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THE COMMUNICATIONS PROCESS AND CONSUMER BEHAVIOR Answers to Discussion Questions Discuss the nature and importance of feedback. In what ways do marketing communicators receive feedback from present and prospective customers? Answer: In some cases, marketers do not have a clear option to receive feedback or feedback comes in an indirect form such as complaint calls or sales. However, in direct channels, feedback is viable. Feedback is important because it provides information relevant to possible changes in the message strategy. A reality of communication is that the same sign often means different things to different people. The red ribbon, for example, means different things to different groups. Provide an example from your own personal experience in which the same sign might have differential meaning for diverse people. What are the general implications for marketing communications? Answer: Students can be expected to identify various signs from popular culture and elsewhere that vary dramatically in their meaning to different groups. This discussion should lead to the natural conclusion that marketers must take great care in choosing signs so as to effectively appeal to target consumers without alienating others. One example from personal experience where the same sign might have differential meaning for diverse people is the symbol of a handshake. In many Western cultures, a handshake is commonly understood as a gesture of greeting, agreement, or mutual respect in both personal and professional settings. It signifies trust, goodwill, and the initiation or confirmation of a social or business relationship. However, in other cultures, the interpretation of a handshake can vary significantly: 1. Cultural Variations: In some cultures, such as certain Asian or Middle Eastern cultures, physical contact like handshakes may not be as common or may have different connotations. For example, in Japan, bowing is a traditional form of greeting and showing respect, while in the Middle East, greetings may involve a combination of handshakes and other gestures. 2. Gender Norms: In certain cultural contexts, there may be gender-specific norms or expectations regarding handshakes. For example, in some conservative societies, it may be considered inappropriate for men and women to engage in physical contact, including handshakes, with members of the opposite sex. 3. Religious Practices: Religious beliefs and practices can also influence the interpretation of handshakes. For instance, some religious groups may have specific guidelines or restrictions on physical contact with individuals outside their faith community. The general implications for marketing communications are: 1. Cultural Sensitivity: Marketers need to be mindful of cultural differences and variations in interpreting signs and symbols when designing marketing campaigns. What may be appropriate or effective in one cultural context may not resonate the same way in another. 2. Audience Segmentation: Understanding the diverse backgrounds and preferences of target audiences is crucial for effective marketing communications. Marketers should segment their target markets based on factors such as culture, ethnicity, religion, and gender to tailor their messages and symbols accordingly. 3. Research and Adaptation: Conducting thorough research and seeking input from diverse perspectives can help marketers better understand the nuances of different cultural interpretations and adapt their communications strategies accordingly. This may involve testing messages and symbols with representative samples of the target audience to ensure cultural relevance and resonance. In summary, recognizing that the same sign can have differential meanings for diverse people underscores the importance of cultural sensitivity, audience segmentation, and adaptation in marketing communications to effectively engage and resonate with diverse audiences. Some magazine advertisements show a picture of a product, mention the brand name, but have virtually no verbal content except, perhaps, a single statement about the brand. Locate an example of this type and explain what meaning you think the advertiser is attempting to convey. Ask two friends to offer their interpretations of the same ad, and then compare their responses to determine the differences in meaning that these ads have for you and your friends. Draw a conclusion from this exercise. Answer: This exercise should be assigned at least one class period in advance of the targeted date of discussion. The subject matter offers a relatively easy way for students to become involved in class discussions. I'll describe a hypothetical scenario of a magazine advertisement fitting the described criteria. Hypothetical Magazine Advertisement: The advertisement features a high-quality image of a sleek, modern smartphone against a clean, minimalist background. The brand name is prominently displayed at the bottom of the image, and the only verbal content is a brief statement such as "Experience Innovation" or "The Future is Here." Interpretation: The advertiser aims to convey a message of sophistication, innovation, and cutting-edge technology associated with the brand. By focusing solely on the visual appeal of the product and using minimal verbal content, the advertisement suggests that the product speaks for itself in terms of its quality and desirability. The brand aims to evoke feelings of aspiration and desire among consumers who value sleek design and advanced technology in their electronic devices. Conducting the Exercise: 1. Friend 1's Interpretation: Friend 1 perceives the advertisement as a symbol of status and technological advancement. They believe the minimalist approach emphasizes the product's high-end features and appeals to consumers who prioritize style and innovation in their smartphone choices. 