Online with
Louise Ripley

Consumer Behaviour
Assignments and Final Exam Substitute
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The Six Wednesdays Project  swp

Course Objectives

In addition to the objectives common to all courses I teach (see Ground Rules):

To enhance your understanding of the processes involved in and the influences on Consumer Behaviour
To develop an appreciation for the value of knowledge of Consumer Behaviour in developing a successful marketing strategy
To provide a coherent framework for interpreting consumer reactions to marketing stimuli
To develop an appreciation of the ethical dimensions of consumer marketing
To learn how to write precisely and concisely for business writing

To achieve these objectives, you will be asked to do some specific tasks:

Learn and use key terms, definitions, and concepts used in the field
Show knowledge and understanding of the course material in your course work
Engage in and report on your own consumer behaviour with an increased awareness of the internal and external forces at work when you make a purchase
Share with the class your applications of Consumer Behaviour theory, using your project

Rules of The Game

The Product
Your group will choose a product (good, service, combination, event, person, place, etc.) which is currently offered for sale in the Canadian market today by a specific company (it need not be manufactured in Canada). Click here to see a listing of products from the Introductory Marketing Unit on Product. Since a large part of this course is based on analysis of the consumer through advertisements, you need to choose a product for which you will be able to find an advertisement; you may use an ad from the Internet but be sure it can be printed out to hand in, and that it has the elements of an advertisement and is not just a picture (an ad can be just a picture but that's a philosophical debate for another time).

After learning about the consumers who buy this product, create the concept of a product extension. This new product must be something that is not currently marketed by that particular company, that you think would interest the same customers who are now buying the original product.

EXAMPLE: if you chose Gatorade with their green (and other colours) drink which is marketed to young sporty people, particularly males, your product line extension might be a line of Gatorade sports clothing, or (to borrow from a hilarious example provided by a student) a soft drink named Slammin' Prune, which you are going to attempt to sell to the same young sports-oriented crowd (good luck on that one! but you should get the idea). 

Writing the Assignments

Point of View
When writing the project, put yourself in the role of a marketing consultant to the producer of the product you have selected. Write it like a business report - clear and concise.

General Format for all Six Parts
For each Part of the Project you will hand in within the first 15 minutes of class on the day it is due, the required number of pages as stated below, typed in standard font - Times New Roman, Helvetica, or Ariel Regular (NOT Ariel Narrow), single-spaced in not less than 11-point type, with 1" margins all around.

Use plain white ordinary paper, stapled, without a binder, but with a Cover Page that includes:

Part Number  - Group Number
Title of Project
(include company and new product name)
Course Number and Title
AP/ADMS3120.30A Consumer Behaviour
Professor's Name (spell it right!)
Date Due
Group Members
Last Name, First Name
Put the names of all those who contributed their fair share on that part 
(Do Not put student numbers on any papers)

Using Theory

As this is a course in an academic business programme, I am looking for evidence that you're using the theory you are reading about and discussing. So use it and use the terms. Don't waste space defining terms; we all have the book. Instead, use them. 

Don't write: "The principle of closure implies that consumers tend to perceive an incomplete picture as complete" (taken directly from textbook).

Don't write: "We recommend using the technique of closure for all of our advertising messages, particularly those we will be placing in the higher class magazines, because we know that the schema in our customer's head with respect to the organization of his or her thoughts about the relevance of crossword puzzles and the conflicting issue of lack of time creates a climate in which the customer will be susceptible to our message." (too long and wordy)

Write instead: 
"Closure: use in ads because customer's schema makes immediate link between crossword puzzles and lack of time" 

I will then know that 
a) you know what closure is
b) you can use the term 'closure' correctly in terms of an actual product
c) what you are proposing for your product seems valid (I may not know all the ins and outs of your individual products but I can tell when something doesn't make sense or is inconsistent)


Another Example from a previous class group working with IKEA, Assignment 2: 
Conditional Stimulus: store sign visible from highway leads customers to store
Repetition: all stores use same sign and colours

Using Point Form
Use of POINT FORM helps keep the writing to a minimum, and makes it easier for the person reading it to quickly get the most important points. Here we see a point form reduction of the last paragraph on page 95 in your textbook to point form: 

The Motivation Process (p. 95)

     causes people to behave as they do
     tension drives customer to reduce need:
          utilitarian (useful) or hedonic (emotional)
     has strength and direction

Goal - where consumer wants to be 
     goal attainment = tension motivation

Drive - level of desire to reduce tension between
     present & desired state

Want - Personally/culturally determined need: 
     basic (hunger) want: choice (burger) 
Keep it short
Avoid full sentences
Use your own simplified words, not formal text definitions
Boil it down to the few main points, with sub-headings

Remember when you're working on these assignments that you're not going to be graded on whether you get a particular topic (e.g.: differential threshold) right for a particular purchaser of your particular product  -- I don't have these "right" answers for all possible products students might come up with -- but you are being graded on whether you use the terms correctly and seem to understand them, and you are being graded on how well you cover the material using your own product as an example. 

