1. Critically Analyse The Role Of Operant Learning In Explaining Consumer Behaviour.

1503 words - 7 pages

Operant learning comes under the Behaviourist Perspective which is associated with John Watson (1913). It Involves the study of actual consumer behaviour and tries to predict and control people. Operant learning is the process by which a behaviour becomes associated with its consequences (Kosslyn, 2007).
B.F. Skinner (1904-1990) fully developed the concept of operant conditioning and how this could explain much of our daily behaviour. Operant conditioning involves an association between a stimulus, the response to the stimulus (a behaviour), and its consequence. In many marketing situations, the behaviour is an action, such as the purchase of a product or shopping at a particular store, an the consequence is a reward in the form of some sort of sales promotion (e.g. a premium discount) that then increases the likelihood that the consumer will repeat the original behaviour. A positive experience with a product (e.g. satisfaction) can also be seen as a reinforcer.

Whereas in classical conditioning, the association is between a neutral stimulus (something with no meaning to a consumer e.g. an unfamiliar or low-involvement product) can be associated with a meaningful object, and through this association consumer can learn to respond to the neutral object in the same way that they respond to the meaningful object. In marketing, the meaningful conditioned stimulus is typically something that will cause a predictable and positive response in consumer. For example, the unconditioned stimulus (e.g. humour) with a neutral stimulus (e.g. a product) through repeated pairing (usually advertising), the consumer ”learns” to respond to the neutral stimulus in the same way that they responded to the unconditioned stimulus, even in the absence of the unconditioned stimulus.
The term consumer behavior is the behavior that consumers display in searching for, purchasing, evaluating, and disposing of products and services that they expect will satisfy their needs.
Sampling is akin to what is known as "shaping" in learning theory, reinforcing behaviors that closely approximate the desired behavior, sampling tends to bring about conditioning of the desired response more effectively and efficiently. From an operant conditioning perspective, it should increase the probability of purchase. (Lammers, 1991). For example, when a new perfume is launched, magazines will often have free samples and coupons inside of them. Then perhaps consumers are given just a coupon and eventually no coupon, so the reinforcement has been faded out. Testers are there to get the consumer to try out the product and if they like them in theory they will buy the perfume. However the problem with this theory is that with a lot of sales promotion efforts, the public get too used to the sales promotion and want the reward and then will not buy without the reward.

Positive reinforcement is where you give something – such as food (i.e. two for the price of one) whereas negative reinforcement is...

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