2. Friend 2's Interpretation: Friend 2 focuses on the simplicity of the advertisement and interprets it as a statement of elegance and sophistication. They feel that the lack of verbal content allows the product's design and aesthetics to speak for themselves, catering to consumers who appreciate minimalist and refined aesthetics in their gadgets. Comparison of Responses: - While both friends recognize the advertisement's emphasis on innovation and sophistication, they interpret its meaning slightly differently based on their individual perspectives and preferences. - Friend 1 emphasizes the technological aspect and the product's status symbol, while Friend 2 emphasizes the elegance and simplicity of the design. - These differences in interpretation reflect the diverse preferences and values of consumers, highlighting the importance of understanding the target audience's mindset and tailoring marketing messages accordingly. Conclusion: The exercise demonstrates how individuals can interpret the same advertisement differently based on their unique perspectives, preferences, and values. It underscores the importance for advertisers to consider the diverse interpretations that consumers may have and strive to create advertisements that resonate with various segments of their target audience. By understanding the differing meanings that advertisements may convey to different individuals, marketers can better tailor their messaging to effectively communicate with their desired audience segments. How can a marketing communicator (such as an advertisers or a salesperson) reduce noise when communicating a product message to a customer? Answer: To a great extent, noise may be outside the control of the marketing communicator. Noise may be caused by situational factors that cannot be anticipated or controlled. The famous Geico gecko commercial humanized a gecko by using personification. The gecko was given a cockney British accent and explained how cheap Geico insurance would be. Explain how this ad illustrates allegorical presentation in advertising. Answer: Allegory uses human personification to make a brand connection. In this case, the gecko is humanized and personified as a witty character who points out some obvious facts about saving money. Because the gecko talks and has personality, he is a brand personification. Provide two examples of the use of metaphor in magazine advertisements. Answer: 1. Advertisement for a Luxury Car: Imagine an advertisement for a high-end luxury car where the car is depicted as a sleek, powerful cheetah, speeding gracefully through an open landscape. This metaphorical comparison suggests that owning the car will imbue the driver with a sense of speed, agility, and elegance. 2. Advertisement for a Perfume: In a perfume advertisement, the scent might be metaphorically described as "liquid gold" or "captured sunlight." This metaphorical language suggests that wearing the perfume will make the person feel radiant, precious, and perhaps even wealthy or luxurious. When discussing exposure as the initial stage of information processing, it was claimed that gaining exposure is a necessary but insufficient condition for success. Explain. Answer: Exposure is a necessary precondition for all subsequent stages of information processing. Without exposure, there can be no attention, and without attention, there can be no comprehension, and so on. However, mere exposure does not ensure success, because the receiver may not pay sufficient attention to the exposed message, fail to comprehend the message, and so on. 8. Explain why attention is highly selective and what implication selectivity holds for brand managers and their advertising agencies. Answer: Attention is highly selective because most marketing communications are unimportant, irrelevant, and uninteresting for most consumers. Consumers, who necessarily are cognitive misers ("cognimizers") given limited processing capacities, direct their voluntary attention only to those communications which speak to their interests. Accordingly, marketing communicators must know which signs, symbols, and signals to employ so as to attract consumers’ attention. Also, media selection is critical so as to convey messages at the time when consumers most likely are receptive to the promoted product. For example, advertising for fast-food restaurants is most effective when people are hungry. Further, visualizations (nonverbal communications) are particularly effective for attracting attention because they typically are easier to process and are more appealing. Attention is also selective to protect individuals from the onslaught of external stimuli constantly bombarding one’s senses. At even the most primitive, animal level, selective attention has survival value because it lets in stimuli that may have value or be threatening, and filters out (hopefully) extraneous stimuli. 9. Most marketing communications environments are cluttered. Explain what this means and provide several examples. Do not restrict your examples just to advertisements. Answer: Clutter refers to the idea that a marketing message is received in an environment in which other messages compete with the receiver’s likelihood of attending to and further processing the message. Clutter is especially prevalent in media advertising (TV and magazines), but all forms of marketing communications are subject to clutter. For example, numerous point-of-purchase displays in retail outlets compete for shoppers’ attention. 