INTRODUCTION A prerequisite for the adoption of marketing orientation is knowledge about customers and other aspects of the marketing environment that affect the company’s operations. The emphasis on marketing is on identification and satisfaction of consumer needs. In order to determine customer needs and to implement marketing strategies and programmes aimed at satisfying those needs, marketing managers need information. Questions like ‘What kind of people buy the company’s products?’, ‘What do they value in the product?’, and ‘Where do they buy the products form?’ are important and should be answered. The field of consumer research developed as and extension to the field of marketing research. The findings of consumer research enable the company to understand the behaviour of consumers in the marketplace. Marketers are able to understand various aspects of consumer behaviour, such as, the motivation behind consumer purchases, cultural nuances of consumers, brand awareness, brand image perceptions, the pr ocess of decision-making for a product, exposure and reactions to promotions and new product introductions. These enable the marketer to design more suitable marketing strategies for their target consumers. In recent years, many factors have increased the need for more and better information. As firms have become national and international in scope, the need for information on larger and more distant markets has increased. As consumers have become more affluent and sophisticated, marketing managers need better information on how they will respond to products and other marketing offerings. As competition becomes more intense, managers need information on the effectiveness of their marketing tools. As the environment is changing more rapidly, marketing managers also need timely information. It is dangerous to rely solely on internal views of mangers. The company needs to find real views of customer and only then should the company design its marketing initiatives. This information is obtained by formal and informal means. As the customer base grows, informal means like casual discussion with customers, reports of salespeople, observation of competitor activities are inadequate to glean the necessary in-depth market knowledge. A more formal approach, like collection of data through questionnaires, must be applied to supply information systematically to managers. But it is becoming increasingly difficult to collect data about customer needs, behaviour and satisfaction through structured method like questionnaires. Companies have enhanced the performance and quality of their products to the extent that most customers are ostensibly happy with the products they are using. And they say so in their interviews with researches. And in any case, if anything useful gets reported in questionnaires and interviews, such data is so easy to capture that most companies would already have it. Sustainable differentiation has to be built on customer information which is not easy to obtain and so every company cannot have it. Such customer information is revealed by the frustrations and the joys that the customer experiences when he is using the product. These emotions are too subtle to be captured through words. Customers have to be observed in their natural settings to be able to know their emotions. These emotions form the basis for differentiation. Marketing research has to move beyond its current method. CUSTOMER VALUE PROPOSTION Segmentation refers to the process of identifying clusters of customers who desire the same value proposition. Customer value proposition is a unique mix of product and service attributers, customer’s relations, and the corporate image that a company offers. Customer value proposition defines how the organization will differentiate itself from competitors to attract, retain and deepen relationships with target customers. The value proposition helps and organization connect its internal processes to improve outcomes with its customers. An effective process of segmentation should result in a different set of internal processes for each segment, because only a unique set of internal processes will create a unique value proposition for the customer. These unique set of internal processes will necessitate has to serve all the segments, the demands made on it would be so contradictory in nature that it will not be possible to serve even one of the segments effectively. This is especially true if the value propositions are vastly different. And the process of segmentation will provide value only if the value propositions for various segments are very different from one other. The organization thus does not have and other alternative but to create separate organizations to ensure success in different segments that it is serving. NON-SEGMENTED MARKETS Very few products or services can satisfy all customers in a market. Not all customers want to buy the same product. Companies in some countries like India have assumed that there was just one common market and for decades they fed it with only one offering. A decade back, the Ambassador and the Fiat and later the Maruti 800 were the only cars on the Indian road. But now, Mercedes Benz is being run as a taxi for the super premium segment of the market. This indicates that marketers had been ignoring the potential for market segmentation for long. Now, a new car is launched in the Indian market once a month, sometimes even by the same company. Similar stores abound in most categories of goods in most developing countries. In fact, one of the reasons for the relative backwardness of these countries can be the lack of a thorough process of segmentation. Marketing not based on segmentation is essentially inefficient because some segments get over-engineered, advanced products giving far more value and features are offered that desired by the