OSU Professor Probes Consumer Behavior

Article excerpt

Special to The Journal Record

STILLWATER _ Why do urban gangs hang Adidas sneakers from trees? Questioning the motivations of consumers is critical in marketing products, says Oklahoma State University marketing professor John Mowen in the new edition of his "Consumer Behavior" text, published by MacMillan Inc.

"Consumer Behavior," now in its third edition, was first released in 1987 after Mowen became dissatisfied with literature in the field.

"At that time, there was an over-reliance on an economic approach to understanding consumer behavior," Mowen said.

"Researchers viewed consumers as rational people who used extensive decision-making processes in purchasing products. `Consumer Behavior' incorporates more recent findings which illustrate the impact of emotions and feelings, not only for everyday consumers but for industrial consumers as well."

Using colorful vignettes such as "The Sneaker Jungle," Mowen illustrates the many factors involved in determining consumer behavior.

An example from the book illustrates the point.

"The 19-year old male made the mistake of walking down Intervale St. in Boston wearing Delta Force sneakers. Members of the `Adidas family' saw him, knocked him to the ground, took off his shoes, and pitched them into a tree loaded with non-Adidas sneakers. When asked about their behavior, the group leader said: `We didn't mean any harm. We do that to anyone who comes here wearing Reeboks, or Nikes or L.A. Gear.'

"Most shoe companies try out their ideas on inner city youths. An Avia manager said: `We put out a shoe in the inner city and see how it catches on. Within 90 days we'll get an indication of what's going to happen.'

"But what motivates inner-city kids to purchase multiple pairs of $120 sneakers? One store owner explained: `To an inner-city kid, wearing $120 pair of sneakers is a statement that his life ain't so bad. …