Consumer Attitude: Formation and Change

Attitudes are a learned inclination to respond in a consistently favorable or unfavorable manner concerning a particular object. Object encompasses various topics, actions, responses, behaviors, people, and events. Hence, attitudes manifest people's inner sentiments mirrored in their reactions to another person, product, or service.

Consumer Attitude and Formation

Consumer attitude refers to an individual's overall knowledge, evaluation, and perception about a product, service, brand, or organization. It is formed and shaped by various factors, including personal beliefs, values, emotions, experiences, and social influences.

In a restaurant, for example, when a client is served with a smile, dining out leaves a pleasant sensation reflected in the tip offered to the server. On the other hand, even if the meal is of outstanding quality and liked by the diner, lousy service will result in a poor tip, indicating displeasure with the entire dining experience. As a result, attitudes cannot be directly measured.

However, they must be inferred from what individuals say or imply by their behavior, which might take the shape of signals such as utter silence, rage, or smiles and enthusiasm. Since attitudes are taught, they have the quality of pushing people to buy or engage in other behaviors. In other words, attitudes may steer a customer towards a particular behavior style.

Attitude Change of Consumers

Consumers' views about their surroundings fluctuate based on how they perceive the world. Two people may view the same thing at the same store but react differently due to differences in needs, values, expectations, resources, culture and societal biases or conventions, habits, and peer group influences. Consumer attitudes are, therefore, the outcome of repeated responses to products, circumstances, services, and pricing based on individual needs, values, and expectations at a given moment. Attitudes can shift over time as people's needs, values, and expectations shift in reaction to changes in their external and internal environments.

Internal environment refers to a person's mental, emotional, and psychological condition. This phenomenon will be explained in a few instances. When a buyer goes shopping with children, the parent will purchase chocolates for them in order to keep them calm. When the woman needs to run home and cook for the children, her mind will not be drawn to the elegantly arranged chocolates, but she will swiftly purchase what she came for and rush home. Similarly, a consumer with limited finances may avoid coming to the market at the end of the month. At the same time, she may be tempted to buy clothes inexpensively during the festival sale in preparation for the festival.

You may think of numerous situations in your everyday lives when your views changed as you grew older and your environment changed. Consider them and attempt to figure out why your opinions shifted. To achieve a high level of sales, all sellers strive to change consumer perceptions towards items and brands. They can only do so by understanding the mechanics of attitudinal transformation, for which various tactics are employed. They are as follows −

  • Changing the Motivational Function

  • Associating the Product with a Specific Group or Event

  • Relating to Conflicting Attitudes

  • Altering the Components of the Brand

  • Changes Established Beliefs About Competitor's Brands

Changing the Motivational Function

Making new needs visible might help to change a consumer's attitude about a product or brand. To that end, the product's utility, value, and understanding may be emphasized while safeguarding the buyer's ego and social position while presenting the new product or brand. Customers often believe that any new product or brand is superior to the prior one. Sellers also take advantage of the consumer's willingness to accept obvious cost benefits, higher efficacy, and value for money.

Associating the Product with a Specific Group or Event

Customers are readily swayed if a product is believed to be used by a celebrity or a person of high status or if it is associated with a national or international event. The more worldwide the relationship, the more enthused the customer is about it. Nevertheless, regardless of the product's quality, if its relationship is with an individual, group, or event that the buyer does not find significant or fascinating, he or she is often put off by the prospect of acquiring it.

Relating to Conflicting Attitudes

Customers often establish logical attitudes before acting in a market context. Hence, attitudes typically precede behavior, but a product may cause competing attitudes to interact when consumers make purchasing decisions. Two well-documented theories describe the type of attitude change that may occur in these situations: Cognitive Dissonance Theory and Attribution Theory. These ideas offer several explanations for why, in certain situations, behavior precedes attitudes.

Cognitive Dissonance Theory

According to the Cognitive Dissonance Theory, a consumer feels uneasy when obtaining new knowledge regarding a belief or attitude that contradicts his or her previous sentiments or conceptions. Nevertheless, customers are concerned about their previous ideas and deeds. Such sensations are essential agents of attitudinal shifts in consumers, who modify their attitudes to restore harmony with natural buying behavior. An example will demonstrate how this occurs. If you frequently use a brand of toothpaste and think that "all fluoride toothpaste is unpleasant,"; one day you notice a fluoride toothpaste of your brand in the store, a schism forms inside your mind since you prefer the toothpaste you are used to. In many circumstances, this condition may emerge to overthrow earlier attitudes.

Attribution Theory

Attribution Theory seeks to explain how individuals attribute reasons to occurrences in their own or others' behavior. This occurs when customers are disappointed after switching brands they have been using with contentment for an extended period. Making inferences about one's or other people's behavior is a fundamental component of attitude creation and modification. Both result from people's interpretations of their behavior, experiences, and self-perception. According to research, different incentives result in varying degrees of internal attribution, which leads to attitude modification. However, if the incentive is too powerful, consumers may externalize the reason for their behavior to the incentive and may modify their opinions. In such cases, people are less inclined to purchase the goods again. On the other hand, a modest incentive that promotes initial purchase while remaining small enough to enable customers to internalize their own positive experience with the product would allow a positive attitude shift.

Altering the Components of the Brand

Marketers typically leverage customer post-buy dissonance to promote new items and brands, knowing that the consumer might be driven to make efforts to resolve the conflict that has emerged in their heads over the purchase. They do this by minimally altering the brand's components, making the product seem incredibly similar to the original, and then emphasizing the good characteristics that entice the client to purchase it.

With the spread of the media into the most rural corners of the country and the concomitant increase in government attempts to encourage literacy, dealers, and traders now have a much easier time influencing consumers through word of mouth and ads. Marketers attempt to transmit signals that support customer decisions while relieving consumers of cognitive dissonance created by contradictory information about products and services.

Changes Established Beliefs About Competitor's Brands

Marketers leverage the potential of reference groups to modify customer attitudes and behavior and drive conformity to sell new products and services, despite consumers' previous views about rival companies. A reference group is any person or group that acts as a point of comparison for an individual in order to create general or specific beliefs, attitudes, or behavioral patterns. Family members, friends, social and cultural groups, sports heroes, music stars, and wealthy or prominent community members are all reference groups that customers may want to follow.

They become powerful reference points due to their legitimacy in terms of expertise and experience, beauty, and authority. Consequently, group-guided decisions demonstrate the effect of others on an individual's consumption beliefs, attitudes, and behavior while offering some insight into the ways that may be utilized to modify consumer behavior and attitudes.


Customers' opinions towards their surroundings alter depending on their perspectives. Age, physical, mental, and emotional growth all influence attitudes. In truth, merchants succeed only because they grasp the mechanics of buyer attitude shift. Needs, values, expectations, resources, cultural, traditional, and social conventions, habits, and peer groups influence perceptions. Customers often tend to form their attitudes logically before they make purchase judgments. Consumer attitudes are influenced by various elements, including their intrinsic character, personality traits, cultural traditions, social and environmental influences, people's lives, education, experiences, economic standing, and necessity.

Updated on: 02-Mar-2023

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