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Before and After Effects of Fast-Food Advertisements in the Perspectives of Consumers/Consumption Behavior

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Submitted to: Ma’am Anacoreta P. Arciaga
Submitted by: Clarissa Bianca S. Osorio
Research Title/Topic: Before and After Effects of Fast-Food advertisements in the perspectives of consumers/consumption behavior

Food advertisements of different fast-food chains have always exerted massive amount of efforts to make their “ads” appealing and effective to the mass. From commercials, to billboards, to newspapers and etc., their advertisements caught the attention of consumers and it definitely paved way to make their sales at its peak. The problem is, sometimes, types of advertisements such as glittering generality, bandwagon and the like lead to giving false hopes to people for the sake of money. It even has come to a point where these companies prioritize “quantity over quality” that even the said advertisements lead to deception.
The emerging world of advertising is inevitable and definitely uncontrollable. We, as consumers have been left with deciding whether to trust or to believe what the advertisements tell us. The effects of these food advertisements could trigger either positively or negatively in our lives. We become molded of these advertisements until they finally influence our lifestyle. We kept on being amazed and driven to purchase these products without knowing what it will affect us. This research will be beneficial especially to people who are fond of eating at fast-food chains. This research will identify how much our sensory and cognitive perception is affected by these food advertisements as well as its effect on our health. This research aims to know which side affects us in food ads more: positively or negatively, or whether it affects us at all.
This study will help consumers identify the coined term “multi-sensory advertisements” and how efficient these advertisements are. Being influenced by capitalism in which everyone depends solely on profits, multi-national food companies certainly have their unique and effective way of persuading people to consume their proposed products. This study will identify whether the consumers find it effective or not, or whether they are affected at all. This study will also notify consumers of the effects of food advertising to their perception based on physical, emotional and intellectual aspects, in terms of how food is advertised.
This study will also analyze and further study and conduct experiments as to how much of the consumption behavior is influenced by the food advertisements, as well as how these ads affect the behavior at all. Primarily, the study will also emphasize taste perception, and taste in general, meaning it involves the five senses. This study will try to further clarify how taste perception is affected by the food advertisements, which includes the pre-purchase, upon purchase, and the consumption experience of consumers, and find out whether it affects all these elements or just a portion of it.
Research questions/ Hypotheses
1. How much do food advertisements affect consumer behavior?
2. What makes a consumer loyal to a certain fast-food chain?
3. Do food advertisements change a consumer’s lifestyle/ eating habits?
4. What makes food advertisements effective?
5. Do food advertisements affect us more positively or more negatively?

