The multiattribute model is a useful guide for devising strategies to change consumers’ attitudes. Basically a marketer has four possible attitude-change strategies: (1) add a new salient belief about the attitude object—ideally, one with a positive e i , (2) increase the strength of an existing positive belief, (3) improve the evaluation of a strongly held belief, or (4) make an existing favorable belief more salient.
Adding a new salient belief to the existing beliefs that consumers have about a product or brand is probably the most common attitude-change strategy. Consumer Insight 6.3 describes such a strategy in an antismoking campaign. Sometimes this strategy requires a physical change in the product. For instance, crunchy is an attribute now added to many food products. Consider Honey Crunch Corn Flakes from Kellogg, French Toast Crunch from General Mills, and Cranberry Almond Crunch from Post. Candy is getting crunchier too—Reese’s Crunchy Cookie Cups from Hershey and Nestlé’s White Crunch. Even smooth Yoplait Yogurt (by General Mills) has a Crunchy Lite line containing nuts. People in general have positive attitudes toward “crunchy” and “crispy,” which seem to be linked to feelings of freshness, fun, and stress relief. As one customer put it, “I don’t know if it is the sound or what, but crunchy foods are satisfying.”
Marketers can also try to change attitudes by changing the strength of already salient beliefs. They can attempt to increase the strength of beliefs about positive attributes and consequences, or they can decrease the strength of beliefs about negative attributes and consequences. For years Papa John’s pizza ( www.papajohns.com ) has outperformed the fast-food industry. Yet Papa John’s costs a bit more than Little Caesar’s, arrives no faster than Dominos, does not sell salads or sandwiches, and does not offer sit-down service. 35 Instead, Papa John’s focuses on taste, as indicated by its corporate slogan, “Better ingredients, better pizza.” It makes its own dough with purified water and its own sauce from fresh tomatoes, and uses only premium mozzarella cheese. Papa John’s works hard to create strong consumer beliefs that its pizza tastes better, and apparently many consumers do believe. Many publications in markets around the country have rated Papa John’s as the best-tasting pizza.
Marketers can also try to change consumers’ attitudes by changing the evaluative aspect of an existing, strongly held belief about a salient attribute. This requires constructing a new means–end chain by linking a more positive, higher-ordered consequence to that attribute. Cereal manufacturers such as Kellogg once tried to enhance consumers’ attitudes by linking the food attribute of fiber to cancer prevention.
Consider how evaluations of beliefs about food attributes have changed (in the United States, at least) as their means–end meanings have evolved. Attributes such as butterfat and egg yolks once were evaluated highly because they gave foods a rich, satisfying taste. But in the 1990s they became negative attributes, whereas attributes such as low fats, once seen as rather undesirable, became more highly valued. For instance, Sealtest tried to link nonfat characteristics of “Sealtest Free” ice cream to important values such as health and fitness. Likewise, Kraft tried to link the key attributes of its fat-free line of salad dressings and mayonnaise (egg whites, skim milk, cellulose gel, and various gums) to important health consequences and values (lower risk of heart disease and longer life).
The final strategy for changing consumers’ attitudes is to make an existing favorable belief more salient, usually by convincing consumers that the attribute is more self-relevant than it seemed. This strategy is similar to the previous one in that it attempts to link the attribute to valued consequences and values. Creating such means–end chains increases the salience of consumers’ beliefs about the attributes as well as the evaluations (ei) of those beliefs. For example, the marketing strategies of sun care lotion manufacturers such as Hawaiian Tropic emphasized the perceived risks of not using their lotions, which had a sunscreen attribute. By linking the sunscreen attribute to important ends such as avoiding skin cancer and premature wrinkling, they sought to make the sunscreen attribute more salient (more self-relevant) for consumers. Such means–end chains should make sunscreen beliefs more likely to be activated and considered during decision making.
Attitudes toward Behavior
Consumers’ attitudes have been studied intensively, but marketers tend to be more concerned about consumers’ overt behavior, especially their purchase behavior. Thus, it is not surprising that a great deal of research has tried to establish the relationship between attitudes and behavior. Based on the idea of consistency, you might expect attitudes toward an object (AO) to be strongly related to behaviors toward the object. For instance, most market researchers believe, and operate under the assumption, that the more favorable a person’s attitude toward a given product (or brand), the more likely the person is to buy or use that product (or brand).
