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Terms from Chapters 1, 8, 9, 10, & 11 of Dr. Kim Robertson's Consumer Behavior class at Trinity University (Spring 2011)

Consumer behavior

the study of individuals, groups, or organizations and the processes they use to select, secure, use, and dispose of products, services, experiences, or ideas to satisfy needs and the impacts that these processes have on the consumer and society.

Social marketing

the application of marketing strategies and tactics to alter or create behaviors that have a positive effect on the targeted individuals or society as a whole.

Customer value

the difference between all the benefits derived from a total product and all the costs of acquiring those benefits.

Total product

the entire set of characteristics (product features, price, communications, distribution, and services) that provide customers with superior value.

market segment

a portion of a larger market whose needs differ somewhat from the larger market

need set

term used to reflect the fact that most products in developed economies satisfy more than one need

target market

the segment(s) of the larger market on which we will focus our marketing effort

marketing strategy

the answer to the question of "How will we provide superior customer value to our target market?"

marketing mix

product, place, promotion, price


anything a consumer acquires or might acquire to meet a perceived need; refers to the physical thing or primary/core services

Marketing communications

include advertising, the sales force, public relations, packaging, and any other signal that the firm provides about itself and its products (Answers 5 essential questions)


the amount of money one must play to obtain the right to use the product

consumer cost

everything the consumer must surrender in order to receive the benefits of owning/using the product


having the product available where target customers can buy it; this is essential to success


refers to auxiliary or peripheral activities that are performed to enhance the primary product or primary service

product position

an image of the product or brand in the consumer's mind relative to competing products and brands

customer satisfaction

retaining current customers requires that they are content with their purchase and use of their product; it's more profitable to maintain existing customers than to replace them with new ones

Injurious consumption

occurs when individuals or groups make consumption decisions that have negative consequences for their long-run well-being

conceptual model

a figure that captures the general structure and process of consumer behavior; it does not contain sufficient detail to predict particular behaviors; however, it does reflect our beliefs about the general nature of consumer behavior


the totality of an individual's thoughts and feelings about him- or herself


simply how one lives, including the products one buys, how one uses them, and what one thinks/feels about them

information processing

a series of activities by which stimuli are perceived, transformed into information, and stored


a process that begins with consumer exposure and attention to marketing stimuli and ends with consumer interpretation


occurs when the stimulus is "seen" (part of perception)


the assignment of meaning to the received sensations (part of perception)


occurs when a stimulus comes within a person's relevant environment and comes within the range of their sensory receptor nerves (part of perception)

perceptual defense

means that individuals are not passive recipients of marketing messages


occurs when one fast-forwards through a commercial on a prerecorded program


involves switching channels when a commercial appears


turning the sound off during commercial breaks

Ad Avoidance

zipping, zapping, and muting are simply mechanical ways for consumers to selectively choose advertising messages to listen to or not

product placement

marketers increasingly seek to gain exposure by placing their brands within entertainment media, (movies and TV programs) in exchange for payment or promotional or other consideration


program-length television commercials with a toll-free number and/or Web address through which to order or request additional information

permission-based marketing

the voluntary and self-selected nature of such online offerings, where consumers "opt in" to receive e-mail based promotions


occurs when the stimulus activates one or more sensory receptor nerves, and the resulting sensations go to the brain for processing


the degree to which one is forced to see or interact with a banner ad or pop-up in order to see the desired content


includes loudness, brightness, length, etc


the number of times an individual is exposed to a given stimulus (related to intensity)


refers to the placement of an object in physical space or time

high-impact zones

in general, these are the top and left of a print ad


separating a stimulus object from other objects


refers to the manner in which the message is presented

adaption level theory

suggests that if a stimulus doesn't change, over time we adapt or habituate to it and begin to notice it less

information quantity

represents the number of cues in the stimulus field

information overload

occurs when consumers are confronted with so much information that they cannot or will not attend to all of it

individual factors

characteristics that distinguish one individual from another (ex: consumer motivation and ability & their relationship with attention)


a drive state created by consumer interests and needs

product involvement

indicates motivation or interest in a specific product category (can be temporary or enduring)

smart banners

banner ads that are activated based on terms used in search engines (aka "behavioral targeting")