customers, whereas other segments do not get the required value and features that customers want in the product. Nobody is happy in the process and the company ends up spending lot of money unnecessarily. Companies confuse segmentation, market evolution and the state of the economy. Whatever the state of the economy and market, distinct segments are always there in any market because segments are based differences in society, and differences in society are more pronounced in developing countries. Any marketing endeavour has to start with the process of segmenting the market, else it will be ineffective (due to underserving the market) and inefficient (because of overserving the market). SEGMENTING CONSUMER MARKETS Markets can be segmented in many ways. Segmentation variables are the criteria that are use for dividing a market into segments. The chosen criteria should be a good predictor of differences in buyer behaviour. There are three broad groups of consumer segmentation criteria: Behavioural, Psychographic and Profile variables. Behavioural variables such as benefits sought from the product, and buying patterns, such as frequency and volume of purchase, may be considered the fundamental basis. Psychographic variables are used when purchasing behaviour is correlated with the personality or lifestyle of consumers. Consumers with different personalities or lifestyles have varying product preferences and may respond differently to marketing mix offerings. Profiling is not essentially a criterion for segmentation. After finding these differences, marketers need to describe the people who exhibit them. Profile variables such as socio-economic group or geographic locations are valuable in describing the customers of the identified segment. For instance, a marketer may want to find out whether there are groups of people who value low calories in soft drinks. After tracing such people the marketer attempts to profile them in terms of their age and socio-economic groupings. The objective of profiling is to identify and locate the customers so that they can be approached by marketers. But in practice, segmentation may not follow this logical sequence. Often profile variables will be identified first and then the segments so described will be examin ed to see if they show different behavioural responses. For instance, different age or income groups may be examined to see if they show different attitudes and requirements. Behavioural segmentation Benefits sought People may seek different benefits from a product. Benefits sought in the fruit drink market are extra energy, vitamins, being natural, low calories, and low price. There are brands targeting each segment. Benefit segmentation provides an understanding on why people buy in a market and aids in the identification of opportunities, as some of the benefits that customers seek may not be provided by the existing companies. Benefit segmentation is fundamental because the objective of marketing is to provide customers with benefits which they value. Profile analysis can then be performed to identify the types of people (age, gender) in each benefit segment so that targeting becomes easier. Purchase occasion Products like tyres may be purchased as a result of an emergency or as a routine buy. Price sensitivity is likely to be lower when products are bought in emergency situations. Some products may be bought as gifts or self purchases. Gift markets are concentrated during festivals, while the advertising budget for these will be concentrated in the pre-festival period. Package designs may differ during this period, and special offers may also be made. Purchase behaviour Differences n purchase behaviour can be based on the time of purchase relative to the launch of the product or on patterns of purchase. When a new product is launched, a key task is to identify the innovator segment of the market. These people allow communication to be specifically targeted at them. Innovators are more likely to be willing to buy products soon after the launch. Other segments of the market may need more time to assess the benefits and delay purchase until after the innovator have taken the early risks of purchase. Brand loyalty The degree of brand loyalty can be the basis for segmenting customers. Some buyers are totally brand loyal, buying only one brand in a product group. Most buyers switch brands. Some may buy one particular brand on most occasions but may also buy two or three other brands. Others might show no loyalty to any individual brand but switch brands on the basis of special offers to buy. This is because they are variety seekers who look to buy a different brand each time. By profiling the characteristics of each group a company can target each segment accordingly. By knowing the type of person (for instance, by age, socio-economic group) who is brand loyal, a company can channel persuasive appeals to defend this segment. By knowing the characteristics and shopping habits of offer seekers, sales promotions can be correctly targeted. In the consumer durables market, customers can be divided into first time buyers, replacement buyers and switchers from other brands. Usage Consumers can be segmented on the basis of heavy users, light users and non-users of a product category. Profiling of heavy users allows this group to receive most marketing attention because creating brand loyalty among these people will pay heavy dividends. Attacking the heavy user segment (20 per cent customers consuming 80 per cent of the product) can have drawbacks if all competitors follow this strategy. Analyzing the light and non-user category provides insights that permit the development of appeals that are not mimicked by competitors as they will concentrate on the heavy users. Perception and beliefs Perceptions and beliefs are strongly linked to behaviour. Consumers are