Learning & Memory

What is learning? ...... Is learning always purposeful? ...... Can we learn just by being there?

Learning is a relatively permanent change in behaviour caused by experience

This week we will talk about 2 broad categories of learning. The first is Behavioural which relates to experience and behaviour and the second is Cognitive which relates to our information processing and cognitive factors that influence us


1. Classical Conditioning (also known as Pavlovian)

Classical (Pavlovian) Conditioning

Pavlov's DogLearning that occurs when a stimulus eliciting a response is paired with another stimulus that initially does not elicit a response, but will cause a similar response when paired over time with the first stimulus

see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hhqumfpxuzI

Conditioning Product Associations- music, humour, imagery can affect conditioning; slow music in grocery store no effect, but slow music in restaurant increased drinking; generally unconditioned stimulus should be presented before conditioned

Classical conditioning happens because of the pairing. It is a reflex, and animal and human will be conditioned. It's not a matter of choice!

First demonstrated by Pavlov and his dogs. Food (Unconditioned Stimulus)cause a dog to salivate (R: Response). When Light or bell (Conditioned Stimulus) is paired with Food (US) light or bell begins to elicit salivation (CR: conditioned Response)

For a good explanation of classical conditioning see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cP5lCleK-PM

These types of responses are automatic (mouth watering, eye blink) When paired with hunger, thirst or arousal a product can elicit a response. Even a credit card becomes a conditioned cue to trigger spending

See the Little Albert experiment by John Watson http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KxKfpKQzow8


*SHOW in class-The Office Pavlov Experiment https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LSHWzOXJDSs

PAIRING: Apple pairs innovators with their product

Iconic People +Apple = Think Different Posters

Think Different Posters

The Think Different Commercial



Hear and see the first version of the ad with Steve Jobs narrating http://youtu.be/8rwsuXHA7RA The version with Jobs narrating never aired.

The Making of the Think Different campaign


Read a 2011 article written by one of the original ad men who pitched the Think Different campaign to Steve Jobs. The Real Story Behind Apple's Think Different Campaign


Conditioning is more likely after conditioned stimulus is paired repeatedly with the unconditioned stimulus; repetition- repeating slogan, repeated pairing

Repetition-marketer must ensure consumer exposed enough times to make it stick and avoid advertising wear out; to avoid wear out advertisers vary message; a pool of ads


The process where a learned connection between a stimulus and response wears out so that the response is no longer reinforced; can occur when product overexposed or not exposed any more.

Stimulus Generalization

The process that occurs when the behaviour caused by a reaction to one stimulus occurs in the presence of other similar stimuli. A knock-off brand works because of stimulus generalization. (see piggybacking)

Applications of Stimulus Generalization: 80% of new products are extensions of existing product or brands: family Branding-GE, Campbell's; Product line extensions- Dole from fruit to fruit juice; Licensing-well known name rented, MacDonald name on product, Harley Davidson; look-alike

Apple Think DifferentVersion of Think DifferentBaur Ford Eddie Bauer and Ford

Piggybacking (Type of Stimulus Generalization)

A brand packaged like a name brand may induce a purchase. If the person tries the "knock-off" brand and likes it, they may continued to buy the lower priced product; danger is if copy product is inferior it may drive consumer to original. Most brands guard their trademarked products.

According to an Oct 2009 article in Media Post, 70% of consumers say they purchased the wrong product in the supermarket in the previous year. 60% said they had trouble differentiating the products because of packaging. They found the most confused categories are canned goods, cold and allergy and hair care items. Copycat packaging tends to be the biggest factor.

Kellogg's Coco Pops vs Knock off


Masked branding

Dewalt Drill vs Black & Decker DrillHiding a product's origin: DeWalt is Black & Decker. Black & Decker is for home handyperson, De Walt for more professional

The DeWalt Drill below is more expensive, powerful and has a three year warranty. The Black & Decker Drill is less expensive, less powerful and only has a shorter warranty.

Lexus also makes Toyota

Rickard's Red beer which says is brewed at the Capilano Brewing company is actually not an independent brand but brewed by Molson. There is no Capilano Brewing Company.

Stimulus Discrimination

GQ EinsteinThe process that occurs when behaviour caused by two stimuli is different, when consumers begin to differentiate a brand from competitors.

A comparison ad to right "It's like GQ with a higher IQ" Esquire

Hear and see a classic example: Teach the World- can't beat the Real thing




Applications of Stimulus Discrimination: reminder by advertiser "Ask for them by name" "Don't settle for imitation" Comparison advertisng--Heinz--there is no other kinds- slow ketchup; also "It's the Real Thing" (Coca Cola suggests they are the real thing, Pepsi not)

Brand name can become public domain; examples: aspirin, cellophane, Kleenex





Instrumental/Operant Conditioning

The process where an individual learns to perform behaviours that produce positive outcomes and avoid those that yield negative outcomes; associated with BF Skinner

This differs from Classical/Pavlovian conditioning in that Classical conditioning happens through reflex and the person is affected without doing anything. With instrumental the person or animal must take an action that has a consequence for the conditioning to occur. Think of instrumental as being active.


An explanation of BF Skinner and Operant Conditioning

Positive Reinforcement

Air MilesThe process where rewards provided by the environment strengthen responses to stimuli

When a consumer is rewarded or punished for a purchase decision instrumental conditioning is at work.

A simple thank you can be reinforcement.

If we buy a candy bar and it tastes good that is reinforcing. If it tastes bad we will not likely buy it again. A good product experience reinforces repeat buying.

A card that gives you points encourages spending. A rebate encourage you to think positively of the product when you get your reward. An affinity card is good for company for the database of usage to understand customer usage and focus ads.

See this example from The Big Bang Theory http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JA96Fba-WHk

Negative Reinforcement

The process where the environment weakens responses to stimuli so that inappropriate behaviour is avoided. Negative reinforcement occurs when something already present is removed as a result of a behaviour and the behaviour that led to this removal increases in the future because it created a favourable outcome.

Consider people in commercials for gum that freshens breath. The person may be going on an important date but has a bad time because of bad breath; next time the person chews the gum and of course everything on the date is wonderful. The bad breath is removed because of the behaviour, thus in future the person will chew the gum.

If you have a headache and take Tylenol and it takes your headache away, the relief reinforces you to take Tylenol in the future.

Old Dentyne Commercial http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8M-_uW3_gX4



Punishment is the learning that occurs when a response is followed by unpleasant events. If punishment works, the unpleasant consequence will be avoided in the future. The goal is to stop or moderate a behaviour.

Example, a child misbehaves so the parent takes away video games. The misbehaviour stops.

But how does it work in consumer behaviour? Consider ads showing frightening images to discourage smoking. Are they trying to stop you from doing something?
In the ad below Toyota Girlfriend, the girlfriend wants to punish her boyfriend who spends too much time in his truck. But watch how the tables are turned. Who is punished in the end?

Toyota Girlfriend


free sample in storecouponsRewarding of successive approximations of the desired behaviour;

Behaviour can be shaped: try it on, test drive it try a "free sample" or use a coupon to get money off a product purchase, get a prize for coming into store; free food at Costco.

Shaping is what BF Skinner did to encourage animal to press a lever. He reinforced the animal when it was close to the actual behaviour to encourage pressing it. Think of this when you are given a free sample.


Where classical conditioned responses are involuntary and simple; instrumental conditioning is deliberate to attain a goal and maybe more complex; instrumental/Operant conditioning is the result of reward that follows the desired behaviour; consumers choose products that make them feel good and satisfy a need through positive reinforcement (a compliment on clothing or scent), negative reinforcement (ad showing person at home because of odour, breath or clothing choice) and punishment (where we learn to do something to avoid -ridicule by friends for wearing something)

Punishment? Nike Puddles

Schedules of Reinforcement

Reinforcement schedule

A time or interval when behaviour is reinforced

Fixed Interval Reinforcement

Pay cheque
Reinforcement after a specific time period. Regularly, The first response brings reward. Result- people respond slowly but speed up at next reinforcement. Examples: The first and last day of sale may be busy. Consider the supermarket on pay day at the end of the month

Variable-Interval Reinforcement

Variable time
Variable interval time passes before reinforcement varies around an average. Response is more consistent. The consumer doesn't know when reinforcement will occur. Example: Secret shoppers are are paid to go into stores and act like customers. The idea is that the sales people will not know when these people may come in. This results in more consistent behaviour by sales staff who are always on alert. They must be nice no matter how nasty the shopper is!

Fixed Ratio Reinforcement

Air miles
Reinforcement after fixed responses; frequent buyer programs: Optimum, Air Miles. Many people drive out of their way to get points so they can get to the reward level. At the same time point card track a consumer's behaviour and the marketer learns more and more about the consumer.

Variable Ratio Reinforcement

Loto winner

Person reinforced after certain number of response but person does not know number, Response rate high and behaviour is difficult to extinguish; slot machines; lottery-Everbody knows a friend of a friend who won

The Difference between Operant and Classical Condtiioning by TedEd

URL: https://youtu.be/H6LEcM0E0io


Is learning Conscious?

Behaviourists focus on behaviour and only actions; whereas, cognitive theorists look to cognitive factors, expectations. Cognitive theorist disagree with behaviourist who believe that everything we learn is strictly based on experience. Cognitive theorists believe that our mental processes play a large part in what we learn and how we learn.

Cognitive Learning Theory

Cognitive Learning Theory assumes that learning takes place as the result of internal mental processes; people use information from the world around them to master environment and solve problems ( creativity and insight) It implies that we have choice in our actions.



Observational learning

bobo doll
Observational learning is the process where we learn by watching or observing (vicarious) the actions of others and noticing the reinforcements they receive (Bandura and Bobo doll see video)

How does observation work in advertising?

Consider a commercial where the person has a problem. Say the person has bad breath and they are going on an important date. We watch this commercial and we see what happens. When the person in the ad uses a certain product and the person's breath is nice and they have a happy date experience, we as the observers learn that "product X" can save us from a bad date experience. The hero of the ad is the product. We learn this not through our behaviour, but by watching and observing the behaviour of another-observational also know as vicarious learning.

Vicarious learning means marketers do not need to reward consumers; they show what happens to desirable models (man wears Axe has beautiful women around; man who has "the car" gets "the woman", male who drinks the beer gets....)


Modeling is the process of imitating the behaviour of others. In the example above while we watched the commercial we learned how a product can save us. Now how do we put that in action? We may model the behaviour we saw.

Four conditions needed-Attention- Retention-Production-Motivation







Memory is the process of encoding information and stored and retrieved when needed; contemporary approach is an information-processing approach


Encoding is the process where information from short-term memory is entered into long term memory ; information associated with previous information more easily retained


Creating a more permanent record-the process when knowledge enters long term memory- it can be integrated with current memory and stored until it's needed


- recall and recollection- the process where the desired information is accessed from long term memory


Activation models of memory

approaches to memory stressing different levels of processing that occurs to activate certain aspects of memory

Knowledge Structures

organized systems of concepts relating to brands, stores and other concepts; a complex web filled with bits of data

Evoked Set

those products already in memory plus those prominent in the retail environment actively considered during a consumer choice process


an organized collection of beliefs and feelings represented in a cognitive category- we have scripts- walk into store, there is a routine; a how to set up and predetermined

Retrieval of Information for Purchase Decisions



when newly learned information displaces earlier information -results in memory loss for the item learned previously

Coke vs Pepsi http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TvL9p-gzJBI

Retroactive Interference

stimulus response associations forgotten if consumers learn new responses to same or similar stimuli

Proactive Interference

Prior learning that interferes with new learning; example: a prior course learned may interfere with a similar course you are taking now

PRODUCTS AS MEMORY MARKER Product or ad can evoke memory, nostalgia for past; a song from past linked to new item.

telus teaser campaignTeaser Campaigns

In a teaser campaign, marketer can peak consumer interest for potential customers to pay attention to new campaign. The 2003 Telus campaign that showed billboards with cute little pigs throughout the city attracted attention but also was introduced to attract a young Asian market of early adopters who might recognize the piglets as characters McMug and McDull -to read more see the Strategy McMug & McDull article(inside link)

Measuring Memory for Marketing Stimuli

References noted above and : Solomon, Michael R., Zaichkowsky, Judith and Rosemary Polegato. Consumer Behaviour: Buying, Having, Being. Canadian Edition. Toronto: Pearson Education Canada




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