Source factors

What characteristics do certain individuals companies or groups possess that facilitate their effectiveness in changing views and attitudes of others. This article discusses major characteristics of persuasive communication sources. The major types of marketing communication sources are reviewed first and factors influencing their persuasiveness are discussed next.

Marketing Communication sources

In a marketing context, several sources can be employed in an attempt to reach consumers with persuasive communications. These can be used alone or in combination to produce a combined source effect on consumer. Six prominent marketing sources effects are briefly described in the paragraphs below.

Consumers perceive companies as sources of information, and some are been as highly credible but others are viewed wit suspicion. Most consumers feel that Procter & Gamble and Du Pont for example are trustworthy companies.

Because of their face to face contacts with current and prospective customers’ sales representation themselves are viewed by consumers as information sources. Also, salespeople who are viewed as knowledgeable (expert) and trustworthy often are more persuasive than those not so highly regarded. In addition evidence suggest that consumers are more receptive to salespeople form highly credible companies such as the Metropolitan life Insurance Company than from unknown or low credibility companies.

Consumers use the media extensively for product information. Although media are actually channel links between companies’ and consumers (receivers) people view them as sources thus, it is important to understand their effects on persuading consumers to purchase products. Good Housekeeping and parents Magazine e examples of media that consumers perceive as credible sources of product information.

Companies typically employ individuals as representatives in advertising. In fact, on-camera spokespeople appear in a significant portion of television advertising. Effective hired promoters such as Walter Cronkite Arnold Palmer and Michael Jordan are ones who have established reputations for themselves often in occupations unrelated to the advertised product.

At the local level, retailers often act as sources for marketing communications. A department store that has a good local reputation may more easily sell unknown brands than less reputable stores might. Also, specialty shops are successful in selling unknown brands because of their perceived expertise in the product line, such as cameras, rugs and stereo equipment.

Although we have described each of the above marketing sources separately, in reality there are combined source effects that interact to produce a persuasive impact on consumers. Therefore producers must carefully select hired promoters media and retailers to deliver persuasive brand messages.

Influences on Source Effectiveness

A variety of factors can influence the persuasiveness of those who transmit marketing communications. Among many factors influencing the ability of a source to change attitudes are his credibility, his similarity to audience members, and his attitudes toward himself the message and audience members. This section reviews these major influences.

Credibility and its effects

Perhaps the most investigated source factor in persuasion is credibility or believability. A long held conclusion from numerous early research studies has been that highly credible sources achieve greater attitude change among consumers than those having less credibility. We should be careful to note there that credibility rests in the eyes of receivers. That is receivers must perceive a source as credible, regardless of whether or not he actually is honest, trustworthy knowledgeable and so on. Thus, if a consumer perceives Michael Jordan as a credible source for basketball shoes then when Jordan promotes the advantages of Nike the consumer would be expected to be persuaded by the message to a greater degree than if someone else that the consumer perceives as it less credible source had spoken the same words.

This general finding about the effectiveness of highly credible sources for generating attitude change reflects common sense to many of us. However, more recent evidence suggests that the impact of source credibility is complex depending on a number of specific conditions. Some of these are addressed below. In this discussion, we are assuming that conditions of high involvement exist so that consumers are actively attending to the communications being out.