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Marketing Strategies - Basic Concept

Paper type: Essay
Pages: 14 (3348 words)
Categories: Marketing
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A discussion of whether marketing Strategies are based on a knowledge of consumer perception or on a knowledge of subcultures.

The basic concept that underlies marketing is that firms exist to provide satisfaction to consumer’s needs. Hence, in order to be successful in meeting these needs, marketers must gain a thorough understanding of the people and the organizations that will use the products or services that the firm is attempting to sell. Ultimately, it is the consumer’s response that proves a firm’s marketing strategy proper or rather un-proper.

In formulating these strategies, respective consumer behaviour must be analyzed circumspectly. In order to do this appropriately, marketers must consider both individual consumer behaviour as well as the behaviours of large groups of people in their social settings. In considering the former, the individual is examined in his/her immediate environment, at a “micro level”.

The most important part of this evaluation could possibly be an individual’s perception.

In the latter, the individual is evaluated as part of a larger social structure and the ways in which different social groups, or subcultures, influence the individual’s behaviour as a consumer. Thus, in determining marketing strategies, both the knowledge of consumer perception and the knowledge of subcultures are especially valuable. Subsequently, an analysis of both of these will be provided to be able to determine which of the two is ultimately the most significant. “We live in a world overflowing with sensations. Wherever we turn, we are bombarded by a symphony of colors, sounds, and odors” (Solomon 1999:43).

Marketers contribute to this commotion of sensations; consumers are never far from advertisement, product packages, radio, television commercials, billboards, and Internet now days, all screaming for the consumer’s attention. The message to which the consumer chooses to pay attention to often winds up differing from what the sponsors intended, as each consumer puts their “spin” on things by taking away meanings consistent with their own unique experiences, biases, and desires (Solomon 1999:43).

Perception in the simplest terms can be described as the process of interpreting directly through any of the five senses (vision, smell, sound, touch, taste); it is concerned with how the individual views himself and the world around him. Therefore, perception is the main factor that determines the way a person adapts to his/her world. Perception is the over all process, which includes the activity of the person that accompanies or immediately follows the perception, acquired through the sense. In order for the consumer to relate with the environment two factors are necessary: sensation and perception. Sensation is the immediate response of the sensory receptors (eyes, ears, nose, mouth, finger) to basic stimuli such as sound, odors, color, light, and texture, whereas perception is the process by which these sensations are selected, interpreted and organized. As an example, the first time a youngster burns his finger on a match, he relates the sensation of pain to the match, and he perceives that the match caused the pain. Because perception involves learning, the youngster will associate his sensation of pain with matches at any future time he perceives a burning match. The boy’s past experience, his background, the result of the encounter, and the activity, which he has engaged in at the time all contribute to how he perceives matches (C. Glenn 1974:139).

A product may be perceived as the answer to a need one time and as an unnecessary expense at another time. As a result, consumers will react differently to the object based on their perception. Each person’s needs, cultural background, past experiences, and motives will cause consumers perception to differ from that of the others individuals. Consumer needs and motives continually change in response to the environment, this accounts for the consumer’s willingness to try a new product, react to a new advertising campaign, or seek for a different retail store. Advertising campaigns should make consumer purchase undesired products. Consumers may have one or more perceptions that directly affect marketing. The more the marketer knows about these perceptions, the better his chance of engaging effectively to the market. Advertisers have the responsibility to create distinctive images for the products they want to sell. Influencing the consumer’s perception of the product, of its effects and its value, is part of image creation. A consumer’s perception of a brand’s image will affect the purchasing process. Part of that image is derived from the way in which the product is advertised. As C. Glenn points out, certain characteristics of perception are universal. Perception may differ among consumers, but perception displays four specific characteristics: subjective, selective, temporal and summative (1974:143).

The first of these characteristics claims that no two consumers perceive the same event or product in the same way. Consumers are predisposed toward accepting certain information and rejecting other information. Consumers accept some information because it is more compatible with their background, feelings, or beliefs than other information. Consumers tend to take in information that is suitable, so as to protect their self-image and their ego. A person is the embodiment of his beliefs, attitudes, and prejudices, and consumers buy in such a manner as to leave these factors intact and unchallenged (C. Glenn 1974:144).

