Consumer Utilization of an Advertising Stimulus: The Effect of the Peel 'N Taste[R] Marketing System on Customer Attitudes, Product Feelings and Likelihood of Purchase

By Gerlich, R. Nicholas; Browning, Leigh et al. | Academy of Marketing Studies Journal, July 2011 | Go to article overview

Consumer Utilization of an Advertising Stimulus: The Effect of the Peel 'N Taste[R] Marketing System on Customer Attitudes, Product Feelings and Likelihood of Purchase


Gerlich, R. Nicholas, Browning, Leigh, Westermann, Lori, Academy of Marketing Studies Journal


INTRODUCTION

Scratch-and-sniff advertisements appeared in large number in the 1990s, relying on printing technology that made it possible for consumers to interact with a product and a salient attribute in an inexpensive (for the marketer) and non-threatening (for the consumer) manner. In so doing, marketers utilizing this method were effectively seeking to create a surrogate means of product trial. The literature supports the conclusion that a favorable evaluation of scent can result in a transfer to the evaluation of a particular product. Recently, Peel 'n Taste[R] Marketing System advertisements appeared in the media and in mailboxes, utilizing dissolvable flavor strips that purport to allow consumers to sample a product without ever physically interacting with it. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the effectiveness of these flavor strips in influencing consumer feelings toward the product as well as likelihood to purchase the product.

THEORETICAL BACKGROUND

Product trial has been show n to influence the formation of belief and attitudes toward that product. Furthermore, direct experience with the product has been shown to be a much more reliable and powerful predictor of buyer behavior than mere exposure to product advertising alone (Smith & Swinyard 1982; Fazio & Zanna 1978; Smith 1993). Interaction with the physical product, thus, is of greater value than advertising alone; seeing and using are believing. Exposure to advertising alone yields belief strength, intentions to buy, confidence, and attitudes that are not as strong as those recorded when participants are allowed to actually try the product.

But what if the advertisement is the product trial? Research has shown that a pleasant scent in an advertisement and a participant's resulting mood state can positively influence attitudes toward the product (Ellen and Bone 1998) and can affect judgments of unrelated focal objects (Isen and Shalker 1982; Petty et al. 1993). While executional cues such as scent (olfactory), pictures (visual), and sound (aural) have been studied and shown to affect physical and emotional states, there is need to study whether taste, particularly in a surrogate form, can likewise influence consumer feelings toward products, and ultimately their likelihood of buying the product.

The majority of studies examining product trial have focused on simple easily consumed and functional products such as coffee, soft drinks, and snack foods (Olson and Dover 1979; Smith and Swinyard 1988; Smith 1993). Kempf (1999) and Kempf and Smith (1998) add the notion of trial diagnosticity, which is the perceived usefulness of the trial for forming one's evaluations of the product. This diagnosticity is a function of whether the product's salient attributes can be ascertained during the product trial. That product taste can be ascertained from a surrogate method is the assumption made by advertisers using the Peel 'n Taste[R] Marketing System flavor strip. Furthermore, it is assumed by these advertisers that this surrogate will serve sufficiently as a product trial, and influence consumer feelings toward the product and cause them to purchase the product in its natural form.

Prior studies involving scent show that experiencing a pleasant or unpleasant scent can be transferred to associated objects (Ehrlichman and Halpern 1988). Bone and Jantrania (1992) explored the relationship between scent cues and product quality. Thus, if a consumer encounters a pleasing scent, the related object is likely to also be perceived as pleasing and/or of high quality. This may also be true for consumers experiencing a pleasant taste.

Scents are often linked to specific objects, events, and persons in a consumer's memory. Great variability can occur, though, between consumers, with one scent evoking a positive memory for one person, and a negative memory for another (Engen 1972). The same may be true for taste. …

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