First of all, this assignment that our group will be doing is related to the behavioral learning theories. The question of this assignment requires us to choose an organization and discuss how the organization will influence the consumer behavior based on classical and operant conditioning and also the reinforcement schedules that will be used by the organization.
The organization that we have chosen to be used in our assignment is the world’s famous fast food restaurant, McDonald’s. On the following section, we will talk on the company background of McDonald’s.
1.1 Company Background of McDonald’s Corporation
The business began in 1940, with a restaurant opened by siblings Dick and Mac McDonald in San Bernardino, California. Their introduction of the “Speedee Service System” in 1948 established the principles of the modern fast-food restaurant. The present corporation dates it founding to the opening of a franchised restaurant by Ray Kroc in 1955, the 9th McDonald’s restaurant overall. Kroc later purchased the McDonald brothers’ equity in the company and led its worldwide expansion and the company became listed on the public stock market in 1965 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McDonald’s).
Today, McDonald’s is the world’s leading global foodservice retailer with more than 30,000 local restaurants serving 52 million people in more than 100 countries each day. The nine major markets are Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Japan, United Kingdom and United States. It holds a leading share in the globally branded quick service restaurant segment of the informal eating-out market in virtually every country in which we do business (http://www.mcdonalds.com/corp/about.html/).
McDonald’s primarily sells hamburgers, cheeseburgers, chicken products, French fries, breakfast items, soft drinks, milkshakes and desserts.
2.0 Behavioral Learning Theories
Behavioral learning theories are sometimes referred to as stimulus-response theories because they are based on the premise that observable responses to specific external stimuli signal that learning has taken place.
Behavioral theories are not so much concerned with the process of learning as they are with the inputs and outcomes of learning. That is, in the stimuli that consumer select from the environment and the observable behaviors that result.
Two behavioral theories with great relevance to the marketing are classical conditioning and operant conditioning.
2.1 Classical Conditioning
Classical conditioning is a type of learning discovered by Ivan Pavlov in which a neutral stimulus comes to bring about a response after it is paired with a stimulus that naturally brings about that response.
The principles of the classical conditioning process
(i) The unconditioned stimulus is one that unconditionally, naturally, and automatically triggers a response.
(ii) The unconditioned response is the unlearned response that occurs naturally in response to the unconditioned stimulus.
(iii) The conditioned stimulus is previously the neutral stimulus, and after becoming associated with the unconditioned stimulus, eventually comes to trigger a conditioned response.
(iv) The conditioned response is the learned response to the previously neutral stimulus.
This is how to process works. First, an unconditioned stimulus is paired with a neutral stimulus. The unconditioned stimulus is the one that is eliciting the unconditioned response. After a while, where this pairing is repeated many times, classical conditioning occurs. Now, the previous unconditioned stimulus is now the conditioned stimulus and can cause a conditioned response by itself. The unconditioned response and the conditioned response are essentially the same thing (http://members.fortunecity.com/nadabs/conditioning.html).
The Pavlov’s Experiment
(i) Before Conditioning
(ii) During Conditioning
(iii) After Conditioning
Marketers usually use this learning theory when they associate their product with a stimulus which elicits a favourable response with their target market. They hope for a positive attitude towards the product, increasing the chance of purchase by consumers.
For the organization we chosen, McDonald’s, the process of classical conditioning is as follow:
McDonald’s and the Classical Conditioning
2.1.1 The Concepts of Classical Conditioning
So how do classical conditioning works on McDonald’s? We will discuss on two of the concepts of classical conditioning, the repetition and the stimulus generalization.
Repetition is where something is played or showed repeatedly for several times. The purpose of showing or playing the particular object repeatedly is to create awareness among consumers and enforce the brand image. When consumers know the existence of the products or services, they will seek for information and may give it a try.
Therefore, McDonald’s uses repetition in advertising for their products and services available in order to influence consumer behavior and attract consumers to purchase their products. Repetition is able to strengthen the association between a conditioned stimulus (restaurant) and an unconditioned stimulus (food).
Repetition of an advertisement is able to convince consumers, making them more familiar and easier to remember about your products or services.
The common examples of advertising methods that McDonald’s uses to promote their products and services are such as the flyers, TV, online advertising, billboards, bus advertising, radio and newspaper advertising.
Distributing flyers is a very common and cheap method of advertising. It is widely used by many marketers. McDonald’s uses flyer to advertise a lot of its products. One of the examples is the McDonald’s breakfast set. The purpose is to attract students and office workers who need to travel to school or to workplace early in the morning. They can easily have their breakfast at McDonald’s because the breakfast will be available from morning 4am. The flyer shown on the left is where McDonald’s had a promotion, giving out a free Sausage McMuffin for those who visit McDonald’s between 7.45 to 8.45 am. The purpose of McDonald’s doing this is to attract customers to their restaurant for the free breakfast repeatedly during promotional period, and after the promotion has ended, there are high possibilities that those customers will go back to McDonald’s again to purchase their McD breakfast.
(ii) TV Advertisement
TV advertising is also one of the most commonly used advertising methods. McDonald’s uses this advertising method to inform consumers and promote its new products and services too. During festival seasons, McDonald’s do promote their prosperity meal which is only available during the Chinese New Year. Recently, McDonald’s do advertise about their 24hours delivery service in TV to inform consumers that their delivery service is now operating 24/7. The time period that McDonald’s chooses to advertise is during night time dinner hour. During that period, family will be at home watching TV and enjoying their dinner. Therefore, this is a more suitable time period, rather than in the morning, to advertise about their products or services so that households are able to see the advertisement. Apart from that, advertise during dinner hour may also make those who are watching the advertisement feel tempted to purchase McD food as dinner.
(iii) Online Advertising
Online advertising is where marketers use the internet to advertise. Normally when we surf the internet, or when we visit any websites, we will see a lot of banners such as fast food advertisements, technology products, consumer products, and all kinds of promotions and offers. The picture above shown that McDonald’s also advertises through the internet, informing the internet users that McDelivery is available 24 hours. For those who like to stay up late at night, when they saw this online advertisement repeatedly, they might feel hungry and end up giving McD a call to make their orders, because it is convenient for them as they do not need to drive out to buy food.
Billboards advertisements can be seen almost everywhere. It is a common method of advertising that marketers use to promote their products and services. The sizes of billboards are extremely large and they are eye-catching. McDonald’s is also one of the companies that uses billboard as their advertising strategy. As mentioned earlier that billboard advertising is attention-grabbing, it enables the kids in the car to look at the billboard everytime when they pass by. When the advertisement is seen repeatedly, it makes them remember about McDonald’s more easily and will be tempted to have their meal in McDonald’s.
(v) Bus Advertising
Busses and vehicles are all on the road therefore it is good to use the bus advertising method. McDonald’s uses this method to advertise their products and services too. Advertisements can be in the bus interiors, bus backs or bus sides. Busses travel on their route daily, therefore, the exposure of the McDonald’s advertisement to passerby is very high. Besides, transits also cost lesser than television, radio, newspaper and billboards. With frequent exposure of McDonald’s products to the consumers, consumer will be tempted to visit McDonald’s.
Sponsorship is the material support of an event, activity or organization by an unrelated partner. A company can reinforce awareness among its target market by sponsoring an event or organization that attracts a similar target market. The benefits include promoting a positive image, brand differentiation, increase customer loyalty and targeting potential new customers.