Advertising Implications of the Pleasure Principle in the Classification of Products

ABSTRACT - The study attempts to reproduce the findings of the FCB grid by classifying seventy six products using different dimensions - hedonic and analytic value, which are operationalized as the extent of pleasure and the amount of perceived differences between brands. An advertising matrix is used to draw normative implications for advertising. Results indicate that consumers perceive of not four but two prototypic product classes. A clear one dimensional trend suggests that product involvement entails the concurrent operation of hedonic and analytic values. A case is made for the pleasure principle as the primary source of motivation in product and brand choice.



Citation:

Arjun Chaudhuri (1993) ,"Advertising Implications of the Pleasure Principle in the Classification of Products", in E - European Advances in Consumer Research Volume 1, eds. W. Fred Van Raaij and Gary J. Bamossy, Provo, UT : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 154-159.

European Advances in Consumer Research Volume 1, 1993      Pages 154-159

ADVERTISING IMPLICATIONS OF THE PLEASURE PRINCIPLE IN THE CLASSIFICATION OF PRODUCTS

Arjun Chaudhuri, Fairfield University, U.S.A.

ABSTRACT -

The study attempts to reproduce the findings of the FCB grid by classifying seventy six products using different dimensions - hedonic and analytic value, which are operationalized as the extent of pleasure and the amount of perceived differences between brands. An advertising matrix is used to draw normative implications for advertising. Results indicate that consumers perceive of not four but two prototypic product classes. A clear one dimensional trend suggests that product involvement entails the concurrent operation of hedonic and analytic values. A case is made for the pleasure principle as the primary source of motivation in product and brand choice.

INTRODUCTION

In the theory of psycho-analysis we have no hesitation in assuming that the course taken by mental events is automatically regulated by the pleasure principle. We believe, that is to say, that the course of those events is invariably set in motion by an unpleasurable tension, and that it takes a direction such that its final outcome coincides with a lowering of that tension - that is, with an avoidance of unpleasure or a production of pleasure. (Freud 1920, p.594-595)

The search for pleasure is a paradigm of human motivation and action that has only recently been addressed in marketing and consumer behavior theory (Havlena and Holbrook 1986; Holbrook and Hirschman 1982; Laurent and Kapferer 1985; Venkatraman and MacInnis 1985). Consumers may use "hedonistic" (pleasurable) criteria in their choice and evaluation of products which improve self concept, provide entertainment and gratify the senses. On the other hand, under the traditional information processing paradigm (Bettman 1979), there are products which are chosen largely on the basis of "analytic" criteria. Such products solve consumer problems and are capable of brand differentiation on the level of product attributes, leading to the reduction of risk and uncertainty.

PURPOSE OF THE STUDY

This paper attempts to develop a typology of product categories, based on the hedonistic and analytic criteria used by consumers, and suggests normative implications for advertising planning and strategy. In particular, the attempt here is to reproduce the findings of the FCB grid (Vaughn 1980). As shown in Figure A, the FCB grid uses two dimensions to classify products - the level of involvement, ranging from high to low, and a continuum from thinking to feeling. However, the operational measures of thinking and feeling have been seen to load on the same factor as involvement (Vaughn 1986), suggesting that involvement may be a higher order theoretical construct which encompasses both emotional and rational modes of processing. Park and Young (1986) confirm this when describing affective and cognitive types of involvement. More recently, Rossiter, Percy and Donovan (1991) have also discussed the correlation between involvement and thinking -feeling. However, they have maintained the involvement dimension in their grid instead of recognizing that involvement is comprised of both thinking and feeling.

Further, it has been pointed out (Pechmann and Stewart 1989) that feeling and thinking are separate and independent dimensions which cannot realistically be used as opposite ends of a single continuum. In other words, it is entirely possible that a product can be capable of simultaneously eliciting both emotional and rational responses. Thus, the present study will attempt to classify a large number of product categories on separate hedonic and analytic dimensions. The results will indicate whether products continue to be dispersed over all four quadrants, as depicted in the FCB grid.

THEORETICAL PERSPECTIVE

Buck (1988) discusses two separate systems of behavior. Syncretic cognition, which is knowledge by acquaintance and analytic cognition, which is knowledge by description. In the former, processing is right hemispheric in origin, emotional, spontaneous and non-propositional in nature. In the latter, evaluation is left hemispheric in origin, rational, symbolic and propositional. Syncretic cognition or knowledge by acquaintance is immediate and subjective emotional experience that is known directly by the individual and cannot be described. This is the process that Bertrand Russell described as "direct sensory awareness without the intermediary of any process of inference or any knowledge of truths" (in Buck 1988, p.398). In contrast, analytic cognition or knowledge by description is indirect and involves the interpretation of sense data resulting in cognitive judgements about phenomena.

