A blog inviting like minded readers to understand and contribute to the importance of Strategy in Marketing of today's Brands.
A lot of intelligent marketing and branding done today in this cluttered market space depends on understanding human behavior.
A new product or service is bought by a consumer when their behavior towards the product is changed and he/she ‘learns’ about it and understands its usage. Learning as defined in one psychology textbook is “A relatively permanent change in behavior that occurs as a result of practice or experience”. Moreover, this ‘learning’ can be conditioned and that’s where the marketers can weave their magic.
In this blog I am going to explore how effective conditioning can create a very favorable strategy for marketers.
Conditioning; be it Classical or Instrumental if used correctly can elicit a favorable response (in this case – buying the product) without there being a need for it. This is a lengthy process and involves a fair bit of time. Let’s take some popular brands as an example to understand the concept in detail.
The cola’s (Pepsi and Coke) have used Classical Conditioning very effectively over the years. We all know that thirst (An Unconditioned Response) is generated by various environmental and physical factors like heat, sports, workout, dehydration etc. (These are Unconditioned Stimuli). What Pepsi and Coke have done over the years of Marketing and Branding is strategically placed and associated their products with all the above Unconditioned Stimuli like heat, sports, etc repeatedly. They have also used key words in their branding like “Thanda Matlab Coca Cola” (cold means Coca Cola). This has played the part of a Conditioned Stimulus which is placed along with the Unconditioned Stimuli every time (hence the sponsorships for major sporting events). Over time the Conditioned Stimulus (Cola drink) becomes a signal for the arrival of the Unconditioned Stimulus (heat, dehydration) for the brain and we feel thirsty just by seeing a big poster of Coke or Pepsi without actually experiencing any of the above environmental or physical factors. Thus, we don’t only have a Coke/Pepsi when we are thirsty, we feel thirsty when we see a Coke/Pepsi!
In the above example the unconditioned stimulus is always preceded by a conditioned stimulus. After repetition, over time the brain gets conditioned to respond to the lone presence of the conditioned stimulus also.
Another example that comes to mind is the endless ‘SALE’ which runs almost throughout the year in some form or another. Here the unconditioned stimulus (need to buy new stuff) is often paired with a simultaneous SALE period for most consumers. This pattern in the future causes only the Conditioned Stimulus (SALE) to generate a response (Shopping) without there even being a need for it. Hence today every time we hear the word SALE, we feel like shopping even if we don’t necessarily need the product.
Above we saw how classical conditioning is used effectively to increase the purchase frequency without there being a need for the product. Another type of conditioning is Instrumental Conditioning where the action or response of the consumer brings about a change in his environment. This makes the response more or less likely in the future. A classic example would be a store giving ‘freebies’ with the purchase of any product thus conditioning the behavior with positive reinforcement. Since, the action gets additional rewards it may result in repeating the action (shopping at a particular store) more likely in the future!
These are some ways in which marketers use the understanding of human behavior to help sell their products and how strategic marketing can pay rich dividends for brands in today’s marketplace.
Contact me @ firstname.lastname@example.org to explore these concepts further or if you have any questions.
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