The way a consumer feel about the brand reflects his attitude towards that brand. Attitude describes the way the consumer process information encompassing both cognition and emotions that ultimately affect the buying decision. It basically represents the summarize evaluation about an object, in the context of marketing it is towards a brand/product/service. There is general consensus of the marketers that attitudes are learned, that either formed through the repeat purchase, word of mouth, public relations or mass media advertising. Although they are consistent in nature but not permanent, and can be alter if present with more stronger message or experience.
Factors Shaping Consumer Attitudes
There can be numerous factors that contribute towards the formation of attitude. As it is mentioned before that attitude is learned, that can result from different sources. If a company which holds good reputation among its consumer base and plans to launch a new one, then chances are consumer will behave positive towards new brand. But there should be fit between an existing brand and extended brand through image and category. Other than this factor personal experience with the product, endorsement of family and friends, media also play significant role transforming an attitude. The personality of consumer is a factor not to be missed here.
Components of Attitude
There are three components of attitude (1) cognition (2) affect (3) behavior. The first component cognition refers to the beliefs that a consumer holds towards a brand.
Cognition refers to the consumer’s belief towards a particular object. Beliefs can be positive, negative or neutral. Affect describes the consumer’s emotion about the brand/object, that how consumer feel about it. Sometimes these beliefs may stem out of the emotions but at times it may be independent of the beliefs too.Behavior depicts the intended action of a consumer.
There can be various processes through which attitude are formed. Apart from the learning theories, it can follow the one of the attitude related processes which includes compliance, identification, and internalization.Compliance follows the classical leaning that is attitudes are formed to achieve a reward or avoid punishment. It is bound with input-output approach.Identification revolves around the idea that attitudes are formed because a consumer wants to be similar to others. Internalization is more complex and learned over a period of time through experience that a consumer rigorously beliefs and practice. Such kinds of attitudes are difficult to change and strongly held by the consumer.
The strength and intensity of attitudes varies. Some attitudes are backed by string beliefs and cannot be easily altered, whereas others aren’t so strong and more vulnerable to change. But there is also a possibility that without bringing change in the attitude a consumer’s action may not be analogous to their attitude. The reasons for such action may include. For a given situation a consumer is unable to perform due to lack of resources needed to perform that action. Social and family influence can lead a consumer to deviate from his attitude as well. Demand or requirement for another object/brand doesn’t allow a consumer to act in a certain way.
Schiffman L. Kaunk L ( 2007) “Consumer attitude formation and change” Consumer Behavior ninth Ed New York, Prentice hall, pg 238-259.