Top Five Appeals That Advertisers Use to Sell a Product
Commercial, print and online ads use some form of appeal to reach potential customers. Advertisers use appeal to influence a customer to purchase a product or support a cause. Appeals speak to an individual’s need, wants or interest and entice him to take the desired action.
The most common advertising appeals include use of fear, humor, rational, sex or bandwagon propaganda.
Fear as a Motivator
Fear appeals focus on the negative outcomes that can happen because of an action or inaction. Advertisers use fear appeals to promote an immediate behavior change such as eating healthier or not smoking. Another fear tactic involves isolation. People will purchase a product to avoid isolation from others because of bad hygiene. Deodorant and toothpaste ads often employ this tactic.
Government agencies appeal to an individual’s fear of death or incarceration to prevent drinking and driving. Fear appeals work when the recommended action is specific, effective and plausible. For example, ads geared toward smokers can be ineffective if the person does not believe quitting is within reach.
Humor Creates Emotional Connections
Humor appeals make consumers laugh and create an emotional link with the product. A well-executed humor appeal enhances recollection, evaluation and the intent to purchase the product. Advertisers link the product with the humor. For example, a humorous insurance ad hits the mark when the humor shows the consumer why having insurance is beneficial.
Using humor at the expense of one group may lead to resentment. Senior citizens may resent a product that portrays them as grumpy, while women may refuse to purchase a product that portrays them as overbearing. Humorous ads work best with established and commonly purchased products such as cellphones, fast food and alcoholic beverages.
Rational Appeals to the Practical Side
Rational or logical appeals focus on the consumer’s need for practicality and functionality in a product. Advertisers relay this message by focusing on product features and cost. These ads tell consumers the benefits associated with the purchase of a product. The advertiser then provides proof to back up the claims.
An automobile advertisement focuses on gas efficiency, mileage and prices to reach consumers who want a cost-efficient, reliable vehicle. Household appliance manufacturers may place emphasis on features that lower home utility costs and protect the environment. Printed and business-to-business advertisements are better suited for rational appeals.
Sex and Sensuality Sell
Sex appeals capture attention, but seldom promote product consumption. Effective sex appeal ads convey a specific message to the target demographic group. Beer advertisers often use sex appeal to promote their product to men. The typical scene involves several young, average-looking men in a bar. The men purchase the beer and gain the attention of an attractive young woman.
Fragrance products use sex appeal to convey romance to women by indicating the use of the product will help her find the man of her dreams. Generally done by showing the woman spraying the fragrance and then capturing the attention of an attractive male who passes her on the street. Overly overt images subtract from the overall message the advertiser wants to convey.
Fear of Missing Out
A bandwagon appeal makes consumers believe they are missing out by addressing the consumer’s need to belong. Food and drink ads show hip young adults enjoying a product and ignoring the individual who chooses the less popular product. Medical products show consensus by indicating the number of medical professionals who support the product. For example, a cold medicine ad may say, “Eight out of 10 doctors recommend this product” to show product effectiveness.
Automobile dealers and cellphone providers give sales and user statistics to indicate why their product is the more preferred. This type of message says buy this product because everyone does. If done correctly, the consumer will purchase the product. Bandwagon appeals can backfire in that the consumer’s desire to fit in can conflict with the ability to make a rational decision.