Cultural values adapted to individualism-collectivism in advertising in Western Europe

In international communication, adaptation of messages to the audience’s values has been prominently studied. In advertising, a meta-analysis of experimental studies showed that ads with culturally adapted value appeals are generally more persuasive and better liked than ads with culturally unadapted value appeals. This general effect was not observed for studies with Western Europeans. One explanation may be that these studies did not examine individualism-collectivism – whereas adaptation to this dimension has been shown to be very successful. In this paper, this explanation was tested. Six experiments were conducted in which participants from Belgium, the UK or the Netherlands judged an ad with an adapted, individualistic appeal or with an unadapted, collectivistic appeal. The experiments and a subsequent meta-analysis indicate that Western Europeans are not more persuaded by the culturally adapted than by the culturally unadapted value appeals based on individualism-collectivism. This result nuances earlier findings underlining the importance of cultural value adaptation

  • Hornikx, J., & Groot, E. de (2017). Cultural values adapted to individualism-collectivism in advertising in Western Europe: An experimental and meta-analytical approach. International Communication Gazette, 79 (3), 298-316. [link]

The potential effect of cultural priming on the effectiveness of cultural value adaptation

JCMS_coverIn international advertising, there has been a long-standing debate about standardization versus adaptation. A prominent empirical line of research addressing this issue has revealed that adapting advertisements to important cultural values is beneficial for persuasion and ad liking. Strikingly, this effect is absent for Western Europeans. The present study examines if Western Europeans are sensitive to cultural value adaptation in advertising if individualism-collectivism is primed prior to exposure to the ad. An experiment was conducted in which an ad with an individualist or a collectivist value appeal was presented after exposure to irrelevant primes or to primes consisting of images expressing individualism-collectivism. Results were in line with existing studies: no effect of adaptation was found, even after cultural priming. The results were interpreted through the cultural perspective of dynamic constructivism, according to which the European context may explain why Europeans are as positive about incongruent value appeals as congruent appeals. The experiment adds to the body of research indicating that value adaptation in advertising is not beneficial for marketers in the Western European region.

  • Hornikx, J., & Nijhuis, J. (2016). The potential effect of cultural priming on the effectiveness of cultural value adaptation in advertising. Journal of Cultural Marketing Strategy, 1 (2), 180-188. [link]

Conducting research on international advertising

International research teams that are knowledgeable about the cultures under investigation are considered a prerequisite for sound research. By virtue of a meta-analytic review, this study empirically compared international and national research teams that have conducted experiments on the effectiveness of cultural value adaptation in advertising. Results show that, although the composition of research teams does not make for dependable differences in the outcomes of these experiments, international research teams may be more capable than national teams of designing pairs of culturally-adapted-versus-unadapted advertisements. It may not matter much, however, whether the international team includes a representative of the audience’s culture.

  • Hornikx, J., & O’Keefe, D. J. (2011). Conducting research on international advertising: The roles of cultural knowledge and international research teams. Journal of Global Marketing, 24 (2), 152-166. [link]

Is het aanpassen van advertenties aan culturele waarden in West-Europa zinvol?

Een prominente lijn van onderzoek naar cultuur en reclame wordt gevormd door experimenten waarin advertenties met cultureel aangepaste waardeappels worden vergeleken met advertenties met cultureel onaangepaste waardeappels. Uit een eerdere meta-analyse van bestaande experimenten bleek dat aangepaste advertenties overtuigender zijn en meer gewaardeerd worden dan onaangepaste advertenties, maar dat dit effect niet optrad voor West-Europese proefpersonen (Hornikx & O’Keefe, 2009). Een oorzaak hiervoor ligt mogelijkerwijs in de gebruikte waardedimensies: in studies met Europese proefpersonen werden waardeappels nauwelijks aangepast aan individualisme – collectivisme, terwijl andere studies met deze waardedimensie juist aanpassingseffecten vonden. In een nieuwe serie experimenten werd daarom nagegaan of advertenties met een aangepast individualistisch waardeappel in West-Europese landen effectiever waren dan advertenties met een onaangepast collectivistisch waardeappel. Een meta-analyse van deze experimenten laat zien dat ook aanpassing aan individualisme – collectivisme geen voordeel oplevert in advertenties voor West-Europese proefpersonen.

