Micro-models of Consumer Responses

Micro-models of marketing communications concentrate on consumers’ specific responses to communications.

All these models assume that the buyer passes through a cognitive, affective, and behavioral stage, in that order. This “learn-feel-do” sequence is appropriate when the audience has high involvement with a product category perceived to have high differentiation, as in purchasing an automobile or house. An alternative sequence, “do-feel-learn,” is relevant when the audience has high involvement but perceives little or no differentiation within the product category as in purchasing an airline ticket or personal computer. A third sequence, “learn-do-feel” is relevant when the audience has low involvement and perceives little differentiation within the product category, as in purchasing salt or batteries. By choosing the right sequence, the marketer can do a better job of planning communications.

Here we will assume that the buyer has high involvement with the product category and perceives high differentiation within the category.

Awareness: If most of the target audience is unaware of the object, the communicator’s task is to build awareness. Suppose Pottsville seeks applicants from Nebraska but has no name recognition there. Suppose there are 30,000 high school juniors and seniors in Nebraska who may potentially be interested in Pottsville College. The college might set the objective of making 70% of these students aware of Pottsville’s name within one year.

Knowledge: The target audience might have brand awareness but not know much more. Pottsville may want its target audience to know that it is a private four-year college with excellent programs in English, foreign languages, and History. It needs to learn how many people in the target audience have little, some, or much knowledge about Pottsville. If knowledge is weak, Pottsville may decide to select brand to select brand knowledge as its communications objective.

Liking: If target members know the brand, how do they feel about it? If the audience looks unfavorably on Pottsville College, the communicator has to find out why. If the unfavorable view is based on real problems, Pottsville will have to fix its problems and then communicate its renewed quality. Good public relations call for “good deeds followed by good words.”

Preference: The target audience might like the product but not prefer it to others. In this case, the communicator must try to build consumer preference by comparing quality, value, performance, and other features to likely competitors.

Conviction: A target audience might prefer a particular product but not developing a conviction about buying it. The communicator’s job is to build conviction and purchase intent among students interested in Pottsville College.

Purchase: Finally, some members of the target audience might have conviction but may not quite get around to making the purchase. The communicator must lead these consumers to take the final step, perhaps by offering the product at a low price, offering a premium, or letting consumers try it out. Pottsville might invite selected high school students to visit the campus and attend some classes, or might offer partial scholarships to deserving students.

To increase the odds for a successful marketing communications campaign, marketers must attempt to increase the likelihood that each step occurs. For example, from an advertising standpoint, the ideal ad campaign would ensure that:

1. The right consumer is exposed to the right message at the right place and at the right time.

2. The ad causes the consumer to pay attention to the ad but does not distract from the intended message.

3. The ad properly reflects the consumer’s level of understanding about the product and the brand.

4. The ad correctly positions the brand in terms of desirable and deliverable points-of-difference and points-of-parity.

5. The ad motivates consumers to consider purchase of the brand.

6. The ad creates strong brand associations with all of these stored communications effects so that they can have an impact when consumers are considering making a purchase.