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Advertising Effect on British Buying Decisions


The research will be done mainly to determine the effects of advertising on United Kingdom citizen’s buying decisions. Several researches have been done but have not completely exposed the major effects advert messages have on consumer behavior in the United Kingdom. The research will survey respondents to collect appropriate data; the data will be analyzed and report will be made public for public consumptions. It will be ensured that the research respects the rights of participants and will follow the framework of a social research. The appropriate research ethics will be followed to ensure that the whole process remains objective to the subject of study.

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Advertising is meant to introduce people to products and services in the market, it builds awareness, reduces cost of sales, helps in the sales of product to existing customers, and cultivates new prospect. So long as sellers have something to sell they can never miss something to advertise. Advertising has an important role in the economy and also the lives of the citizens. The industry of advertising has been undergoing dramatic change in terms of its nature and the extent to which it has influence. It is therefore important to understand the effect s of these changes on advertisements (Rosenberg, 2007). In the current society citizens have limited financial resources yet the advertisement agencies are always determined to persuade them that they need the product on offer.

There are lots of technologies at the disposal of advertising agencies which they use to ensure that their messages reach the intended market segment. At the same time individual citizens decide the media through which the advert messages reach them. They have to choose from media like television, magazines and newspapers, radios, reading advert messages via internet, receiving mobile phone alerts and through bill boards and street displays (Rosenberg, 2007). In the current UK society it is not possible to avoid advert messages since everywhere one goes there must be some form of advertisement, it is like advert messages always follow and wait to influence potential buyers. Internet advertising is growing at a faster rate. So many times have people found advert messages in their email inboxes and also through pop ups, in fact Britain is amongst the initial major economies where advertising online is becoming more popular than the television advertisement. With all the many advert messages and their presence, almost everywhere, this research seeks to find out how advertisements impacts on the UK’s citizens’ decisions to make purchases.

Research question

There is great growth in the activities of advertisements. The advertisement has been used to inform the general consumers on the availability of certain products and services in the market. The process goes on without the proper examination of the effects it imposes on the citizens and their buying behavior. The main objectives of advertising are to inform the consumers that there are new products and services in the market, remind them about the already existing products and services in the market, and persuade them that they need the product and services on offer. Several researches that have been done in the advertising industry have focused in the areas of effective advertisements; some have been specific on its consequences on health and children.

The citizens of UK have high tendency of responding to very appealing adverts. This is especially the case with teenagers, children, and young adults (Osgerby, 2004). The expenditures amongst the teenagers and young adults are higher than the middle aged and the old. Advertisements have a greater impact on these age groups as compared to the rest. It is argued that most property owned by the UK citizens go to waste. These range from the clothes, toys, electronics, and foodstuff. The citizens tend to like new products and services in the market. This is the reason the advertising agencies have effectively used the advanced technology to reach them at any time and anywhere. No research work has ever measured the extent, to which advertisements influence the buying behavior of consumers in the UK (Campbell, 1982). It is therefore important to carry out a research to answer the following questions:

  1. To what extent do advertisements affect UK consumers’ buying decisions?
  2. Are the UK consumers independent in deciding buying decisions without the influence of media adverts?
  3. Are the consumers aware of the influence of advertisements on their buying decisions?

Research objectives

The objectives of this research are:

  1. to establish how different advertisements influence buyers decisions in the UK
  2. to find out misuse of advertisements to exploit the UK citizens
  3. to investigate effects of advertisement on the prices of goods and services in UK and how the citizens use this information to decide on buying behavior

Literature review

Advertising, in the view of communication the connection between the supplier and the purchaser or between the manufacturer and the consumer, started several years ago. Many talents and varied creativities are put into place in order to have an effective advertising agency. The revolution in advertising industry has resulted into a process of homogenizing consumers’ value systems and ambitions. The language mix of presenting the consumer with information about available products in the market includes the use of appealing pictures, humorous words, and music (Beard, 2008). All these combinations appeal to different consumers differently.

