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A Review of the Hierarchy of Effects Models

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A REVIEW OF THE HIERARCHY OF EFFECTS MODELS

HOW CAN THE THEORY BE USED TO DEVELOP MARKETING STRATEGIES FOR LAUNCHING A NEW MODEL MOTOR CAR AND CAMPAIGNS FOR SAFER DRIVING?

Abstract

With advertising being such a large source of expenditure for firms, there has been a plethora of postulation's put forward in order to determine how advertising works, and how it influences consumer behaviour. Most importantly studies have been conducted in order to discover, what constitutes advertising effectiveness. Much of the literature has focused on the Hierarchy Of Effects concept, which proposes that consumers pass through cognitive steps as they move towards a purchase action. An understanding of the way advertising can affect consumers is vital in order to produce successful advertising and marketing campaigns.

Statement of problem

The study of Hierarchy of Effects model is important because it helps advertisers set guidelines on how to effectively target consumers with their advertisements so that a consumer may purchase a brand or product. However the main issue is that consumers do not make purchase decisions solely on their reactions to an advertisement. There are many factors that lead to purchase decisions which relevant advertisements cannot target. For example, consumers spot buy, may have had bad experiences with the product in the past and can be so loyal to a brand that any amount of advertising will not change there awareness of other brand in the market place. Regardless of how advertising campaigns are structured consumers are unpredictable and the feelings evoked in one consumer may not be the same as the feelings of another when exposed to the same advertisement. No amount of study of any model can help advertisers accurately predict how a consumer will react and behave.

Historical perspective of the Hierarchy Of Effects concept

St. Elmo Lewis (1898) presented a model which attempted to explain how personal selling works. This original model AIDA, establishes four stair-step phases, awareness, interest, desire, action, which a salesperson is to lead a potential customer through in order for that customer to purchase. Lewis proposed that in order for sales people to be successful, they had to attract attention (cognition), maintain interest and create desire (affect), and then 'get action' (conation) (Barry & Howard, 1990). That is, for customers to be motivated to purchase they must be aware that the product exists. Once aware of the products existence, they must also be interested enough to pay attention to the product's features and benefits, and have a desire to benefit from the product's offerings. This will in turn lead to action/purchase.

Since the presentation of this model a vast majority of advertisers have developed numerous models based on adaptations of the original AIDA model. For a detailed chronological listing of these models, please refer to Thomas Barry's, The Development of the Hierarchy of Effects (1990).

How Advertising works

The stages which are inherent in the traditional Hierarchy of Effects models must be reviewed before analysis of the Hierarchy Of Effects models in detail. These models are based on the general theory that consumers who purchase a product, move through a sequential hierarchy from awareness, through knowledge, liking preference, conviction and ultimately to purchase (Bendixen, 1993). Similarly, these stages were recognized by Bendixen (1993) as a response to advertising, being a cognitive, affective and behaviour stage.

Cognitive stage: awareness and knowledge Affective stage:

liking and preference

Behaviour stage: conviction and purchase

* Through advertising, the cognition component is most strongly related to awareness, being based on rationality rather than emotion.

* For consumers to purchase initially, they must be aware that the product or brand exists.

* Awareness does not only entail knowledge of the existence of the product, but also the its inherent features, benefits, attributes, pricing and location (for example) of the said product. The provision of these details then stimulates cognition.

* This stage refers to the feeling and attitudes which advertising efforts develop.

* Although it is difficult to use attitude as a predictor of behaviour, one study showed that consumers who had strong positive attitudes towards the brand either began to purchase the brand or continued using the brand (Palda, 1966).

* This study also provided evidence that changes in attitudes were conducive to changes in action. Finally, the study proposed that attitudes precede and causally influence buying (Palda, 1966).

* Hierarchy of Effects literature suggests that if advertising successfully moves a consumer through the cognitive and affective stages, then this will lead to purchase.

* By understanding how the consumer forms a purchase decision, marketers can tailor their communications efforts in order to increase the probability of the consumer buying that brand.

* O'Brien (1971) proposed that advertising has no direct influence on ultimate purchase for the product studied, and that advertising is not prominent in the consumer's decision path.

* O'Brien suggests that the decision system varies between product classes and between products in different stages of the life cycle.

Review of Lavidge and Steiners' Hierachy Of Effects Model

In 1961, Lavidge and Steiner published "A Model For Predictive Measurements of Advertising Effectiveness".

The model proposed that in order for consumers to be led via advertising to purchase, they generally approach the ultimate purchase through a process or series of steps in which the actual purchase is but the final threshold (Lavidge & Steiner, 1961). Figure 1 summarises the stair-step model and illustrates how some advertising and research approaches may be organised.

Figure 1 Lavidge & Steiner, 1961, p61.

Lavidge and Steiner suggested the following steps in responding to advertising:

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