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How Advertising Influence Chinese Consumers’ Behavior Essay Sample

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How Advertising Influence Chinese Consumers’ Behavior Essay Sample


Along with the development of modern communication tools, advertising spreads widely in our daily life. Advertising can promote production, expand circulation, guide consumption and active economy. At the same time, it brings much convenience to our life and it plays an important role in many social activities. This essay is focus on the influence on the consumers’ buying behavior of the advertising and how the influences come to work. We aim to research into moisturizer advertising and the factors influence consumers’ behavior and their purchase decision. The research project firstly reviews the relevant literature about consumers’ buying behavior. The influential factors and the general decision making process of most consumers are proposed in the first part. Then the information about consumers’ behavior and cosmetic in China, the relationship between advertising and consumers are composed. Next in the second part we give the research methodology and research result and findings. We gather all the information together and give out the conclusions in the last part. Also we add the limitations and recommendation for the further research at the end of the essay.

Chapter one: Literature Review

Consumer behavior

As a marketing concept, consumers’ behavior covers a lot of elements that involve in the consumption processes. As Solomon(2007) stated consumers’ behavior was a serious of processes which include purchasing, using, or disposing of products, services, ideas, or experiences to satisfy their desires and needs. The consumers’ behavior is also considered involving interactions and exchanges (Peter and Olson, 1993). For the interactions, the target market and what the consumers really need must be well known and understood by the marketers (Peter and Olson, 1993).

However, it is not only related with the consumers’ experiences during the purchase processes, such as their feelings, thoughts and actions, but also some external factors, like the brand, packaging, price, advertising and so forth. Meanwhile, references group, culture background, economic circumstances and social status, especially the advertisement, and so on, are all deemed to be the factors which influence consumers’ decision. In order to get a better understanding of the consumers’ behavior, we analyses the two main parts list as follows: 1. The consumers’ decision making process

2. The key factors that influencing the decision making process Decision making process

Sproles and Kendall (1986) defined consumers’ decision making process as “a mental orientation characterizing a consumer’s’ approach to making choices”. There are a lot of the basic models of the consumers’ decision making process, among all of the models, the tree stages are largely accepted. It divides the decision making process as the three sub-processes, pre-purchase processes, purchase processes, post-purchase processes (Zygmunt, 1998). Pre-purchase process

Consumers always identify the problem first. Problem recognition, which is the first stage of the purchase processes, appears when a discrepancy develops between an actual and a desired stated of being. The definition of it is identical to that of a need status (Mowen, 1993). Problem recognition, as Solomon mentioned (2007, p. 306), “occurs whenever consumer sees a significant difference between his current state of affairs and some desired or ideal state.” There are several phenomena involved in the problem recognition, such as consumers realize the existing product cannot meet their expectation, and so on. Then the goals to get some better products are set up. Actually the problems stimulate the consumers’ inner desire and may lead to the potential desire of purchase. In fact that consumers may or may not recognize the problem, so the marketers target those audience and conduct promotions via advertising, personal selling, direct mailing, and some other ways to urge the consumer’s buying action. Consumers intend to seek more information to guide their purchase process once the problem is recognized.

Mowen (1993) suggested there are two types of search process during this period. One is internal search (consumers attempting to retrieve from long-term memory information on products or services), while the other is external search (that is getting information from friends, advertisements, or other channels). He pointed out that internal search was the process which scanning one’s memory to recall previous experiences with products or brands, however, when past experience or knowledge is insufficient, then the external search is necessary at the moment. After the consumers get enough information, they will identify alternatives to try to solve the problem. During this period, they may list all the related alternative choices and do some research to find out which one is the best. There are two stages involved in the decision making from a set of options. In the first stage, consumers may explore all the possible solutions. In the second one, they intend to evaluate the alternative products (Robert, 2002).

Purchase processes

The consumers of course will choose among the alternatives after they get many different brands. The key process in consumer decision making is evaluating two or more alternatives and select one (Peter & Olson, 1993). In many cases, buyers may probably follow their past purchase experience and behavior (Williams, 2002). However, the consumers’ purchasing action will be affected by other factors, such as the acceptance of the credit card, the advertisements, etc. (Adcock et al, 2001).

