||New brands often wish to achieve quick brand exposure and provide consumers detailed product information through comparative advertising. Due to the strict regulations of the fair trade laws in Taiwan, when advertisers adopt comparative advertising, they sometimes avoid comparing relative strengths and weaknesses with the rival products in a direct way of confrontation; instead, a fair and objective market average value will be used as a comparison object. In the first part of this study, it explores when the objective market average value has been adopted as a comparison object, or showed in the advertisements with rival products simultaneously, whether it can effectively enhance the objectivity and credibility of the information, value of reference, and advertising effectiveness. This study also discusses the moderating effects of individual regulatory focus. In addition, when considering the increase of comparison objects, the number of comparison objects and the gap between different objects may affect the reference value of comparison objects based on anchoring theory. Therefore, the study also discusses the impact of the number of comparison objects and the gap between objects’ performances on advertising effectiveness.|
In addition to the comparisons with numbers, texts are also a common way used to compare the pros and cons between different products in practices. Rephrasing the texts often result in the effectiveness of message framing. In the second part of this study, the focal products and rival products will be represented with the message frames of gains and losses respectively. This study explores the fit effects between message frames and individual regulatory focus. Additionally, the advertising effectiveness of the comparability between two message frames is examined.
Two experiments are conducted to test the hypotheses. Experiment 1 reveals that that the addition of a market average value as a comparison object can enhance advertising effectiveness. Multiple comparison objects (multiple anchors) can lead to better advertising effectiveness than single comparison object (single anchor). Similar performances of comparison objects (high anchor-consistency) can also lead to better advertising effectiveness than dissimilar ones (low anchor-consistency). Consumers with promotion focus are concerned more about if the advertised focal product defeats the rival product. However, consumers with prevention focus are concerned more about if the performances of the advertised product are better than the average market values. Therefore, consumers with promotion focus (prevention focus) respond better to the comparative ads that use the rival product (average market values) as the comparison object. Experiment 2 finds that when the message frames adopted by the two comparative products have high (vs. low) degree of comparability, it will lead to better advertising effectiveness. When the gain frames of the advertised product and the loss frames of the rival product achieve a fit with consumer individual regulatory focus, it will lead to better advertising effectiveness.
This research makes theoretical contributions to comparative advertising, regulatory focus theory, anchoring theory, message framing, and comparability. It also offers practical suggestions on the choice of comparison objects and the design of message contents for comparative advertisements. Furthermore, this study suggests practitioners how to adjust the comparative ads to respond to different consumers for creating better advertising effectiveness.