How Marketers Use Learning & Memory Theories

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  • 0:03 Picking Your Brain
  • 0:49 Learning Theories
  • 4:09 Memory Theories
  • 5:17 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Beth Hendricks

Beth holds a master's degree in integrated marketing communications, and has worked in journalism and marketing throughout her career.

Marketers can leverage consumer behaviors and psychologies to add in their advertising and promotions efforts. In this lesson, you'll learn more about learning and memory theories.

Picking Your Brain

What would you give to be able to read minds? It could help you figure out what your boss is thinking after a meeting, what your spouse would like to have for dinner, or even that your best friend is planning a surprise birthday party for you.

While it's not exactly like reading minds, developing a knowledge of how the brain works can make you a more effective marketer. Understanding consumer psychology for marketers can be like flipping the brain's switch, casting light on methods and strategies that can help in the promotion, advertising, and revenue of your business, brand, products, and services. Let's take a look at a few popular learning and memory theories and how marketers who develop their understanding of these theories can use them to influence consumer behavior.

Learning Theories

In marketing, learning and learning theories are approached in different ways: classical conditioning, operant conditioning, or cognitive learning.

Classical Conditioning

Classical conditioning was developed by Ivan Pavlov. Maybe you've heard of Pavlov's dog. The idea developed when Pavlov experimented with his dog and how it responded to conditional stimuli and response. When Pavlov rang a bell, the dog learned to associate the bell with food.

On a broad scale, classical conditioning looks at how people learn through mentally associating one item with another over time, typically when a stimulus prompting a response is paired with another stimulus which does not initially prompt a response on its own, but will create a response over time. For example, if you see a television advertisement for a luxury automobile with a recognizable logo, you begin to associate that automobile and logo with expense or money.

Classical conditioning is a learning theory that can be used by marketers to help craft an image for their product that will elicit the desired response from consumers. Marketers work to implement this learning behavior by helping to foster associations between a particular image, thought, or idea that consumers will grow to recognize and associate with their brand.

Operant Conditioning

Operant conditioning functions on the premise that people learn from consequences. When individuals are subjected to the results of their actions or decisions, they tend to learn to do it again if the results are positive. If the results are negative, the individual is less likely to perform the action or make that decision again.

The best example of this is a child who is rewarded for cleaning his or her room. By earning money or a treat for cleaning their room, they are more likely to repeat the behavior to reap the positive consequence. In the alternative, a child is punished in the hopes that they won't repeat problem behaviors.

With operant conditioning, marketers want to create a reward-based system that consumers learn to recognize and want to repeat: for example, a buying system that awards points for future purchases when you spend $10 or more. By reaping a reward, consumers will be more likely to make a purchase and continue purchasing. Or, it could be as simple as a product that tastes good or smells good. If a consumer eats a piece of pizza that tastes good, they are likely to eat your pizza again in the future.

Conversely, a negative experience or consequence can also be detrimental to your marketing efforts. If you run a series of obnoxious television advertisements for your business, you can impede a consumer from wanting to shop at your store.

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