refers to the capacity of individuals to attend to and process information

brand familiarity

high existing knowledge of a brand; an ability factor related to attention

situational factors

include stimuli in the environment other than the focal stimulus and temporary characteristics of the individual that are induced by the environment


represents the density of stimuli in the environment

program involvement

refers to how interested viewers are in the program or editorial content surrounding the ads

ad quality

represents how well a message is constructed in terms of being believable and appealing, and in communicating the core message effectively

cocktail party effect

whereby an individual engaged in a conversation with a friend isn't consciously aware of other conversations at a crowded party until someone in another group says something relevant such as mentioning her name

hemispheric lateralization

a term applied to activities that take place on each side of the brain (left side = rational thought; right side = images and impressions)

subliminal stimulus

a message presented so fast or so softly or so masked by other messages that one is not aware of seeing or hearing it


the assignment of meaning to sensations; how we comprehend and make sense of incoming information

perceptual relativity

generally a relative process rather than absolute (aspect of interpretation)

semantic meaning

the conventional meaning assigned to a word

psychological meaning

the specific meaning assigned a word by a given individual or group of individuals based on their experiences, expectations, and the context in which the term is used

cognitive interpretation

a process whereby stimuli are placed into existing categories of meaning

affective interpretation

the emotional or feeling response triggered by a stimulus such as an ad

affect intensity

some people experience emotions more strongly than others

expectation bias

an effect where individuals' interpretations of stimuli tend to be consistent with their expectations

contextual clues

these include situational characteristics that have an impact on interpretation such as temporary characteristics of the individual (time pressure and mood), and physical characteristics of the situation (number and characteristics of other individuals present), and the nature of the material surrounding the message in question.


relates to the extent to which the stimulus is expected

Rhetorical figures

involve the use of an unexpected twist or artful deviation in how a message is communicated either visually in the ad's picture or verbally in the ad's text or headline

stimulus organization

refers to the physical arrangement of the stimulus objects


refers to the fact that stimuli positioned close together are perceived as belonging to the same category

ambush marketing

involves any communication or activity that implies, or from which one could reasonably infer, that an organization is associated with an event, when in fact it is not


involves presenting an incomplete stimulus with the goal of getting consumers to complete it and thus become more engaged and involved


involves presenting the stimulus in such a way that it is perceived as the focal object to be attended to and all other stimuli are perceived as the background

Sensory discrimination

the physiological ability of an individual to distinguish between similar stimuli

just noticeable difference (j.n.d.)

the minimum amount that one brand can differ from another (or from its previous version) with the difference still being noticed

referent state

change is interpreted with respect to this

reference price

this is a type of referent state


goes beyond what is directly stated or presented

price-perceived quality

an inference based on the popular adage "you get what you pay for"

advertising intensity

a quality signal based on level of marketing to consumers


a quality signal where when this is longer it signals higher quality

country of origin (COO)

a quality cue in which consumers interpret products more positively when they are manufactured in a country they perceive positively

brand effects

where well-known brands are perceived as higher quality than are unknown brands

claim-belief discrepancies

whereby a communication leads consumers to believe something about the product that is not true even though it doesn't present a direct false claim


whereby signage in one area of the store promotes complementary products in another

ambient scent

an example of this is when pleasant smells in a retail store can increase product evaluations by boosting emotions


the inherent semantic meaning of a word (ex: "NutraSweet" with nutritious sweet or "Hemi" with high performance)


sound of a word (ex: "Frosh" vs. "Frish" for ice cream name)

brand extension

where an existing brand extends to a new category with the same name


an alliance in which two brands are put together on a single product

natural logos

logos that depict commonly experienced objects

elaborate logos

logos that entail complexity

symmetrical logos

logos that are visually balanced


any change in the content or organization of long-term memory or behavior and is the result of information processing

information processing

a series of activities by which stimuli are perceived, transformed into information, and stored

short-term memory (STM)

"working memory", deals with holding information temporarily while it is interpreted and transferred into long-term memory

long-term memory (LTM)

the portion of total memory devoted to permanent information storage

maintenance rehearsal

the continual repetition of a piece of information in order to hold it in current memory for use in problem solving or transferal to long-term memory


organizing individual items into groups of related items that can be processed as a single unit

