Along with the changing business world, customers change as well, becoming more demanding and knowledgeable than before. The consumers of mass communication messages today are active and critical in the simple choices they make as the mere purchase of everyday necessities has proved to be crucial in analyzing the consumer market at present. In turn, company management had shifted their focus on their clients or customers so as to stay successfully in business. The changing world has then placed much emphasis on the importance of communication for effective marketing. All types of communication are involved in marketing communications, including literature, training, advertising, mail, telephone, product promotions and other contact relevant to marketing communication (Goldberg and McCalley, 1992). This transition meant that organizations have to completely reformulate their conventional business aims and purposes from being process-focused to customer-centered (Lowenstein, 1997).
In this age of globalization and information technology, deciding which brand to choose can be a problem. Competition is evident and intense, and the marketing and management divisions of corporations are surely giving everything they can to establish their brands. Competition forces certain brand names to become stronger than others because of product loyalty and name recognition. Consumers tend to buy what is already familiar to them (Mittelhauser, 1997). A fine and well-advertised brand might have a competitive edge from a lesser exposed brand name. But then, a lesser known brand can also have an edge over price, given that they cost less than known brands (Kim et al, 2002). Market researches are most of the time conducted before and after the launching or implementation of an advertising campaign so as to provide generalization or specific definition of the characteristics of the type of people belonging in market category as well as the reactions of the consumers to the product or service being made available (Neumann and Sumser, 2002).
Such practice makes it easier for the product or service providers to predict the outcome of a particular advertising campaign. However, in the end, the decision still lies within the consumers. They are the ones who basically absorb all the messages being disseminated by companies or all the information pertaining to the products, whether they are positive or negative. In this light, this paper presents a proposal on the portrayal of women in magazine advertisements in Hong Kong in order to identify the generalizations made by the commercial industry regarding Chinese women in Hong Kong and to verify the validity of such personality definitions and conceptualizations in the cultural, social, and political context of today's women.
Background of the Study
According to Kotler and Armstrong (2001), consumer buying behavior refers to the buying behavior of the individuals and households who buy the goods and services for personal consumption. Consumers around the world are different in various factors such as age, income, education level and preferences which may affect the way they avail of goods and services. This behavior then impacts how products and services are presented to the different consumer markets. There are many components which influence consumer behavior namely: cultural, social, personal and psychological (Kotler & Armstrong, 2001). These characteristics cannot be controlled by the companies; therefore, a need to assess these elements in order to create an effective marketing plan.
Companies who provide products and services to the consumer market are most importantly interested in the behavioral segmentation of the target market or the market subdivisions according to consumer knowledge, attitude, use, or response to a product (Kotler and Armstrong, 2001). There are studies which have shown that situational factors such as the personal relevance of an issue or the level of external distraction can influence the extent of message processing and thus the route to persuasion (Cacioppo et al., 1986). Petty, Cacioppo, and Schumann (1983) found that the attitudes of individuals exposed to an advertisement under relatively high situational motivation were more influenced by the quality of the attribute claims in an ad than were individuals exposed to the same ad under low motivation conditions. On the other hand, subjects in the low motivation conditions were more influenced by the celebrity status of the product endorsers than were subjects in the high motivation conditions.
Based on the integrated model, culture influences behavior through its manifestations: values, heroes, rituals, and symbols (Luna and Gupta, 2001). The combination of both etic and emic perspective on the manifestations, can basically reveal culture's strong relation with customer behavior. The etic philosophy is based on the definition of culture as "the collective programming of the mind which distinguishes the members of one group or category of people from another'' (Hofstede, 1997). On the other hand, the emic philosophy stresses upon understanding issues from the perspective of the subjects being studied (Luna and Gupta, 2001). As cited from McCracken (1988), this philosophy determines the coordinates of social action and productive activity, specifying the behaviors and objects that issue from both. Furthermore, research on sensation and perception, attention, categorization, inference making, information search, memory, attitude and behavior, attitude formation and formation, conditioning and satisfaction have been undertaken to understand consumer behavior. In the area of sensation and perception and attention, most works are confined primarily to visual or auditory processes. Among the studies on this area include those of Russo and Leclerc (1994) who examined attention to packages on store shelves, as measured by eye fixations.
