Understanding consumers

Elise Chandon Ince, a native of France, moved to the United States in 2000 to join the University of Michigan's National Quality Research Center as a senior research assistant before leaving the following year to earn a Ph.D. at the University of Florida.

Elise Chandon Ince

Her research, she says, uses psychological principles to understand how consumers' beliefs form and the ways in which consumers are influenced by these beliefs and by the inferences they make from them. Her earlier research investigated the effectiveness of different argument formats for advertising a product's benefits.

“A fundamental objective of advertising is to communicate product benefits. To do this, advertisers select a slogan or phrase they believe will most convincingly communicate the product claim.”

For example, she says, consider the advertising slogan, “Crest fights cavities.” Crest wants consumers to infer that using its toothpaste will prevent cavities, Ince says. “Yet, there are other ways this information could have been conveyed. It could have been claimed that failing to use Crest leads to more cavities, that people without cavities regularly use Crest, or that people with cavities did not use Crest.”

Effective advertising is important in public policy as well. “Convincing people to get vaccinated, for example, is an important government health care concern.” Though the Food and Drug Administration launched many advertising campaigns urging people to be vaccinated, she says, “a review of the different slogans adopted revealed that most did not use the most effective format.”

Virginia Tech Pamplin College of Business Virginia Tech Pamplin College of Business Magazine Fall 13

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