Beauty and attractiveness: Implications for advertising, self-evaluation and product choice

2017-05-19T03:19:22Z (GMT) by Zubcevic, Nives
The field of marketing communications continues to change rapidly as a consequence of advancing technology, changing consumer behaviour, and fragmentation of media. A key aspect of marketing communication is to understand how audiences are likely to interact with messages. This study investigates the role attractiveness plays in facilitating this connection. Source attractiveness becomes critical to persuasive impact to the extent that the receiver is motivated to enhance their sense of self, social reputation, or gratifying role relationships by identifying with admired sources and formulating their attitudes. The study examines the dimensions of attractiveness, its advertising effectiveness, attitudes to personal care, fashion, technology, and nutritional products, and possible implications for public policy. It is proposed that gender, media, models, and culture influence perceptions of attractiveness which in turn has implications for advertising effectiveness, self evaluations of body image, and perceived benefits of attractiveness. The research involved an online survey with a final sample of 1111 participants within Australia. The sample was composed of 600 females and 511 males, from broad age groups, and from various Caucasian, Asian, African and Polynesian backgrounds. A structured questionnaire comprising existing, modified and new scales was the primary means of data collection. It consisted of a self-reported section and a perceptual section with images of models and products. The questionnaire was placed on a website and participants were given a link and instructions for online completion. All scales were assessed for internal consistency, construct validity, and were found to have acceptable psychometric properties. Modified scales were assessed firstly via exploratory factor analysis to examine the dimensionality of the constructs, and then via confirmatory factor analysis to assess all the scales for convergent and discriminant validity. Formative versus reflective measurement models were discussed and a framework for assessing reflective and formative models with theoretical and empirical considerations was examined. The study finds that beauty is a reflective measure and attractiveness is best conceptualised and operationalised as a formative measure. The research propositions were investigated by examining the direct relationships between variables via the use of multiple regressions. This was then augmented by an analysis of relationships through structural equation modelling to examine the direct, indirect and total effects of the independent variables on the dependant variables. Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) was also utilised as a test of measuring differences between groups within the population. The regression analyses supported the proposed relationships between Attractiveness, Media, Models, Culture, Attitude to products, and Benefits of attractiveness. Overall, the regression analysis indicated support for the conceptual model. Attractiveness was found to be a function of the culture of the observer, the influence on the observer of media and the stereotypes of models to which the observer is exposed. Significant relationships were found between attractiveness and culture, media and model influence. Additionally, significant differences were found between males and females in their perceptions of culture, media and model influence, and attitudes to personal care, fashion, technology and nutritional products, as associated with attractiveness. Self evaluation of body image was found to be a function of the culture of the observer, perceptions of attractiveness, the influence on the observer of media and the stereotypes of models to which the observer is exposed. Significant differences were found between people’s evaluation of themselves before and after exposure to models. However, males were more favourably disposed to female models that were females. Regression analysis also revealed a strong association between attitude to products and consumer cultural background, perceived attractiveness, self evaluation of body image, perceived benefits of attractiveness, and media and model influence. The study also explored whether there are significant differences in people perceived to have different combinations of beauty and attractiveness. This resulted in four groups. Some people are considered beautiful and attractive (HH) and others as not beautiful and not attractive (LL). However, the surprising finding was that there are people who are considered beautiful but not attractive (HL) and not beautiful but attractive (LH), suggesting that the two constructs are different. People who belong to these four groups were found to have different perceptions of benefits of attractiveness, self evaluations of body image, and influence of models. For male and female evaluators those perceived to be HH or LH were strongly associated with search for competitive advantage significantly more than HL and LL. For females, those perceived to be HH, HL or LH were strongly associated with search for social acceptance significantly more than LL. However, for males, those perceived to be HH or LH were strongly associated with search for social acceptance significantly more than HL and LL. The findings suggest that there are no differences between the four groups as evaluated by different genders in terms of their association with search for competitive advantage and social acceptance. Moderation was also utilised to explore a number of relationships. The results indicate that a number of factors describe boundary conditions under which specific relationships hold. Those factors were found to be gender, body image, acculturation, media influence, and influence of models. Gender was found to moderate the relationship between perceptions of attractiveness and advertising effectiveness. The degree of acculturation and media influence was found to moderate the relationship between perceptions of beauty and attitudes to personal care, fashion, technology and nutritional products. Media influence moderates the relationships between perceptions of attractiveness and attitude to personal care, fashion, and technology products. Body image and models portrayed in the media were found to moderate the relationship between perceptions of beauty and perceptions of attractiveness and attitude to personal care, fashion, technology and nutritional products. The degree of acculturation and media influence moderate the relationship between perceptions of beauty and body image post exposure to images of models. Media influence moderates the relationship between perceptions of beauty and social acceptance. Models portrayed in the media moderates the relationship between perceptions of attractiveness and social acceptance. Body image and models portrayed in the media moderate the relationship between perceptions of beauty and perceived benefits of attractiveness. Results of the structural equation modelling indicated that perceptions of attractiveness was found to have a significant positive direct effect on attitude to fashion and technology products, model and underwear combination, body image, competitive advantage, and social acceptance. An interesting finding is the significant negative direct effect on attitude to nutritional products and influence of models. Perceptions of beauty was found to have a significant positive direct effect on attitude to personal care and nutritional products, competitive advantage, social acceptance, and influence of models. However, it was found to have a significant negative direct effect on body image. Media influence was found to have a significant positive direct effect on perceived advantage of attractiveness, social acceptance, attitude to nutritional products, and models. However, a significant negative effect was found on body image. The influence of models was found to have a significant positive direct effect on attitude to personal care, fashion, and technology products. Ethnic identity was found to have a significant positive direct effect on personal care, fashion, and nutritional products, perceived advantage of attractiveness, social acceptance, and model influence. An interesting finding was that the predicted direction for technology products was positive however a significant negative effect was found. Additionally, a significant negative direct effect was found on body image. This thesis makes a number of academic, social and business contributions: • Attractiveness Research: The differences identified in perception of beauty and attractiveness have implications for consumption of personal care and fashion products, technology products, and nutritional products. • Contributions to Methodology: The impact of common method variance was examined on the magnitude and significance of correlations and the results indicated that CMV was not a problem. Additionally, a photo shoot was conducted with ten models and two product categories (male and female underwear and perfume). Advertisements with model and product combinations were designed to explore male and female perceptions of beauty and attractiveness and to examine advertising effectiveness. The study examined the whole physical person rather than just faces as is typical of beauty studies. • Implications of the Study for Public Policy: This study urged the need for policy-makers to promote body image and attractiveness in framing their public policies that will positively impact on the health and nutrition of people across all age groups. • Implications for Business: This research explored perceptions of attractiveness, consumer attitudes to personal care, fashion, technology and nutritional products, and the effects of advertising on body image (...).