June 2018 (Vol. 58, Issue 2)
What Do We Know about In-Store Marketing?
Retailers and the brands they sell are having to rethink everything from engaging the shopper, to packaging and where end-aisle displays should be located in-store. “Amazon has shocked the retailing world as its sophisticated data-analysis mechanisms examine every customer interaction and, in turn, create optimal changes in its marketing mix,” writes Editor-in-Chief John B. Ford as he summarizes the June issue’s special section on In-Store Marketing. “The path to purchase will never be the same.” Ford also explains the Journal’s latest call for papers, “Gender Issues in Advertising.”
Are Portrayals of Female Beauty in Advertising Finally Changing?
When it comes to role portrayal of women and girls, advertisers face a dilemma when trying to please multiple audiences. Some brands portray women using realistic mirror images, but in the case of using “plus-size” models, some critics perceive them as promoting obesity. Other brands continue using traditional tactics like using thin models and airbrushing. Victoria’s Secret, “among brands known for their rail-thin models,” saw its sales suffer, in part for its “refusal to change,” notes Kathrynn Pounders (University of Texas at Austin).
Increasingly, however, there are signs that the tide is turning in the way female beauty
is portrayed. Consumers generally favor inclusion and diversity, Pounders asserts, and
women are “seeking to be portrayed authentically, not as unhealthily thin or large.” U.S.
brands like Aerie have “launched successful campaigns that include a more diverse set
of models who are unretouched.” In Europe and in Israel, in response to research
showing the detrimental effect that idealized imagery can have on young women’s
mental and physical health, laws push for the elimination of too-thin models. In France,
advertisements where the models have been airbrushed are required to carry the
disclaimer “photographie retouchée” (retouched photo), and models must have a
doctor’s certificate with special regard to their body mass index.
Ultimately in advertising, Pounders writes, there’s no “one size fits all” rule, but the
evidence suggests that neither realistic nor idealized imagery will satisfy everyone.
Among the takeaways in her essay:
- There is a predominant call among women for more inclusivity in advertising;
brands would do well to heed it.
- Marketers should think broadly about how consumers will interpret both the
message and the overall advertisement.
- Each brand must approach shifting preferences for inclusion and diversity
independently; tactics that work for one brand might not work for the other.
- Brands accordingly must have a firm understanding of both the demographics
and the psychographics of the intended audiences.
How Context Can Make Advertising More Effective
Sixty years’ worth of research on context effects in advertising contains mixed results
and is focused mostly on television. That’s what a literature review on the topic by the
ARF revealed, suggesting that advertisers and marketers may be missing key
opportunities to be more effective at promoting their products and services across a
variety of media. Context refers to the media space in which the advertisement is
embedded, for example, a TV program, magazine, website, or social media feed.
Context may or may not influence consumers’ perceptions of and response to
In response to renewed interest in the topic, the ARF conducted its own experiments
with partnering firms while at the same time other research also was in progress. Horst
Stipp, who led the ARF’s work in this area, explains why context matters today and how
the more recent studies (2015–2018) provide new insights to advance theory and
practice. However, he emphasizes the need for more research to validate current
findings and dig even deeper. Among the implications for practice and future research:
- If marketers understand their specific targets’ affinity to the content with which
their consumers engage, as well as the role of other contexts, there are real
opportunities to enhance the effectiveness of advertising messages.
- Deeper knowledge can help marketers understand the target’s attitudes and
emotions, which helps them identify those contexts that provide emotional
- Those connections—between the ad and the brand—are necessary to align with
the target’s preferred content.
- Advertisers should go beyond consumer targeting to include emotional
targeting: explore what drives the target’s preferences for platforms, media
brands and content and what drives interest in the product and the brand.
- Researchers should compare context across the different media platforms,
asking: How do social media amplify positive and negative context effects?
- More studies are needed on ROI and return on ad spend.
WHAT WE KNOW ABOUT IN-STORE MARKETING
Will Digital Commerce and Analytics Be the Death of Traditional Brands?
Columnist Gian M. Fulgoni (comScore, Inc.) kicks off the June edition of JAR’s In-Store
Marketing section with a discussion of the pressures that digital commerce has brought
upon traditional in-store retailers and brand managers. The scale of Amazon’s success,
for one, “has put the company in the position to threaten traditional brand and store
loyalty on a massive scale.” A study by comScore and UPS of 5,000 online shoppers
showed that 29 percent first headed to Amazon when they wanted to search for a
product.” That number is so daunting, Fulgoni notes, because it’s “nearly twice as many
as those who used search engines and equal to the total number of those who said they
used specific retailers’ various channels.” Among Fulgoni’s key takeaways:
- “National-brand manufacturers should worry about fast-growing e-commerce
brands sold directly to consumers, which threaten established brand equity.”