On the level of product categories, we can, therefore, also conceive of two types of consumer knowledge - one that is acquired by direct sensory experience with the product and another that is ratiocinative and involves analysis and judgement. The first is described here as the hedonic value of a product, that is known directly through immediate and subjective experience with the product and that results in a sensation of pleasure; the second, as the analytic value of the product which can be described in terms of judgements concerning the functional attributes of the product. Since consumers, today, are faced with many competing versions of the same product, these judgements are further seen to relate to the perceived differences between brands.

Thus, certain products are viewed as pleasurable, irrespective of the brand that is purchased. In general, this would apply to parity products, such as beer, chocolate, liquor, sodas, etc., where brand differences are imperceptible to most consumers but where the pleasure component is high. On the other hand, certain products are viewed as risky, in the sense that consumers realize that significant differences exist between brands and that the wrong brand could bring about deleterious consequences. Murphy and Enis (1986) identified five such consequences of risk - financial, social, psychological, physical and functional. Such perceived risk is a function of perceived quality differences between brands (Bettman 1973) and leads to active information search and evaluation. Moreover, our understanding of advertising strategy and its effects is significantly richer when we consider that for certain product classes consumers may process information in both highly analytic and hedonistic ways and that for other categories evaluation may be low in both as well. This is elaborated on in the next section.

ADVERTISING MATRIX

In the light of the previous discussion, emotional advertising can be defined, as the communication form in which a consumer experiences his/her evaluation of the pleasurable relationship of a brand to him/her. Further, pleasure with the product should be distinguished from pleasure derived from the advertisement. Though both are pleasurable techniques, "product induced pleasure" is pleasure depicted in advertising as arising from the product itself, while the effect in "ad induced pleasure" is derived from the presentational elements of the ad. The latter strategy (or classical conditioning) is specially relevant for "low involvement" items that possess little inherent hedonic value. This conditioning process is a fundamental advertising technique and has been well documented (Gorn 1982; Mitchell and Olsen 1981).

FIGURE A

THE FCB GRID

In contrast, rational advertising can be described as the communication form in which a consumer experiences his\her evaluation of the consequences of choosing the wrong brand or the analytic relationship of a brand to him/her. Accordingly, rational advertising emphasizes the perceived differences between brands and suggests the lowering of social and/or functional risk through the unique attributes of the advertised brand.

Figure B. presents an "Advertising Matrix" that uses the dimensions of analytic and hedonic value to categorize product classes into four types. The general implication, for advertising strategy, that derives from this conceptual approach is that emotional advertising is viable for all product categories. For instance, ad induced pleasure is used in all four classes. In the low/low category, however, it is not accompanied by brand differentiation or product induced pleasure. Conversely, in the high/high category all three ad strategies are used. In the other two categories, either brand differentiation or product induced pleasure can be evidenced along with ad induced pleasure.

Quadrant 1:

Certain products, such as automobiles, airlines and personal computers, are high in hedonistic value and high in analytic value. The advertising of such products emphasizes brand differences and also elicits "product induced pleasure" by delineating the enjoyment that can be derived from the advertised product. In addition, ads for such products utilize classical conditioning strategies to derive "ad induced pleasure". Product induced pleasure in this category serves to increase consumers' existing high involvement while brand differences and ad induced pleasure serve to differentiate the advertised brand from competition. An obvious failing of the FCB grid is its contention that products like automobiles are purchased solely on "thinking". A cursory look at auto ads on TV will reveal the insistent use of "feeling" techniques (jingles, etc.).

Quadrant 2:

Industrial products, services like banking and household appliances are low in hedonistic value and high in analytic value. The advertising of such products emphasizes brand differences. In addition, ads for such products utilize classical conditioning strategies to derive ad induced pleasure and thereby differentiate the advertised brand.

Quadrant 3:

The FCB grid does not accommodate products that may be low in both thinking and feeling (Ratchford 1987), but certain products, such as tissues, fabric softeners and gasoline are low in hedonistic value and low in analytic value. Ads for such products utilize classical conditioning strategies to derive ad induced pleasure, thereby differentiating the brand from competition. At first glance it would appear that industrial products and tissues could not possibly benefit from emotional advertising. However, ads for industrial products do not only develop beliefs and ads for tissues do not only repeat the brand name (Krugman 1965). In both classes there is classical conditioning through the subtle use of symbols. The attempt is to create involvement with the ad by using, say, puppies in an ad for toilet tissues. Kiddie and canine commercials accounted for a third of the top 25 most popular commercials of 1987 (Alsop 1988). Affection for trade characters (Snuggle, Pillsbury Doughboy, etc.) also translates into affection for the product.

