Nature of Consumer Attitudes

30/05/2020 0 By indiafreenotes

Consumer attitude may be defined as a feeling of favourableness or unfavourableness that an individual has towards an object. As we, all know that an individual with a positive attitude is more likely to buy a product and this results in the possibility of liking or disliking a product.

Consumer attitude basically comprises of beliefs towards, feelings towards and behavioral intentions towards some objects.

Belief plays a vital role for consumers because, it can be either positive or negative towards an object. For example, some may say tea is good and relieves tension, others may say too much of tea is not good for health. Human beliefs are not accurate and can change according to situations.

Consumers have certain specific feelings towards some products or brands. Sometimes these feelings are based on certain beliefs and sometimes they are not. For example, an individual feels uneasy when he thinks about cheese burst pizza, because of the tremendous amount of cheese or fat it has.

Behavioural intentions show the plans of consumers with respect to the products. This is sometimes a logical result of beliefs or feelings, but not always. For example, an individual personally might not like a restaurant, but may visit it because it is the hangout place for his friends.

Functions of Attitudes

The following are the functions of attitudes

  • Adjustment Function: Attitudes helps people to adjust to different situations and circumstances.
  • Ego Defensive Function: Attitudes are formed to protect the ego. We all are bothered about our self-esteem and image so the product boosting our ego is the target of such a kind of attitude.
  • Value Expression Function: Attitudes usually represent the values the individual possesses. We gain values, though our upbringing and training. Our value system encourages or discourages us to buy certain products. For example, our value system allows or disallows us to purchase products such as cigarettes, alcohol, drugs, etc.
  • Knowledge Function: Individuals’ continuously seeks knowledge and information. When an individual gets information about a particular product, he creates and modifies his attitude towards that product.

Models of Attitude

The following are the models of attitude

  • Tri-component Model: According to tri-component model, attitude consists of the following three components.
  • Cognitive Component: The first component is cognitive component. It consists of an individual’s knowledge or perception towards few products or services through personal experience or related information from various sources. This knowledge, usually results in beliefs, which a consumer has, and specific behavior.
  • Affective Component: The second part is the affective component. This consists of a person’s feelings, sentiments, and emotions for a particular brand or product. They treat them as the primary criteria for the purpose of evaluation. The state of mind also plays a major role, like the sadness, happiness, anger, or stress, which also affects the attitude of a consumer.
  • Conative Component: The last component is conative component, which consists of a person’s intention or likelihood towards a particular product. It usually means the actual behavior of the person or his intention.

Properties of Attitudes:

Attitudes can vary along a number of dimensions or properties. They are:

(i) Favourability:

A person may like Coke or Pepsi and dislike others like Fanta, Mirinda, Canada Dry etc.

(ii) Intensity:

This means, the strength of liking or disliking. For example, consumer may be liking two brands at a time but he/she may be more positive towards one.

(iii) Confidence:

This means, attitude is the confidence with which they are held. Intercity and confidence differ slightly. For example, a person may be equally confident that he/she really likes Pepsi but may be slightly favourable toward Coke.

It is important for a marketer to study the degree of confidence associated with an attitude because:

(a) It can affect the strength of the relationship between attitudes and behaviour.

(b) It can affect an attitudes susceptibility to change. That means, more strongly held attitude is more resistant to change.

(iv) Stability:

Some attitudes are stable over an extended period of time, others will change. This dynamic nature of attitudes is largely responsible for the changes in consumers lifestyles. For exam­ple, people attitude towards fashion is changing. Also they are changing in health attitudes this means, it is a great news for fitness clubs, sporting equipment and clothing companies.

Attitude can vary in terms of whether it is based on the perceived utilitarian Vs. hedonic properties of the attitude object. For example, consumers attitude towards toothpaste will be more in knowing their functional benefits. For other products/services like amusement parks, movies, ballets, music etc. are valued for their ability to influence consumers emotions. These properties help in developing effective advertising appeals.

How Attitude is Developed?

To understand the role of attitudes in consumer behaviour, we must understand how they develop and what are the functions they perform. The attitudes that consumers hold are, a result of their prior experiences. Attitudes develop over time through a learning process and are affected and also formed by family influences, peer group influences, personality, experience and information (from environment). Environmental factors have a strong influence on attitudes formation by shaping the type, amount, and quality of information and experience available to consumers.

