The advertising industry is a multi-billion industry. Companies spend huge sums of money and time in developing advertisements that will influence the way people think about their product or brand. In advertising, words, message and programmes are used to attract consumers. Mass media is then used to transmit these messages to the consumer. The adverts' success will depend on whether the consumer will use the products and services rather than what the competitors are offering (Tygi & Kumar, 2004). Consumer behavior, on the other hand, refers to all the activities that are related with buying and use of goods and services. It also encompasses the consumer's emotional, mental, and behavioral responses that relate to this activity (Kardes, Cronely & Cline, 2010). Advertisers need to be aware of these things in order to understand how they can affect the consumer's purchasing decision through advertising. This paper will delve on how advertisements affect consumer behavior.
Consumers' choices are influenced by product and brand image and how they perceive them. Advertisers know this. Through advertising, they can change the consumers' perception by associating the product with a certain attribute that appeals to consumers' need. The consumers then associate in their minds that attribute with the brand more than they will relate the same attribute to other competitive brand (Sutherland, 2009). This, in turn, influences their purchasing behavior. This is more so if the use of appeal is applied in the advertisement. Appeals are designed to create a positive image of the individuals who use a certain product. By acknowledging the need to satisfy consumer's deep-lying and personal desires, they capture the consumer's attention and influence their purchasing habits. The most common type of appeal includes social, fear, humor, sex, statistics and youth appeal.
According to Sutherland (2009), the exposure of each single advert has minimal effect on the target audience. However, through repetitions, these small effects accumulate and build into larger and perceivable outcomes. That is why advertisements are always repeated and their messages consistent. This repetition increases familiarity with the adverts' claim concerning the product. Nearly every advertisement has a catch line, for example, 'Good to the last drop' or 'Lasts six times longer' that registers in our minds every time the advert is playing. Sutherland (2009) points out that, initially, consumers don't take these statements as the absolute truth. However, if the statements are not disputed, people may start to believe in the statements being presented in the adverts. Such statements receive little criticism and, therefore, the target audience may start to think that indeed the statements are true. He calls this repetition effect as the "truth effect" because it makes them aware of the claimed difference between that brand and the rest and may prompt them to find if this is the truth and purchase the product.
When it comes to high involvement buying, that is, when consumers will spend a substantial amount of money to purchase a product or service, for example, a car or a fridge, they do not make the decision lightly (Kardes et al, 2010). These consumers have to look for information and research about their prospective purchase, be it from friends, relative or known users before making a decision. Moreover, it is improbable that the different brands available will be very similar unlike with low-involvement products (Sutherland, 2009). The likely scenario will be that the consumer will have a list of alternatives from which to pick from. This is where adverts come into play. Advertising plays a role in determining which alternative brands the consumer's mind will evoke, and in what order. When consumers reach into their minds to generate alternatives, they do not all come at once. They are extracted one by one in an orderly manner. The item on top will be the ones we are likely to remember first. We tend to think more of issues and things that are more important to us than those which are not. Through constant advertising, the product is ingrained in the consumers' minds and affects what they think about. Thus, advertising will affect the consumer's behavior by including the product in the list of alternatives that they are weighing up (Sutherland, 2009). This is another way in which advertisers influence consumer behavior.
It is imperative to advertisers for consumers to think of their product as more important than the competitors. There are three ways in which they do this, the use of appeal, repetition and consistency, and determining what gets in the consumer's alternative list. When done well, advertising can have the power to influence the objects that consumers think about, desire and ultimately buy, therefore, affecting the consumer habit.
Frank, R., Maria, L. & Thomas, W. (2010). Consumer Behavior. Cengage Learning
Max Sutherland. (2009).Advertising and the Mind of the Consumer: What Works, What doesn't, and Why. Allen & Unwin
Tyagi, C. L. & Kumar, A. (2004). Advertising Management. Atlantic Publishers & Distributors