Consumer Behaviour Motivation Case Study

Notes prepared by: Wilson D'Souza, (2008-10, MBA, SJEC)

Basics of Motivation:

People are motivated by many things, some positive others not.  Some motivating factors can move people only a short time, like hunger which will last only until you are fed.  Others can drive a person onward for years. 

Motivationis the driving force within individuals that impels them to action.Motivation is the activation or energization of goal-oriented behavior. Motivation may be intrinsic or extrinsic. The term is generally used for humans but, theoretically, it can also be used to describe the causes for animal behavior as well. According to various theories, motivation may be rooted in the basic need to minimize physical pain and maximize pleasure, or it may include specific needs such as eating and resting, or a desired object, hobby, goal, state of being, ideal, or it may be attributed to less-apparent reasons such as altruism, morality, or avoiding mortality.

Needs :

Needs are the essence of the marketing concept.  Marketers do not create needs but can make consumers aware of needs.A need is something that is necessary for humans to live a healthy life. Needs are distinguished from wants because a deficiency would cause a clear negative outcome, such as dysfunction or death. Needs can be objective and physical, such as food and water, or they can be subjective and psychological, such as the need for self-esteem. On a societal level, needs are sometimes controversial, such as the need for a nationalized health care system. Understanding needs and wants is an issue in the fields of politics, social science, and philosophy.

Types of Needs

·         Innate Needs: Physiological (or biogenic) needs that are considered primary needs or motives

·         Acquired Needs: Learned in response to our culture or environment.  Are generally psychological and considered secondary needs

Goals :

A goal or objective is a projected state of affairs that a person or a system plans or intends to achieve—a personal or organizational desired end-point in some sort of assumed development. It is the sought-after results of motivated behavior.

Types of goals:

·         Generic goals: are general categories of goals that consumers see as a way to fulfill their needs

·         Product-specific goals: Are specifically branded products or services that consumers select as their goals

Positive and negative motivation:

Positive motivation is a response which includes enjoyment and optimism about the tasks that you are involved in. Positive motivation induces people to do work in the best possible manner and to improve their performance. Under this better facilities and rewards are provided for their better performance. Such rewards and facilities may be financial and non-financial.

Negative motivation aims at controlling the negative efforts of the work and seeks to create a sense of fear for the worker, which he has to suffer for lack of good performance. It is based on the concept that if a worker fails in achieving the desired results, he should be punished. Negative motivation involves undertaking tasks because there will be undesirable outcomes, eg. failing a subject, if tasks are not completed.

Almost all students will experience positive and negative motivation, as well as loss of motivation, at different times during their life at University.

Both positive and negative motivation aim at inspiring the will of the people to work but they differ in their approaches. Whereas one approaches the people to work in the best possible manner providing better monetary and non-monetary incentives, the other tries to induce the man by cutting their wages and other facilities and amenities on the belief that man works out of fear.

Rational versus Emotional Motives

•         Rationality implies that consumers select goals based on totally objective criteria such as size, weight, price, or miles per gallon. A conscious, logical reason for a purchase.  A motive that can be defended by reasoning or logical argument

•         Emotional motives imply the selection of goals according to personal or subjective criteria. A feeling experienced by a customer through association with a product.

The Dynamic Nature of Motivation

•         Needs are never fully satisfied

•         New needs emerge as old needs are satisfied

•         People who achieve their goals set new and higher goals for themselves

Model of the Motivation Process:

The motivational process is the steps that you take to get motivated. It is a process, that when followed produces incredible results. It is amazing what you can do if you are properly motivated, and getting properly motivated is a matter of following the motivational process. Like any other process it takes a little work and foresight and planning on your part. However, the return on your investment of time is significant, and it is important when needing extra motivation that you apply the motivational process.

                   In the initiation a person starts feeling lacknesses. There is an arousal of need so urgent, that the bearer has to venture in search to satisfy it. This leads to creation of tension, which urges the person to forget everything else and cater to the aroused need first. This tension also creates drives and attitudes regarding the type of satisfaction that is desired. This leads a person to venture into the search of information. This ultimately leads to evaluation of alternatives where the best alternative is chosen. After choosing the alternative, an action is taken. Because of the performance of the activity satisfaction is achieved which than relieves the tension in the individual.

Arousal of Motives:

The arousal of any particular set of needs at a specific moment in time may be caused by internal stimuli found in the individual’s physiological condition,by emotional or cognitive processes or by stimuli in outside environment.

