Consumer Behavior: An Integrated Approach to Teaching and Learning

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Conference Track

Marketing Education/ The Dynamic Business School

Publication Date



The paper describes a set of integrated exercises developed by the author for use in an undergraduate course in consumer behavior. To help bridge the gap between concept and application, students were required to select either a single brand or a retail establishment. Students individually completed ten research assignments focusing on the brand or retailer, with each assignment paralleling course material as the class progressed. This approach allowed students to “personalize” theories and core concepts and thus develop a better appreciation for the usefulness of what they learned about consumer behavior. Completion of the overall assignments required that students employ a variety of research methods ranging from personal observation, interviews with managers and consumers, content analysis of advertisements, to secondary research from articles in the business press. This range of methods helped students gain a better grasp of how consumer research is conducted, reinforcing material presented throughout the course. In addition to promoting student awareness of behavioral research methods, the integrated assignments compelled students to apply key consumer behavior concepts to the selected business. Activities included: 1) demographic study of consumers of the selected brand or retailer; 2) analyses of cultural values as they related to shopping and consuming; 3) perceptual mapping of the business and its competitors; 4) critical examination of perceptual influences either in-store or in promotional pieces; 5) study of target markets according to household decision making and stages in the household life cycle; and 6) PRIZM lifestyle analysis of customers. A final course requirement was an end-of-term oral presentation from teams of students who had selected the same business for focus throughout the semester. This let students to share their various perspectives and collaborate on what they had learned. This approach to teaching consumer behavior was beneficial in several respects. First, concentration on a single brand or business allowed participants to gain a deeper knowledge of how businesses operate and how they make use of consumer information. This helped students see the real-world value of the course material, as well as the interconnected nature of marketing activities. Secondly, the assignments became the basis for class discussion with students jumping in to share their observations and experiences on each assignment. This promoted class involvement and seemed to heighten student interest in the course. Thirdly, by having assignments completed over time and in smaller “chunks,” students had more time to absorb and connect individual course concepts than would be the case with a single term project. Finally, because they had to complete a series of individual assignments before working as a team on a final presentation, students were more likely to develop a sense of personal expertise and ownership of knowledge. As a consequence, the instructor experienced surprisingly few group issues due to “slacking off.”

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Digital Commons@Georgia Southern License

This document is currently not available here.