Elaborative activities

the use of previously stored experiences, values, attitudes, beliefs, and feelings to interpret and evaluate information in working memory as well as to add relevant previously stored information (occur in STM)


abstractions of reality that capture the meaning of an item in terms of other concepts


involves concrete sensory representations of ideas, feelings, and objects


meaning they are relatively concrete representations of reality

semantic memory

the basic knowledge and feelings an individual has about a concept

episodic memory

the memory of a sequence of events in which a person participated, "personal memories"

flashbulb memory

acute memory for the circumstances surrounding a surprising and novel event

schema (schematic memory/knowledge structure)

"complex web of associations"; a pattern of associations around a particular concept that give depth of meaning to concepts and episodes by becoming associated with other concepts and episodes

associative links

these are what connect various concepts to form the complete meaning assigned to an item


the memory of how an action sequence should occur such as purchasing and drinking a soft drink to relieve thirst (this is a special type of schema)


the likelihood and ease with which information can be recalled from LTM

explicit memory

memory characterized by the conscious recollection of an exposure event

implicit memory

memory that involves the noncoscious retrieval of previously encountered stimuli

high-involvement learning

situation is one in which the consumer is motivated to process or learn the material (type of learning)

low-involvement learning

situation is one in which the consumer has little or no motivation to process or learn the material (type of learning)


a set of procedures that marketers can use to increase the chances that an association between two stimuli is formed or learned

classical conditioning

process of using an established relationship between one stimulus and response to bring about the learning of the same response to a different stimulus

operant conditioning (instrumental learning)

involves rewarding desirable behaviors such as brand purchases with a positive outcome that serves to reinforce the behavior

Cognitive learning

encompasses all the mental activities of humans as they work to solve problems or cope with situations

iconic rote learning

learning a concept or the association between two or more concepts in the absence of conditioning (NOTE: there is neither an unconditioned stimulus nor a direct reward or reinforcement involved)

vicarious learning (aka viacrious modeling)

consumers learn by observing the outcomes of others' behaviors and adjust their own accordingly

analytical reasoning

individuals engage in creative thinking to restructure and recombine existing information as well as new information to form new associations and concepts (most complex form of cognitive learning)

analogical reasoning

an inference process that allows consumers to use an existing knowledge base to understand a new situation or object

stimulus discrimination (stimulus differentiation)

refers to the process of learning to respond differently to similar but distinct stimuli


this occurs when scandals don't always hurt just the scandalized brand, but also damages competitors in that industry

stimulus generalization

oftern referred to as the "rub-off effect" and it occurs when a response to one stimulus is elicited by a similar but distinct stimulus


in conditioned learning, this is what forgetting is referred to

retrieval failure

in cogntive learning, this is what forgetting is referred to

corrective advertising

a government requirement that firms remove inaccurate learning caused by past advertising


indicates that consumers are relating brand information to themselves


anything that increases the likelihood that a given response will be repeated in the future

positive reinforcement

a pleasant or desired consequence (type of reinforcement)

negative reinforcement

involves the removal or the avoidance of an unpleasant consequence (type of reinforcement)


it is any consequence that decreases the likelihood that a given response will be repeated in the future (opposite of reinforcement)


frequent (close together) repetitions that try to produce widespread knowledge of a product rapidly

advertising wearout

this is when too much repetition can cause consumers to actively shut out the message, evaluate it negatively, or disregard it

dual coding

this means that consumers can store the same information in different ways

echoic memory

memory of sounds, including words; provides the opportunity for dual coding when the sound component of a message conveys similar meanings to that being conveyed by the verbal message

memory interference

when consumers have difficulty retrieving a specific piece of information because other related information in memory gets in the way

product repositioning

refers to a deliberate decision to significantly alter the way the market views a product

brand equity

the value consumers assign to a brand above and beyond the functional characteristics of the product

brand leverage

often termed family branding, brand extensions, or umbrella branding and refers to marketers capitalizing on brand equity by using an existing brand name for new products


the two products are used together


the new product can be used instead of the original


consumers see the new product as requiring the same manufacturing skills as the original


the new product shares a key image component with the original


the reason for behavior (this word is often interchangeable with "need")


a construct representing an unobservable inner force that stimulates and compels a behavioral response and provides specific direction to that response

latent motives

a group of motives that were either unknown to the consumer or were such that she was reluctant to admit them

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