By: Matthew Larson
Advertising is made up of many ideas and thoughts. These thoughts and ideas are processed by consumers through messages displayed in advertising. With so much diversity on how these messages should be delivered, many theories have been generated. But, it goes much deeper than just messages being received by a consumer. Consumers have been adapting to the way messages are presented for since advertising began. Over time there have been shifts of persuasion through certain channels of needs identification.
Maslow’s Hierarchy demonstrates these needs with a pyramid. At the bottom of the pyramid is the physiological need. This need deals with consumer’s most basic needs. Shelter, food, and the most basic essentials are a necessity. Next, the second layer deals with safety. Consumers are driven by habit to remain safe with most products that are purchased. The last three with dominate the top of the pyramid are love/belonging, esteem, and self-actualization. People possess certain perceptions about how they will be seen from many viewpoints. While it is certain that humans will not change their habits of buying certain products, it can be derived that this is something that advertisers model their messages after.
It is thought that the post-world war period is what influenced this theory. People view themselves in terms of classes, and life stage. By knowing and utilizing this; advertising could be tailored to meet the needs of consumers based on the category the product would be placed in. Super markets soon became the melting pot for most advertising. With the most basic, to the most wanted needs available at super markets. Advertising became competitive with the knowledge and understanding that consumers have a set of needs. Competition led to the development of brand families. This was created to manage specifically targeted items that consumers frequently purchased.
Values were also established as a separate theory. The idea was tied together with lifestyles and lifestyle changes. It resulted in the VALS assessment created by the ad agency Young and Rubicam. Using VALS requires the four C’s, Cross Cultural Consumer Characterization. Through survival, escape, security, status, control, individuality, and self-expression, it is easier to decide on what values mean the most to people. Attraction to different brands is played out through the 7 levels of value. But, this attraction can be identified through what type of message consumers respond too.
Consumers also respond to the communication style. This is the way in which a message is translated to the consumer. It can be done through tone of voice, use of space, color, dictation and mood of the ad. Certain keywords have also been found to work better than others. In Rob McMinn’s interpretation of theories he states that words such as “healthy” and “simple” are words that consumers find most attractive in recent years. Throughout the years people have responded to the reflection of the economy and how global and national governments have run. When money is tight, words have been used to ease this emotional stress; nevertheless it proves that people won’t change their habit of spending money as long as the messages are tailored to their situation.
Security is also a theory in itself. The security of consumer’s well-being exists because they know that products will be delivered the same way every time. Same with the messages that display the products, people desire a need for consistency. Sometimes stepping outside the lines and having a powerful message will reach consumers on more than an emotional level. But, it can be certain that while consumers remain habitual with their buying process. Security also assists with the status of something. When a brand has established itself with a good reputation, its status remains solid until a new product or something different evolves and replaces it.
Theories of advertising remain as adverse as the messages they represent. Through constant study and an initiative to further understand consumer’s behavior there will always been advancement in theory. Progression and technology have rapidly assisted in this understanding. Advertising had already supplied consumers and businesses with enough theories and knowledge that only understanding it more will make unstoppable in the marketing world.