In Class - Presenting, and Group Work

We will use the projects as examples in informal and impromptu presentation during the course. There is a doccam in the classroom so you can put print ads up on the screen.

This is a class-participation course, although there is not a specific mark for it. If you are not pulling your weight, your group is going to suffer. Plan to be here for the full hours of class. I lead a discussion of the subject material, usually for a little over an hour; we then have a break, and the second half of the class is dedicated to group work in-class with me there as a facilitator. This does not mean you can't ever miss a class; if you are ill or suddenly called out of town, get in touch with your group and work out arrangements with them for catching up on your part. It takes dedication to make a group work.

The Six Parts of the Six Wednesdays Project 

Part 1 (0 marks but you can't go forward without submitting it)
LENGTH - 1 page, single spaced, See General Format
Due - Wednesday in the first 15 minutes of class 

Prepare a cover page like the cover page above.

In short, concise point form on no more than 1 page, do six things (number them):

1. State the brand name and product class of a specific product currently existing in Canada (this is your original product), for which it would be possible to create a new product within the product line* (this is your product extension). The product class is the one you were assigned in class. The brand name is the specific brand name of the product currently marketed. Add to this a few words to tell me what this thing is, if it is not immediately obvious from its name. For example, if you have the product class soft drinks and you tell me that your current product is Pepsi Diet Cola, you don't need to tell me that that's a cola. But if you've got time keepers as a product class and you tell me that you're researching the Bagnasty's Absquatulator, tell me what it is. (see example). 
2. State the current target market for the current product; then, using 6 words or less for each characteristic, state the 3 most important characteristics of the current target market for this product. On a separate line, state in not more than 12 words the most important customer need that your product meets (don't analyze it; just state it); don't tell me several needs, tell me only the most important customer need. Try as much as you can to be sure that this most important need relates directly to the eventual product extension you will choose. 
3. In not more than 12 words, state where the current product is currently sold, both geographically and in terms of its type of distribution.
4. State in Canadian dollars the price range at which the current product is usually sold.
5. State the single most important environmental variable that affects your current product, out of the basic seven environments; then in not more than 3 lines explain why it is the most important environment.
demographic, geographic, economic
natural, technological, political/legal, socio/cultural
6. State your best idea at this time for a proposed product extension to be sold to this same target market and describe it in not more than 3 lines. You may change your idea as you progress through the assignments, but having an idea at the start of what you will eventually sell to this target market will help you to focus on what you analyze about them now. 

That's it: No more, No less. This part doesn't have theory, at least not explicit stated theory. It is designed to get your group started quickly and to get you to understand the importance of writing concisely in true point form. While preparing Part 1, read the instructions for the other parts and be sure that you can do what is required in the rest of the assignment with what you propose in Part 1. Here is what an Assignment One might look like:

1. Original Brand Name of Product: Bagnasty’s Absquatulator
Product Class: Timers
Description: method to account for time spent doing crossword puzzles

2. Current Target Market: Crossword Puzzle Lovers
over age 18 (i.e. not children)
have very little free time
enjoy leisure highly structured

Need: method to help cut down on time spent doing crossword puzzles

3. Currently Sold: across Canada, in bookstores

4. Price Range: $4 - $6

5. Major Environmental Factor: socio-cultural, because it involves people's free-time activities

6. Product Extension: Bagnasty’s Pool-Side Absquatulator
Waterproof version of original to enable puzzlers to track puzzle-solving time pool-side or actually in the pool


Don't forget the cover page:


Part Number  - Group Number
Title of Project
(include company and new product name)
Course Number and Title
AP/ADMS3120.30A Consumer Behaviour
Professor's Name (spell it right!)
Date Due
Group Members
Last Name, First Name
Put the names of all those who contributed their fair share on that part 
(Do Not put student numbers on any papers)


