Whats the cost of too much choice? The price that we pay

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As the landscape of society changes, so does the behaviour of its consumer. As society fractures into sub cultures there is a increased in demand for the diverse. The hypodermic needle although a media theory can be used to explain the way in which the demand was created for the business to supply.

If we apply the hypodermic needle model (Katz & Lazarsfeld, 1955) to business, when society wasn’t active the vast conglomerates controlled what the consumer consumed, there was a limited amount of choices because there wasn’t a dialogue between the consumer and the business, now with the increase in capitalism and consumerism, and the avenues of dialogue now available to the consumer through social media, the consumer becomes demanding and diverse.

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In a changing society where more and more people are changing their purchasing habits the happiness of the consumer has become increasingly important. The high street shopping seems to be in trouble with the increase of consumers choosing to do their shopping online. A report has predicted that 1 in 5 high street shops will be closed by 2018 (http://www.theweek.co.uk/business/53274/high-street-shops-threat-online-shopping-close-2018). As well as this is it seems as technology is advancing and more people are becoming part of the smart phone craze this is having a huge hit on retail stores (http://econsultancy.com/uk/blog/63656-mobile-users-less-likely-to-visit-high-street-stores-stats).

This leads on to my topic for this week looking at the amount of choice that is now available to consumers. As many companies now have the option of shopping on-line they have increased the variety of items that can be purchased. They no longer need to be able to fit all these variations within a shop therefore the possibilities are endless. I recently used a clothing website and was searching through their sale and selected t-shirts. I wasn’t looking for anything specific, just seeing if anything took my fancy. The results showed 2041 different t-shirts…2041?? Do I really have the time and effort to search through all these items. This led on to me asking whether as consumers we prefer the increased choice or we would rather have a set of limited choices.

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‘The Paradox of Choice – Why More Is Less’

This notion has been made famous by Barry Swartz (2004) within his book ‘ The Paradox of Choice- Why more is Less’. The idea behind this is that sometimes having less choice can have a positive effect on the consumer in the decision making process. He states that by generating more variations and increased choice when choosing products this can actually create a negative effect and in turn cause anxiety and regret. When there is too much choice presented we find it hard to make a decision and pick one. This can be for a number of reasons.

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Swartz & Ward (2012) looked into this idea and stated one of the reason is missed opportunities. We feel that we are missing out on other options as there is so much choice. We feel regret and that we have made the wrong decision. We even feel anticipated regret which makes decisions harder to make and furthermore post decision regret meaning we find it harder to enjoy the product ( Gilovich & medvec 1995). This finding has been backed up by Landman (1993). Therefore the feeling of regret plays a huge part is the process when presented with too much choice.

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Within business this links in with ‘Opportunity cost’ which is known as the cost of not purchasing a different item. Within this situation we may feel this is high and plays on our mind that we should have purchased another item. If there are less choices we can’t be upset with missing out as there is less too choose from, therefore by reducing the choice we feel happier and less disheartened by our choice. Increased choice has even been found to decrease well being (Diener, 2000; Lane, 2000).

Example of too much choice

A series of experiments designed by Iyengar & Lepper (2000) analysed the effects of choice on the buying habits of high quality jam’s and gourmet chocolate. For the Jam experiment they presented two different conditions which would be involved in tasting the jam’s. The first condition were presented with 6 different jams and the second were presented with 24 different jams. The larger set of Jam’s did attract more attention showing that we may like the idea of having more choice, however in terms of purchasing there was a huge difference between the two conditions. For the condition with only 6 sets of jams 30% of consumers who tried the jams actually purchased a jar. However the other condition is where it got interesting. In the second condition with 24 variations of jams only 3% actually purchased a jar. The difference in this is huge and is linked to the paradox of choice. This is a prime example of how too much choice can have a negative effect and confuse the customers.

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Their second experiment involving the rating of chocolate when presented with either 6 or 30 again provides evidence for the existence of this theory. Customers who were presented with only 6 chocolates rated them much higher than the condition that was presented with the 30 variations. Swartz et al, (2002) conducted a similar experiment and validated the previous findings showing that people felt disheartened with regret when the amount of choice was enhanced.

Are we ever happy?

There are obvious some upsides to having more choice and if we are aware of what we want we are able to sieve through the rest of the options to find the perfect one for you. It does seem that we like to complain about anything, if there was no choice we would be complaining that there’s no choice. If we are willing to put the time and effort in then surely having better variety would be a better thing. Iyengar and Lepper, (2000) showed that we do get attracted to more choice even if we struggle when it comes to the actual decision making.

Is there a perfect amount of choices?

Dunbar’s number states that there is a limit to the amount of people that we can keep in contact with a once at 150 (Dunbar, 1992). Like this i believe that there could be a perfect number of choices, i.e not too limited but not too much that is perfect for the consumer. It provides them with another choice but doesn’t make them feel regret and disheartened. Whether this can apply as the choice process is obviously different for every product can be questioned but it would make the decision making process alot easier.

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Responsibility in Advertising: Do we have a duty of care?