•         Physiological arousal

•         Emotional arousal

•         Cognitive arousal

•         Environmental arousal

  1. Physiological Arousal Bodily needs at any one specific moment in time are based on the individual physiological condition at the moment. Ex..A drop in blood sugar level or stomach contractions will trigger awareness of a hunger need. Ex..A decrease in body temperature will induce shivering,which makes individual aware of the need for warmth this type of thing, they arouse related needs that cause uncomfortable tensions until they are satisfied. Ex..Medicine,low fat and diet
  2. Emotional Arousal Sometime daydreaming results in the arousal (autistic thinking) or stimulation of latent needs.People who are board or who are frustrated in trying to achieve their goals or often engage in daydreaming, in which they imagine themselves in all sorts of desirable situations. Ex..A young woman who may spend her free time in internet single chat room.
  3. Cognitive arousal Sometime random thoughts can lead to a cognitive awareness of needs.An advertisement that provides reminders of home might trigger instant yearning to speak with ones parents.
  4. Environment arousal The set of needs an individual experiences at particular time are often activated by specific cues in the environment.Without these cues the needs might remain dormant.ex.The 8’o clock news, the sight or smell of bakery goods,fast food commercials on television, all these may arouse the need for food Ex..New cell phone model display in the store window.

Philosophies Concerned with Arousal of Motives

•         Behaviorist School

–        Behavior is response to stimulus

–        Elements of conscious thoughts are to be ignored

–        Consumer does not act, but reacts

•         Cognitive School

–        Behavior is directed at goal achievement

–        Needs and past experiences are reasoned, categorized, and transformed into attitudes and beliefs

The Selection of Goals

The goals selected by an individual depend on their:

•         Personal experiences

•         Physical capacity

•         Prevailing cultural norms and values

•         Goal’s accessibility in the physical and social environment

Motivation theories and marketing strategy:

Abraham Maslow’s “Need Hierarchy Theory”:

One of the most widely mentioned theories of motivation is the hierarchy of needs theory put forth by psychologist Abraham Maslow. Maslow saw human needs in the form of a hierarchy, ascending from the lowest to the highest, and he concluded that when one set of needs is satisfied, this kind of need ceases to be a motivator.

As per his theory this needs are:

(i) Physiological needs: These are important needs for sustaining the human life. Food, water, warmth, shelter, sleep, medicine and education are the basic physiological needs which fall in the primary list of need satisfaction. Maslow was of an opinion that until these needs were satisfied to a degree to maintain life, no other motivating factors can work.

(ii) Security or Safety needs: These are the needs to be free of physical danger and of the fear of losing a job, property, food or shelter. It also includes protection against any emotional harm.

(iii) Social needs: Since people are social beings, they need to belong and be accepted by others. People try to satisfy their need for affection, acceptance and friendship.

(iv) Esteem needs:According to Maslow, once people begin to satisfy their need to belong, they tend to want to be held in esteem both by themselves and by others. This kind of need produces such satisfaction as power, prestige status and self-confidence. It includes both internal esteem factors like self-respect, autonomy and achievements and external esteem factors such as states, recognition and attention.

(v) Need for self-actualization : Maslow regards this as the highest need in his hierarchy. It is the drive to become what one is capable of becoming, it includes growth, achieving one’s potential and self-fulfillment. It is to maximize one’s potential and to accomplish something.

As each of these needs are substantially satisfied, the next need becomes dominant. From the standpoint of motivation, the theory would say that although no need is ever fully gratified, a substantially satisfied need no longer motivates. So if you want to motivate someone, you need to understand what level of the hierarchy that person is on and focus on satisfying those needs or needs above that level.

Maslow’s need theory has received wide recognition, particularly among practicing managers. This can be attributed to the theory’s intuitive logic and ease of understanding. However, research does not validate these theory. Maslow provided no empirical evidence and other several studies that sought to validate the theory found no support for it.

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs in marketing (application)

To help with training of Maslow's theory look for Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs motivators in advertising. This is a great basis for Maslow and motivation training exercises:

Biological and Physiological needs - wife/child-abuse help-lines, social security benefits, Samaritans, roadside recovery.

Safety needs - home security products (alarms, etc), house an contents insurance, life assurance, schools.

Belongingness and Love needs - dating and match-making services, chat-lines, clubs and membership societies, Macdonalds, 'family' themes like the old style Oxo stock cube ads.

Esteem needs - cosmetics, fast cars, home improvements, furniture, fashion clothes, drinks, lifestyle products and services.

Self-Actualization needs - Open University, and that's about it; little else in mainstream media because only 2% of population are self-actualizers, so they don't constitute a very big part of the mainstream market.

McGuire’s Classification of Motives








  1. Consistency

2. Attribution

3. Categorisation

4. Objectification


5. Autonomy

6. Stimulation

7. Matching

8. Utilitarian




9. Tension Reduction

10. Self expression

11. Ego Defence

12. Reinforcement


13. Assertion

14. Affiliation

15. Identification

16. Modeling

Discovering purchase motives

Buying motives determine two things:

  • what consumers want to do, and
  • how much they want to do it.

To market successfully, purchase motives

  • first have to be directed towards your goods, not someone else's.
  • Second, the drive has to be strong enough so that people will act on it; they have to be willing to pay the price in terms of dollars, time, and effort.

