Foundations of Marketing

by Jonathan Groucutt

Chapter 16: Psychology

The Seminar Room


What Drives Your Buying Decisions?

Consider five products that you have purchased over the previous seven days. Use the grid to determine why you purchased these products. Do you see any patterns emerging? This is an exercise that you may want to repeat over several weeks.

Click on the grid to view a larger printable version


Select two or three examples of TV, magazine or newspaper advertisements and (if possible) direct marketing material that you feel are attempting to appeal to people’s aspirations. These examples can reflect any generation.

In the case of the TV advertisements note the following:

  • A very brief explanation of the commercial – do this in one or two sentences.
  • The name of the brand that is being advertised.

In the case of the of the magazine/newspaper advertisement note the following:

  • The name of the particular magazine/newspaper that you have chosen. What sort of segment/target audience do you feel that this ‘fits’ into? [You may find it helpful to reflect back to Chapter 3: Segmentation, Targeting and Positioning.]

You could also undertake the following exercise with a colleague to obtain another perspective.

  • Identify the aspirational values or appeals that are reflected within the advertisements and direct marketing literature. Are they, for example, hinting at a better life for the purchaser?
  • Comment upon whether you feel that they are appropriate or not to the particular advertisements.
  • Do you think that this is an appropriate means of communicating a brand to either a current or potential customer?
  • Do the advertisements that you have chosen inspire you to ‘buy into’ the brand being promoted? Why?

(NB: It is appreciated that not all countries have national commercial television stations. In such cases, and where possible, you could study the output from a satellite station.)

Changing Perceptions

[This issue links to Chapter 7: The Branding of Products and Services.]

The Swiss watch has long been the pinnacle of time keeping. Indeed, many of the world’s luxury watch brands emanate from Switzerland. Since the 1980s watchmakers from other countries (namely Japan) have made inroads into the global market. Today, however, the watch has evolved beyond a means of time keeping. Many people today use their mobile phones (another product concept that has evolved, and over a relatively short time-frame) for time keeping.

So what is happening to the watch?

The launch of the Swiss-made Swatch brand in the 1980s introduced unusual and colourful designs (as well as the benefits of quartz mechanisms). Combined with the luxury-brands, Swatch and others have reinvigorated the Swiss watch industry. In 2005 the Swiss watch industry enjoyed an extremely successful year even with international competition. The growth is due to a changing perception of the watch – from timepiece to jewellery. The consumer now views the watch in the same vein as a ring or wrist chain.

The watch demonstrates how our perception of a product can change over its life span. You may want to consider the earlier point of the changing uses made of the enhanced mobile phone systems. The mobile is no longer simply a phone – it is a timekeeper, text messenger and camera. The consumer has adapted to and embraced the new technologies.

The Café

Do a search on, for example, Yahoo for the combination of ‘psychology and marketing’. A large proportion of your findings will be degree programmes combing these two disciplines. True, you will see similar combinations of say, ‘business and marketing’. However, business is a much wider subject remit including several disciplines. My point is that it could be argued that marketing and psychology are separate disciplines in their own right but can be clearly interrelated.

The Library

Hamilton, C. and Dennis, R. (2005) Affluenza: When too much is never enough. Sydney: Allen & Unwin. This book explores Australian’s aspirations to live the lifestyles of the rich and famous at any cost.

The Future Laboratory is a London-based research company that analyses trends on behalf of major organizations and companies. I’ve placed it under psychology (although it may appear under other headings) because they also research consumer’s perceptions of products and the future.