- National name brands also “have to contend with the growth in private-label
brands, many of which have seen significant improvement in quality and whose
price point is attractive to consumers.”
- Beyond Amazon, the smart speaker is pressuring brands to adapt to yet another
new marketing platform.
- Voice shopping could erode the decades-old brand model of paying for an instore
presence or paying for placement on a web page.
Fulgoni also pointed to a 2018 Interactive Advertising Bureau study, which concluded
that new, innovative brands may be able to reach consumers directly and successfully
bypass the traditional store channel altogether. But, Fulgoni asks: who’s going to absorb
the shipping costs? “It’s unclear whether the cost of the distribution platforms required
for a brand to stay relevant in the future will produce the profits of yesteryear.”
Understanding the Shopping Experience and Its Implications for Malls as Marketing
Media: Attracting and Retaining Customers through Fashion, Service, and Improved
How would you rate your latest mall experience? As malls struggle to keep shoppers
coming, a satisfying shopping experience as an effective marketing medium has become
a top priority. How to measure that experience was the focus of this study by Haiyan Hu
(Morgan State University) and Cynthia R. Jasper (University of Wisconsin – Madison). In
addition to qualitative research, they created a 22-item scale that measures the nature
of the shopping experience—an empirical measure of the perceptions of the customer
about various aspects of their experiences.
The authors focused on behavioral measures, such as “visit frequency, average
expenditure per visit, and average spending on food per visit, as outcomes of shopping
experience.” After extensive development and refinements, the final scale reflects eight
separate aspects of the overall shopping experience: escapism, browsing, socialization,
activity, fashion shopping, uniqueness, service, and aesthetics. With that architecture in
place, the authors found that
- For many, the shopping mall is the primary venue for meeting places, dining,
community centers, and entertainment, not just a place to purchase goods and
- Consumers still view shopping malls as their primary destination for fashion
- Reinventing the food court and snack shops will encourage shoppers to linger
- Shopping mall patrons can be targeted with experiential marketing, promoting
“shopper socialization, encourage further exploration of unique and novel
items, and present a community-based space that cannot be found through
other channels, such as the Internet.”
- Mall managers need to work with individual stores to set the service bar high.
- Good service will “encourage more exploration by customers, thus increasing
the opportunities for media exposure and point-of-sale persuasion.”
The Efficacy of Green Package Cues for Mainstream vs. Niche Brands:
How Mainstream Green Brands Can Suffer at the Shelf
If you had to choose between a niche brand that you trust for its environmentally-safe
qualities, and a mainstream brand that has come out with its own “green” line, which
one would you choose? Time was, retail shelves carried only a few green niche brands.
Today, an increasing number of mainstream companies are considering the viability of
stressing green aspects of their products on their packaging. Indeed, the use of
attention-getting cues on packaging or media display allows particular brands to
effectively resonate with the customer in-store but for green products, it’s not yet clear
how this change will affect shoppers’ purchase behavior. Researcher trio Stacy Wood
and Stefanie Robinson (North Carolina State University) and Morgan Poor (San Diego
State University) asked: “How do advertising cues … influence consumers’ perceptions
of mainstream green options, and are there unique challenges for mainstream brands
that go green?”
The study compared the outcomes of 3 competing brands of pesticides. The authors
partnered with a large multinational company (which they did not identify), “making it
possible to manipulate the product packaging realistically for the different cue
conditions, to access a large sample of real consumers of the product category, and to
understand better the complexity of issues facing companies in this position.” For
comparison, they chose another mainstream brand and a niche brand specializing in
only natural products. In their results, the patterns they observed in the area of home
pesticides appeared to be generalizable across diverse categories:
- “For mainstream brands, customers may equate green qualities with lower
- Mainstream brands adopting green cues in packaging for their environmentally
friendly products may suffer loss of share as a result.
- Mainstream brands losing share in this scenario will lose it to niche green
companies’ products rather than other mainstream competitors.”
- Green product lines from mainstream brands can be successful, but “best
practices…may be to engage in environmentally friendly methods under the
radar and focus the retail promotion of their product on performance.”
- “Fewer green cues in the retail space are better for the mainstream green
This type of “greenwashing” in favor of performance is reinforced by case studies on
Clorox’s (P&G) Green Works line of natural cleaning products and Nike’s FlyKnit
sneakers. Whereas Green Works sales suffered when promoted
for sustainability instead of performance, the Nike sneakers line succeeded thanks to
marketing cues that focused on performance rather than their green qualities.
