Total 2010 UK advertising expenditure amounted to 14.5 billion. Of this, more than 80 per cent was spent on display advertising in the press, broadcast, print and outdoor media. (Source: The Advertising Association) Under the current circumstances, advertising represents one of the major sectors in the economy with millions of workers worldwide. The efficiency of functioning of the economy in general, to a considerable degree, depends on that sector. Advertising accompanies competition between companies and is an essential attribute of the market economy.
Companies need to understand consumer behaviour in order to find the best way on how to shift demand of products in their favour.
When companies are able to discover the reasons why consumers make particular purchasing decisions, they can adapt their marketing efforts to better suit the needs of the consumers. Understanding consumer behaviour may result in increased sales and improved profit performance of the organization.
Classical microeconomic theories of consumer behaviour have focused on the principles of rational consumer behaviour, which suggests that consumers’ choice is primarily a matter of personal preferences, whereas utility theory of consumer behaviour maintains that consumer choices reflect their attempt to secure maximum usefulness from their financial resources.
While classical theories still apply in contemporary western societies, the role of mass media, internet and various aspect of modern culture may have fundamentally changed many elements in the understanding of consumer behaviour. Also marketing opportunities available in the digital information age have altered the way how consumer choice is being shaped and used for profit.
Advertising is perhaps the first thing that people think about when considering marketing. Companies must do more than make good products – they must inform consumers about product benefits and carefully position products in consumers’ minds. To do this, they must skilfully use the mass-promotion tools of advertising.
Advertising strategy consists of two major elements: creating advertising messages and selecting advertising media. Media planners consider many factors when making their media choices. The media habits of target consumers will affect media choice – advertisers look for media that reach target consumers effectively.
Target audiences are set to focus on different groups: adults, teens, pre-schoolers and other groups. It is essential to become familiar the target market, their habits, behaviours and attitude to advertising in general. It is known that student youth is less conservative in their views and decisions, comparing to others age and social groups.
1.3 Research Aims and Rationale
Based on the above information, the main aim of the research is to investigate the extent to which the purchasing decisions of students in the UK are influenced by the advertisement campaigns.
During the preparation of the current research paper a questionnaire was carried out among Queen Mary’s students, which aimed to study their attitude to advertising. Survey sample covered opinions of 20 young people between the ages of 21-24, that is students in their last years of studies.
The survey had a probing character and could not represent the aggregate of the student youth population or even more general adult audience with statistical precision. However it offers a clear representation of dominating tendencies in preferences and opinions of the chosen audience, which is the main aim of mass advertising.
1.4 Outline of the Project
The second chapter of this project will review the literature, and will focus on the importance of choosing an advertising media. Chapter 3 will introduce research method and procedures. Reasons for specific questions will be considered. Chapter 4 will report and analyse the results of the conducted survey. Finally a conclusion will be made in Chapter 5. It will also include recommendations for further research.
Chapter 2: Literature review
Advertising is an important means by which economic enterprises communicate with both their current and potential customers. It is often said that to be effective an advertisement must be read, understood, believed, remembered and acted upon (Adcock, Halborg, Ross, 2001)
There are five principal ways in which a company can communicate with its markets:
Media advertising (commercial television and radio, the press, posters, cinema and direct mail/internet)
Public relations activities
Packaging (Chisnal, 2001)
These promotional activities are at the heart of effective marketing strategies. According to Adcock, Halborg, Ross, (2001) advertising strategy consists of two major elements: creating advertising messages and selecting advertising media. The major steps in media selection are: deciding on reach, frequency and impact; choosing among major media types; selecting specific media vehicles; and deciding on media timing.
Media planners consider many factors when making their media choices. The media habits of target consumers will affect media choice – advertisers look for media that reach target consumers effectively (Kotler, Armstrong, 1997). For example fashions are best advertised in colour magazines while daily newspapers are a first consideration in advertising real estate. Therefore different types of messages may require different media.
The major media types are newspapers, television, radio, magazines, outdoor and the Internet. It is important to list advantages and limitations of these mediums, as they will prove to be guidelines in the interpretation of the observed results. For example, newspapers appeal for their timeliness and high believability. However, its audience is relatively small. On the other hand television has good mass market coverage and combines sight, sound and motion but it is quite expensive. Magazines are known for their credibility and prestige. Advantages of outdoor advertising are high repeat exposure and low cost, while lack of creativeness is its limitation (Adcock, Halborg, Ross, 2001). Advertising on the Internet is a growing market; commercials are very flexible and can be viewed anytime.
