Measuring Advertising: Values and Appeals

Values as a guideValues, according to Kahle, are “stable, slow-evolving, desirable end-states that play an important role in shaping behaviours”. Not surprising then that effectively measuring these is important for marketers, in order to better understand what drives certain behaviours (and how to respond to it, communicate relevant information etc). There are a number of value measure out there, ranging from just a few items to very many indeed, so here are three versions that may be particularly relevant for, and often used in marketing:
Kahle’s List of Values is a short instrument, which consists of 9 items: Sense of belonging, excitement, warm relationships with others, self-fulfillment, being well respected, fun and enjoyment in life, security, self-respect and a sense of accomplishment. These can be measured by scoring, for example from 1 to 9 in order of importance, selecting one/two/x top values or a combination of these.
A more classic list is the Rokeach Value Survey. In some parts it is pretty similar to Kahle’s – but while Kahle’s list focuses on desired “end-states”, Rokeach’s RVS also contains values that relate to modes of behaviour. The two categories of values are called “terminal” and “instrumental” by Rokeach and each category of values contains 18 items, making the RVS four times the size of Kahle, but, some people would argue a lot more robust (and definitely more widely used). The testing is usually done by ordering the values in order of importance for each category (i.e. terminal and instrumental). As the full list of 36 items is fairly large, some people have used some subsets rather then the complete list.
The terminal values are: comfortable life, equality, exciting life, family security, freedom, happiness, inner harmony, mature love, national security, pleasure, salvation, self-respect, sense of accomplishment, social recognition, true friendship, wisdom, world at peace, world of beauty.
The instrumental values are: ambition, broad-mindedness, capability, cheerfulness, cleanliness, courage, forgiveness, helpfulness, honesty, imagination, independence, intellect, logic, love, obedience, politeness, responsibility and self-control.
Both Rokeach and Kahle are useful for determining values held by the consumer – but don’t look at values which may be used in advertising or marketing communication (i.e. communicated from the “other side”). I tend to call the values displayed “appeals” to avoid confusion with personal values held by individuals – but many authors use either terms. Either way, Pollay (1983) proposed a set of 42 appeals (which he called values!) which are relevant to advertising. The list is somewhat different then the value lists simply because, in the words of Pollay, advertising is a “distorted mirror” (which is probably true for all of marketing communications). The appeals are: adventure, affiliation, casual, cheap, community, convenient, dear, distinctive, durable, effective, enjoyment, family, frail, freedom, healthy, humility, independence, magic, maturity, modern, modest, morality, natural, neat, nurturance, ornamental, plain, popular, productivity, relaxation, safety, security, sexuality, status, succorance, tamed, technological, traditional, untamed, vain, wisdom, youth.
This list has been successfully used complete or in parts across many cultures and in many studies looking at advertising content. However, some people have pointed out that “fear” is absent from the list – particularly relevant for social marketers maybe. The argument for the absence is that (at least for commercial advertising) fear is usually resolved into something positive – as it wouldn’t be in a commercial marketers interest to promote fear of their product. For example, while an advert for an insurance may include fear of illness it will then aim to present the product as a solution to alleviate the fear (and thus providing security).
Of course, this list of values/appeals is far from complete – but I think they are a useful starting point when looking at values/appeals. Pollay’s list may be particularly useful for content analysis of advertising, for example in order to find out dominant themes or for cross-cultural comparisons.

Have you used other scales? Have you used these scales? I’d love to hear how you got on! Please comment below!

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