Brand Salience as a Predictor of Consumer Behavior

In order to further evaluate the role that the agenda setting theory plays in advertising, the focus of analysis turns to the issue of salience, in particular, brand salience. Brand salience arguably acts as a predictor of consumer behavior. In a study conducted by Gruber (1969), top-of-mind brand awareness parallels the amount of consumption of a specific brand in the marketplace. Top-of-mind brand awareness refers to the recognition by consumers of a certain brand over other brands in the same product category. A similar study by Axelrod (1968) found top-of-brand awareness provided a "... sensitive and stable predictor of purchase..." behavior (Sutherland and Galloway, 27). Accordingly, increase in saliences as measured by top-of-brand awareness affected increases in the purchases of particular brands by consumers. This relationship exists primarily as an association rather than as a causal inference due to a lack of empirical evidence derived from controlled studies of the subject matter. Even though a need for further research remains, "...the primary direction of causal flow appears to be from media prominence, to salience" (Sutherland and Galloway, 27).

Sutherland and Galloway (1981) reiterate that agenda setting research suggests that salience in the media results in a measurable level of salience in the public agenda. Further, they note advertising research provides that salience in the public mind in turn directly relates to behavioral outcomes, i.e., consumer purchase, as diagramed below (27):

However, Sutherland recognizes other important influences, for example, length of representation of a product in the market and accounts for a given product's market position. In other words the length of time on the market of a product directly affects the top-of-mind awareness of that product in the public mind. Ultimately, salience of a particular brand or product results in a perceived popularity of such in the public mind.

Go to The Concept of Status Conferral in the "Climate of Opinion" page for more on this topic.