Monthly Archives: April 2014

MARK217 Week 6: Consumer Learning and Classical Conditioning

This week’s topic looked at the notion of learning and the numerous theories that inform today’s marketing communications. So first of all, what is ‘learning’? It seems like such a broad concept that it is hard to put into words. It “refers to any change in the content or organisation of long-term memory” and results “from information processing that causes changes in memory” (Algie, 2014). There are two major behavioural learning theories that are relevant to marketing. These are classical conditioning and instrumental conditioning.

Classical conditioning was first described by Russian physiologist Ivan Pavlov as a general theory of how learning occurs (Schiffman et al, 2014). Conditioning learning occurs when a stimulus that does not usually evoke a response is paired with another stimulus that creates a known response, eventually, works to produce the same response on its own (Schiffman et al, 2014). Okay, that was an incredible confusing definition. However, if we look at the example presented in the lecture of how Pavlov came up with this theory, it makes a little more sense. Below is a model that outlines that experiment Pavlov conducted to study classical conditioning.

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In this experiment, Pavlov sounded a bell (conditioned stimulus) and directly followed this by applying meat paste (unconditioned stimulus) onto the dog’s tongues which caused them to salivate (unconditioned response). Classical conditioning relies largely on repetition, so after repeating this act a multitude of times, the unconditioned response became the conditioned response and the dogs salivated when the bell was rung without the addition of the meat paste (Schiffman et al, 2014, Loudon & Della Bitta, 1993).
There are a number of marketing applications of classical conditioning. They include repetition, stimulus discrimination and the one I will be focussing on today which is stimulus generalization (Schiffman et al, 2014). Stimulus generalisation relies on not only associations consumers make through repetition but also on our ability to generalise. Pavlov found that the dogs would not only salivate to the sound of a bell but also to similar sounds like jangling of keys (Schiffman et al, 2014).

In a contemporary context, one of the most common examples of stimulus generalization is copy-cat brands whose packaging and products imitate category leaders. It has been found that private label imitation of national brands can result in consumer confusion at the point of purchase (Till & Priluck, 2000). The consumer may pick up the imitation brand by accident, particularly when the viewing time is brief (Till & Priluck, 2000). Consumers also intentionally buy copy-cat products as they can be extremely similar in terms of the actual product and packaging however can be a fraction of the cost. We can see hundreds of examples of this when looking at Aldi products. Below are a few examples:

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These products rely solely on consumer’s positive associations with existing national products. But is imitation really the sincerest form of flattery? In this case, probably not.

References:
Algie, J 2014, ‘Week 6: Learning’, MARK217, lecture, University of Wollongong, viewed 10 April 2014

Loudon, DL & Della Bitta, AJ 1993, Consumer Behaviour, 4th edn, McGraw-Hill Inc, Singapore

Schiffman, L, O’Cass, A, Paladino, A & Carlson, J 2014, Consumer Behaviour, 6th edn, Pearson Australia, Frenchs Forest, Australia

Till, BD & Priluck, RL 2000, ‘Stimulus Generalization in Classical Conditioning: An Initial Investigation and Extension’, Psychology and Marketing, vol. 17, iss. 1, pp. 55-72

The Future of Journalism – brighter?

“Is the disruption caused by digital technology to journalism making the world worse of better? And my answer is – Yes.” – Tom Rosenstiel (2014)

This week we were asked to watched two videos, both of which discussed the changing nature of news media and more broadly, the future of journalism. These discussions led me to reflect on week 5’s blog topic, participatory journalism and further assess the role the audience is now playing in content production and how this will further influence the future of journalism.

I found the TedX lecture, by Tom Rosenstiel particularly engaging. He raised interesting ideas that I had not previously thought about. He discussed the idea that audiences are entering a ‘new enlightenment’ when it comes to news media as consumers now have the power to decide when and how they access it. In the past, traditional news outlets or ‘gatekeepers’ decided what we heard and how we heard it, now the audience has the command to control their learning and decide what news is important. In accordance with this, news media must now be designed to keep up with how we live our lives rather than the other way around. This is decidedly true with today’s fast paced, screen obsessed culture.

