Product Placement related EXPLICIT memory and consumer behavior

Recently, we described how advertising works and how to measure it. In this post, we want to provide you more (scientific) details on how consumer behavior is linked to the explicit memory of Product Placement.


Explicit memory – the background

The concept of explicit memory is based on the idea that people are able to consciously remember information of the past (Herrmann, Valais, and Kacha 2011). Thus, the explicit memory contains primarily consciously perceived content (Gray 1999).

As already shown, the explicit memory has a extremely high priority when investigating and evaluating product placement (Matthes, Schemer, and Wirth 2007). However, it has been also observed that the explicit memory of a product placement has no effect on attitude or purchase intention (Babin and Carder 1996; Karrh 1994; Ong and Meri 1994; Russell 2002; Vollmer and Mizerski 1994). One indication to explain these results is certainly the fact that viewers can easily identify product placement as a persuasion tactic – especially when it’s very obvious and easily recognizable (Matthes et al 2007; Russell 2002; van Reijmersdal, Neijens, and Smit 2009). This usually leads to a situation where the consumer protects himself from this influence and simply ignores it (Balasubramanian, Karrh, and Patwardhan 2006; Friestad and Wright 1994; van Reijmersdal 2009). Hereby, the defense reaction against the advertising attempt can even turn into a negative reaction (Cowley and Barron 2008; Hackley, Tiwsakul, and Preuss 2008; Russell 2002, Reijmersdal van et al 2009).

Nevertheless, the explicit memory can be an indication of the consumer’s attitude towards a product or brand (Chattopadhyay and Alba 1988, Parker 1991, Pope 1998), respectively for the brand choice in a purchase situation (Costley and Brucks 1992; Nedungadi 1990). This may partly be due to implicit reactions that take place at the same time as well (Deecke 2012; Shapiro and Krishnan 2001). Also, the recognition of the placement and the activation of persuasion knowledge do not necessarily have to result in a defensive reaction. It is quite possible that this way, consumers get more involved with the brand, which can lead to a better attitude towards it (Campbell and Kirmani 2008; Kirmani and Campbell 2004). In addition, advertising often pursues the goal to make consumers remembering it – e.g. when a new product gets launched (Belch and Belch 2009).



If the advertisers generally wants to achieve more attention, product placement should be designed to be consciously perceived by the viewer, in order people are able to recall it (D’Astous and Chartier 2000). To optimize it, you should choose audiovisual placements (Gupta and Lord 1998; Law and Braun 2000) that are embedded into the main content (Babin and Carder 1996; Brennan, Dubas, and Babin 1999; Schneider and Cornwell 2005).

However, to avoid negative reactions, it is important to choose the right degree of prominence, so the target audience will evaluate the placement positively (Cowley and Barron 2008; D’Astous and Chartier 2000). In the end, you should also bear in mind that especially in everyday purchase situations, the implicit memory plays a very important role, while the explicit memory often is irrelevant (Coates, Butler, and Berry 2004; Herrmann et al 2011).


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Jens Kuerschner

Author: Jens Kuerschner

Jens Kuerschner is founder and CEO of Placedise. As an expert in the field of consumer behavior and media enthusiast, he is especially responsible for the product know-how. In our blog, this knowledge and the experience of many years of research and study will be shared with you.

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