This week I am going to look at the issue of advertising and discuss whether certain adverts should be publicised or if we have a certain duty of care to protect people from these. The ASA (advertising standards authority) was established in 1962 and monitors and regulates the content of advertising within the media. It follows a set of codes to ensure certain advertising standards are kept. . These codes have to be followed by all advertising and have to pass these certain standards in order for them to be broadcasted. However I am going to discuss whether certain advertising that is currently shown be banned in order to protect certain groups of people from these companies.http://www.cap.org.uk/Advertising-Codes/Broadcast-HTML.aspx

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Cigarette or tobacco advertising used to be one of the most highly advertised products until the European Union or World health organization (WHO) stated that this type of advertising would no longer be allowed. In 1965 TV advertisement for cigarettes was banned due to the increase in health problems associated with smoking. However it wasn’t until 1991 that TV advertising for cigars and tobacco were eventually banned too. The reason it was banned was because of the health effects that were associated with smoking. It was felt that by regulating advertising we would find a decrease in smoking therefore increased health effects for people.

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Prior to 1964 where the Cigarette Advertising Code was introduced many companies created false claims regarded their cigarettes. With increasing negative health effects becoming more well known companies tried to combat this by presented claims such as ‘ More Doctors Smoke Camels than any other cigarette’. These claims were created to try and combat the increased negative health effects of smoking (Richards, Tye & Fischer, 1996). Until the cigartte advertising code was introduced companies tried to target the youth by including their brand within certain kids TV programmes (Pollay, 1994). Other techniques such as using celebrity’s to endorse their products were found to be successful in encouraging smoking (Pollay, Lee, Whitney, 1992). Restrictions do seem to have had an effect too, as by 2004 almost half of all Americans who had smoked had quit (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 2005).

In terms of sponsorship for sports cigarette advertising was huge. In particular Formula 1 driving every team had cigarette sponsorship until 2000 when Williams became the first major team to run without the cigarette advertising (Gray, 2003). After this most of the other teams began to gradually reduce the advertisement from increase pressure because of health implications. The last company to have cigarette advertsing was Ferrari who were sponsored by Marlboro until they stopped due to increased pressure from people regarding cigarette sponsorship (Cooper, 2011).

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This then leads on my topic and addresses the issue of whether certain other advertising should be allowed. I have just spoke about cigarette advertising which was eventually banned due to the negative health effects regarding smoking. However other companies are still able to advertise even though there is surely a negative impact on people consuming it. For example alcohol advertisement, even though the health effects might not be regarded as as bad as cigarettes it is still damaging to your health. High levels of alcohol abuse can result in liver failure as well as cancer (Ronksley et al, 2002; Tolstrup et al, 2006). Therefore could it be argued that alcohol advertisement should also be banned. Even if it does include the drink-aware logo does this really have an effect and promote safe drinking. Should we be protected against alcohol advertising for the same reason as we are protected against cigarette advertising? The advert’s may not be promoting irresponsible drinking habits however this should not matter, it is still promoting something which causes serious negative health effects. Then again maybe I am being pedantic and everyone has a right to witness advertisement, i mean there are health problems with a lot of products if used in certain ways. Cars can be dangerous and cause deaths on our roads everyday and increase global warming yet these advertisements are not questioned.

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Having said this their are certain companies I feel should not be allowed to advertise due the negative impacts these have on our welfare. They may not have the negative health impacts of smoking but they lead to addiction and financial problems which in turn causes health problems related to stress (Jenkins, 2009). Watching TV I have noticed the huge surge in betting companies adverts or online bingo/poker. With the increase in technology it has become increasingly easy to access the internet and majority of people now own a laptop, phone, tablet. Companies are profiting due to the fact that it has become so easy to access their products. We no longer have to go down the bookies if we want to make a bet, all we have to do now is turn on your device and its as easy as that. During every advert break now it is common to feature on of these companies.

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Companies are deals continually to attract new customers. If they offer £30 free to new customers they may be initially losing out however they are relying on the customer continually coming back. The behaviour becomes habitual with the customer using the site every weekend for the football, therefore once this occurs it becomes increasingly hard for the consumer to stop the behaviour (Schneiger & Shoenberg, 2010). Therefore that original £30 that they give to you gets made back over time as you start to use your own money.

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Other companies use celebrity endorsements to increase the reputation of the product. It has been found that we are more likely to consume and purchase products when celebrity’s advertise for them (Kamins, Brand, Hoeke & Moe 1989). We automatically assume that the product is more trusting and therefore are more likely to use it. This can be what starts people off with opening an account and then leads to them spending more and more of their money every week. In turn this can become a huge problem. Therefore I think gambling and betting advertisement needs to be monitored and certainly reduced. There is far too much temptation at the moment and I think the government needs to step in.

