The "Modern Development" phase in the development of the theory of Hierarchy of Effects was marked by profound changes in the underlying assumptions regarding the function of advertising. At the same time, the rapidly developing field of psychology provided a context in which to base new theoretical models.
DAGMAR - click for full size
Function of Advertising
In 1961, Russell H. Colley presented a report to the Association of National Advertisers entitled, Defining Advertising Goals for Measured Advertising Results. Colley argued that the effectiveness of advertising should be judged based on the extent to which it moves the consumer upward on the hierarchy, rather than solely on its ability to move the consumer to the ultimate stage: Action. Thus, Colley made a distinction between advertising goals and marketing goals; advertising goals should be stated and measured in terms of movement on the hierarchy, while marketing goals tended to be concerned almost exclusively with achieving a desired action.
The distinction between marketing and advertising goals, and the emphasis on movement up the hierarchy offered several advantages over the previous, sales-based measures. The most obvious was the ability to more narrowly define advertising objectives, and to effectively measure progress towards them. In addition, the formalization of the theory gave practitioners a framework to examine and utilize the long term effects of advertising more strategically.
Hierarchy of Effects - click for full size.
New Theoretical Models
In 1961, Lavidge and Steiner published a paper in the Journal of Marketing entitled, A Model for Predictive Measurements of Advertising Effectiveness. Like Colley, they suggested that advertising effectiveness should be measured in terms of movement up the hierarchy rather than solely on its ability to evoke action in the consumer. In addition, they created a new model of the hierarchy itself which took into account models from the field of psychology which attempted to describe learning itself as a process. The model described three distinct phases of learning which occur in the following order: 1) cognitive, 2) affective, and 3) conative. The three phases correspond roughly to the categories 1) thinking, 2) feeling, and 3) doing. Lavidge and Steiner broke each category into two corresponding mini-stages and presented a model of the hierarchy with the following ordered phases: Awareness, Knowledge, Liking, Preference, Conviction, and Purchase.
Lavidge and Steiner's model required the consumer to pass through all six of the stages, in the given order, before reaching the final stage (Action). They did, however, qualify their theory to address common criticisms of older hierarchy models. In doing so, they stipulated the following:
- The stages are not necessarily equidistant.
- It is possible to move up several steps simultaneously.
- The greater the psychological/economic commitment, the longer it takes to move upward on the hierarchy, and visa-versa.
While Lavidge and Steiner's work was widely regarded as a breakthrough in the field of advertising theory, Kristian Palda, a respected theorist and researcher, raised several questions concerning the relationship between the cognitive, affective, and conative stages in the new model. Through research and experimentation, Palda made the following points:
- There is no evidence that changes in awareness precede rather than follow a purchase.
- It is unclear whether attitude is a mechanism which effects behavior.
- Attitude change may follow behavior, rather than precede it.
- "Intention to buy" does not equal "Action".
Palda's work can be seen as anticipatory of the "Challenge-Defense" period which followed in the development of the theory.