therapy. Behaviour Research And Therapy, 64, 1-8. doi: 10.1016/j.brat.2014.10.006
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