Jagdish N Sheth

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Jagdish N Sheth (1985), HISTORY OF CONSUMER BEHAVIOR: A MARKETING PERSPECTIVE , in Special Volumes - hp, , : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 5-7. Historical Perspective in Consumer Research: National and International Perspectives, 1985 HISTORY OF CONSUMER BEHAVIOR: A MARKETING PERSPECTIVE Jagdish N Sheth, University of Southern California ABSTRACT - Pages 5-7 This paper attempts to demonstrate that history of consumer behavior with respect to research methodology, substantive know
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   1 Jagdish N Sheth (1985), HISTORY OF CONSUMER BEHAVIOR: A MARKETING PERSPECTIVE , inSpecial Volumes - hp, , : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 5-7.Historical Perspective in Consumer Research: National and International Perspectives, 1985 Pages 5-7HISTORY OF CONSUMER BEHAVIOR: A MARKETING PERSPECTIVEJagdish N Sheth, University of Southern CaliforniaABSTRACT -This paper attempts to demonstrate that history of consumer behavior with respect to research methodology,substantive knowledge, and the influence of external disciplines has been highly intertwined with the history of marketing thought. It describes tire classical schools, tire managerial schools and the behavioral schools of marketing and examines their influence in shaping consumer behavior. Finally, it attempts to forecast the newemerging trends in consumer behavior as a consequence of the emerging adaptive marketing school of thought.INTRODUCTIONHistory of consumer behavior seems to be highly intertwined with the history of marketing thought. The purposeof this paper is to trace the historical dependence and allegiance of consumer behavior on the discipline andpractice of marketing. It then attempts to - forecast emerging trends in consumer behavior research and theory asa consequence of new and emerging schools of marketing thought.Over the years, marketing has shifted its reliance on other disciplines as well as its focus of understanding. forexample, the classical schools of marketing thought relied on the social sciences such as economics, sociologyand anthropology and focused oil aggregate market behavior. This gave way to the managerial schools of marketing thought in which tire focus of attention and understanding shifted to the individual customers whilesocial sciences disciplines continued to dominate marketing thinking. Eventually, marketing kept its focus onindividual customers but began to borrow more and more from the behavioral sciences. This resulted in what Iwill call as the behavioral schools of marketing thought. More recently , marketing has begun to shift its attentionaway from the individual customers and concentrate oil the markets. In tire process, it is also relying less on thebehavioral sciences and more on tire traditional social sciences. We shall call this emerging trend as adaptiveschools of marketing thought.It appears that each marketing era lids motivated specific types of consumer behavior research, and thereby shapeits history with respect L o t b e substantive body of knowledge, research methodology as well as theorydevelopment. Figure 1 summarizes the parallels between marketing and consumer behavior. The rest of the paperwill enumerate elements of each of the four phases of marketing thought and its impact on consumer behavior.CLASSICAL MARKETING AND CONSUMER BEHAVIOREmergence of the marketing thought in tire early nineteen hundreds is eloquently documented by Bartels (1962).The Classical schools of marketing are identified as tire commodity school, the functional School, and theinstitutional School.The commodity school focused on the objects of market transactions, and generated the specialty - shopping -convenience goods trichotany which is still popular in marketing practice. The functional school focused on theactivities inherent in market transactions and generated a classification of functions such as grading, assortment   2 and physical distribution. Finally, tire institutional school focused oil the agents of markets transactions such aswholesalers and retailers which resulted ill channels of distribution and value added services provided by tiremiddlemen. (Sheth, Gardner and Garrett 1985).The classical schools of marketing thought were influenced by concepts of demand theory in microeconomics,spatial markets and trading areas in economic geography, and by metro vs. nonmetro market definitions providedby economic anthropology.This focus oil the aggregate market behavior and reliance on microeconomics, economic geography andeconomic anthropology resulted in a similar focus and reliance in consumer behavior. Thus, early history of consumer behavior generated theories, research methods, and substantive knowledge in such areas asConsumption economics (necessities vs. luxuries, household budgets, conspicuous consumption), retailpartonage (retail gravitation, store patronage and wheel of retailing), and in self-service concepts.There also emerged distinct research traditions. For example, case studies, market surveys, and tire use of censusdata became more prevalent as methods of understanding consumer behavior.MANAGERIAL MARKETING AND CONSUMER BEHAVIOR'Fire classical schools of marketing thought with their emphasis oil descriptive market behavior gave way to themanagerial schools of thought with their emphasis on controlling the market behavior.The managerial schools of marketing thought emerged in the early fifties soon after World War If and tireconsequent unprecedented economic boom partly fueled up new product introductions. it generated suchconcepts as the four Ps of marketing, marketing mix, product differentiation .ind market segmentation.Tire managerial schools of marketing thought still relied on the social sciences but borrowed the more recentconcepts and methodologies. For example, it eagerly borrowed Concepts and methods of the emerging field of managerial economics Which shifted focus away from demand theory to the theory of the firm, and especiallythe concepts of monopolistic competition and product differentiation. Similarly, it latched onto the diffusion of innovations traditions generated in economic anthropology.Finally, it also borrowed heavily from sociology the new and exciting research traditions related to socialstratification and household structures.FIGURE 1MARKETING AND CONSUMER BEHAVIORAs expected, this created