Quadrant 4:

Certain products, such as cigarettes, alcoholic beverages and sodas, are high in hedonistic value but low in analytic value. The advertising of such products elicits product induced pleasure by delineating the pleasure that can be derived from the advertised product and serves to increase consumers' existing high involvement with these products. Unlike the FCB grid, the matrix does not consider these categories to be low involvement. Involvement here is increased by the use of emotional treatments, which enhance the perceived value of the product. Further, actual differences are hard to come by in these product classes and advertising is the "real" difference induced through classical conditioning strategies.

OPERATIONALIZATIONS

The choice of Pleasure and Perceived Differences as operationalizations of the two substantive dimensions of involvement in the classification of products, with special regard to advertising, is well vindicated by past research. Preston (1970), demonstrated that perceived differences in the products advertised in magazines and television could account for high and low involvement effects. Robertson (1976) viewed "commitment" to be a function of "perceived distinguishing attributes among brands and the salience of these attributes" (p.23). Bowen and Chaffee (1974) considered involvement with a product to increase with the "number of pertinent distinctions" (p.615) between brands. Zaichkowsky (1985) also found a positive relationship between perceived differences between brands and the level of involvement.

In presenting an alternative to the usual information based perspective on consumer behavior, Holbrook and Hirschman (1982) advocated research on the experiential aspect of human consumption in which emotions and feelings of enjoyment and pleasure are the outcomes. Laurent and Kapferer (1985) found that the hedonic value of a product had a significant effect on communication variables such as exposure to advertising. In the same study, perceived differentiation was seen to be related to the extensiveness of the decision process, which was treated as a consequence of involvement. However, pleasure value was not related to the extensiveness of the decision process, thereby suggesting that pleasure and perceived differentiation have different effects and represent orthogonal dimensions. In another study, Zaichkowsky (1987) found support for the FCB grid using a measure of emotion (exciting/unexciting) similar to pleasure.

FIGURE B

ADVERTISING MATRIX

Havlena and Holbrook (1986) documented that dimensional aspects of emotion (Mehrabian and Russell 1974) such as pleasure provide greater information about consumption experiences than do typological (Ekman and Friesen, 1975) aspects of emotion, such as happiness, fear, etc. In general, the role of pleasure has increasingly been heralded by consumer researchers and a basic premise in this paper is that human beings have always been motivated by the pursuit of pleasure and the avoidance of pain.

THE STUDY

Two scales were used to operationalize the concepts of hedonic and analytic value:

"How likely is it that these products could give pleasure to most people ?"

"How much difference can most people perceive in the quality of brands of the following ?"

Single item scales that provided clear face validity for the theoretical constructs, as defined earlier, were necessary in order to obtain ratings on a large number of categories from the same individuals. The intention was to determine whether a more parsimonious method, using different operationalizations, could still reproduce the findings of the FCB grid in which product classes were found to be dispersed over four mutually exclusive quadrants. Both scales were intentionally constructed to be read in the third person since otherwise product usage might bias responses. Also, the use of "most people" is a projective technique that allows an indirect approach to issues that might otherwise be repressed (Havlena and Holbrook 1986). Seventy six product classes were rated on each of the two scales by 216 undergraduate students at a Connecticut university. All product classes were rated first on one scale and then the second scale was introduced for the same product classes. Questionnaires were pretested and counterbalanced to guard against order and fatigue effects. The list of product classes was generated from a variety of sources, which included an exploratory study of commonly used products. Table 1. provides the means of each product class computed for both the hedonic and analytic scales. 72 of the 76 pairs of means revealed a significant correlation (pearson product moment) between hedonic and analytic values at the .05 level.

Figure C. shows a graph which plots these mean values for each product class. A clear one dimensional trend can be seen in these values in Figure C. The correlation coefficient between the means of analytic and hedonic value was computed as .72. This is in accordance with the expectation that relevant aspects of involvement are likely to correlate positively together (Laurent and Kapferer 1985). It can be concluded that products that are rated high on hedonic value are also rated high on analytic value. Similarly, products rated low on hedonic value are rated low on analytic value.

