Frame of reference
A look through previous researches will be made in order to better understand the relationship between the advertising messages and the customer perception. With the aim of forming a theoretical framework, each theory (the decision-making process, the communication process, and the gaps model) will be separated into headings. The theories provided will be used to form a questionnaire, analyze the data that will be collected.
The understanding of the decision-making process, which the individual is going through, is based on classical decision-making theory (Huczynski, 2001). The decision making is a process of making a choice from alternatives in order to achieve the outcome you desire (Eisenfuhr, 2011). This process is based on a model called rational. This model has six elements, which are of a great importance. First two are related to the fact that the individual has recognized the problem, the need of a product and find substitutes of it.
If we take the example of an individual who needs something that will prepare the morning sandwich of his family tastier, the first step will be to recognize the need of improvement (Kepner and Tregoe, 2005). Afterwards, he has to make a choice between butter and margarine in the store, and the brands associated with those products based on the preference of his family (Gilboa, 2011). In the third step of the decision-making process is the evaluation of the alternatives, and the final choice that has to be made. The power and effort of the search for alternatives are narrowed by the importance of the decision and the number of people who are affected by it (Zopounidis, 2011a, b).
For example, if the individual has a choice between butter and margarine then he decided to buy butter instead of margarine for his family, there can be different reasons behind his actions such as preference, price, quality and etc. Last but not least are the action of purchasing and the desired result which might or might not occur after the decision for purchase. For instance, the butter he bought has a poor quality which will mean that he will be less likely to purchase this product again (Schoenfeld, 2011)
Advertising Implications of the Purchase Decision Process
Additional information about products has a big role in the consumer purchase decision. The traditional and non-traditional advertisement could reach a possible customer while he is searching for information. This information will have an even stronger impact if this potential customer has spent time and effort to find the information on his own. Customers are more likely to trust the information that is presented in the advertisements for products that they are interested in (Mendel, 2011). That is why they are the perfect target for the marketer.
An example of strategy which is used by marketers in the traditional advertising is the coupon. As a result of this strategy, a customer who is in an information-collecting stage and interested in the product is asked to bring back the coupon in order to acquire more information about the product or get the benefit from the coupon. After the consumer has identified himself the marketer takes advantage of the situation to provide persuasive messages. For instance, this method is used by companies in the field of life-insurance (Bharath, 2011).
Another implication of advertising is that this analysis of the purchase decision process is that the marketer has to find a way to reduce the customer’s hesitation about the unique traits that the brand possess. The reason behind that marketing effort is related to the fact that every consumer takes into consideration only the unique traits when he is making comparison and evaluation of the brands he is interested in. Once when the consumer purchases the product he will experience either satisfaction or dissatisfaction based on his expectations (Hastie, 2010). However, the involvement of marketing in the decision making continues even after the purchase has been made. The last stage that the customer is going through is the post-purchase in which he is evaluating the purchase he made (Hicks, 2005).
The communication process
Communication represents a process of transmitting common understanding and information from one person to another (Lunenburg, 2010). Communication is essential because every administrative activity involves some type of indirect or direct information. Every communication between people and companies requires personal and organizational effectiveness (Brun, 2010; Summers, 2010).
The communication process in advertising is to inform the consumers on the company, the product, the benefit to the target market, the competitive advantage and most importantly, the uniqueness (Ayobami, 2017). As more and more companies are finding that it is essential to “understand the right way of communicating through social media”, the focus and resources dedicated for content marketing are increasing (Baltes, 2015).
The elements of the communication process determine the communication effectiveness and any gap that might occur will reduce the effectiveness and thus will not reach the desired goal (Keyton, 2011). The traditional approach has focused on an active sender and has seen the receiver as a passive object in the communication process (Percy, 2005).
According to Wilkie (1994), the communication process consists of six stages that are assigned either to the sender or to the receiver which are two interrelated active parties. It should be noted that the presented model is not a “universal solution” and the different stages may not be equally applicable to every offering of the company at hand and the sequence may be variable. The main aim of this model is to make the consumers go through the second part of the process (steps 4, 5 and 6) and ideally purchase the product at the end. This model emphasizes clarity and effectiveness, but it also acknowledges that there are barriers to effective communication between the advertiser and the consumer in terms of potential discrepancies that might occur.
At the first stage, the goal of the advertising campaign is established by the company. However, one should consider that if the planned goals are unrealistic, not well formulated or if selected advertisement strategy does not fit, the planned goals are unlikely to be achieved and the customers’ purchase will be hardly directed towards the desired action (Wilkie, 1994). Not all activities involved in the process are directly two-way communication, but all communication efforts should lead to a customer response.