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Advertising in the United Kingdom has played a major role in informing the varied consumer behavior in the United Kingdom. Advertising on different goods and services influences the consumers on what they should buy or not buy. Different citizens of different age groups perceive advertising differently. For instance, according to research done by Ofcom (2004:1) children consider advertising merely as entertainment while still below age five year. Between ages of four and seven they are able to tell advertisements from program. As they grow old they come to understand clearly the meaning of advertising and its intentions to persuade. Children are never influenced by value of products, but by the category of its personality, sound, and color of the product being advertised (Ofcom 2004:16). Youngsters are more probable to pay attention to the message contents of an advert and can possibly be persuaded by the message. They are keen and examine the arguments posed by the adverts about given lines of products. According to a research done by Ofcom (2004: 18) most parents are found to be non-judgmental just like their children. The research findings argue that the parents too, watch the advertisements with obvious pleasure. Generally the parents do not distinguish between classified ads meant for children and those that are meant for adults. It was also found out that most people do not discuss or consider the credibility of adverts meant for commercial motivation and those who talk about it only do so sporadically.

The consumer aspirations in the UK grow fast. This may be attributed to changing lifestyles and fashion change. The producers and suppliers have therefore been forced to meet the growing demand of consumers. Through the process, more differentiated goods are produced and presented to the consumer through advertisements and campaigns. The consumers always have a wider range of products to choose from, some of the products usually fulfill similar needs. To ensure that the consumers buy a particular product from a certain company, the different manufacturers come up with their own branded products. The act of advertising has formed part and parcel of every individual’s life; it has a lot of influence on people’s purchase decisions, this happens either consciously or unconsciously. The competition amongst producers and suppliers is due to sensitivity to expectations and aspirations of the consumer. To compete favorably the advertisers have been forced to possess high creativity and innovations to be able to beat other competitors in satisfying the consumer demand.

Previous research by a body called Advertising Association and quoted by Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA 2008) established that 64% of surveyed citizens conceded that through advertising people get to find out new products in the market, then 59% amongst the 64%, said that the advertising is always entertaining. IPA further argues that still 64% indicated that advertising plays a big role in reducing the prices of commodities. Further researches done have found out that only a very few people are concerned that the government should control advertising; this does not imply that the advertising in the UK is not regulated by the government. This means that some citizens are not bothered even with the contents of the adverts being shown through different media; it also indicates that only few people are conscious and concerned about the negative impact of the advertising.

To regulate advertising in the United Kingdom Advertising Standards Authority was established. The authority regulates all the media advertising agencies in the UK. It uses an advertising code to ensure advertisements are decent, truthful, legal, and honest. This authority is also concerned with the protection of consumer interests and provides a level playing ground for all advertising agencies. The advertising media in the UK includes radios, television, newspapers, billboards, internet, in-house, press and infomercial advertising. There are still many advertising media in the United Kingdom. The advertising in the UK initially focused on the issues of making the society in which advert messages were made to relate to all the citizens and also all the citizens were portrayed to relate to the messages (Hawkins, 1986).

The governments regulation imposed on television has a major impact in the advertising industry of the United Kingdom. It established an independent commission for television media in 1990; in 2004 an authority meant to deal with radio broadcasting regulation replaced the commission for the television broadcast. Several literature materials indicate that there has been the element of direct regulation mirrored by self guidelines with regard to themes on alcohol, children, and cigarettes. Nonetheless, the Independent Television commission has laid down some intricate programs that resolve on the difference between advertisements and programmes. The body has also established regulation on the planning, length, and the frequency of the adverts. Advertising has been found to have its negative sides. It is argued that if advertising is left unchecked, it can possibly result into environmental and social challenges. With the current growth in science and technology, which has had a great influence in the way advertisements are presented to the consumers the public has the concern of deciding where and when the advertisements should be done.

Advertisement is seen to present to the consumer the picture of dissatisfaction and that what the consumers already have with them are not the best, in fact the message adverts always indicate the goods and services in the current market are the best even if there is no difference between them and what the consumer has; they therefore encourage them to go for more and more with disregard to their financial positions. Research has also found out that advertisements mainly influence the teenagers and adults; these are considered to be the most vulnerable people to the pressure created by the advert messages. Expenditures amongst the teenagers and the young adults are higher than those of the rest of the consumer age groups, this is said to have left them financially depressed (Gannon and Lawson, 2009). A study done by a children’s society found out that hyper consumption is part of society. This has had a variety of problems to children and also contributed to high figures of family break-ups, commercial pressure towards premature and early sex and also teenage wickedness. According to a psychological research scientist, Philip Graham, Child Psychiatry professor at the London’s Child Health Institute (Gannon and Lawson, 2009) advertising pressure may well have some psychological concern on children. He argues that the rising levels to which young adults and children are lost in thought of the latest trends of clothing, electronics, could be the main cause to mental illnesses (British Psychological Society, 2005).

