How customers’ attitudes change the game | Theories you need to know

Organizations develop strategic marketing plans to catch customers’ attention and convert them into valuable customers. The possibility of forming, shaping and influencing customers’ attitudes towards product offerings happens with the help of the techniques and methods found in the strategy.

However, marketing activity is based on a thorough understanding of the challenges encountered by its implementationthe process that turns a marketing plan into action.

According to Onkvisit and Shaw attitude can be defined as

a learned tendency to respond to an object in a consistently favorable or unfavorable way’.

In the purchase decision, customers’ behavior is influenced mostly by their attitude and that of others and by many other factors.

Therefore, you as a marketer need to implement and adjust strategies according to the analysis gathered and market trends. You do this if you want to achieve customer satisfaction and business growth.

Customer decision-making is determined by his/her attitude towards the product. Knowing this, you as a marketer can exert a high amount of influence within the decision-making process. You can design strategies such as incentives – offers, discounts, loyalty programs – to motivate buyers to form a favorable perception and attitude towards the company’s products.

In order to decide what strategy to approach, you as a marketer have to understand your customer’s attitude towards your products. To meet the needs of your consumers, gain a deeper understanding of their attitude about your brand and consider applying behavioral segmentation in your digital work.

In this way, you are able to understand if your target market is interested or not in buying your offerings and how loyal it is. Moreover, knowing the most subtle aspects of your target audience, you can manage to bring into the market the products it desires the most, improve them, or develop new ones according to its preferences.

7 theories about customers’ attitudes to help you with your (digital) marketing strategy

1. The instrumental function implies the benefits (extra features, after-sales service, customer support 24/7) of the products marketers offer consumers in order to make them manifest a positive attitude in the purchasing step and establish a long-term relationship.

2. The value-expressive function is related to the principle that the consumer identifies with the product rather than its benefits. Products are like stars, designed to become remarkable for their appearance rather by their functionalities. This theory shows that customers are motivated by the product’s image and affinity created when buying it and not by its usage.

3. The ego-defensive function implies attitudes that protect the inner world of the individuals and defends it from external or internal threats and feelings. The self-esteem and ego of the consumers are protected by products created for their special needs. For example, deodorant campaigns give consumers the assurance that if they choose the brand advertised, they do not have to be stressed about the underarm odor.

4. The attitudes that involve the need of the consumer to gather information and form an understanding of a new product, highlight the knowledge function. Through this function, the consumer tests the product and has the possibility to build and change his/her attitude. Thus he/she can easily decide how to act towards the product when it comes to making a purchase.

These are the four functions – instrumental (utilitarian), value-expressive, ego-defensive and knowledge – part of Katz Functional Theory of Attitude.

5. Theory of cognitive dissonance discovered by Leon Festinger – actions/behavior can influence subsequent beliefs, attitudes and opinions. When a person’s action is in conflict with his/her own beliefs, a state of discord and inconsistency called dissonance is built between them.

Hence, a consumer needs to be motivated to change beliefs, behavior, or perception of behavior so attitude and behavior can get in harmony.

So, you, marketer need to pay more attention to this concept. It can help you understand better your target market behavior in order to come up with smart strategies for the buying decision stage.

6. In most of the cases, consumers behave first and form an attitude afterward. This could represent an advantage for marketers because in this case, customers react instinctively and if they are satisfied with the product purchased, they will return to it. Although, logically their future reaction should be based on the attitude formed about a particular product (Fishbein 1972).

7. There is a theory of planned behavior (Ajzen and Madden 1986, Ajzen 1988) which argues against the above-mentioned notion. It is related to the degree of control the individual has over his/her own behavior and the outcome. The reasons for such action are the past experiences and the anticipation of future disappointments.

According to the theory, most of the consumers are skeptical of marketing messages and they no longer use to listen to marketers’ messages as much as they did before.


If you are thinking about how to help your company fulfill its strategic marketing objectives, start identifying your customers’ attitudes towards your company, brand and products.

Knowing your customers’ attitudes towards you, it will help your business implement effective (digital) marketing strategy, enrich customer experience (CX) and gain competitive advantage.

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