Part 2 (15 marks) 
LENGTH - 4 pages total, single spaced + copy of ad, See General Format
Due - Wednesday in the first 15 minutes of class

Choose one print ad for your company's current product and attach a copy of it to this report; make another copy - you will need it later. In not more than 2 pages for this first part, identify the customers for your current product and describe them in ways specifically relevant to the course material in Chapters 1 and 2 of Solomon and in ways that clearly relate to how the product and the attached advertisement appeal to those customers. Put the material relevant to each chapter on a separate page, one page for each chapter, and label them. Do not overlap or overrun pages and stick to margin etc. limits. Be specific; think of this partly as an outline of what is most important in these chapters. 

Realize that while you are in essence being asked to follow the outline of the chapter, you don't have room to list absolutely everything. Use the BLUE TOPICS as your guide, and look at the bolded terms below those. For example, in Chapter 1 there are 15 Blue Topics (The first is Consumer Behaviour: People in the Market Place) and in Chapter 2 there are 13 (the first is Smell, but note that you don't need to write down all the senses, just the one main one that is relevant to your product and/or ad). Write in true point form and you will have room to cover all of them. Be sure you use the terms in ways that show me that you understand what they mean. You may relate the term to the current product, the target market, or your advertisement. Do not yet use the new proposed product. Note that most terms will apply in some way to any product. You cannot for example say that "schema" is not applicable or that "positioning" is not relevant. There is a schema in every human thought, and no marketer would start any marketing project without some idea of how to position the product in the market. For example, while one of the five senses might not seem directly relevant for a product, it may be relevant simply in the fact that it is NOT part of the product (think about Clinique's line of scent-free cosmetics). You should have almost no items listed as "N/A" (not applicable).  

In another two pages, choose the five most important points of the chapter and write further at length (point form or prose) describing specifically how that point relates to your product and its ad.

One of the purposes of this course, and a way in which it differs from other Marketing courses you may have taken is that instead of asking you for the typical academic final product of a 40 to 60 page paper detailing all there is to know about your subject, this course follows the more common practice in business where your boss says, "I need a half page summary of the marketing plan for our new product introduction, and I need it on my desk by 3:00 pm" and you know s/he won't read more than a page. You still have to know your subject just as well; you just have the added challenge of presenting it in as few words as possible. 

Part 3 (15 marks) 
LENGTH - 6 pages total, single spaced, See General Format
Due - Wednesday in the first 15 minutes of class

Do some informal research for this part - interviews or survey of a small group of current users of the product or a product similar to yours, and use the information in the first part of this Part, which is done the same way as Part 2. Try to gather some simple information on demographics and psychographics that might be helpful to you when you introduce your product extension. You're looking for some early clues to whether or not your extension would be popular with your current target market. In not more than 4 pages, further describe your current customers in ways specifically relevant to the course material in Chapters 3 and 4 of Solomon, making specific reference to what you found out in your limited market research and again using the Blue Topics as a guide.Put the material relevant to each chapter on two separate pages, two pages for each chapter, and label them. Do not overlap or overrun pages. Do not include a separate analysis of the information you find out in your research, but rather make sure it shows up in your writing to illustrate the terms and theories you are explaining (example: "57% of our respondents said they liked the symbolism in the ad"). As with Part 2, think in terms of your customer, the current product, and the advertisement that reaches that customer. Ultimately these three things should be inextricably linked: a good ad will target the reasons that the customer buys the product.

Remember the basic rules of ethical research with human participants, even informal research as this is: you must identify yourself and tell them what you are doing and why, you must assure them of confidentiality, and you must tell them that they are free at any time to stop the interview. The sample need not be large enough to be statistically significant - I'm more interested in how you use your results than that those results be statistically significant, I do not need to see your questionnaires or summaries of data, and I don't want to see any statistical tables.

In another two pages, choose the five most important points of the chapter and write further at length (point form or prose) describing specifically how that point relates to your product and its ad.

Although you are writing about your current product and its consumers, you are already beginning here to think about your new product: what you're doing here is playing amateur psychologist, and trying to wrap your mind around the learning processes and motivation that drives these people to buy this product, for the express purpose of selling them something similar -- the very worst of what Marketing is often accused of doing! Your main focus here is on the current product, but use this opportunity to ask them briefly about their reaction to your proposed new product - Would they be interested? How much would they expect to pay? Where would they expect to find the product? 