“Will this always be the best practice for mainstream green brands?” the authors ask.
They suspect that “attitudes will shift over time” and that researchers should reexamine
this work down the road.
The Real Estate Value of Supermarket Endcaps: Why Location In-Store Matters
Where do you spend the most time in a grocery store, and which product displays
prompt you to add to your shopping cart? A team of 7 researchers at the University of
South Australia spent 7 years analyzing evidence showing which location is best—
specifically for end-aisle displays in supermarkets. William Caruso, Armando Maria Corsi,
Svetlana Bogomolova, Justin Cohen, Anne Sharp, and Pei Jie Tan (Ehrenberg-Bass
Institute for Marketing Science), and Larry Lockshin (School of Marketing)—used direct
observation in five different supermarkets in the U.S., Australia, and New Zealand.
Participants in the primary data collection at one store wore eye-tracking glasses that
recorded their field of vision. This was complemented by field-of-vision data collected
from past commercial shopper behavior studies in 4 other stores.
The data showed that “using weighted averages, there was 24 percent more foot traffic
past endcaps at the back of the store compared with the front (64 percent front, 88
percent back). “ Moreover, there was “30 percent more visual reach at the back of the
store compared with the front (54 percent at the back, 24 percent at the front).” The
findings provide evidence that
- “People use the back of the store more during shopping trips for navigation
- “Traffic at the front of the store is only greater in the first and last 10 percent of
shopping trips, because shoppers either are entering the store or are exiting at
- “For retailers (this provides) an indication of which endcap space in the store
likely will generate the most return on merchandising investment.
The authors believe that their work “opens the door to future, more detailed studies of
product location, product sales, and store design that may drive greater ROI for brands
on spending on in-store advertising.” Future research should include expanding study to
other types of retail stores and other formats “including different locations of checkouts
or configuration of aisles, to see whether the patterns hold.”
OTHER FEATURE ARTICLES
How Do Heuristics Influence Creative Decisions at Advertising Agencies?
Factors that Affect Managerial Decision Making when Choosing Ideas to Show the
Your creative team at an ad agency has just pitched a dozen ideas for presenting to the
client. How do you as the creative manager decide which one is the right one to show
and recommend to the client? “Little is known about how advertising practitioners
make decisions in such situations when algorithms (i.e. decisions based on logic and
probability) have little or no role to play,” Douglas C. West (King’s College London),
George Christodoulides (Birbeck, University of London), and Jennifer Bonhomme (Young
& Rubicam), report. “This article contributes to the field’s understanding of the use of
analysis and heuristics in determining what creative ideas to show the client.”
Heuristics essentially are problem-solving “devices” within the thought process leading
to making decisions, in this case, creative decisions.
The authors surveyed the senior managers who worked at the European, North
American, and Asian offices of an ad agency (not Young & Rubicam). The senior
managers sent out links to include other staff who worked across account management,
creativity, media, and research, including the roles of account planner, account director,
copywriter, producer, creative technologist, digital strategist, strategic planner, and
digital planner. Participants answered a list of 24 questions and were asked to codify
their chosen project according to the type of media. Presented with 13 decision “tools,”
they could choose one or more to describe how they would choose the piece of creative
to present to the client. The tools ranged from algorithmic (“The creative work that
provide best on the basis of analyzing the data”) to best choice (“The creative work we
thought would be best for the client”) and tallying (“The creative work with the highest
number of favorable aspects to it”).
Among the results:
- “Even within the same agency, different combinations of heuristics are used in
the choice of what creative solutions to show a client.
- “The top 2 heuristics (take the best and tallying) were at the top analytical end of
the decision-making spectrum, with ‘we followed our instincts’, ‘first creative
work that exceeded our objectives’, and majority – the creative work that most
people wanted.” Algorithmic – “the creative work that proved best on the basis
of analysis of the data”—came as sixth in priority.
- “Both analytics and pure heuristics play a role in the decision-making process,
which is in line with the dual nature of advertising creativity, where artistry
meets business objectives.”
- Good understanding of the client’s/sponsor’s needs is key.
Future research should investigate “the choice of creative work within a range of
agencies,” the authors suggest. It should examine “the impact of decision-making styles
and heuristics on various campaign success metrics from different sources (experts,
consumers). This would establish a more definitive list of the heuristics that lead to the
best selection of creative work.”