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Even though the amount of betting advertisement is something that annoys and something i think needs to be changed this is nothing to what I feel needs to be done to the pay day lending companies. Companies such as Wonga who are almost modern day loan sharks are getting away with murder and how they are still allowed to advertise is beyond belief. People are getting into huge financial trouble due to companies offering them a temporary way out of money problems. Anyone who is borrowing money from a company is clearly going to struggle to pay this money plus more at 4000% APR. This is shocking as needs to be put a stop too. The fact they are advertising on TV showing how easy it is for customers to borrow money is even more appalling. As i spoke about before with the increase in technology some of the companies advertise how the money can be within your bank within hours, this is far too appealing and needs to be stopped. A normal loan would probably cost around 8% however somehow Wonga and other companies are being allowed to charge over 2000% for any size loan. People with quick money problems are turning to the sites without fully realising the problems that this can cause. This then leads to huge problems in the long run by being in more and more debt. http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/payday-loans-mum-benefits-left-2960282wonga

I feel advertisement like this is just as immoral and if not worse than cigarette or alcohol advertisement and the goverment or the ASA needs to step in as we have a duty of care to people to protect them from companies like this. This doesn’t just stop at TV advertising but any sort. I have noticed Wonga are sponsoring Newcastle United Football club, by doing this it is giving the impression of them being a reputable trusting brand, which is something that needs to be changed. Again like using celebrity endorsements we feel we can trust the company (Kamins, Brand, Hoeke & Moe 1989).

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Happily ever laughter

Over the different weeks I have discussed many different techniques and methods that companies use within advertising. I have spoke about sex within advertising and the scientific theory surrounding this and why it attracts our attention. This week however I am going to mention the technique which I feel has the greatest effect on myself as a consumer. The technique that I feel has the greatest impact on my short term and long term memory regarding the advert and the product that it is trying to sell. This method is humour! I feel that the best adverts are those that use humour successfully, the best way for me to remember an advert tends to be those that make me laugh in some way. Although it doesn’t just have the greatest effect on memory but also increases positive feelings towards the product. Therefore this week I am going to discuss this and look at the theory behind this to determine whether it is just me it has this effect on. Happy Baby In terms of laughter as just an emotion it can be very important for general health effects. Can it improve our health and lower stress levels? Sondra Kornblat (2009) seems to think so and explains this within her book ‘ A Better Brain at Any Age: The Holistic Way to Improve Your Memory, Reduce Stress, and Sharpen Your Wits’. She explains this stating that laughter can lower blood pressure as well as increases oxygenation of the blood. Within the book she explained how laughter can decrease stress levels which is important as stress can cause problems such as decreased immune system response (Griffin, 2008). Therefore laughter is thought of as a significant emotion, and in a positive way because of the way it makes us feel. Laughter could be considered the highest positive emotion and one of the most expressive. It also appears that it is contagious (Scott, 2007). Research found that the brain responds to the sound and sight of laughter and in turn puts the expression on your face. Therefore showing that our brain tries to repeat positive emotions rather than negative emotions. funny_ads_18 Does laughter then have an effect on your attention? It is very important for marketers to attract the attention of the consumer in order to form strong congnitive links with the advertisement and the brand (Pieters, Warlop & Wedel, 2002).Research has shown that it does in fact have a positive effect on your attention (Lammers, 1991). This was backed up by Speck (1987) who found that adverts that contained humorous content attracted more attention than advert which contained no humorous content. This is one of the reasons why up to 55% of advertising research executives believe humour to be superior within adverts than non-humorous content (Madden & Weinberger, 1984). Although these effects are found within TV advertising (Stewart & Furse, 1986) they are not just limited to this type of advertising, they can be extended to other forms of advertising. Studies have shown that humour within magazine ad’s increase attention towards the advert (Madden & Weinberger, 1982). Moreover research has shown this to be effective within radio ads showing that visual stimuli is not essential in order to be effective (Weinberger & Campbell, 1991). Kayaking Does it always work then? Surely if laughter increases attention all companies would be using this technique. Therefore this suggests that not all humour is successful and there is a technique to be most effective. It has been shown that humour which is related to the product is much more successful in gaining attention and increasing opinion of the product (Duncan, 1979). However if it is completed unrelated and in-congruent with the product it has been found to be unsuccessful (Madden, 1982). By finding ways to integrate your product with humour is vital in attaining attention.

This isn’t just important for attracting attention but also is linked to memory  and how well people remember the advertisement. Friendman & Friendman (1979) found that message memory improves when the spokesperson and the products are associated and congruent. This has just the same effect for pictures that are congruent with their message they are displaying (Edell & Staelin, 1983). This has then been suggested that to improve memory for the advertisement companies need to make sure the humour used is related to the advert (Sternthal & Craig, 1973). the-power-of-the-memory-molecule_1 Finally does this have a link towards the overall impression and attitude towards the brand and product? Evidence has shown that humour increase attention and improves memory towards the product, but more importantly does it change opinions about the product. Sternthal & Craig (1973) found that using humour can increase the likeliness towards the source of the laughter. This does not just seem to be limited to advertising however and has even been found to be effective within the classroom. Byrant & Zillmann (1989) found that teachers who used humour within the classroom managed to positively influence students opinions towards education. These teachers were also rated much higher on character scales (Gruner, 1967). This is showing the effectiveness of humour in general and shows we elicit more positive feelings towards items when it is used. karate-school-change-your-attitude1 This is obviously extremely important within marketing and advertising in order to try and increase consumers feelings towards your product. Not only did it increase the liking of the ad (Gelb & Pickett, 1983), it was also shown that humour increased the liking towards the brand too (Duncan & Nelson, 1985). This then leads on to the most important part for a brand which is purchase intentions. Eisend (2009) showed that a humorous ad can increase attitude towards the ad as well as the brand but most importantly can increase peoples purchase intentions towards the brand. Hence humour is very important within branding and this explains why I feel humour within advertisements have the greatest effect on me as a consumer.

