1. What learning theories apply to the way in which viewers form their perceptions of reality based on reality TV programs?
• Consumers are predominately exposed to vicarious/observational learning theory or operant conditioning. (Hint define and elaborate vicarious learning theory (monkey see, monkey do) or operant conditioning via rewards and punishments)
• Reality programs provide viewers to learn various life skills. (Use case facts to explain/justify the life skills acquired through watching such programs and how vicarious learning takes place) Using Master Chef Australia to illustrate, elaborate on how contestants, when at home, can model this behavior and experience to prepare and present similar meals to their family and friends.
2. How are these programs influencing our consumer purchasing decisions, particularly for products in intrinsically linked industries such as food, home improvement, entertainment and health?
Reality shows can influence our consumer purchase decisions both directly, and indirectly.
• Directly – consumers viewing the show are often exposed to various types of products [both goods and services] which are central to the show’s theme. For example, we may feel that by purchasing these items, we are better equipped to engage in the same behaviours as our favourite reality contestants.
• Another form of direct influence that reality based shows have can be identified through the fact that there are other products that appear on the show, which are not directly involved in the delivery of the show itself. Examples of these products/brands could be food, mobile phones, cars, drinks etc. Viewers of these shows are exposed to products and brands become embedded within their memories for later recall when they are engaging in such product categories.
• Indirectly viewers can be influenced vicariously by the brands, products and services that these show contain as a result of the locations in which the show is filmed; the clothes that contestants or show hosts may wear. As we form attachments or connections with various participants in the show, we may also form attachments to the products/brands that these people purchase, leading to purchase action in order to emulate. • Whether directly or indirectly influenced, sponsoring companies/industries stand to benefit from this exposure through increased product sales, brand awareness and brand preference.
3. Does a viewers level of involvement with the reality based TV program - the degree of interactivity with the show, [i.e. having the option of voting for or against contestants] impact their perceptions of the show?
• Viewers’ engagement with many TV shows can be identified as being predominately low involvement. In these instances viewers are predominately learning vicariously through the shows, watching behaviours, attitudes, preferences unfold which may go on to shape their future actions or attitudes.
• But with Reality TV, the audiences’ level of involvement though has the potential to increase in accordance with the level of interactivity they engage in with the show. As the audience level of interactivity increases, so too does their level of involvement with the show. (Hint: Explain how the addiction and attachment forms when audiences feel they can control the outcome of a TV show) Therefore, allowing the audience to feel a stronger attachment to the show, the reality TV brand and branded products