An investigation of the influence of individual differences on susceptibility to product placement
An investigation of the influence of individual differences on susceptibility to product placement
Product placement increased in popularity in 1982 when Reese’s Pieces Chocolate was included in E.T. the film, which led to a 65% increase in sales. Still to this day product placement is omnipresent within our cultural climate and research has supported that it enhances our purchase intentions. However, what remains unknown is how individual differences may influence product placement susceptibility. To address this gap, the current study investigated whether individual differences in cognitive capabilities, inhibitory control, age, familiarity, gender and timepoint enhance/reduce the likelihood of individuals' purchasing intentions being influenced by product placement. To do this, 55 participants (23 younger adults (Mage = 61.62(8.70)) and 22 older adults (Mage = 21.75(0.68)) were presented with images of four cups of coffee and asked to rank their purchase intentions/familiarity with the products. Following this, participants watched three scenes from Coronation Street, with the second clip including a product placement (Costa Coffee). Approximately 48 hours later, participants completed another purchase intentions questionnaire on the same four cups of coffee. The results highlighted that purchase intentions increased immediately post-clip; however they decreased 48 hours post-clip. Therefore, advertisers may use this information to discover ways in which the consumer can easily purchase the product immediately post-clip e.g. through QR codes. In regard to all other variables, no other significant relationships were found. Thus, it cannot be suggested to advertising agencies that product placement targeted to individuals who fulfil a given criteria (e.g. older adults, etc) will achieve optimal results when compared to non-targeted product placement.
Marketing, Product placement, Individual differences, Cognitive capabilities, Inhibitory control, Age, Familiarity, Gender, Purchase intentions.
Method Design The present quantitative study adopted a repeated measures design. There were several predictor variables: overall cognitive capabilities (including executive functioning; as assessed by the ACE-III; Hsieh et al., 2013), inhibitory control (as assessed by the Stroop effect), age, familiarity, gender, and timepoint. The dependent variable was susceptibility to product placement as measured by change in purchase intention. Participants At the time of the current studies design no published studies had investigated the influence of individual differences on product placement susceptibility, therefore the required sample size was modelled on the most comparable study the authors could source. Specifically, Hoek et al. (2022) investigated the influence of inhibitory control on advertising literacy activation and advertising susceptibility. Hoek et al. (2022) recruited 57 participants. Given the time restraints of data collection, the authors elected to recruit 55 participants. A total of 55 participants volunteered to participate in part one of the study. All participants were recruited via opportunity sampling through word of mouth and through advertisements placed on various Lancaster University Facebook pages (e.g. the Perception and Action Lab group). Participants were either aged between 18-25 (younger adults) or aged 50 and over (older adults). Out of the 55 participants, there were 27 younger adults (19 women; Mage = 60.93; SDage = 8.26) and 28 older adults (18 women; Mage = 21.78; SDage = 0.85). No participant had a known diagnosis of a psychiatric, neurological, or visual impairment, thus psychiatric, neurological, and visual impairments were not included in the analysis. All participants were White British/Irish. Therefore, there was no variation between ethnicities, thus ethnicity was not included in the analysis either. Given that cognitive capabilities was a key predictor variable within this study, it was necessary to ensure that participants with a known cognitive impairment or probable indication of cognitive impairment were removed from the study. Subsequently, all participants were screened for the probable presence of mild cognitive impairment through the Addenbrookes Cognitive Examination (ACE-III; Hsieh et al., 2013). After applying the pre-validated cut off point, 10 participants were excluded. Therefore, 45 participants were included in the analysis. Participants were either aged between 18-25 (younger adults) or aged 50 and over (older adults). Out of the 45 participants, there were 23 younger adults (16 women; Mage = 61.62; SDage = 8.70) and 22 older adults (17 women; Mage = 21.75; SDage = 0.68). Materials Inhibitory Control Inhibitory control was measured through an online Stroop task developed and run through Psytoolkit (Stoet, 2010, 2017). Completion of this task required participants to ignore the meaning of the colour word and indicate the print colour. Participants were generally presented with a colour word and a print word that were incongruent to one another. Thus, participants needed to use their ability to inhibit a pertinent response (i.e. the print colour) and indicate the print