The impact of the abstractness-concreteness of an ad copy on consumers' responses to a product : the moderating role of consumers' regulatory foci and types of product attribute
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Past research has shown that concrete ad copies perform better than abstract ad copies in enhancing consumers’ attitudes toward and purchase intentions of the product. These studies have defined the abstractness-concreteness of an ad copy as the extent to which the ad copy activates visual imagery of the product information in consumers’ minds. However, other researchers have proposed another definition of the abstractness-concreteness of an ad copy: generality vs. specificity. That is, the more general (specific), the more (fewer) particular incidents an ad copy includes. Employing the alternative definition, this study re-examined the concreteness effect that has been reported. Specifically, based on regulatory focus theory and past studies on hedonic/utilitarian consumption, this study proposed that the impact of the abstractness-concreteness of an ad copy on consumers’ attitudes toward or purchase intentions of the product would be moderated by their regulatory foci and types of product attributes. Also, several propositions were set forth regarding the underlying process of the moderation effect. However, the online experiment this study conducted failed to support the propositions. Instead, the concreteness effect was observed. Based on the finding, this study discusses several issues that may advance our knowledge about the concreteness effect as well as about regulatory focus theory and consumers’ hedonic/utilitarian consumption. Also, several suggestions are made for future studies in this regard.