When ads really work
SOME PEOPLE are receptive and open to advertising, some cynical or even hostile. Not surprisingly, ads work best among the receptive and open group. But how can you make this knowledge work for you, the advertiser?
“For advertising to work, the target audience must at the very least be receptive to the idea of advertising, accepting its value as an information source and agreeing that advertising has a role to play in communicating brand news,” says Barbara Cooke, who represents TGI, the international research company, in SA. “Understanding consumer reactions helps the advertiser to make the most of his advertising.”
A segmentation developed by TGI divides the population into three roughly equalsized groups on the basis of their attitudes to advertising: very receptive, moderately receptive and hostile/cynical.
You’re better off if your target market is receptive to advertising communication than if it’s cynical. “In general terms we’ve found that white adults and Asians are likely to be more cynical than blacks or coloureds,” says Cooke.
People who are receptive to advertising agree with statements such as “I expect advertising to be entertaining” and “advertising helps me choose what to buy”. Viewers also agree that they enjoy the adverts as much as the TV programmes.
The ad-cynics, on the other hand, feel a lot of TV advertising is devious, still inclined to be racist and patronises women. They also tend to say things such as: “Advertising only generates superfluous needs” and it’s “a waste of my time” and “nearly all TV advertising annoys me”.
Those segments can be used as a typology to describe the advertising receptivity of any of the 7 000 brands listed in our survey.
Each type of audience “interacts differently with media and with advertising, and it’s vital to understand consumer reactions in order to make the most of your advertising,” says Cooke.
“Sometimes a brand’s users fall into more than one segment. Which group to prioritise can markedly affect media decisions. Even if you target more than one group, different strategies and executional plans would have to be developed. For while they differ in ad receptivity, they also consume different media.”
Ad receptivity varies with age: the older you are, the less receptive to advertising. Females are likely to be more responsive than males. Blacks use advertising for information and intelligence concerning brands to a greater extent than do whites, who tend to be more cynical about advertising messages.
“Consumers who are very responsive to advertising are also more likely to be heavy consumers of TV and radio,” says Cooke. “With TV, the more you watch, the more receptive you are to the ads.”