colour, which would be done more efficiently by competent readers (von Hippel & Gonsalkorale, 2005). Previous scholars have chosen to use the Stroop task, as it offers a good measure of individual variation in inhibition (e.g., Long & Prat, 2002). As this study was conducted remotely, via Microsoft Teams share screen function, participants were asked to verbally indicate the print colour and the researcher pressed the related keys (e.g. r for red, g for green, b for blue, and y for yellow). Participants first completed four practice trials followed by 40 test trials. Cognitive Functioning Cognitive capabilities were measured using an adaptation of the Addenbrooke’s Cognitive Examination (ACE-III; Hsieh et al., 2013). The original version assesses the participants’ attention, memory, fluency, language, and visuospatial abilities and has a combined score of 100. Although the adapted version examines the same five cognitive domains, it has a combined score of 77, the reason being that some questions were removed, as they were not deemed suitable for an online study – the first two questions on attention, the first two questions on language, and the first three questions on visuospatial abilities. The original version's pre-validated cut off point was 88 (88%) and therefore the adapted version's was 68 (88.31%). The participants who scored below the pre-validated cut off point were removed prior to analysis to ensure that the presence of cognitive impairment would not confound the subsequent analysis. Demographic and Health Characteristics Demographic information, including age, ethnicity, and gender, and background health information, including whether the participant had a current or history of a diagnosis of any cognitive, neurological, visual, or psychiatric impairments, was collected through an online Qualtrics Questionnaire. Purchase Intentions Questionnaire Prior to the questionnaire, participants were presented with the name and an image of each of the four cups of coffee. Purchase intentions of the four cups of coffee were then measured using a 7-point Likert scale. Participants were asked to rate on a scale of 1-7, 1 being ‘Extremely unlikely’ to 7 being ‘Extremely likely’, how likely they were to purchase a cup of coffee from: Caffè Nero, Costa Coffee, Greggs, and Starbucks. Comparably, familiarity was also measured using a 7-point Likert scale. Participants were asked to rate on a scale of 1-7, 1 being ‘Extremely unfamiliar’ to 7 being ‘Extremely familiar’ with how familiar they were with each cup of coffee from Caffè Nero, Costa Coffee, Greggs, and Starbucks. Purchase intentions and familiarity were measured using a 7-point Likert scale, rather than the commonly used 5-point Likert scale, as the inclusion of several options enhances the likelihood of acquiring a more accurate response (Joshi et al., 2015). It was important that purchase intention and familiarity of Costa Coffee was assessed alongside alternative brands, so that it was not made apparent that the study was focusing upon the participants' purchase intention ranking of Costa Coffee only. Therefore, Caffè Nero, Greggs, and Starbucks were chosen alongside Costa Coffee, because according to a survey conducted by Lock (2022), they are the UK’s top four leading coffee shop chains. The images were provided by Adobe Stock (2019) and Dreams Time (2019a, 2019b, 2019c). Product Placement Video The British TV Soap Coronation Street was selected, as prior research (e.g. Armstrong, 2018) suggests that it is popular amongst both younger and older adults (YouGov, 2011). The first clip chosen was a scene from 8th January 2018 Part 1, lasting 1 minute 16 seconds. The second clip chosen was a scene from 29th January 2018 Part 1, lasting 1 minute 15 seconds. The third clip chosen was a scene from 7th February 2018 Part 2, lasting 1 minute 23 seconds. It was the second scene shown that included the product placement (Costa Coffee). The researcher screen recorded each clip from https://www.dailymotion.com/gb and saved them into an encrypted file on a password-protected computer. Procedure A member of the psychology department research ethics committee approved the study before it was undertaken. Participants were invited to attend a 40–50-minute online Microsoft Teams meeting on a set date and time agreed on by the participant and the researcher. To commence, the researcher shared their screen and aided the participant in reading the participant information sheet and consent form via an online Qualtrics Questionnaire. At this time, participants were informed of their right to withdraw up to 2 weeks after participating without giving any reason and they were told their personal information would remain confidential and would be stored in encrypted files (that only myself and my supervisor have access to) on password-protected computers. The participants were only able to progress into the study on attainment of verbal consent. Participants were then asked to disclose various demographic characteristics (e.g., age and gender) and details relating to their current health status (e.g., any cognitive or visual impairments). The participants were then presented with four images of cups of coffee from Caffè Nero, Costa Coffee, Greggs, and Starbucks. They were then