Literature reviews/Hypotheses
Social-cognitive theories suggest a subtle and potentially far-reaching effect of food advertising on eating behaviors that may occur outside of participants’ intention or awareness (i.e., unconsciously; see Bargh & Morsella, 2008). These influences used mediums such as TV commercials, print ads, billboards, and internet. Consumption behaviors can also be activated through automatic processes. External cues, not related to the sensory qualities of food, (e.g., container size and shape, food variety, and portion size) affect amount consumed without the consumer’s knowledge (Wansink, 2006). The behavior of other people is another important external behavioral cue, and people automatically mimic others’ eating behaviors, including food choice and amount of food consumed, without realizing they are doing so (Johnston, 2002; Tanner, Ferraro, Chartrand, Bettman & van Baaren, in press). The unconscious nature of these influences is further established by studies in which primes of thirst-related words or smiling faces, presented subliminally, outside of the participant’s conscious awareness, increased beverage consumption among thirsty individuals (Strahan, Spencer & Zanna, 2002; Winkielman, Berridge, & Wilbarger, 2005).
Several studies have also suggested that food advertisements are of great influence to consumers whatever the circumstances are. Research confirms that external cues have a significant influence on food consumption behaviors. Exposure to the sensory properties of palatable food increased subjective desire and consumption, even though participants were already fully sated (Cornell, Rodin & Weingarten, 1989). Moreover, food advertising typically focuses on the immediate sensory gratifications of consumption (i.e., the ‘hot’, appetitive features), making resistance to these messages even more difficult (i.e., the ‘cold’, rational process of self-restraint; Loewenstein, 1996; Metcalfe & Mischel, 1999). In light of these findings, Lowe and Butryn (2007) proposed that palatable food stimuli can trigger hedonic hunger, or “thoughts, feelings and urges about food in the absence of energy deficits”. The “multisensory ads”, which involves the five senses, lead to more positive sensory thoughts during a consumption experience and ultimately result in higher evaluated taste of the products. Furthermore, the studies show that advertising can have a significant impact not only on pre-purchase attitudes and purchase intentions, but also on the consumption experience itself. (Elder, 2011) Some of the food advertising strategies that most of the fast-food chains use are images of models or celebrities eating, an image of a very appetizing meal offered by a certain fast food chain, snacking at non-meal times, and positive emotions linked to food consumption. Basically, these advertisements lead to obesity, that being said of course due to advertising as a prime and according to some studies; most of these advertisements are from food companies that offer clearly, unhealthy food. The studies or researches mentioned above goes to show how powerful food advertising is in influencing consumers.
However, the literature reviews should consider certain factors. Not all food advertisements that are effective will yield to consumers knowing the brand or the fast-food chain being advertised. Sometimes, too much advertising leads to consumers liking the advertisements but not the “brand” being advertised. Therefore, this factor proves that consumers still have their own perspective and are not merely influenced by food ads. In addition, factors such as peer pressure, non-availability of other restaurants to eat, and/or the said restaurant just being a sentimental part of its life may be corresponding to the fact that advertisements have nothing to do with where consumers want or prefer to eat.
With that being said, some of the studies mentioned also need to have further research on the behavior of consumers with the advertisements they see. The literature reviews also emphasize the need to extend food advertising research that are most applicable to children, especially because it was mentioned about how unconsciously, people tend to do things they see on advertisements and people around them. Finally, most research has examined advertising for unhealthy food. As a result, we know very little about how advertising for more nutritious food affects eating behaviors. The present research addresses these gaps in our knowledge and conducts several experiments and observations to further conclude a more concrete result.
The research design in data gathering will be done through a survey to at most 20 respondents, regardless of their gender, ages 17-20 years old in DLSU-D containing a series of questions to justify and clarify the research itself. The content of the survey will be basically about whether students are really affected with food advertisements in terms of how they perceive different products and or their way of patronizing a certain food establishment. A variety of fast-food chains will also be stated and reasons why a consumer prefers to eat at the chosen fast-food chain. It will also try to identify whether the effect of deception based on how food in the advertisements are and how the food really is gravely affects them in their consumption behavior. In addition, the effects of these foods with their health will also be taken into consideration. It won’t be the main focus but it will be given much thought how much the consumers are aware of the food they eat. If the results conclude that food advertisements do not affect their consumption behavior, the research aims to identify the real causes and effects based from the data gathered. The data gathered from the survey will be further analyzed. The questionnaire will contain a majority of close-ended questions and some open-ended questions to know the perspectives of respondents regarding the topic. Scientific methods will also be applied. Observation in the consumers, preferably adults or teenagers eating at fast-food chains and gather data by asking them what made them choose to eat at the said establishment. Quantitative research will mostly be applied since results will be based on statistics but qualitative research is also observed since consumer preferences and habits/behaviors will also be considered. After a series of observations and experiments, comparative study with the previous related studies will be discussed and compare or contrast regarding the result of the research study.

Results Figure 1.1
The survey conducted comprised of 22 participants of which 16 are females and 6 are males. The figure shows that majority of the participants, 73% of them get persuaded by food they see on how it was advertised while 27% say that they don’t get persuaded, or the before effect of food advertisements to consumer’s perspectives, meaning the consumption behavior gets affected based on the food advertisements.

Figure 2.2
In correlation with the question and figure 1.1, this figure shows the after effect of food advertisements to consumption behavior. Based on the chart, 86% of the participants are affected when the ads and the food itself are not exactly alike while only 13% claimed that they aren’t affected at all.The results conclude that the credibility of the advertisements matter or affect the consumers.

Figure 3.3
As it was stated earlier, there were 22 participants in the survey conducted. In this figure, participants were given the capacity to have multiple answers as regards to their preferred place or fast-food chain to eat. Majority of the participants, 11 of them, chose McDonald’s, next to it is KFC, with 9 participants, and third is Jollibee with 8 of them, Greenwich with 4 and Chowking with 1 of the participants. 1 participant also chose others, with Mang Inasal as his chosen food establishment.

