Academic journal article Academy of Marketing Studies Journal

Assessing the Impact of 'Individual' and 'Collective' Ad Appeals: A Cross-Cultural Comparison of Advertisements in the U.S. and Mexico

Academic journal article Academy of Marketing Studies Journal

Assessing the Impact of 'Individual' and 'Collective' Ad Appeals: A Cross-Cultural Comparison of Advertisements in the U.S. and Mexico

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

The prevalent role of values in all aspects of human life has stimulated empirical research across a number of social science disciplines including psychology, sociology and anthropology. Values are a powerful force in forming one's attitudes and behavior (Homer and Kahle, 1988; Rokeach, 1973), and generally serve as guiding principles in one's life (Schwartz, 1992). Values also play an important role in the perception and use of cross-cultural marketing communications. Consumer researchers have used values as a method for developing international advertising campaigns, as well as to differentiate consumer market segments across cultures. In developing cross-cultural advertising messages, cultural values play an important role in the perception and use of advertising appeals.

Past research efforts have shown advertising themes that are consistent with the cultural values of an intended audience are more desirable than ads that reflect inconsistent values (Belk, Bryce and Pollay, 1985; Munson and McIntyre, 1978). Pollay and Gallagher (1990) argue that cultural values are embedded within advertisements, and are manifested in advertisements in both the art and language. Because consumers in different cultures have different cultural backgrounds, dissimilar experiences and value structures, and differing goals with respect to their product choices, they may interpret and evaluate similar advertisements in very different ways. Furthermore, many of the problems that occur in advertising and communications programs are due in large part to the significant cultural differences across countries and the failure to take into consideration such differences in developing cross-cultural advertisements (Belk, Bryce, and Pollay, 1985; Gilly, 1988; Han and Shavitt, 1994; Kale, 1991).

Studies examining message content indicate that one very important dimension of culture to consider when developing advertising and promotional messages is that of individualism-collectivism (Han, 1990; Kale, 1991; Zandpour et al., 1994). Numerous past studies (primarily in social psychology) have made great strides in examining and measuring similarities and differences in social behavior (e.g., both between and within individualistic and collectivistic cultures) (Hui and Triandis, 1986; Triandis et al., 1986; Triandis, McCusker and Hui, 1990). However, marketing efforts to extend these measures when examining similarities and differences in advertising content and behavioral responses have achieved only limited success. One of the shortcomings in the marketing literature has been the operationalization of the individualism-collectivism construct. Social psychologists for years have consistently conceptualized this important construct as the normative influence to comply to ingroup (family-oriented) goals over personal (self-oriented) goals. Past marketing studies that attempt to equate individualism, for example, with number of people portrayed in each print ad often overlook the important referent influence that ingroups may have in the attitude formation process in different cultures (Frith and Sengupta, 1991; Alden, Hoyer, and Lee, 1993; Cutler, Erdem, and Javalgi, 1997). Hence, in conducting cross-cultural consumer research it may be necessary to first identify ingroups where conformity to group goals is important, and second, to determine the referent influence relative to specific norms, roles and values as they are manifested within ads.

The primary goal of this study is to examine more closely how individuals within individualistic and collectivistic cultures differ in responses to advertising appeals that contain individualistic (self-oriented) and collectivistic (ingroup-oriented) messages. By manipulating advertising appeals that vary the referent influence relative to salient ingroups the relationship between cultural orientation and attitude favorability can be determined. These relationships will also be examined across different products categories to determine whether product characteristics moderate cultural differences in the persuasiveness of ad appeals. …

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