Since Television is considered as THE advertising media as people from all over spend a large piece of their time watching everyday than reading the newspaper and any other media. Television most often than not, attracts people from its interactive and multimedia nature as it combines sight, sound and motion in one fall. Because of its unique capacity to instantly garner the attention of the audience, the Television may be considered as the most persuasive medium (Kayany & Yelsma, 2000). After arresting the audience into watching the Television advertisement in question, the audience listens and watches attentively and as the attention span is maintained, the audience finds themselves agreeing to the message and pleased at the visuals and sounds that enrapture them. An effective Television Campaign will positively influence viewers for as long as the advertisement is properly and persuasively designed. The radio as a broadcast communication medium can likewise help in the efficient promotion and education of the consumers through announcements and advertisements (Hammond, Petersen, & Thompsen, 2000; Finberg & Stone, in press).
But this does not mean that the print media should be screened out from the options that may bring an advertising campaign to a success. The broad and diverse circulation and distribution of newspapers, magazines, journals, comic digests as well as the use of printed materials like leaflets, invitations, and promotional teasers are all forms of effective campaigning to take hold of the attention of consumers and make them aware of the options available in the market (Katz, 1999). Advertising strategies should be conceptualized based on the characteristics of the products or services and that of the consumers and clients of a particular brand. This will ensure that the message channeled by the advertising and promotional message is properly delivered to the right people from whom the business organization can generate income from thereby increasing market share and eventually, company profit (Riley et al., 1998; Vargo et al., 2000; Zavoina & Reichert, 2000).
The mass media and the messages that it presents and feeds to the audience have long been criticized for consumerism and its passive treatment to the audience. According to Elinder (1961, p.27) media and other related technologies have homogenized consumer tastes and that whatever differences that the individual person exhibits is broadly generalized that they are almost indistinguishable with each other. He supported this point of view when he introduced the concept of international advertising. Such criticisms are inevitable in the nature of work in the media and advertising industry and the reason why proper precautions are observed in this profession and there are active media and advertising boards that attend to the possible exploitations that may happen. In the market, legality of the content of the message and the presentation of a product or service in the public arena is governed by the constitution that is enacted.
This research paper deals with the portrayal of women in magazine advertisements in Hong Kong. As such, the following research questions will be provided through completion of the academic activity by utilizing the perception of the selected Chinese women participants in Hong Kong:
- What are the existing norms, beliefs and traditions in Hong Kong that govern the social roles of women?
- What are the generalizations made by the commercial industry regarding the Chinese women in Hong Kong?
- How do magazines advertisements in Hong Kong characterize a typical Chinese woman?
- How do magazine advertisers validate personality conceptualizations and definitions that they hold regarding the Chinese women in Hong Kong?
- What beliefs do Chinese women in Hong Kong hold regarding their social roles and status in the community?
Significance of the Study
All marketing communications should be directed to a particular target. This aspect suggests that in implementing marketing communication, the company should clearly identify the targeted constituents and stakeholders, or to whom the marketing communication strategy should be directed (Neumann and Sumser, 2002). Wrong beliefs about the product or service may be countered through a campaign; therefore, companies need to be regularly updates on the beliefs of its target market. The purpose of this aspect is for the company to create or apply communication instruments that will encourage the market to purchase or patronize the product.
Companies now face the challenge of making its target consumers respond accordingly to their marketing efforts. Those who understand its consumers' responses will have a great competitive advantage. The starting point towards this is through the stimulus-response model of buyer behavior which involves examining the marketing and other stimuli in the consumer's black box that translates into buyer responses (Kotler & Armstrong, 2001). The American magazine, Martha Stewart Living for instance, is a publication that contains ideas on cooking, homemaking, gardening and other related topics, which was naturally supported by female patrons within the age of early 20s to late 50s. By having this clear identification of the target market, the publication is then able to generate ideas that this market will most likely support. Aside from gaining support, communicating to a particular target market enables the company to establish a fixed asset out of regular consumers.
Moreover, the products or services should always be in synch with the tastes, lifestyle, economic status and purchasing power of the prospect market. Mutual recognition of rules between and among the advertisers, the business organization and the policy-makers of a particular locality should be at all times observed in order to avoid legal confrontations and eventual failure of the marketing strategy. Gaining the trust of the local government and reviewing the economic policies and legal matters that govern the country in which the product or service will be made available will be a strong ground from which the advertisers can make as a take off point in pursuing the any further business venture. All these issues will be given light upon the completion of the research activity being proposed.
