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Attitude Change Marketing Strategies


Marketers often attempt to influence consumer behavior by changing one or more of the underlying attitude components. Such influence can be positive. However, social, ethical, and regulatory concerns arise when companies attempt to promote potentially harmful consumption behaviors or when persuasion attempts are deemed deceptive.

 Change the Cognitive Component
Four basic marketing strategies are used for altering the cognitive structure of a consumer’s attitude.

Change Beliefs:   This strategy involves shifting beliefs about the performance of the brand on one or more attributes.     There is some evidence that beliefs tend to be consistent with each other.    Thus, changing one belief about a brand may result in other beliefs’ changing to remain consistent with the changed belief. For example, causing consumers to believe that the Kia Sportage has a smooth ride rather than a rough ride may result in their having enhanced beliefs about its handling and safety.
Attempts to change beliefs generally involve providing facts or statements about performance. It is important to realize that some beliefs are strongly held and thus hard to change. As a consequence, marketers may have more success changing overall brand attitudes by targeting weaker brand beliefs that are more vulnerable to persuasion attempts.   What beliefs are they trying to change?

Shift Importance:   Most consumers consider some product attributes to be more important than others. Marketers often try to convince consumers that those attributes on which their brands are relatively strong are the most important. For example, General Motors uses detailed narratives of drivers in distress to emphasize the importance of instant communications and emergency assistance, which its proprietary OnStar system provides.
Sometimes evaluative factors that would otherwise not be prominent to consumers can be enhanced by cues in the ad. One study created ads with references to Asian culture (e.g.,
picture of the Great Wall of China) to enhance “ethnic self-awareness.” When ethnic selfawareness was enhanced, Asian consumers reacted more positively to ads containing an Asian spokesperson.

Add Beliefs:   Another approach to changing the cognitive component of an attitude is to add new beliefs to the consumer’s belief structure. For example, IBM introduced a “shock absorption” feature to protect its laptops from sudden jolts, as might occur if a computer is dropped. This technological breakthrough has created a benefit that consumers will increasingly incorporate in their laptop judgments.
Change Ideal:  The final strategy for changing the cognitive component is to change the perceptions of the ideal brand or situation. Thus, many conservation organizations strive to influence our beliefs about the ideal product in terms of minimal packaging, nonpolluting manufacturing, extensive use of recycled materials, and nonpolluting disposition after its useful life.

  Change the Affective Component
Firms increasingly attempt to infl  uence consumers’ liking of their brands without directly infl  uencing either beliefs or behavior. If the fi  rm is successful, increased liking will tend to lead to increased positive beliefs,   which could lead to purchase behavior should a need for the product arise. Or, perhaps more common, increased liking will lead to a tendency to purchase the brand should a need arise,   with purchase and use leading to increased positive beliefs. Marketers use three basic approaches to directly increase affect: classical conditioning, affect toward the ad itself, and mere exposure.

  Classical Conditioning:    One way of directly influencing the affective component is through classical conditioning (see Chapter 9). In this approach, a stimulus the audience likes, such as music, is consistently paired with the brand name. Over time, some of the positive affect associated with the music will transfer to the brand.   Other liked stimuli, such as pictures, are frequently used for this reason.

Affect toward the Ad or Web Site:     Using humor, celebrities, or emotional appeals increases Aad and Aweb. For example, vivid Web sites with rich sensory content that appeal to multiple senses produce more positive Aweb than do less vivid sites.
Ads that arouse negative affect or emotions such as fear, guilt, or sorrow can also enhance attitude change. For example, an ad for a charity assisting refugees could show pictures that would elicit a variety of unpleasant emotions such as disgust or anger and still be effective.

Mere Exposure:   While controversial, there is evidence that affect or brand preference may also be increased by  mere exposure.  That is, simply presenting a brand to an individual on a large number of occasions might make the individual’s attitude toward the brand more positive. A common explanation of the mere exposure effect is that “familiarity breeds liking.” Thus, the repetition of advertisements for low-involvement products may well increase liking (through enhanced familiarity) and subsequent purchase of the advertised brands without altering the initial belief structure. Mere exposure effects underlie the use of simple reminder ads as well as product placements.

Classical conditioning, Aad, and mere exposure can alter affect directly and, by altering affect, alter purchase behavior without fi  rst changing beliefs. This has a number of important implications:
•    Ads designed to alter affect need not contain any cognitive (factual or attribute) information.
•   Classical conditioning principles should guide such campaigns.
•   Aad and ad-evoked affect are critical for this type of campaign unless mere exposure is being used.
•   Repetition is critical for affect-based campaigns.
•   Cognitively based measures may be inappropriate to assess advertising effectiveness.

As these guidelines suggest, classical conditioning, Aad, and mere exposure tend to occur in low-involvement situations . There is at least one major exception, however. When emotions and feelings are important product performance dimensions, then such feelings and emotions are relevant to the evaluation. In these situations, Aad can readily infl  uence Abr under high involvement. As we discussed earlier in the chapter, hedonic (versus utilitarian) products are those for which affect and emotion are relevant performance criteria. Not surprisingly, hedonic products are those for which affect, emotions, and Aad can play a role in more conscious, high-involvement settings.

 Change the Behavioral Component
Behavior, specifically purchase or use behavior, may precede the development of cognition and affect. Or it may occur in contrast to the cognitive and affective components. For example, a consumer may dislike the taste of diet soft drinks and believe that artifi  cial sweeteners are unhealthy. However, rather than appear rude, the same consumer may accept a diet drink when offered one by a friend due to social norms. Drinking the beverage may alter her perceptions of its taste and lead to liking; this in turn may lead to increased learning, which changes the cognitive component.
Behavior can lead directly to affect, to cognitions, or to both simultaneously.   Consumers frequently try new brands or types of low-cost items in the absence of prior knowledge or affect. Such purchases are as much for information (Will I like this brand?) as for satisfaction of some underlying need such as hunger.   Internet marketers have been particularly concerned about their ability to simulate direct experiences for products in a virtual context. A recent study fi  nds that for experiential products such as sunglasses, creating a  virtual direct experience  (in this case, a video which simulated viewing the content with and without the sunglasses) led to more positive beliefs, affect, and purchase intentions.     The ability to simulate experiences with products in an online context relates to the issue of “touch” which is a major online purchasing factor .
Changing behavior prior to changing affect or cognition is based primarily on operant conditioning . Thus, the key marketing task is to induce people to purchase or consume the product while ensuring that the purchase or consumption will indeed be rewarding.     Coupons, free samples, point-of-purchase displays, tie-in purchases, and price reductions are common techniques for inducing trial behavior. Since behavior often leads to strong positive attitudes toward the consumed brand, a sound distribution system (limited stockouts) is important to prevent current customers from trying competing brands.


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