grouped by identifying these people who view the products in a market in a similar way (perceptual segmentation) and have similar beliefs (belief segmentation). For instance, when it was launched, a product such as iPod by Apple made more sense to consumer who were passionate about music and also held extremely positive perceptions about the use of technology. In the early 1990s, several Indian consumers held negative perceptions about microwaves. It was believed that Indian food rich in oil and spices could not be cooked in microwaves, and the waves emanating inside were harmful to health. Another segment that was more open to adopting microwaves consisted of those consumers who were well aware about the functioning of the microwaves, and were health conscious. They also sought the convenience of faster cooking, and cooking other types of cuisines. For these purposes, a microwave was found to be suitable by them. Therefore, marketers initially focused on the second segment. Psychographic segmentation Lifestyle A company groups people according to their way of living as reflected in their activities, interests and opinions. The company identifies groups of people with similar patterns of living. The question that arises in this type of segmentation is whether general lifestyle patterns are predictive of purchasing behaviour in specific market.2 The company will relate a brand to a particular lifestyle. Personality In some product categories there is relationship between brand personality and the personality of the buyer. Buyer and brand personalities are likely to match where brand choice is a direct manifestation of personal values, but for most FMCG goods, people buy a repertoire of goods. Personality and lifestyle segmentation will work best when brand choice is a reflection of self expression i.e. the brand becomes a badge which makes public an aspect of personality. Successful personality based segmentation is found in categories such as cosmetics, alcoholic drinks and cigarettes. Profile segmentation Even if behaviour and/or psychographic segmentation distinguishes between buyer preferences, there is need to analyze the resulting segments in terms of profile variables such as age and socio-economic groups. The segments emerging from behavioural and psychographic segmentation will have to be profiled in terms of age, occupation, socio-economic status, place of residence, gender, etc. Profiling will help companies in identifying the segments and focusing their attention on them. Demographic variables Age – Age is used to segment many consumer markets, like food and clothing. 3 Gender – Differing tastes and customs between men and women are reflected in specialist product aimed at these market segments. Life cycle – Disposable income and purchase requirement vary according to life cycle state (young singles versus married). Young couples without children may be a prime target for consumer durables. The use of life cycle analysis gives a better precision in segmenting markets that age because family responsibilities and the presence of children have a greater bearing on what people buy than age. Socio economic variables Socio class as a predictor of buyer behaviour has been open to question. Many people who have similar occupations have dissimilar lifestyles and purchasing patterns. Educational qualification and income are also used as variables for segmentation. Geographic variables A marketer can use pure geographic segmentation or a hybrid of geographic and demographic variables to segment the market. Geographic segmentation is useful when there are geographic differences in consumption patterns and preferences. Variations in food preferences may form the basis of geographic segmentation. Both the geographic and demographic variables help a marketer to point to their segments more precisely. CRITERIA FOR SUCCESSFUL POSTIONING Clarity The positioning idea must be clear in terms of both target market and differential advantage. The target market should be clearly demarcated and identifiable in terms of demographic or geographic parameters, or a combination of both. Each target market of the company should be different from the other. The target market should be clearly defined in terms of being served by a distinct value proposition. The value proposition should be clearly communicated. Most companies do not clearly communicate the corresponding value propositions because they want their offerings to be acceptable to customers other than those in their target market. They feel that defining value propositions will narrowly restrict their market. Sometimes companies may not have researched their target markets well enough to know their requirements. So the value proposition that they communicate and deliver may not be suitable for the intended market. The value proposition is communicating mostly through advertising. Advertising agencies are responsible for communicating the value proposition. Though the company briefs the agency, a third party can never completely understand the subtle elements embedded in the value proposition. Advertising, in an effort to be more creative, tries to create images, stories, jingles and these cannot truly convey or represent the value proposition. In fact, the more ‘creative’ the advertising, the more likely it is to deviate from its intended goals of effective communication of conveying the value proposition to the intended target market. Consistency Confusion will arise if changes in positioning planks occur frequently. For i nstance, if a company focuses on quality of service in one year, and then next year it changes its positioning to superior product performance, the consumer would not know what to expect from the offering of the company. Customers who were attracted to the previous positioning of the company may now desert it. Now customers may