North Wales Management School - Wrexham University

The effects of advertising on consumer behaviour

Posted on: March 19, 2024
Megaphone advertises a Sale

Whether we’re scrolling through social media, watching television, or driving down the motorway, we encounter a multitude of advertisements every day. It’s fair to say that advertisements are a ubiquitous part of people’s lives – and they play a pivotal role in shaping people’s behaviour, too. 

Advertising’s role in the consumer decision-making process

People cannot buy a product or service unless they know it exists. That’s where the influence of advertising comes in. Common types of advertising include:

  • Television advertisements. TV ads have been a staple in advertising for decades. They offer a wide-reaching platform to showcase products and services to a diverse audience.
  • Print media advertisements. Newspapers and magazines have long been used for advertising. Print ads can provide in-depth information and are often used for promoting more complicated or complex products.
  • Billboard advertisements. These large, eye-catching displays are strategically placed in high-traffic areas. They are effective for creating brand awareness and delivering short, impactful messages.
  • Online advertisements. With the advent of the internet, online advertising has surged in popularity. It includes banner ads, sponsored content, and social media advertising. It also offers precise targeting and real-time analytics.
  • Celebrity endorsements. Celebrities are frequently used to endorse products, leveraging their influence and credibility to sway consumer opinion.

Consumer behaviour, meanwhile, is a multifaceted social science. It’s the study of people’s reasons and motivations for selecting the products and services they buy, and explores their buying habits and patterns, too.

There are a number of influences on a consumer’s buying behaviour, but advertising is a significant one. In fact, advertising often serves as the catalyst that initiates a consumer’s journey towards a purchase decision, and influences other steps, too:

  • Awareness creation. The primary role of advertising is to create awareness about a particular product or service. It introduces people to consumer goods and services that they may not have known about otherwise.
  • Information dissemination. Advertisements convey information about a product’s features, benefits, and unique selling points. This information aids consumers in making informed buying decisions.
  • Emotional appeal. Successful advertisements tap into the emotional side of consumers, creating a connection that goes beyond rationality – and emotions play a substantial role in shaping consumer purchase intentions.
  • Brand recall. Consistent exposure to adverts enhance brand recall. When consumers are faced with choices, they are more likely to choose a brand they remember from advertising.

Understanding the relationship between advertising and consumer awareness

Consumer awareness is a fundamental aspect of consumer behaviour – and advertising is a potent tool for raising awareness. Consider the effects of advertisements: not only do they raise brand awareness – familiarising consumers with brand names, logos, and slogans – but they also raise:

  • Product awareness. Through advertisements, consumers become aware of new products entering the market. 
  • Problem-solution awareness. Advertisements often present a problem and position the advertised product as the solution. This helps consumers recognise their needs and, crucially, how a particular product can address them.

The benefits: positive effects of advertisements on consumer behaviour

Informed decision-making

Advertising provides consumers with information about products and services, empowering them to make informed purchase decisions based on their product needs and brand preferences.

Brand loyalty

Well-crafted ads can evoke emotions, fostering a deeper connection between the consumer and the brand image. This emotional bond and continuous exposure to a brand’s advertisements can foster brand loyalty.

Increased sales

Effective advertising strategies can boost sales and revenue for businesses. This is particularly evident when new products are introduced or during sales promotions.

The challenges: negative impacts of advertising on customers

Potential manipulation or deception

Some advertisements resort to manipulation and deception to influence consumer attitudes. This can lead to misguided purchase decisions and consumer dissatisfaction, and is generally regarded as unethical – or even illegal.


The constant bombardment of advertisements – and the influential impact of advertisements – can pressure consumers to buy products they don’t genuinely need, which in turn leads to unsustainable overconsumption.

Privacy concerns

Online advertising, in particular, raises concerns about data privacy. Consumers may feel uncomfortable with the extent to which their personal information is used for targeted advertising.

Unrealistic expectations

Advertisements often depict idealised versions of reality, which can lead to consumers having unrealistic expectations about products or their outcomes.

The role of social media

It’s no exaggeration to say that social media has revolutionised the advertising landscape. Its unique features and broad reach have made it a potent platform for influencing consumer behaviour. For example, it facilitates:

  • Targeted advertising. Social media platforms collect extensive user data, enabling advertisers to target specific demographics and interests with precision.
  • Engagement and interaction. Social media allows for real-time engagement between brands and consumers. This interaction can help shape consumer perceptions and build up brand loyalty.
  • Influencer marketing. Social media influencers have become a powerful force in advertising and marketing management. They can sway consumer opinions and preferences through content and endorsements that are perceived as more authentic than traditional ad endorsements.
  • User-generated content. Consumers themselves can now directly contribute to advertising by creating their own content – such as reviews and testimonials – which can in turn influence new potential buyers.

The future of advertising and consumer behaviour

Technology and consumer preferences are evolving, which means that the advertising landscape, and its significant impact on consumer behaviour, is changing. In this environment, several key trends – and areas for future research and data analysis – are emerging:

  • Digital marketing dominance. Digital advertising is widely predicted to continue growing in importance in the years ahead. Advertisers will need to continually adapt their advertising strategies and marketing strategies to effectively engage consumers in this space as it evolves.
  • Personalisation and AI. Advances in artificial intelligence are expected to enable highly personalised advertising experiences that cater to individual preferences and behaviours, and help ensure that particular brands stay at the forefront of consumer’s minds.
  • Ethical advertising. Consumer research suggests there’s a growing push for more ethical advertising and marketing practices alongside a demand for transparency and respect for customer privacy.
  • Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR). These technologies are a relatively new tool in the advertising and marketing mix. They offer immersive experiences that can trigger emotional responses in target audiences and help nudge consumer behaviour more generally.
  • Sustainability and social responsibility. Consumers are increasingly concerned about the business world’s commitment to sustainability and social responsibility, so advertisers will need to routinely align their messaging and practices with these values in order to resonate with potential consumers.

Develop the skills to influence consumer behaviour

Learn how to think critically, plan effectively, and implement strategic plans for maximum impact with the 100% online Master of Business Administration (MBA) at North Wales Management School, part of Wrexham Wrexham University. This flexible MBA degree has been designed for ambitious, self-starting professionals who are looking to fast-track their careers with a deeper understanding of business and leadership skills.

One of the modules available on this programme explores customer continuity and growth, and enables you to critically examine the tools and techniques used to create successful customer growth in all contexts. In doing so, you will develop a critical understanding of the factors that influence consumer behaviour, and evaluate the literature and relevant theories that explain consumer motivation and customer relationships.

The comprehensive curriculum of this MBA programme also covers key business disciplines including marketing, finance, strategic management, and human resource management, and will develop your skills and knowledge in:

  • Finding solutions to complex business challenges.
  • Creativity and idea generation.
  • Communication and stakeholder management skills.
  • Analytical techniques – turning data into actionable insights.
  • Understanding and leveraging macro trends.