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The psychology of advertising (1st edition 2010)
Te gebruiken bij
Auteur(s): Bob M. Fennis & Wolfgang Stroebe
Druk/Jaar van uitgave: 1e, 2010
Remarks & Related
English summary of the book.
Zoek recente samenvattingen & studiehulp
Chapter A. The starting point
Advertising = any form of paid communication by an identified sponsor, aimed to inform and/or persuade target audiences about an organization, product, service or idea.
The origins of modern day advertising
Advertising doesn’t create needs, but channels needs by reshaping them into wants. A side effect is the growing importance of a brand = the label with which to designate an individual product and differentiate it from competitors. Unique Selling Proposition (USP) = a summary statement used to meaningfully differentiate the brand from the competition. This is the key challenge in building brands.
Newspapers and magazines are among the main advertising media. Advertisers reach about a billion people per day through display and classified ads. Market shares have decreased due to television and internet, but magazines are still popular when targeting audiences with special interests; consumer segments that share common interests, values, or lifestyles.
Informational/argument-based appeal = straightforwardly informing consumers about the product, its price, and where it can be bought. This approach is also called the ‘reason-why approach’. A less aggressive approach, emotional/affect-based appeal = aiming to influence the consumer’s feelings/emotions rather than his thoughts. These appeals coexist.
The functions of advertising
Advertising had a place in society on an aggregate level:
- It facilitates competition among firms for consumer attention, preferences, choice, and consumer resources.
- It is the prime means companies have to inform consumers about products.
- It is a key source of funding for major mass media.
- It creates many jobs.
On an individual level, advertising can inform and persuade the individual consumer. With informing, the emphasis is on creating/influencing non-evaluative consumer responses like knowledge or beliefs. When persuading, the focus is on generating/changing an evaluative (valenced) response, in which the advertised brand is viewed as more favourable than before compared to competitors.
Motive for an informational appeal: to communicate something new and potentially relevant about a product, service or idea. Used more frequently for durable goods (products that can be used repeatedly, e.g. a freezer), than for non-durable goods (e.g. food). They are also more often used in developed countries than in developing ones. The most frequent communications are about performance, availability, components/attributes, price, quality and special offers.
The product life cycle (PLC) has four stages:
- Introduction stage à create brand awareness and induce product trial.
- Growth stage à build market share, improve the product, or develop brand extensions and communicate those.
- Maturity stage à consolidate/strengthen market share and shift of focus to creating consumer brand loyalty and maintaining top-of-mind awareness.
- Decline stage à use informational appeals to convey new/additional uses.
For more complex new products/services, advertising may provide a means to ‘educate’ the consumer about the way they work. For existing products, informational appeals are also used when there are problems with the product. Communicating a product recall = informing consumers that they need to return their product for repair of refunding (e.g. safety implications). Advertising may also have a corrective function = used when consumers have misconceptions of the product or when its reputation is bad.
Informing consumers may sometimes backfire or be ineffective in changing misconceptions. In that case, you need persuasive appeals = intended to change consumer responses (e.g. McDonald’s stating that their burger were made of 100% pure beef after the rumour that they used worms to produce their foods). The function of advertising is to aid in the marketing or products and services, and the key function of marketing is to facilitate the exchange of value between manufacturers and consumers. It is the persuasion brought by advertising that should result in buying/using the product. In all PLC stages persuasion strategies will flank information appeals in order to increase the odds of consumers responding positively to the product.
Advertisers can use two strategies to achieve the goal of persuasion:
- By directly increasing the attractiveness of the offer or the message à alpha strategies serve to increase the tendency to move toward the advocated position, and influence a consumer’s approach motivation.
- By reducing consumer reluctance to accept the position à omega strategies can persuade because they reduce/minimize the tendency to move away from the position, and influence a consumer’s avoidance motivation.
Alpha strategies include the use of strong, compelling arguments that justify accepting the message position, or communication scarcity. Omega strategies reduce resistance by directly counter arguing consumer concerns; distracting consumers to interfere with their concerns regarding the message position; reframing the message so that it does not appear to be a blatant persuasive attack; or using negative emotions.
Current views on advertising effectiveness
Naïve approach = advertising simply must be effective because it is so omnipresent and expenditures are vast and ever increasing.
Economic approach = correlates advertising expenditures with changes in sales volume in order to address the effects.
Media approach = effectiveness is conceptualized in terms of the number of individuals in a target population who have been exposed to a message, thereby looking at the reach of the message. Problem: it cannot inform on the impact of the exposure.
Creative approach = a message is effective to the extent that is it well-made and creative.
Psychological approach = aims at identifying advertising effects at the individual level. Specific advertising stimuli are related to specific and individual consumer responses. It also seeks to articulate the intrapersonal, interpersonal, or group-level psychological processes that are responsible for the relationship between ad stimuli and consumer responses. This is the perspective adopted by this book.