Figure 4.4
In connection with the previous question and figure 3.3, figure 4.4 depicts the reasons why the consumers prefer to eat at their chosen food establishment. Majority of the participants with a percentage of 86.36% choose the reason “because it’s delicious”, while the rest of the reasons all had an equal response to the participants with the percentage of 9.09%. The participants were given the chance to have 1 or 2 answers.

Figure 5.5
In this figure, participants were assessed as to how much they get affected with how a food is advertised in a fast-food chain. Majority, about 45% of the participants claim that they aren’t affected with these ads as long as the food itself is delicious while about 27% are greatly affected with ads. Furthermore, about 22% of the participants do not really care about the advertisements and 4% with others, who said that both the ads should be effective and the food delicious. Discussion The results from figures 1.1 and 2.2 suggest that consumers are affected prior to their consumption period. Majority of them clearly analyze the advertisements before they actually consume or patronize a certain product or food offered in the fast-food chain. In figure 1.1, about 73% of the participants aforementioned that they were in fact persuaded on consuming the product based on how the food was advertised, while only 27% said they weren’t persuaded at all. Previous studies, therefore, supports this result. For food ads, multisensory ads lead to more positive sensory thoughts during a consumption experience and ultimately result in higher evaluated taste of the products (Elder, 2011). The ad can explicitly mention the niceties of all five senses. However, even if it does not—for instance, if we consider just an ad slogan like “taste is all 5 senses”—the mere fact that the ad is mentioning all five senses is suggestive that the food rates high on all five senses; therefore the ad should direct thoughts for all sensory modalities to be positive. Specifically, “whereas mental imagery typically results from deliberate attempts to construct conscious representations in working memory, other forms of simulation often appear to become active automatically and unconsciously outside working memory (Barsalou 2008, 619).” In other words, the pre-purchase and the purchase effect of these ads are stored in the memory of consumers, which result to why they are persuaded with how ads are presented. In addition, the multi-sensory ads are proven to be effective. A few studies have also examined effects of food advertising on actual eating behaviors, usually assessed by food choices following exposure to advertising .We propose that the messages presented in television food advertising similarly have the power to act as real-world primes and lead to corresponding eating behaviors. Given the types of foods and consumption benefits typically promoted in food advertising, what is primed is usually snacking on unhealthy foods and beverages (Harrison & Marske, 2005; Powell, Szczpka, Chaloupka & Braunschweig, 2007). Commercials of big food establishments like McDonald’s and Jollibee consider these ads and are interconnected with how they are able to persuade consumers. They make use of multiple sensory ads by describing appealing adjectives with a particular food, as well as making a celebrity eat that food and convey to the mass how delicious the food is, as well as portraying how good it smells and how good it tastes. In figure 3.3, the participants were asked to choose their preferred food establishments and majority picked McDonald’s. As it was stated earlier, McDonald’s is only one of the food establishments known to have effective advertisements. Food advertising is big business. McDonald’s spent $1.14 billion (Advertising Age Data Center). However, their ads definitely had an impact with how much this said establishment paved way to its success, so what they spent allotted for ads are given a double or even quadruple amount of profit. Same is true with other food establishments mentioned like Jollibee, KFC, Greenwich and Chowking. Some of their many effective ad strategies include jingles, promos, and the like. On the contrary, the result in figure 4.4 may not have been in terms of how it was advertised. The participants were given a variety of choices as to how they assessed their preferred fast-food chain. The choices were: Because of their effective advertisements, because of its popularity, because it’s delicious and others. As a result, majority of the participants, about 86% said that their reason for patronizing a certain food establishment is because it is merely delicious. Therefore it concludes that initial reaction on food advertisement affects consumption behavior, but very few people are still affected with the ads after they consume or tried the food for themselves. In other words, they only consider standards in advertisements in pre-purchase of food, and when they get to taste and appreciate the food and found it to be good and delicious, they disregard or they do not take much attention to how it was advertised since they already have an empirical evidence to support the advertisement they have just encountered. This is expected since the ad is for food after all. In some research, they suggest how and why multisensory advertising for food ads can enhance taste perceptions. In this article we conclude whether ads and behavior are physiologically closely tied to taste that mentioning them will make no difference, and whether an ad in general can impact taste perceptions. In previous studies, they suggest that food advertisements do not really target taste perception. “While food advertising is typically used to spark interest in the food or an intention to buy it, it is not usually used for affecting taste perception. Further, if the ad does affect taste, then we are also suggesting that taste is affected by cognition and is not automatically incorporated into perceptions. Besides looking at the effect of ads on taste perception, we additionally explore what happens to consumers’ thoughts about the food (how they change) when the ad is changed. We also examine if these thoughts drive the change in taste perception.”