Family Influences:

Family is an important influence on purchase decisions. Bennet and Kassarjian say, “Attitudes toward personal hygiene, preferences for food items etc. are acquired from parents.”

Peer Group Influences:

Researches say that peer groups are much more likely than advertising to influence attitudes and purchasing behaviour.


Personality also affects consumer’s attitudes. Traits such as aggression, extrover­sion, submissiveness or authoritarianism may influence attitudes toward brands and products.

Information and experience:

According to learning theory, consumer’s past experiences influ­ence their brand attitude and condition their future behaviour. It is seen that band loyalty will quickly end if the brand does not perform well. Therefore, information and experience also determines attitude.

Role of Direct or Indirect Experience:

Attitudes are formed as a result of direct contact with the object. Products that fails to perform as expected can easily lead to negative attitudes. Sometimes, even in absence of actual experience with an object one can form attitude. For example, many consum­ers have never driven Mercedes – Benz or vacationed in Switzerland but then also form positive attitude for this. Similarly, the consumers can form an attitude by just seeing the ad that means, they can form the product attitudes.

Attitudes based on direct experience are held with more confidence. This means consumers form stronger convictions about the product if had an actual direct experience with it.

These processes that govern attitude formation are very important in order to develop strategies and activities that will create, reinforce, or modify consumer attitudes.

Functions of Attitude:

Daniel Katz has proposed four functions of attitudes that explains how they serve the individu­als.

(a) Utilitarian Function:

This helps the consumers in achieving desired benefits. For example, in small car segments, marketers usually reflects the utilitarian function of attitudes in the ad. likeby featuring performance characteristics, mileage etc. Similarly, in the ad. of toothbrushes, they reflect utility of cleaning the teeth and giving them whiter look etc.

(b) Value – Expressive Function:

Attitudes can express consumers self – images and value systems. This specially holds true for high involvement products that is, costly products. Advertisers usually try to appeal to the value – expressive nature of attitudes by implying that use or purchase of a certain item will lead to self-enhancement. In this way, they appeal to large segment who value these self expressive traits.

The self – image of an individual purchasing a motorbike, for example, may be of strong, domineering and hard – driving person who likes to gain the upper hand. Like for Kinetic Honda & Kawasaki Bajaj two different types of self images are attached. In the former, the person with strong built up will be best suited and in the later, the person with not so good physique.

Another example can be Revlon Cologne ad. that suggests user is a confident, self-award, warm individual.

(c) Ego – Defensive Function:

Attitudes protect the ego from anxieties and threats. Consumers purchase many products, like mouthwashes to avoid bad breath or dandruff shampoo etc. these are basically anxiety – producing situations. This means consumers develop positive attitudes towards brands associated with social acceptance, confidence etc. For example. Head & Shoulders avoid embarrassment of flaking from dry scalp.

(d) Knowledge Function:

Consumers are exposed to the environment full of information. Consumers sort all of the messages, ignoring the less – relevant information. They have confusion and uncertainty while purchasing any product (Specially high involvement) but this function reduces all the uncertainties. Advertisements provide the valuable information about new brands or new charac­teristics of existing brands.

From the above functions, we have learnt that they affect the individual’s overall evaluation of an object. For example, two individuals having equally favourable attitudes toward mouthwash will vary in the nature of these attitudes. This will depend on whether they purchase because of utilitarian function (i.e. for freshness) or an ego – defensive function (i,e., to avoid bad breath). So both the individuals should be approached in the similar manner.

Models of Attitudes:

Psychologists have constructed these models to understand the relationship between attitudes and behaviour, and to capture the underlying dimensions of an attitude. There are three important attitude models: the tricomponent attitude model, multi – attribute models, the trying – to – consume model, and attitude – toward – the – ad models. Tricomponent attitude model, we have already explained in the beginning while explaining the nature of consumer attitudes.

Multi – Attribute Attitude Model:

Multi – attribute attitude model examines attitudes in terms of selected product attributes or beliefs. There are many variations of this model but Martin Fishbein and his associates has done great amount of research on it.

It is important for businesses to know whether consumers have favourable or unfavourable attitudes toward their products, it is also important to understand the reason for these attitudes. Traditionally, to understand this, the cognitive component of attitude is studied.

