Okazaki, Mueller, and Taylor test the effectiveness of global consumer culture positioning (GCCP) in terms of perceptions of soft-sell (indirect and image-based) and hard-sell (direct and information-based) appeals across markets. They draw the theoretical base for the study from previous research, along with a series of recent conceptualizations on culture and branding based on global consumer culture theory. If the same appeal is homogeneously and favorably perceived in different markets, such an appeal should be a good candidate for use as part of a GCCP strategy. From prior research, the authors also predict that indirect, soft-sell appeals are more similarly perceived across markets than hard-sell appeals.
The authors first conduct a quasi-experimental study in the United States with a general consumer sample. After choosing six representative advertisements from a rigorous content analysis of more than 800 print advertisements, they examine the perceptions of soft-sell and hard-sell appeals, including attitude toward the ad, believability, irritation, and purchase intention. They repeat the same procedure, including the content analysis, in Japan.
With regard to the within-appeal perceptions across markets, t-test results indicate somewhat more homogeneous acceptance of soft-sell advertisements, but surprisingly, the raw differences in mean values are marginal in hard-sell advertisements across markets. With regard to the within-country perceptions, hard-sell appeals provoke more favorable attitudes and stronger purchase intentions in both countries.
These findings suggest that, consistent with previous research, soft-sell appeals are perceived similarly across the United States and Japan in terms of believability and the degree to which they are irritating. The authors also find similar general ratings for attitude toward the ad, supporting the notion that soft-sell appeals can work in the context of a GCCP strategy. At the same time, the findings also suggest the potential of both indirect and direct appeals being used as part of GCCP. The reason for the surprising finding of the seeming effectiveness of hard-sell appeals in Japan may be attributable to the prolonged recession of the 1990s, which may have affected both firms’ and consumers’ perceptions on more hard-hitting, sales-oriented appeals.
Shintaro Okazaki is Associate Professor of Marketing in the College of Economics and Business Administration at Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (Spain), from which he received his Ph.D. in Marketing. His primary research interests lie in cross-cultural issues in marketing, online consumer behavior, and social marketing. Dr. Okazaki has published papers in Journal of Advertising, Journal of Advertising Research, International Journal of Advertising, Journal of International Marketing, Journal of Business Research, Journal of World Business, European Journal of Marketing, Psychology & Marketing, International Marketing Review, and Information & Management, among others. He serves on the Editorial Review Boards of several journals, including Journal of Advertising, International Journal of Advertising, Journal of Public Policy & Marketing, and Internet Research, and on the Executive Boards of European Advertising Academy and Spanish Marketing Association. He is currently Deputy Editor of Journal of Marketing Communications.
Barbara Mueller is Professor of Advertising in the School of Journalism and Media Studies at San Diego State University. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Washington. Her research has appeared in Journal of International Business Studies, Journal of Advertising, Journal of Advertising Research, International Journal of Advertising, International Marketing Review, Journal of Current Issues and Research in Advertising, and Advances in Consumer Research, among numerous other professional journals. She is the author of Communicating with the Multicultural Consumer: Theoretical and Practical Perspectives (Peter Lang, 2008), Dynamics of International Advertising: Theoretical and Practical Perspectives (Peter Lang, 2004, Second Edition forthcoming), and co-author (with Katherine Toland Frith) of Advertising and Societies: Global Issues (Peter Lang, 2010).
Charles R. Taylor is the John A. Murphy Professor of Marketing at Villanova University and Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Marketing and Policy Research. He received his Ph.D. from Michigan State University. His primary areas of research interest are international advertising and advertising and public policy issues. Professor Taylor currently serves as Editor of the International Journal of Advertising. He is also a Past-President of the American Academy of Advertising. Professor Taylor has published numerous books, journals, and conference papers. Additionally, he serves on the Editorial Review Boards of several journals. Professor Taylor’s research has received best paper awards from Journal of Advertising and Journal of Macromarketing as well as the Hans B. Thorelli award for outstanding contribution to international marketing theory in 1998 from the Journal of International Marketing.
Journal of International Marketing, Volume 18, Number 2, June 2010
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