Consumer Behavior

Discipline: Semester at Sea Seminars
Instructor: Tharp
Credits: 3
Day: A
Start: 0925
End: 1040
Field Work: Day 6 - Hong Kong - 11 February | China
Prerequisites: Introductory Marketing Class Download Syllabus

In this class you will learn about how perception and sensory marketing, learning, memory, motivation, emotions, attitudes, lifestyle, personality, values, groups, and culture all influence consumer behavior. This course is based on disciplines such as psychology, sociology, social psychology, and anthropology. Many fascinating topics are explored in this course including positive examples of consumer behavior such as transformative consumer research, green marketing (Toyota Prius), social marketing (e.g. reducing HIV transmission in Africa), and consumer activism (Greenpeace International), as well as negative types of consumer misbehavior such as consumer terrorism, addictive consumption, consumed consumers (sex-trafficking and selling babies), compulsive consumption and other illegal activities such as consumer theft and anti-consumption.

Consistent with our educational voyage, we will focus on voyage-relevant cases of consumer behavior in the Asian and African countries we will visit, as well as talk about the movement toward a global consumer culture in which billions of people are united internationally by their consumption of common branded consumer products (McDonald’s, Louis Vuitton) entertainment figures (e.g. superstars, supermodels, pop stars, and sports legends), and leisure activities (travel, watching movies, surfing the Net). We will also learn about positive country of origin (COO) effects such as Chinese silks and Japanese electronics, and negative Country of Origin effects such as African “blood diamonds” and how these can be changed. By the end of this course you will all be more aware consumers and will never look at consumption in the same way. Throughout our voyage you will have the unique opportunity to not only observe your own consumption behaviors but to be an ethnographic or participant observer of the consumption behaviors of a wide range of culturally diverse people you will encounter in the countries that we visit while traveling around the world.

Field Work

Country: China
Day: 6 - Hong Kong - 11 February

We will begin our field lab with a meeting on the ship to brief the class about logistics and the schedule for the day’s activities. In addition I will review our academic objectives for the day and suggest topics to focus on for your field observations. We will then be transported to the Hong Kong Baptist University campus. Dr. Kara Chan will share her research findings about similarities and differences among young Chinese women in 4 different cultural environments (Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, and China). We may be joined by English-speaking students from Dr. Chan’s classes at HKBU. Dr. Chan will join us for lunch at one of her suggested restaurants in Hong Kong, Renfrew Seafood Restaurant. After lunch we will be transported to Ocean Park, one of the largest theme parks in the world (over 6 million visitors per year). At the park we will hear a talk by one of their officers describing their customers and how they adapt marketing strategy in this multicultural market. You will then have time to explore the park & complete some observation and ethnographic research of other park visitors. Please do enjoy the theme park, but do not forget that your visit must include research about decision-making of other visitors. Field Lab Academic Objectives: 1. To learn about consumption similarities and differences among young women in four Chinese environments. Dr. Chan’s talk will focus on media preferences, brand attitudes and/or consumer choices. 2. To link consumer behavior theory to marketing strategies. The opportunity to see “consumer decision-making” in action will allow you to make comparisons with what we study in class and to see how marketing responds to buyer needs and wants. 3. To see how a company that offers an “experience” designs its marketing strategy for multicultural consumer groups. The purpose here is to better understand factors that make Ocean Park an attractive alternative to Disney Hong Kong, for the customers we meet and observe.

4. To compare Dr. Chan’s research and our textbook information, with behaviors we observe at Ocean Park. Here you will observe young women at the park, and where possible interview them in order to learn more about cultural and non-cultural influences on their marketplace choices.