10. Explain each of the following related concepts: perceptual encoding, feature analysis, and active synthesis. Using a packaged good of your choice (i.e., a product found in a supermarket, drug store, or mass-merchandise outlet), explain how package designers for your brand have used concepts of feature analysis in designing packages. Answer: Perceptual encoding is simply the process whereby consumers interpret stimuli. The initial stage of encoding, feature analysis, involves examining the basic features of a stimulus (e.g., its size, brightness, and angles). The second stage, active-synthesis, involves a more detailed perception whereby the consumer interprets a stimulus (such as a package) on the basis of the gestalt or context in which the stimulus appears. Certain package designs, shapes, and colors become virtually institutionalized. For example, green cigarette packages always denote mentholated cigarettes; white packages (of most any product) denote generic (low-price) brands. Competitors sometimes exploit a market leader’s cherished position by using package designs that are take-offs of the leader’s package. Consumers may mistakenly select the clone package, or, even if recognizing it as a brand other than the leader brand, nonetheless perceive commonality between the brands due to common package features. 11. In what sense would attending a Saturday afternoon college football game represent a hedonic- or experiential-based behavior? Answer: Hedonic-experiential activities are filled with emotion and sensory stimulation. College football games are fan-enthused events based on the excitement of the game and the crowd. 12. Figure 6.12 presents one consumer’s knowledge structure for the VW Beetle. Construct your knowledge structure for this vehicle. Then, illustrate your knowledge structure for the one automobile that you most covet owning. Answer: Unless the two cars are one in the same, the differences will center on functional and hedonic issues, with both pleasurable use and functional attributes present. 13. Find a commercial that is an application of allegory using personification. What is your interpretation of the commercial? Is there a story told underneath the superficial commercial story? Answer: Students may find several examples such as commercials for Frosted Flakes, Mr. Clean, and Geico. Student answers should find the meaning in the characters which fit with the brand’s desired meaning. One commercial that employs allegory using personification is the "The Man Your Man Could Smell Like" campaign by Old Spice. In these commercials, the character portrayed by actor Isaiah Mustafa personifies the Old Spice brand as an idealized, confident, and charismatic man who embodies all the qualities of masculinity and attractiveness. Interpretation: On the surface, the commercial appears to be a humorous and exaggerated portrayal of a man using Old Spice products to enhance his attractiveness and charm, implying that using Old Spice can transform an ordinary man into someone irresistible. However, underneath the superficial commercial story lies a deeper allegorical narrative. The character represents more than just a man; he symbolizes the aspirational qualities and desires associated with masculinity in modern society. By personifying the Old Spice brand as this idealized figure, the commercial taps into the subconscious desires and fantasies of its target audience. The allegory suggests that using Old Spice products not only enhances one's physical appearance but also imbues them with confidence, charm, and success in various aspects of life, including relationships, career, and social interactions. It plays into the cultural mythos of masculinity, portraying Old Spice as the key to unlocking the full potential of manhood. Furthermore, the character's witty and exaggerated monologue, combined with the surreal and fantastical elements of the commercial, adds another layer to the allegory. It invites viewers to suspend disbelief and enter into a world where the impossible becomes possible, where using Old Spice can transform an ordinary man into a suave and desirable individual. In essence, the commercial tells a story of transformation, empowerment, and aspiration, using allegorical elements to convey the deeper emotional and psychological appeal of the Old Spice brand beyond its functional benefits. It taps into the universal desire to be seen as attractive, confident, and successful, positioning Old Spice as the gateway to achieving those desires. 14. Online advertisements must draw attention away from consumers’ primary goals for using the Internet, namely, entertainment and informational pursuits. Expose yourself to some current online ads and then identify and describe at least three specific techniques that online advertisers use to ensure attention. What are the strengths and limitations of each technique? Answer: Marketing communicators can most effectively gain the consumer’s attention by creating messages that truly appeal to their needs for product-relevant information. The likelihood that consumers will pay attention to an advertisement or other form of marcom message also is increased by creating messages that are novel, spectacular, aesthetically appealing, eye catching, and so forth. Students should point out these characteristics in the examples that they find. Solution Manual for Advertising Promotion and Other Aspects of Integrated Marketing Communications Craig J. Andrews, Terence A. Shimp 9781111580216, 9788131528242, 9781133191421, 9781337282659

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