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Consumer Behavior – Decision Making Models - Marketing

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Consumer Behavior – Decision Making Models - Marketing

        Hubert Spencer is a 40 year old male who has lived in the D.C. metropolitan area since the mid 1980s. A first-generation American, Hubert moved to the United States with his parents at the age of 7 from Sierra Leone. Hubert is a self-described extrovert and social butterfly, and therefore found it easy to develop a strong network of friends early on in his transition into American life. It did not take long for him to be awe-inspired by the pop culture icons of the time, having moved to the States during the height of the Michael Jordan phenomenon and the budding golden-era of hip hop. A symbol of this time period is the Air Jordan sneaker, a classic basketball shoe that has become a highly fashionable and prized collector’s item. Hubert’s affinity for the shoe can be attributed to the sense of nostalgia it triggers as well as the influence of his network of friends who share his interests in the pop culture of that time. An understanding of Hubert’s personal experiences helps to inform the motivation and psychology behind his recent decision to purchase a pair of Air Jordan 4s.

        A sneaker enthusiast, Hubert currently owns 12 pairs of the many iterations of the Air Jordan. He purchased his first pair in 2003, approximately 20 years after the first sneaker was launched. For decades, he and friends would bond over the shoes by sharing their opinions on new and vintage designs. As described by Gershoff and Johar, knowledge of the Jordan brand strengthened his relationship with his friends and therefore helped to preserve his own self-identity. It was through this shared participation in activities, observation, and discussion about the shoe (before even having owned a pair) that helped Hubert to identify himself as a socially accepted and well-liked American kid.

        Two months ago, he noticed a friend wearing a pair of the Air Jordan 4s, a style he had not noticed or cared about previously. Seeing the shoe on his friend piqued his interest, so he performed some preliminary research on the Nike website and shoe blogs, as well as discounted shopping sites like eBay and Amazon. He saw a deal for a pre-owned pair at $150 (the shoe typically retails new anywhere from $300-600). After assessing the cost benefit, he decided not to purchase the shoe, following a sense-feel-think-do approach. One month later, he saw another friend wearing the Jordan 4s, which compelled him to immediately purchase a $180 pair from eBay. He described his frustration about “missing out” on the better deal initially and pounced on the next-best opportunity. This behavior indicates a sense of scarcity associated with the shoe, not only from a physical standpoint but emotionally as well.

        The principle of scarcity as described by Dr. Cialdini is a significant factor in Hubert’s decision making process. Like any adolescent, especially one from a foreign country, Hubert grew up with a strong motivation to “fit in.” Outward appearance was paramount to Hubert and his peers as it had implications on status, style, and interests. However, the materialistic and consumer-driven American way of life was markedly different from the culture of his Russian mother and Sierra Leonean father. Consequently, Hubert often found himself limited to wearing simple, generic brand apparel growing up. It was during these formative years in his childhood that Hubert developed an appreciation for products that symbolized exclusivity and the American dream of material success. Therefore, I would argue that from an emotional standpoint, the Air Jordan shoes trigger Hubert’s sense of scarcity, making them a valuable item in his mind to this day. When explicitly asked about his motivations to collect Air Jordans, Hubert stated, “I like the way they look and feel good wearing them.” Hubert insists his experiences of assimilation from childhood do not influence his consumer behavior, nor do the social cues from his friends. While it may be true, it appears through some mining of the unconscious as described by Connor, that Hubert may be drawn to this sneaker on a level that goes beyond its aesthetic.



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