not find the new positioning of the company credible, as their image of the company is something other that what it is claiming to become, persists. A company which changes its positioning planks frequently will leave customers confused about its real identity. Customers will not know what the company stands for. A company has to stick to a positioning plank for a reasonable length of time so that the new image sinks in. a company feels that all that all that a new positioning requires is an ad campaign presenting the new status. But positioning is just an external manifestation of what the company really is. So if a company changes its positioning plank it has to transform itself to become true to its new positioning. No company can transform itself completely so frequently. And if the company has not been able to align with its new positioning, customers will not get what they have been promised in the new positioning plank. But consistency does not mean permanence. A company may changes it initial positioning either because customers demand different value propositions, or because the company may have acquired new resources enabling it be something else. Credibility The differential advantage must be credible to customers. Credibility means believability and trustworthiness. Positioning is a promise made to the customer. The customer must believe that the company will deliver what is promises, and is capable of delivering the promise. Through advertisements and its public relation efforts the company should be able to demonstrate its capability to deliver the promised utility. Every time a customer buys the company’s product he should have got what the company promised in its positioning strategy. Through word of mouth the company develops a reputation for delivering its promised value. Credibility built through personal use of the product and word of mouth is stronger than credibility built through advertising and public relations. Competitiveness The differential advantage should offer something of value to the customer which the competition has failed to supply. The company should be able to develop or acquire distinct set of resources and processes. This unique set of resources and processes is used to deliver a distinctive value which no other company can possibly deliver, since the latter lack the set of resource and processes used to create it. Therefore the key to be able to provide differential value to customers is to posses a distinctive set of resources and processes which competition does not possess. Sine qua non of positioning Positioning is not an abstract art. It is important for firms to understand and implement a few fundamental dos and don’ts to attain successful positioning. The positioning of a corporate or a brand should be clear and precise. The unique proposition made to the customer should be brief and catchy. Instead of overloading customers with a maze of complicated information, companies should be precise and concise. A company cannot hope to reach out to the entire market with one positioning appeal. The target audience should be determined, and the positioning appeal and message should be tailored to it. The product or service should be set apart from what competitors are offering. If the product or service being offered by the company by the company is not better than or different from that of competition, why should customers buy it? It is extremely important to state that one compelling reason why the company’s product is the best for the target customers. The positioning statement should clearly reflect what the organization stands for, and what it is about. Its values, intent and offering should be clear from the it’s positioning statement. Positioning should address the felt needs of the customer. Customers should be told as to how the company’s product will fulfill these needs. Such benefits should be stressed in the positioning statement. These needs should be specific, measurable and something that customers really want. Instead of being vague that the company offers a lots of variety or selection, a company should say that it has 25 different models, and five colours in each model. Positioning appeal should be specific. One unique value proposition that customers desire the most must be present in the product. The company should also be able to deliver what it promises to the customer as its success depends on its credibility. Perception is the process by which individuals select, organize, and interpret stimuli into a meaningful and coherent picture of the world. Perception has strategic implication for marketers because consumers make decisions based on what they perceive rather than on the basis of objective reality. The lowest level at which an individual can perceive a specific stimulus is that person’s absolute threshold. The minimal difference that can be perceived between two stimuli is called the differential threshold or just noticeable difference (JND). Most stimuli are perceived by consumers above the level of their conscious awareness; however, weak stimuli can be perceived below the level conscious awareness (i.e., subliminally). Research refutes the notice that subliminal stimuli influence consumer-buying decision. Consumers’ selection of stimuli form the environment is based on the interaction of their expectations and motives with the stimulus itself. The principles of selective perception include the following concepts: selective exposure, selective attention, perceptual defence, and perceptual blocking. People usually perceive things they need or want, and block the perception of unnecessary, unfavourable or painful stimuli. Consumers organize their perceptions into unified wholes according to the principles of Gestalt psychology: figure and ground, grouping, and closure. The interpretation of stimuli is highly subjective