The Role of Consumer Involvement in Determining Cognitive Response to Broadcast Advertising
Laura M. Buchholz Robert E. Smith
This paper investigates the role of involvemeni in deurmmitxg consumer response to radio and TV commercials. Afur reviewing reletani Uterature. a summary model thai focuses on the amount and type of cognitive elaboration and subsequent ejects on consumer recognition of the brand and message points is presented. Hypotheses are developed that predict interaction ejfects between the type of brondcasi media and the level of consumer tm-oltement in the commercial. A study is conducted where mode of presentation (radio versus television) and let«l of consumer involvement (low versus high) are experimentally manipulated. Analysis of variance of the data provide general support for the hypotheses. Other results and the implications for advertising research and practice are discussed.
Laura Buchholz is a graduate student at Indiana University. Robert E. Smith (Ph.D., University of Wisconsin-Madison) is associate professor of marketing, Indiana University, The avithora chanlc Frank DiSilvestro and Dan McQuiston for their contribution to this study.
Advertising research has provided considerable evidence regarding consumer response to persuasive messages. Numerous models that explain consumers' cognitive, affective, and conative reactions have been advanced and tested. As theories become more detailed, greater discrimination is possible in understanding the important dimensions of consumer response. However, further research is needed on many fronts, including investigations of differences that exist in message processing among alternative advertising media. For example, two types of broadcast media—radio and TV—have obvious differences that could seriously affect the way consumers process persuasive messages. Despite calls for research on these issues (Edell and Keller 1989; Greenwald and Leavitt 1984), few mtxiels distinguish between radio and TV message processing. The importance of these broadcast media to advertisers is evident by the fact that they spent $26 billion on TV and $7-7 billion on radio in 1988 (Marketer's Guide To Media 1989). In addition, these media are often used together in "coordinated media campaigns" (Edell and Keller 1989). To most effectively communicate their message, creative teams and media planners need to understand differences in the way consumers process radio and TV commercials. Knowledge of the particular strengths and weaknesses of different broadcast media would represent a practical advance of marketing communications theory. Accordingly, the purpose of this paper is to review issues relevant to processing differences between broadcast media and to advance a sumtnary model of the important dimensions. In addition, a study is reported that tests the key propositions of the model.
The most basic difference between radio and TV is the number of sensory modes involved. Radio messages consist of only auditory stimuli and audience processing consists of only listening. TV messages project both auditory and visual stimuli, and audience processing consists of listening and viewing, ©Journal of Advertising Volume 20, Nutnber 1. 1991. Pages 4-17
Processing Auditory Information— Consumer listening. Listening was defined by Barker (1971) as: "the selective process of attending to, bearing, understanding, and remembering aural symbols." This definition focuses upon cognitive processes that register, comprehend, and retain auditory information. The memory component was considered necessary by Barker (1971) because without some lasting vestige of the input stimuli, no real evidence of the entire listening process exists. It is also important to note that people vary in their motivation and ability to perform the necessary steps in listening, making this a complex process not just a simple skill (Barker 1971). In addition, Spearritt (1962) notes...
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Received Nowmber 22.1989. Revision accepted for publication February 7. 1990. ^
APPENDIX Coding Definitions for Cognitive Responses
I. Type of Thought: A. Product-Related Thoughts. These thoughts refer to the brand or product class (computers). TTiey include: 1. Identification and /or evaluation of product attributes. 2. Statements related to the performance of the product. 3. Statements related to the consequences of using the product. 4. Questions about the brand or product class. 5. Statements indicating how the product could solve a problem. B. 'hAessage-RelatedThoughts. Any thought that identifies or evaluates execution aspects of the advertising message. 1. Statements regarding the effectiveness of the ad. 2. Statements expressing interest in the ad. 3. Questions about the ad. 4. Statements regarding attributes of the ad. C. SouTcc Related TKoughts. The source is defined as the perceived purveyor of the message. This category includes any thought that relates to the credibility and/or effectiveness of the source of product information (references to the "advertiser" or the "source"). In this study the source would be the sponsor/manufacturer (Apple referred to as a company rather than as a product). 1. Statements regarding the perceived expertise of the source (i.e., the ability of the source to make accurate asscrtations). 2. Statements regarding the perceived trustworthiness erf the source (i.e., the willingness of the source to make accurate assertations). 3. Statements regarding the effectiveness of the source (i.e., the source 's likability, similarity, confidence, status, etc.). D. Unrelated Thoughts. All thoughts not fitting the above categories. II. Intent of Thought: A. Positive Statements. Any statement that is in favor of or otherwise supports the product/message/source. B. Neutral Statements. Declarative statements regarding the product/message/source that do not indicate a favor^le or unfavorable intent. C. Negative Statements. Any statement that is unfavorable toward the product/message/source. Any question that derogates or challenges assertions made about the product/message/source. D. Curiosity Statements. Any statement that expresses a desire for additional information about the product/message/source. These statements are distinguishable from negative statements based on your judgment of the subject 's intent. III. Presence of Personal Connections: Thoughts are considered personal connections if respondents connect the brand, product class, or elements in the advertisement to aspects of their own life (e.g., "I thought about using the computer," or "This computer would be great for my accounting problems)."
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