Another idea Rosenstiel mentioned was the notion that the audience have become ‘teachers in journalism’. This is inextricably linked to participatory journalism as it looks at the idea that consumers are creating and contributing to news content like never before. Rosenstiel also noted the importance of understanding the audience in order to thrive in journalism. Journalism must ask the audience what they think, rather than dictating what they should think.

Despite this shift to a more interactive role of the consumer when it comes to creating content, the journalism we once knew is certainly not doomed. Social media and the continuing rise of new technologies means that journalists now have a means to gain more knowledge and content from consumers in order to create better, more timely news. Although the number of paid journalists has seen a massive decrease in recent years, this does not mean the end of traditional journalism. Journalists and consumers should be encouraged to work together in order to produce news of a higher standard, news that is hopefully, more detailed and diverse.

References:
Rosenstiel, T 2013, The Future of Journalism, TED X online video, YouTube, viewed 19 April 2014 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RuBE_dP900Y>

New York Times, 2014, NYT’s David Carr on the Future of Journalism, online video, YouTube, viewed 19 April 2014, https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=WPlazqH0TdA>

BCM310: Creative cities and public spaces- Hadley + Maxwell

Public media spaces and creative cities play an increasingly pivotal role in the way in which we understand and in turn, form an opinion on, a variety of issues, both on a public and personal level. Inextricably linked to this, is the notion of aesthetic journalism. Aesthetic journalism “involves artistic practices in the form of investigation of social, cultural or political circumstances” (Cramerotti 2011). In a contemporary context, we see examples of this everywhere. They come in the form of festivals, exhibitions, installations and more generally through ideas and media (O’Donnell, 2014). Aesthetic journalism works to produce an experience that combines both art and journalism, creating a unique perspective that is open to interpretation, fostering conversation in the public sphere. It also raises questions regarding the future of journalism and how artistic practices are coming to inform it.

The Biennale of Sydney, this year titled You Imagine What You Desire, constructs an immersive artistic experience which deals with a variety of meaningful issues. An artwork by Hadley + Maxwell, called Manners, Habits, and Other Received Ideas is currently being exhibited at Carriageworks. The artwork is comprised of three sculptures, each an assemblage of different parts of existing historical monuments and sculptures which can be found around Sydney. The sculptures were created by pressing Cinefoil (a matte black foil, most commonly used in theatrical lighting) into an existing sculpture, making a virtually identical imprint (Biennale of Sydney 2014).

Hadley+Maxwell_Manners-Habits-2014

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The work deals primarily with the notion of public memory, encompassing facets of different sculptural monuments which act as “material remnants” that “trace our cultural history” (Turnbull 2014). The facets have been separated from their original narrative and put together to create a new sculpture, reinventing history (Beinnale of Sydney 2014). The work examines the role the public sculpture plays in everyday life where they often go unacknowledged. Aesthetic journalism, such as this, provokes a response from the viewer and asks us to question our everyday surroundings and how this may have been shaped by history. Unlike traditional, passive journalism, immersive artworks require viewers to walk around, look at the sculptures and form a personal interpretation of their meaning. Perhaps most importantly, aesthetic journalism requires society to think critically, creating a more holistic perspective of political and social issues.

References

Biennale of Sydney 2014, ‘Artists: Hadley + Maxwell’, Biennale of Sydney, viewed 9 April 2014, http://www.biennaleofsydney.com.au/19bos/artists/hadley-maxwell/

Cramerotti, A 2011, ‘What is Aesthetic Journalism’, Aesthetic Journalism: How to Inform without Informing, Intellect, London

O’Donnell, M 2014, ‘Media Space: Cities, Festivals and Installations’, lecture, BCM310, University of Wollongong, 7 April 2014

Turnbull, D 2014, ‘Sydney Biennale artists Hadley + Maxwell are ‘busting’ open the Powerhouse Museum Collection’, Inside the Collection- Powerhouse Museum, 12 March, viewed 9 April 2014, http://www.powerhousemuseum.com/insidethecollection/2014/03/sydney-biennale-artists-hadleymaxwell-are-busting-open-the-powerhouse-museum-collection/

MARK217: Subliminal Perception

For me, one of the most interesting concepts in this week’s lecture was subliminal perception. Subliminal perception is the process of using very weak or rapid stimuli at a level which is below the consumers conscious awareness (Algie, 2014). In order to be successful, stimuli must be beneath the threshold of awareness but “not beneath the absolute threshold of the receptors involved” (Schiffman et al, 2014, p.154). Subliminal perception is used either to subtly advertise a product through another source of entertainment (such as a TV show or movie) or to attach an idea (such as sex and power) to a product within its own advertisement.