Drivers of Creativity within Advertising Agencies:
How Structural Configuration Can Affect and Improve Creative Development
What is the most effective organizational structure for development of advertising
campaigns at ad agencies? The answer is often subjective—informed by points of view
of the different roles within the agency, and as Huw O’Connor, a consultant who has
worked in advertising for decades and is a teaching fellow at Waikato University in New
Zealand, notes, there is a “surprising dearth of research” in this area. He and his
coauthors—Mark Kilgour (a peer at Waikato), Scott Koslow, also a long-time advertising
practitioner-turned academic (Macquarie University in Australia) and Sheila Sasser
(Eastern Michigan University)*—examined 554 campaigns. They conducted field
interviews with ad-agency professionals at 31 firms representing 75-80 percent of
billings for markets in Sydney, Melbourne, and Auckland and found that although
agencies can deploy their service-level resources flexibly, “not all structural
configurations lead to the best outputs,” for example:
- Simply increasing staff resource allocations to an account does not necessarily
lead to more creative work.
- Increasing account-team size improves campaign originality but not strategy.
- When service levels are increased, strategy development is exposed to social
judgment processes at a cost to the advertising outcome.
Creative and strategy outcomes also depend on the client context:
- The results support previous findings that larger clients equate to less original
work, at least with respect to a difference between small accounts and medium
or large accounts.
- Larger clients did not appear to equate to higher perceived levels of strategy.
- Smaller clients provide greater freedom to the creative team.
- Confirming earlier research, longer relationships can have a negative impact on
- As interpersonal relationships develop, trust and understanding increase,
thereby reducing agency independence and increasing both switching costs and
the likelihood that agency behavior aligns with client expectations.
- This results in an inertia trap that reduces the tendency to adapt to
Overall, the authors suggest, “better systems are needed for determining when to break
set with strategy.” When clients are sizable, or as the client-agency relationship
endures, “agencies need to be aware of and proactively manage the rigidities that
form.” The authors flag agenice’s dilemma “in that their past creative success means
they are able to develop stable and cohesive relationships, but eventually these
relationship aspects may lead to a lack of brand renewal.”
Future research is needed in several areas:
- to develop measures that could “tease out the effects of the individual specialist
- to replicate and extend these findings “using the target audience as the basis for
- to explore the role of the creative director in the client-centered system.”
*Coauthor Sheila Sasser died in February 2017.
Single versus Multiple Measurement of Attitudes:
A Meta-Analysis of Advertising Studies Validates the Single-Item Measure Approach
In an era of ever-decreasing survey response rates and attention spans of respondents,
this study brought good news for advertising research. Authors Lawrence Ang
(Macquarie University, Australia) and Martin Eisend (European University Viadrina,
Germany) assessed the quality of research comparing studies that used single-item
measures (the method of choice by practitioner researchers) with those that used
multiple items to measure advertising effectiveness (preferred by academics).
Practitioners often strive to shorten rather than lengthen their surveys, because the
greater the number of questions, the more expensive the research and the increased
risk for respondent boredom and abandonment of the survey. Academics favor the rigor
of multiple items. But what is the best research practice when constructs — such as
brand attitude, attitude toward the ad, and attitude toward behaviors — are double
concrete, meaning, they have a clear, singular meaning in which the object being rated
also is clear and singularly identifiable?
A recent theory argues that not all constructs need to be measured with multiple items.
Ang and Eisend’s research validates the single-item measurement approach established
in the book by J. R. Rossiter, Measurement for the Social Sciences: The C-OAR-SE Method
and Why It Must Replace Psychometrics (Berlin: Springer, 2011).
Among Ang’s and Eisend’s the takeaways:
- Using the results of 189 advertising studies, there was no difference in effect
sizes “when the double-concrete dependent variables were measured with
single or multiple items, which means data collection is more efficient and less
- If a construct has a clear and singular meaning and the object being rated also is
clear and identifiable, then a single valid item is all that is needed.
- The study’s results strongly suggest that the double-conrete precept is
The Optimal Advertising-Allocation Rules for Sequentially Released Products:
The Case of the Motion Picture Industry
Hollywood is pumping out movie sequels like there’s no tomorrow, from the latest takes
on the horror flick Insidious to the beloved “Paddington” and Marvel lovers’ “Avengers,” and
the pace is far from slowing. Why? Sequential distribution is critical to a company’s
performance, researchers have found, not only for movies but also for other types of
products. This especially is the case in the movie industry: Without revenue from
sequential distribution markets, movie studios “might hardly break even,” authors
Jooseop Lim and Tieshan Li (Concordia University) write. When a company’s
performance potentially is dependent on those revenues, Lim and Li found, the
allocation of an advertising budget across product life stages or product formats over
time is critical.