To the people in the academe to whom this research endeavor will be of most interest, the results and findings of this paper will contribute to the bulk of studies related to business and organizational management. As such, this may also open new avenues for further researches and studies so as to provide the civil society with relevant information that are dealt with in the everyday life of each individual. Its application for the common interest and good of the public will be hopefully uphold.
The researcher on whom the majority of the responsibility of completing this research project is given will be the first to gain and experience the benefits of the success of this research paper in meeting the requirements of the course and in satisfying the intellectual drive of a learning individual.
Objectives of the Study
In order to learn how magazine advertisements portray Chinese women in Hong Kong, discussions regarding the cultural, social, and political generalizations on Chinese women will be presented by the research study. as such, the researcher aims to complete the following research objectives to fulfill the purpose of this academic activity:
- To discuss the existing norms, beliefs and traditions in Hong Kong that governs the social roles of women.
- To determine the generalizations made by the commercial industry regarding the Chinese women in Hong Kong.
- To find out how magazines advertisements in Hong Kong characterize a typical Chinese woman.
- To validate the personality conceptualizations and definitions of magazine advertisers regarding the Chinese women in Hong Kong.
- To describe and explore the beliefs hold by Chinese women in Hong Kong regarding their social roles and status in the community.
Scope and Limitations
Conceptualization of the whole research study will prove some difficulties in constructing an effective questionnaire that will not tire the respondents yet has the ability to exhaust all the needed information from the participants for the completion of the project. The potential and empirical obstacles will include the difficulties in the data gathering procedures and the subsequent circumstances that every researcher face in the field such as complete participation of the subjects and the problems regarding figures of authority who have the power and prerogative to hold information that will be of great relevance for the success of the study.
Sampling procedures will be a great challenge to the researcher in relation to the representativeness of the selected individuals who will take part in the data collection procedures. Sometimes a few of the selected participants of the study will decline the involvement in the research project. There are also respondents who will inquire on the specifics of the investigation which the researcher can not divulge since it could spoil the data that the participant will share in the collection of the information.
Planning the gathering period while keeping in mind the possible constraints that could be encountered in the field as well as the time available to complete the investigation will prepare the researcher in the further execution of the research project.
Overview of Methodology
This study will operate under the quantitative paradigm wherein the survey method will be utilized in order to elicit the relevant information needed to complete research (Frankfort-Nachmias & Nachmias, 1992). Besides, quantitative research plainly and distinctively specifies both the independent and the dependent variables under investigation (Matveev, 2002). It also follows resolutely the original set of research goals, arriving at more objective conclusions, determining the issues of causality and eliminates or minimises subjectivity of judgment (Kealey & Protheroe, 1996).
The survey method will be implemented in three successive data collection procedures. These will include the pretest of the questionnaire, the actual survey, and the back-checking after the analysis of the data. The pretest of the survey will be necessary in order to identify possible shortcomings of the instrument that may hinder the efficient collection of valid and reliable data. On the other hand, the back-checking that will be implemented will provide assurance that the results of the analysis are consistent with that of the available information and facts in the field. The researcher will gather secondary data and collate published studies from different local and foreign universities and articles from social science journals
The data collection instrument will be a structured questionnaire that will be based on Likert scale. A Likert Scale is a rating scale that requires the subject to indicate his or her degree of agreement or disagreement with a statement. By rating scale we mean the scales that are usually used to measure attitudes towards an object, the degree to which an object contains a particular attribute, (Like or dislike), toward some attribute, or the importance attached to an attribute.
The use of stratified random sampling technique was grounded on the need to ensure the represenativeness of the respondents in the survey method. This particular sampling technique ensures the validity and reliability of the data based on the number or quantity of the respondents who filled out the survey questionnaires. Stratified random sampling technique operates by classifying the target population into group classifications as set by the researcher. The samples are chosen through several selection procedures that usually take several stages depending on the complexity of the characteristics of the possible respondents and the interest of the researcher (Trochim, 2001).
Ensuring the validity of the accumulated data is considered to be the most crucial stage of the research endeavor. Since a methodology is always employed in the service of a research question, validation of the inferences made on the basis of data from one analytic approach demands the use of multiple sources of information through validation study built into the design (Kaplan & Duchon, 1998; Foss & Ellefsen, 2002; Mingers, 2001).