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DURBAN UNIVERSITY OF TECHNOLOGY

Consumer Behaviour
Exploring consumer behaviour amongst
South Africas growing black middle class

CELINE GOVENDER 21405295

C.B Assignment 1
Contents
Question 1............................................................................................................... 3
Question 2............................................................................................................... 3
Question 3............................................................................................................... 4
Instrumental Conditioning........................................................................................ 4
Observational Learning........................................................................................... 5
Question 4............................................................................................................... 6
Instrumental Conditioning........................................................................................ 6
Observational Learning........................................................................................... 6
References.............................................................................................................. 8

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Question 1
As a general phenomenon, social stratification tends to be accepted as a fact of life
(Bereday 1977:196). Every society stratifies its members into social classes according to
their values to the society. The members of social class share common values and ways of
thinking, speaking and behaving (Abraham 2011:3). Thus, consumers interact mostly with
people of their own social class so that each class has about the same values and patterns
of behaviour.

Taken from the case study, it is very clear that the black middle-class is progressing and
expanding quite quickly. The affinity of the black middle-class predisposes them towards
social justice.

As black South Africans become more influential and powerful, they are forming their own
proud and unique identity. They are influenced by global and international trends and want to
fit in with others in their social class. Social class has a significant impact on consumer
behaviour and influences where and how they feel they should shop. To the black middle
class, a car embodies their status and shows the social class that they are in. A person in the
black middle class, for example, would much rather be seen in a Lexus than a humble
Toyota because Lexus embodies class, prestige and wealth. This is due to the fact that they
have been at the forefront of the anti-apartheid struggle and probably want to have things
that they werent previously able to.

Question 2
In my opinion, the consumers are compulsive buyers due to the fact that the recession has
not stopped the black middle class from expanding which means that they continue to
purchase even when they cannot afford to.

It is also clear that they are compulsive buyers because results from the survey conducted
shows that 22% of them are struggling to pay off their debts. Entry into the middle class
means access to credit which allows for the pursuit of aspirational purchases.

Compulsive buyers believe that consumer goods are an important route to success, and the
types of goods that you purchase represent your social standing. This is evident in the
consumers from the case because it is noted that the black middle class still perceive the
type of car they own as a reflection of their social class.

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It is also noted that the brands they purchase reflect an extension of their personality and in
the previous study consumers said that brands helped to define their identity, compulsive
buyers use commodities to signal their identities. Thus, compulsive buying and social identity
have a connection.

Compulsive buying highlights the focus on identity creating sign-value of commodities in the
compulsive buyer. Compulsive buyers target their desires directly at the commodities sign
value which means that they purchase products mainly for the symbol or status that the
commodity will have rather than for the actual usage benefit of it. In the mind of the
compulsive buyer, the commodity is imagined to be an amazing object capable of redeeming
a special identity.

Question 3

Instrumental Conditioning
Solomon et al. (1999:67) describe that operant conditioning, also known as instrumental
conditioning, occurs as the person learns to perform behaviours that produce positive
outcomes and to avoid those that yield negative outcomes. Responses in instrumental
conditioning are made deliberately to obtain something in exchange. Instrumental
conditioning is useful in explaining more complex goal-directed behaviours (Schiffman et al.
2008a: 193). The desired behaviour may be learned over a period of time as intermediate
actions are rewarded in a process called shaping. While classical conditioning involves the
close pairing of two stimuli, operant conditioning occurs as the result of a rewarding the
individual after the desired behaviour. This takes place over a period in which a variety of
other behaviours are attempted and then abandoned because they were not reinforced
(Solomon et al. 1999:67).

According to Solomon et al. (1999:67) there are three ways in which operant conditioning
can occur: positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement, and punishment. Positive
reinforcement refers to delivering a reward after the desired behaviour is performed
encouraging the learning of the appropriate response. The reward in regards to enhancing
learning amongst consumers for this case study could be that consumers have fewer debts
and are able to save more. The second one, negative reinforcement, also strengthens
responses so that appropriate behaviour is learned. In punishment a response is followed by
unpleasant events which aim at teaching individuals to perform the desired behaviour in
order to avoid the negative effects. The punishment for the case study could be that
consumers have mounting debts and are unable to save. The negative results previously

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mentioned teach people not to repeat undesired behaviours. Positive and negative
reinforcement strengthen the future linkage between a response and an outcome because of
the pleasant experience. These specific ties may be weakened under conditions of both
punishment and extinction (Solomon et al. 1999:68).

A central factor in instrumental conditioning is the set of schedules by which reinforcement is


given for appropriate behaviour. The schedules determine how often reinforcement is
delivered; it can be done according to a fixed-interval, variable-interval, fixed-ratio, or
variable-ratio. Determining which one is the most effective schedule for reinforcement is of
high importance for marketers since it is directly related to the amount of resources and
effort dedicated to rewarding consumers with the objective of conditioning the desired
behaviours (Solomon et al. 1999:69)

Observational Learning
According to Solomon et al. (1999:69) cognitive learning occurs as the result of mental
processes. In contrast to behavioural learning theories, cognitive learning emphasizes the
individual as a problem-solver entity rather than just a black box. As noted by Schiffman et
al. (2008a:196) individuals, as problem solvers, actively use information from their
surroundings to master their environment. Instead of stressing the importance of repetition
or association of rewards with a specific response, cognitive theorists emphasize the role of
motivation and mental processes in producing a desired response.

