Consumer Attitude Change and Drug Abuse
Marketing is a gradual process. It involves obtaining consumer needs and wants, building of consumer products and services, promotion of the consumer products, building of strong consumer relations, adding value to the product as per the consumer changing needs and finding the means by which the company or the organization will retain the customers within the company. The aim of marketing is customer satisfaction. Organizations use marketing as a means of increasing the market share of a product and finally increasing the overall business profits. For marketing to be effective the customer is always placed at the center of all decision making processes. (Kotler, 2008)Marketing is a field of study that is changing constantly.
The evolution of marketing has seen it changing from the business perspective alone and into a social perspective. Social marketing is a branch of marketing that focuses on the effect of a product or service to the overall social wellbeing of a community. Social marketers are using the marketing strategies and techniques as a means to solve the societal problems that are being experienced by the community at large. Marketing strategies for a long time now have been used to spread the word on the spread of HIV/AIDS, the effects of drug abuse, effects of environmental conservation among others. (Kotler, 2008)
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Many problems are affecting the society as a whole. Among the problems that are facing the community is the problem of drug abuse especially among the youth. Drug abuse is a subject that has raised eyebrows among many institutions in the communities. Churches, government institutions, Non-Governmental Organizations and businesses as a whole are taking it upon themselves to fight the rampant increase in drug abuse. (Cockett, 1971)Drug abuse is often related to drug trafficking. Drug trafficking is a crime in many nations and it is also referred to as the drugs and alcohol crime. Drugs that are potential for trafficking are cocaine, heroin, morphine and amphetamines. These drugs are classified as illegal to use, possess, manufacture, or distribute them in most countries. Therefore drug trafficking is the possession, manufacture or the distribution of this illegal drugs.This possession, manufacture and distribution of the drugs named above is what is referred to as drug abuse and it is contrary to law. Illegal drugs fall into different categories, inclusive of legal medicines obtained illegally.
Sentences vary depending on the amount, type of drug, circumstances, and jurisdiction but generally, the penalty for illegal drug possession and sale varies from a small fine to a prison sentence. (Stephens, 1992)In most countries drug trafficking and drug use is prohibited; the reason being that drugs adversely affect the health of the abuser and in the overall leads to crime. Sharing of needles that are used to inject the abused drug into the body system, lead to the spread of conditions such as HIV and AIDS. The aim of this case study is to focus on the rising trends of drug abuse in Hong Kong specifically and to relate it to marketing. Many institutions in Hong Kong have tried and different means have been used to contain the rising trend but with very minimal success. The case study is therefore aimed at intertwining the concept of rising drug abuse with that of marketer’s consumer attitude change, with the aim of determining whether consumer attitude change can be a solution to the increased drug abuse in Hong Kong. This is by carefully analyzing the rising trend of drug abuse in Hong Kong critically scrutinizing the statistics and evaluating the marketing strategies aimed at attitude change as solutions to this rising trend. (Rugh, 2002)
1.3 Objectives of the Study
- To determine the rising trend of drug abuse in Hong Kong.
- To analyze the strategies for consumer attitude change.
- To establish the effect of consumer attitude change on drug abuse in Hong Kong
2.1 Trend of Drug Abuse in Hong Kong
Hong Kong is among the countries that have for a long time being alarmed by the rising rates of youth drug abuse. Government institutions together with other non governmental organizations have combined there forces to combat this rising trend. Their aim is to ensure that they make a better life for next generations to come in Hong Kong. (Cockett, 1971)According to a survey that was carried out by the Anti-narcotics department of Hong Kong the rate of drug abuse among the youth in Hong Kong has continued to rise wildly and uncontrollable irrespective of the measures that has been put ahead. By the beginning of the year 2009, according to the Narcotic Division the number of youths who were engaged in drug abuse had risen to an alarming rate of almost 9000. Out of this rate a total of more than fifty percent of the drug abuser were below the age of 21 which compared to a survey that was carried out previously in the year 2006 has increased drastically.