Consumer responses (individual level)
Cognitive consumer responses = beliefs and thoughts about brands, products, and services that consumer generate in response to advertising. Include brand awareness, recall, and recognition, but also associations, attitudes and preferences.
Affective responses = various more or less transient emotions and moods that can occur as a function of ad exposure. Differ in valence and intensity. E.g. warmth, irritation, fear, pride.
Behavioural responses = the intention and actual behaviour in response to advertising, like buying the product, choosing a brand, product trial, brand switching, and discarding a product.
Assessing advertising effects on consumer responses
Relationships can be correlational or causal:
Correlation = an observed change in one variable is associated with a change in the other (increase-increase = positive correlation & increase-decrease = negative correlation. 0 correlation = no relationship). Correlation is a necessary, but insufficient condition for causality. To infer that A causes B, three conditions must be met:
- The antecedent A must precede the consequence B;
- Changes in A must be associated with changes B;
- No other explanation for the change in B must be present than the change in A.
An experiment is particularly suited to establish causality. It involves manipulating one or more antecedents (independent variables) and assessing their impact on the consequence (dependent variable).
Random assignment ensures that the effects can be reliably attributed to the independent variables. Factorial experiment = when two or more variables are manipulated within the same design.
Mediation analysis = attempts to identify the intermediary psychological processes that are responsible for the effect of an independent on the dependent variable. There is mediation if:
- The independent variable A has an impact on the assumed mediator C;
- The variations in C significantly account for variation in the dependent variable B;
- The controlling for C significantly reduces or eliminates the impact of A on B.
Moderator = individual difference that strengthens or changes the direction of the effect of the independent on the dependent variable. The effect of A on B is different for various levels of C.
Advertising effects can be best understood as joint or interaction effects between situational and person variables. An advertising message may have a larger impact on one consumer group than on another or the direction of the effect may differ. Situational variables = external, environmental variables that act as independent/moderator variables that affect some consumer outcome (e.g. the promotional mix). Person variables = internal dimensions to a specific individual which typically act as moderators (e.g. consumer involvement or knowledge). Individual difference variables include personality traits like need for recognition and need for cognitive closure.
Source and message variables in advertising
Sources of advertising messages can be individuals, organizations or brands behind the product or service. A direct source is a spokesperson delivering a message or demonstrating a product. An indirect source is only associated with the product/service.
Credibility includes the dimensions of source expertise and trustworthiness. It mainly influences message processing and persuasion when recipients are not very motivated to process the message. Trustworthiness can be conveyed by stressing that the message source does not have a vested interest in delivering the message.
Many products are sold by appealing to sexual attraction and beauty. Attractiveness frequently functions as a halo: what is beautiful is good. The attractiveness halo-effect can easily extend beyond the model itself to positively affect the products with which he/she is associated.
Argument quality and message structure
Argument quality = what is communicated about the product. An argument is strong when a desirable product attribute is highlighted, coupled with the certainty that it will be delivered with the product.
Message structure = how product information is communicated. Presenting arguments first may increase consumer attention and processing intensity, while presenting them last may benefit them because they are most recently activated in memory. Other relevant message variables are:
One-sided message = classic, biased ad with arguments supporting a conclusion favourable to the advertised brand. Two-sided advertisements = include both positive and negative, or supporting and counterarguments. One-sided messages are more persuasive when recipients are favourably disposed to the message issue, while two-sided messages are more effective when the issue is unfamiliar/unfavourable to consumers.
Argument-based and affect-based appeals
Argument-based advertisements appeal to reason and use arguments, while affect-based advertisements use emotions and feelings. Experiential products lend themselves well to affect-based appeals. These appeals are also useful in low-involvement purchases. Fear-arousing communications try to scare the consumer into action by referring to risks that the consumer can either prevent or reduce by (not) buying the product. Risks can be:
- Physical = risk of bodily harm;
- Social = risk of being socially rejected;
- Performance = risk that competitive products will not perform as expected;
- Financial = risk of losing a lot of money/spending too much on an inferior product;
- Opportunity = the risk of missing an opportunity because of short supply.
Advertising in context: integrated marketing communications and the promotional mix
Source and message variables are the first class in advertising. Second class of situational variables that may affect consumer responses are the communication tools that make up the promotional mix. This includes direct marketing, interactive marketing, sales promotion, PR, and personal selling. Integrated Marketing Communication = coordinating the elements in the promotion mix to create synergy between them. Advertising can no longer be viewed as invariably non-personal communication, but manifests itself in hybrid forms, including elements from other tools in the promotion mix.
In direct marketing the firm directly and individually communicates with a potential customer, with the objective of generating a behavioural response. It includes database management, telemarketing, and direct response advertising. Word-of-mouth marketing = when a product user tries to convince others to try the product as well.
