Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.


36th Annual Convention; San Antonio, TX; 2010

Event Details

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Symposium #286
Consumer Behavior Analysis: Routes to Evidence
Sunday, May 30, 2010
4:30 PM–5:50 PM
Lone Star Ballroom Salon D (Grand Hyatt)
Area: EAB; Domain: Experimental Analysis
Chair: Gordon R. Foxall (Cardiff University)
Abstract: Consumer behavior analysis has developed over the last decade into an important area of application and theoretical change for behavioral approaches to economic behavior. The purpose of this symposium is to present internationally conducted empirical work, both experimental and nonexperimental, which illustrates the diversity of this approach which incorporates behavioral psychology, behavioral economics, consumer research, and the marketing context. The themes include the behavioral economics of brand choice, analyzed in terms of the pattern of utilitarian (functional) and informational (symbolic) reinforcement which each brand provides the consumer and the differing elasticities of demand they embody; experimental analyses of consumers’ online choices in terms of the matching law; preference reversals and temporal discounting with respect to consumers’ purchasing of fruit and vegetables; and the extension of consumer behavior analysis into the realm of consumers’ store choices again in terms of the matching law. The presentations stress the continuity of consumer behavior analysis with behavior analysis and the opportunities suggested by the current work for further empirical investigations.
Elasticity of Demand for Fast-Moving Consumer Brands Defined by Pattern of Reinforcement
GORDON R. FOXALL (Cardiff University), Victoria K. James (Cardiff University), Karena Smiling (Cardiff University), Jorge M. Oliveira-Castro (Universidade de Brasília)
Abstract: Marketing scientists such as Ehrenberg have argued that elasticities of demand for fast-moving consumer products and brands are very similar to one another, something that is not borne out by research in consumer behavior analysis by Oliveira-Castro, Foxall, and James. This paper demonstrates that when brands are categorized in terms of the pattern of utilitarian and informational reinforcement that each embodies, elasticities that vary considerably can be found at both the product and the brand level. Using panel data from a sample of some 2000 consumers, the paper derives analyses of buying behavior for four broadly defined products: baked beans, fruit juice, yellow fats, and biscuits (cookies), and reports on the observed demand elasticities for goods defined in terms of the bifurcation of reinforcement that is a an explanatory component of the Behavioral Perspective Model. This result confirms the expectation that consumer behavior is multiply reinforced and that part of the basis of competition among brands within a product class is differences in consumers’ price sensitivity as reflected in marketers’ incorporation of functional and symbolic benefits of purchase and consumption.
On-Line Consumer Behavior and the Matching Law: An Experimental Analysis
ASLE FAGERSTROM (The Norwegian School of Information Technology), Erik Arntzen (Akershus University College), Gordon R. Foxall (Cardiff University)
Abstract: From a behavioral analytic point of view, the analysis of consumer choice is concerned with the explanation of the distribution of operant behavior among alternative sources of reinforcement. When several alternatives are available, one alternative will often be chosen more frequently than the others. This phenomenon, which originally was identified in laboratory experiments using nonhumans, is called the matching law. Based on observations of behavior, the present study examines the generality of the matching law with consumer behavior. To examine the generality of the matching law with humans, we will present a simulated online purchase situation with two VI schedules arranged for two web shops. The results indicate the transferability of matching analysis to this area of human economic choice. The implications of this work confirm the findings by Hantula and others that online consumer behavior can be analyzed experimentally in terms of matching and extend earlier research by employing MediaLab as a means of organizing experiments in consumer research.
Preference Reversal Between Stated and Actual Consumer Buying Behavior of Fruits and Vegetables
VALDIMAR SIGURDSSON (Reykjavik University), Nils Magne Larsen (Harstad University College), Didrik Gunnarsson (Harstad University College)
Abstract: There is general agreement on the health benefits of eating fruits and vegetables (F&V). But still, consumers do not eat enough. Research has indentified diverse barriers to a more F&V consumption, some who include the retail environment—such as location of F&V within the store compared with the positioning of sweets, availability, nutrition information and price. We performed a repeated measures in-store experiment to investigate the effects of F&V placements on consumers’ buying behavior. The in-store experiment manipulated placements of bananas and cherry tomatoes in three different ways in two stores. To enrich the explanatory system a consumer survey and an in-store observation was also conducted. The results from the survey showed that consumers had very positive attitudes towards F&V consumption and intended to buy more. Despite this the results from the in-store experiment deviated substantially from the outcome of the survey, in a way that it was not successful in changing consumers buying behavior of bananas and cherry tomatoes in the stores. These results are viewed from the lenses of the behavioral perspective model of consumer choice and temporal discounting.
Retail Choice and Consumer Behavior Analysis: Further Analyses
GORDON R. FOXALL (Cardiff University)
Abstract: Studies utilizing consumer behavior analysis, positioned at the intersection of behavior analysis, behavioral economics and marketing, have largely concentrated on analysis at the brand or subcategory level. This study seeks to extend earlier exploratory work studying the potential of a consumer behavior analysis approach to retail choice and behavior. This study sought primarily to further enquire whether consumer behavior analysis at the retail level is possible and appropriate, and then to explore the patterns observed, through a matching analysis, both in isolation and in comparison to earlier brand and subcategory level studies. The study also sought to analyze at the level of both individual retailers and retailer types and at the aggregated and individual consumer levels. The study utilized a large panel dataset of approximately 1500 consumers over 52 weeks. The study supports earlier initial work that retail consumer behavior analysis work is both possible and worthy of further exploration and development.



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