a shift in consumer behavior. Rather than focusing on the aggregate market behavior, itbecame fashionable to study the individual Customers in the market place. however, consumer behavior alsoremained faithful to the disciplines at social sciences. Th i s resulted in such substantive knowledge as opinionleadership, b rand loyalty, and demographic segmentation based on socioeconomic status (SES) index and lifecycle stages of households.Along with the substantive knowledge, research methodology also shifted mostly due to the focus on individualcustomers. For example, consumer behavior began to rely on longitudinal panel, ,attempted to use operationsresearch techniques of stochastic processes to measure brand loyalty, and apply econometric modeling Lomeasure impact at personal attributes at individual customers art their buying behavior. Finally, segmentationresearch became fashionable.BEHAVIORAL MARKETING AND CONSUMER BEHAVIOR   3 As the focus of research shifted to individual customers in the market place, marketing discipline discovered that,behavioral sciences could contribute more to the understanding at individuals than the social sciences.This resulted in search for other disciplines especially various branches at psychology as more relevant anduseful. for example , economic psychology with its emphasis on customer expectations, clinical psychology withits emphasis on nonfunctional value in products and services, organizational psychology with its emphasis onpower and conflict among organizations, and social psychology with, its emphasis on cognitive consistency asthe driver of human behavior became more exciting and interesting areas of marketing. It was thie perception andflat necessarily the reality which was considered as the driver of customer competition, and channel behavior.The behavioral schools of marketing therefore, encouraged a similar shift in understanding the psychology of thecustomers. it became fashionable to assert that consumers are not logically 'but psychologically driven in theirbuying behavior.Consumer behavior began to borrow both concepts and methods from clinical, social and organizationalpsychology resulting in numerous theories of buying behavior, attitude research, family and organizationalbuying behavior as well as psychographics and life style research.Along with the substantive knowledge, consumer behavior also borrowed the research methods of t h ebehavioral sciences. These included motivation research (focused group interviews, projective techniques),laboratory experiments especially With physiological behavioral measures such as pupil dilation and galvanicskin tests, and cross-sectional mail or telephone surveys appropriate for attitude and psychographic research.It is important to note that it is the behavioral schools of marketing which has bee n largely responsible forincreasing the Scientific sophistication of consumer behavior With respect to both theory development andtheory testing procedures. indeed, consumer behavior Matured significantly enough to assert its independencefrom marketing, and started the movement t a establish its own association (ACR) and its own journals JCR).ADAPTIVE MARKETING AND CONSUMER BEHAVIORMore recently, the marketing discipline is shifting its focus towards the market behavior by focusing on theenvironmental opportunities and threats generated by technology, regulation and global competition.Thus has resulted in the emergence of the adaptive marketing concept in which it is argued that it is better tobend the organization to fit the environmental realities rather than bending the environment to tit theorganization. The adaptive schools of marketing thought are borrowing concepts from business strategy,environmental scanning and stakeholder analysis as well as the social sciences appropriate for global markets.It is my contention that consumer behavior will be on the horns of dilemma far the first time . On the one hand,as an integral part of marketing, it will attempt to follow the marketing discipline's needs. On the other hand, itwill hesitate to give up the scientific traditions learnt from the behavioral sciences. It is very likely that thetraditional journals and conferences will perpetuate the science of consumer behavior while new journals andassociations will be created to provide impetus toward marketing oriented research. Witness the emergence atnew journal such as Journal of Consumer Marketing.What are the likely areas of understanding and research as a consequence of the adaptive schools of marketingthought? At least,the following three areas come to mind.First, as markets become global, it will become more and more important for marketing Managers to understandand cope with cross-cultural or international consumer behavior. Therefore, we should expect global consumerbehavior research and theory to became an emerging area of consumer behavior.   4 Second, as markets become mare mature, understanding competitive behavior becomes more important. Thisshould result in focusing on comparative Customer behavior to pinpoint relative perceptions and behaviors of themarket rather than absolute perceptions and behaviors.Finally, companies are likely to utilize more and more behavior modification strategies and less and lesspersuasion strategies in order to cope with rapidly changing competition and technology. This should result inshifting the focus of consumer behavior away from perceptions and cognitions and toward behaviors of Customers and markets.SUMMARYThis paper has tried to show the dependence of consumer behavior on marketing. It has demonstrated both atboth consumer behavior theory and research methodology have been heavily influenced by the changingtraditions in the marketing discipline. however, as marketing shifts one more time in its efforts to mature as adiscipline, it is not certain that consumer behavior will automatically follow marketing. it is likely that consumerbehavior may become bifurcated in the process, and the science of consumer behavior may emergence as astandalone discipline while marketing continues to understand consumer behavior f rom its own perspective.REFERENCESBastels, Robert (1962), The Development of Marketing Thought, Homewood: Richard D. Irwin Inc.Sheth, Jagdish N., David M. Gardner, and Dennis Garrett (1985), Theories of Marketing, New York: Wiley &Sons (in press).----------------------------------------
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