Hierarchical response models: Do they have a place in planning an IMC program?

Posted in: Academics, Marketing on December 19th, 2014

Note: this is a short essay I wrote for an Integrated Marketing Communications course I took in 2013 and has been slightly modified to suit this blog. It is based on theory in the course text – Advertising and Promotion: An Integrated Marketing Communications Perspective – by George and Michael Belch.

Innovation adoption lifecycle
Innovation adoption curve by Everett Rogers. Image source: Wikipedia

A hierarchical response model allows marketers to target a stage in the buying process, thus providing a focused marketing message (Belch & Belch, 2012). For example, the Innovation Adoption Model suggests a consumer goes through an affective stage that includes evaluating a range of purchase options to allay concerns (Belch & Belch, 2012).  From a marketer’s point of view it is important to provide suitable marketing communications to assuage customer concerns and move the buyer towards product adoption (a behavioral stage in the Innovation Adoption Model). This can also assist in avoiding post-purchase cognitive dissonance; we can postulate that if a customer gains a full-spectrum view of their options pre-purchase, their likelihood of disappointment after purchasing is reduced (Belch & Belch, 2012).

Insurance company Progressive utilizes this comparative approach in their marketing via a number of channels, including television and their website. They deliver a consistent message, clearly expressing that they will ensure the consumer gets the best price by providing comparisons with other insurance companies.

An example of Progressive's promise to help the customer save money by comparing rates.
An example of Progressive’s promise to help the customer save money by comparing rates.

Moreover, hierarchical response models can assist marketers with research problems. Specifically, they can help with analysis of completed advertising campaigns (Katranjiev, 2002) and identify areas in which companies can improve communications (Belch & Belch, 2012). Given that hierarchy response models follow a linear trajectory, we can make predictions of behavior, knowing that if a customer moves from one stage to the next (or further), the campaign is a success. A real world example might be a campaign for a new product, specifically targeted at increasing awareness. Throughout the campaign, the company reviews their web analytics and notices increased organic search traffic. Then on further analysis they notice page views have increased for the product, and more customers have signed up for the free trial. This shows progression through the hierarchy and the data can be used to analyze the success of the campaign.

Finally, Wijaya (2012) elucidate a conceptual response hierarchy model – AISDALSLove (Attention, Interest, Search, Desire, Action, Like/dislike, Share, and Love/hate). It is based on the AIDA model as described in Belch & Belch (2012, p. 155) but adds additional components that relate to post-purchase behaviors. This model is especially relevant as it accounts for the post-purchase actions that today’s consumers often display, especially with the advent of social media. While this seems to be closely related to the Dissonance/Attribution Hierarchy, as expounded by Belch & Belch (2012), it also alludes to the aphorism that customer retention is easier and cheaper than customer acquisition. The IMC implication of the AISDALSLove conceptual model is that marketers are explicitly accountable for our communications. Customer experiences (whether good or bad) will be dispersed rapidly, and in this technologically advanced age, customer experiences transcend traditional borders in less than a moment.


Belch G. & Belch M. (2012) Advertising and Promotion: An Integrated Marketing Communications Perspective. 9th edition, McGraw Hill Australia: North Ryde, NSW.

Katrandjiev H. I. (2002) Some Aspects of Measuring Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC), Economics and Organization (8), pp. 87 – 93

Wijaya B. S. (2012) The Development of Hierarchy of Effects Model in Advertising, International Research Journal of Business Studies, 5 (1), pp. 73 – 85, viewed 18 February 2013, http://irjbs.com/index.php/jurnalirjbs/article/viewFile/98/pdf

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