Consumer Behavior -- the Impact of Advertising Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

Consumer Behavior -- the Impact of Advertising

"Brands should redouble their efforts in using advertising to grow brand advocacy through the integration of online and offline branded consumer contact points…[and moreover since] brand advertising stimulates website visits…" understanding the online and social media sites and applications can go a long ways to creating successful advertising campaigns… (Graham, et al.).

Purpose and Expectations

Advertising in the current global marketplace requires a great deal more than simply preparing entertaining, informative and attractive advertising campaigns. This paper points out that along with a good product or service, the marketing company needs to fully understand the dynamics and cultural realities of the targeted consumer. There are consumers that are worldly and others that are more parochial in their outlook, and still others that will resist buying anything made in a foreign country. Hence, the outlook and cultural make-up of the potential consumer ranks as high or higher on the list of priorities than even the quality of the product or service. It is a fascinating world now that globalization brings companies into the consciousness of consumers thousands of miles away, across deserts, across oceans, and across myriad cultures that are vastly different but all consume and buy. But indeed product marketing can backfire and cause wasted resources if the marketing strategy does not take into consideration all the pertinent aspects of the consumer and his or her location and cultural values. What is the impact of any advertisement on consumers at varying ends of the spectrum? That is the question to be approached and understood in this paper.

Discussion -- The Literature

The use of metaphors in advertising is the interesting and important subject of a peer-reviewed piece in the Journal of Advertising; and albeit the use of metaphors hasn't been researched a great deal in the literature, this is clearly an important component of many marketing campaigns. Typically, the metaphor used is something like, "…exercise lays the foundation for lasting fitness," the authors explain, and this use of rhetorical figures in this context is called "artful deviation from expectation" (Phillips et al., 2009, p. 49).

Moreover, the authors explain that the "essence of metaphor" is embracing a "cross-domain comparison"; that is, a metaphor compares two different objects through an analogy that suggests one of the objects is "figuratively like another" even though to the eye and the mind they seem very different (Phillips, 50). In the quote used above, the intension of the advertising is to give the impression that exercise builds a "foundation" for the body (muscles, heart, etc.) that is comparable to the sturdiness of the foundation below the house one is living in (Phillips, 50).

The authors conducted a study using 344 undergraduate students (and paid each of them $10 for their participation); the students were shown three different metaphors all regarding exercise and asked to "rate their degree of belief" in each one, using an 11-point scale. The three were: a) "exercise is a journey"; b) "exercise is work for pay"; and c) "exercise is heat" (Phillips, 54). The results of the study showed that under "moderately incidental advertising exposure" the three metaphors had "little power to shift belief" (i.e., make the respondent believe in the product or service) vis-a-vis the advertising approach. However, when the metaphor is "highly figurative" it can "shift beliefs" across a variety of participants -- especially when the metaphor is visual and not just verbal. Moreover, some individuals have a "high degree of ability to process metaphors" and that group will be very responsive when exposed to metaphors even in an incidental moment of exposure to the metaphor (Phillips 57).

Internet Marketing

The fastest growing form of advertising today is on the Internet, which the authors of an article in the Journal of Marketing Research assert will bring totals to an estimated $34 billion in 2014 (up from $23.4 billion in 2008). Roughly 40% of Internet advertising is placed on what the authors call "sponsored searches" -- typically these ads are positioned next to a Google search result, which is in fact a teaser, or a link, to an advertisement that often relates to the specific search the user has launched (Agarwal, et al. 2011, p. 1057). What is novel about this form of Internet advertising is that it the positioning of a company's ad is based on a bidding process.

That is, an advertiser doesn't merely put out cash to be placed in a pivotal spot; rather, there is an auction and the search engine company (Yahoo, MSN, and Google, for example) ranks the order the advertisements will be placed based on the "submitted bid and past click performance" (Agarwal 1057). A quote used by the authors asserts that being placed #1 at the top of the list of links to the right of the search result will bring "…3 1/2 times more traffic…as opposed to #2, and the numbers keep sliding from there" (Agarwal 1057).

However, there is a good bit of controversy as to the success an advertiser may achieve vis-a-vis the positioning on search sites; indeed, and because there is a lack of empirical evidence on this issue, the authors engaged in research to come up with data they can support. They used experimental keywords across several positions on the search results pages; their data set consisted of 3,187 observations of "…daily impressions, clicks, and orders for 68 keywords over a 45-day period from June 2009 to July 2009" (Agarwal 1061). As to the strategies employed, the article offers numerous pages of complicated algebraic equations and formulae -- that would require a math major to fully understand -- but their narrative leaves little doubt that advertisers engaged in "…intense bidding wars to secure the top positions" are basing their bids on "faulty assumptions" (Agarwal 1070).

In fact, Agarwal concludes, being at the top of the list of ad links on search result pages for Google does not always "maximize revenues" (1070). Further, the advertiser seeking to get good results on these search results pages may be "better off in the short run placing less weight on obtaining top positions" (Agarwal 1070). Also, selecting the most effective keywords can mean greater success luring online consumers than being at the top of the list, Agarwal contends (1070).

Brand Loyalty

Brand loyalty is among the most sought after components of the entire marketing and advertising field. An article published in the Interdisciplinary Journal of Contemporary Research in Business (Abbasi 2011) emphasizes that the very "substance of advertising" lies in the fact that it has likeability, it has persuasiveness, and that it has "brand personality" (Abbasi 2). The authors of this article review a number of other articles on brand loyalty, calling the their own literature review of the available resources a "…mishmash of studies that pull glimmer on the atrociousness of advertising and its prominence on consumer buying power" (Abbasi 2).

The article asserts that advertising can be boring and in fact many advertisements appear to be "a squander of time and effort" by most people. Hence, the need to create advertising that has "likeability" otherwise consumers are not going to buy, and will never become loyal to that brand (Abbasi 3). One point-of-view in the literature suggests that in order to get the consumer to like the advertising that a given company puts out, the advertising must have a cognitive viewpoint that can stimulate consumer behavior. Another position states that merely getting the consumer to like the advertising is the key and still another suggestion from the literature the authors revealed concludes that getting consumers to like it depends on "…the element of entertainment and information that is provided" by the advertising (Abbasi, 3). Sometimes it is just a matter of impacting the potential customer's mind in a positive way, to get that person to buy the product.

One key hypothesis put forward by the authors suggests that the brand should actually have "personality" -- brand personality offers the consumer time to assess the message in terms of the personality put forward by the image, the message, and the theme. Among the most frequent ways of inducing a sense of personality in advertising is to get a celebrity to endorse the product, Abbasi explains (4). In that case, there is a strong need that the celebrity is a likeable person, and that he or she appeals to a broad range of potential customers.

Whether or not the advertising actually uses a celebrity, or otherwise comes up with a formula to appeal to consumers, first comes the "brand image" -- which should be a definable and memorable image because the image "ultimately" creates an awareness in the target consumer market. And if the brand image is successful in making the consumer aware, then the consumer will have a sense a "brand equity" in the product -- which ultimately leads to brand loyalty (Abbasi 5). .

In the case of brand loyalty that means the customer will come back over and over again to…

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