The other half of the percentage of individuals who were above the age of 21 but were still involved in the drug use also admitted of starting the habit earlier in life. (Myers, 1980)In Hong Kong among the many volunteering groups and organizations that are involved in the fight against drug abuse are the Zheng Sheng Association and the New Being Fellowship. These two groups are aimed at rehabilitating the individuals and encouraging those who are addicted to drugs to come forward. The group is involved with counseling and de-stigmatization of drug abusers and it is still involved with statistics to determine the trend. (Stephens, 1992)In a study that was done in the year 2008, the number of individuals who were in both centers a very high number of them were still in there secondary education levels, and to be specific that total amount covered almost five percent of the overall secondary schools in Hong Kong. The centers then carried out a further assessment whose results indicated that among the students who were in the rehabilitation centers, most of them claimed that the drugs were being sold within the school compounds which made it very easy for them to access and to get refills whenever they needed them.
It was then determined that the number of this students were part of the schools that were ranked in Hong Kong as the best performing schools entirely. (Rugh, 2002)Drug abuse has adverse effects not only to the individual but to the society at large. Drug abuse alters and distorts the mind of the abuser which in turn leads to other crimes and ethical behavior by the youth. According to a survey that was carried out in the rehabilitation centers a figure that was close to fifty percent of the drug abusers said that they had been convicted for more than one crime. In the same findings those who are drug abusers blamed their addiction to the need to be recognized and the need for belonging to a certain class or peer group. Others claimed that drugs help them to relieve stress, unease and tedium. (Cockett, 1971)These statistics served as an eye opener to the government of Hong Kong and other institutions that were more than ready to reduce this rising rate of drug abuse. As a result a campaign was launched all over Hong Kong to serve as an educational basis for the drug abusers and other citizens on the adverse effects of drug abuse and encourage them to quite the habit and come forward for help as a step to improve their own health and the health of the society. Myers, P. (1980):
2.2 Drugs abused by the Youth in Honk Kong
Many studies have been carried out by different groups and individual researchers to determine the kind of drugs that are being abused by the youth in Honk Kong and the reasons as to why these specific drugs are being abused. One such a research was carried out by the Narcotics division in Hong Kong indicated that a larger number if the youths abuse in comparison to the psychotropic drugs. In the same finding it was determined that the smallest number of the drug abusers abused both kinds of drugs. Heroine is less accessible and more expensive in comparison to the other psychotropic drugs. In Hong Kong the regular psychotropic drugs are ketamine, ecstasy and the commonly known ice which is also referred to as marijuana. (Cockett, 1971)Psychotropic drugs are very common due to their ease of manufacture in laboratories making it very difficult for the government to monitor their productions and their distribution. Heroine on the other hand is very difficult to find especially since its raw materials are unavailable making its production limited to only certain areas of the country. Heroine can be easily tracked by the government through its distribution and promotion strategies.
(Rugh, 2002)Heroine is also very expensive in comparison to psychotropic drugs with a difference of an average of HK$27. Another reason as to why the youth abuse the psychotropic drugs in comparison to Heroine is that Heroine has a higher consumption rate when compared to the other drugs. Those who are addicted to heroine have to consume it more than fifty times in a month and those who consume psychotropic drugs need to consume them four times or less in a month. (Myers, 1980)The psychotropic drugs due to the reasons that have been named above fully satisfy the needs of the consumers. It is easily accessible, cheaper in price and quenches the urge and satisfies the need of the consumer. This explains why the consumption of these drugs is rising significantly among the youth especially in their school compounds. (Stephens, 1992)
2.3 Consumer Attitude Change
The decision of a consumer to purchase a certain product or a service depends on numerous factors. This factors are numerous due to the fact that human beings are very different and thus there needs and interests differ from one person to the next. The factors that prompt these differences range from image, motivation, attitudes and perceptions. These factors influence a consumer’s decision when it comes to choice of brands. In a broader sense, other than the factors that have been named above other factors that affect consumer behavior are influence from family members, cultural influences, social cultural influences and group reference. (Wiggins, 1992)Attitude is the umbrella that covers and influences the highest percentage of consumer decisions when it comes to choice of brands. An attitude is a permanent like or dislike that is attributed to certain brands or services. An attitude can be defined as a judgment or an opinion or in greater sense a verdict that is placed on an object. An attitude can either be positive or negative.
