Buddha once said, “We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think.” Although it’s highly unlikely that he was framing his quote within the context of the consumer comprehension concept, he did hit on an important idea for marketers to understand. Comprehension, or the understanding a consumer develops about a stimulus (insert your marketing message here) based on the way meaning is assigned (your job as a marketer), forms the thoughts and emotions the consumer will have about a product.
Our job as marketers is to shape consumer comprehension so that our marketing message is consistently delivering the correct knowledge and meaning in order to establish value. If consumers think there is value in our product, they will be more likely to spend their time, money and effort in obtaining and consuming it. Therefore, for successful marketing, it is essential to understand the concepts of consumer comprehension as it applies to memory and cognitive learning.
1 – Factors that Influence Consumer Comprehension
Meaning and value are inseparable in the mind of the consumer. In order to help them recognize and comprehend the value in your product through your marketing message, you will first want to consider the factors that influence comprehension in the human brain. These factors can be divided into one of the following three categories:
- Characteristics of the message
- Characteristics of the message receiver
- Characteristics of the communication environment
The infographic goes into additional detail about specific characteristics within each category. For marketers, it is essential to take these factors into consideration and anticipate how they might affect consumer comprehension in order to successfully deliver your marketing message.
2 – Acquiring, Storing and Using Knowledge
Memory is the psychological process where information is acquired, encoded, stored and retrieved. The multiple store theory of memory is illustrated in the infographic. It shows the three divisions of memory – sensory, short-term (workbench) and long term, as well as some of their unique features.
Marketers need to understand how these different areas of memory function in order to deliver a consistent message that will be received, encoded and adopted into the consumers long term memory in a meaningful way.
3 – Associative Networks
Arguably for marketers, the most important aspect of memory is the long-term memory. Long-term memory stores all the knowledge a consumer has acquired. With unlimited capacity and duration, this permanent information warehouse holds stimuli that have been coded into meaning that can be expressed verbally.
The knowledge in long-term memory is stored in an associative network. This network connects all the knowledge in the brain and (as seen in the infographic) consists of nodes, or cognitive concepts, connected by paths, or associations.
Within the associative network – representing all of a consumer’s knowledge – are schemas, or specific cognitive entities, organized into categories of information, and the relationships among them, which provides more significant meaning for that entity. For successful marketers, this is where the knowledge for their brand or product is located. Delivering messages to consumers containing consistent knowledge and associations with their product or brand facilitates stronger connections and meaning within the mind of the consumer.
Comprehension, memory and cognitive learning are all important concepts for marketers to understand in order to devise a marketing message that provides meaning and value for consumers. Therefore, it is essential as marketers to fully understand the consumer comprehension concept and recognize how to use it effectively in order to meaningfully affect consumer cognitive learning and memory.