The new study, published in the Journal of Consumer Research, finds that 'independent' consumers are more likely to relate to a diet product when its benefits are framed in the longer term, while consumers that are more group or family orientated relate better to products that have immediate or short-term benefits.
"Advertising targeted at consumers who see themselves as more independent would be more effective when presented in more abstract terms, with product benefits occurring in the more distant future," said the authors - led by Gerri Spassova from Monash University, Australia.
"But ads targeting consumers who see themselves as less independent would be more effective when framed in more concrete terms, with benefits occurring sooner," they suggested.
In the new study, consumers who were classed as either independent or group orientated were shown advertisements for a Lean Cuisine product that suggested the products benefits were either long term or taking place sooner.
The team showed that more independent consumers found the ad more persuasive when it was targeted at an individual and its benefits were presented as taking place in the more distant future, while consumers who thought of themselves as less independent found the same ad more persuasive when it was targeted at a family and its benefits were presented as taking place sooner.
"More independent consumers think of the future in abstract terms and perceive future events as happening in the more distant future, whereas consumers who are less independent think of the future in concrete terms and perceive future events as happening sooner," they commented.