and is based on what the consumer expects to see in light of pervious experience, on the number of plausible explanations he or she can envision, on motives and interests at the time of perception, and n the clarity of the stimulus itself. Influences that tend to distort objective interpretation include physical appearances, stereotypes, halo effects, irrelevant curs, first impressions, and the tendency to jump to conclusions. Just as individuals have perceived images of themselves, they also have perceived images of products and brands. The perceived image of a product or service (how it is positioned) is probably more important to its ultimate success that are its actual physical characteristics. Products and services that are perceived distinctly and favourably have a much better chance of being purchased than products or services with unclear or unfavourable images. Compared with manufacturing firms, service marketers face several unique problems in positioning and promoting their offering because services are intangible, variable, perishable, and are simultaneously produced and consumed. Regardless of how well positioned a product or service appears to be, the marketer may be forced to reposition it in response to market events, such as new competitor strategies or changing consumer preferences. Consumers often judge the quality of a product or service on the basis of a variety of informational cues; some are intrinsic to the product (such as colour, size, flavour and aroma), whereas others are extrinsic (e.g., price, store image, brand image, and service environment). In the absence of direct experience or other information, consumers often rely on price as an indicator of quality. How a consumer perceives a price-as high, low, or fair-has a strong influence on his purchase intentions and satisfactions. Consumers often rely on both internal and external reference prices when assessing the fairness of a price. Consumer imagery also includes perceived images of retail stores that influence the perceived quality of products they carry, as well as decisions as to where to shop. Manufacturers who enjoy a favourable image generally find their new products are accepted more readily than those of manufacturers with less favourable image. Consumers often perceive risk in making product selections because of uncertainty as to the consequences of their product decision. The most frequent types of risks that consumers perceive are functional, physical, financial, social, psychological and related to time. Consumer strategies for reducing perceived risk include increased information search, b rand loyalty, buying a well–known brand, buying for a reputable retailer, buying the most expensive brand, and seeking reassurance in the form of money-back guarantees, warranties, and prepurchase trial. The concept of perceived risk has important implications for marketers, who can facilitate the acceptance of new products by incorporating risk-reduction strategies in their newproduct promotional campaigns. Individuals act and react on the basis of their perceptions, not on the basis of objective reality. Therefore, consumer’s perceptions are more important to a marketer than their knowledge of objective reality, because people make decisions based on their perceptions. Understanding this information enables marketers to develop more effective advertisements. MEASURES OF CONSUMER LEARNING Market share and the number of brand-loyal consumers are the dual goals of consumer learning. Brand-loyal customers provide the basis for a stable and growing market share. Brands with larger market shares have proportionately larger groups of loyal buyers. Recognition and Recall Measures Recognition and recall tests are conducted to determine whether consumers remember seeing an ad, the extent to which they have read it or seen it and can recall its content, their resulting attitudes toward the product and the brand, and their purchase intentions. Recognition tests are based on aided recall, although recall tests use unaided recall. In recognition tests, the consumer is shown an ad and asked whether he or she remembers seeing it and can remember any of its salient points. In recall tests, the consumer is asked whether he or she has read a specific magazine or watches a specific television show, and if so, can recall any ads or commercials seen, the product advertised, the brand, and any salient points about the product. Cognitive Responses to Advertising Comprehensive is a function of the message characteristics, the consumer’s opportunity and ability to process the information, and the consumer’s motivation (or level of involvement). To ensure a high level of comprehensions, many marketers conduct copy testing either before the advertising is actually run in media (called pre testing) or after it appears (post-testing). Pre-tests are used to determine which, if any, elements of an advertising message should be revised before major media expenses are incurred. Post-tests are used to evaluate the effectiveness of an ad that has already run, and to identify which elements, if any, should be changed to improve the impact and memorability of future ads. Attitudinal and Behavioural Measures of Brand Loyalty Brand loyalty is the ultimate desired outcome of consumer learning. There is no single definition of this concept. Attitudinal measures are concerned with consumers’ overall feelings (i.e., evaluation) about the product and the brand, and their purchase or intentions. Behavioural measures are based on observable responses to promotional stimuli-purchase behaviour, rather than attitude toward the product or brand. A basic issue among researchers is whether to define brand loyalty in terms of consumer behaviour or consumer attitudes. Behavioural scientists who favour the theory of instrumental conditioning believe that brand