Post-purchase processes

When finishing the purchase action, buyers may probably compare it with their expectations to judge whether it is satisfied or dissatisfied. It also influences consumers’ value perceptions, communicate with other buyers, and whether they will purchase the product again. (Dibb et al, 2001). Key influential factors

Psychological Motivation

Motivation is the driving force within individuals that impels the consumers to take actions (Shiffman and Kanuk, 2007). They noted that “this driving force is produced by a state of tension, which exists as the result of an unfulfilled need” (Shiffman and Kanuk, 2007, p.83). Motivation can be divided into two categories, rational motives and emotional motives. Rationality refers to the totally objective criteria, which are size, weight, price, or package and so on, are the main reason that consumers selecting the products.

Emotional one assumes that the selection of goals according to personal or subjective criteria for example pride, status, affection, etc. “One study found that goals that focus on extrinsic benefits (such as success, social status, and being attractive to others) are associated with higher degrees of compulsive buying than goals that stress intrinsic benefits (such as self-acceptance, affiliation, and connection with community).” (Shiffman and Kanuk, 2007, p. 87) Consumers’ buying behavior cannot only be evaluated through the limited internal factors. It is a complex process which must include the external influencing factors, there are a number of factors that are outside of their control but have direct or indirect impact on how they live and what they consume.

External influential factors on consumer buying behavior

1. Class

Social class is dominantly defined by the occupations of individuals. Individuals could be grouped into several categories, such as skilled manual, unskilled manual, higher managerial and professional and so forth (Davis, 1997). Madden et al. (1986) mentioned that the higher the consumer’s income, the more effort they will put into information search. Buyers in different social classes may process the different buying situations and behavior accordingly (Williams, 2002). Social class has been treated as an important force driving buyer behavior.

2. Education

Education is another factor that influences consumers’ decision making process. It is correlated with the occupation and class. Moreover, knowledge is related to consumers’ comprehension towards products and alternatives (Davis, 1997).

3. Age

The ages of consumers have a significant impact on consumers’ buying behavior. People change the goods and services they buy time by time. Marketers often segment their target market as “young singles”, “new married couples”, “young married with children”, “middle-aged married without children”, “Middle-aged with children”, “solitary survivor”, and “solitary retired” (Lamb, et al. 2004). Different age groups have different life styles and life cycles. As Kolter and Armstrong (2004) suggested that people coming from different social classes, age groups, and occupations may have quite distinctive buying behavior due to different interests, opinions, and activities.

4. Occupation and Income

“A person’s occupation affects the goods and services bought” (Lamb, Hair, and McDaniel, 2004). Blue-collar workers have different buying behavior from business men. People with higher income level basically consume higher quality products. Kolter and Armstrong (2004) “a person’s economic situation will affect product choice.”

5. Product involvement

Blythe (2006) has highly credited the theory of reasoned action. The reasoned action is that the purchases carry the highest level of emotion and commitment. Furthermore, all the alternatives and relevant information are judged from advantages and disadvantages. The buying actions are slightly different between high-involvement purchasing and low-involvement purchasing. High involvement products are the products for which buyers are prepared to spend considerable time and effort in searching, While the low involvement products are the products in which they decide instantly or are not spending too much time on deciding whether to buy it or not. However Slama and Tashchian (1985) stated that the level of involvement about the consumer’s attitude can change as the influential factors changes. Based on the investigating report about Chinese Consumer from Mckinsey & Co., Inc. (2006), Chinese consumers’ buying behavior is influenced by various factors. It will be changed by the price and type of products. If they can afford the product, they will choose the brand which is their favorite.

Although their brand consciousness is extremely strong, the difference of the price and sales activities will also be an important factor impacted on the consumers’ buying behavior. 6. The correlation between high and low involvement and consumer purchase process Rothschild (1979, p.23) stated that “in the context of consumer behavior research, involvement has often been explained in terms of commitment which means pledging or binding of the individual to behavioral act.” Rothschild (1979) proposed that the measurement of involvement should be based on the number of attributes which is applied in decision making and the range of acceptable values for any attribute. As discussed above in the product involvement sessions, high involvement products (HIP) and low involvement products (LIP) potentially influence the consumer buying behavior’. HIP is the product which consumers go through a certain decision making process each time they purchase it.