The Power of Sex in Advertising and the Role of Gender.

This week I will be looking at the way companies and brands use sex within advertising and whether this technique works for everyone. Most people will probably have heard the saying that ‘sex sells’ and judging by the amount of adverts conveying this the impression is it clearly works. The amount of adverts that are around exposing half naked women and men to promote products seems to have increased hugely. Might I add most of them are women and this must be for a reason. Every big company seems to be under the impression that by using half naked women to display their product that this will automatically be a success and people will rush out the buy their product. So does this work? Does Scientific theory emulate this point?

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In case you were unaware sex in advertising uses sexual or erotic images of to try and draw consumers attention towards their product. The main examples of this can be seen with fragrances and perfumes, clothing and car advertisement. However it doesn’t seem to be limited to this and it appears that this technique can be applied to anything even something that is clearly not congruent with sexual themes.

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How does it work then?? When we see an advertisement featuring sexual images it automatically attracts our attention towards the advertisement. This tackles the first problem that products have of brand awareness. It then produces feelings of arousal towards the advert. The next step to this is Pavlov (1927/1960) which shows that we often condition certain stimulus with another stimulus. Therefore when we feel a sense of arousal towards the advert we then link this feeling with the product that is being advertisement. The science is that the next time you are shopping or in the buying process when you come across this product you will then link this with the feeling of arousal. Once this conditioning occurs it then increasing the chances of you purchasing this product as  Damasio (2000) found that emotions are processed automatically. Mizerski & White (1986) found that this can then have a huge bearing on your preferences in the buying process.

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Dahl (2009) however showed that it isn’t always as clear cut as we might think. He concluded that sexual images do a great job of attracting attention which is what we have discussed. Nevertheless it has been found that it can actually have a negative impact if the sexual image that is used has little relevance to the actual product that is being advertised. Therefore companies need to be careful and make sure the advert that is being used is actually congruent with the product.

Is there a difference in the effects depending on gender?

I don’t think its a big surprise that men are susceptible to sexual imaging in advertising. You only need to look at magazine such as FHM which displays naked women on the cover to show that companies are using this techniques to lure men in. Showing that men are attracted to the sex in advertising.  Mikulak (2013) backed this up using research showing that men were attracted to sexual and erotic imagery. Therefore it is clear that to target men this can be a very clever and useful technique.  Dahl, Sengupta, & Vohs (2009) again showed that men were susceptible to all sexual ads even if the messages were different.

Companies that have cleverly used this technique is Lynx. Everyone has probably seen the advert which shows by spraying their deodorant hundreds of women automatically become attracted to the male. They have even created a slogan called ‘the lynx effect’ which is now well known. Many reasons why this works, it’s trying to portray the message that by using lynx you will then attract more women, you are deemed as sexier. This is a clever thing to target as every man surely wants to be able to do this. Lynx is seen as successful as there is a congruent message between their advertising and the product that they are selling which is why there are successful. (Kahle & Homer, 1985).

Now we look at females outlook on sexual advertising. Unlike the male research which showed that men have a tendency to be attracted, Dahl, Sengupta, & Vohs (2009) found that women actually behave differently. Research showed that women are actually offended by the sexual and erotic imagery that is shown in advertising when the product is cheap. This is the key, if the product is deemed as expensive and of high quality then the women have a different opinion and can see it as acceptable. However if the item is cheap they automatically frown upon the use of sexual imagery. Now if this makes all men pigs for being automatically attracted to sexual imagery, could it be suggested that women are more interested in wealth. Not saying this is my opinion but maybe this could be construed as this…..

Roles of each gender within advertising

The problem with showing half naked women in advertising for products is that they then become seen as just objects. For example with the lynx advert displaying 100’s of basically naked women running after one guy who has used the deodorant is showing women as sexual objects rather than humans. Within the advert they are seen as almost animals chasing the alpha male animal even making animal noises within this. This can have a negative impact on the way men treat women and how they think of them. However lynx are not alone and a lot of companies go down this same route almost trying to attract men in by persuading them they by using there product they will be sexier and able to attract more women.

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Common examples of the difference in how men and women are treated can be found within aftershave and fragrance advertising. Often the man is shown as being dominant and almost owning the women who is being seen as a sexual object. The women is seen as submissive almost letting the man ‘have’ her. The basic message being that by using this fragrance and smell you will have women almost belonging to you as well. Again this is deprecating for women.

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Finally I have found a funny video that shows a tongue in cheek example of how women are seen within advertising and the difference with men.

“Holidays are coming, always Coca Cola”? .

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“Its the most wonderful time of the year”; the run up to Christmas. But when is the appropriate time to start thinking of Christmas? Traditionally the beginning of December would be a suitable time to turn your attentions towards the holidays, However every year it seems to get earlier and earlier.

The beginning of this period is often associated with the Coca Cola Christmas advert which is on our screens every year. This advert has mass appeal and for a lot of people signifies the beginning of Xmas. The adverts premiere becomes a global social event from the first time it is shown.Ever year It seems to arrive on our screens earlier and earlier, Everywhere Facebook statuses are updated and it becomes the biggest trend on Twitter.

