Internal Influences – Memory
Dr. Jill Novak, University of Phoenix, Texas A&M University
Marketing messages can be effective only if the consumer correctly understands the messages, and remembers them when needed. Memory refers to a consumer’s ability to understand the marketing messages and assign them value and meaning. Value and meaning always together.
The value and meaning assigned is largely determined by internal factors, (thoughts, feelings, emotion, attitude, perception, motivation, personality, lifestyle) which are different for each consumer.
For example, a consumer who drinks lots of milk, sees an advertisement that says “Got Milk?” and since they already have positive feelings for the product they will purchase more milk, whereas a consumer who does not enjoy drinking milk and sees the same ad, may dismiss the ad or may try drinking more milk for a short period of time and then decrease consumption again.
- Color: Colors have an enormous impact on marketing messages, and color affects consumers in a subjective manner, so that most of the time consumers don’t even know they are being affected! For example, in the US, the color red makes people eat 25% more, therefore most restaurants use red as their main color. The meaning and value assigned to colors changes with the culture, so marketers need to be fully aware of how color is interpreted by different groups of people. For example, the Starbucks Coffee Company logo is green, but when they opened shops in Malaysia, they had to change the logo to brown because in that culture green is associated with sickness.
- Font: The presentation of words and how they are shaped will also enhance the marketing message and contribute to the value and meaning. For example, these two different fonts for a cigarette company will convey entirely different meanings, and may attract two different customers.
The first logo is block style, bold and more intense and may be more masculine. The second is a script font, with more curls, softer lines and may be more feminine. So which is better? Well, that depends on the product and the target market you are trying to attract.
- Simplicity of the message: A simple message is generally easier to understand. Using short phrases and easy to read terminology, such as “heart healthy” will quickly and easily convey the message that the product is good for your heart.
- Consistency of the message: The message needs to fit in with the surrounding information—style, color, text, photographs, music—all have to work together. For example, showing a television ad for travel to the Caribbean will have soft, flowing fonts, bright colors, and reggae music. It can sometimes be an advantage to have inconsistent messages, some consumers may remember the ad more if some of the elements don’t make sense.
- Source of the message: Consumers will be more likely to remember and purchase products endorsed by credible sources, animated characters or celebrities. They have to be likeable, have some expertise or at least pretend that they have expertise), be trustworthy, and attractive.
Three things influence consumer’s ability to understand messages:
Physical Characteristics of message
- Imagery: When the brand name, words, and slogan work together to create an image in the mind of the consumer, it will invoke ideas, feelings and objects, and a direct recovery of past experiences. Disney is big on evoking nostalgia and past experiences, they want adult customers to remember being taken to the Disney parks as a child and then repeat the experiences with their own children. Much of their advertisement depicts families having wonderful experiences together, while the adults are remembering being there as children.
Characteristics of the message receiver (consumer)
- Intelligence: unless you are specifically marketing a product to extremely intelligent individuals, it is best to word marketing messages on a level most people can understand, and don’t ever talk to your customers in a way that would make them feel inferior.
- Involvement: A customer with higher levels of involvement with the product, service and marketing information will have more recall than a consumer with less involvement. Creating more interest in the product and making a website more interactive will help to increase sales. More involvement means more sales.
- Familiarity: Generally, the more familiar a customer is with a product, the more likely they are to purchase it; however, having too much familiarity can lead to adaptation, when customers become tired of their “familiar” purchases and seek out novelty items. For example, in the US in the 1990s, ketchup sales began slipping and to revamp sales, ketchup manufacturers created green and purple ketchup, these novelty items boosted sales, but only for a few months, when consumers became tired of them.
- Expectations: If the customer doesn’t know what to expect from the product or service, then they are not going to purchase it. This explains why familiar brand names like Campbell’s Soup, Coca-Cola and Disney do not change their logos—customers are familiar with them, have positive thoughts about them and know what to expect.
- Physical limits: Marketers need to remember that some consumers have limitations such as hearing impairment or color blindness and this needs to be taken into consideration when creating marketing messages.
Characteristics of the environment
- Intensity of information: If a consumer is overloaded with stimuli in an environment, they are much more likely to avoid the ad, or not comprehend it at all. Let’s face it, we live in a world cluttered with advertisements, it can be difficult to break through all of it and get to your target market customers. Marketers have to be more creative since customers can now skip commercials (thanks to recordable television); marketers use product placement in the actual movie or television show, the characters in the show use the brand name products and may even talk about how they like the brand name. This is all part of the advertising. Marketers are also making use of new social marketing movements such as Twitter and Facebook that can be programmed to reach customers that want to see your marketing messages.
- Framing: Messages can be framed to seem positive or negative and this will affect how customers assign value. “If you don’t use sunscreen, you could get skin cancer” or “Use sunscreen to moisturize and protect your delicate skin”.
- Timing: Many factors will influence how a message is interpreted and assigned value including: amount of time customer has to view a message, time of day, and type of medium used. A customer driving in the morning 70mph past a billboard for coffee may only have a few seconds to interpret the message, but since it is a time of day when that product is most consumed, they may be more likely to act on the message.