Marketing Psychology

Marketing and Sales Psychology home study course from the directory of psychology, human behaviour and counselling courses at ACS Distance Education, for online or correspondence study.

Course CodeBPS107
Fee CodeS2
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

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  • Explore why people choose to buy what they buy
  • Discover how to raise visibility and succeed at marketing
  • Flexible, 100 hour self paced course
  • Be tutored by marketing and psychology professionals
Due to the sheer mass of information that we are bombarded with on a daily basis, we tend to filter out the information that is not immediately important, and instead concentrate on that which is. This is known as attention.

By doing this, the information is given access to our short-term memory, and ultimately our long-term memory.

At the same time other sensory inputs are blocked so that we don’t become overwhelmed or confused.

When we go shopping we use the same process of attention, for example if we are buying groceries and we know exactly what we are going to buy.

Lesson Structure

There are 8 lessons in this course:

  1. People as Consumers
    • Scope and nature of marketing
    • Reasons for marketing
    • Types of customers: loyal, discount, needs based, wandering, impulse
    • Economic, economic, personal, apethetic shoppers
    • Understanding reward options: rational, sensory, social, ego satisfaction
    • Influence on customers
    • Physical factors
    • Consumer problems
    • Attitudes
    • Beliefs
    • Affects
    • Behavioural intention
  2. Market Segmentation
    • Geographic
    • Demographic
    • Age
    • Sex
    • Socio-economic
    • Geodemographic
    • Psychological segmentation
    • Segmentation by usage
    • Segmentation by benefit
    • Global segmentation
    • Entry into foreign markets
    • Total Product concept
    • Personal influences
    • Diffusion of new products
  3. Internal Influences Perception & Personality
    • The senses: vision, hearing and smell.
    • Multi sensual marketing
    • Thresholds of awareness
    • Sensory adaptation
    • Attention
    • Selective perception
    • Perceptual distortion
    • Perceptual cues
    • Gestalt psychology
    • The Phi phenomenon
    • Subliminal perception
    • Product image and self image
    • Personality theory and application to marketing
    • The MMPI
    • The TATT
    • The Rorschach Ink Blot Test
    • Non Freudean and Freudean theories
    • Self theory
    • Self image marketing
    • Trait theory
    • Brand personality
    • Relationship segmentation
  4. Internal Influences -Motivation and Awareness
    • Learning
    • Behavioural approach
    • Classical conditioning
    • Operant conditioning
    • Cognitive approach
    • Memory and marketing
    • Modelling
    • Motivation
    • Maslow's heirachy of needs
    • Different motivations
    • Inertia
    • Involvement
    • Antecendents of involvement
    • Properties of involvement
    • Outcomes of involvement
    • Specific needs
    • Unconscious motivation
    • Creating needs
    • Semiotics
  5. Social Influences
    • Understanding society
    • Family influences
    • Family changes
    • Family lifecycle
    • Households
    • Socialisation
    • Institutional affects
    • Consumer socialisation
    • Family consumer decisions
    • Roles
    • Conflict resolution
    • Changing roles
    • Social and developmental influences
    • Influences on children
    • Marketing and advertising
    • Small groups, Formal and informal groups
    • Membership aqnd reference groups
    • Reference groups and consumer behaviour
    • Variability of products
    • Differences in consumer susceptibility
    • Influence of social class
    • Inheritance
    • Measuring class, class categories and changing class
    • Marketing and Consumer behaviour
    • Cultural influences, communication, ideals and actualities
    • Differences in culture: sub cultures, ethnicity, changes in culture
  6. Consumerism
    • Why study the consumer
    • What is a consumere
    • History of consumerism
    • Changes in consumer experience
    • The supplier
    • Business ethics
    • International ethics
    • The market place
    • Consumer action
    • False and deceptive advertising
    • Methods of false advertising misrepresentation, insufficient details, price based methods etc.
  7. Communication and Persuasion
    • Attitudes and the concept of attitude towaHow attitudes form
    • How attitudes are changed
    • Practical applications for marketing
    • Message evaluation and selection
    • Message execution
    • Celebrity testimonials
    • What words sell
  8. Deciding to Buy
    • Making a decision
    • Rational decisions
    • Heuristic Procedures
    • The decision making process -steb by step
    • Merchandising
    • Trend toward home shopping

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.


