Psychological factors include motivation, perception, learning, beliefs and attitudes.
Motivation is defined as the drive to satisfy a need. Some motives are socially learned (e.g. wanting to get married) and others are instinctive (e.g. eating when hungry). Many motives are unconscious but active in that they influence everyday buying behaviour.
Many theories of motivation have been developed to explain why consumers behave in certain ways. Notables are theories of Marshall, Freud, Veblen, Herzberg and Maslow.
Herzberg (1966), in his Work and Nature-of Man, developed the “Two Factor Theory of Motivation” where he distinguished between satisfiers (factors that create satisfaction) and dissatisfiers (factors that create dissatisfaction). Today, many automobiles companies are competing on the basis of warranty. While the absence of warranty would be a dissatisfier, its presence is not a satisfier since it is not one of the principal reasons for buying the product.
Marketers should be aware of the dissatisfiers, which, while they will not by themselves sell the product, can easily “unsell” it. Also, they should identify and understand in details the various satisfiers and then concentrate upon supplying them and emphasizing them in the marketing programme.
How does a motivated person perceive a product? This is an issue of perception.
Perception is concerned with the way stimuli, such as commercial messages, advertisements and packaging are interpreted. Products, messages and images are not always perceived in the manner intended by the marketer.
Perception is selective. We see what we want to see. The following perceptual processes shed more light on perception.
Exposure to a message or stimulus does not guarantee reception. For example, many car advertisements on the TV are ignored by the mass audience. However, people who desire the product will positively select information relevant to their needs. Stimuli such as intensity and size, sound, colour, frequency and contrast are easily noticeable.
Having gained the attention, there is no guarantee that the message will be interpreted as it was intended. Each person modifies information in a way that it fits neatly into his or her existing mindset.
Individuals forget much of what they learn (message decay). To ensure that a message is retained, it needs to be relevant, memorable, interesting and catchy. This accounts for why marketers use drama and repetition in sending messages to their target market.
Learning is defined as changes in an individual’s behaviour arising from experience. Having perceived an advertisement, individuals acquire, store, and retrieve, messages about products, brands and companies. If the experience with the product is generally positive, the likelihood of repeat purchase is increased. Conversely, a negative experience will not result in repeat purchase but in a negative attitude. Advertising and sales promotions can aid consumer learning. Classical and operant conditioning (connectionist theories) explain this. Simple connectionist theory suggests that association can be made between messages or stimuli, and responses, hence the term stimulus-response.
Beliefs and Attitudes
The process of learning results in beliefs and attitudes and they influence buying behaviour. A belief is a descriptive thought that a person holds about something.
Advertising seeks to increase people’s beliefs in the product knowing fully well that it is beliefs that constitute product and brand images. For instance, the beliefs in imported goods have given them competitive edge over their made- in-Nigeria counterparts. The ongoing efforts by the Federal Government towards changing these beliefs are designed to encourage local manufacturing.
Government needs to provide the infrastructure- electric power roads, water and transportation- that will enable rapid industrialization.
On the other hand, an attitude is a learned predisposition to respond in a consistently favourable or unfavourable manner with respect to a given object.
The attitude people have towards such things as religion, politics, goods and services put them into a frame of mind of liking or disliking these things. Attitude tends to be enduring because once an attitude is formed it is consistent and difficult to change.
Attitude has three components namely cognitive, affective and conative. Cognitive is concerned with the person’s knowledge of a situation; affective deals with the overall feelings about an object; while conative has to do With the resultant behaviour or actions.