chapter  Chapter 4
55 Pages

How consumers form attitudes towards products

ByBob M. Fennis, Wolfgang Stroebe

Chapter 4 describes how consumers form attitudes towards products and brands and the relationship between attitudes and goals. Attitudes reflect evaluations of attitude objects, such as products and brands. Depending on their strength, attitudes exert powerful impact on our thinking and behaviour. We review the various processes through which cognitive, evaluative and behavioural information influence attitude formation. We then discuss attitude structure – the way in which the different types of information are integrated into an overall evaluation. Finally, we discuss the relationship between attitudes and goals. Goals are cognitive representations of desired future states one intends to attain through action. Having a positive attitude reflects liking of an object but not necessarily wanting to own the object. We highlight that to form the goal to purchase an object, the object does not only have to be desirable (or substantially more desirable than alternatives), it also has to be attainable. In our discussion of categories of consumer goals that products may satisfy, we distinguish between utilitarian, self-expression, identity-building and hedonic goals. Products often serve multiple goals. For example, watches can satisfy a utilitarian goal, when merely used as timepieces, but they can also satisfy a self-expression goal when used as a display of wealth to gain status with one’s social environment.