Marketers are interested in measuring consumers’ attitudes toward their products. There is a wide variety of methods available for measuring consumers’ attitudes. Our attention here will be limited to some of the important methods of attitude measurement.
One of the simplest ways of measuring attitudes is to ask questions directly. For example, an attitude researcher for a calculator manufacturer may ask respondents what they think about the firm’s new digital solar calculator’s styling and design.
Marketers may also employ the projective techniques used in motivation research to measure consumers’ attitudes. The better option for a marketer is to use scaling techniques. An attitude scale involves a series of phrases, adjectives, or sentences about the attitude object.
The researchers asked the subjects to indicate the intensity of their feelings toward the attitude object by reacting to the phrases, adjectives, or sentences about the attitude object in a particular way.
If a marketer, for example, is measuring people’s attitudes toward video compact disc players, respondents may be asked to state the degree to which they agree or disagree with some statements such as “Video Compact Discs Players are complicated to handle or operate.”
Importance of Measuring Consumers’ Attitudes
Attitude measurement may help marketers in several ways. Attitudes consumers hold toward a particular firm, and its products greatly influence the firm’s marketing strategy’s success or failure.
If consumers hold negative attitudes about one or more aspects of a firm’s marketing practices, they may stop buying the firm’s products and influence others not to buy the same. As consumers’ attitudes play an important role in determining consumer behavior, marketers should measure consumers’ attitudes.
By measuring consumers’ attitudes, they can gather many types of information. Measurement of consumers’ attitudes may help marketers change their products to make them more favorable to the target consumers. Results of attitude measurement may also help marketers to segment markets more effectively.
Identifying target consumers’ attitudes helps marketers develop the most appropriate communication strategies and devise strategies to bring appropriate changes in their attitudes.
Best Attitude Measurement Techniques
Let us now look at some length on two of the most widely used scaling techniques of attitude measurement. They are The Likert Scale; and, The Thurstone Scale.
Likert Scale of Attitude Measurement
One of the most popular techniques of attitude measurement is the Likert Scale. Using this scale, the attitude researcher asks the consumer respondents to indicate the degree of approval with a statement relating to the attitude object. Respondents are given the choice of five responses regarding the statement.
They are: strongly agree; agree; uncertain; disagree, and strongly disagree. Numerical values are assigned to each response category.
For example, strongly agree is given 5 points, agree 4, uncertain 3, disagree 2, and strongly disagree 1 point.
Respondents attach themselves with the statements relating to the attitude object by selecting one of the five responses for each of the statements. Respondents are usually asked to circle the category of response best expressing their feelings.
The scores are summed once respondents circle their preferred responses to conclude consumers’ attitudes. A higher score indicates a positive attitude, and a lower score denotes an unfavorable attitude toward the attitude object.
Thurstone Scale of Attitude Measurement
This method is also known as Thurstone’s Equal-Appearing Interval scale. This scale involves having ‘judges’ scale attitude statements along an attitude continuum.
The researcher’s pool of items is given to a panel of judges who are likely to be the subject’s representatives whose attitudes will be measured. They are needed to show the amount of favorableness or unfavorableness toward the attitude object.
They sort each item into one of eleven categories to consider equal intervals along the evaluative dimension, which range from ‘unfavorable’ through ‘neutral’ to ‘favorable.’
Consumer respondents are then presented with a list of statements which usually do not have any numerical indication of their degree of favorableness or unfavorableness toward the object under consideration.
Subject respondents indicate their agreements or non-agreements with each of the statements. The researcher categorizes the extremely favorable statements as eleven and categorizes extremely unfavorable statements as a one.
Statements that the respondents consider falling in between these two ranges express intermediate degrees of favorableness or unfavorableness.
After responses are received from the respondents, the researcher assigns the judges’ previously given values to the responses to determine respondents’ attitudes.
Other Commonly Used Techniques of Attitude Measurement
In addition to the above techniques used in measuring consumers’ attitudes, there are quite a few other techniques that may also measure consumers’ attitudes.
Some of these techniques are;
- Longitudinal Studies,
- Observation of Overt Behavior Technique;
- Reactions to or Interpretation of Partially Structured Stimuli Technique,
- Performance on “Objective” Tasks Method,
- Physiological Reactions Method, and
- Osgood Semantic Differential Technique.
Let us now focus on these methods in brief:
Here, the researcher measures attitude changes over a period of time. He conducts subsequent interviews with the same subjects at various times on the same attitude object.
He plots the subjects’ responses at different times toward the attitude object along a consistent scale of ‘favorable,’ ‘neutral,’ and ‘unfavorable’ dimensions. This method is used to gauge the changes in subjects’ attitudes over time toward a particular object.
Observation of Overt Behavior Technique
By observing the overt behaviors of subjects, their attitudes may be understood. For example, consumers’ attitudes toward a particular store may be measured by observing their purchases at the said store, frequency of purchases, and the volume of purchases made from the shop.
Reactions to or Interpretation of Partially Structured Stimuli Technique
Here, subjects are presented with a particular situation through a picture and asked to interpret it (picture). The way subjects interpret the picture tells the researcher the attitudes they hold toward the object under consideration.
Performance on “Objective” Tasks Method
Here, subjects are asked to perform a certain task, or the researcher observes how subjects perform a particular task. The ways they perform a task indicate their attitudes. The researcher assumes that one’s task performance is influenced by the attitude that he holds.
Physiological Reactions Method
Attitudes may also be measured by applying techniques used to measure involuntary physiological reactions such as galvanic skin response, pupil dilation, and voice pitch.
Osgood Semantic Differential Technique
In this test, pairs of words or statements of opposite meaning that might describe an object (product, for example) are presented to the subject. The subjects rated each of several objects on each dimension by placing a check at the place on a line that indicates their feelings.
Finally, the checks’ average is plotted as a profile for each object, and thus, the subjects’ attitudes are ascertained.