Hierarchy-of-Effects Model

Among advertising theories, the hierarchy-of-effects model is predominant. It shows clear steps of how advertising works.Hierarchy of effects Model can be explained with the help of a pyramid. First the lower level objectives such as awareness, knowledge or comprehension are accomplished.

Subsequent objectives may focus on moving prospects to higher levels in the pyramid to elicit desired behavioral responses such as associating feelings with the brand, trial, or regular use etc. it is easier to accomplish ad objectives located at the base of the pyramid than the ones towards the top. The percentage of prospective customers will decline as they move up the pyramid towards more action oriented objectives, such as regular brand use.


If most of the target audience is unaware of the object, the communicator’s task is to build awareness, perhaps just name recognition, with simple messages repeating the product name. Consumers must become aware of the brand. This isn’t as straightforward as it seems. Capturing someone’s attention doesn’t mean they will notice the brand name. Thus, the brand name needs to be made focal to get consumers to become aware. Magazines are full of ads that will capture your attention, but you’ll have trouble easily seeing the brand name.


The target audience might have product awareness but not know much more; hence this stage involves creating brand knowledge. This is where comprehension of the brand name and what it stands for become important. What are the brand’s specific appeals, its benefits? In what way is it different than competitor’s brands? Who is the target market? These are the types of questions that must be answered if consumers are to achieve the step of brand knowledge.


If target members know the product, how do they feel about it?  If the audience looks unfavourably towards the product to communicator has to find out why.  If the unfavorable view is based on real problems, a communication campaigns alone cannot do the job.  For product problem it is necessary to first fix the problem and only then can you communicate its renewed quality.


The target audience might like the product but not prefer it to others.  In this case, the communicator must try to build consumer preference by promoting quality, value, performance and other features.  The communicator can check the campaigns success by measuring audience preference before and after the campaign.


A target audience might prefer a particular product but not develop a conviction about buying it.  The communicator’s job is to build conviction among the target audience.


Finally, some members of the target audience might have conviction but not quite get around to making the purchase.  They may wait for more information or plan to act later.  The communicator must need these consumers to take the final step, perhaps by offering the product at a low price, offering a premium, or letting consumers tried out. This is where consumers make a move to actually search out information or purchase.

Thus advertising is thought to work and follow a certain sequence whereby the prospect is moved through a series of stages in succession from unawareness to the purchase of the product.

Advertising cannot induce immediate behavioural response, rather a series of mental effects must occur with the fulfillment at each stage before progress to the next stage is possible.

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