Marketers, often talk about attitudes and attitude formation. Lots of research has gone into understanding attitude formation. Attitudes are more complex than they first appear. The effect of marketing activities in general and marketing communication in particular, depends on the attitude of the audience who are exposed to it. Target audience characteristics would determine the marketing strategy and its outcome. This write-up examines the role of attitude in consumers’ buying behaviour and attempts to expose the importance of attitudes to the marketers.
Will Modi be a better prime minister? Is Dhoni the best captain? Should capital punishment be abolished? Should prayers be allowed in schools? Should violence on television be regulated? What are your views on the same sex marriages?
Chances are that you probably have an opinion on the above questions. Your opinions on these have led to development of your attitudes towards these issues. Consequently, these attitudes will influence your behaviour. Therefore, attitudes are considered to be important in the field of marketing. Before we discuss how important are attitudes to the marketers, let us understand what are attitudes, how do they develop and how much do they influence the consumer buying behaviour.
The term attitude is used in many different contexts by people. A friend may ask, “What is your attitude towards live-in relationships? A manager may tell his subordinate that he doesn’t like his attitude. An advertisement may say that picking their brand is an attitude and so on. Psychologists define attitudes as a learned tendency to evaluate things in a certain way. For our purpose, attitude is a learned predisposition towards a given thing which may include people (including oneself), objects, advertisements or issues. Such predispositions may be positive or negative and may also be uncertain at times. For example, one might have mixed feelings about, say, reorganizing India into smaller states. Further, attitudes tend to last over a time and so it is lasting.
An attitude has three components:
1. An Emotional Component (Affect): How one feels about the object.
2. A Behavioral Component: The intention to take action.
3. A Cognitive Component: One’s thoughts and beliefs about the object.
The above model known as ABC model emphasizes the interrelationships among knowing, feeling and doing. Attitudes can also be explicit and implicit. Explicit attitudes are those that we are consciously aware of and that clearly influence our behaviors and beliefs. Implicit attitudes are unconscious, but still have an effect on our beliefs and behaviors.
How do attitudes form?
All of us have lots of attitudes, but have we ever wondered how we got them. Surely, we were not born with conviction that Raymond is better than other brands or fast foods are not good for health. How have we formed these opinions? In this article, due to its size, a detailed discussion on this subject is not possible. However, important points have been dealt with.
Researchers have found the relative impact of the above three components and have developed the concept of hierarch of effects to explain the attitude formation. Each hierarchy specifies that a fixed sequence of steps occurs en route to an attitude formation. Figure 1 depicts these three different hierarchies.