The considerable time and effort are expected to spend in each stage. This is due to that the risk factors associates with the product in terms of its price or use. With high involvement, attention is increased in information search stage. Consumers intend to put more effort on information searching in pre-purchase process. Then Memory and thinking are enhanced during processing the information (Park and Mittal, 1983). When finishing the purchasing action, consumers may highly evaluate the object. LIP is one in which the consumer is bought frequently and spend a minimum of thought and effort. In regards of the decision making process, consumers just go through it at first time, and then they purchase it repeatedly without thinking about the risk factors. The low involvement product can be seen as a high involvement product in the first time purchasing (Robertson, 1976). Chapter two:

Advertising and Consumers

With the development of commercial economy, advertising has been recognized for a long time. In the superficial meaning, it is to inform the public about the new product or service. Advertising, as a marketing tool, is attempting to influence the buying behavior and thought patterns of the audience. “Advertising is aimed toward the long-term building of positive brand attitude by ‘turning’ the consumer toward the brand; promotion is aimed at the more short-term tactical goal of ‘moving forward’ brand sales now” (John, Larry, Richard, 2001). By providing the relevant selling message about the products or services, ad can be obtained the powerful effect towards the target audience. Modern advertising began in the middle of the 20th century. World War II had taught Americans plenty knowledge about propagation. Many new technologies had erupted during that period, offering both increased production and more ways to propagate a media message (Goldsmith, R. E. & Lafferty, 2002).

All that combined to create the modern ad. In addition to stating the facts somewhere in the fine print, advertisers began to lace their ads with ideas designed to appeal to the senses of the reader in many aspects, such as more self-interests of love, sex, anxiety, fear, alarm, ambition, envy, indulgence and especially vanity. Since the time that the adverting appears, the consumers’ reliance on advertising has gradually formed, especially in some developed countries. The reason of the phenomenon is that the advertising can continuously provide information about life for the consumers, create convenience for consumers’ consumption activities (Ayanwale & Ayanbimipe, 2005). So the advertising actually enriches the life of the consumers, increase their knowledge and enlarge consumers’ view. The advertising has many advantages for all most all the people.

Advantages of advertising

It is obviously that the advertising has many good impact to not only the consumers, but also the whole society. The main advantages is list as follows: Advertising can stimulate consumption

The motivations of the consumers’ demand are one of the most critical factors in the psychological rules which affecting consumers, this is because the fact that motivation can lead to behavior. But in real life, when new products enter the market, customer awareness is often low for these items the potential demand of consumer are not very clear, it exists in an implicit way. At this time, if advertising caters to the consumers’ potential demand of purchasing the goods, arousing the consumers’ yearning of the goods, i.e. the advertisers make the consumers’ potential demand strengthened and stimulated through a large number of advertisements, and then it will lead to consumers’ purchasing behavior (Mendelson, 2002). In this way the companies promote the customers and attempt to drive their demand through advertising. For example, Fiyta’s slogan “once you have, you have no other better choice”, Haier’s “serve you sincerely forever” etc.

All these advertising slogans successfully make the motivation demand stimulated and the psychological factors that cognition of the goods strengthened. They guide the consumers’ behavior in an implicit way. The most basic function of advertising is that ads can help consumers to choose what goods to buy, i.e. it can guide consumers to purchase items reasonably in order to improve the living and working condition of their personal life. Another important function of advertising is that it can stimulate consumers’ personal consumption. The continuous presence of advertisement is to stimulate the consumer interest and purchasing desire constantly so that to make the buying behaviors come true. The consumers’ demands include two aspects: one is the primary demand when the product firstly comes to the market; the other is the selective demand when many other same products appear in the market (Ayanwale & Ayanbimipe, 2005).

To stimulate primary demand when the new product has come to the market, then advertising focuses on the characteristics and the usage of the new products, fueling the consumers’ primary desire and making them feeling that it’s a kind of glory to have the new goods. Then the consumers’ desire will be higher and higher, thus enabling the purchasing behavior. At the same time, the advertising will give new information stimulation to consumers constantly, making them feeling that the product is one essential thing in life. There are many examples, such as in recent years, different brand of LCD TV, fluorine-free refrigerator, frequency changeable air conditioner, digital camera, car, etc., gradually become Chinese family’s necessaries since the existence of variable ways of advertising. Selective demand refers to companies use the so-called theory of USP (unique selling theme), making full use of the advertisement to propaganda and highlight its different from other brands of similar products, so as to stimulate consumers’ psychological sense that” now that to buy, I will buy the best “(Katke, K, 2007).

This sense will greatly contribute to de selection of the product to purchase. This is the way of stimulating selective demand of consumers. The domestic cars brands BYD , for example, wins in the market competition with its low price ,Beijing Hyundai to get the customers’ favorite because of the cheap maintenance and the excellent after-sales service , Japanese car brand, DongFeng Nissan and Honda is famous for its high fuel-efficiency, while U.S. car ChangAn Ford to attract many consumers by its good operation performance. And all these advantages of the famous brands are been familiar by the majority of consumers with no other way else but the over whelm of the advertisings. Advertisings do much contribution in creating the fashion products and contribute to the role of fashion.

