Psychology helps marketers understand why and how consumers behave as they do. In particular, psychological concepts such as motivation and personality; perception; learning; values, beliefs, and attitudes; and lifestyle are useful for interpreting buying processes and directing marketing efforts.
LO 5-3Identify the major psychological influences on consumer behavior.
Consumer Motivation and Personality
Motivation and personality are two familiar psychological concepts that have specific meanings and marketing implications. These concepts are closely related and are used to explain why people do some things and not others.
Motivation Motivation is the energizing force that stimulates behavior to satisfy a need. Because consumer needs are the focus of the marketing concept, marketers try to arouse these needs.
An individual’s needs are boundless. People possess physiological needs for basics such as water, shelter, and food. They also have learned needs, including self-esteem, achievement, and affection. Psychologists point out that these needs may be hierarchical; that is, once physiological needs are met, people seek to satisfy their learned needs.
The Maslow hierarchy of needs is based on the idea that motivation comes from a need. If a need is met, it’s no longer a motivator, so a higher-level need becomes the motivator. Higher-level needs demand support of lower-level needs.
Figure 5–5 shows one need hierarchy and classification scheme that contains five need classes.15 Physiological needs are basic to survival and must be satisfied first. A Red Lobster advertisement featuring a seafood salad attempts to activate the need for food. Safety needsinvolve self-preservation as well as physical and financial well-being. Smoke detector and burglar alarm manufacturers focus on these needs, as do insurance companies and retirement plan advisors. Social needs are concerned with love and friendship. Dating services, such asMatch.com and eHarmony, and fragrance companies try to arouse these needs. Personal needs include the need for achievement, status, prestige, and self-respect. The American Express Centurian Card and Brooks Brothers Clothiers appeal to these needs. Sometimes firms try to arouse multiple needs to stimulate problem recognition. Michelin has combined safety with parental love to promote tire replacement for automobiles. Self-actualization needs involve personal fulfillment. For example, a long-running U.S. Army recruiting program invited enlistees to “Be all you can be.”
Personality While motivation is the energizing force that makes consumer behavior purposeful, a consumer’s personality guides and directs behavior. Personality refers to a person’s consistent behaviors or responses to recurring situations.
Although many personality theories exist, most identify key traits—enduring characteristics within a person or in his or her relationships with others. Such traits include assertiveness, extroversion, compliance, dominance, and aggression, among others. These traits are inherited or formed at an early age and change little over the years. Research suggests that compliant people prefer known brand names and use more mouthwash and toilet soaps. Aggressive types use razors, not electric shavers, apply more cologne and aftershave lotions, and purchase signature goods such as Gucci and Yves St. Laurent as an indicator of status.
These personality characteristics are often revealed in a person’s self-concept , which is the way people see themselves and the way they believe others see them. Marketers recognize that people have an actual self-concept and an ideal self-concept. The actual self refers to how people actually see themselves. The ideal self describes how people would like to see themselves.
These two self-images—actual and ideal—are reflected in the products and brands a person buys, including automobiles, home appliances and furnishings, magazines, consumer electronics, clothing, grooming and leisure products, and frequently, the stores in which a person shops. The importance of self-concept is summed up by a senior marketing executive at Lenovo, a global supplier of notebook computers: “The notebook market is getting more like cars. The car you drive reflects you, and notebooks are becoming a form of self-expression as well.”