In event marketing, events are used to get in touch with potential customers, often through sponsorship. Direct mail = a personalized form where consumers are typically addressed by their names.
Interactive marketing = using the potential of the internet for marketing products and services. Advantages of the internet are that it is fast, that consumers can control timing and pacing of information, and that consumers may have more control of content than with traditional media. However, perceived social presence is lower online.
Sales promotion = focused on generating an immediate behavioural response from the consumer. It is a form of ‘action communication’. It uses price-cuts and other forms of temporary incentives to generate sales on an ad hoc basis. Its five basic functions are:
- To increase market size by directly stimulating sales;
- To reward loyal customers;
- To make existing customers more loyal;
- To stimulate trial by new customers;
- To support other communications tools.
Negative effects may occur as sales promotion actions by competitors result in ever-increasing promotion costs for similar sales revenues. Sales promotions may affect the reference price and make consumers reject the offer when the promotion has ended. Price becomes the most salient product attribute in the consumer’s mind, corroding perceptions based on other features.
Public relations = a communication instrument that is used to promote favourable perceptions about the organization as a whole. It includes sponsoring of events, communication with media gatekeepers, political stakeholders, pressure groups, government bodies and internal employees. It is a form of communication creating a mutual understanding between organizations and their publics. Financial PR = aimed at informing and persuading the financial audiences with are essential for the long-term money-raising potential of the company, such as shareholders and investors. Marketing PR = the promotion of new products and services through free publicity.
Personal selling = a two-way, face-to-face form of communication to inform and persuade prospective buyers with the aim of yielding a behavioural response from them. An agent tries to foster compliance from a target.
Persuasion involves changing consumer beliefs and evaluative responses, while compliance is focused solely on overt behaviour and compliance following a request.
Key advantage: it has a higher overall impact on buyer behaviour than many of the other tools, since a sales person can probe symptoms of consumer resistance and try to break through them. The product can be demonstrated and there can be negotiated on the sales terms. There is no waste in reaching audience members that are not part of the target group. Personal selling is relatively expensive and has a limited reach and frequency. There is also a high risk of message inconsistency.
Classic and contemporary approaches of conceptualizing advertising effectiveness
Two approaches to conceptualize the impact of advertising: Modelling approach = focuses on the aggregate level; entire markets/market segments are the primary unit of measurement. Behavioural paradigm = focuses on individual consumer responses as a function of specific advertising input variables (ad variables = independent, consumer responses = dependent). The level of specificity is high in the behavioural paradigm such that the effects of individual ad characteristics on specific individual consumer responses are assessed by employing experimental research methods.
Modelling approach: sales-response models
Sales-response models = aim to relate advertising inputs such as expenditures to aggregated output measures like sales and market share, in order to gain insight in the aggregated advertising effects as a function of aggregated advertising input. Two basic shapes are:
- Concave sales response model = sales follow the law of diminishing returns: the incremental impact of advertising on sales diminishes with increasing the communication budget. Once the entire population of non-buyers has been reached, additional ad expenditures will not add much in terms of impact.
- S-shaped model = initial impact of advertising as a function of communication budget is low. After this phase, sales will start to increase exponentially with increasing expenditures, up to a saturation point where the impact of advertising will level off. After this phase, added investments may even lead to adverse results.
Disadvantages of an aggregate level of analysis are that advertising may not be the only causal factor, variables may interact, and factors outside the realm of the company may be responsible for aggregated effects. Response modelling is based on input-output representations without regard for the underlying processes that are responsible for the occurrence of a relationship between advertising input and sales output. Sales output is a behavioural measure and thus a behavioural approach is needed to complement the modelling approach in understanding advertising effects.
Behavioural approach: hierarchy-of-effects models
Hierarchy-of-effects models propose several intermediate steps instead of assuming a direct link between ad message and consumer response. It is assumed that some form of consumer learning takes place following exposure to advertising.
There are three learning stages:
- Cognitive stage = consumers engage in directing conscious attention to the target ad and thinking about its content.
- Affective stage = thinking gives way to emotional responses and the formation of attitudes or preferences associated with the advertised brand takes place.
- Conative stage = includes behaviour that might arise from exposure to advertising, including (re)purchase and (re)use.
AIDA model = advertising reaches its impact on consumer behaviour through the sequence of Attention (cognitive stage), Interest, Desire (affective stage), and Action (conative stage). The two basic functions of advertising are to inform and to persuade. Modifications:
- AIDCA = Attention, Interest, Desire, Conviction, Action.
- AIETA = Awareness, Interest, Evaluation, Trial, Adoption.
- AKLPCP = Awareness, Knowledge, Liking, Preference, Conviction, Purchase.
None of the models provide a valid description of how advertising works. Other weaknesses are that in many situations the model will not hold because the fixed sequence of processes presupposes a high level of consumer involvement, while this is rather an exception than the rule.
