Sunday Monitor

How to target brand switching?


How does one target the brand switching segment especially in low-involvement products? What are the primary agents which influence brand switching?


A person has extrinsic as well as intrinsic motivations to behave in a certain way. The primary reason to brand switch is based on the need for variety (intrinsic motivation) and therefore satisfy higher stimulation levels. However, at a certain level it is the extrinsic factors which have led to a stable intrinsic mental model. Once the extrinsic factors which lead to sequential formation and reinforcement of the perceptual processes of the variety seeker are identified the mental model can be better understood and subsequent behaviour to stimuli analysed.

According to Cognitive Evaluation Theory, the effects of extrinsic motivation on the initiation and maintenance of intrinsically motivated behaviours depend on the psychological meaning consumers attach to the choice context. If these are perceived as controlling, they tend to undermine the initiation and maintenance of intrinsic motivation. If they are autonomy supportive, they enhance intrinsically motivated behaviours.

Variety seeking behaviour is not likely to occur when there are specific extrinsic motivational requirements on the choice task. Since extrinsic motivations involve stimulation of considerable intensity and meaningfulness, variety seeking behavior occurs in the absence of strong specific motivation. This is typically reflected in low-involvement situations.

In the fast-food context, the operating paradigm for variety seeking is ‘people’ and not ‘food’ for a satisfying overall experience. The constructs therefore hold good within the variable-determined aspects of this ‘people boundary’. The variables are self-concept, ideal self-concept, ego, individuality, values, attitudes and lifestyles. Only once these variables are conformed to and a comfort zone reached will the need to variety-seek arise.

Once a customer’s view of the world in terms of his mental models is mapped, the variables are put at certain points in his cognitive sequence and the perceptual process is constructed. The marketing mix is then designed to trigger points in the perceptual process also using specific extrinsic aspects within the fast-food offering set keeping in place the constructual elements of the operating paradigm and concept of self in terms of variety seeking behaviour is reinforced leading to the possibility of a repeat purchase.

The technique used is ‘laddering’ carried out by a means-ends chain analysis through an understanding as to how elicited chains related to specific brands or socio-demographic characteristics.

The summary implication matrix was formed by forming ladders from each respondent’s questionnaire and combining them to form chains such that it became possible to trace the post-purchase assessment process in the mind of the customer. A hierarchical value map was then constructed by tracing the effect of extrinsic influences through product attributes and their effect on psychological systems of the customer.

A communication strategy was designed so as to trigger those specific points in the customer’s mind through satisfying his higher stimulation levels. Words, Images and symbols were developed that created the desired connections in the customer’s mind leading to the possibility of a repeat purchase and consequently BRAND LOYALTY.

(Contributed by Amit Saraf, a Shillong-based blogger & creative writer)

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