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When we think of Christmas and Father Christmas we often through semiotic’s associate both with the colour red.This hasn’t always been the case in fact the traditional colour portrayed Father Christmas is green. Then in 1931 Coke created an advertising campaign to try and increase sales. They noticed that they weren’t making as much profit within winter months and therefore tried to interlink their brand with Christmas. They did this by creating adverts that depict Father Christmas as red, creating an almost symbiotic subliminal relationship between the two.

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Why would Coca Cola want to be associated with Christmas?

Everything we encounter within day to day life attempts to elicit an emotional response (Hollins,2010). Most of the time it won’t have any conscious effect but it will generate some emotions on a subconscious level, Therefore every advert will generate an emotional response depending on what it features. Hollins (2010) states that the more emotional ‘charge’ the advert creates the more likely it is to create an empathic response and due to this response the more memorable the advert becomes. Furthermore the more times we see a specific advert the more this response is enforced and is more likely to have an effect.

Coca Cola is increasing the emotional charge by using Christmas to try and generate certain emotions when we think of their brand; It is doing this by its clever use of classical conditioning. Pavlov (1927/1960) created an experiment which explain how we can condition certain responses to certain stimulus. The experiment  presented dogs with a ringing bell upon the arrival of food.The food made the dog salivate when  presented. Because of the association between the two stimuli eventually when the dog heard the bell it would produce salivation because the dog would be expecting food. This is similar to what Coca Cola has done with Christmas.

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When people think of Christmas they feel excitement,family and happiness. As these are positive emotions they are perfect to try and be associated with. When people think of just Coca Cola they might not have any specific emotions however when Coke present the Christmas adverts combining the two it becomes a conditioned stimulus. Therefore when people think of Coca Cola they begin to elicit these emotions  for the coke brand these can be essential. Mehta & Purvis (2006) stated the importance of not just generating emotions but generating meaningful emotions. This is something that Coca Cola uses to its advantage during the holiday season by utilising the already established emotions to generate positive emotions for the brand.

This doesn’t translate to the increase of sales for Coca Cola  around Christmas time as statistics show this doesn’t occur. Nonetheless it increases the brands awareness and peoples automatic responses to the product. Damasio (2000) conducted experiments showing that emotions are processed automatically and are linked to previous emotional responses. When presented with two products this could be the difference between choosing a different product and theirs. Mizerski & White (1986) found that this can be a huge significance within the buying and consumption stage. The fact that Coca Cola kick off the holiday season count down with their advert  has shown that this particular conditioning has definitely worked and by continuing the adverts circulation at this time of year it continues to reinforce to positive brand effect.

Other companies catching on…

In recent years other companies and brands have started to pay more attention and spend more time focusing on producing their own Christmas adverts. The main example in recent years is John Lewis; this year producing an advert involving a bear and a hare featuring Lily Allen (continuing their tradition of unusual soft,acoustic covers) as the soundtrack to the advert.  This year they have continued with the formula they began with three years ago by focusing on producing an advert that tugs on the heart strings the end message of the advert being  ‘Give someone a christmas they will never forget’. John Lewis like Coca Cola are utilising an emotional response to reinforce their brand for John Lewis “Give Someone a Chistmas they will never forget” is followed by John Lewis and “Holidays are coming, always Coco Cola” uses the same reinforcement paradigm. These kinds of adverts are extremely effective as well as being popular.

John Lewis Christmas advert

Other companies such as Marks and Spencers and Debenhams have also produced their own, clearly emphasizing the importance of targetting people at Christmas. It has almost become a battle in recent years in who can produce the best Christmas advert. This trend is likely to continue in the future with more and more companies producing their own equivalent

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References:

Damasio, A.R. (2000) The Feeling of What Happens. Heinemann, London.

Hollis, N. (2010).  Emotion in Advertising: Pervasive, Yet Misunderstood.

Mehta, A., & Purvis, S, C., (2006).Reconsidering Recall and Emotion in Advertising. Journal of Advertising Research

Mizerski,R, W., & White,J, D., (1986). Understanding and using emotions in advertising, Journal of Consumer Marketing, Vol. 3 Iss: 4, pp.57 – 69

Pavlov, I.P. (1927/1960). Conditioned Reflexes: An Investigation of the Physiological Activity of the Cerebral Cortex. London: Oxford University Press

Trick or Tweet? Judging a (Face) book by its cover.

 Certain events like Halloween can be used in Branding at the certain times of the year. One example below is the Coca Cola logo being reinvented for Halloween. This can be important as a gimmick for special occasions. However in this blog I am going to be looking at the effect of Social media on Branding and the different techniques certain companies use. 2

In this day and age the use of social media to increase brand awareness has become a vital instrument for Brands. Social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Instagram are progressively becoming more and more popular. A few years ago social media would be all about communicating with your friends however this has evolved now and social media such as Facebook is used for so much more. It is a way of sharing pictures/videos, becoming more aware of companies/ news, but also feeling like your a part of something. As someone who uses Facebook rather than Twitter I will talk more about the techniques that are used in Facebook.Get-Facebook-likes-Twitter-Followers-Youtube-Views

The Importance of the ‘Like

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The like button first started off in February (2009), it was a way of people making others aware of their interests and likes. You could like a film, a company, a page, but it allowed others to becomes aware of your interests. It is also a clever way for companies to analyse demographics, and see if there is a link between certain likes and types of people. This is also very important for companies in trying to increase brand awareness. Companies would introduce certain ways for people to like or share their Facebook page. Some companies have competitions where you like or share a page and you get entered into a prize draw.This is a very clever way of getting your brand known. Once you have liked a page you then become part of this page, you see everything that they post and you then have a certain connection with this company that you never had before.

