Attitude toward Brand: An Integrative Look at Mediators and Moderators

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

Delving into the processes through which advertising efforts stimulate consumers to buy a particular brand has been an area of interest among marketing researchers for a long time (MacKenzie, Lutz, & Belch, 1986). In this way, attitude, the cynosure of social psychologists, has been a cornerstone of consumer research as well. In most studies in this area, attitudes have served as dependent variables and the impact of different ads, their repetition, and other factors on attitude formation and change have been studied (Berger & Mitchell, 1989). Cognitive perspective of attitude was the dominant viewpoint in the years when consumer behavior was a fledgling body of knowledge, owing much to Fishbeinian theories and multi-attribute models (e.g. Fishbein, 1963). However, the pioneering works of Mitchell and Olson (1981) and others (such as Zajonc, 1980; Shimp, 1981) gave rise to a new stream of research in which alternative paths to persuasion were explored. The influential Elaboration Likelihood Model (Petty, Cacioppo, & Schumann, 1983) and the series of studies by Lutz, MacKenzie, and Belch (1983), MacKenzie, Lutz, and Belch (1986), and MacKenzie and Lutz (1989) further expanded our knowledge of attitude formation and change to include peripheral paths, especially through attitude toward the ad. While some studies were carried out to probe into the nature of this new construct (e.g. Gresham & Shimp, 1985), purely affective influences of advertisements on attitudes also came to light (Batra & Ray, 1986; Edell & Burke, 1987).

However, attitude researchers have focused on selected areas developing the now voluminous attitude literature in different and even disconnected directions. Along with a need for integration, current theories include relationships between some constructs that do not effectively explain the nature of effects or neglect the role of moderator variables. Argument quality, for example, has been noted in many studies (e.g. Petty, Cacioppo, & Schumann, 1983; Lord, Lee, & Sauer, 1995) in terms of its direct effect on brand attitudes; however the mediating role of brand cognitions has not received worthy attention. The moderating role of irrelevant thoughts on Arg-[C.sub.b] relationship and the importance of availability of cognitive resources in moderating that relationship are also less accentuated. Our study aims at providing an integrative framework that encompasses both cognitive and affective determinants of brand attitudes in the field of advertising effectiveness. This framework also includes the different processes and constructs that become activated as a result of emotional versus informational ads, a comparison neglected in previous studies. We developed our framework from a more detailed model which we propose later in the paper and provided several propositions for future validation.

In the following sections of this paper, first, we will discuss attitude formation and change by distinguishing between attitude toward the ad and attitude toward the brand. Antecedents and moderators of these two constructs will be explained in depth. Subsequently, we will discuss the relationship between attitude toward the ad and attitude toward the brand, and finally, we will propose an integrative model uncovering the processes which underlie the formation and change of these two constructs.

ATTITUDE FORMATION AND CHANGE

There are two major perspectives with regards to attitude structure. First, we can view attitudes as evaluative responses influenced merely by beliefs (e.g., Wyer, 1970). This view of attitude reached its pinnacle with the famous expectancy-value models of which theory of reasoned action (Fishbein & Ajzen, 1975) is of paramount importance. The well-known formula (A=[summation] [b.sub.i][e.sub.i]) indicates that the attitude is the sum of all evaluative beliefs regarding the attitude object where [b.sub. …

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