Cost is another major factor in media choice. Whereas television is very expensive, for example, newspaper advertising costs much less. Setting the advertising budget is a complex task. Some critics claim that large consumer packaged-goods firms tend to spend too much on advertising. They claim that the large consumer companies use lots of image advertising without really knowing its effects. They overspend as a form of ‘insurance’ against not spending enough. (Kotler, Armstrong, 1997)
For a long time, television and magazines have dominated in the media mixes of advertisers with other media being neglected (Jobber, 1995). Recently, however, the costs of these media have gone up and audiences have dropped. Advertisers are now increasingly turning to alternative media, such as outdoor advertising or the Internet. The question that concerns companies remains the same: how much effect does advertising spending really has on consumer buying and branding royalty? In order to answer it media impact must be re-examined regularly.
Chapter 3: Research Method and Procedure
The current research paper is concerned with determining an appropriate media type (medium) which better suits habits and preferences of the observed population.
This chapter re Therefore the aim of this chapter is to review the research methods which were used in this project. It is necessary for a researcher to choose a suitable method for the problem. To get a full picture a blend of qualitative and quantative research analysis is recommended. This research will take the following procedure: define the research objectives, develop the research approach and examine the process.
3.2 Research Objectives.
This research takes into consideration three main objectives. Firstly, it seeks to determine respondents’ attitudes to advertising in general. Secondly, it tries to identify students’ preferences among different types of media. The final objective of the survey is concerned with evaluating the impacts of advertisement campaigns on the purchasing decisions of students in the UK.
Since the population – all International Students in London – is too big, the sample, that is going to be extracted from the population, are twenty Queen Mary University students doing Pre-Masters foundation Program in 2010-11. The sample technique that is going to be used is a simple random sampling or just random sampling. This method assumes that each unit has exactly the same chance to be selected and used in order to avoid any bias
3.3 Research Approach and Instruments.
There are several methods of collecting data for a research. In the current paper the primary data was collected using questionnaires. This method has proved to be efficient way in getting both quantative and qualitative data.
The questionnaire (Appendix 1) incorporated both main types of questions which are commonly used in surveys: open-ended questions and closed questions. Open questions are interesting because of the spontaneity and individual flavour of the replies, but frequently it is difficult to ‘compress’ free answers into a limited number of computer coding. Whereas open questions gave to the research depth and range of information, findings in closed questions provided the research with statistical evidence.
Interviewer was recording all answers verbatim because there is always a danger of interviewer bias through inaccurate recording.
In order to make the sampling random, the survey will be conducted in place and at the time when it is highly possible to chose from relatively large number of students
3.4 Specific questions
Question 1 and 2 determines
Question 3 is marketing question
Questions 4 and 5 attempts to
Questions 6 to 8 looks at
In giving an answer to the question 1: “What is your attitude to advertising in general?” respondents had a considerable freedom in phrasing an answer, which may be lengthy and detailed, and in his or her own words.
In the question 3 respondents were able to choose from a range of possible answers. The simple follow up question invited to give a more detailed explanation on the subject.
Questions 4 to 8 were closed type questions, which call strictly limited responses. The respondents were offered a choice of alternative replies from which he or she was expected to select an answer corresponding to his or her personal views on a particular subject. The research used simple binary questions requiring yes or no answer.
The results of this process will appear and be analysed in the next chapter.
Chapter 4: Results
This project sought to examine exposure to advertising media among students and find out to what extent advertising influences their purchasing decisions. To achieve the research project’s aim and rationale, a questionnaire was utilized as stated in the previous chapter. The following section will present and analyse results (see Appendix 2) of this survey.
4.2 Findings. Part 1
As shown in Figure 1, the largest proportion of respondents prefers television, whereas magazines took the second place. The results also indicate that the Internet is the third most popular media, while newspaper and outdoor advertising share the fourth place. The percentages indicate the proportion of total votes students gave to a specific media. Respondents could make multiple choices in this question.
From the qualitative data, the popularity of television was not a surprise as it combines sight, sound and motion. It was described by respondents as the most effective and the best medium for advertising. Its advantage lies in broad mass market coverage.