loyalty results from an initial product trial that is reinforced through satisfaction, leading to repeat purchase. Cognitive researchers, on the other hand, emphasize the role of mental processes in building brand loyalty. They believe that consumers engage in extensive problemsolving behaviour involving brand and attribute comparison, leading to a strong brand preference and repeat purchase behaviour. Cognitive learning theorists believe behavioural definitions (e.g., frequency of purchase of proportion of total purchase) lack precision because they do not identify the ‘real’ brand-loyal buyers. Often consumers buy from a mix of brands within their acceptable range (i.e., their evoked set). An integrated conceptual framework views consumer loyalty as the relationship between an individual’s relative attitude toward an entity (brand, service, store, or vendor) and patronage behaviour. The consumer’s relative attitude consists of two dimensions: The strength of the attitude The degree of attitudinal differentiation among competing brands. Some theorists suggest that brand loyalty is correlated with the consumer’s degree of involvement: High involvement leads to extensive information search and, ultimately, to brand loyalty. Low involvement leads to exposure and brand awareness, and then possibly to brand habits. As a customer’s satisfaction with a product increases along with repeat purchase, the search for information about alternative brands decreases. Brand Equity Brand equity refers to the value inherent in a well-known brand name. From a consumer’s perspective, brand equity is the added value bestowed on the product by the brand name. Brand equity facilitates the acceptance of new products and the allocation of preferred shelf space, and enhances perceived value, perceived quality, and premium pricing options. For many companies, their most valuable assets are their brand names. Well-known brand names are known as mega-brands. Because a brand that has been promoted heavily in the past retains a cumulative level of name recognition, companies buy, sell, and rent (i.e., license) their brand names, knowing that it is easier to buy than to create a brand name with enduring strength. Brand equity enables companies to charger a price premium-an additional amount over and above the price of an identical store brand. A relatively new strategy among some marketers is co-branding (also called double branding). In co-branding, two brand names are featured on a single product. It uses another product’s brand equity to enhance the primary brands equity. Some experts believe that using a second brands equity may imply that the host brand can no longer stand on its own. Others question whether a co-branded product can cause consumer confusion as to who actually makes the product, and whether the host brand can survive it the second brand endorsement is taken away. Brand equity is important to marketers because it leads to brand loyalty, which in turn leads to increased market share and greater profits. To marketers, the major function of learning theory is to teach consumers that their product is best, to encourage repeat purchase, and, to develop loyalty to the brand name. Attitudes are learned predispositions to act in a consistently favourable or unfavourable manner towards a given object (for instance, brand, company, technology, retailers, products, or celebrity). An attitude is a person’s liking or disliking towards a given object, and the reasons thereof. Attitudes towards objects are dynamic, and are learnt over a period of time. Therefore, each encounter of the consumer with the object either reinforces the existing attitude or forces him to re-evaluate it. Consumers form attitudes about objects related to consumption for several reasons: They simplify complex subjects. They protect self esteem. They help us adjust to the world. They allow us to express fundamental values. There are three main sources of attitudes: Direct experience with objects and situations. Explicit and implicit learning from others. Personality development. Attitudes are not observable; thus attitude research is important for marketers. Attitudes are learned. Attitudes relative to purchase behaviour are formed as a result of direct experience with the product, word-of-month, exposure to mass media advertising, the Internet, and direct marketing. Attitudes are not synonymous with behaviour, though they may result from behaviour. Attitudes have consistency, though they are not permanent and can and do change. Once attitudes develop, they are not always easy to change. Often the goal of marketing is to change attitudes about a product or company. Circumstances sometimes preclude consistency between attitudes and behaviour. Attitudes occur within a situation. How attitudes affect behaviour depends on the situation in which the behaviour occurs. Thus a specific situation may cause consumers to behave in ways that is inconsistent with their attitude. From a marketer’s perspective, it is important to consider the situation in which the behaviour takes place, or one might misinterpret the relationship between attitude and behaviour. SCALES FOR MEASURING ATTITUDES Attitudes are generally measured by using scales. Each scale contains several items (sentences) and measures a specific aspect of an object whose attitude is being measured. Most scales act as indirect measures of various components (cognitive, affective or conative) of attitudes. Direct questions or probing may not reveal true attitudes of consumers towards objects such as brand image, corporate image, purchase intention, evaluation or acceptance of new products, store image, perceptions about salespersons etc. The most comely used scales for measuring attitudes are the Semantic Differential scale, Thurstone scale and the Likert scale. Semantic Differential Scale