Class Discussion: Consumer Behavior, How and Why do We Buy?

What surprising things did you learn from reading Chapter 1 of The Why of the Buy?

Why is Consumer Behavior important to the fields of fashion and design?

Do you think the use of the color red will make consumers willing to pay more or willing to pay less for a product? Why?

How has the World Wide Web affected the way we buy cars or other big purchases?

How and why does social media affect your buying decisions?

Do you buy products online? If so, why? Who else shops online, in terms of demographics?

Big online companies such as Google and Facebook use your online behavior and demographics to select targeted ads to display to you. Do you like or dislike this behavior?

Reading: Market Segmentation

Read the following article from Ad Age (2010) and share your thoughts afterward.

‘Urban’ Trope Misses a Large Swath of Black Consumers [PDF]

Class Discussion: Ambush and Guerrilla Marketing

What is ambush marketing and guerrilla marketing? Have you experienced some examples?

How do these examples stand out from traditional advertising?

Why do marketers use these tactics?

How can these techniques generate “word-of-mouth” buzz with minimal financial investment?

What happens when the message precedes the release of the product by several weeks?

Exercise: Marketing an Innovative Product

Innovation means that something new is being created. It will be regarded as new by the consumer, but newness alone does not guarantee a purchase or long-term success. Trying and adopting something new requires a change in consumer behavior. How likely are you to try something that is new?


When the iPad first came out, there was plenty of ridicule about its name.

consumer behavior: mocking the Apple iPad name

How did Apple overcome this and make iPad a must-have for many consumers?


On the other hand, Apple has not been successful with every innovation. Read and respond to this 2013 article:

Remembering the Apple Newton’s Prophetic Failure and Lasting Impact

The failure rate for new products ranges from 40 to 80 percent.

Research Activity

  1. Think of something from the past 20 years that was an innovative product. You are not limited to technology; fashion and other markets have their own innovations.
  2. Research the following:
    • How the product was introduced to the marketplace.
    • What the initial response was by the general public, the media, and industry big wigs.
    • Was the product a commercial success?
    • How specific marketing efforts succeeded or failed at changing consumer behavior.
  3. Write 3-5 paragraphs about your findings in a blog post entitled Marketing an Innovative Product.
  4. Share your findings in a class discussion.

Class Discussion: Marketing Challenges for New Products or Companies

If you opened a retail or service business of your own, how would you let consumers know about it?

How would you convince them to buy from you?

How would you get them to continue buying from you, rather than from a competitor?


What did today’s discussions and activities have to do with the following concepts?

Consumer behavior is:

  • the buyer’s recognition of a desire for a product or service
  • the buyer’s actions and decision-making processes
  • the buyer’s search, evaluation, purchase, use, and disposal of a product or service

Consumption is the “using up” of a resource.

Branding is the sum total of a company’s identity—from its name and logo to every piece of communication, internal or external—to every encounter every customer or potential customer has with it.

Branding is critical to marketing. It is perhaps the most important of all business strategies. It is more than putting a logo or label on a product.

Branding is deeply rooted in psychology, taking into account both the functional and emotional benefits. Branding strives to create the beliefs that the brand’s audience recalls when they think about the brand in its context.

Analyzing consumer behavior consists of finding out and interpreting:

  • why customers shop where they shop
  • why customers buy what they buy

This activity involves understanding certain aspects of:

  • psychology
  • sociology
  • history
  • economics
  • observation

Zeitgeist, or “the spirit of the times” is mood of a particular period of history as shown by the ideas and beliefs of the time. It influences what consumers are willing to wear, eat, drive, and otherwise find fashionable.

Marketing is an umbrella term that includes several overlapping activities. Each is attempting to communicate a brand message to customers.

  • advertising
  • branding
  • communications
  • community involvement
  • customer relationship management
  • direct marketing
  • global marketing
  • media planning
  • pricing strategies
  • product development
  • professional/formal selling
  • public relations
  • sales promotion
  • supply chain management and distribution

Competitive advantage is when the delivery of benefits from your product or service exceeds those of competitors.

Market segmentation involves dividing a broad target market into subsets of consumers who have common needs and priorities, and then designing and implementing strategies to target them.

Mass marketing is a strategy in which a firm decides to ignore market segment differences and appeal the whole market with one offer or one strategy.

Business ethics are rules of conduct that guide actions in the marketplace—the standards against which most people in a culture judge what is right and what is wrong, good or bad. These universal values include honesty, trustworthiness, fairness, respect, justice, integrity, concern for others, accountability, and loyalty.