It is believed that magazines appeal to students for their credibility and prestige; long life and good secondary readership (Adcock, Halborg and Ross, 2001). Students explained that it is good for fashion, and pictures of movie stars make it attractive.
Outdoor media was described as the most creative and eye catching. It is interesting to note that on the contrary (Ibid) mentioned little creativity as a negative side of this type of media.
Newspapers appeal for its timeliness and high believability (Ibid). It is noted that they are popular among respondents who spend a lot of time travelling.
Internet advertising is a relatively new media type. However, the number of its admirers grows. It can be partly explained by the growing popularity of online shopping. Another advantage is that it has no time limitation and can be viewed day and night. However, respondents mentioned spam as its negative point.
Radio came last, probably due to its disadvantages, being that it has fleeting exposure and encourages lack of concentration.
4.2 Finding. Part 2
The figure 2 below shows responses to questions 1-2 and 4-8. The bar chart clearly shows students opinions on specific subjects.
The majority of students have a positive attitude to advertising and commonly cite its informative function. In other words it creates awareness of products. It is noted that some students see the artistic value in commercials.
Advertising creates awareness, so it is no wonder that majority (65%) prefer advertised products over unadvertised (question 4). However, there is a strong opinion that quality products do not need advertising.
There have been quite a few commercials that state that a product of their company is better than the competitor’s product. The results show that the vast majority of respondents do not believe those commercials. Therefore, might be a good idea for companies not to employ such advertising strategies.
Slightly more than a half of respondent believe that commercials help them to make a better purchase. It is noted that consumers are better off when exposed to some information about the product before buying it. However 45% prefer to do their own research about the product.
Answers to the question 7 clearly show the power of advertising. Eighty five per cent of students wanted to try something just because they saw it in a commercial. It is noted, that respondents were curious and wanted try a product to see whether it was as good as the commercial said it was.
It is important to note that 70% of respondents sometimes sing songs from commercials. This may work as an indicator for companies that adding an appealing tune to a commercial can increase sales.
The results have helped to reach the objectives of this research. This chapter has attempted to compare findings with description of Adcock, Halborg and Ross, (2001). Summary will appear in the next chapter.
Chapter 5: Conclusion
This chapter will summarize the findings of this research project, highlight some of the interesting results, offer practical implications, cite limitations of this project and give suggestions for further research.
Summary of Findings and Interesting Findings
The purpose of the current study was to identify an advertising media with the largest exposure and find out the effect it has on its target audience. Results were analysed in the previous chapter. Practical implications of this research were also considered.
Identifying and understanding the target audience is important for companies who use advertising tools to promote their products. The evidence about students’ preferences among different media types may help companies to better allocate their advertising space.
Results have shown that students have positive attitude towards advertising in general because it carries an informative function, creates awareness and helps them to make a better purchase.
Some interesting results were found. For example, an advertising strategy, when a company positions their products as superior to a competitor’s products proved ineffective as only few students trusted such commercials. Companies may also consider adding appealing songs to their commercials.
Limitations of the Research
The current study was limited by the size of the sample and imbalance concerning the students’ country of origin. Since all of the respondents within this project were international students, the findings do not necessarily reflect the habits and opinions of all students. This is important since advertising campaigns usually target the values of the western societies and different cultures may have different attitudes towards advertising. Therefore, it would be important to conduct further research in this area of media influence and involve more respondents from western culture countries. Another limitation is that the questionnaire might have been more complete if it incorporated likelihood scales.
Recommendations for further studies
This research has raised many questions in need of investigation. The designed questions were not perfect so some other aspects may be needed to investigate what contributes to making a purchasing decision. Some factors examined in this research influence consumers but do not necessarily mean that they will make an actual purchase. For example, further research may investigate what advertising strategies such as verbal or visual elements appeal to consumers.
This project has been concerned with advertising’s influence on students’ purchasing decisions and the research indicates that choosing the correct advertising strategy is a crucial element in an effective marketing strategy.
Kotler Philip, Armstrong Gary
Kotler Philip, Armstrong Gary, Saunders John, Wong Veronica
Dennis Adcock, Al Halborg, Caroline Ross Principles and practise of marketing, Fourth edition published 2001.
David Jobber, Principles and practice of marketing, 1995
Peter Chisnall, Marketing research, McGraw Hill, 2001
The Advertising Association. www.adassoc.org.uk