The Semantic Differential (SD) scale measure consumers’ reactions to stimulus words and concepts in terms of ratings on bipolar scales defined with contrasting adjectives at each end. An example of an SD scale is: Usually, the position marked 0 is labeled ‘neutral’, the 1 position are labeled ‘slightly’, the 2 positions ‘quite’ and the 3 positions ‘extremely’. A scale, like this one, measures directionality of a reaction (e.g., goods versus bad) and also its intensity (slight through extreme). Typically, a person is presented with some object of interest, e.g., Nescafe (as a brand), and asked to rate it on a number of such scales. Ratings are combined in various ways to describe and analyze the person’s feelings. A number of basic considerations are involved in Semantic Differential methodology: Bipolar adjective scales are a simple, economical means for obtaining data on people’s reactions. With adaptations, such scales can be sued with adults or children, persons from all walks of life, and persons from any culture. Ratings on bipolar adjective scales tend to be correlated, and three basic dimensions of response account for most of the co-variation in ratings. The three dimensions, which have been labeled Evaluation, Potency, and Activity (EPA), have been verified and replicated in a variety of studies. Some adjective scales are almost pure measures of EPA dimension; for example, good-bad for Evaluation, powerful-powerless for Potency, and fast- slow for Activity. Using a few pure scales of this sort, one can obtain, with considerable economy, reliable measures of a person’s overall response to something. Typically, a concept is rated on several pure scales associated with a single dimension. Measurements of a concept on the EPA dimensions are referred to as the concept’s profile. EPA measurements are appropriate when one is interested in affective responses. The EPA system is notable for being a multivariate approach to affect measurement. It is also a generalized approach, applicable to any concept or stimulus, and thus it permits comparisons of affective reactions to various objects. EPA ratings have been obtained for advertisements, communications, brands, customer experience, role stereotypes, organizations, colours, shapes, and individuals. The semantic differential scale asks a person to rate a product, brand, or company based upon a seven-point rating scale that has two bi-polar adjectives at each end. The following is an example of a semantic differential scale question. Example: Would you say our web site is: (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) Very Very Attractive Unattractive Unlike other rating scales such as the Likert scale, the semantic differential scale does not have a neutral or middle selection. A respondent must choose, to a certain extent, one or the other adjective. Thurstone Scale Thurstone scale is a way of measuring consumer attitudes along a single dimension by asking them to indicate whether they agree or disagree with each of a large set of statement that are about that object whose attitude is being measured. The statements are designed to be parallel in construction, but some tilt toward one end of the scale and some toward the other end, with each trying to indicate the attitude in a slightly different way. This can be contrasted with a Likert scale which asks someone to indicate their degree of agreement or disagreement with a single statement, e.g. a Likert scale would be ‘Please rate on a scale of 1 (disagree) to 7 (agree) the statement: “Is this software easy to use?’ The corresponding Thurstone scale would state this question in multiple ways, for instance: I had trouble finding what I wanted. I liked how easy the software was. The software has many convenient features. The software was confusing. Finally, to choose the statements people respond to, the scale needs to be validated. For instance, expert judges (or pre-testing respondents) rate each of the statements in terms of to what extent they reflect either extreme of the attitude being measured. Likert Scale Likert scale typically allows respondents to rate the level at which they agree or disagree with a given statement. For example: I find this software easy to use. Strongly disagree 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Strongly agree Likert scale can be used along a seven or a five-point scale. The middle point of this scale stands for a neutral attitude. Some modifications of this scale ask respondents to measure their attitudes along a four-point scale in order to elimination the likelihood that respondents would indicate neutral attitudes. The elimination of the mid point forces respondents to indicate their preference one way or the other. A Likert scale is used to measure attitudes, preferences, and subjective reactions. Likert scales and other attitudinal scales help get the emotional and preferential responses of customers. For both the Likert and Thurstone scales, the reliability of the scales tends to increase with the number of items. However as the number of items in a scale increase, so does the time taken to complete the attitude and this may demotivate the respondents. There is no hard and fast rule to determine the final number of items in a scale and this will reflect the nature and complexity of the attitude being assessed. CHANGING THE ATTITUDE OF CONSUMERS Competitors can try to change the attitudes of the market leaders’ customers in several ways: Comparative advertising: Identifying a major competitor and explaining why your product is superior in one or more ways. Emphasizing brand attributes: Identify and highlights features of the product that consumers may not be familiar with or which may be new or innovative. Adding new attributes: Can involve stressing an attribute that has been ignored; or adding and attribute that represents