  • Identify different categories of shoppers.
  • Describe the key concepts of Market Segmentation
  • Determine the role of perception and personality in the marketing process
  • Determine the factors that motivate a consumer toward a purchase
  • Define how social factors influence a consumers behaviour
  • Discuss consumerism in the context of marketing.
  • Determine the factors that influence consumer attitude and marketing communication and persuasion.
  • Apply the concept of multi element buying decisions.

Start by Understanding the Customer

There are two issues involved in a decision to buy –

Impulse purchases – These are unplanned buys. This is a vague group. It might include someone who goes to the shop to buy bread, then remembers they also need cheese. Or someone who goes to the shop to get bread, but notices they have potatoes on sale, so buy those instead. Or simply buy something on impulse.

Variety seeking – These are where consumers try new brands because the consumer just wants a change, not because they think they are any “better” than the products they already use.

Factors that Influence a Buyer

There are a number of factors that involve how consumers make choices -


In some situations, a consumer may be more motivated than in others. For example, if we are buying a gift for two friends. One may be someone we want to impress, the other less so, so we may take less time choosing the second gift.


Some consumers are more receptive to excitement and variety than others. Trying new stores, new products and so on. Whilst others will tend to stick to the same stores and products.


Perceived risk is also important to some clients. For example, does a product have a guarantee? Do they prefer a money back guarantee.


Some people will be more perceptive in terms of products – they may recognize the difference between a generic tin of beans and a branded tin of beans. You may remember the “challenge” range of advertisements between two brands of soft drinks several years ago, where consumers were asked to see if they could tell the difference between two brands of soft drinks. Also, in the UK, there has been a recent debate regarding two different brands of beans. The most famous beans in the UK changed their recipe, which was not so well received. A rival brand took the opportunity and started advertising their beans, which led to a decrease in sales of the original beans and an increase in the rival’s sales of beans.


Consumers will change their behaviour through learning. If they have been to a fast food restaurant and the food was bad, they are unlikely to go there again. If they go to a restaurant and it is always crowded, they may avoid that restaurant in the future. But some consumers will enjoy the crowded environment – it is all individual choice.
Some Sample Course Notes  

A Hierarchy of Needs

A psychologist called Maslow came up with a 5-tier hierarchy of needs that he believed people passed through. At the bottom of the hierarchy are fundamental physiological needs that have to first be satisfied. When these needs are fulfilled, they no longer motivate people and so they move up to the next level. At the very top is ‘self-actualisation’, which is realised by very few people. Even those that do attain this stage, retain motivation. It is considered to be the realisation of one’s unique potential.

Maslow’s theory has been applied to marketing from the point of view that Maslow himself suggested that people are influenced by higher order needs, even when their lower needs are not completely satisfied. This means that everyone is in the market at some level for the full range of need satisfaction.

People may trade off one need for another, e.g. spend less on housing (physiological) and more on education (self-esteem/self-actualisation).

The element of consumer choice is of particular importance to marketers. For example, a person can satisfy their need to drink by consuming tap water. Why then would they choose ‘Coke’, and why ‘Coke’ rather than ‘Pepsi’?

Also, many products can be used to satisfy an array of needs.

Who Can Benefit From This Course

Marketing psychology is something of a niche area of study but it is relevant to a number of different areas of work. The application of psychological theories and principles is useful in packaging, marketing and selling products and services but also in understanding consumer behaviour and how to target particular groups of consumers. This course can also be of value to people who want to gain greater insight into applied psychology and how it can impact them in their daily lives.

This course has broad appeal and may be of interest to people in a range of fields, including:

Applied psychology

  • Market research
  • Retail
  • Wholesale
  • Occupational psychology
  • Business management
  • Business ownership
  • Entrepreneurship  

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