The known effects of advertising on consumers range from creating an awareness of the product or service to influencing a buying decision. Advertising can create a shift in thinking by consumers, which may take different forms. For example, after viewing an ad, a consumer may decide that his or her usual product either seems better or worse that the one being advertised, without knowing exactly why. Other effects of advertising that create a more conscious shift in consumers' thought processes may be due to a strong informational aspect.
In the case of advertising that provides statistics or facts, this information may convince a consumer to switch brands. For example, if the manufacturers of a soup that most children love announce that the soup now has a full serving of vegetables in each portion, this can affect many parents' decisions to switch brands. Other parents who don't typically buy commercial soups, but make their own, may simply get the effect of recognizing that this brand now seems healthier. While these brand awareness effects won't likely influence consumers to buy the product immediately, the soup may be on the parents' minds to purchase if at some point they can't make their own.
Direct response advertising, such as the infomercial programming often shown late at night on many television stations, works much differently than ads that have brand awareness or future buying decision effects. This type of advertising is designed to create a sense of urgency to order the products immediately. These convincing and compelling effects are usually done by using demonstrations, an excited-sounding announcer pointing out unique product benefits and adding incentives for acting immediately. For instance, common ordering incentives include receiving free products or even two sets of products for the price of one.
Persuasive effects of advertising are especially effective on children. Advertising sugary cereals, toys and fast food during children's television shows is controversial, as many parents and child advocates argue that kids shouldn't be subject to these ads. Although parents ultimately are the ones who make the buying decisions, the children watching the commercials pushing products that grab their interest typically ask a parent to buy the items. These effects of advertising on consumers can make for annoyed parents, yet at the same time, the parents are also likely to purchase at least some of the products being advertised for their kids, such as for a birthday gift or special treat.