Because of the subjective nature of perception in consumers, marketers can take advantage of consumers by playing on their likes, dislikes, attitudes, and beliefs. The second characteristic states that perception is selective because individual minds fail to comprehend and interpret all the sensations that strike the senses at any given time. As an example, when a person views a department store window, it is doubtful that he “sees” one third of all the items present (James F. Engel 1964:25).

The selectiveness of perception brought about by the physiological inability to take in more than a few stimuli at one time has importance to advertisers (C. Glenn 1974:145).

There are limits to the human capacity in absorbing advertising messages accurately. Marketers have the task of acknowledging that selective perception not only dictates a carefully organized media selection, but also a variety of distinct elements brought forth in an advertisement as well as how they are presented. The third characteristic is concerned with temporal perception in which most of the consumers perceive things temporally, making it difficult for the consumer’s attention to be drawn to the product or service. A stimulus of constant intensity often needs repetition if it is to be brought to the consciousness. A repeated, small ad may be more effective than a single, large ad (C. Glenn 1974:146).

The last characteristic claims that perception is summative. Generally speaking, this means that consumers group sensations that reach the awareness level simultaneously and then add up all these sensations into a whole. For this reason, advertisements are thought to be more effective when they utilize both audio and visual effects because each sense message acts in unison with the other to aid in forming a consistent impression. Thus, because perception is summative, when making a purchasing decision, consumers will bring together brand name, color, packaging features, price quality, past experiences and so on. “For sensation to result in perception, there must be variety. Basically, sensation is a matter of energy change” (Markin 1974:200).

An individual’s ability to recognize perception and to react to it through perceptual processes is damaged when the environment is proven to be stable and constant. Thus, when there is a large gamma of sensory stimulation, the senses are typically inclined to ignore a great deal of it. When the contrary occurs, small amount of sensory stimulation, the senses keenly detect and tune in these very small intensities of stimulation. These observations have led psychologists to work on what has now become known as levels of “absolute and differential thresholds” (Markin 1974:201).

The former is referred to as the minimum amount of energy that can be identified. This absolute threshold becomes progressively lower. Ergo, sensitivity increases with disuse or rest. For example, the longer a person is in a dark room, the more sensitive his vision becomes. This phenomenon is known as ‘sensory adaptation’. It has also been observed that it is possible for an individual to physically perceive some stimuli regardless of it being too weak to generate conscious awareness. Because this type of stimulus is said to be below the threshold of awareness, this is known as subliminal perception. This subliminal perception has been known to trigger a large amount of marketing and consumer behaviour controversy. The latter is defined as the minimum difference that can be picked up between stimuli. This concept of differential thresholds is usually referred to as j.n.d. After much research in this field, one researcher came up with what is known as Weber’s law. This law states that the size of the least detectable change depends upon the initial intensity of the stimulus ((I/I = K). There are many implications on marketers and consumer behaviourists brought about by differential thresholds. For example, the size of newspaper ads and magazine ads should be in order to capitalize most on consumer’s differential thresholds. Two major theories that have shaped current thinking about perception are the older Gestalt and more recent Cognitive approaches. “The Gestalt theorists contend that a whole object cannot be predicted simply by adding up our perceptions of the parts. The parts may, in fact, become unobservable when combined with other parts” (Berkman 1978:251).

The term “Gestalt” means “whole form, or configuration”. The Gestalt theory holds that consumers perceive form above all else (Gilson 1978:256). As an example, when the key of a certain advertising jingle is changed, the melody does not cease to be recognizable. “I’d like to buy the World a Coke” is recognized as the same song whether it is professionally sung by children on a mountaintop or hummed by someone sitting next to somebody else on a bus (Gilson 1978:257).

What this means is that the form consumer’s perceive remains constant even though specific points may be changed. The Gestalt approach is considered useful in understanding how individuals process perceptual data into meaningful wholes. Another example of this situation is that of the corporate logos. The Bell Telephone bell symbol has become simpler over the years until it is now a mere simplified outline, yet it is clearly recognizable as a bell. International road sign symbols operate under the same principle: “a perception of the qualities of form used to represent an object that is so basic that they make the object represented perceivable as itself” (Berkman 1978:251).

