© Evanston Photographic
Research: Professor Angela Lee, Marketing
is critical to make advertising dollars deliver best return,
says Kellogg School marketing scholar
morning we wake to our favorite music blaring from the alarm
clock and grab a cup of coffee. At lunch we search the crowd
for friendly faces to chat with while we enjoy a type of
sandwich we've eaten many times before, perhaps since childhood.
And after a long day, we turn in on worn sheets that feel
deliciously comfortable after dozens of washings.
are creatures of habit who delight in the familiar. And,
truth be told, many of us are a little bit lazy.
human behavior, says Kellogg School Marketing Professor
Lee, determines whether advertising messages hit or
miss their intended targets.
one ever decides to develop a $500,000 advertising campaign
to show it only once," Lee says. "Besides cost
effectiveness, there's a good reason: The more we are exposed
to things, the more we choose them."
why, according to Professor Lee, who studies human information
processing and memory.
first few times people see a new advertisement, they puzzle
over it, trying to make sense of the message and product.
Then consumers decide if they understand the ad and accept
what it is saying. These individuals soon grow more critical,
exploring whether the message is persuasive, until finally,
after a few more viewings, they tire of the message altogether
and demand additional novelty.
investigates ideas such as perceptual fluency, "liking
without conscious awareness" that develops through
sensory exposure, and conceptual fluency, preference that
develops when something comes to mind easily. A pioneer
in the field of advertising context effects — how
the environment surrounding advertisements governs their
effectiveness — Lee's recent research indicates advertisers
should pay attention to the messages featured in proximity
to their own, even if those messages are about products
in a different category.
watching your favorite sitcom and the show goes to commercial
break. First up is a mayonnaise ad in which a family sits
around a kitchen table making sandwiches. A ketchup commercial
Lee says, are more likely to evaluate the ketchup favorably
after having viewed an ad for a similar product. In her
words, the mayonnaise spot "primes the ketchup"
by helping consumers tap into their network of memory associations.
Because ketchup is part of the same associative network,
Lee says, it becomes ready to be processed when consumers
view the mayonnaise commercial. And consumers favor brands
that can be easily processed.
something Lee calls "goal fluency" — the
orientation of ads toward either "promotion" or
"prevention" messages — also affects the
way viewers evaluate them. Picture a commercial for a lice-killing
shampoo that urges viewers to scrub with a special soap
to kill the pests (a prevention message).
When followed by an advertisement touting a conditioner that develops silky hair (a promotion message), viewers have more difficulty processing the conditioner message and, consequently, are less likely to develop favorable attitudes toward the hair conditioner.
when the lice shampoo ad is followed by a pest spray commercial
with another prevention message, consumers experience greater
processing ease and develop more favorable attitudes, Lee's
research illustrates the old adage 'there's nothing so practical
as a good theory.' Her depth of understanding regarding
how memory operates provides the foundation for unique strategic
insights about how to develop more effective persuasive
messages," says Professor Alice
Tybout, chair of the Kellogg School Marketing Department.
Journal of Marketing Research has published Lee's
conclusions in its May 2004 edition, and more of her work
is forthcoming in the same periodical. In addition to its
scholarly impact, her research has practical applications
for advertisers, who typically negotiate to ensure competing
products or even the same type of products are not featured
in the same commercial block, but don't give as much thought
to the messages that are part of the same spot.
processing shortcuts Lee describes in her research likely
developed as part of an evolutionary shift to help humans
quickly gauge whether something is beneficial or potentially
dangerous. Such shortcuts are not necessarily a bad thing,
are formed after we put in an initial effort," Lee
says. "We do the work up-front. We are pulled in so
many directions that we have to be efficient, and we often
end up relying on unconscious cues."