Marketers rewarded for cleaning his or her room.

Marketers can leverage consumer behaviors and psychologies to add in their advertising and promotions efforts. In this lesson, you’ll learn more about learning and memory theories.

Picking Your Brain

What would you give to be able to read minds? It could help you figure out what your boss is thinking after a meeting, what your spouse would like to have for dinner, or even that your best friend is planning a surprise birthday party for you.While it’s not exactly like reading minds, developing a knowledge of how the brain works can make you a more effective marketer. Understanding consumer psychology for marketers can be like flipping the brain’s switch, casting light on methods and strategies that can help in the promotion, advertising, and revenue of your business, brand, products, and services. Let’s take a look at a few popular learning and memory theories and how marketers who develop their understanding of these theories can use them to influence consumer behavior.

Learning Theories

In marketing, learning and learning theories are approached in different ways: classical conditioning, operant conditioning, or cognitive learning.

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Classical Conditioning

Classical conditioning was developed by Ivan Pavlov. Maybe you’ve heard of Pavlov’s dog. The idea developed when Pavlov experimented with his dog and how it responded to conditional stimuli and response.

When Pavlov rang a bell, the dog learned to associate the bell with food.On a broad scale, classical conditioning looks at how people learn through mentally associating one item with another over time, typically when a stimulus prompting a response is paired with another stimulus which does not initially prompt a response on its own, but will create a response over time. For example, if you see a television advertisement for a luxury automobile with a recognizable logo, you begin to associate that automobile and logo with expense or money.Classical conditioning is a learning theory that can be used by marketers to help craft an image for their product that will elicit the desired response from consumers. Marketers work to implement this learning behavior by helping to foster associations between a particular image, thought, or idea that consumers will grow to recognize and associate with their brand.

Operant Conditioning

Operant conditioning functions on the premise that people learn from consequences. When individuals are subjected to the results of their actions or decisions, they tend to learn to do it again if the results are positive. If the results are negative, the individual is less likely to perform the action or make that decision again.The best example of this is a child who is rewarded for cleaning his or her room. By earning money or a treat for cleaning their room, they are more likely to repeat the behavior to reap the positive consequence. In the alternative, a child is punished in the hopes that they won’t repeat problem behaviors.With operant conditioning, marketers want to create a reward-based system that consumers learn to recognize and want to repeat: for example, a buying system that awards points for future purchases when you spend $10 or more.

By reaping a reward, consumers will be more likely to make a purchase and continue purchasing. Or, it could be as simple as a product that tastes good or smells good. If a consumer eats a piece of pizza that tastes good, they are likely to eat your pizza again in the future.

Conversely, a negative experience or consequence can also be detrimental to your marketing efforts. If you run a series of obnoxious television advertisements for your business, you can impede a consumer from wanting to shop at your store.

Cognitive Learning

Another approach to learning theories revolves around cognitive learning.

In this kind of learning, people learn through interacting with something in their environment. The idea is that when consumers acquire knowledge through their own information-processing, they learn and remember in their buying decisions.For example, if you have acne problems and use a product that helps resolve them, you have learned through experience to purchase that product again. You can also achieve cognitive learning through listening, watching, touching, or reading. If you see a commercial that demonstrates a problem and presents a product or service as a solution, you can process that cognitively and consider that brand for future purchase.

Memory Theories

For marketers, memory can be a powerful tool in helping build remembrance of a brand or product. Memory is divided into three phases: encoding, storage, and retrieval.

Encoding is taking an external item and converting it for storage in the brain. Storage is the stage at which information is placed in memory. The final part of this process is retrieval, where information placed in memory can be recalled later.

The use of memory in marketing to consumers could involve a pleasant memory of a brand or product or a memory triggered by a sensory experience such as a smell or picture that reminds the consumer of a product. And, if you’ve watched television lately, you know that marketers use repeated messaging to help anchor in the consumer’s mind.For example, you might see ten commercials during your nightly television programming. You go to work the next day, not thinking of the product.

A week later, you stop in the grocery store and pass an item on a shelf that you saw many messages for. Marketers count on these prior experiences and memories to help influence a decision to purchase.

Lesson Summary

Marketers who are able to tap into consumer psychology such as learning theories can gain an edge on choosing promotional tactics that will speak to a consumer at their core level.

  • Classical conditioning involves introducing a stimulus that will work to provoke a response in a consumer over time.
  • Operant conditioning focuses on reaching consumers through the concept of positive and negative consequence.
  • Finally, cognitive learning involves a consumer’s own thought processes and problem-solving to be drawn to a product.

Marketers can consult memory theories to use consumer memory to instill a message they hope will influence a consumer in-store and at the checkout line.Memory has three phases:

  1. Encoding the item into a construct in the brain
  2. Storing the item in memory, and
  3. Retrieving the item when necessary

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