What is the difference in consumer behavior?

Research published in the Journal of Marketing reveals that having a dog or thinking about dogs makes you riskier, while having a cat has the opposite effect.

A new study published in the Journal of Marketing focuses on dog and cat owners and their reactions to advertising.

The study, titled “The Pet Exposure Effect: Exploring The Differential Impact of Dogs Versus Cats on Consumer Mindsets” examines the different reactions of dog and cat owners to advertising messages and excludes subjects who own both cats and cats. dogs or who do not own any. pets.

In the United States, 68% of households (84.6 million households) own a pet. Dogs and cats are the main pets in the United States, with 48% of American households (60 million households) owning at least one dog and 37% of households (47 million households) owning at least one cat.

Pets are a welcome addition to families, especially during the coronavirus pandemic – researchers note that around one in five households in the United States have adopted a dog or cat since Covid-19 began in late 2019.

Companion animals also feature prominently in popular culture, mass media, and marketing communications. In this study, researchers examine the effects of exposure to companion animals (for example, remembering experiences interacting with dogs or cats or seeing advertisements featuring a dog or cat as a spokesperson) about the subjects’ subsequent judgments and decision-making, even if the judgments and decisions have nothing to do with pets.

According to the researchers, exposure to dogs makes consumers more promotionally focused; that is, subjects become more eager to pursue a goal and more risk-seeking when making decisions. The reverse is suggested for the cat show; subjects become more prevention-oriented, more cautious in pursuit of a goal, and more risk-averse when making decisions.

Lei Jia, assistant professor of marketing at the University of Massachusetts Lowell’s Manning School of Business, says “these effects occur because pet exposure experiences remind consumers of stereotypical species temperaments and behaviors. pets”.

The authors write that “animal behavior research has identified systematic interspecies differences between domestic dogs and cats. This line of research suggests that a promotion-oriented eagerness system better captures the temperaments and behavioral characteristics of dogs, while a cautious, prevention-oriented system better describes the temperaments and behavioral characteristics of cats.

They further explain, “Temperamentally, dogs tend to be outgoing and expressive, while cats are elusive and cautious… Consistent with the promotion orientation’s receptivity to change, dogs (per compared to cats) adapt better and adapt more quickly to changes in the environment, such as moving into a new home or having a new person in the household. quo, cats (compared to dogs) seem more concerned with the protection their owners provide and the consistency and stability of their social and physical environment.

These results are valid in several contexts of products and services. For example, subjects were asked to choose between investing in stocks (more risky behavior) or mutual funds (risk averse behavior) as an investment strategy. Exposure to dogs led subjects to choose the stock investment option, while exposure to cats led them to choose the mutual fund investment option.

Additionally, exposure to dogs encouraged subjects to choose advertisements “framed with a promotional objective or messages emphasizing eager appeals.” Exposure to cats did the opposite: participants showed a preference for advertising messages that are “framed with a focus on prevention or messages with calls for vigilance”.

The authors note that secondary data suggests people in US states with a higher percentage of dog owners are more interested in searching for promotional words online and more likely to contract Covid-19 during the pandemic.

Xiaojing Yang, an associate professor of marketing at the University of South Carolina’s Darla Moore School of Business, explains why their findings matter: “First, marketers should consider designing their advertising messages differently or recommend different products and services when targeting consumers based on their pet exposure situations.

Yang adds, “For example, to improve the effectiveness of advertising calls or communication messages, marketers should emphasize promotion-oriented goals such as wins and non-wins if they target dog owners or after consumers have been exposed to dogs or stimuli featuring dogs, such as in an advertisement.

According to Yang, “Conversely, [marketers] should focus on prevention-oriented goals such as losses and non-losses if they pursue cat owners or consumers who are exposed to cats or cat-containing stimuli. Importantly, our findings show that this advice holds true even when the advertised product or service has nothing to do with pets or pet products.

From this study, marketers can learn some insights on how to most effectively convey their message to consumers when using pets. For example, if promotion-oriented products or services are being promoted (such as stock investments or sports cars), featuring dogs in the ad will likely enhance the message, making it more appealing.

On the other hand, if prevention-oriented products or services are being promoted (such as mutual fund investments or insurance policies), featuring chats can make the advertising message more powerful.

Yuwei Jiang, professor of marketing in the Department of Management and Marketing at Hong Kong Polytechnic University, points out that “marketers must ensure that stereotypical pet temperaments are highlighted in the message. For example, the eagerness aspect of the dog or the caution aspect of the cat should be emphasized. Otherwise, the intended effects of featuring pets in the ad may not be achieved. »

Finally, rates of pet ownership and coronavirus transmission could be used to create messages aimed at curbing the spread of Covid-19 or other infectious diseases, researchers say.

“Policymakers in states with more dog owners could design more personalized disease-related educational programs and materials. Alternatively, when designing advertisements to prevent the transmission of Covid-19 and other infectious diseases, cats could be incorporated as spokespersons and/or their temperaments could be referenced in the message to improve effectiveness. advertising,” write the authors.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies