Term Paper: Consumer Behavior Emotion

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Consumer Behavior

Emotion and Consumer Behavior

The study of consumer behavior is essential to the contemporary business advertiser and marketer. It is essential to determine the way that consumers perceive products and make decisions based on feelings and emotional perceptions. While targeting consumers is usually based on information and logical choice theory and analysis, modern marketers and psychologist have also began to realize the importance that emotional responses and "feelings" play in this form of behavior.

Marketers and business researchers are becoming increasingly aware of the way that emotional factors effect and influence consumer behavior. However, the term 'emotion" brings with it a great degree of ambiguity and misunderstanding, which often confuses the way that this aspect is seen to relate to consumer behavior. This paper will attempt to discus some of the aspects of the interaction between emotion and consumer behavior in both a practical and theoretical sense

In the first instance, emotional factors are often seen as the opposite of rational or logical processes that affect decision making in consumer behavior. It has long been realized that emotional factors in behavioral marketing are linked to associations that the consumer may have with the product. These can be both negative and positive and the degree of these associations affects or influences the way that the consumer relates to the product, especially with regard to the choices that the consumer makes. In other words, emotional behavioral patterns of response are significant in consumer purchasing behavior and are therefore an important aspect to consider in modern marketing strategies.

Theoretical perspectives

It should also be borne in mind that the study of emotions in consumer behavior is a relatively new field of research. (Chaudhuri) the history of this subject in marketing and advertising began in the 1950s and 1960s. However, "... In general, the role of affect in marketing applications did not begin to be studied until the early 1980s" (Chaudhuri). The reason for the relative lack of theoretical interest in affect or emotions on consumer behavior has been ascribed to the fact that feelings and emotions are extremely difficult to assess and measure in a quantifiable sense. As one pundit notes, "...they are not amenable to control and evaluation as are the more often mentioned thoughtful, rational processes" (Chaudhuri). Therefore, many researchers and theorists tended to avoid this rather obscure and amorphous area and to focus on the more easily measurable and understandable patterns of consumer behavior that were related to logical and rational factors.

Since the 1980s there has been an increase in the theoretical interest in emotional factors in consumer behavior, as it has been realized that, "... affective executions of ads lead to more favorable attitudes for the product, because the liking for an advertisement gets conditioned onto the brand itself and becomes part of the attitude to the brand" (Chaudhuri). Marketers and researcher have become cognizant of the way that emotions and feelings can shape brand values and can lead to a long-lasting and effective response to a brand through emotional values and 'feelings" that are attached to that brand.

What has interested theorists in this field is that it has also been found that emotional attachment to products can take place even in contradiction to the rational or logical aspects of the brand. For example, while one brand or product may be rationally exactly the same as another, the emotional attachment or connotations associated with one brand may be greater than the other - which leads to better sales. As Chaudhuri suggests, "This may take place in the total absence of rational beliefs and product attributes" (Chaudhuri).

However, there are also many theorists who do not agree with this stark dualism between the emotional and the rational and they suggest that consumer behavior is a combination of these two factors. On the other hand, theorists like Zajonc (1980) state that emotion or feelings are more primary and more important factors in consumer behavior than reason or logic and that they "precede" rational processing. (Chaudhuri) the term 'affective judgment' is used in the literature to refer to this aspect.

Affective cognition is a term that relates to feelings and emotions. The following is a concise but through description of affective judgments.

Affective reactions are unavoidable and involuntary. Affective choices are hard to reverse; they are our basis for right and wrong, our "gut feeling." Affective judgments are internal, based on the self, while cognitive judgments are external, based on stimulus. Affective choices are hard to explain, whereas the path of logic that led to cognitive choice is often easy to relate. Affective reactions do not need to depend on cognition. For example most people cannot explain why they like something aesthetically, but they do.

Cognitive vs. Affective)

The above quotation clearly outlines an understanding of the primary and basic nature of emotion in human and customer decision making. The important point is that while affective behavior or emotions refer to something as vague as "gut feeling," these feelings are extremely important in understanding and determining consumer behavior.

Practical aspects

The theories of emotional behavior posited by Zajonc and others have very real practical implications for contemporary marketers and for the general understanding of consumer behavior. In essence, the significance of emotions or affective patterns of behavior, according to theorists like Zajonc, are that these feelings or emotional aspects of decision-making are the first and most primary component of consumer behavior. Another essential aspect is that in theory affective behavior takes place before reasoning and cognitive aspects. This has obvious repercussions in terms of understanding and determining consumer behavior patterns.

Zajonc stresses that these affective aspect are primary and they constitute our first and immediate responses to the world around us and influence any relationships that we make with this world. Zajonc also suggests that very often people "delude themselves" into believing that they are making rational and logical choices, when in fact the making decision based on rational responses and feelings of like or dislike for something or some product. (Zajonc 1980) as Chaudhuri states," We may justify our choices by various reasons but it is the affective that has proved decisive" (Chaudhuri).

This above view is extremely important as it means that consumer behavior is in fact determined by emotional responses and not mainly be reason. If this theory is correct it means that consumer behavior is primary affective or emotional - a view that is of vital significance to advertisers.

Another point that marketers and advertisers should take into account when assessing the value of the emotional context is that theorists are of the opinion that emotions or feelings are irrevocable. This means that once the evaluation or decisions about a product have been made based on emotion and feelings, these views are usually permanent. "Affective judgments are irrevocable because they "feel" valid and we believe them to be "true." Feelings may then well represent basic reality" (Chaudhuri).

Emotional decisions and views are also difficult to verbalize and communication of these feelings takes place through nonverbal means. Another characteristic of this form of behavior is that, "...Affects may become separated from content and still remain" (Chaudhuri). This point is again proof, according to the theorists, that emotional responses and decisions are not dependant cognitions or rational decisions.

Examples that can be given of this type of consumer behavior are marketing techniques that have been developed in the food industry. These marketing techniques pay close attention to emotional responses and to aspects such a pleasure and scenarios - which are conveyed in the advertisements for these products. This also includes feelings that can be associated with texture, smell as well as taste. In essence, the principle of "emotional buying" has been implemented by many marketers. This process is explained as follows:

Manufacturers are developing unique marketing… [END OF PREVIEW]

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