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It is also vital for businesses/ brands as it is a free way of advertising. This is extremely important for companies as marketing costs companies millions of pounds every year. However you now have a way of increasing this awareness in a way that isn’t costly at all. They also make you feel special in a way, I know i have liked pages on Facebook before to become aware of offers and deals when they become available.

For examples Dominoes make you aware of certain deals that become available and by liking the page you feel like your exclusive and special. By not liking the page you feel like you are left out, even if it is still available to you. You might not even fancy a dominoes at the time of liking the page however you know sometime in the future this could be an option for you.

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Another example is Hollister clothing brand. With clothing it is more about feeling apart of a certain group rather than just getting offers. With dominoes you don’t b just buy it to fit in with a certain group you purchase it because you want one, which is different to clothing as i have discussed before. However they again use some of the same tools and techniques. One example from their facebook sites shows how they use their site to promote offers for their product. They give you a code to get 40% off, by liking the page this information becomes available to you. This is how companies draw you in and then you are sucked in to witnessing everything they post. 1379242_10151726703428741_980198828_n

Now i have talked about ways companies use social media to promote offers, however certain campaigns can be just as effective in increasing sales. Everyone must have seen Coca Cola’s campaign which involved personalising the coke bottles with peoples names. This became a huge success especially because of social media, everyone was sharing pictures of themselves with their coke bottle with their name on. Everyone wanted to be part of this craze and made people who wouldn’t usually buy the product to go out and purchase it just to feel like they were involved. The tagline was share a coke which also meant people buying a personalized coke bottle for their friends too and uploading pictures of this. This is one example of a social media campaign being very effective and in turn boosting sales. Free-Coca-Cola

Campaigns don’t always start of on-line either but social media can help enhance them. Another popular campaign was by compare the market which created a similar sounding site called compare the meerkat. This was a huge success and then evolved on to Facebook and Twitter. The back story is about a meerkat called Aleksandr Orlov who is said to have created this fake site. Even though this is just part of the advertising campaign this fake twitter actually has over 63,000 followers on there showing how people like to get involved with certain ideas.

Hope you enjoyed reading and i have talked a little bit about the different ways companies use social media to try and promote their products and brand. It also shows the importance of social media in influencing our decisions. A good social media campaign can also increases sales and companies can be associated with this rather than previous ideas.

Brand Extension: Helpful or Harmful?

Brand extension is a type of strategy that is used by companies (brands) by introducing new products (Aaker & Keller, 1990) but under the same brand name. It can cover the brand, new products and developing existing products (Xie, 2008). This product can be in the same area that the original product was in such as coca cola bringing out diet coke and coke zero too. These are extensions of the product. It can be used to reduce risk of failure by using the original product name as reference for consumers (Muroma & Saari,1996).This was successful due to previous brand awareness of coca cola meaning that customers trusted the new product. coca-cola_cans-928x522

However they don’t just have to be within the same category as previous products. A example of this of a company who have been successful too is Virgin. They have gone from music, to phones, to train travel and many more. These are completely different categories however Virgin is known throughout the world and is a trusted company making it easy for them to extend there brand.

VirginLogos2

Obviously not all these are around now but these are a few examples of the different things Virgin has been involved in.

Reasons for brand extension

There are a few reasons that companies use brand extension rather than starting a completely new brand or product. Firstly it can be a lot cheaper creating a new product under the same name as people are already aware of the parent name brand. Creating a whole new brand is very expensive and takes a lot of effort (Tauber, 1981). The whole process of brand awareness can be very expensive, however by developing a product under this previous name can completely skip out this. Research has shown that more new companies fail than succeed there are choosing the to develop new products under the same name (Leslie de Chaternatony & McDonald, 1998).

It’s not just the money factor building up a brand identity that consumers trust can take many years. By introducing the brand under the same design means that it is more likely to be successful quicker. According to a study in 2003, nearly 60% of consumers are more likely to try a new product from a brand they already know, comparing to under 5% for unknown brands (Taylor, 2004). Furthermore it can also increase the original brand as well, by developing new products you are increasing brand awareness.

Certain gimmicks are important too and for a short space of time can generate a lot of interest. If you have a popular brand already it is easier to do this. For example with the sweets m&m’s. They released a part on their website where you can actually create your own and put whatever writing on it you want. People didn’t think this would originally be a good idea but it took off and was very successful. This is the advantage of extending on to a previous well know brand.

M&M_spokescandies

http://www.mymms.com/business/

Limitations of Brand extension

Obviously a problem with brand extension is the new product could fail. Consumers for whatever reason don’t buy it and you lose money on this. However it can obviously get worse too, by releasing a new product that fails can then lead to your original product/ brand taking a hit as well. People might start to associate this with your original brand; this is called dilution (Viot, 2007). Aaker (2004) also states that this can harm the original brand and therefore it can be a risk by creating an extension.