Five laws of organization were concluded from Gestalt experiments. The first of these is the Area claiming that the smaller a closed region, the more it tends to be seen as figure. The second one, Proximity enacts that objects that are close together tend to be grouped together. The third one, Closedness states that closed contours tend to be seen as figures more than do those with open contours. The following one, Symmetry claims that the more symmetrical a closed region, the more it tends to be seen as a figure. Finally, the last one Good Continuation states that the arrangement of figures and ground tends to show the fewest changes in color and contours. “We are what is simplest to see” (Berkman 1978:252).

The Cognitive approach identifies the attitudes, beliefs, and ideas that individuals distinguish and make sense out of. It is through these cognitive structures that the process of cognition acquiring and using knowledge occurs. As Markin points out, the relationship between cognitive structures and perception stimuli from the environment consumer’s are fed to the central nervous system, where cognitive structure (values, attitudes, beliefs, and images) are stored. Through these structures, the individual may interpret and react to the stimuli in some meaningful way, resulting in perception. The perception of those stimuli is then fed back and stored as a new addition to the cognitive structures, which will help filter future experiences (Markin 1974:205).

As an example, General Foods came out with a new line of Jell-O flavors, such as Cranberry Orange, that it called Jell-O Gelatin Flavors for Salads. Unfortunately, the company discovered that people would use it only for salad, because the name encouraged them to put the product in their “salad” structure rather than in their “dessert” structure. The product line was dropped (Solomon 1999:283).

As mentioned earlier perception in the simplest terms can be described as the process of interpreting directly through any of the five senses (vision, smell, sound, touch, taste). Marketers contend greatly on visual elements in advertising, store design, and packaging. Visual perception is a crucial input for consumer decision-making. Thus, product advertising and packaging must be designed to provide visual cues. As an example, laundry detergents are exposed in bright, even garish, boxes with design elements such as lightning bolts and prominent, hard-hitting names like DUZ, BOLD, or BIZ (Berkman 1978:253).

“Colors influence consumer’s emotion more directly” (Solomon 1999:46). Studies prove that some colors create feelings of arousal and stimulate appetite, and others are more relaxing. Color gives great contribution in package design. As an example, Dutch ad for Dreft detergent illustrates (“Flowery orange fades with-out Dreft”), vivid colors are often an attractive feature (Solomon 1999:46). Perception of smell and taste may not be as well developed in human beings as in other animals, but their role in everyday existence is greatly influenced by cultural and social factors. The many advertisements for products that deodorize bodies and change mouth odor from pizza to mint show how aroma conscious consumers are (Gilson 1978:254).

Smell and taste can stir emotions or create feelings. They can invoke or relieve stress. As an example, plain vanilla has become so widely used in scented products, from perfumes and colognes to cake frosting, coffees, and ice creams (Solomon 1999:47). Perception of sound and touch are also important to consumers in their every day live. Perception of the “feel” of things like texture of clothing, car upholstery, hand lotion, and carpets impinge on our sense of touch constantly (Berkman 1978:255).

Moods are stimulated or relaxed on the basis of sensations of the skin, whether from a luxurious massage to the bite of a winter wind. (Solomon 1999:49). People tend to associate the textures to quality, consumers perceive this richness or quality in clothing, bedding, whether is rough or smooth, flexible or inflexible. The latter is also important to marketers. Consumers buy millions of dollars worth of sound recordings each year, advertising jingles maintain brand awareness, and background music creates desired moods (Solomon 1999:48). Many aspects of sound may affect people’s feelings and behaviours. Swedish researcher Lager Wedin conducted an investigation of perceptual-emotional qualities in music, finding that there were emotions involved that some consumers may perceive as enjoyable or rather narrow appealing (Wedin 1972:241). In the advertising world, the jingle composers have the task to create tunes so catchy that people will make them a part of their humming or whistling repertoire (Berkman 1978:254).