Thus, a marketing researcher might measure consumers’ attitudes toward Pizza Hut and use the results to predict whether each person will purchase a pizza at Pizza Hut within the next month. If this approach seems reasonable, you may be surprised to learn that consumers’ attitudes toward an object often are not good predictors of their specific behaviors regarding that object. In fact, with a few notable exceptions, most research has found rather weak relationships between AO and specific single behaviors.
Exhibit 6.5 illustrates one problem with relating AO to individual behaviors. The exhibit presents the relationships among a consumer’s beliefs, attitude, and behaviors concerning a particular object: Pizza Hut. First, note that Judy, our consumer, has a single overall attitude toward Pizza Hut (in her case, a favorable AO), which is based on her salient beliefs about Pizza Hut. For instance, she might go to Pizza Hut on Friday night and order a pizza, ignore a Pizza Hut ad on television, use a Pizza Hut coupon for a free soft drink, or recommend Pizza Hut to her boss. However, none of these specific behaviors is necessarily consistent with or even strongly related to her overall AO , although some of them might be.
This does not mean consumers’ attitudes are irrelevant to their behaviors. As shown in Exhibit 6.5 , Judy’s overall attitude ( AO) is related to the overall evaluative pattern of her behaviors (all of her behaviors regarding Pizza Hut taken together). However, it is not possible to predict with accuracy any specific behavior based on knowing a person’s overall attitude toward the object of the behavior.
Although this proposition may seem strange, there are many examples of its validity. Consider that many consumers probably have positive attitudes toward Porsche cars, Rolex watches, and vacation homes, but most do not buy these products. Because favorable attitudes toward these products can be expressed in many different behaviors, it is difficult to predict which specific behavior will be performed. Consider three consumers who have generally favorable attitudes toward Porsches but do not own one. One consumer reads ads and test reports about Porsches. The second consumer goes to showrooms to look at Porsches. The third consumer just daydreams about owning a Porsche. In sum, having a generally favorable (or unfavorable) attitude toward a product does not mean the consumer will perform every possible favorable (or unfavorable) behavior regarding that product. Marketers need a model that identifies the attitudinal factors that influence specific behaviors. Such a model is provided by Fishbein’s theory of reasoned action.
Consumer Insight 6.3
Changing Teenagers’ Attitudes toward Smoking
In recent years, many attempts have been made to convince teens of the dangers of smoking. One of the highest-profile efforts has been The Truth campaign from the American Legacy Association. You can see The Truth’s approach firsthand at its Web site, www.TheTruth.com.
The Truth targets teens aged 12–17, because most adult smokers have their first cigarette experience before the age of 18. The Truth’s ad campaigns are marketed to the “edgier” teens—those who are more willing to take risks and take up smoking. The ads themselves have a more raw, independent feel in an attempt to resonate with these teens.
The Truth’s edgy and brutally direct ads have created controversy and attracted national attention. For example, a TV spot featured an angry tobacco company executive ushering a young woman out of an office building while she loudly chastises him for his company’s misleading marketing tactics. A magazine ad pictured a hand with bandaged fingers and asked readers to “Rip out the next cigarette ad you see because tobacco killed about 430,000 people last year and paper cuts didn’t kill anybody” (interestingly, that ad ran in Spin magazine, which also accepts advertising dollars from tobacco companies). The Truth also has taken its campaign to the streets, filling part of an empty lot in Washington, DC, with 1,200 body bags, representing the number of people who die each day from tobacco-related illnesses. The Truth itself has become a cool “brand” among teens. During a summer-long promotional campaign in 2000, The Truth representatives gave away 150,000 baseball caps and T-shirts.
The ads are funded in part by money paid by tobacco companies as part of a 1998 agreement between the tobacco industry and 46 states. One stipulation of the agreement was that the ads should not “vilify” the tobacco companies. The definition of vilify was left open to interpretation. Does an ad that shows the Philip Morris headquarters in New York surrounded by body bags qualify as vilification? The tobacco industry has had little to say on the issue, although a Philip Morris spokesperson claims, “We’re disappointed with some of the ads and the tone of the website. We don’t think they accurately depict our company, our employees, and the way we do business.” However, Mitch Zeller, executive vice president of the American Legacy Foundation, contends an in-your-face approach is the best way to reach teens: “Teenagers have a sense of immortality. They think the dangers don’t apply to them. The body bags are designed to break through that kind of mindset.”
Although some find The Truth ad campaigns are vilifying the tobacco industry, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 21.9 percent of high school students reported smoking in 2005, down from 36.4 percent in 1997. The American Legacy Foundation, which funds The Truth, started running ads in 2000. Are antismoking campaigns the reason for this?