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What Are the Effects of Advertising on Consumers?

By Sheri Cyprus
Updated May 16, 2024
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The known effects of advertising on consumers range from creating an awareness of the product or service to influencing a buying decision. Advertising can create a shift in thinking by consumers, which may take different forms. For example, after viewing an ad, a consumer may decide that his or her usual product either seems better or worse that the one being advertised, without knowing exactly why. Other effects of advertising that create a more conscious shift in consumers' thought processes may be due to a strong informational aspect.

In the case of advertising that provides statistics or facts, this information may convince a consumer to switch brands. For example, if the manufacturers of a soup that most children love announce that the soup now has a full serving of vegetables in each portion, this can affect many parents' decisions to switch brands. Other parents who don't typically buy commercial soups, but make their own, may simply get the effect of recognizing that this brand now seems healthier. While these brand awareness effects won't likely influence consumers to buy the product immediately, the soup may be on the parents' minds to purchase if at some point they can't make their own.

Direct response advertising, such as the infomercial programming often shown late at night on many television stations, works much differently than ads that have brand awareness or future buying decision effects. This type of advertising is designed to create a sense of urgency to order the products immediately. These convincing and compelling effects are usually done by using demonstrations, an excited-sounding announcer pointing out unique product benefits and adding incentives for acting immediately. For instance, common ordering incentives include receiving free products or even two sets of products for the price of one.

Persuasive effects of advertising are especially effective on children. Advertising sugary cereals, toys and fast food during children's television shows is controversial, as many parents and child advocates argue that kids shouldn't be subject to these ads. Although parents ultimately are the ones who make the buying decisions, the children watching the commercials pushing products that grab their interest typically ask a parent to buy the items. These effects of advertising on consumers can make for annoyed parents, yet at the same time, the parents are also likely to purchase at least some of the products being advertised for their kids, such as for a birthday gift or special treat.

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Discussion Comments

By anon349265 — On Sep 24, 2013

My name is Suluzhan and I am a year 12 student at the Nazarbayev Intellectual school, in Semey, Kazakhstan.

I am currently doing a Cambridge University high school subject, “Global Perspectives”, that requires me to undertake research for a short research report. The specific question I am exploring is: “To what extent does the advertisements affect children's psychology in Kazakhstan?” I am trying to prove advertisements affect children's psychology.

The reason I am contacting you is to ask if you could help me with specific questions I have regarding this research. They are:

What do you think are the negative effects of advertising on a human’s psychology?

Do you believe advertisements affect a child’s psychology?

What are your reasons for thinking advertisements affect a child’s psychology?

I appreciate any help you can give me regarding my question and area of research. Generally I would also appreciate it if you could please suggest any other sources or people who might be useful for my research.

By Oceana — On Feb 29, 2012

I always liked it when my sister's kids pitched a fit to have something they saw in an ad. Otherwise, I would have had no ideas about what to get them for their birthdays.

Of course, between the time they first saw the ad and their actual birthdays, they would drive my sister crazy begging for the toys. She knew that I would eventually give them what they wanted, so she simply told them they couldn't have them right now.

This gave them hope and pacified them for a short while. I think it taught them the value of patience and kept them from being spoiled. Not getting what you want right away is actually good for you sometimes, especially when you are at an impressionable age.

By OeKc05 — On Feb 29, 2012

Cosmetic ads really worked on me when I was a teenager. For some reason, I believed everything the models said about their makeup, and with each new advertisement, I felt I must try the new product, because it would surely be the answer to my complexion problems.

So, I spent my allowance on new makeup before ever using up the old. I never quite found what I was looking for, but I did discover a few brands that held more promise than others.

Now that I'm grown, I stick to my favorite brand. I'm not so easily swayed by the glamorous promises in makeup ads, because everyone's skin is different, and I have already found what works for mine.

By lighth0se33 — On Feb 28, 2012

@seag47 – That's no accident. I studied marketing in college, and I learned about how the food in advertisements is made to look as appealing as possible.

Essentially, the food is treated like a model. Just as a human model gets a professional makeup artist, a food model gets special treatment and a photographer who knows just how to shoot it best.

They always use super fresh lettuce on hamburgers, and they will even glaze buns with a substance to make it glossy, even though the actual product doesn't have this. They have to make you want that food badly, and they will do everything they can to beautify it.

By seag47 — On Feb 27, 2012

Food advertisements can have a strong effect on hungry people and people who are dieting. I generally try not to eat late at night, but if I'm watching TV and I see a tempting ad for something delicious, I might just go out and buy it right then.

There are several fast food restaurants less than five minutes away from my home. If one of these runs an ad while I'm hungry or fighting a craving, I am very likely to jump in my car and go to the drive-through window. It's so convenient that it is hard to resist.

Has anyone ever noticed how much more glamorous and delicious the food in a TV ad looks than it actually is? It usually hits the spot anyway, but it never quite has the same physical appeal as it does on the screen.

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