Several stakeholders are concerned that the media should take responsibility in ensuring that the contents of their adverts are not provocative to societal moral practices. Certain groups and individuals have argued that the media adverts have portrayed to children that happiness lies in the possession of materials and excessive consumptions. The media should ensure that children and adults have their own distinct forms of advert messages (Solomon, 2002). The children have no source of income yet they heavily consume; the financial implications of this squarely rest on the parents. The parents must spend for themselves and also for the children.

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As a result of advertisement many British citizens live with a lot of wastage. For instance a research done indicates that about half of the clothes bought in Britain are never put on, each year about 900 million pieces of clothing are taken to landfill, 0.5million tone of foodstuff worth approximately 400 million pounds are wasted by an addition amount of a bout 50 million pounds for disposal charges, annually approximately 13 million toys are thrown into landfills and electronic items discarded every year weigh about one million tones. This also shows the effects of advertising on environment which in turn has direct influence in the lives of people (Gannon and Lawson 2009).

To ensure that the media do not have negatively impacting advert messages, several research study have been done and a number of propositions have been advanced. It has been argued that the public must be liberated from unwarranted solicitation, in support of this sentiment it has been proposed that advertising in public be placed on ban, this includes restrictions on the use of billboards. The resulting effect is argued to be reduced pressure to consume thereby allowing the consumer to choose when to consume, what to consume, and where to get it from. The internet advertising has also been seen to contribute to pressure on consumers to consume what they may not have wanted to consume were the advert message not to reach them. It has been found that certain search engines have engaged into the business of collecting and storing information of the clients who use their search engines; the information is then sold to companies who use it to send personalized advert messages to unsuspecting individuals.

Advertising in the UK has been riddled with propaganda (Moore, 2010). It is argued that the advert message which claimed the ongoing climate change with a source of flooding and famine went beyond conventional scientific agreement. It is further argued that the advertisement did not take into account the sentiment that the effects of global warming that have been expressed is based on uncertainties. It is also reported that the controversial advert also appeared on various newspapers (Horner, 2008). This is a clear indication that not all the adverts propagated by the media are true or right. The consumers may some times be presented with products and services whose details are misrepresented with a view to persuade the consumers to purchase. The advert messages are always full of humor. This is probably the reason it is impossible to avoid them; and also may be why they are so attractive and appealing to potential consumers. It is said that the humor increases comprehension of the advert messages. The humor is created in such away that it fits the products and services being advertised.

There are many adverts that come from creditors encouraging the citizens to take credits. These kinds of adverts always have some hidden information about the products being sold. The adverts are packaged in away that make the goods and services being advertised look cheap and affordable. In many cases the consumers who get into the trap of such adverts run into problems later. The possible problems into which the consumer may face are failure to finish a mortgage, failure to service a loan on time and increased interest rates. The number of goods and services offered in the market is big. Some of these goods and services are substitutes and are packaged and advertised differently. This scenario presents the consumers with a lot of confusion (Industrial research & development, 1980). When the consumer goes to the market, it becomes difficult to choose the appropriate products. This is because all the products in the market are appealing. Despite the large number of advertisers already in the UK other advertisers from the foreign countries are also streaming in to meet the market demand. The new advertisers are said to be cashing in online advertisement; this owes to the claim that British citizens are common online shoppers (Dunning, 1998).

Many companies have also resorted to using celebrities to endorse their products. Such companies use respectable celebrities loved by majority to present their products in the market (Springer, 2007). However, the use of celebrities does not work always some times it backfires especially where the celebrities are not good at promoting products. With computer technology, it has become possible to manipulate images of celebrities and then use them in advertising for instance there was once an image of Ford showing him driving a car that was being advertised. Though Ford had died long time ago, his image was manipulated through computer and integrated with an image of a car and that formed an advert to persuade the customers to buy (Springer, 2007). The celebrities have also been used particularly in advertising junk food. This has influence on the funs of such a particular celebrity; children and teenagers who are funs are the most vulnerable. They will tend to want to eat foods the celebrities are shown to be eating in the advertising media. Hidden to them and other consumers is the advertisers clever tactic of inducing the consumers to purchase their products, which may not be different from the rest.

The advertising agencies in some cases also use child psychology to induce the parents into impulse buying. Certain products meant to and appealing to children are placed within their reach, this encourages them to pick and force their parents to buy. Furthermore, in self-service shops like the supermarkets there are certain goods placed next to cash tills, this has the effect of inducing the customers to make use of their cash balances. In most cases these items are cheap and come in form of snacks.