Latent and Manifest Motives

Marketing Strategies Based on

Motivation Conflict

With (he many motives consumers have and the many situations in which these motives are activated, (here are frequent conflicts between motives. The resolution of a motivational conflict often affects consumption patterns. In many instances, the marketer can analyze situations that are likely to result in a motivational con­flict, provide a solution to the conflict, and attract the patronage of those consumers facing the motivational conflict. There arc three lypes of motivational conflict of importance to marketing managers:

·         Approach-Approach Conflict

·         Approach-Avoidance Conflict

·         Avoidance-Avoidance Conflict

Approach-Approach Motivational Conflict A consumer who must choose between two attractive al­ternatives faces approach-approach conflict. The more equal this attraction, the greater the conflict. A con­sumer who recently received a large cash gift for graduation (situational variable) might be ton) between a trip to Hawaii (perhaps powered by a need for stimulation) and a new mountain bike (perhaps driven by the need for assertion). This conflict could be resolved by a timely advertisement designed lo encourage one or the other action. Or a price modification, such as "buy now, pay later." could result in a resolution whereby both alternatives are selected.

Approach-Avoidance Motivational Conflict A consumer facing a purchase choice with both positive and negative consequences confronts approach-avoidance conflict. A person who is concerned about gain­ing weight yet likes snack foods faces this type of problem. He or she may want the taste and emotional sat­isfaction associated with the snacks (approach) but docs not want lo gain weight (avoidance). The develop­ment of lower-caloric snack foods reduces this conflict and allows the weight-sensitive consumer to enjoy snacks and also control calorie intake.

Avoidance-Avoidance Motivational Conflict A choice involving only undesirable outcomes produces avoidance-avoidance conflict. When a consumer's old washing machine fails, this conflict may occur. The person may not want to spend money on a new washing machine, or pay to have the old one repaired, or go without one. The availability of credit is one way of reducing this motivational conflict. Advertisements em­phasizing the importance of regular maintenance for cars, such as oil tiller changes, also use this type of mo­tive conflict: "Pay me now. or pay me (more) later."


          Failure to achieve a goal often result in feeling of frustration (inability to attain goal-frustration comes) --Limited physical or Financial resources. --Obstacle in the physical or social environment such frustration people are likely to adopt a defense mechanism to protect their egos from feelings of inadequacy.

Defense Mechanism:Methods by which people mentally redefine frustrating situations to protect their self-images and their self-esteem

  1. Aggression (attracting) may react with anger towards his/her boss for not getting enough money for one trip so frustrated consumers have boycotted manufacturers in an effort to improve product quality and have boycotted retailers in an effort to have price lowered.
  2. Rationalization (Convince themselves)They may decide that goal is not really worth (reasoning for being unable to attain their goals)
  3. Regression—People react to frustrating situations with childish or immature behavior
  4. Withdrawal—withdrawing from the situation.Ex..Person who has difficulty achieving officer status in an organisation may simply quit the organisation or he may decide he can use his time more constructively in other activities.
  5. Projection—An individual may projecting blame for his/her own failure and inabilities on other objects or persons.Ex..the driver who has an automobile accident may blame the other driver or the condition of the road player blame the ground / climate.
  6. Autism or Autism thinking Day dream that enables the Individual to attain unfulfilled needs ( dreaming / thinking emotionally / romantically).
  7. Identification Sometime people feel frustration by subconsciously identifying with other persons or situation that they consider relevant.Ex.. Mouth wash, shampoo, attract opposite sex
  8. Repression– Another way that individuals avoid the tension arising from frustration is by repressing the unsatisfied need Ex..A couple who cannot have children may surround themselves with plants or pets .












Consumers do not buy products. They buy motive satisfaction or problem solutions. A person does not buy a sofa set but he buys comfort. A person does not buy cosmetics but he buys hope for looking good. Marketers therefore try to find the motives for buying, and build their products and marketing mixes around these motives. A person may buy a product for a number of motives. One of them could be rewarded for oneself or to self-indulge in them or for a gift.Multiple motives are involved in consumption. Therefore, a marketer tries to find out:

  • the motive for buying,
  • how to formulate a strategy to fulfil these motives, and
  • how to reduce conflict between motives.

How to Discover Motives
This is found out by asking questions from the respondent. Some motives are disclosed by the respondent, others are not divulged or are hidden. For instance, you ask a lady why she wears designer jeans. She can say that:

  • they are in style
  • they fit well
  • they are worn by her friends. These motives are disclosed. Latent motives may not be disclosed.
  • they show that I have money
  • they make one look sexy and desirable
  • they show I am young
  • they project my slimness, etc.

Manifest and Latent Motives
Another important method to find out the motives may be by “Motivational Research” where indirect questions are asked to elicit the information from the respondents. This is done by unstructured disguised interviews or questionnaires.
Once the motives have been known, the marketing strategy is designed around theappropriate set of motives. While designing the strategy, the target market has to be decided and the communication has to be chosen for the said target market. Since there is more than one motive, more than one benefit should be communicated by advertising and other methods of promotion.

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