  • Hornikx, J., Groot, E. de, Timmermans, E., Mariëns, J., & Verckens, J. P. (2010). Is het aanpassen van advertenties aan culturele waarden in West-Europa zinvol? Tijdschrift voor Taalbeheersing, 32 (2), 114-127. [pdf]

The effects of cultural adaptation in fundraising letters

Gender has been shown to affect the persuasiveness of help-self and help-others appeals in fundraising: men prefer help-self appeals, and women help-others appeals. This gender difference has been attributed to world-view differences. Women have a care-oriented world-view and men a justice-oriented world-view – at least in masculine cultures. In feminine cultures, however, both men and women have a care-oriented world-view. The present study investigated whether in the feminine, Dutch culture the culturally adapted help-others appeal was more persuasive than the culturally unadapted help-self appeal for both men and women (N = 166). Results showed that the culturally adapted help-others appeal was the most persuasive appeal for men and women, who were both found to have a relatively care-oriented world-view.

  • Hornikx, J., Hendriks, B., & Thijzen, D. (2010). The effects of cultural adaptation in fundraising letters: The case of help-self and help-others appeals in a feminine culture. Communications, the European Journal of Communication Research, 35 (1), 93-110. [pdf]

Adapting consumer advertising appeals to cultural values

aicaIt is a truism that successful persuasive messages should be adapted to audience values. A substantial research literature—not previously systematically reviewed—has examined whether advertisements with appeals adapted to the audience’s important cultural values (e.g., individualism for North Americans) are more persuasive and better liked than appeals that are unadapted to such values. A meta-analytic review of that research finds that adapted ads are only slightly more persuasive (mean r = .073, 67 cases) and slightly better liked (mean r = .082, 66 cases) than unadapted ads. Moreover, these effects were mainly limited to North Americans and Asians and to values related to individualism-collectivism. In this chapter, we discuss explanations for these results and identify directions for future research.

  • Hornikx, J., & O’Keefe, D. J. (2009). Adapting consumer advertising appeals to cultural values: A meta-analytic review of effects on persuasiveness and ad liking. Annals of the International Communication Association, 33 (1), 38-71. [pdf, link]

Reclame in Europa: reclame wel of niet cultureel aanpassen?

In verschillende Europese landen worden vaak dezelfde reclameadvertenties gebruikt. Volgens Amerikaans en Aziatisch onderzoek zijn zulke gestandaardiseerde advertenties minder overtuigend dan advertenties die aan de nationale culturen zijn aangepast. Die conclusie blijkt niet op te gaan voor Europa. Een meta-analyse van Europese onderzoeken laat zien dat culturele aanpassing in Europa nauwelijks meerwaarde heeft.

  • Hornikx, J., & O’Keefe, D. J. (2007). Reclame in Europa: reclame wel of niet cultureel aanpassen? Tekstblad, 13 (3), 12-15. [pdf]

Publicités en France et aux Pays-Bas

The globalisation of economy forces multinational companies to standardise their advertisement campaigns to reduce costs. Some studies showed that the effectiveness of identical advertisements varies from country to country. The present experimental study investigates whether the appeal to values which are dominant in France and in the Netherlands in an advertisement enhances its force of persuasion towards the respective national audiences. Two versions of a message advertising a watch were created: one appeals to a low uncertainty avoidance culture and the other to a high uncertainty avoidance culture (Hofstede 1991). The respondents indicated their attitudes towards the watch and the advertisement, their purchase intention, as well as the importance that they attribute to certain values and their perception of the advertisement message. The rejection of the hypothesis can be explained either by the remarkable scores of the respondents on the lists of values, or by the perception of the advertisement message by the French respondents.

  • Hornikx, J., & Starren, M. (2004). Publicités en France et aux Pays-Bas: peut-on standardiser ou faut-il adapter? Studies in Communication Sciences, 4 (1), 219-233. [pdf]