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One of the most famous examples of subliminal advertising was in the late 1950s when its effectiveness was tested at a drive-in in New Jersey. The words ‘eat popcorn’ and ‘drink Coca Cola’ were flashed on the screen repeatedly during the movie. It was reported that in the 6 week period of the test, popcorn sales increased by 58% per cent and Coca Cola by 18 per cent however this was never confirmed and was later deemed false (Schiffman et al, 2014).

Another more recent example was in 2007 when a viewer spotted a McDonald’s logo embedded within a screening of the Iron Chef TV program. The logo flashed for just 1/30th of a second. McDonald’s denied that this was subliminal advertising and suggested that this was merely a technical glitch. (O’Barr, 2013).

Here’s some more funny examples of subliminal perception:

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Pepsi cans and subliminal messages?

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Jatz- this one’s pretty far-fetched!

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Silhouette of a naked woman atop of Coke can?

Subliminal advertising is often associated with consumer mistrust and there has been very little evidence that supports its effectiveness. A comprehensive study of existing literature found that subliminal advertising has no effect on attitudes towards products and consumption behaviour (Schiffman et al, 2014). It has also been found that many American consumers believe that subliminal advertising exists and is used frequently by advertisers. Advertisers often play on this and produce advertisements that parody subliminal advertising.

 

References:

Algie, J 2014, ‘Week 5: Perception’, MARK217, lecture, University of Wollongong, viewed 3 April 2014

O’Barr, WM 2013, ‘”Subliminal” Advertising’, Advertising & Society Review, Vol. 13, Iss. 4

Schiffman, L, O’Cass, A, Paladino, A & Carlson, J 2014, Consumer Behaviour, 6th edn, Pearson Australia, Frenchs Forest, Australia

BCM310: Participatory Journalism…but what is it?

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With the rise of convergent media, the future of journalism is looking more uncertain than ever before. Media convergence has created new opportunities for public involvement, new forms of content delivery as well as new competition for mainstream journalism. This trend marks a shift from passive media consumers to a ‘prosumer’ culture and a blurring of boundaries between citizens and professional journalists (O’Donnell, 2014).  This phenomenon is known as participatory journalism, but what does that mean for the future of journalism?

Domingo et al note that traditionally journalism is affixed to the institution of media and is “based upon the production of news by the dedicated paid labour, the journalists” (2008, p. 326). This notion is practically obsolete with consumers producing more media content and contributing to news sources like never before. Additionally, the role of the ‘gate keeper’ is being challenged. The phrase ‘gate keeper’ depicts the main role of traditional journalists, that is, to determine what information and how much of it the public should be privy to (Domingo et al, 2008). Though, this too, is becoming obsolete. New technologies and social media are allowing for increased content production and public access to a “potentially global audience” at any time (Domingo et al, 2008). This means that the public is tightening their grip on what news is discussed and how much attention it will get. Now when an important world event materialises, we switch onto social media and online media forums to access news sources and join in the conversation.

In many cases, traditional and new media have a symbiotic relationship in which they inform and play off one another. Additionally, professional and citizen journalists collaborate to produce content (Redefiningjournalism, 2011). Despite this move towards participatory journalism globally, mainstream media is still of the utmost importance as it is an “essential tool for reaching a domestic and global audience” (Simon quoted in Crouch, 2012). In other words, you can’t have one without the other.