Their resulting work showed that the “direct effect of advertising, as well as the
carryover effect from the previous stage release, needs to be incorporated into the
advertising-budget allocation decision for sequentially released products.” In particular,
movie studios must determine the allocation of their ad budget strategically between
theatrical and DVD releases. Lim and Li investigated budget allocation for advertising
across 3 motion-picture industry markets to determine the optimal rules companies
should follow: theatrical prerelease (opening-week box office), theatrical postrelease
box office, and DVD release.
The study’s dataset consisted of 152 movie titles in the action, adventures, comedy and
drama genres released in theaters between 2006 and 2007 in the U.S. Their analytical
and empirical investigations showed that the majority of advertising spending should be
allocated to the prerelease box-office market. Compared with their current practice,
movie studios may be able to
- improve their total revenue by spending more on the postrelease box-office
market for 80 percent of the action and adventure titles; and
- spend more on the DVD market and relatively less on the postrelease box-office
market for 70 percent of the comedy and drama titles.
Even though the study focused on movies, “the implication of these findings can be
extended to other sequentially released product situations across different industries,”
the authors write, however future research should explore specific industries. Gatorade
initially marketed to athletes, then targeted mass-retail channels. Camera
manufacturers, the authors note, “often introduce high-end cameras first for
professionals, then release lower-end version to target mass customers.” When a strong
“cannibalization effect” or positive network externality among new products is
expected, sequential product-release strategy is necessary. For the movie industry,
studios “generally expect strong cannibalization” between the theater and DVD
channels “when they are released at the same time and, therefore, adopt a sequential
The Impact of Supertasters on Taste Test and Marketing Outcomes:
How an Innate Characteristic Shapes Taste, Preference, Experience, and Behavior
Are you a supertaster and if so, why do food scientists and marketers want to know
more about you? Husband-and-wife research partners, Kathryn A. LaTour (Cornell
University) and Michael S. LaTour (Ithaca College),* with Brian Wansink (Cornell
University) explored the role of the specific inheritable supertaster trait—a high
sensitivity to taste, in particular, bitterness—on shaping consumer preference, taste
experience, and behavior.
They open their article with the quote, “One must ask children and birds how cherries
and strawberries taste,” by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. The 18th-19th century German
author and statesman’s “nurture view” was such that culture overwhelms taste. Fast
forward to the 20th century’s Pepsi Challenge and the failed New Coke launch—
situations in which “consumer performance in blind taste tests does not relate to
marketplace behavior, where culturally learned brand associations trump individual
sensory taste-based preference.” Recent evidence, they point out, that “some people’s
taste sensitivity—particularly to bitterness—is markedly different than others provides
early evidence of a segment of people who could be considered supertasters and who
might hold the key to other unexplained taste anomalies.”
An estimated 25 percent of the world population are supertasters, although many don’t
even know it and generally stick to products they are familiar with. If they really are
different from other consumers (although geneticists caution against applying the term
broadly), “this has implications for a wide range of experiences and behaviors far
beyond supertasters’ idiosyncratic preferences for products,” the authors continue. “It
could influence variety seeking; brand loyalty; and one’s sensitivity to peripheral cues,
such as advertising, packaging, product recommendations, and many of the traditional
variables in the marketing mix.”
Companies already have recognized that consumers have different taste sensitivities.
Starbucks’ “blonde” line, for example, appeals to those who like a lighter roast coffee;
Coca-Cola’s sweeter Mexican Coke has increased in popularity in the U.S., and Gallo has
developed products based on different taste profiles.
There were 3 parts to this research:
- Study 1 investigated the Pepsi Challenge to see whether supertasters react
differently than other types of tasters.
- Study 2 focused on wine, a more nurture-related product, to determine whether
supertasters experience wine differently in terms of emotional arousal and
whether this translates to their market-loyalty behavior.
- Study 3 explored whether supertasters are better at noticing taste similarities
between 2 white wines (one of them presented as red, with food coloring) and
whether wine-education training overwhelms any innate sensation detection
Among the findings:
- “How consumers experience taste is heritable, particularly with regard to bitter
and sweet taste sensations, and this can be assessed through a simple paper
- Segmentation of consumers by taste sensitivity can explain differences in cola
and wine taste tests that cannot be explained by training or cultural influence.
- Supertasters are more sensitive to bitterness, seek sweeter foods, and exhibit
more behavioral loyalty than other consumers, which makes them an important
segment for food marketers involved in testing and introducing new products.
- Advertisers can attract this supertaster segment by employing language that
highlights the sweetness or mellowness of the product’s taste.”
*Coauthor Michael LaTour died in November 2015.
Coming in September 2018:
What We Know about Sponsorship Marketing
As a preview to September’s special theme section on sponsorship marketing, John B.
Ford reviews seminal work that JAR has published on this topic.