Age differences in the underlying mechanisms of product placement influence

Armstrong, Beth and Lewis, Charlie (2018) Age differences in the underlying mechanisms of product placement influence. PhD thesis, Lancaster University.

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In an increasingly media-rich society, we are ever exposed to more varied marketing techniques. Advertising is no longer limited to traditional outlets such as print and television commercials. Consumers are moving away from watching television on a traditional TV set in favour of new technologies. The development of portable electronic devices such as tablet computers and smartphones has provided new platforms for commercial messages. These products not only increase the number of ways in which advertisers can use to target us, but also change the way we interact with the media. We increasingly use these devices on the go, even attending to multiple screens at the same time. These habits have become increasingly common, yet they may inadvertently increase our susceptibility to advertising communications. Changes in media consumption and government legislation had led advertisers to seek out new ways to target consumers and we need to consider two issues (Ofcom, 2011; Ofcom, 2017a). First, product placements have become increasingly prevalent and are regularly featured in television programs and movies. So, their influence needs to be examined further. Secondly, the existing research tends to neglect large sections of the population. Older adults account for almost one quarter of the UK (Office for National Statistics, 2017) population and watch more television than any other age group (Ofcom, 2013). Yet, little is known about how ageing mediates susceptibility to product placements. This thesis will integrate three areas of existing research and address questions which have emerged from the literature. The literature review (Chapter 1) initially provides an overview of prevalence of product placements. The role of consumer awareness and attitude toward this form of advertising in facilitating susceptibility is discussed in terms of the psychological theories proposed to explain how product placement works. I then debate whether variability in placement stimuli and measures may contribute to inconsistencies within this area of research. Next, I explore how implicit and explicit memory processes may shift in terms of the much-debated age cognitive decline. I consider how such changes might mediate placement impact. By way of example, the theory of ego depletion is evaluated and discussed in relation to ageing effects and product placement research. Finally, I consider how cognitive resource and ego depletion may interact with consumer viewing habits to mediate placement efficacy. In this thesis key issues which have emerged from the literature will be explored in three experimental chapters. Following the replication crisis in psychology research I will initially investigate whether product placement effects can be replicated. The assumption that implicit measures of placement influence are equivalent will be assessed through a comparison of two methods (see Chapter Two). The validity of frequently used measures will be discussed and the more methodologically sound method is put forward. The contribution of the methodological investigation will be discussed in relation to the replication crisis. Second, I will address the paucity of research exploring the impact which product placement has on older adults (see Chapter 3). Though older adults are becoming one of the largest groups in the population, it is not known whether cognitive decline increases vulnerability to this form of advertising. It is assumed within the literature that the mechanisms of placement influence are consistent in different age groups, yet this presumption has not previously been investigated. The impact which cognitive ageing may have on the underlying mechanisms of placement effects will be examined. The third issue to be addressed by this thesis is the role of ego depletion in product placement effects (see Chapter 4). The contribution of ego depletion to placement vulnerability will be assessed. In addition, we will consider a key debate in the ego depletion literature, of whether older adults are susceptible to resource depletion. The thesis will be concluded by the General Discussion (Chapter 5). This section evaluates key findings in relation to existing research. The contribution of the current research will be discussed in relation to the mechanisms of product placement, the effect of ageing on placement vulnerability and methodological considerations for future research. The observations from the thesis will be discussed in relation to theoretical models of memory, ageing and ego depletion. Finally, marketing implications based on the findings of the thesis are proposed. The thesis is presented in five chapters. Chapter 1 provides a literature review of research relevant to product placements. Chapter 2 presents the first paper of the thesis (Experiments 1 and 2), Are all measures equal? A comparison of product placement effects using stimulus based and text choice tasks, and an Appendix. The appendix reports additional analyses exploring order effects of implicit and explicit measures in product placement research. Though these analyses are relevant to the thesis they are beyond the scope of the main paper. Chapter 3 contains the second paper of the thesis (Experiments 3 and 4), The serendipitous decline of memory in aging: An age-related dissociation in the mechanisms of product placement influence, and an Appendix. The appendix reports additional analyses exploring age difference in the decision making process. Though these analyses are relevant to the thesis they are beyond the scope of the main paper. Chapter 4 presents the third paper of the thesis (Experiment 5), The serendipity of the decline of self-control in ageing. Are older adults less susceptible to ego depletion and product placement influence? and an Appendix. The appendix reports exploratory analyses which assess the extent to which COLT performance, time of day, fatigue and hunger mediate ego depletion effects. Though these analyses are relevant to the thesis they are beyond the focus of the main paper. Chapter 5 concludes the thesis with the General Discussion.

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Thesis (PhD)
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19 Mar 2018 10:18
Last Modified:
22 Nov 2023 01:01