 

References:

Crouch, D 2012, ‘Arab media make most of citizen journalism’, FT.com, 21 February

Domingo, D, Quandt, T, Heinonen, A, Paulussen, S, Singer, JB & Vujnovic, M 2008, ‘Participatory Journalism Practices in the Media and Beyond’, Journalism Practice, Vol. 2, Iss. 3, pp. 326-342

O’Donnell, M 2014, ‘The future of journalism’, Lecture, BCM310, University of Wollongong, viewed 31 March 2014

Redefiningjournalism 2011, ‘Participatory Journalism: what do you think it means?’, Redefining Journalism’s Blog, weblog post, 2 February, viewed 5 March 2014, http://redefiningjournalism.wordpress.com/2011/02/02/participatory-journalism-what-do-you-think-that-means/

MARK217: Brand Personality- Mac vs. PC

So first of all, what is brand personality? Well, brand personality can be defined quite simply as “a set of human characteristics associated with a particular brand” (Steinman, 2012, p. 76). This concept is irrevocably connected to the study of consumer behaviour as it describes the phenomenon of how some consumers identify and relate to specific brands (Schiffman et al, 2014, p. 136). In many instances, brand managers personify their brands by transforming their product or service into a human-like character. Aaker has produced a brand personality framework (see diagram below, sorry it’s a bit blurry) that intends to depict the ‘structure and nature’ of a brand’s personality. The framework proposes that there are five personality dimensions of a brand (sincerity, excitement, competence, sophistication and ruggedness) and 15 personality traits in accordance with each (Schiffman et al, 2014). This framework covers most of brand attributes that would appeal to a variety of consumers.

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When I think of brand personality, I immediately think of Apple Mac computers and their famous Mac vs. PC advertisements. Mac employs the actor Jason Long and personifies itself as a cool, young, hip, fun and creative type and personifies Mac as old, out of date and boring. Take a look at the YouTube video below to refresh your memory!

This falls right under the ‘excitement’ dimension of the brand personality framework and encompasses the four facets that make this up. Apple Mac positions itself as daring, spirited, imaginative and up-to-date and effectively positions its number one competition as old-fashioned and nerdy. This is an example of successful brand personification as consumers are able to relate to Mac’s personality and build a relationship with the brand based on feelings and associations. It also cleverly enables Apple to advertise its latest products and features and edge out its current competition in a humorous and endearing way.  

References:

Schiffman, L, O’Cass, A, Paladino, A & Carlson, J 2014, Consumer Behaviour, 6th edn, Pearson Australia, Frenchs Forest, Australia

Steinman, RB 2012, ‘Brand personality, Brand Transgression and Consumer Behavior’, International Journal of Business and Commerce, Vol. 2, Iss. 1, pp.76-86

MARK217: Brand Personality- Mac vs. PC

So first of all, what is brand personality? Well, brand personality can be defined quite simply as “a set of human characteristics associated with a particular brand” (Steinman, 2012, p. 76). This concept is irrevocably connected to the study of consumer behaviour as it describes the phenomenon of how some consumers identify and relate to specific brands (Schiffman et al, 2014, p. 136). In many instances, brand managers personify their brands by transforming their product or service into a human-like character. Aaker has produced a brand personality framework (see diagram below) that intends to depict the ‘structure and nature’ of a brand’s personality. The framework proposes that there are five personality dimensions of a brand (sincerity, excitement, competence, sophistication and ruggedness) and 15 personality traits in accordance with each (Schiffman et al, 2014). This framework covers most of brand attributes that would appeal to a variety of consumers.

When I think of brand personality, I immediately think of Apple Mac computers and their famous Mac vs. PC advertisements. Mac employs the actor Jason Long and personifies itself as a cool, young, hip, fun and creative type and personifies Mac as old, out of date and boring. Take a look at the YouTube video below to refresh your memory!

This falls right under the ‘excitement’ dimension of the brand personality framework and encompasses the four facets that make this up. Apple Mac positions itself as daring, spirited, imaginative and up-to-date and effectively positions its number one competition as old-fashioned and nerdy. This is an example of successful brand personification as consumers are able to relate to Mac’s personality and build a relationship with the brand based on feelings and associations. It also cleverly enables Apple to advertise its latest products and features and edge out its current competition in a humorous and endearing way.

References:

Schiffman, L, O’Cass, A, Paladino, A & Carlson, J 2014, Consumer Behaviour, 6th edn, Pearson Australia, Frenchs Forest, Australia

Steinman, RB 2012, ‘Brand personality, Brand Transgression and Consumer Behavior’, International Journal of Business and Commerce, Vol. 2, Iss. 1, pp.76-82