In order to test this conclusion further, a principal components factor analysis was conducted using the mean scores for each product class on hedonic and analytic value. As expected, a single factor was extracted which explained 86% of the variance in the variables. Thus, while the two dimensions of the matrix appear to be present, it must also be noted that there may be a higher order, superordinate construct that determines consumer perceptions of hedonic and analytic value. It is suggested that this is quite possibly the concept of "involvement". Consumers who are involved with a product class, tend to view it as both pleasurable and capable of brand differentiation. Conversely, consumers who are not involved with a product class, tend to view it as incapable of both brand differentiation and pleasure gratification.

TABLE 1

HEDONIC AND ANALYTIC MEANS OF PRODUCTS

DISCUSSION

The results of the study were not able to corroborate the contention of the FCB grid that product categories are of four types. Instead, the present study suggests that the aspects of thinking and feeling may work simultaneously, at least with respect to the product categories in the study. There are exceptions to this, as in the case of "mortgages" for example, but by and large consumers seem to perceive that both aspects vary together. A clear one dimensional trend was observed in the study and it has been suggested that this may be due to the higher order construct of involvement.

Of course, the results may be due to the limitations in the study. For instance, there are limits on generalizability, since the undergraduate subjects used in the study may be expected to possess higher levels of interest with certain products such as beer and lower interest in products such as diapers. Future research must be conducted among more representative samples, so that demographic differences do not confound the findings. Further, one cannot be sure that the two measures used in the study are truly indicative of the involvement construct. Future research must determine the relationship of these measures to an independent measure of involvement, such as Zaichkowsky's involvement scale (1985), and also to involvement outcomes such as quantity of information search, in order to establish the validity of these measures in terms of the involvement construct.

In spite of these limitations and on the basis of what is only an exploratory study, one can, perhaps, still speculate that the one dimensional trend observed in the study can be attributed to the pleasure - pain paradigm. Perhaps both measures in the study are assessing a fundamental and overriding principle in human behavior - the search for pleasure and the avoidance of pain. For instance, in the case of luxury cars, which are high in pleasure value, there is also the possibility of extreme pain due to the existence of high brand differences in the analytic value of the product.

FIGURE C

PLOT OF HEDONIC AND ANALYTIC MEANS

Accordingly, in terms of product involvement, a stimulus that has sufficient motivational potential (i.e. pleasure) leads to appraisal of the product category in terms of brand differences and other analytic functions. The capacity for pleasure in the stimulus generates syncretic cognition (knowledge by acquaintance) and, if sufficiently pleasurable, leads to analytic cognitions that understand and describe the stimulus - product. Left and right hemispheres in the human brain work together and are not at odds with each other. Thus, high involvement products are high in both hedonic and analytic aspects and low involvement products are low in both as well. Financial risk, etc. is endured only if the product has the potential for pleasure. Venkatraman and MacInnis (1985) corroborate this through their finding that consumers, irrespective of their predispositions, prefer a sensory mode for initial search activity.

The implications for advertisers is clear. For "high" involvement (i.e. pleasurable) products, ads should show both the pleasure that can be derived from the product and the functional differences between brands in the product category. For "low" involvement products, ads should produce ad induced pleasure from the presentational elements in the ad, since such products lack the inherent motivational potential to produce pleasure. In either case, pleasure is always relevant. Advertisers are already cognizant of the pleasure-pain motive, since ads today, for certain types of products, produce their effect by depicting pain (through fear appeals, for instance) and then providing relief from the pain, achieved through the use of the advertised brand.

Freud's introduction of the pleasure principle into the study of mental processes is echoed in motivational theories concerning man's needs for objects that sustain his survival. According to Branden (1969), "The pleasure-pain mechanism of man's consciousness - the capacity to experience joy and suffering - performs a crucial function in regard to man's survival. This function involves the motivational aspect of man's psychology" (p.69).

REFERENCES

Alsop, Ronald (1988), "In TV Viewers Favorite 1987 Ads, Offbeat Characters Were the Stars," The Wall Street Journal, March 3, B1.

Bettman, James R. (1973), "Perceived Risk and Its Components: A Model and Empirical Test," Journal of Marketing Research, 10 (May), 184-90.

Bettman, James R. (1979), An Information Processing Theory of Consumer Choice, Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.

Bowen, Lawrence and Steven H. Chaffee (1974), "Product Involvement and Pertinent Advertising Appeals," Journalism Quarterly, 51 (Winter), 613-621.

Branden, Nathaniel (1969), The Psychology of Self Esteem, Los Angeles, CA: Nash.