asked to rank their purchase intentions and familiarity, on a seven-point Likert scale, with these products via an online Qualtrics Questionnaire. Following this, participants were asked to watch three short scenes from Coronation Street. The second clip shown included a product placement of Costa Coffee. The researcher then implemented an online Stroop task using Psytoolkit (Stoet, 2010, 2017). The participants were also screened for the presence of mild cognitive impairments through the ACE. After this, the participants were presented with the same four images and asked to rank their purchase intentions of these products via the online Qualtrics Questionnaire (see Figure 1). Approximately 48 hours after completing the first part of the study, participants were sent an email invitation to complete another online Qualtrics Questionnaire. Participants were first asked to provide their participation number, which could be found in the email. They were then shown the same four images of cups of coffee and asked to rank their purchase intentions. Finally, the participants were provided with a debrief form at the end of the online Qualtrics Questionnaire (see Figure 2). This debrief disclosed the small degree of deception involved. Specifically, it was explained that participants were not informed at the start that the study considered product placement, as this might have influenced the subsequent data. Participants were reminded that they had the right to withdraw up to 2 weeks after participating and were provided with contact details in case they had any questions. The participants' purchase intentions of the four cups of coffee were measured three times throughout the course of the two studies: pre-clip, immediately post-clip, and 48 hours post-clip. This was to see whether the participants' purchase intentions for the four cups of coffee, specifically Costa Coffee, had increased or decreased following the product placement clip and whether their ranking would withstand the test of time (48 hours post-clip). This is why the participant were asked to include their participant number in part two, so that the participants prolonged purchase intention (48 hours post-clip) could be traced back to their earlier purchase intention rankings (pre-clip and immediately post-clip). Figure 1. A flowchart of part one tasks. Figure 2. A flowchart of part two tasks. Data Processing Inhibitory Control Participants raw Stroop data were downloaded from Psytoolkit into a Microsoft Excel file and saved in an encrypted files on a password-protected computer. From this raw data Stroop effect (the average incompatible conditions response time (ms) - compatible conditions response time (ms)) and percentage error rate (which involved adding the total of incorrect and timed out responses and dividing it by 40 (number of trials)) were calculated. Stroop effect and percentage error rate were used as an indicator of the participants inhibitory control capabilities. Specifically, a high Stroop effect would suggest less difficulty in inhibiting interference and a higher error rate would suggest reduced inhibitory capabilities. Cognitive Functioning The scores of the ACE-III were added and entered into the Microsoft Excel file, which was saved in an encrypted files on a password-protected computer. A higher score was indicative of superior cognitive functioning. Demographic and Health Characteristics To ensure all demographic and health data was readable by R-Studio all variables were dummy coded using numerical values. So, for instance, to determine the participants' gender, they were asked ‘What gender do you identify’ and given the option to choose from one of several responses. Each response was allocated a number, for example, 1 = Man, 2 = Woman, etc, and this was entered into the Microsoft Excel document. Susceptibility to product Placement (change in Purchase Intentions) To investigate the susceptibility to product placement, two difference in purchasing behaviour score were calculated (one for short duration, one for prolonged duration). To calculate these values, the likelihood of purchasing the product value prior to watching the clip was subtracted from likelihood of purchasing the product value after watching the clip (either immediately post-clip or 48 hours after). A positive difference meant that purchase intentions had increased following placement clip. A negative difference meant that purchase intentions had decreased following placement clip. A difference of zero meant that the placement clip had failed to alter purchase intentions Familiarity The familiarity ratings of Costa Coffee were entered into the Microsoft Excel file, which was saved in an encrypted files on a password-protected computer. The higher the score, the more familiar the participant was with the product. Data Analysis To analyse the data, a linear mixed effects model was chosen. The reason being that the current study employs a repeated measures design, and a linear mixed effects model permits an analysis of hierarchically structured data (Baayen et al., 2008).
Ellen Dimeck, “An investigation of the influence of individual differences on susceptibility to product placement,” LUSTRE, accessed June 6, 2023, https://www.johnntowse.com/LUSTRE/items/show/176.