A Multi-Country Examination of Hard-Sell and Soft-Sell Advertising: Comparing Global Consumer Positioning in Holistic- and Analytic-Thinking Cultures

Shintaro Okazaki

Universidad Autónoma de Madrid

Barbara Mueller

San Diego State University

Sandra Diehl

University of Klagenfurt

Management slant

  • Global consumer culture positioning (GCCP) associates a brand with a widely understood and recognized set of symbols believed to constitute emerging global consumer cultures.
  • Different ways of thinking (holistic versus analytical) may influence how consumers process advertisements grounded in different types of appeals.
  • The specific features of the soft-sell approach—subtlety, implication, and abstractness—make it more suitable than a hard-sell approach for a GCCP strategy.
  • A five-country comparison revealed that soft-sell appeals were more effective than hard-sell appeals, inducing less irritation and generating more favorable responses.
  • Soft-sell appeals are more favorably evaluated in holistic versus analytic countries, however this type of appeal is generally more effective than hard-sell appeals across all countries.
  • The proposed procedural framework should help researchers establish solid theoretical and methodological foundations for conducting multi-country advertising research.