(Elder,2011) Lastly, figure 5.5 speaks of how much does food ads affect the way a consumer patronize a particular fast-food chain. As a result, the participants rather had given their insight that it doesn’t really affect these ads as long as the food is delicious. What falls in second of the majority is that it greatly affects the consumer’s basis on where they should eat, while the rest said that they don’t care whether the ads are effective or not. Therefore the results conclude that taste perception lies solely or independently with the consumption behavior or experience of a consumer. As it was stated earlier, pre-purchase or prior consumption behavior is definitely affected with the manner of the effectiveness of food advertisements. However, as the consumer experience the product, several factors are considered. According to some studies, there are extrinsic or outer cues to consider why consumers prefer to eat at that particular food establishment. When we think of taste perception, we immediately think of sensations on the tongue. However, despite our seemingly constant exposure to food, we have remarkable difficulty in discerning one taste from another with just our taste buds. Until recently, our taste buds were known to detect only sweet, sour, salty, and bitter tastes. A new taste, umami, discovered in 1909 (Ikeda 2002), only recently received neurophysiological support for its existence as a distinct taste receptor (Chaudhari, Landin, and Roper 2000). Unfortunately, even with the addition of this fifth taste, it is still difficult to accurately judge the complex sensation of taste. However, taste is not physiologically comprised of sensations from taste buds only, but also relies heavily on input from the other senses.
Imagine eating a fried chicken at your favorite restaurant. It is impossible to simply focus on the sensations of your tongue. Don’t the mouth-watering smell of the butter/ garlic, the feel of the fried chicken in your hands and mouth, the fried chicken’s warmth or hot texture, the way it sounds when you chew it, as well as its visual appearance, all lead to an overall multisensory taste experience? The fact that every sense has some role in generating taste has, in fact, recently received neurophysiologic support (Rolls 2005; Small and Jones-Gotman 2001). Sometimes it is questionable which process is working. Also, both processes may operate simultaneously and interact with one another. One instance where top-down processes have a large impact on perceptions is with ambiguous or suggestible experiences (Hoch and Ha 1986). Within the present context, the ambiguity of a taste experience would then lead to more susceptibility to, and increased utilization of external influences in forming overall taste perceptions. Therefore, it leads to a conclusion that food advertisements are of profound influence and has a massive effect on the consumer or the consumption behavior. However, as the result of the survey suggests and concludes, the prior consumption behavior is dependent of the food advertisements while the consumption experience lies exclusively on its taste perception in general, and just a minimal effect on food advertisements. Taste perception, as an extrinsic cue or factor to consumption, is interconnected with food advertisements and is merely influenced by it. To sum it all up, deception is still widely accepted in the society but consumers, as time goes by, have become more practical and wise, as well as consider their own cognitive thinking as well as their satisfaction in deciding which of the food establishment they prefer to squander their money with.
Chaudhari, Nirupa, Ana Marie Landin, and Stephen D. Roper (2000), “A Metabotropic Glutamate Receptor Variant Functions as a Taste Receptor,” Nature Neuroscience, 3 (2)
Cornell CE, Rodin J, Wingarten H. Stimulus-induced eating when satiated. Physiology and Behavior.1989;45:695–704.
Elder, Ryan S. (2011), “Cognition and sensory perception: the effects of advertising and mental simulation on the perceptual consumption experience”, Michigan, the University of Michigan.
Harris, Jennifer L, Bargh, and Brownell, Kelly D. (2003), “Priming Effects of Television Food Advertising on Eating Behavior”
Loewenstein G. Out of control: Visceral influences on behavior. Organizational and Human Decision Processes. 1996;65:272–292.
Lowe MR, Butryn ML. Hedonic hunger: A new dimension of appetite. Physiology and Behavior.2007;91:432–439.
Rolls, Edmund T. (2005), “Taste, Olfactory, and Food Texture Processing in the Brain and the Control of Food Intake,” Physiology and Behavior, 85 (May)
Wansink B. (2006) Mindless eating: Why we eat more than we think. New York: Bantam Books…...

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