Thursday, March 7, 2013

Strategic Power of the Theory of Planned Behavior

The "Theory of Planned Behavior" is another useful psychological approach for thinking about advertising. The power of this model is derived from its focus on three distinctly different directions for constructing message arguments.

In the view of this theory, our intentions to buy a product are primarily affected by attitudes toward the product or brand; our attitude toward the social norms of what others think our intentions should be; and, our perceptions about our own capacities to successfully control or act on our intentions.

For example, consider the product category of home improvement stores in the United States. The three leading brands are Home Depot, Lowes and Menards. Each company, for specific reasons, has chosen a different strategic direction in this three-part model.

Home Depot, the market leader, smartly focuses on a message argument designed to bring more people into this product category. The primary concern of people who have not yet purchased from such a store is whether they are up to the task. Can they successfully act on their intentions to use tools and materials to improve their homes?

Hence, the Home Depot message argument "You can do it, we can help." And, in the current economy, they have extended this argument with related language, "More doing."

Lowes, with its up-scale concentration in the marketplace, centers its message argument on the idea "Improving home improvement," and most recently "Never stop improving."

The family and female household head are at the center of the Lowes story, signaling the normative social context and expectations of improvement that support purchasing of premium products.

Menards, with its down-scale concentration in the marketplace, bases its message argument on "Save big money at Menards." In this approach, frequently purchased products are placed in the classic retail mode of continuous sale prices.

For Menards, its all about attitude toward the product and price, the social context and percptions of self efficacy are not in the picture.

So there you have it, a well known psychological theory informs our critical thinking about the marketplace. We see the human factors involved in thinking strategically about marketing and advertising.

For more perspective on psychological theory and the development persuasive arguments in advertising, please see Advertising and the Arc of History.

    Copyright © 2013 by John Eighmey. All Rights Reserved.