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Humor and Value Messages Resonate with Consumers in Good Times and Bad.

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A new study from Nielsen confirms what I have always believed: that price-driven advertising has limited impact on consumers -- even during economic downturns when you would expect consumers to most welcome cost reductions.

The study, conducted between 2006 and 2011, focussed on 4,000 TV commercials run before, during and after the recent recession based on appeal, likeabilty, recall and purchase intent. According to Nielsen, ads with funny storylines scored the highest during all periods, as expected. But the researchers were surprised by the low scores of ads focussed on price.
Even during the worst periods of the recession, humorous ads scored 133 on Nielsen's effectiveness scale (100 is the average). Ads focussing on price scored only 73 during the same period.

While price-promotions did poorly, value propositions featuring the more permanent brand benefits and attributes such as convenience, performance and affordability performed better when their scores rose to 107 from 88.

It may seem counterintuitive that price promotions fare so poorly -- particularly during a recession. But consumers are always smarter than many marketers believe. They can see through the hype and understand that in the end they will get what they pay for. They prefer solid, reputable brands that deliver on their promises at a fair price...and occasionally make them smile.

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