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Chapter 11: Situational


Consumer Behavior - A Framework

John C. Mowen
Michael S. Minor
Key Concepts
 Consumer Situations  Task definition
 Types of situational
 Categories of gift-
 Influence of physical giving situations
surroundings  Influence of time
Store location effects
Time differences

 Store atmosphere
across cultures
 Types of
antecedent states
The Environment and the Exchange
Cultural Economic
Environment Environment

Subcultural Regulatory
Environment Environment
Group/ family

Situational Influencers

Individual Buying Exchange Marketer

Processes Unit Process
Consumer Situations . . .
 consist of temporary environmental
factors that form the context within
which a consumer activity occurs at a
particular place and time.
 include factors that:
 Involve the time and place in which a
consumer activity takes place
 Explain why the action takes place
 Influence consumer behavior
Table 11-1: Belk’s
Situational Elements

 Physical surroundings
 Social surroundings
 Time
 Task definition
 Antecedent states
Physical Surroundings . . .

. . .are the
concrete physical
and spatial
aspects of the
environment that
encompass a
Effects of Music on
 In a supermarket
store study sales
increased daily by
38% when slower
music was played.
 A restaurant
study found when
slow music was
played, liquor
sales increased.
Effects of Music continued
◆ Playing peppy music
while on hold or
waiting in line doesn’t
make time pass more
◆ Louder music
increases “pace of
events” perception but
raises estimates of
time durations.
The Effects of Crowding
on Consumers
 Density - how closely packed people
are (i.e., the physical arrangements of
people in a space).
 Crowding - the unpleasant feelings
that people experience when they
perceive that densities are too high and
that their control of the situation has
been reduced to unacceptable levels.
High - and Low-density...
 High-density situations may be beneficial -
 More perceived control in bar study, less in bank
 In “fun” situations, density enhances pleasure.
 There is usually an optimal level of density.
 Other elements (time, convenience) as
important for shopping behavior.
Consumer Crowd Behavior
 In some circumstances consumers
behave like hysterical crowds
 Large groups may cause high physiological
arousal among each of the members
 The high arousal results in the tendency of
each member of the crowd to act on a
dominant idea or tendency
 Each person in a crowd becomes
inconspicuous and individual responsibility
is lost.
Store Location . . .
. . . influences consumers from several
 Consumers have “cognitive maps” of a
city’s geography that may not match
the actual locations of retail stores.
 Image transference exists: The image
of anchor stores affects that of smaller
stores in the same shopping center.
Store Layout . . .

. . . is the physical organization of a

store that creates specific traffic
patterns, assists retailers in the
presentation of merchandise, and
helps create a particular
Atmospherics . . .

. . . refers to how managers

manipulate the design of the
building, interior space, layout of
aisles, texture of carpets and walls,
scents, colors, shapes, and sounds
experienced by customers to
achieve a certain effect.
Atmospherics and
Shopping Behavior

Atmosphere Emotional Behavior


Influences Influences

Layout Pleasure/ Time in

Sounds displeasure Store
Smells Arousal/ Affiliation
Texture... Boredom Buying
Olfactory Cues...
 Shoppers perceive
higher quality
goods in scented
 Odors should be
consistent with
store offerings.
 These cues are
expensive to
Effects of Spatial
 Space
 Retail store space
affects consumers
 Retail stores affect
attitudes, images
 Stores can create
desired consumer
Social Surroundings . . .

. . . deals with the

effects of other
people on a
consumer in a
The Task Definition . . .
. . . the situational reasons for buying or
consuming a product or service at a
particular time and place.

 Usage situations form the context in which

a product is used and influence the
product characteristics sought by a
Marketing Opportunities
 Sometimes a product
is locked into one
usage situation,
limiting market
 Consumers may come
to consider the
product inappropriate
for all other
Gift-Giving Motivations

Low High

Voluntary Altruism
Ritual Love,
Obligatory obligation friendship

Degree of Self-Interest
Gift Behavior and
 Women start shopping earlier for
Christmas (October vs. November)
 Spend more time shopping/gift
(2.4 vs. 2.1 hours)
 Are more successful (fewer of their
gifts are exchanged)
 But men spend 50% more/gift.
 Premeditated,
 Rewarding an
therapy for
 Baseball

 Individual differences in
 Time as a product
 Time as a situational variable
Time: Individual

People Can Use Time in Four Different Ways:

 Work Obligatory
 Necessities

 Housework

 Leisure
Individual Time
Differences Are Influenced
by Culture...
 Linear Separable. There is a past, present,
future. The future is expected to be better:
the idea of “progress”. Activities are a
means to an end.
 Circular Traditional. The future is like the
present. Do today only what has to be done
today. Time and money aren’t related.
 Procedural Traditional. Task Orientation.
Meetings take as long as necessary.
Time as a Product
 Many Purchases Are Made to Buy Time
 The “time-buying consumer” is a
consumer who engages in buying time
through these products
 Time-saving qualities are a key
promotional idea
 Time can act as a product attribute
Management,” Time, and
 In 1998, 70 Northern California
MacDonald’s restaurants tried multiple
lines vs. one line.
 The single, serpentine line is most
popular -
 Multiple lines actually move people faster

But jumping from line to line creates stress.
Time as a Situational
 How much time a
consumer has
available to do a
task influences the
buying strategy used
to select and
purchase the
 With limited time,
there is less
information search.
Antecedent States . . .
. . . are the temporary physiological and
mood states that a consumer brings to
a consumption situation.

Physiological State: Hunger.

Mood State: Happy feelings.
Antecedent States . . .

. . . Can lead to problem recognition.

. . . Can change the “feeling”
of hierarchy of effects (Ch. 8)
. . . Mood states influence behavior, e.g.
shopping to alleviate loneliness.
Usage Situation, Person,
and Product Interactions

 The Buying Act Results From

Interactions That Occur Among:

 Consumption situations
 Characteristics of the buying unit/person
 The product or service being offered
Managerial Implications
 Positioning. Situational variables offer
multiple opportunities for positioning.
 Research. May indicate which situations
present opportunities for new products.
 Marketing Mix. Firms may be able to present
time-saving attributes as a tradeoff for a
higher price.
 Segmentation. An increase in the female
work force presents opportunities to market
to the segment of males doing more of their
own shopping.
Situation-by-Product Interaction

High Ginger Ale

Low Gatorade

Tennis Party
Match Mixer