Advertising, Brand Loyalty and Ethics
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Advertising is one of the several ways to attain brand loyalty among the consumers. For a holistic success of brand royalty, issues of ethics are just as important as the goals of advertising. Thus, in developing an advertising strategy, marketers should question the contents of an advert to ensure it is within ‘permittable’ boundaries of ethics. Marketers should question; is the advertisement misleading it’s intended the audience? Is the full disclosure of the product captured in the advertisement? These questions are important since advertisement code of ethics is a legal obligation enshrined in marketing regulatory bodies in many jurisdictions. Also, the code sets standards and rules that guide advertisers in giving consumers correct information to make an informed choice. These lead to the questions; can brand loyalty be achieved without advertising? If not, should advertisers consider when launching a cosmetics campaign that it is not ethical to promote perfection since perfection cannot be achieved?
For a couple of decades now, researchers in marketing field have had an interest in understanding the co-relation between brand loyalty and the factors that builds it. To create brand royalty in consumers and retain them, it is essential to understand the factors that persuade consumers brand loyalty. Among the various factors that build brand loyalty, much of the research has concentrated on the role of advertising. Several notable researches have been done in the area of learning the effect of advertising on possibilities of influencing consumers behaviours. It is important thus, to undertake a systematic approach on researches carried out on brand loyalty in relation to advertising.
Rationale and Research question
Can brand loyalty be achieved without advertising?
Charlton and Ehrenberg (1976) undertook to investigate how people buying habits change over time. The experiment was carried out within twenty five successive weeks. A selected group of housewife were provided with a chance to buy a package of washing detergent or/and laundry and tea leaf per week. The effects of price differentials, advertising, promotions, out-stocking conditions introduction of new brands among others, were examined. Loyal users were defined as those who bought more than four times of a give brand within a given six week period that did not experience any marketing activity. None of the marketing stimuli produced major results on brand loyalty.
Jacoby and Chestnut (1978) concur that, the success of a brand in the long run is not determined by the number of consumers who buys the brand once. It is rather determined by the number of customers who buys the commodity regularly.
Marketing proponents characterize loyalty in to two forms: Behavioural and deterministic approaches (Jones et al 2001). Behavioural approach is manifested by the extent to which a consumer time and again buys the same brand within a product group. The measure of loyalty includes quantity of purchase (e.g., Cunningham 1956), series of purchase (e.g., Kahn, Kalwani, and Morrison 1986) and likelihood of purchase (e.g. Massey, Montgomery, and Morrison 1970). On the other hand, deterministic approach to loyalty suggests that a consumer Behavioural can be influenced or manipulated by other limited factors. It is attitudinal concept over and above the Behavioural expression which influences a consumer loyalty to a brand.
While both views can help explain a consumer repeated sustain to a brand, the Behavioural view is limited in explaining consumer’s purchasing Behavioural in relation to loyalty. Jacoby and Chestnut (1978) disapprove of Behavioural view as lacking a theoretical basis and capturing only a predetermined outcome in a continuously changing process. Woodside and Taylor (1978) examined the response of ninety three sampled consumers for three brand of peanut butter generally found in southern-eastern superstores. This study observed that, the more a brand is advertised nationally, the more increase in consumers’ perceived quality in the brand: the more perceived quality, the more brand purchase intentions.
According to Agrawal (1986), advertising affects the degree of loyalty a consumer has for a given favorite brand. If a favorite commodity brand advertises, the loyalty strength goes up. On the other hand, if a competitor brand advertises, the favorite brand loyalty goes down. The study results also show that, if a brand is adequately stronger than its peer, and if advertising cost is effective, then less advertising is required for stronger brand. Tellis (1988) observes that, advertising has minimal effect in endearing new buyers but a greater result in enforcing preference. This means, advertising affects loyal customers more than non-loyal customers through increased volume purchasing. It has little effect on influencing brand switching.
The importance of current study arises from the need to examine the consequence advertising has on brand loyalty. This research is aimed at finding whether advertising helps or harm brand loyalty which is both relevant and important in marketing strategy of any business. This research will endeavor to achieve this objective in relation to various issues raised in previous researches.
