Gender Differences in Processing Comparative Advertising in a Competitive Context-Evidence For Differential Strategies

EXTENDED ABSTRACT - This study argues that, in a competitive ad context, the likelihood of engaging in involving brand evaluation strategies varies for different consumers. Past research indicates that male and female participants differ in terms of their processing strategies. Women are said to be Acomprehensive processors@ and more likely to integrate product information, whereas men seem less motivated to engage in detailed message elaboration (Meyers-Levy, 1989). According to Meyers-Levy, the effect of gender differences on information processing can be partially explained by women’s lower threshold for message attention. Therefore, this study argues that female participants will engage in involved brand evaluation strategies only if the products are presented in the same context, whereas male participants will not be motivated to do so unless they are exposed to comparative appeals which specifically direct their attention to relative product advantages.



Citation:

Chingching Chang (2005) ,"Gender Differences in Processing Comparative Advertising in a Competitive Context-Evidence For Differential Strategies", in AP - Asia Pacific Advances in Consumer Research Volume 6, eds. Yong-Uon Ha and Youjae Yi, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 357-358.

Asia Pacific Advances in Consumer Research Volume 6, 2005      Pages 357-358

GENDER DIFFERENCES IN PROCESSING COMPARATIVE ADVERTISING IN A COMPETITIVE CONTEXT-EVIDENCE FOR DIFFERENTIAL STRATEGIES

Chingching Chang, National Chengchi University, Taiwan

EXTENDED ABSTRACT -

This study argues that, in a competitive ad context, the likelihood of engaging in involving brand evaluation strategies varies for different consumers. Past research indicates that male and female participants differ in terms of their processing strategies. Women are said to be "comprehensive processors" and more likely to integrate product information, whereas men seem less motivated to engage in detailed message elaboration (Meyers-Levy, 1989). According to Meyers-Levy, the effect of gender differences on information processing can be partially explained by women’s lower threshold for message attention. Therefore, this study argues that female participants will engage in involved brand evaluation strategies only if the products are presented in the same context, whereas male participants will not be motivated to do so unless they are exposed to comparative appeals which specifically direct their attention to relative product advantages.

Due to these processing differences, this study also suggests that a comparative appeal will lead female participants to generate enhanced perceived manipulative intent and result in deteriorated ad and brand evaluations. In clear contrast, a direct comparative appeal will increase the possibility that male participants show higher levels of brand evaluation involvementBthus, in turn, generating more favorable responses.

This study also proposes a hypothesis about the alignability of product attributes. Recent research suggests that product comparison is carried out by an alignment process that generates three properties: commonality, alignable differences, and nonalignable differences (Zhang & Markman, 1998; Zhang & Markman, 2001; Zhang, Kardes & Cronley, 2002; Zhang & Fitzsimons, 1999). The difficulty of comparison increases with the alignability of the attributes (Zhang & Fitzsimons, 1999). In keeping with this line of research, the present study proposes that, in a competitive ad viewing context, alignability of product attributes for two competitive brands will moderate the relative effects of comparative ad appeals based on gender. As the processing difficulty increases, the use of comparative ad appeals will not generate enhanced manipulative intent for female participants. At the same time, as the processing difficulty increases, using comparative ad appeals will not effectively motivate male participants to engage in message elaboration. Given these differences, the superior effects of attribute-based non-comparative appeals for female participants on ad and brand evaluations, as well as on purchase intention, will be attenuated when the two competing ads feature nonalignable, as opposed to alignable, product attributes. The same holds true with respect to the superior effects of comparative appeals on male participants.

Findings of this study show that women get involved with brand evaluations to a similar degree regardless of whether or not direct comparative appeals are used. Under a competitive advertising viewing context, direct comparative appeals do not encourage female participants to be more involved with brand evaluations. In clear contrast, direct comparative advertising appeals enhance male participants’ involvement in brand evaluations to a higher extent than non-comparative appeals. Other findings are that the processing differences between genders have evaluative consequences. Direct comparative appeals, as opposed to non-comparative appeals, cause women to perceive the manipulative intent of the ad. The result is negative ad and brand evaluations and reduced purchase intention. Direct comparative appeals, however, as opposed to non-comparative appeals, seem to effectively motivate men to be more involved in brand evaluations, thus leading to more favorable ad and brand evaluations as well as enhanced purchase intentions. Finally, the findings of this study suggest that the attribute alignability of competing products moderates the effectiveness of comparative and non-comparative appeals for different genders.

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Authors

Chingching Chang, National Chengchi University, Taiwan



Volume

AP - Asia Pacific Advances in Consumer Research Volume 6 | 2005



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