Buck, Ross (1988), Human Motivation and Emotion, New York, NY: John Wiley.

Ekman, Paul and Wallace V. Friesen (1975), Unmasking the Face, Engelwood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

Freud, Sigmund (1920), "Beyond the Pleasure Principle," in The Freud Reader, ed. Peter Gay, New York, NY: Norton.

Gorn, Gerald J. (1982), "The Effect of Music in Advertising on Choice Behavior: A Classical Conditioning Approach," Journal of Marketing, 46 (Winter), 94-101.

Havelena, William J. and Morris B. Holbrook (1986), "The Varieties of Consumption Experience: Comparing Two Typologies of Emotion in Consumer Behavior," Journal of Consumer Research, 13 (December), 394-404.

Holbrook, Morris B. and Elizabeth C. Hirschman (1982), "The Experiential Aspects of Consumption: Consumer Fantasies, Feelings and Fun," Journal of Consumer Research, 9 (September), 132-140.

Krugman, Herbert E. (1965), "The Impact of Television Advertising: Learning Without Involvement," Public Opinion Quarterly, 29 (Fall), 349-356.

Laurent, Gilles and Jean-Noel Kapferer (1985), "Measuring Consumer Involvement Profiles," Journal of Marketing Research, 22 (February), 41-53.

Mehrabian, Albert and James A. Russell (1974), An Approach to Environmental Psychology, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Mitchell, Andrew and Jerry C. Olson (1981), "Are Product Attribute Beliefs the Only Mediator of Advertising Effects on Brand Attitude ?" Journal of Marketing Research, 18 (August), 318-332.

Murphy, Patrick E. and Ben E. Enis (1986), "Classifying Products Strategically," Journal of Marketing Research, 50 (July), 24-42.

Park, C. Whan and Mark S. Young (1986), "Consumer Response to Television Commercials: The Impact of Involvement and Background Music on Brand Attitude Formation," Journal of Marketing Research, 23 (February), 11-24.

Pechmann, Cornelia and David W. Stewart (1989), "The Multidimensionality of Persuasive Communications: Theoretical and Empirical Foundations," in Cognitive and Affective Responses to Advertising, eds. Patricia Cafferata and Alice M. Tybout, Lexington, MA: Lexington Books.

Preston, Ivan L. (1970), "A Reinterpretation of the Meaning of Involvement in Krugman's Models of Advertising Communication," Journalism Quarterly, 47, 287-95.

Ratchford, Brian T. (1987), "New Insights About the FCB Grid," Journal of Advertising Research, August/September, 24-38.

Robertson, Thomas S. (1976), "Low-Commitment Consumer Behavior," Journal of Advertising Research, 16 (April), 19-24.

Rossiter, John R., Larry Percy, and Robert J. Donovan (1991), "A Better Advertising Planning Grid," Journal of Advertising Research, 31 (No.5), 11-21.

Vaughn, Richard (1980), "How Advertising Works: A Planning Model," Journal of Advertising Research, 20 (No.5), 27-33.

Vaughn, Richard (1986), "How Advertising Works: A Planning Model Revisited," Journal of Advertising Research, February/March, 57-66.

Venkatraman, Meera P. and Deborah J. MacInnis (1985), "The Epistemic and Sensory Exploratory Behaviors of Hedonic and Cognitive Shoppers," Advances in Consumer Research, 12, 102-107.

Zaichkowsky, Judith L. (1985), "Measuring the Involvement Concept," Journal of Consumer Research, 12, 341-352.

Zaichkowsky, Judith L. (1987), "The Emotional Aspect of Product Involvement," Advances in Consumer Research, 14, 32-35.

----------------------------------------

Authors

Arjun Chaudhuri, Fairfield University, U.S.A.



Volume

E - European Advances in Consumer Research Volume 1 | 1993



Share Proceeding

Featured papers

See More

Featured

How Numeric Roundness Influences Probability Perceptions

Julio Sevilla, University of Georgia, USA
Rajesh Bagchi, Virginia Tech, USA

Read More

Featured

When Consumers Choose for Others, Their Preferences Diverge from Their Own Salient Goals

Olya Bullard, University of Winnipeg

Read More

Featured

To Touch or Not to Touch?: How Touch Influences Decision Confidence

Sang Kyu Park, University of Florida, USA
Yang Yang, University of Florida, USA

Read More

Engage with Us

Becoming an Association for Consumer Research member is simple. Membership in ACR is relatively inexpensive, but brings significant benefits to its members.