Consumer Behavior

Universidad Pompeu Fabra

Course Description

  • Course Name

    Consumer Behavior

  • Host University

    Universidad Pompeu Fabra

  • Location

    Barcelona, Spain

  • Area of Study

    Behavioral Science

  • Language Level

    Taught In English

    Hours & Credits

  • Contact Hours

  • Recommended U.S. Semester Credits
  • Recommended U.S. Quarter Units
  • Overview


    The goal of this course is to use a variety of insights from the social psychology literature in order to understand how consumers behave and, particularly, the reasons behind such behavior. With this knowledge, students should be better equipped to answer important marketing questions such as how to boost product awareness or how to increase purchase intentions.

    Strategic Consumer Insights is divided in three blocks:

    1. In the first block, students will learn about perception, memory, motivation and personality. These topics have important marketing applications in the context of product awareness, product recall, and product attitude formation.
    2. In the second block, students will learn about decision-making models and influence techniques. These topics have important marketing applications in the context of product choice and brand loyalty.
    3. In the third block, students will learn about several contemporary strategies to reach consumers, about the differences between online and offline consumer behavior, and about how consumer behavior can and should be used to inform branding strategy. The aim of this last block is to show students that consumer behavior is an ever-evolving discipline that has deep implications in other marketing areas such as branding.



    Students will be able to interpret the factors that affect consumers' behaviour and will understand the decisions they take in response to the stimuli created by companies. They will also be able to interpret trends and create strategies to match identified consumer behaviour.



    Unit 1: The perceptual process

    • How do consumers make sense of the world? Defining perception, attention and comprehension.
    • The limits of perception: what are our sensory thresholds and how can Marketers take advantage of them? Introducing subliminal advertising.
    • Focusing our attention: what kind of stimuli are we most likely to notice and feel attracted to?

    Unit 2: Learning and memory

    • How do consumers learn to associate certain products with certain characteristics? The power of classical conditioning.
    • How are desirable consumer behaviors incentivized? Understanding operant conditioning.
    • Memory: a requirement for learning. How does the process of storing and retrieving information work? What are its limitations and how can those be exploited?

    Unit 3: Motivation and emotion

    • A simple framework of motivation: needs, wants and goals.
    • Motivation and how it influences behavior: the valuation and devaluation effects.
    • What do consumers need? An overview of need theories.
    • Emotions and how they influence product attitudes.
    • Manipulating emotions: Discrepancy-Interruption Theory and Affect Transfer Theory

    Unit 4: Belief and attitude formation

    • Types of product beliefs.
    • Product attitudes and their sources.
    • Product attitudes and product functions.
    • The role of consumer involvement and time-pressure on attitude formation and persuasion.

    Unit 5: Self-concept and personality

    • Self-concept: understanding how consumers define themselves.
    • Self-esteem: what it does and what it does not.
    • Multiple self-concepts; which one should marketers try to appeal to?
    • Extended-self and ‘loved objects’: when the line between a consumer and his possessions blurs.
    • Consumers’ personalities and persuasion strategies.
    • Understanding the notion of brand personality.

    Unit 6: Consumer decision making

    • Different types of decisions: the role of processing effort and involvement.
    • The classical model of consumer decision making: from problem recognition to post-purchase evaluation.
    • What are heuristics and when are they used?
    • Persuasion heuristics, choice heuristics and prediction heuristics: advantages and pitfalls.

    Unit 7: Persuasion techniques

    • Seven psychological principles to manipulate consumer behavior.

    Unit 8: Consumer decision making and self-regulation

    • What is self-regulation and how does it help consumers make better decisions?
    • A peek inside our brains: what are the physiological costs of self-regulation and decision making?
    • From controlled behavior to automatic behavior: what happens when mentally-fatigued consumers have to make a decision? Why do marketers like that?
    • How can self-regulation be conserved, restored and strengthened?

    Unit 9: Consumer behavior and branding strategies

    • Brand adoption factors.
    • Brand equity management: how can brand image be measured and strengthened?
    • Brand management strategies throughout the product life cycle: acquisition vs. retention strategies, market leaders vs. market underdogs.

    Unit 10: Contemporary strategies to reach consumers

    • Word of mouth
    • Consumer-generated advertising
    • Celebrity and athlete endorsers
    • Product placement

    Unit 11: Online consumer behavior

    • Online marketing vs. traditional marketing
    • The core of online marketing: the website
    • Consumer empowerment: reduced search costs, the consumer advocacy paradigm, and the two-way communication between consumers and brands.

Course Disclaimer

Courses and course hours of instruction are subject to change.


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