Part 4 (40 marks, DONE INDIVIDUALLY as an in-class OPEN-book test by each student, using new material)

In this test, you will be asked to apply the techniques and theory you have learned in your group work so far to a new consumer behaviour case. You will be given a brief description of the original product and the proposed new product, just as you have been working with in your group work. You will be asked to apply what you have learned so far, giving the most emphasis to Chapters 1-4.

The main thing you will be asked to do is to explain how you will use what you know about the current target market (given to you) to market the new product to the same target group. You need to make specific reference to theories and terminology in Chapters 1-4, the website, and classroom lectures/work. 

Part 5 (15 marks)
LENGTH - 6 pages TOTAL, single spaced
See General Format 
Due - Wednesday in the first 15 minutes of class

In not more than 4 pages, develop further the concept for the line extension of the product that you identified in Part I (repeat briefly your original reference to it, or a rewrite if you've changed direction, so your reader knows what you're talking about). Explain why this product would be appropriate for your target market and why you expect them to buy the new product, specifically in terms of the course material in Chapters 7 and 8 of Solomon on Attitude and Attitude Change. Put the material relevant to each chapter on a separate page, 2 pages for each chapter, and label them. Do not overlap or overrun pages. Be specific; think of this partly as an outline of what is most important in these chapters, but be sure to cover what you are planning as changes. 

In another two pages, choose the five most important points of the chapter and write further at length (point form or prose) describing specifically how that point relates to your product and its ad.

Here, explaining is primary, but be sure to still include all the important terms

Part 6 (15 marks)
LENGTH - 6 pages total, single spaced, See General Format 
Due - Wednesday, in the first 15 minutes of class

This final part of the project serves as your final exam substitute. Using what you learned overall, in not more than 4 pages, describe how you expect your current customers to go through the process involved in moving from being loyal users of the original product to (you hope) being loyal users of your product line extension  including attempts you make to change their attitude toward a new product. Be specific; think of this partly as a summary of what was most important to you in the book, in terms of your project.  

In another two pages, choose the five most important points overall and write further at length (point form or prose) describing specifically how that point relates to your product and its ad and the process you have gone through to market a new product. 

Testimonials About The Format of This Course
From students who have taken this course before in this format, here are some comments about the course and how it is taught (my comments in some cases are in italics):

Consumer Behaviour has been one of the most interesting courses I have taken in the Marketing program. It helps one understand the effect marketing efforts have on consumers, which made it substantially more interesting. The structure of the course has allowed us to thoroughly learn and apply all the associated terminology in the real world, to the point where I feel like I could teach the course! [one of the nicest compliments I've received on my teaching!].
This course has developed my group working skills. Every Monday and Wednesday has been almost like an event to look forward to throughout the week [I swear this was written AFTER the grades were already determined!]
We enjoyed this class and found it very useful as a marketer. We are so used to doing marketing plans throughout our years at university that it is not only a change, but useful to understand consumer behaviour and why they would buy a certain product... it is essential to find out and understand the psychological framework of the consumer.
Apart from learning and completing our weekly projects, our group has learned the importance of group synergies and coordination. The accumulation of everyone's knowledge and opinions allowed for innovative and creative applications of course material with our product concept. (Again, the importance of learning good teamwork).
The milieu of this class enabled us to learn comfortably. The weekly projects forced us to learn the material as well as become more familiar with the way things are done in the business world.
The course format provides a valuable opportunity to cover a lot of material in an effective way.
As a group we felt that the course evaluation method was extremely effective. Breaking it into six separate assignments, had having us write about them as it pertains to our product was excellent. This format not only helped us learn the material better, but also helped us learn to write effectively, which was not an easy task. We highly recommend using this structure again.
The statement "buying, having, being" in the title of the textbook perhaps best describes what consumer behaviour really is. Many times in life when we purchase a product, we do not consider the consequences (either good or bad)... Through this course I learned that buying a good or service is more than just having it...for the products that actually mean something, those are the products that best describe who we really are. While reflecting on this idea, I reflected on the most precious items that my friends and family members had around them...Now I understand that these items mean more than just what they paid for the item or what the product does, but instead actually help describe the personality, lifestyle and behaviour of that individual. 

Return to Course Syllabus

AK/ADMS 3210.30 Consumer Behaviour
York University, Toronto
© M Louise Ripley, M.B.A., Ph.D.