When creating a new product it can be important that it is not greatly improving on your previous product and is not going to make the consumers change from the existing product to the new one. This is obviously a limitation but at the same time Aaker 2004) says that you would rather they are still buying your products over other competitors.

If anything goes wrong too your new product this can have a detrimental effect on your previous brand identity and products. People might start assuming your company cannot be trusted and this could lead to a decrease in sales again.

These are just a few ideas in to why it can be risky creating brand extensions. You need to make sure that your new idea isn’t going to end up damaging your existing brand. Is the money you will save by not having to create brand awareness and setting up new brand going to be worth it? Overall it looks like it is a good idea but there are obviously examples such as Levi who have failed in this.

References

Aaker, D.A & Keller, K.L., (1990). Consumer Evaluations of Brand Extensions, Journal of
Marketing, Vol. 54, No. 1, pp. 27-41.

Aaker,D,A., (2004). Brand portfolio strategy: creating relevance, differentiation, energy, leverage and clarity.

Chaternatony,L.,& McDonald,M., (1998). Creating powerful brands in Consumer, Service and Industrial Markets.

Muroma, M., & Saari, H., (1996). “Fit as a determinant of success”. Marketing for Expanding Europe, 1953-63

Tauber, E, M., (1981). Brand franchise extensions: new products benefit from existing brand names. Business Horizons, 24(2),36-41.

Taylor,D., (2004). Brand stretch: Why 1 in 2 extensions fail and how to beat the odds: a
Brandgym workout.

Viot, C., (2007). Le capital-marque: concept, mesure et valorisation.

Xie,Y,H., (2008) “Consumer innovativeness and consumer acceptance of brand extensions”, Journal of Product & Brand Management, Vol. 17 Iss: 4, pp.235 – 243

Brand Perception and Why its “ok” to charge more!

Last week I briefly spoke about the importance of brand identity and the importance of brand awareness and recognition of the brand. I then went on to talk about a few techniques within branding that help to promote the product and get it recognised. This week I will focus on the importance of brand perception and how not only the brand is perceived but how this has an effect on the product itself. This links in to how companies are able to charge different amount for certain products based on peoples perceptions.shutterstock_101952889

Brand perception

Brand perception is looking into how people see your brand. Do they see it as a high quality brand? Do they see it to be a cheap but good product? This is important when selling yourself as a brand. You cant always choose how you are perceived but it is important to try and influence consumers into how you would like to be seen. This again links in with week 1’s blog and your brand identity as these are the ways in which your brand is going to be noticed. Its not just important for it to be noticed however its how it gets noticed and the feelings that people get from these. Therefore this is why marketing is so important as this determines the feelings that people have when they first notice your product. If you are a clothing company and you want to seem upper market you don’t want to be selling them in a shop which is known for being cheap and cheerful. If you do people are going to perceive your products to be cheap and wont be willing to pay high prices for these.

An obvious thing to say is that consumers don’t like to pay a lot of money for products however its also important that they are not paying more than they believe the item to be worth. As a general rule people like to know they are getting a good deal and value for the product. However certain products are able to charge more than others based on brand identity but also brand perception. One interesting example is the american company Abercrombie & Fitch. This is perceived as the upper class of society to where, and the clothing is expensive due to this. Part of this is to do with there branding and marketing side of it. abercrombie

They like to be seen as being made for the upper of end of society and marketed to certain groups of people. A lot of their marketing is images of half naked men who are deemed to be ‘beautiful’ with perfect bodies. They reinforce this with the staff they employ stating they only hire people who are good looking.

tasteofawesome.com_283994_1344261607

 http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2320868/Thin-beautiful-customers-ONLY-How-Abercrombie–Fitch-doesnt-want-larger-people-shopping-stores.html

Therefore they are targeting certain groups of people only. They don’t want every tom, dick and harry to be wearing their products. They are designed for a certain group and therefore people who buy them are perceived to be certain types of people. Although they have been in trouble for this for negative stereotyping with their owner stating he only wants thin and beautiful people to wear their products it does work in the marketing sense. The people who are offended by this wouldn’t be buying their products in the first place so they are not too bothered. They even dont make sizes bigger than large for women just to reinforce who is wearing their products.

http://perezhilton.com/cocoperez/2013-05-08-abercrombie-and-fitch-ceo-mike-jeffries-plus-size-clothing-ban#sthash.JVsnyrd7.dpbs

It caused a lot of outrage within the media due to these comments however it is still one of the biggest clothing companies in America. I actually think although it is clearly wrong to state that only the thin and beautiful are able to wear the product it is still very clever way of advertising. He may have lost a few fans because of it but they wouldn’t be buying the clothing and he wants to reinforce certain aspects of the brands identity. He likes to be seen as upmarket, classy and not everyone will be able to afford to wear the clothing. One example of how it likes to be see in a certain way was in the news a few years ago. Someone on one of the reality tv shows in America who is seen to be sleepy was offered money by Abercrombie and Fitch not to wear their clothes any more. This is due to the fact he wasn’t the type of person their brand wanted to be associated with. This links in with last weeks blog and the example I talked about with Nike using Tiger Woods and Roger Federer. Although sometimes using famous people can improve a brands image sometimes it can have a detrimental effect on how people perceive the brand.

