Project Discussion

Share your findings from your Midterm Project. This has a final deadline of midnight tonight.

Consumer Motivation

Consumer behaviorists attempt to understand the dynamics of the psychological (individual) and sociological (group) behaviors of people.

Motivation is the experience of a stimulus which causes discomfort, and responding in such a way to eliminate the discomfort. The understanding of motivation gives marketers valuable tools to impel a person to buy.

The Motivation Process

Biological Versus Learned Needs

Drive theory proposes that biological needs that produce unpleasantness, such as hunger, explain motivations to behave certain ways. People attempt to reduce or eliminate this stimulus and return to homeostasis. We come to learn which behaviors reduce the stimuli.

But Drive Theory does not explain how humans have the ability to delay gratification to serve a goal. It also does not explain why we might choose one solution over another, or one path to reach a goal over another.

We can also become convinced that we have needs we were not previously aware of—learned needs.

In what ways have marketers generated false needs?

Needs Versus Wants

How do we distinguish between something that we need and something that we want? Are there gray areas?

Here are four ways to view needs:

  • biogenic – necessary to maintain life (food, water, air, shelter)
  • psychogenic – reflect the priorities of a culture (belonging, status, power)
  • utilitarian – the objective and tangible attributes of products that serve a practical purpose (nutrient value of our food, durability of clothing); AKA rational
  • hedonistic – the subjective and experiential attributes of products that excite, increase confidence, or drive fantasy (luxury items); AKA emotional

Can you think of brands that try to motivate purchases based on each of these types of needs?

Motivational Conflicts

Discuss some examples from your experience of the following motivational conflicts

  • Approach-Approach: choosing between two desirable alternatives
  • Approach-Avoidance: a product or service has both desirable and undesirable consequences attached to them
  • Avoidance-Avoidance: choosing “the lesser of two evils”, or being presented with two undesirable options and you must select one

How do marketers address each of these conflict types?

Classifying Consumer Needs

Abraham Maslow developed a hierarchy of needs that is frequently referenced by marketers. He proposed that we must first satisfy basic needs before progressing up the ladder.

Abraham Maslow hierarchy of needs

Henry Murray created an inventory of 20 psychogenic needs that result in specific behaviors.

How can marketers appeal to the following needs which he included?

  • autonomy – being independent
  • defendance – defending the self against criticism
  • play – engaging in pleasurable activities

How Needs Influence Purchases

Everyone has these needs to differing degrees. How do you think the following needs influence what people buy?

  • affiliation – to be in the company of other people
  • power – to control one’s environment
  • uniqueness – to assert one’s individual identity

Consumer Involvement

Involvement is a person’s perceived relevance of a product (or brand, ad, or purchasing situation), based on their needs, values, and interests. In marketing terms, involvement ranges from inertia to obsession.

  • Do you know anyway who has an seemingly obsessive attachment to a product or brand? How does this show in his or her behavior?
  • Can you think of other products that some would call “cult products”, which a high degree of involvement from a large number of people?
consumer involvement - consumer motivation and values

Motivation and Design

Designed goods are important because they:

  • eliminate boredom
  • help create individual identity
  • increase personal security
  • satisfy need to experience
  • satisfy need to learn
  • satisfy need to own/possess
  • help elicit positive responses from others


The Persuaders frontline consumer learning and memory
The Pursuaders
Parts 4-6
Frontline, PBS

Reaction to the Film

  • Name something that surprised you from the film.
  • What is the result of the sharp increase of advertising in our lives compared to 20-30 years ago?
  • Why are giant advertisers losing faith in the 30-second commercial? What counter-measures have they come up with to reach consumers?
  • Have any celebrities changed your impression of them by appearing in ads? In what way?
  • Describe the marketing campaign for Song Airlines. Was it innovative? In what ways was it successful or unsuccessful, and why?
  • What kinds of information would you be willing to share about yourself or your family in order to: enter a contest? Get a discount? Get online? Get a cell phone? Use a credit card?
  • Do you have any “lovemarks”, brands you are loyal to even when devotion is not logical?
  • Are there any brands that give you a sense of belonging?
  • How are politicians or political issues marketed? How do you feel about this?
  • Is shopping a political act?