an improvement or technological innovation. Providing knowledge of alternatives: Providing consumers with evidence, facts or figures enables them to make informed choices between competing brands. Changing the relative value of attributes: Often a market for a particular type of product is divided so that different market segments are offered different brands each with different features or benefits. When this occurs, marketers have an opportunity to persuade consumers to ‘cross over’ to their brand. Changing Affect One approach is to try to change affect, which may or may not involve getting consumer to change their beliefs. One strategy uses the approach of classical conditioning to pair the product with a liked stimulus. For example, a car paried with a beautiful woman. Alternatively, we can try to get people to like the advertisement and hope that this liking will lead to the purchase of a product. For example, the Pillsbury Doughboy does not really emphasize the conveyance of much information to the consumer; instead, it attempts to create a warm, fuzzy image. Although Energize Bunny ads try to get people to believe that their batteries last longer, the main emphasis is on the likeable bunny. Finally, products which are better known, through the mere exposure effect, tend to be better liked, that is, the more a product is advertised and seen in stores, the more it will generally be liked, even if consumers do not develop any specific beliefs about the product. Changing Behaviour People like to believe that their behaviour is rational; thus, once they use a company’s products, chances are that they will continue to do so unless someone is able to get them to switch. One way to get people to switch to a particular brand is to use temporary price discounts and coupons; however, when consumers buy a product on deal, they may justify the purchase based on that deal (i.e., the low price) and may then switch to other brands on deals later. A better shelf space so that the product is more convenient. Consumers are less likely to sue this availability as a rationale for their purchase and may continue to buy the product even when the product is less conveniently located. Changing Beliefs Although attempting to change beliefs is the obvious way to attempt attitude change, particularly when consumers hold unfavourable or inaccurate ones, this is often difficult to achieve because consumers tend to resist. There are several approaches to belief change. Change currently held beliefs It is generally very difficult to attempt to change beliefs that people hold, particularly those that are strongly held, even if they are inaccurate. For example, the petroleum industry advertised for a long time that its profits were lower that were commonly believed and provided extensive factual evidence in its advertising to support this reality. However consumers were suspicious and rejected this information. Similarly, a shampoo manufacturer may try to convince customers that washing one’s hair daily is not harmful to hair, as consumers think otherwise. However, it is not easy to change strongly-held beliefs that consumers have held for a long time. Change the importance of beliefs Although the sugar manufacturers would undoubtedly like to decrease the importance of healthy teeth, it is usually not feasible to make beliefs less important-consumers are likely to reason, why, then, would you bother bringing them up in the first place? However, it may be possible to strengthen beliefs that favour the brand-e.g., a vitamin supplement manufacturer may advertise that it is extremely important for women to replace iron after a particular age. Most consumers already agree with this, but the belief can be made stronger. Add beliefs Consumers are less likely to resist the addition of beliefs so long as they do not conflict with existing beliefs. Thus, the beef industry has added beliefs that beef (1) is convenient, and (2) can be used to make a number of creative dishes. Vitamin manufacturers attempt to add the belief that stress causes vitamin depletion, which sounds quite plausible to most people. Change ideal It is usually difficult, and very risky, to attempt to change ideals, and only few firms succeed. For example, it would be very difficult to convince consumer that they could grow old naturally without using cosmetics or undergoing surgery. One-sided versus Two-sided Appeals Attitude research has shown that consumers often tend to react more favourably to advertisements which either: 1. admit something negative about the sponsoring brand (e.g., the Volvo is a clumsy car, but very safe), or 2. admit something positive about a competing brand (e.g., a competing supermarket has slightly lower prices, but offers less services and selection). Two-sided appeals must contain overriding arguments why the sponsoring brand is ultimately superior-that is, in the above example, the ‘but’ part must be emphasized. The Elaboration Likelihood Model (ELM) The ELM suggests that consumers will scrutinize claims more in important situations than in unimportant ones. The ELM suggests that for unimportant products, elaboration will be low, and thus Shah Rukh Khan is able to endorse Pepsi without having any special credentials to do so. However, for products which are eight expensive or important for some other reason (e.g., a pain reliever given to a child who could be harmed by using dangerous substances), elaboration is likely to be more extensive, and the endorser is expected to be congruent, or compatible with the product. For example, a basket ball player is likely to be effective in endorsing athletic shoes, but not in endorsing automobiles. On the other hand, a nationally syndicated auto columnist would be successful in endorsing cars, but not athletic shoes. All of them, however, could endorse fast food restaurants effectively.