http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/business/2013/07/jersey-shores-the-situation-loses-suit-against-abercrombie-fitch/

When purchasing a product from clothing brands you aren’t just paying for the item you are paying for the brand itself as well. You are paying to be part of a certain group and be involved with a certain identity. People don’t tend to want to be acknowledged as cheap and although it may be wrong certain brands can influence this association. If every brand was the same price then there wouldn’t be such a demand to be seen in certain clothes and products. People who buy Abercrombie & Fitch purchase their clothing obviously for the quality but mostly to be seen in this brand. If it suddenly started selling cheap to everyone their would be outrage with their existing customers. Even though people might not like how expensive certain brands are the reasons behind it are understandable. We might want them to be cheaper and the same as other clothing brands however would they be as unique if this was the case. This is why i have put “ok” in quote marks as it is necessary in order for companies to succeed even though sometimes we might not agree with it as consumers.

The Brand Identity: Bourne to be noticed!

Having been asked to write a blog concerning a topic that interests us I landed on branding and in particular brand identity. The process of choosing this topic probably took around a day in total of brainstorming as this topic appeals to me. However the title itself took a bit more time trying to think of a pun and in the end I landed on that. Hopefully you understand the reference and if not here is a small hint below.

jason_bourne

Now we have the terrible pun out the way I will introduce the topic I am going to discuss. The past couple of years I have sold clothes as a way of making some extra money and this got me thinking about the different brands that i was selling. Why are some sold for more than others? What makes people pay extra? If no-one cared about brands and wearing the latest trends then people would probably end up wearing just the cheapest clothes. For this first blog therefore I will talk about brand awareness and the importance of brand identity.

Brand-logos_various

Stages of Brand Awareness

the-brand-awareness-pyramidIt may seem obvious but brand awareness is extremely important for a product to be successful. How can we purchase something if we don’t know it exists. Therefore the more the brand is recognized can be a sign of how successful the product is. So before you can influence a customer and make an impression they first have to know you exist. Once you have made them aware of your product you can try and influence them and work on your brand identity and making sure your brand is recognized. Studies have shown that as humans we are extremely good at recognising logos and brands even from an early age. Fischer et al, (1991) found that children even as young as 3 could recognize certain logos when presented in-front of them.

This only increases as you grow older and children as young as 7-8 have an increased ability to recall certain brands (Valkenburg & Buijzen, 2005). This is the next important part of the system is for customers to recall your product when they are at the decision making process. This then means you are inside the consumers head which is vital if they are going to choose your product. 

Once the customer/consumer is able to recall your product when making a purchase decision the next step is to make your product the one that they choose to purchase. This is called Top of the mind and so when someone is after a certain product the first thing that comes to mind is what you are selling. There are many ways of building up your brand and product and this leads on to brand identity.

I will briefly mention a few key aspects of creating a good brand image and some companies that have done it extremely well. One of the best ways to make your brand accessible and recognizable is creating a logo. Something that is simple, easy to recognize and furthermore some that is easy to recall. One example of this is Nike. The nike tick is one of the most recognized logo’s in the world and it hasn’t changed since it was created. The best logos are something simple; apple, lacoste, addidas etc.

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When developing your brand you need to make sure you know your audience. Make sure you are congruent with their beliefs and what they want. So for example if you are a cleaning product company dont be targeting teenagers, you would be aiming more at mums for example. Make sure the message that you are delivering is clear and with your target audience. An example of this can be found here http://blog.johnspence.com/2006/08/post-3/. This blog explains how luxury car companies such as Bmw, Mercedes, Audi are congruent with their target audience. There’s no point targeting the working class background as they aren’t going to be able to afford it. Therefore there marketing matches with the luxury branding in that they are for the upper market.

Another important point in the brand identity is how people see the product, so how do companies go about this. Again i will use the example of Nike who are seen as a high quality sports brand. They are top of the mind for a lot of people when it comes to sportswear. One way they have done this is through their marketing as they have used sportsmen and women who are the best in the world, trying to influence people into choosing their product. The best example of this are Roger Federer and Tiger Woods. Both sponsored by Nike and both known as probably the greatest of all time for each of their sports. By sponsoring these and wearing there brands they are influencing consumers who want to be as good as them. Therefore choosing who represents your brand is very important and can have a detrimental effect depending on how people view them. nike-roger-federer-wimbledon-2009-collection-1

tiger-woods-reading-greenThere are obviously more factors to brand identity than the points i have mentioned however i believe that Logo, Congruency with audience and Marketing are the most important three steps. I understand that having a good slogan, and good overall message helps too but i have just focused on the 3 point above. Thanks for reading and hope you enjoyed it and made it to the end.

References

http://legacy.library.ucsf.edu/documentStore/f/u/z/fuz52f00/Sfuz52f00.pdf

http://www.sfu.ca/cmns/faculty/kline_s/320/2010Summer/Resources/Valkenburg_Buijzen%20brand%20awareness.pdf

http://blog.johnspence.com/2006/08/post-3/.