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Marketing genius: The influence of claims and cues on parents’ evaluations of baby videos


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Principal Investigator(s):

Sarah Vaala
University of Pennsylvania
Email: svaala@asc.upenn.edu
Home page: http://www.asc.upenn.edu/Students/Graduate/GraduateStudentProfile.aspx?id=102

Sample size:750
Field period: 5/27/2011-11/7/2011


Abstract:

Infant/toddler-directed DVDs have become common fixtures in American homes, as research has shown that many parents believe these products are educational. Most The majority of these DVDs also carry direct claims or implied cues of educational benefit for young children, despite a lack of substantiating research from the companies that produce them or academia. These claims and cues have caused a great deal of controversy, leading to complaints to the FTC from child advocacy groups.

Using an experimental design with a nationally representative sample of parents with young children, the present research sought to determine whether parents evaluate products more favorably if the claim offers specific educational learning verbs and outcomes compared to more ambiguous statements. Further, this study investigates whether parents evaluate products more favorably if the brand name suggests superior intellect. Finally, this research examines the extent to which certain parents (i.e., promotion-focused) may be more persuaded by each of these educational cues than others.The experiment has a 2 (DVD brand name) x 2 (specificity of verb in claim statement) x 2 (specificity of outcome in claim statement) x 2 (parent’s level of promotion focus orientation) design. Findings have important implications for our theoretical understanding of factors impacting parents’ interpretation of infant/toddler DVD marketing information, as well as implications for policy.

Hypotheses:

Hypothesis 1a: There will be no difference in the perceived educational value of the DVD among participants who view DVD packaging with a specific learning verb (i.e., “teaches”) compared to those who view packaging with an ambiguous learning verb (i.e., “inspires”).

Hypothesis 1b: There will be no difference in the desire to purchase the DVD among participants who view DVD packaging with a specific learning verb (i.e., “teaches”) compared to those who view packaging with an ambiguous learning verb (i.e., “inspires”).

Hypothesis 2a: There will be no difference in perceptions of the educational value of the DVD among participants who view DVD packaging with a specific learning outcome (i.e., “letter identification and 20 vocabulary words”) compared to those who view packaging with an ambiguous learning verb (i.e., “verbal exploration and symbolic language concepts”).

Hypothesis 2b: There will be no difference in the desire to purchase the DVD among participants who view DVD packaging with a specific learning outcome (i.e., “letter identification and 20 vocabulary words”) compared to those who view packaging with an ambiguous learning verb (i.e., “verbal exploration and symbolic language concepts”).

Hypothesis 3a: Participants who view the DVD with a strong educational cue in the title (i.e., “Lil Genius”) will rate videos to be more educational than those who view the DVD packaging with no educational cue in the title (i.e., “Lil Munchkins”).

Hypothesis 3b: Participants who view the DVD with a strong educational cue in the title (i.e., “Lil Genius”) will have a higher intent to purchase the DVD than those who view the DVD packaging with no educational cue in the title (i.e., “Lil Munchkins”).

Hypothesis 4a: Parents with a high promotion focus will rate the DVD as more educational for children, compared to less promotion-oriented parents, across claim specificity and product title conditions.

Hypothesis 4b: Parents with a high promotion focus will have a higher intention to purchase the DVD, compared to less promotion-oriented parents, across claim specificity and product title conditions.

Experimental Manipulations:

A fake infant/toddler DVD cover was created for this project. The cover was created by a professional graphic designer to resemble commercially available infant/toddler DVDs.

The specific manipulations included:

Brand name: "Lil Genius" vs. "Lil Munchkins"
Specificity of the verb in the educational claim: "teaches" vs. "inspires"
Specificity of the learning outcome in the educational claim: "letter identification and 20 vocabulary words" vs. "verbal exploration and symbolic language concepts"

 

Key Dependent Variables:

(1) Perceived educational value. Respondents were asked two questions regarding the product’s perceived educational value for infants and toddlers. Their responses to these questions were recorded on a 5-point Likert scale (1 = very unlikely, 5 = very likely).

(2) Purchase intent. Parents were asked how likely it is that they would purchase this product for their child if it were available to them. We also reminded the parent that this product was intended for use with children from the age of birth to three. Their responses to this item were recorded on a 5-point Likert scale (1 = very unlikely, 5 = very likely)

Summary of Findings:

Analyses involved ANCOVA models.

(1) Perceptions of the educational value of the DVD. There was a significant main effect of parents’ promotion focus. In line with hypothesis 4a, parents with a greater promotion focus rated the DVD of higher educational value for infants and toddlers compared to parents with a lower promotion focus. The video’s brand name was also a significant predictor. As predicted (Hypothesis 3a), parents in the Lil’ Genius condition were more likely to believe that the DVD had educational value compared to parents in the Lil’ Munchkins condition.

We found support for our null hypotheses testing main effects (i.e., hypotheses 1a and 2a). We found no significant differences in parents’ assessments of the product based on the specificity of the verb used in the claim or the specificity of the outcome. Finally, there was also a significant interaction effect for claim verb specificity and outcome specificity. Assessments of the video’s educational worth were higher when the verb claim was ‘inspires’ and the claims outcome was specific versus a vague outcome. However, when the verb claim was ‘teaches’, parents gave a higher assessment of the video when the claim was vague than when it was specific.

(2) Purchase intent. This analysis revealed one significant main effect. Supporting hypothesis 4b, parents with a greater promotion focus were more likely to say that they would purchase the video comparied to parents with a lower promotion focus.
Again the results supported our two null hypotheses testing the influence of claim verb and outcome specificity levels (i.e., hypotheses 1b and 2b). Parents’ stated purchase intentions did not vary significantly based on the specificity of the verb or the learning outcome in the educational claim.

We did not find any support for hypothesis 3b as changes in the brand name of the video did not significantly impact decisions to purchase the video. Participants in the Lil’ Genius condition were not more likely than parents in the Lil’ Munchkins condition to say that they would buy the DVD for their child. No interactions were significant.

Additional Information:

Other variables:
(1) Previous experience with videos. Parents were asked how many videos/DVDs directed for use with infants/toddlers they owned (e.g., Baby Einstein, Brainy Baby; 1 = none, 2 = 1 to 3 videos, 3 = 4 to 6 videos, 4 = 7 to 9 videos, 5 = 10 to 12 videos, 6 = 13+ videos).

(2) Consumer involvement. On a 5-point scale, parents will indicate their agreement with five statements designed to determine parent’s focus on their child’s educational development.

References

Vaala, S.E. & Lapierre, M.A. Predictors of baby video/DVD ownership:
Findings from a national sample of American parents with young children. (Working paper).

Vaala, S.E. & Lapierre, M.A. Marketing genius: The impact of educational claims and cues on parents’ reactions to infant/toddler DVDs. (Article under review).

Lapierre, M.A. & Vaala, S.E. (2012, May). Marketing genius: The impact of educational claims and cues on parents’ reactions to infant/toddler DVDs. Paper presented at the annual convention of the International Communication Association. Phoenix, AZ.


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