Consumer behavior is a fascinating study. Whether it is reading Schiffman and Kanuk or simply observing shoppers at MegaMart, it excites me. And then there’s advertisements, most of which merely inform but never persuade. And speaking of advertisements, I’m reminded that anecdotal evidence and structured research often differ. But who wants to be confused with facts after they’ve made up their minds?
This Caribbean marketer doesn’t like comparative advertisement. Never did. Never will. Why? Because I’m reminding my target market who my closest competitor is. Yeah. Me paying an advertising medium to mention my competitor’s product. Anecdotally it disturbs me. Aaaah, but that’s anecdotal. Ok. Just for fun let’s check what the evidence says.
Well, according to Schiffman, “the wide use of comparative advertising and research into its strategic effects have found that these ads more positively affect brand attitudes, purchase intentions, and actual purchase than non-comparative ads. Indeed, extensive studies have shown that comparative ads elicited higher levels of cognitive processing, had better recall, and were perceived as more relevant than non-caomparative ads. There are many studies that support the view that if used properly and in the right context, comparative marketing is a highly effective positioning strategy.” Why didn’t they just say that during the buying cycle it can assist you while evaluating your options?
But that still doesn’t move me. And I won’t mention that on the other side of the equation, considerable concern has been expressed regarding the ability of comparative advertising to mislead consumers and in America there have been many lawsuits. Even more reason!
Like my friend who made a decision and did the supporting research later, I’ve long made up my mind and I still don’t like comparative advertising. Now just don’t confuse me with the facts!
Herman Alvaranga is a marketing and sales strategist.