Observational learning is a type of cognitive learning that occurs when individuals observe
the actions of others and note the reinforcement they receive for their behaviours (Solomon
et al. 1999:70). This type of learning is a very complex process; the person needs to store
his or her observations in memory so that later this information helps them guide their own
behaviour. This process of imitating the behaviour of others is called modelling.
Observational learning occurs in the following order: first attention is required from the
individual; then, the information observed is held in memory; next, the consumer must be
able to reproduce the observed behaviour; and finally, a situation arises when the behaviour
in question is appropriate, generating reinforcement for this behaviour.

All of the following is required for observational learning to occur:

Attention: The consumer focuses on a models behaviour

Retention: The consumer retains this behaviour in memory

Production processes: The consumer has the ability to perform the behaviour

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Motivation: A situation arises wherein the behaviour is useful to the consumer

Observational learning: The consumer acquires and performs the behaviour earlier
demonstrated by a model

Question 4
The NCRs Spend Wisely/Borrow Wisely campaign aims to encourage consumers to
manage their debt more responsibly and adopt healthy saving habits to avoid over
indebtedness.

This national campaign rolled out by the NCR is focused on instilling healthy borrowing and
saving habits among South Africans. In fact, the easiest way to maintain a good credit record
is to live within your means.

The NCR also encourages consumers to understand their credit agreements. Before
consumers sign a credit agreement, they need to understand the cost of credit and the terms
and conditions of the credit agreement to ensure they will be able to make the repayments.

The National Credit Regulator urges consumers to take into account all debt, including store
and credit cards as well as personal loans and other commitments. Plan to pay off as much
debt as possible before taking on more credit. Most importantly honour your credit
agreement repayments.

Instrumental Conditioning
Instrumental conditioning can be used in advertising to achieve the desired behaviour of this
campaign which is for consumers to spend and borrow wisely. The advertisement should
have a scenario where a character has the option to use more credit and the option to spend
wisely. By choosing to spend wisely will result in positive results and the person could be
rewarded by having fewer debts and more money to save. The punishment if the person
does not produce the desired results will be that they have mounting debts and are unable to
pay them off. The ultimate goal of the advertisement should be for the person to act in the
desired way that is to spend/borrow wisely in order to be rewarded accordingly.

Observational Learning
Many of todays advertisement take advantage of the principles of observational learning in
order to teach consumers. Sometimes ads depict negative consequences for certain types
of behaviour. By observing the actions of others and the resulting consequences, consumers

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learn to recognise and distinguish between appropriate and inappropriate behaviour
(Schiffman et al 2010:224). It is quite common to find commercials where the main character
is the object of reinforcement; in the case of the Spend Wisely Borrow Wisely campaign,
there should be characters portraying debt (negative) and savings (positive). Consumers
must learn from the advertisement that by spending wisely and borrowing wisely they may
have more money to save it may help them avoid the burden of debts. Observational
learning has made the life of marketers easier as they do not have to directly reinforce
customers in order to teach them. The aim of the advertisements should be for consumers to
observe the advertisement, picture themselves in the characters situation, and learn from it
so that they dont have to have the same difficulties the character faced. Consumers will
learn that spending and borrowing wisely is actually a good thing and will see the positive
effects of doing so in the advertisements.

Real life stories could also be used in the advertisements to make consumers understand
the importance of spending and borrowing wisely.

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References

Abraham, K. 2011. A STUDY ON CONSUMER BEHAVIOUR (with reference to V.B factors).


International Journal of Enterprise Computing and Business Systems, 1(2): 2230-8849.
Available: http://www.ijecbs.com/July2011/8.pdf (Accessed 05 May 2016).

Bereday George, Z, F. 1977. Social Stratification and Education in Industrial Countries:


Comparative Education Review. The State of the Art, 21(2/3): 196.

Borrow wisely for a secure financial future. 2014. Available: http://www.ujuh.co.za/borrow-


wisely-for-a-secure-financial-future/ (Accessed 06 May 2016).

Presskorn-Thygesen, T. Bjerg, O. 2014. The falling rate of enjoyment: Consumer capitalism


and compulsive buying disorder. Ephemera theory and politics in organization, 14(2): 197-
220. Available: http://www.ephemerajournal.org/contribution/falling-rate-enjoyment-
consumer-capitalism-and-compulsive-buying-disorder (Accessed 07 May 2016).

Schiffman, L. Bednall, D. OCass, A. Paladino, A. Ward, S. Kanuk, L. 2008a. Consumer


Behaviour. 4th ed. Australia: Pearson Education.

Schiffman, L. Lazar, L. Hansen, H. 2008b. Consumer Behaviour: a European Outlook. 1st ed.
UK Harlow: Pearson Education Limited.

Schiffman, L. Kanuk, L, L. Wisenblit, J. 2010. Consumer Behaviour. 10th ed. New York:
Pearson Education.

Solomon, M. Bamossy, G. Askegaard, S. 1999. Consumer Behaviour: a European


Perspective. 4th ed. New Jersey: Prentice Hall Inc.