• If you can get people to think: "I would be stupid if I didn't buy this" - your chances of selling increase greatly.
  • If you can create a feeling of personal contact your chances of a sale increase greatly. Some salespeople for instance might achieve this by looking a person direct in the eye and touching them lightly on the arm or shoulder when making a point.


Attitudes towards a product or service can be a complex matter. Attitudes can be not only positive or negative, but the strength of feeling can also vary. In addition, a consumer may have a positive attitude toward some aspects of a product or service and negative attitudes towards some aspects of the same product or service.

When a person says they like a well-known product (e.g. Coca  Cola), the answer is either yes they like it or no they do not. This type of answer tells us very little about the consumer’s psychology. For a better understanding of the consumer, you need to ask a different question (or a series of questions), that will determine both quantitative and qualitative aspects of their attitude toward a product. For example, how necessary is Coca Cola to them? How often do they purchase it? How does it rank in importance relative to other drinks they purchase? And so on.

Defining Attitudes

Attitude is a term which has been defined in many different ways by psychologists. From amongst these many definitions, a common definition might be:

“A stable, long lasting, learned predisposition to respond to a particular thing in a predictable way.”

The concept of attitude has the following three aspects or components:

Cognitive (belief)

  • This is concerned with what you think about a product or service.
  • It is concerned with opinions such as its physical attributes (e.g. whether you think it represents quality, is inexpensive, is big, is small, etc.).

Affective (feeling)

  • This is concerned about less tangible attitudes such as emotional responses (e.g. is it appealing or unappealing; does it stir emotions such as loyalty, love or patriotism, etc.).

Conative (action)

  • This is concerned with the consumers likely behaviour (e.g. are they likely to buy it, are they likely to use it, etc.).

How Are Attitudes Formed

Many animals (e.g. a lion) may have 90% of their brain development complete at birth, whereas humans have only around 10% at birth. As a result, an animal tends to be more predictable than a human is, and a human’s behaviour tends to be almost completely dependent upon the influences it has as it grows and develops. This is particularly relevant to “attitude”. People are not born with attitudes: they develop attitudes as they develop. There is, therefore, opportunity for a marketer to influence the development of attitudes, and in doing so, influence the tendency to of potential customers to buy.

The main influences on attitude development are:


Family influence is very strong in most situations, and about most things: including consumer attitudes. People even tend to purchase the same brands as those which their parents purchased as they grew up.


Friends, work colleagues or other groups of people who you see and interact with on a daily basis will influence consumer attitudes. Peer influence is particularly strong amongst adolescents. Opinion leaders within a peer group can have a strong affect upon others within that group.

Direct Experience

Personal experience can override the affect which other people have upon our attitudes.

Changing Attitudes

Three possible ways of changing attitude are:

1. Exposure

Seeing a brand name or a product repeatedly may be sufficient to raise enough interest for a consumer to purchase and try that product.

2. Persuasion

This involves presenting reasons why a consumer should buy and try.

3. Cognitive Dissonance

This theory says “because people have a powerful drive to be consistent, when they hold two conflicting opinions they need to find a way to resolve the resulting tension”. For example, a person believes a product they have used for years is very good, but then as a result of persuasive advertising, believes a new and competing product is equally as good. In this situation they have equal reason to use both, but they only need one. In such a situation, they need to find a reason to choose one rather than the other. 

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