Conditioned stimulus in marketing

Article Summary Contents

Article Summary Contents

Experiment One

Objective

In the first experiment, Gorn (1982) suggested that the attitudes of the consumers toward a product (conditioned stimulus) and the inclination to purchase it are influenced by the unconditioned stimulus in advertisements. Examples of the unconditioned stimulus are humor, music, color, and sexual appeals. Thus, the experiment’s objective was to determine whether or not positive and negative unconditioned stimulus influences the attitudes and the probability of the consumers to purchase the product (conditioned stimulus) advertised on the commercials. Gorn (1982) suggested the need to make information about the product available to the consumers as minimal as possible during the experiment.

Procedure

Gorn (1982) experimented with one with 244 first-year undergraduates. Initially, Gorn (1982) conducted a pilot study in which 10 participants were asked to evaluate and rate ten pieces of music against a Likert-type scale, from the one they liked most (rated 5) to the one they disliked most (rated 1). One of the music titled "Grease" was rated five and was used as positive unconditioned stimuli. Indian music was rated five and was used as a negative unconditioned stimulus. Gorn (1982) used beige and light blue pens as the conditioned stimuli since earlier experiments had shown that participants felt neutral about them.

The participants were divided into two groups and were assigned to two sets of conditions. During the first condition, the participants listened to “Grease” music as they watched slides showing light blue pens. The other group listened to Indian music as they watched a slide showing a beige pen. However, information about the attributes of the pens was not given. The participants in the two groups were then asked to choose the pen they liked, either beige or light blue pen. They were also asked to fill a sheet indicating their ratings of the extent to which they wanted the songs. Around 10 participants that did not rate the music as "Liked," "Disliked," "Somewhat Disliked," or "Somewhat Liked" were eliminated. Eventually, Gorn (1982) discussed with the participants to determine their views about why they selected the colors of the pens. Conditioned stimulus in marketing.

Findings

The results from the first experiment indicated that out of 94 participants that listened to “Grease” music, 74 selected the light blue pen. The second group that listened to Indian music had 101 participants, and only 30 chose the beige pen. The rest picked a light blue pen. The results indicated that only 30% of the participants selected the color of the pen that was associated with “Dislike” and “Somewhat Deslike.” One hundred twenty-six participants stated they picked the pens based on their color of preference. Only five participants agreed that music influenced their choices. The outcomes supported the hypothesis that unconditional stimulus such as music on commercials affects a product (conditional stimuli) being advertised.

Experiment Two

Objective

In experiment 2, Gorn (1982) suggested that features such as humor and music on commercials are more likely to influence emotions and attitudes than information about a product when consumers are not in decision-making mode. Information about a product usually has a more significant impact if it reaches a consumer when making purchase decisions. Thus, the objective of the second experiment was to determine the effects of features on commercials and product information on the attitudes and emotions of the consumers in decision-making and non-decision-making contexts.

Procedure

Experiment two was conducted on 122 undergraduate students enrolled in management courses. The participants were divided into two groups. One of the groups was assigned to the decision-making condition and the other to the non-decision-making state. The participants in the decision-making condition were asked to advise an advertising agency regarding whether or not to buy time on an anticipated TV program to advertise pens for companies A and B (Gorn, 1982) Conditioned stimulus in marketing .Company. They were informed that company A would be selling beige pen while company B would be selling a light blue pen. They were also told that the light blue pen that was sold by company B could last for long, never smudged, and wrote very smoothly (Gorn, 1982). They were then shown a slide of beige pen and, at the same time, listened to "Grease" music that was used in experiment one. The non-decision-making group had 63 participants. Unlike the first group, the non-decision-making group was not given information about the pens, but were shown beige pen as they listened to "Grease music" (Gorn, 1982). The participants in the two groups were then asked to select three beige pens or three light blue pens as prizes for participation.

Findings

The outcomes of experiment two indicated that 71% (42) participants in the decision-making group selected the light blue pens as prizes, which they had been given more information about. The rest (17) selected the beige pen, which featured music as a component of the advertisement, and with minimal information about the pen. In the non-decision-making group, 63% (40) selected a beige pen, with 23 selecting the light blue pen (Gorn, 1982). The results confirmed the hypothesis that the information about a product on commercials influences consumers in decision-making mode. Still, it has less impact on those in a non-decision-making manner (Gorn, 1982). Conversely, the features on commercials such as music stimulate the attitudes of the consumers in the non-decision-making mode more than among those in the decision-making mode.

Marketing Implications

The results of the two experiments suggest that business organizations and advertisement agencies should include features such as music, visuals, humor, and colors on commercials to stimulate the emotions of the consumers and attract them to products and services. They should give a higher priority to such features than information about the products and services when creating commercials, especially when advertising new products that the consumers in a non-decision mode. Such commercials, for instance, can be instrumental in stimulating the attitudes and emotions of consumers when introducing a new product or service into the market. The features are connected to the feelings and attitudes of consumers through classical conditioning. If, however, the targeted customers tend to be in decision-making mode, such as those purchasing cars, it is vital to incorporate essential information about the products or services being advertised. Conditioned stimulus in marketing. However, it is also advisable for consumers to understand how features such as music, visuals, and colors affect their choices of products and services. When in non-decision-making mode, the features limit the ability or probability of the consumers to evaluate critical aspects of products and services, such as quality. Consequently, the consumers in a non-decision-making mode are likely to be influenced by the features to buy products of low quality or defects and then realize later. Thus, consumers need to learn to evaluate the information about the products and services and avoid being always carried away by the features of commercials.

References

Gorn, G. J. (1982). “The Effects of Music in Advertising on Choice Behavior: A Classical

Conditioning Approach,” The Journal of Marketing, 94-101.