FCB grid = advertising can be modelled along two key variables: the extent of thinking versus feeling and the extent of consumer involvement (low versus high).
- High involvement-thinking = products that are associated with considerable risk. Decision-making involves the traditional think-feel-do sequence, in which the consumer first learns about the product’s attributes and performance through careful processing of advertising and other sources of information, then develops an attitude, and subsequently acts in accordance with that attitude.
- High involvement-feeling = involved with a feel-think-do sequence.
- Low involvement-thinking = household products and simple food items. Decision-making proceeds along a do-think-feel hierarchy: consumers buy the brand without any mentionable cognitive/affective process preceding it. Then, by using the brand, they may learn about its attributes. The evaluation of the usage experience may produce an attitude. Do-think-feel sequence.
- Low involvement-feeling = includes products that may be regarded as life’s little pleasures. They are bought primarily for hedonic reasons, and affective considerations weigh more heavily than cognitive considerations. After purchase, the product is consumed eliciting an affective experience which may (not) be followed by learning about the product’s attributes. Do-feel-think sequence.
Rossiter et al. grid = high and low involvement product types are crossed with two classes of consumer motives. Positive motivations are transformational motivations and include sensory gratification, intellectual stimulation, and social approval (a consumer who craves milk because he likes the taste). Negative purchase motivations are informational motives and include problem removal, problem avoidance and normal depletion (a consumer who notices he has run out of milk and wants to buy a new bottle).
A weakness of both the FCB grid and the Rossiter et al. grid is that they link certain levels of involvement and motivation to certain products, and thus disregard the possibility that the same product may function in a different role for different individuals. Involvement and motivation refer to person variables, not to invariant attributes of a product/advertising stimulus.
DAGMAR = more explicit with regard to the specific communication objectives that advertising may have in each stage. It highlights a basic distinction in evaluative versus non-evaluative consumer responses to advertising.
- creating category need
- brand awareness
- increasing brand knowledge/comprehension
- brand attitude
- purchase intention
- purchase facilitation
- brand loyalty
There is no evidence that advertising affects the consumer in the sequence posited by the model.
Problems with all the hierarchy-of-effects models mentioned above:
- They are only concerned with the effects of advertising ad discrete media messages, whereas in reality, effects often come about in interaction with various other marketing factors;
- They represent a simplistic view of human behaviour and response processes, with advertising as the stimulus and overt consumer behaviour as the ultimate response without any regard for underlying processes and moderating conditions;
- They are inflexible, since they assume that all ads have the same specific effects;
- Especially the models that related specific effects with ways to measure them (DAGMAR) suggest that the postulated sequence of effects is valid, since its constituent components can be measured.
Consumer behaviour and psychology in general are too complex to be captured in a single model.
Cognitive response model = shares with the various hierarchy-of-effects model the assumption that learning takes place in response to exposure to a persuasive message. However, it emphasizes the mediating role of idiosyncratic thoughts/cognitive responses that people generate when being exposed. Once a receiver is exposed to a persuasive message, he may actively add to and elaborate upon message content. Cognitive responding may lead to persuasion, active resistance, or a neutral, unchanged position. Major shortcoming: its failure to account for the processes that occur when ability and/or motivation are low, other than that the extent and valence of thoughts are less consequential for persuasion.
Behavioural approach: dual process models
Dual process approach = information processing, judgement and decision-making must be viewed on a continuum. At one end of this continuum, information processing is characterized by controlled, slow, explicit, conscious, and analytic, bottom-up processing and judgement. People spend time scrutinizing the advertising message and construct meaning, beliefs, attitudes, judgement, and behavioural decisions. This mode of processing is engaged when the issue in a message is highly involving for the consumer. The quality of information becomes an important determinant of persuasion. Strong, compelling arguments evoke mostly favourable thoughts which will increase persuasion.
On the other end of the continuum, information processing involves relatively automatic, fast, impulsive, top-down processing and judgement. Consumers use prior knowledge, simple decision rules (heuristics), stereotypes and other quick guidelines to effortlessly and mindlessly arrive at a decision.
Attitudes formed/changed this way are less persistent, do not predict behaviour very well, and are vulnerable to counter-persuasion. Intermediate forms are highly likely. Both modes complement each other and may even interact.
Behavioural approach: research on unconscious processes in consumer behaviour
Activating a concept in consumer memory (priming) can directly affect overt behaviour without the participant being consciously aware that the activation procedure has any influence on the subsequent behavioural response. Subliminal priming = when people are not even consciously aware of the stimulus, but still show even complex behaviour as a function of the stimulus that is largely involuntary and automatic. Because of the low-involvement nature of most advertising, implicit processes are the rule rather than the exception when it comes to understanding the psychology of advertising.
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