Consumer behavior is one of the most interesting and important aspects of marketing management. Virtually all decisions involved in developing an effective marketing mix for a product or service rely on thorough knowledge of the consumers who comprise the target market. Understanding the behavior of the consumer can help marketers anticipate reactions to changes in the marketing mix, or determine whether new products are likely to be adopted. Consumer behavior is also closely related to marketing research. A practical understanding of the consumer can aid in the selection of an appropriate research methodology, question design and selection, as well as in interpreting consumer responses to such questions. In this course we will directly examine the available theory and research concerning the behavior of the consumer in order to understand its most basic principles.

The majority of the course will focus on the consumer as an information processor of one sort or another. We will examine the motivational and perceptual factors upon which buyer behavior is built, as well as look at more complex processes such as persuasion, attitude judgment, and decision-making. In practical terms, we will address the following questions: What kinds of marketing stimuli do consumers notice? How can we get them to notice our marketing messages? What motivates consumers? What do consumers value? What elements can we include in our marketing mix to motivate consumers to learn more about our product or to buy it? What kinds of information are consumers good at remembering? How can we aid consumer memory for our brand name and product features? What makes consumers evaluate products as good or bad, and how can we persuade them that our product is good? How can we get consumers to choose our product over competitors? What features do consumers care about, and how does this influence their decision? What are the main things that determine whether consumers are satisfied with a product or not?

The typical course session is structured as followed: in the first half of our session, we will discuss a case, during the second half, we will cover the lecture related to the case. Because of the intensive nature of the course, it is imperative that you set considerable free time aside in between classes to prepare the assigned cases. There is NO point in coming to class if you have not thoroughly prepared the case.

Learning outcomes

The goals of this class are:

  • To acquire a framework for analyzing consumer behavior problems
  • To learn how consumer behavior can be affected by different marketing strategies
  • To show how behavioral evidence can be used to evaluate alternative marketing strategies
  • To learn about and use consumer behavior theories in marketing and social psychology