Special Session Summary the Cumulative Effects of Advertising Repetition on Product Beliefs and Attitudes Under Low Involvement

Scott A. Hawkins, University of Toronto
[ to cite ]:
Scott A. Hawkins (1995) ,"Special Session Summary the Cumulative Effects of Advertising Repetition on Product Beliefs and Attitudes Under Low Involvement", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 22, eds. Frank R. Kardes and Mita Sujan, Provo, UT : Association for Consumer Research.

Advances in Consumer Research Volume 22, 1995      Pages 63-64



Scott A. Hawkins, University of Toronto

The average North American consumer is increasingly bombarded with marketing information from a multitude of sources (Britt, Adams, and Miller 1972). Although some of this information is relevant to the consumer's immediate needs and receives careful scrutiny and consideration, the majority of marketing communications convey little or no relevant information and receive minimal levels of attention and evaluation (Bauer & Greyser 1968; Belch 1981). Nonetheless, repetition can have a variety of cumulative effects on consumer beliefs (Pechmann & Stewart 1989; Sawyer & Ward 1979) even under low-involvement conditions (Krugman 1965).

Advertisers have long been interested in the complex and subtle effects of repeated exposure to advertising. In order to properly allocate their advertising spending advertisers must determine how repetition affects consumers' product judgments. This session brought together three distinct streams of research that have identified significant effects of repetition on consumer judgments.

The first paper by Kirmani examined some of the implications for consumers' quality judgments suggested by economic signaling theory (Nelson 1974; Kirmani & Wright 1989; Kirmani, 1990). This framework suggests that increased advertising spending should lead consumers to infer that the advertised product is higher quality: Increased advertising spending reflects the manufacturer's belief that the product is high quality. Furthermore, the study examined the moderating role of two variables that might be important signals of manufacturers' advertising spending: level of repetition and the use of color in the ads. Results suggested that higher levels of repetition and the use of color v. black & white ads contributed to higher ratings of product quality. The impact of these variables on quality judgments appears to be mediated by subjects' judgments of the manufacturers' level of commitment to the brands. Finally, the author explored the implications of the results for various theoretical perspectives.

The second paper by Hawkins, Meyers-Levy, and Hoch extended the recent finding that repetition of messages increases individuals' beliefs in those messages (Hawkins & Hoch 1992). One of the concerns of any advertiser hoping to use repetition to change consumer beliefs is that consumers will become bored and even skeptical of messages at higher repetition levels. This study examined a commonly adopted solution to this wearout phenomenon: variations-on-a-theme advertising. Subjects saw and rated between one and four product feature claims that all suggested a common benefit. Each of the feature claims was repeated between one and four times. Results indicated that exact repetition of a single feature claim increases belief in that claim, but increasing the number of related claims does not increase belief in the feature claims. However, subjects are more likely to believe the general benefit claim (the benefit implied by the feature claims) as the number of related claims increases. Further analyses indicated that the impact of repetition on beliefs is mediated by the familiarity of claims. Finally, the implications of these results for theories of repetition-induced beliefs and for advertising strategy were discussed.

The third paper, by Haugtvedt and Schumann, explored some of the implications of a common advertising strategy: exposing consumers to varied executions (e.g. related product arguments) of an advertising message (Schumann, Petty, & Clemons 1990; Haughtvedt, Schumann, Schneier, & Warren, 1994). Their study examined the effects of the argument strength and the order of presentation on persuasion. Results suggested that the argument strength had greater impact on attitudes when the order of the ads was varied than when the arguments were repeated in the same order. The authors suggest that this interaction reflects increased involvement and elaboration that is induced by varying the order of arguments. By using message characteristics (such as argument order), marketers can influence the degree of elaboration, which highlights the difference in the persuasiveness of the arguments.

The discussion by Sawyer emphasized the evolution in the study of effects of repetitive advertising. Research on repetitive advertising has shifted from a focus on whether repetition influences consumer responses to advertising (e.g., improving attitudes toward a brand) to understanding how the repetition might change attitudes (i.e., identifying important mediating factors). Although the three papers in this session adopt very different perspectives, they complement each other in suggesting important intervening variables in the impact of repetition on persuasion.


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