The emergence of many popular commodities often relate with advertising campaigns on specific social classes making the target consumers accepting the purchase behavior. Of course, this is the results that advertising activities work on the consumers’ behavior. In this aspect, there exist many examples, like that the 3G mobile phone gradually become popular among young men and women mainly in the big cities last year. The 3G mobile phone is advertised as a combination of voice and multimedia communication tools including images, music, web browsing, and many other new functions that integrated together. This characteristic makes consumers (mainly youngsters) accepting the new concept, and thus a new fashion formed.

Advertising can transmit knowledge

The advertising transmits knowledge to consumers. Modern advertising, which varies from the science technology to the social culture knowledge and many other new areas, gives consumers a variety of new knowledge. Since the fact that a large number of modern advertisements are using to promote of new inventions, or creations of new products, it must spend much time to explain the details, introduce the principle of the working mechanism and many other aspects including the characteristic of product, the method to use of the product etc. Thus transmits the new knowledge to the public. For example, it is the advertising that many make consumers get to know the fact that the frequency changeable air conditioner is to slow down the operating speed gradually as to get close to the setting temperature, and staying in a low operating speed to keep the setting temperature holding on, thus achieve energy saving purpose.

People often focus on advertising, especially those concerns about the new product introduction. They can learn many new inventions and creations, thus to expand horizons and increase knowledge. In short words, many advertisements contain the informative content more or less. Study on the advertising, consumers can get to know about what new commodity is popular in the market now, what characteristics and usage of different brands. Such information can make consumers constantly enlarge their view and increase the knowledge of a new life.

Advertising can guide the funds flow

Advertising guide the consumption funds to flow reasonably. In recent years, advertisements on sports lottery, welfare lottery tickets, all kinds of stocks etc. can be seen everywhere. They attracts many consumers to invest in these items, thus to collect the private capital to the construction of big projects. This is another function of the advertising that guiding the rational investment of the consumption funds, thus to active the social economy. A prosperous development of the society bases on the activation of the social economy. When the national economy developed, the consumption must be promoted appropriately, so that to accelerate the fund flow to expand the reproduction and then the social economy can develop continuously. If consumers do not make more consumption after a general improvement of their incomes but only to save their extra money, it will lead to decline of the social purchasing power, causing difficulty in the fund flow, at the same time, delay the production and consumption cycle, which will definitely cause barrier of the social reproduction and the development of the economy.

The global financial crisis does a little effect to our country last year mainly because the various formulated policies made by the government to encourage consumption, expanding domestic demand and other stimulation polices. So advertising can improve people’s living standards and activate social economy by reasonable means to stimulate the social consumption. Above all, the relationship between advertising and consumers is not simply selling and buying goods. We can see that the advertising not only can guide consumers’ buying behavior, but also can transmit knowledge to people while telling the characteristics and functions of the new products. At the same time, advertising can stimulate the social consumption and funds flowing, which is important for the social economy to develop smoothly.

Psychology of advertising

In the late 19th century, academic psychologists have begun applying principles of psychology to advertising content. In 19th century, as a subject advertising has been associated with the psychology. The American psychologist Scott (1901) suggested that advertising should be developed a kind of science which combined with psychology. The famous book called The Theory of Advertising published in 1903 is the symbol of advertising psychology naissance. Meanwhile, the demonstrated research in this field has been promoted. In the late 1940s, the research has been processed at the level of close motive of purchase.

The research in 1950s has noted that the implied motive which is consumer were not willing to purchase the new product. It was vital for advertiser and marketers to correct the theme of advertising and take the reasonable strategy. During this period, the potential consciousness advertising was formed the emphases of the research. The research about advertising and psychology has been deducted for centuries. The different models have also been presented to declare about the relationship of advertising and the consumers’ psychology, such as AIDA, DAGMAR and the six stages of advertising.


AIDA is composed of attention, interest, desire, and action. To some extent, it implies the psychological process of advertising to the audience. In the first place, advertisement attempts to catch the audience attention via various ways to achieve the purpose. Once an ad has grabbed the audience attention, it must attract the audience interest. After that they will probably have the desire to purchase the advertised product. Finally, the consumers will put their thought into action and actually buy the advertised product.