(Eagly, 1989)In marketing terms, an attitude is a perception that could be either positive or negative that is permanently engorged in the mind of a consumer as a result of prior experience, knowledge from family and friends and the overall cultural beliefs of an individual. Attitudes just as mentioned above are permanent but that does not mean that they cannot be changed. With the correct procedures an attitude can be changed either positively or negatively. Marketers use promotional and advertising techniques as a means by which they change the attitude that a specific group of people have on a product or a service. (Chaiken, 1995)The ABC model is believed to the developmental model of an attitude. ABC is an abbreviation that stands for Affect, Behavior, and Cognition. The three factors mold an individual’s or a group’s attitude towards a product. Affect is related to the emotional reaction that is attached to a product. When a consumer observes a product, what are the emotions that run through their mind concerning that product? For example if the product is a television set from Sony does looking at the product make the consumer feel the desire to purchase it or does it not even move a muscle?Behavior can be defined as the message that is passed by an individual either verbally or non-verbally concerning a certain product.
The tonal variations, the body language the actual purchase of the product among others are some of the behavioral intentions that build an attitude. The C in the abbreviation stands for cognitive. Cognitive response is ejected by the beliefs that are borne by an individual or a group of people in relation to a product or to a service. Cognitive response is built through direct know-how or familiarity or learning from observation. (Higgins, 1996)Nostalgia is one of the factors that build a lasting attitude. Nostalgia in the simplest terms means the good old days. It is the urge to enjoy something that happened in the past. When related to consumer purchasing behavior nostalgia means that lasting image and feeling at the back of a consumers mind as a result of purchasing or consuming a certain product. When individuals consume a certain brand from a company and then later purchase another one of the same kind but of different making a comparison is done between the two. The better product between the two leaves nostalgia. It is the conception that is held after a consumption of a certain product.
(Loewenstein, 2007)An attitude is formed through a related number of stages; these are the vague stage that is created out of advertisements, learning from friends and family. It is a fantasy kind of attitude that is formulated even before the individual decides to consume a product or a service. The second stage is the decision stage where the individual decides maybe while at a supermarket counter to take one product and to leave out the other one. At this point the attitude is clarified in comparison to the first stage. Next, is the experience itself. This is the actual experience while consuming the product or the service. For example that experience after visiting a sauna in a certain hotel. The attitude that was vague becomes clearer and the invalid once are cleared.The fourth stage of image formation is the post attitude. At this stage the individual reminisces about the feeling that they had while enjoying the product or the service and form lasting ideas and attitudes about it.
These feelings range from negative feelings of regret where the individual wishes he never consumed the product, to positive attitudes such as nostalgia where in the mind of the individual the consumption is recorded as the best thing that has ever happened and the consumer longs to have more of that and even better.Different researchers have undertaken studies and projects on the two variables of this study as different aspects. No secondary information has been derived that combines that topic of consumer attitude and the reduction of the rising cases of drug abuse. In the next chapter the researcher will seek to intertwine the two concepts and to come up with valid findings on whether changing the attitude of youth about the consumption of drugs will reduce the abuse significantly. (Rugh, 2002)
Discussion of Findings
3.1 Consumer Attitude Change as a Driver towards
Reduced Drug Abuse in Hong Kong
The Hong Kong governments in collaboration with other volunteering organizations and the non governmental organizations have thrived to reduce and maybe even totally do away with the rising drub abuse behavior among the youth. The campaigns that have been put across through out the country in Hong Kong have not been very successful in dealing with the rising problem. The youth are abusing the drugs at a very tender age and the drugs are being more available on a daily basis. (Sanders, 2006)Consumer’s attitude change is one of the policies that if properly formulated, implemented and evaluated will result into a lasting reduction in the drug abuse habit that is very rampant. The youth who are involved in drug trafficking and drug abuse view themselves as very cunning, crafty and sly. They feel that they cannot be caught by the police and their school administration because there motives are planned prior to the actions. They feel that there actions help themselves to feel the sense of belonging and they feel lifted as their stress and depression is reduced by the addition. On the other hand they view there lives as very risky but once they survive without getting caught they feel heroic among their friends and other traffickers and abusers. (Rugh, 2002)
Attitudes contribute very highly an individual’s behavior. When individual’s have a specific attitude towards a subject or an object it drives them to behave in a certain manner. Certain psychologists have criticized the relationship between an attitude and a behavior. They state that other than attitudes there are numerous other factors that affect an individual’s behavior and reaction towards an object. To some extent this argument is true but holding all other factors constant attitudes influence behavior greatly. (Fazio, 1986)For an attitude to affect a behavior it has to be specific. A vague attitude towards drug abuse cannot influence an individual’s consumption of drugs. The youth who are highly involved in drug abuse have a specific attitude towards the drug.
