Models in Marketing Communication

Models in Marketing Communication

Understanding how consumers think and make purchasing decisions is crucial for developing powerful communication strategies in marketing. Research and marketing have come up with various models to map a customer's journey and identify key influences along the way over the years. Here are some of the most important models to understand: 


The AIDA Model 

(Awareness, Interest, Desire, Action) model provides a simple outline of the cognitive phases a person experiences when making a purchase decision for a product or service. It represents the purchasing process as a funnel, where customers move back and forth between each stage to complete the sale. In today's social media era, the AIDA model accounts for the influence of customer communities and networks at each stage.

  1. Awareness: The first step is spreading awareness about your brand, product, or service offering. This lays the groundwork for capturing customer attention.   

  2. Interest: With awareness established, marketers need to pique interest by highlighting the key advantages and benefits that would motivate the customer to research further.

  3. Desire: Creating desire goes beyond just liking the product; it involves fostering an emotional connection and positioning that makes the customer crave ownership of the brand.

  4. Action: This stage prompts the customer to take action by including clear calls-to-action like signing up for a newsletter, downloading content, making a purchase, etc.

  5. Retention (sometimes added): Many marketers add a final "R" for retention to emphasize customer lifetime value through nurturing relationships for advocacy, upselling, referrals, and more.


The Hierarchy-of-Effects Model

 Robert J. Lavidge and Gary A. Steiner developed the hierarchy-of-effects model in the 1960s, which suggests that advertisers should lead consumers through six sequential stages before they reach a purchase decision. The underlying idea is that customers don't go straight from awareness to purchase; there are intermediate steps their minds go through.

  1. Awareness: First, companies need to ensure consumers know about their brand's existence in the product category.

  2. Knowledge: Customers will start evaluating and comparing your product's features against competing options.

  3. Liking: This is where customers start developing favorable or unfavorable feelings and attitudes based on the emotional/experiential benefits you highlight.

  4. Preference: The customer becomes convinced that your brand is the preferred choice among alternatives.

  5. Conviction: Any remaining doubts or hesitations are overcome through actual evidence and trials that seal the customer's conviction in your product.

  6. Purchase: Finally, the marketing efforts pipeline to motivating the desired purchase behavior.


The Innovation-Adoption Model

Everett Rogers created this model in 1995 that outlines the stages customers go through when introduced to and adopting a new product or innovation. It provides guidance on the types of marketing efforts needed to progress consumers to adoption.

  1. Awareness: The marketer's objective is to simply announce and make the target audience aware of the new product's existence and basic qualities.

  2. Interest: At this stage, the marketing communication should build interest by educating the audience on the product's unique capabilities or features that are distinct from alternatives.

  3. Evaluation: With interest spark, customers will start critically evaluating the innovation's value, costs, and benefits, and whether it's better than substitute solutions.

  4. Trial: Allowing customers to experience or sample the product first-hand through trials builds confidence and overcomes scepticism about adoption.

  5. Adoption: If the product delivers sufficient value through trials, customers will decide to fully adopt the innovation by incorporating it into their regular use.


The Information Processing Model

Drawn from cognitive psychology, the Information Processing Model provides a framework for understanding the series of mental stages a consumer goes through when making decisions. It draws an analogy between human information processing and how a computer processes inputs, memory storage, and outputs.

  1. Presentation: The initial stage where the consumer becomes aware of a need or potential want that a product may satisfy.

  2. Attention: For a product to have a chance, it first needs to capture the consumer's attention amidst all the other competing marketing messages and inputs.

  3. Comprehension: With attention secured, the consumer will start evaluating and comprehending the various available product options and brand choices that could fulfil their need.

  4. Yielding: This is the stage where the consumer starts prioritizing and forming preferences, effectively narrowing down to the product that yields the best alignment with their particular needs.

  5. Retention: The consumer retains knowledge about the product's key features, advantages, and overall positive associations that will influence their decision.

  6. Behavior: Finally, the consumer's retained information, comprehension, and preferences will manifest in an observable behavior—ideally, the purchase of the product the marketing efforts were targeting.


The FCB Grid

The FCB (Foote, Cone, and Belding) grid model, introduced in 1980, offers a way for marketers to interpret consumer behavior patterns and plan effective advertising strategies accordingly. It focuses on two key dimensions: whether the product purchase is motivated more by thinking or feeling, and whether it's a high- or low-involvement decision for the consumer.

  1. Informative (Quadrant 1): This category includes expensive, high-involvement products that require extensive research and logic from the consumer (e.g., cars, homes, education). The mental sequence is: learn -> feel -> do.

  2. Affective (Quadrant 2): These are products that are high-involvement but have stronger emotional/experiential influences on the purchase (e.g., vacations, jewellery, entertainment). The sequence is: feel -> learn -> do.

  3. Habitual (Quadrant 3): Low-involvement functional products like food and household supplies exhibit habitual purchasing patterns with minimal thought given. Consumers do, learn, and feel.

  4. Satisfaction (Quadrant 4): For low-involvement products with some emotional influences, like candy or magazines, the consumer purchases by feeling, doing, and learning.


The Cognitive Response Model

The cognitive response model suggests that marketing communication ultimately relies on a consumer's own patterns of thought and self-talk, despite the fact that other models focus on the message content. The premise is that we tend to remember our cognitive responses (thoughts, evaluations) about a message better than the message itself over time.

In 1968, Anthony Greenwald pioneered this model, which highlights that understanding this view requires examining the mental thought processes and reactions that marketing stimuli trigger within individuals. Their personal cognitive responses shape whether communication ultimately yields persuasion or a lasting impact.

These foundational models from consumer psychology, advertising theory, and marketing research provide important frameworks for mapping the customer's decision journey. By understanding the underpinnings of each model, marketers can craft communication strategies and content plans that resonate with their audiences at the right stages for driving awareness, persuasion, and, ultimately, purchase behavior.



What are the models used for marketing communication? 

Models are used in various marketing materials like advertisements, product packaging, websites, brochures, etc. to promote products and services in an attractive and appealing way. Visuals with models help grab attention, build brand imagery, and influence consumer perceptions.

How are models selected for marketing campaigns? 

Factors like looks, age, ethnicity, physique, and persona of the model are considered to create the right brand appeal and resonate with the target consumers. Professional modeling agencies are often used.

What roles do models play in ads? 

Models act as the face and body ambassadors of brands, embodying the aspirational lifestyles and personas that consumers desire. They lend credibility and likeability to product pitches.

Are there ethical concerns about using models? 

Yes, issues like objectification, unrealistic body standards, a lack of diversity, etc. have been criticized. There are efforts towards using more inclusive, realistic, and empowering models.

How important are models in marketing?

 While not the only factor, visuals with impactful models remain crucial for standing out, storytelling, and influencing consumers across industries from fashion to automobiles.


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