Another model which was defining the advertising goals for measured advertising results (DAGMAR) by Russell Coney. As Barry (1987, p.263) noted “that a hierarchy of communications objectives existed that led to ultimate purchase.” DAGMAR model also demonstrates the advertising function towards the consumers’ psychology. As Percy and Lautman (1986) pointed out that there are four stages of psychology course, from unconscious about the product and/or brand to notice about it; from understand the function of the product to be willing to buy the product. They further complement it more specific. In the beginning consumers are unconscious about the advertised product. Because of advertising, consumers may hold attention to the product and have interest towards it.

Then they may possibly evaluate and criticize the product. Consumers are stimulated by the advertising more than once, so that consumers may try the product and repeat purchasing in the future. A Model for Predictive Measurements of Advertising Effectiveness A complex model which demonstrated the predictive measurement of advertising effect was mentioned by Lavidge and Steiner in 1961. They approach “the ultimate purchase through a process or series of steps in which the actual purchase is but the final threshold.” The six steps that they believed consumers to go through to the purchasing threshold were: Table 2.1 Predictive measurement of advertising effect Related behavioral dimensions| Movement toward purchase|

Conative – the realm of motives. Ads stimulate or direct desires| PurchaseConviction| Affective – the realm of emotion| PreferenceLiking|

Cognitive – the realm of thoughts. Ads provide information and facts|

Knowledge Awareness| (http://www.ciadvertising.org/studies/student/99_spring/theory/huey/Effects/outline.htm) They suggested that “advertising was a long-term investment, principally because many of advertising’s effects were long-term in nature” (1961). In the process of purchase a particular product, the greater the psychological and economic commitment involved in, the longer it will take to bring consumers up these steps. Suzamer (1983) believed that the information and strategy of advertising have closely relationship with consumers’ selecting path. However, except these, the path has another relationship which is the consumers themselves. Kara Chan has conducted the research in 1996 which was related with the consumer high or low involvement towards the ads for different product and services. Whereas, this kind of involvement is just the product involvement, but there is no personal relativity. The relationship between advertising and consumers

In China, advertising industry has a short developing history, although the mass media has a powerful position in the communication field. Marketers pay more attention on the developed areas, such as Beijing, Shanghai, Hongkong and so forth. It can be seen that the more the advertising published, the more people have the chance to be exposure to the ad. In July 2004, Horizonkey research group investigated the relationship between advertising and consumers from different angles. Research I

The first Research focus on the consumers different trustworthy level towards advertising. Horizonkey research group investigated 3212 citizens whose age are between 18 to 60 and living in ten cities, Beijing, shanghai, Guangzhou, Wuhan, etc. The result for this aspect is that on the average, people who believe the content of ads is 17.2% higher than those who do not. However, ads do not have the powerful situation in consumers’ minds. To be more specific, whose age between 31 to 50 people, income range from RMB 1500 to RMB 3000, and accepted higher education female consumers are the main group that ads target to. Moreover, as for the same product in different ads, consumers show various trustworthy levels. In general, the ads via television and newspapers are trusted more than other media say radio, internet and billboards.

Research II

The second research is mainly about the different kinds of ads touched by consumers in regard of different educational background, age and income level. According to the investigation, female consumers are extremely active toward the ads, especially those who have received the higher education. Those ages are between 31 and 50 pay more attention to the newspaper advertising. Younger citizens intend to watch internet advertising. The TV ads are watched by lower income level citizens. The higher income level is, the more they focus on the internet ads. While, those salary is higher than RMB 4000 are not willing to watch ads.

Research III

The third research is about, consumers’ various attentions towards different kinds of ads when gathering the information Figure 2.1 Consumers’ attention are various towards different kinds of ads when


In the buying process, information gathering is vital for ads. The survey implies that when consumers actively search the relevant information, they mainly rely on television and newspaper ads, then magazine ads and internet, finally comes to the billboard and broadcasting ads.

Chapter three: Conclusions

This paper has given a description of how advertising influence the consumers. First, we review the literature. In this part, we discuss what is the consumers’ behavior and the process of making a decision. We also list the key influential factors. In the second part, we discuss the advantages of the advertising, and we also discuss the advertising psychology with some models in details. At last we search the relationship between advertisement and consumers. We did some research to support our ideas.

Above all, the relationship between advertising and consumers is not simply selling and buying goods. We can see that the advertising not only can guide consumers’ buying behavior, but also can transmit knowledge to people while telling the characteristics and functions of the new products. At the same time, advertising can stimulate the social consumption and funds flowing, which is important for the social economy to develop smoothly. By doing more research on the relationship between advertising and consumer, we will find many other important factors that the advertising influence the consumers and the society. Advertising will play a more important role in our daily lift as the society develops.


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