They know exactly how it makes them feel after the consumption because there attitude is related to direct experimentation. Having a specific attitude towards an object makes the response accessible. This is because it is very easy to access the behavior that will result from education or information regarding certain consumption. (Williams, 1986)When asked about the drug abuse and the production, drug abusers usually possess a denial response. The consumption of drugs is often held in top secret, individual vow not to expose themselves and in that effect they cannot disclose there fellow abusers. This is a specific attitude. In order for the government and other organizations to fight this uprising abuse, it is important that they understand the specific attitude that is attached to this addiction. (Stephens, 1992)
Recommendations and Conclusions
Changing the youth attitudes on drug abuse is a process that requires a given number of steps. Step one requires that the government and the institutions involved in the marketing strategy focus on identifying values, impressions and fondness in relation to certain drugs. It is important to identify the factors and the variables that influence the decision by an individual to start partaking drugs.Earlier in this research we determined that the youth of Honk Kong have their interest and their preferences inclined onto psychotropic drugs. The reason being that these kind of drugs are readily available and they are cheaper in comparison to heroine. Psychotropic drugs are also less addictive and therefore require a lesser amount as consumption to sustain the addiction and the behavior.
It is clear that the youth at this tender age are not financially acquainted and therefore they rely on the cheaper option. Step two of the attitude change requires that the institutions come up with ways in which they can amend the attitudes that have been inscribed in the minds of the abusers. In this case the abusers have a positive attitude towards the intake and the injection of the drugs. They feel that without the drugs they cannot live a happy life. They believe that the drugs make them happy and help them forget their disappointments and make them recognized among their peers.Step three requires the identification of means of changing the attitude towards the desired attitude. To do this it is important that the ideas and the beliefs that drugs make you happy and that if you do not abuse drugs you will be abandoned by friends should be changed completely.
Students and the youth should be advised and educated on other ways and means to revert from feeling lonely and depressed. They can be introduced to certain games either indoor or outdoor that keep them occupied and games that are enjoyable. Students should also be encouraged to go on school trips and be involved in other extra curriculum activities that will keep them involved and destruct the from the habit.Educating the youth about the adverse effects of drug abuse is also one of the means by which attitudes regarding consumption of drugs can be changed. This can be done in rehabilitation centers where the addicts will meet others who have been addicted to the drugs and together they will go through the healing process.
Attitudes affect behavior. Behavior affects the choice or the decision made concerning purchase or consumption of an object or a product. Marketing strategies of attitude change have taken a different turn and they have evolved towards the social perspective. The society is faced with numerous problems and despite different measures that have been put across none of them has truly succeeded.In Hong Kong drug abuse has been on the rampant in the last couple of years. The government and the voluntary institutions have come up with campaign strategies to curb the rising rate but the campaigns have however not been successful to date. This is clear from the statistics in 2009 where the youth are abusing drugs even in the school compounds.Marketing consumer attitude change can be an effective tool towards the decrease of drug abuse. Changing the attitude of the youth regarding the consumption of the drugs clearly indicating its adverse effects the health of an individual and to the development of the society is a successful tool. The government should only seek to ensure that the policies are identified, formulated, implemented and evaluated smartly.
This research has been successful it has provided the answers that are necessary to hind the objectives of the study. The case of increased drug abuse in honk Kong has been studied in depth and the concept surrounding it explained carefully. The strategies that are important for attitude change have also been studied and laid out clearly. The intertwining of both concepts has also been undertaken and the results and the findings are those that are measurable, specific, achievable, and realistic and time bound.Further research can however be done on ways in which the limitations of changing attitude can be made. Individuals are resistant to change and this is always a limitation for undertaking any kind of implementation that requires the change of behavior. When this is done the issue of the youth and drug abuse will soon become a thing of the past and the government of Hong Kong will be in a position to continually develop the country as a whole, since one of the stumbling blocks will have been cleared.
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