Last week, we offered tips on how to take consumer perception into account when planning claim substantiation research to evaluate support for your advertising claims. Today, we continue the conversation about the importance of considering the messages that consumers will take away from your claim. The tips below focus on looking at your claim in the broader context of your advertising:
Consider the context in which the claim appears
Advertisers’ claim substantiation research typically only evaluates support for the desired claim in a vacuum, not taking into account the impact of the claim in the greater context of the advertisement. However, as we have discussed before, advertisers are responsible for all reasonable takeaway messages from their advertising, even unintended messages. For example, if an overall preference claim appears in close proximity to information about a product attribute, consumers may infer that the attribute was the reason for the preference – and the advertiser would need to be able to substantiate that message. To illustrate, imagine that the maker of a line of children’s sippy cups conducted a home-use test with their product and a competitor’s sippy cup and the study results revealed that moms had an overall preference for the advertiser’s product. This advertiser should carefully consider the placement of their “Moms prefer” claim on the product package. If the “Moms prefer” claim appears next to a “No leaks!” claim, consumers may take away the (unsubstantiated) message that the consumer preference for the product is attributable to the fact that it was less likely to leak than the competitor sippy cup.
Be mindful of your imagery
The message communicated by your claim can be influenced by the surrounding imagery in the ad. A claim about a car’s reliability can take on new meaning in the context of an advertisement showing the car driving over impossibly rugged terrain. Similarly, imagine the messages that consumers might take away from a commercial for a laundry detergent that depicts children playing soccer – a sport nearly synonymous with grass stains. Even if the maker of the laundry detergent has solid substantiation showing stain removal efficacy, the company could be at risk for inadvertently communicating an unsubstantiated message without data showing that the product is effective at removing grass stains specifically. One way to avoid such a misinterpretation by consumers is to foster open communication between the teams charged with developing the claim, substantiating the claim, developing the advertisement, and counsel. Ensure that the team crafting the ad fully understands the substantiation research findings and how broadly (or narrowly) they can be generalized. Further, it is advisable to collect data on consumers’ perceptions of the advertisement prior to launch so that the advertiser fully understands how the claim is interpreted in context.
Learn more about claim substantiation in our webinar on-demand, Make a Statement (PART 1): Why claim substantiation matters.