What is the nature of learning, referencing the case below, pertaining to the three important elements in the case study?
Many people in the world drink milk out of a box every day. Long life milk manufactured by Parmalat is specially processed without any preservatives. The milk has been heated until the bacteria causing spoilage are destroyed and it can last for five to six months without refrigeration.
When Parmalat first introduced its product, it was expected that customer acceptance would be immediate and high. The product concept sounded good however the actual products sales were extremely low. Customers could not understand the concept of fresh milk in a dry goods box. Some felt that the name Parmalat sounded like baby formula. In some rural areas, doctors have found that customers perceive the concept of „long life‟ to be pasteurized milk that can be given to new born babies, thus ensuring „long life‟ for their children.
Human beings learn behaviors and concepts in a variety of ways. One of them is social learning, which is the preferred method of imparting information and imagery from marketing experts. Social learning is basically acquiring behaviors through adaptation, adoption, mimicry and imitation. The most repetitive behaviors within a group are the defining traits of the group. Hence, communities develop their own unique traits through the consistent exposure to a number of ideas, reactions, and beliefs.
Within social learning, a number of cognitive processes also take place naturally in our brains. Scaffolding is perhaps the most important process, consisting on building knowledge upon knowledge. That is, if you learn something on day 1, and then on day 2 a new concept is introduced, your brain will immediately try to connect to what was learned on day 1 to what was learn on day 2 and make a connection. This is a natural tendency of the human brain and a first step to build knowledge and create perception.
If a target population of consumers has been hit with a constant image of milk and with a construct of what milk is and what it should look like, taste like, and feel like, then the perception of what "milk" is will dominate any image that comes to challenge it. This is what builds a schema. Like in any type of teaching, the schema is the product of scaffolding. As more images of milk pour in, the brain will immediately categorize the images and develop a construct of which schema is a big part. Hence, "milk" will have a definite look and feel in the mind of the consumers which Parmalat may have challenged upon its first entrance into the market. As a result, the milk market may remain loyal to the original construct of milk and will reject the new idea of Parmalat milk as a low-fat, non-refrigerated, less-heaving tasting liquid.
The third important component of social learning is feedback. This is why marketing is so important when introducing a new product. When behaviors are encouraged via social acceptance or personal choice, perceptions definitely straighten. When Parmalat introduced its product, surely very few people bought it because there was not enough feedback to support the consumption of this type of milk over the regular milk. Hence, Parmalat should have engaged the services of a mass marketing campaign that would tell consumers the benefits of Parmalat by deconstructing the concept of regular milk. Therefore, by bringing out how much better Parmalat is compared to regular milk consumers get that final factor of feedback which is so needed for them to feel good about choosing one product over another.
Hence, scaffolding, schema and feedback are key steps in the process of building and creating perception, which is a very important thing to do to promote a new, innovative product.