Now, more emphasis is aid upon the important beliefs a person holds about the attitude object. This is explained by Fishbein in the various models, we will study attitude toward – object model, the attitude – toward – behaviour model and the theory – of – reasoned – action model.

Attitude – toward – Object – Model:

Attitude – toward – object model helps in measuring attitudes toward a product category or specific brands – Model can be explained as the attitude toward a given object (product) is based on the summed set of beliefs about the object’s attributes weighted by the evaluation of these attributes.

Attitude – toward – Behaviour Model:

The focus of Fishbein’s attitude – toward – behaviour model is the individuals attitude toward behaving or acting with respect to an object rather than the attitude toward the object itself.

Theory of Reasoned – Action Model:

In this model, a comprehensive integration of attitude components are represented into a structure that is designed, so that, it is explained in a better manner and prediction of behaviour is also better. Here also three components are used as in tricomponent model like cognitive component, affective component and a conative component. But in this model, arrangement of these components are different.

If we examine critically, the best predictor of behaviour is the intention to act. Thus, if researchers are interested in predicting behaviour (i.e., the act of purchasing a particular service, product or brand), they would directly measure intention. If the researchers further are interested in knowing the underlying factors that lead a consumer to act in a particular situation, they will find two factors that is, consumer’s attitudes toward the behaviour and the subjective norm.

The consumer’s attitude toward the behaviour can be directly measured as affect. This means consumers overall favourability toward the purchase is measured. But to understand intention we also need to measure the subjective norm that can be measured directly by assessing a consumer’s feelings as to what others would think of the action being contemplated, (i.e., whether they are favourable or unfavourable).

For example, if a college going girl wants to purchase a dress for herself and then she thinks what her boyfriend or other friends would think of such behaviours (i.e., would appreciate or not). Such a reflection is considered as subjective norm. The factors underlying the subjective norms are the normative beliefs that the individual attributes to others, as well as the individual’s motivation to comply with each one who matters to him/her. So, we can say that the theory of reasoned action is a series of interrelated attitude components.

Now, the question arise why study attitudes, as in this model it is stated clearly that intention is linked to behaviour more strongly than attitude. Reason being that intention is unable to provide an adequate explanation of behaviour. Marketers sometimes are interested in knowing why consumers act as they do, for this more than a mechanical measure is required as to what consumers expect to do i.e.,g. their buying intentions).

Attitude-Toward-the-Ad Models:

In today’s scenario, where half of the business is fetched alone through advertising, the need for understanding the impact of advertising on consumer attitudes toward particular products or brands has increased. Advertisers have paid a considerable attention in developing attitude – toward – the – ad models.

The consumers form various judgments and feelings as and when exposed to an ad. These judgments and feelings in turn affect the consumer’s attitude toward the ad and beliefs about the brand acquired from exposure to the ad. Finally, consumer’s attitude toward the ad and beliefs about the brand for his/her attitude toward the brand.

This model says that to assess consumers attitudes toward an ad it is important to distinguish between cognitive evaluations of the ad (i.e., whether it is informative or humorous) and affective responses toward the ad (feelings like sense of fear, or smile or laughter etc.) and also measures them separately.

According to this model, researcher suggests that the feelings conveyed by an ad not only influences the attitude toward the ad but also affect the consumers evaluations of the brand and also the attitude towards the brand.

However, if the gap appears after exposure of an ad (around one weak) the positive effect of a liked ad on the attitude towards a brand may change. This usually happens when the purchase action is postponed or delayed by the consumer after an exposure of ad.

Researchers say that both negative and positive feelings toward ad tend to exist side by side where both affect attitude uniquely. So, in this wide variety of feelings (both positive and negative) are to be assessed to study the influence of ad exposure.

It is also seen and tested through research that the consumer’s attitude toward the ad for a novel product (new one) will have a stronger impact on brand attitude and purchase intention than for a familiar product. Researcher also found that beliefs about a brand that result from ad. exposure play a much stronger role in determining attitudes towards the brand for a familiar product. So, in this research nature of attitude – object is used in assessing the potential impact of advertising exposure.

It is observed that attitude toward a specific type of advertising (eg. comparative) may have some impact on the attitude toward a specific ad. (eg. liking or distiking it). But attitudes toward ads in general seem to have little impact on the attitude toward a specific ad.