Consumer Psychologist

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Consumer psychologists specialize in factors that affect consumer behavior. They collaborate with marketing specialists to judge whether marketing campaigns work and target intended consumers. Consumer psychologists also try to predict how consumers will respond to various market factors.

Consumer psychologists complete training in marketing, advertising, economics, anthropology, and social and cognitive psychology. This field became popular following World War II after John B. Watson, a pioneer in the field of consumer psychology, effectively targeted young mothers by appealing to their emotions in a series of baby powder advertisements. Since then, using emotional appeal has been one of the pillars of consumer psychology.

Many consumer psychologists become specialists. Some consumer psychologists specialize in consumer responses to advertising, while others specialize in adult, child, and adolescent consumer behavior. Price and its effect on consumer trends is another specialty in this field.

Consumer psychologists also specialize in these subfields:

  • Consumer perception
  • Advertising
  • Emotions and purchasing
  • Price psychology

Careers in Consumer Psychology

Consumer psychologists work for advertising agencies, universities, government agencies, and various private companies. Creative and expressive individuals often thrive in this field. Many consumer psychologists are required to work long hours and have few career advancement opportunities. Consumer psychologists with master’s degrees usually find jobs at advertising agencies, while those with PhDs typically work as university researchers.

Consumer Psychology Job Duties

Consumer psychologists typically collect consumer stats, conduct statistical analysis, and make conclusions based on these stats. Job responsibilities differ by organization. For example, consumer psychologists working at advertising firms organize focus groups and distribute surveys to collect information about consumer preferences. After analyzing research results, consumer psychologists participate with marketing specialists to target specific groups.

Education and Training

Consumer psychologists typically major in psychology as undergraduates. Those with bachelor’s degrees often land entry-level jobs. Students at schools not offering consumer psychology programs should take classes in advertising, marketing, consumer trends, and psychology. Purdue University, the University of Nebraska, and Cornell University offer highly respected programs in consumer psychology.

Consumer psychologists with graduate degrees enjoy better job opportunities. Students enrolled in consumer psychology master’s degree programs must complete courses in research methods, data analysis, and business management. Students earning PhDs complete advanced courses in economics and statistics, and additional courses are dictated by career focuses. Complete business courses and acquire some business experience if you intend to work in marketing.


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