Consumers’ behavior has a strong impact on the marketing sector. One of the most vivid examples, in the relevant context, is Coca-Cola’s case. Thus, according to authoritative sources, the company has recently faced a challenge due to the growing concern about sugar content and obesity problems in the society. As a result, Coca-Cola had to adjust its strategy to the changes in the public moods in order to maintain efficient performance (Roderick 2015).
One of the most critical aspects of the consumer behavior theory is consumer decision making. In other words, the principal aim of any marketing manager is to indicate the motives that prompt clients to purchase. First, and foremost, there is an opinion that a brand’s popularity is one of the determining factors in customers’ decision-making. Thus, the cognitive associated theory suggests that the role of the so-called stimulus is crucial for people’s behavior – an unconditioned stimulus immediately creates a particular reaction in consumers’ mind, whereas a conditioned stimulus is necessarily associated with the former, receiving its key characteristics (Dahl et al. 2014).
Applying the relevant theory to the case under analysis, Coca-Cola represents an unconditioned stimulus. The company, despite its overall popularity, has never been treated as a proponent of a healthy lifestyle. Therefore, its clients, no matter how loyal they might be, have generated a particular image of the company’s main product. Whereas its characteristics might include high quality, excellent taste and other positive aspects, they would not imply any connotations for a healthy diet. As a result, when a new trend for healthy lifestyle appeared in the society, people would not think of Coca-Cola as of a supplier of healthy drinks, which is why, the demand for their new product Cola Zero was not high, at first.
Moreover, Cola Zero, as a conditioned stimulus, from the standpoint of the cognitive associated theory, did not receive an expected interpretation from the customers when it was first launched. Being another product of Coca Cola, Cola Zero was treated as a tasty sweet drink, whereas its health benefits were overlooked. From this perspective, it becomes evident, why the company decided to make a strategic shift, switching to the promotion of the ideas of healthiness and emphasizing the low sugar content in its products.
It is essential to note that such a phenomenon is rather popular in the modern market. Thus, a careful research on the relevant problem shows that a large number of companies, the initial image of which was not associated with “healthy”, change their marketing strategies in order to meet the latest social trends. For example, McDonalds, which is rather similar to Coca-Cola as it products would often be blamed for leading to obesity, has recently added healthy options to its menu, which proves this assumption (Jones 2014).
Applying the cognitive associated theory to these cases, it may be concluded that the companies are trying to change the character of the unconditioned stimulus so that their customers will begin associating the products with “good” food and the conditioned stimulus – new products – will find a ready sale.
Another critical aspect to be discussed in the framework of this case is an observation learning that, likewise, has a powerful influence on customers’ behavior and their eagerness to purchase from a particular company. According to theorists, observational learning takes place when customers notice the actions of other people and fix them in their minds. Then, people store these observations and, at a particular point, they use these insights to make a decision. Therefore, observational learning guides customers’ behaviors (Solomon et al. 2006).
Applying this theory to Coca-Cola’s case, it becomes evident that the company’s customers are influenced by the overall trend to study the content of products they consume. A few years ago, the interest in the sugar content was rather low; therefore, the company did not include this information in their advertising program. However, now that the situation has changed, people see their friends studying the content of every product, and they copy their behavior. Therefore, it is reasonable that Coca-Cola carried out a large campaign aimed at informing its customers about the sugar content.
There are numerous examples of the way clients’ interest in foods content makes companies take up informative policies. Some years before the Coca Cola’s changes, KFC also implemented a similar change – it began showing the calorie content of each menu item along with the prices on the counter boards (Cave 2011). As a consequence, it is clear that the companies’ decision to reveal the content of their product is determined by the overall desire of customers to know what they eat. The latter, in its turn, can be explained by the theory of objective learning, or by a wide-spread tendency that makes people copy each other’s behavior.
Therefore, it is possible to indicate a consistent market pattern: social trends influence customers’ behavior, whereas the latter shapes companies’ strategies.
Cave, A 2011, ‘KFC’s Colonel joins the health kick‘, The Telegraph. Web.
Dahl, DW, Solomon, MR, Zaichkowsky, JL, White, K & Polegato, R 2014, Consumer Behaviour: Buying, Having, and Being, Sixth Canadian Edition, Pearson Education, Canberra.
Jones, A 2014, ‘Why McDonald’s added healthy menu options‘, Market Realist. Web.
Roderick, L 2015, ‘How Coca-Cola overhauled its marketing in 2015‘, Marketing Week. Web.
Solomon, MR, Bamossy, G, Askegaard, S & Hogg, MK 2006, Consumer behavior A European Perspective, Pearson Education, Harlow.