Academic journal article International Journal of Management and Marketing Research

An Investigation of Informational versus Emotional Advertising Appeals during Life Transitions

Academic journal article International Journal of Management and Marketing Research

An Investigation of Informational versus Emotional Advertising Appeals during Life Transitions

Article excerpt


The traditional family life cycle model explains the consumption behavior of individuals and households during a set of temporal periods in consumers' lives. Yet, these seemingly distinct periods in one's life may overlook times at which considerable consumer activity takes place, whether it deals with increasing product awareness, trial, evaluation, and/or purchase. In a study of consumption behavior issues related to primary life changes or transitions, we examined emotional and informational advertising appeals using expectant mothers as our subject population. The findings suggest that expectant mothers view informational appeals more favorably than emotional appeals. Implications of the study's results for researchers and practitioners are provided.

JEL: M300, M310, M370, M390

KEYWORDS: marketing, primary life changes, life transitions, advertising appeals, expectant parents


According to data from the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics, the number of babies born in the U.S. every year approaches four million. Additionally, some estimates suggest that a family earning $56,300-$98,500 a year spends nearly $11,568 in just the first year of a child's life on necessities such as food, clothing, appliances, day care, and hygiene products (, 2011). This is in line with the U.S. Department of Agriculture statistics, which show that a couple earning an average of $61,000 a year will spend approximately $270,000 in today's dollars to raise a child to age 17 (Lino, 2008).

While most statistics relate to expenses following the birth of a baby, there is little or no research investigating consumption patterns of individuals or families in transition such as expectant parents. In the period preceding the birth of a child, parents are not only engrossed in the emotional ups and downs of the pregnancy, but are also called upon to engage in major purchasing decisions that may at times run in the thousands of dollars (Mergenhagen, 1995). This is the time when parents spend money on remodeling a room and buying furniture for the new baby or even yet purchasing a larger home. Despite the potential gains marketers can realize by reaching this market in a timely and effective manner, we know very little about the consumption behavior of expectant parents as well as other individuals during life transitions.The purpose of this study was to investigate one important aspect of consumption behavior during significant life transitions. Specifically, we were interested in finding out whether expectant mothers would respond more favorably to emotional as opposed to informational appeals and whether emotional or informational appeals would lead to higher global evaluations and purchase intentions of the advertised product. The paper begins with a discussion of primary life changes and the significance of such changes on consumption behavior. Following this discussion, we examine the issue of emotional and informational appeals in the context of the motivation to process and involvement theory, develop our hypotheses, and offer a detailed description of the methodology adopted in this study. The paper concludes with a presentation of the results and a discussion of our findings in the context of future research and marketing strategy. Limitations of this study are also discussed as a means of addressing the generalizability of the findings.


A great deal has been written about the veracity of the family life cycle (FLC) and its associated implications for consumer behavior (e.g., Wells and Gubar, 1966; Reynolds and Wells, 1977; Du and Kamakura, 2006). The traditional FLC describes consumption patterns of individuals or families as they move through various stages of life such as "young, married, with no children," "families with teenagers," and "families as launching centers" (Stampfl, 1978; Murphy and Staples, 1979). Two important factors typically describe each stage of the FLC. …

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