The research process will involve use of quantitative research method in which sectional survey will be the main tool.


The research will involve the use of cross sectional survey method. The data to be collected will be statistical and therefore the use of this method will be the most appropriate. The method will be used to collect data on the attitude of citizens about the influence of advertisement on them. Designed questionnaire will be administered to the respondents; where possible direct interview will be used appropriately to ensure that the data collected is enough and appropriate for analysis (Bernard, 2000).

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Sampling and sampling frame

The respondents to be used in the study will be drawn from the population through random sampling method. The sample will be drawn from household population and will be representative of children, teenagers and youths and adult. Both sexes will also be represented. The respondents will be selected from all the regions of the United Kingdom. A total of 4000 respondents will be surveyed through questionnaires (Bernard, 2000).

Access and ethics

The respondents will be accessed by a team of well trained individuals. Different team members will be drawn from locally to cut on transport cost. The questionnaires will then be sent to them via post office. During sampling the respondents will be allowed to exercise the free will, the respondents will be free to decline even after being chosen especially when such a respondent feels the research may undermine him or her in some way; in fact the use of random sampling will help in avoiding possible selection biases which may unintentionally arise (Bernard, 2000). The whole research process will also be conducted in a manner that respects and maintains human dignity and the participants will be informed about the intention of the research so as to dispel any doubt in them. The respondents will be assured the specific use that will be the subject of the research; they will also get assured that the information they provide will not be made public and instead kept confidential (Sieber, 1982). The process of this research will follow all the principles of social research. The research team will be composed of participants, who are knowledgeable in research to avoid any personal biases in the process; this will also ensure that data from the field are handled as original as collected.

Data collection and analysis

Structured questionnaires will be administered to the respondents. The research team members at the grass root areas will receive the questionnaires and let them be appropriately answered and then sent back to the office. The data will then be fed into the computer and analyzed and interpreted by experts. The information then will be made public and disseminated to relevant authorities and organizations (National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, 1978).


The research process may require that qualitative data collection is used in certain instances; the quantitative method will not be appropriate and is likely to leave qualitative data out. This may have the effect of inefficiency in the process of data collection. The development of standard queries can result into structural biases and false account where the data is likely to reflect the views and not the participating respondents. Other problems may be the failure of the questionnaires to reach the research assistant in the field and may be back to the office, there may be misplacement of the questionnaires due to misaddressing of envelops.


Throughout the research process, there will be appropriate measures to check on the progress of the research. In the cases where quantitative will not be possibly collected the research team will engage qualitative data collection method. The questionnaires will be sent very early so that in case some do not reach, others can be sent to replace them before the actual data collection begins.

Validity, reliability, and generality

To ensure that the research remains valid in its processes by having valid sample population, using the appropriate tools set herein in data collection and analysis. The whole research process will remain within the framework of the study. The methodology will thoroughly be kept on check to ward off any potential bias (Grove, 2005). The research will ensure reliability by being as objective as possible during the whole process. High level of consistency will be ensured during the process of designing and carrying out the research. The methodology that will be used will follow the general rules of social science so that the outcome can be representative of the whole population. The research will keep checks and balances to ensure that the research remains within the proper framework (Berman-Brown, 2006).

Research budget

Funds to be used in the project will be sourced from different agencies through request for donations.

  • Total Personnel:               48,000
  • Equipment                              15,000
  • Travel                                        4,500
  • Materials and Supplies         9,500
  • Consultant                               2,500
  • Printing                                    1,500
  • Total Project Cost            £81,000


The research will be conducted to determine the way the UK consumer buying behaviors are dictated by advertisements. The research will reveal whether the effects of advertisements have positive or negative impact on the UK citizens in relation to decision on what to consume and at what time. The research will also show whether the consumers in the UK have their own freedom to decide on what to purchase and consume or they are acting in response to pressure placed on them by the numerous continuous and unceasing advertisement messages. This research will also open up opportunities for the development of further research thesis on different issues such as how the consumer determines the methods of communicating advert messages by the advertising firms. Through this research various relevant agencies such as the government and consumer protectionists will be able to use the findings in ensuring that the citizens of the United Kingdom are safe from advertisers’ exploitations. It also seeks to bridge the gap that has always been left by prior research works by various researchers (Brown, 1988). The research findings will also be beneficial to the consumers themselves. They will be able to discover how advertisements affect how they decide to spend their finances.


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