Within the range of the research issues raised in the literature review, a hypothesis for the study was formulated. The aim is the current research work to study the effect of advertising on brand loyalty of loyal consumer of the brand. Tellis (1988) observes that the effect of advertising is evidenced through increase in consumer purchase volumes rather than switch from rival brands into advertised ones. This form the basis of the hypothesis:
(i) Loyal consumers of given brand are least affected by advertising of a competitive brand
Few researches have not paid attention to the socio-economic aspects playing an influencing role in consumers’ brand switching. Factors, other than marketing stimuli which persuade brand loyal consumers to stick with a brand. Furthering this research to find out whether consumers with varying social-economic uniqueness differ significantly in their brand loyalty Behavioural. The role of social economic factors influencing consumer brand loyalty lead to creating the other hypothesis:
(a) There is no considerable difference in the customer brand loyalty as a result to advertisement on the basis of age
(b)There is no considerable difference in consumer switching Behavioural in respect to advertising based on income
Research design and Methodology
The study is an evaluative and aimed at discovering empirically the kind of relationship between advertising and brand switching by use of an experimental design. The study will use before-after whereby the respondent brand loyalty is determined before and after introduction to competing brand advertisement. Commonly used measure of proportion-of-purchase (e.g. Cunningham, 1956), have been used. This method measure brand loyalty based on proportion of brand purchase in relation to the total purchase. Since brand loyalty is quality of the consumer, an individual is considered loyal based on the proportion of purchase of the brand in question. Given the pilot study outcomes, the relationship between consumer and advertisement was classified in two classes of fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) - washing detergents and Shampoo. The research methodology applied for the current study was an experimental design where the loyal respondents were exposed to print advertisement of rival brands in the two categories of the selected brands.
To generate reliable questionnaires, primary and secondary data were used. The questionnaires were base on Quester and Lim’s (2003) as the basis. Brand loyalty was measured using Likert five point scale. The refined questionnaires included two parts: Brand loyalty and factors of brand loyalty.
In brand loyalty part, the screening question was to find respondents who had used washing detergent and shampoo in the last one year. Non-users were respondent who answered “no”, and were excluded from the study. Direct question concerning brands bought by respondents in the previous six consecutive purchases giving rise to loyal and non-loyal based on the proportion-of-purchase measure.
Factor of brand loyalty part, respondents were to respond to questions of brand loyalty for their favourite brand. Questionnaire built in the previous section was used for this function. The data was evaluated using discriminant analysis and paired sample t-test.
To pre-qualify respondents in one of the two categories – loyal and non-loyal customers’ respondents were required to list the name of shampoo and detergent brand they had bought during the previous six buying occasions. If the brand purchase amounted to more than 50%, the respondents were considered as loyal customers to the brand. Two descriminant analyses were used – for loyal and non-loyal.
The result indicated shampoo and washing detergent categories loyal consumers are not influenced by advertisement of competitive brands. Thus the hypothesis; loyal consumers of given brand are least affected by advertising of a competitive brand is acceptable.
The current study can contribute considerably to the empirical result, concerning advertising literature. This research enforces to marketers the need to pay attention to the appropriate mix of brand loyalty factors of which advertising is a small part of it.
Should advertisers consider when launching a cosmetics campaign that it is not ethical to promote perfection since perfection cannot be achieved?
Advertisements are made up of choices. Thus, the choice of what to say and how say it, what to show and what not show are some of the questions marketers have contend with. According to Geoffrey Klempner(2004), advertisers are commonly accused of: selling dreams by alluring buyers into confusing dreams with realism; they invoke to buyers desires for things that are bad for them and influence buyers to things they don’t need.
When advertising a product, advertisers use several methods to entice potential buyers. Some strategies are more subjective than others depending on the product concerned. To create a brand image, all efforts are employed to ensure a long lasting impression of the product to the consumers. This image may be associated with lifestyle, style or success. When selling the product, the ultimate aim is selling the image with regardless of the real value or the quality of the product (Lizabeth 2004).
The idea is selling the image, rather than the product. It is every human desire to be perfect, especially on their outlook. Advertisers invoke this desire by creating a given amount of illusion. Regardless of the strategy employed, the advertisement must create a fantasy to make it appealing to potential consumers – the reason why a customer well being will be enhanced by the product (Mark 2008).
To captivate and induce a potential consumer interest with the product, the advertiser must endeavor to offer the product more superior than other product categories in the market already. These make the advertisers device advertisements which meet these requirements. Perfection is an illusion in reality just as it is in advertising. By portraying a cosmetic product as having the power to give perfection, it does not amount to contravening the unfair and deceptive marketing practices code of ethics (Kandy 2004).
For a cosmetic product which is suggested to help attain perfection, this phenomenon is incited by the marketing strategies used. One of the popular strategies used with cosmetics products is celebrity endorsement. Many celebrities are role model in the eyes of their fan. They are also viewed as “perfect” especially since they use make ups to enhance or conceal imperfect traits. Thus, it becomes hard to portray an “imperfect” product endorsed by a “perfect” celebrity. Further, cosmetic products are used by adults who are believed to be well informed to make rational decisions. This is unlike targeting venerable group like children, elderly and the sick.
Promoting perfection thus will not be unethical if its intended audience is not venerable and the confidentiality and anonymity is observed. Delivering of unsolicited products and other direct marketing tactics for such a cosmetic could raise issues of ethics though.