Two areas of research that have widespread applications in consumer contexts are the effects of background music on mood and the influence of speaking rate on attitude change and message comprehension (Solomon 1999:48). As mentioned before in marketing strategies it is also vital to have knowledge of subcultures. Consumers frequently attempt solutions that have already been tried by other members in a society. In the course of time, groups of consumers find similar solutions to common problems. These solutions, or characteristic ways of behaving, are transmitted to successive generations and become firmly established patterns of the culture of a society. Each group within a society develops its own culture. Thus, it is possible to speak of the culture of any particular group, such as the Protestant culture, the Jewish culture, or the Student culture. Such a group, which is smaller than the entire society, is commonly called a subculture (J.F.Engel 1968:231). “Although some people may feel uncomfortable at the notion that people’s racial and ethnic differences should be explicitly taken into account when formulation marketing strategies, the reality is that these sub cultural memberships are frequently paramount in shaping people’s needs and wants” (Solomon 1999:438). Read about fashion marketing concept

Members in these groups are often predictive of consumer variables such as level and type of media exposure, food preferences, wearing distinctive apparel, political behaviour, leisure activities, and even willingness to try new products (Solomon 1999:438). The way marketing messages should be structured depends on subcultural differences in how meanings are communicated. Symbols and gestures, rather than words, carry much of the weight of the message. As an example, compared to Anglos, many minority cultures are high context and have strong oral traditions, so perceivers will be more sensitive to nuances in advertisements that go beyond the message copy (Solomon 1999:438). Recently, several minority groups have caught the attention of marketers as their economic power has grown. Segmenting consumers by their ethnicity can be effective, but care must be taken not to rely on inaccurate and sometime offensive ethnic stereotypes (Solomon 1999:463). The administration of business enterprises is increasingly a global activity. Marketers have the responsibility of interpreting consumer behaviour and developing marketing strategies. In marketing research, the purpose specifically is to determine to what degree consumer decision processes are alike or different in different cultures (Blackwell 1968:253).

In order to be able to accomplish this task, marketers have developed what it is called a cross-cultural analysis. Some examples of cross-cultural research projects that specific organizations might use in the development of marketing strategies are: Comparisons of consumer decision processes between the southern Protestant family and the northern Protestant family, and the comparison of consumer decision processes in the Common Market countries. One more example could be the comparison of consumer decision processes between rural and urban families, between suburban and inter-city families. With studies such as those listed above, the firm is able to plan marketing strategy in a more integrated fashion (J.F.Engel 1968:253).

As can be concluded, in determining marketing strategies both the knowledge of consumer perception and that of subcultures are of extreme importance. When having to assess which of the two is most valuable, one has to evaluate the immediate influence that each one has over the consumer’s purchasing potential. It has been proven that the consumer’s macro-environment or subculture applies distinct pressure over his/her behaviour. However, the impact that subcultures have on the consumer is of less value for marketers than that of perception. Perception acts upon an individual in the most personal of ways; it is what triggers both the conscious and subconscious levels of the consumer. Hence, the knowledge of perception is of foremost importance in determining marketing strategies. Ultimately, it is perception that acts upon all other forces, including subcultures, to make up what in turn is known as consumer behaviour.


* Berkman, H.W., Gilson, C.C. 1978. Consumer Behavior: Concepts and Strategies. Dickenson Publishing Co.

* C. Glenn Walters. 1974. Consumer Behavior: Theory and Practice. Homewood: Irwin-Dorsey International.

* J. F. Engel, D. J. Kollat, R. D. Blackwell. 1968. Consumer Behavior. Holt, Rinehart and Winston, INC. New York.

* James F. Engel. 1964. The Influences of Needs and Attitudes on the Perception of Persuasion. American Marketing Assn.

* Ron J. Markin, Jr. 1974. Consumer Behavior: A Cognitive Orientation. Macmillan Publishing. New York.

* Michael R. Solomon. 1999. Consumer Behavior: International Edition. Prentice Hall International, Inc. New Jersey.


* Berkman, H.W., Gilson, C.C. 1978. Consumer Behavior: Concepts and Strategies. Dickenson Publishing Co.

* C. Glenn Walters. 1974. Consumer Behavior: Theory and Practice. Homewood: Irwin-Dorsey International.

* J. F. Engel, D. J. Kollat, R. D. Blackwell. 1968. Consumer Behavior. Holt, Rinehart and Winston, INC. New York.

* James F. Engel. 1964. The Influences of Needs and Attitudes on the Perception of Persuasion. American Marketing Assn.

* Ron J. Markin, Jr. 1974. Consumer Behavior: A Cognitive Orientation. Macmillan Publishing. New York.

* Michael R. Solomon. 1999. Consumer Behavior: International Edition. Prentice Hall International, Inc. New Jersey.

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Marketing Strategies – Basic Concept. (2020, Jun 02). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/marketing-strategies-2-new-essay

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