The various types of messages developed during a continuous communication process should either form a purchase decision or their effects are accumulating in the minds of customers. On one side, customers should feel that the company shows a genuine interest in them and their needs, requirements, and value systems. On the other hand, the company should convincingly present products, services or other elements of the total offering (Grönroos, 2004).
The most common goals of the advertisement are persuasion, reinforcement, reminder and acceleration of purchasing. Persuasion stands for the intention of persuading consumers that the advertised products are better than other products from competitors. Reinforcement is when consumers are aided to assess a product after it was obtained. The reminder represents the process of evoking positive remembrances about the products and lastly, the acceleration of purchasing is to inspire consumers to obtain the product as soon as possible (Scholten, 1996).
At the second stage of the communication process, the advertising campaign is planned systematically considering that selecting an adequate communication message is the most crucial aspect. The number of channels varies and the amount of time in each channel should be configured. It is vital to decide what words will be used, what the ad will represent, the colors and music to be used in order to achieve complete clarity between what is meant by the advertiser and what is understood by the consumer, and most importantly of that understanding will have a direct reflection on the purchase decision.
Furthermore, the sender evaluates and selects the most suitable advertising mean of communication that will help to deliver the message it to the target consumer. It is critical that the message planned to deliver is selected correctly, otherwise, the second gap interrupts the communication process (Meyers-Levy J, 1999).
At the third stage, the message in the form of verbal, nonverbal, or written language is sent. At this stage, ‘noise” could occur which will disturb the ad. The third gap of advertising communication process is evoked due to technical difficulties during the conveying of the advertisement. There are various obstacles that could occur such as interruption of TV broadcasting, wrong colors of the published advert etc. (Sliburyte, 2007).
At the fourth stage of the communication process, the consumer receives the advert which is conveyed to him and evaluates its visible and hidden content through his senses. It is the receiver who determines whether a communication message or campaign has the potential to create a relationship between him and the sender and to what extent the receiver will be engaged in the two-way process of communication (Moon, 2000).
At the fifth stage information received by the consumer is recoded. This is the intermediate stage between reception of the advert and behavior of the consumer – “consciously or unconsciously the advert must arouse such psychical phenomena’s as thinking, feelings and remembrances about earlier purchasing, usage, and advert of the product” (Vakratsas, 1999). At this step, the target customer builds up an emotional connection with the company and/or the product.
At the sixth stage of the advertising communication process decision to purchase a product (which has been encouraged by the advert) is observed. This is the decisive behavior that drives the action of making a purchase or that of a customer adding the offering to their list of considerations. The customer might get convinced by the quality as well as the functionality of a product but the consumer might still wish to try out other brands if the message could not achieve to establish a preference towards the advertised product (Sliburyte, 2007).
One disadvantage of the model to be considered is that it does not incorporates feedback, which usually makes communication a more interactive, two-way process. An effective communication process occurs when there is compatibility between the six stages presented in the model below (Grönroos, 2004)
Reasons for applying the two models
Companies try to avoid their advertising to be perceived in a different way than expected. In Bulgaria, there is a lot of competition that creates new advertising content on a daily basis, which could eventually be the reason for declination in the selling for some companies. Looking through the decision-making process and taking the collected data further in the research, the researchers will be able to understand the reasons behind people decision making. Consumers are making a choice from alternatives in order to purchase the most suitable products they desire.
On the other hand, the communication process is a great opportunity for companies to inform consumers about their brand and products. The researchers chose to apply the communication process in order to look “behind the scene”. Nowadays, supermarkets and hypermarkets are not only aiming to inform consumers about their brand but also the products, promotions, and discounts. However, many times those companies fail to succeed completely by “falling” in one of the gaps that the process has. The focus of this process is to evaluate not only the steps that go with advertising but also highlight the possible misfortunate gaps that could miss the mark
1.2. Problem Discussion
1.3. Bulgarian history, market and culture
1.5. Research Questions
2. Frame of reference
2.1. Decision-making process
2.2. The communication process
2.3. Reasons for applying the two models
2.4. Advertising practices
3.1. Research Philosophy
3.2. Research approach
3.3. Research design
3.4. Qualitative and Quantitative Research
3.5. Time horizon
3.6. Method for data collection
3.7. Data analysis
3.10. Validity and Reliability
4. Empirical Data
4.1. Qualitative Data
4.2. Quantitative Data
5. Data Analysis
5.1. The Influence on the Consumer’s Decision Making Process
5.2. The Communication Process between Consumers and Hypermarkets
5.3. The Communication Process on Traditional Advertising
5.4. The Communication Process on Non-Traditional Advertising
7. Managerial Implications and Further Research
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