Consumers seek and avoid marketing persuasion

01/07/05

Buying a car might be one of the most painful consumer experiences. The salespeople can be aggressive and their motives difficult to discern. A recent article published in the December 2004 issue of the Journal of Consumer Research seeks to explain how consumers deal with situations such as car buying. The article explains that we've all devised ways of coping with buyer/seller interactions. All of our methods can be divided into two main approaches: a more offensive consumer, called a 'seeker' and a more defensive and evasive consumer, called a 'sentry.'

The article's authors, Amna Kirmani of Southern Methodist University, and Margaret Campbell, of the University of Colorado at Boulder, explain that consumers, called "targets," are forever sparring with sellers, called marketing "agents," but the nature of this relationship is ever-changing depending on many variables. "We proposed and showed that consumer targets are active participants in interpersonal marketing persuasion. Because marketing agents are perceived as professional helpers and/or persuaders, the target's role is more complex than depicted in prior research."

It seems that consumers are pretty good at employing various strategies in the marketplace. If you have ever been in a store and evaded the salesperson by looking away or hiding behind a rack of clothing, you may be an expert sentry. Whereas if you show up to the car lot with a folder full of information or a price quote from another dealer, then you're a seeker.

"Goal seekers try to make use of the agent to achieve their own goals," the authors explain. "Persuasion sentries, on the other hand, guard against unwanted influence from the agent."

Source: Eurekalert & others

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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