NEW YORK: A new paper in the Journal of Advertising Research (JAR) suggests that online ads can help brands convey a sense of “warmth”, while traditional media can encourage perceptions of “competence”.

In How Consumers in China Perceive Brands In Online and Offline Encounters: A Framework For Brand Perception, authors Terri H. Chan and Rocky Peng Chen (Hong Kong Baptist University) and Caleb H. Tse (Sungkyunkwan University in Seoul) propose: “Because most companies are resource challenged, a change in media portfolios often implies a need to reduce a company’s offline media spending.”

Their study covered 194 leading consumer brands across 23 product categories in China. These offerings included service brands (insurance, banking, airlines), utilitarian products (home appliances, daily necessities), and hedonic products (confectionery, drinks).

“The broad range of brand categories and well-known brand choices ensured greater generalizability of the results,” the authors wrote.

Additional data support came from GroupM, the largest media buyer in China, and Millward Brown, which provided learnings drawn from a large online panel (400,000 consumers).

“The research confirms that multiplatform advertising strategies exert salient effects on brand-perception dimensions, which, in turn, affect purchase intention,” the authors reported.

In fact, they continued, “The findings also reveal two routes to improving purchase intent: by enhancing a brand’s perceived warmth, and by enhancing its perceived competence.

“When consumers associate a brand with higher competence, they likely will perceive the brand as more reliable in its claims. A warm brand gives consumers the impression of being sincere, modest, and helpful.

“The effects of these two brand-perception dimensions are traceable to the platforms on which the advertisements appear, an important discovery as brands continually strive to differentiate themselves.”

More specifically, the scholars learned, online advertising helps brands project an image of warmth and friendliness.

When consumers associate a brand with higher competence, they continued, these shoppers likely will perceive the brand as more reliable in its claims.

And offline media carry a one-way, authoritative image that encourages consumers to perceive brands as more competent.

Sourced from WARC