Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Chinese Consumer Market: Babies to American Advertising Efforts

Product placement in the movies continues to emerge as a form of unconventional advertising, aiming to subtly target consumers in a less intrusive manner (attempting to seem more natural). It was defined by Balasubramanian in 1994 as “the tecnique of product placement is comprised of the “planned entries of products into movies or television shows that may influence viewers’ product beliefs and/or behaviors favorably.”

In comparison to more expensive, less effective advertising techniques, product placement acts as an appealing alternative-form of marketing. Product placement in movies has developed into a very cost-effective promotional tool, as a result of their increasing popularity in Hollywood films-such films that acquire a massive global audience.

A study conducted to report attitudes of Chinese consumers’ towards product placement, compared these attitudes with those of American consumers in order to gain insight into the similarities and differences among the two groups in the way they perceive, and approve of, product placement in movies. College students from an American university and a university in Beijing were tested for the study, being asked to watch segments of Hollywood blockbusters and afterwards, asked to evaluate product placement in the movies. The Chinese consumers were less accepting of the product placements compared to American consumers. Also, individual differences among consumers had little impact on the results of the study considering the significant difference in cultural values between the US and People’s Republic of China (PRC). US participants were more attentive of social functions brands played in the movies, while the Chinese participants were less likely to consider the product placements as paid advertisements. The Chinese also were more bothered with ethics of product placement and more in favor of strict government regulation on product placement. Noticeable differences in perception exist between foreign and domestic consumers in reference to product placement, demonstrating a possible need for specifically tailored advertising strategies within international advertising campaign.

American companies, capable of internationally expansion, know and value the stability of China’s economy as well as the size of its consumer market (with the population of the People’s Republic of China equaling 1/5 the world’s population). China represents roughly the eighth largest advertising market in the world and with reference to it as “the last big consumer market,” more US companies will choose to expand their domestic businesses overseas, seeking to market their brands in China’s booming market.

Successful integration within global consumer markets requires a thorough study of foreign economies as well as a carefully devised and executed advertising campaign, culturally-tailored for specific target audiences in different markets. Standardized international ad campaigns neglect to acknowledge the influence culture has upon marketing communications and the media-not the mention the reciprocated impact of the media’s influence on cultural values and beliefs. Cultural differences can be embraced rather than ignored. Culturally-adapted advertising strategies, designed for individual national markets, expose consumers to more relevant and personal affiliations with a brand or product, leading to greater involvement and favorable purchase behavior.

The US consumers were more accepting of the product placement than the Chinese consumers while the Chinese were more concerned with the ethics of brand product placement than the Americans. Americans, more familiar and exposed to advertising, marketing, and promotional techniques and strategies, would logically be more accepting of product placement, familiarized with the more advanced advertising industry of the US. China consumers were also more likely to support strict government restrictions on product placement, keeping in congruence with their ethical objections to product placement as well as their higher resistance to recognize brand product placement as paid advertisements. These attitudes regarding ethical issues and acceptability of product placement are strongly rooted in cultural history of participants, greatly varying from one country to another. To account for the variance in cultural views, an international ad campaign would seek to culturally-adapt advertising efforts specific to foreign market.

[McKechnie, Sally A, and Jia Zhou. "Product Placement in Movies: A Comparison of Chinese and American consumers' attitudes." International Journal of Advertising 22.3 (2003): 349-374. Business Source Premier. EBSCO. Ithaca Coll. Lib., Ithaca, NY. 27 Feb. 2008 .]

No comments: