The functions of advertising

By: Yuxuan Wang

Advertising is very important in the market; every company will invest a lot of money in advertising. I think it’s because of advertising’s many functions.

Generally speaking, advertising has seven functions, as follows:

Identifying Brands

Products, services and ideas are sold through businesses that are differentiated by their brand identities. Brand identity is communicated to the public via advertising.


Advertising supplies the necessary information to consumers so that they know what is available and where to buy it.


Powerful, visual advertising presentations compel consumers to purchase goods, services and ideas as a way to achieve emotional fulfillment. Persuasion is the core mission of advertising.

Previewing New Trends

Previews about the virtues of new products, services and ideas motivate consumers to obtain them because they don’t want to be left out.


The demand generated by advertising, public relations, and sales promotion “pulls” the goods or services through channels of distribution, notes “Reference for Business.”

Customer Base

Consistent quality advertising increases consumer loyalty for a product, service or idea.


Advertising displays consumer goods with competitive prices relative to the current market, thus educating consumers about what things should cost.

Amongst those seven functions, the persuasion function is the core mission of advertising. In short, this function is to sell products to consumers. But why do consumers buy those products after they see advertising, and what is the process of decision-making?

We can separate products into two groups: common products and luxury products. First, let’s talk about common products advertising. Many successful companies will use psychological hints in their advertising. For example, most people buy toothpaste not because toothpaste can give you white teeth, but because white teeth can make you more attractive. The key point is that advertising gives consumers a new “fact”: white teeth equals attractiveness. But the effect will not show in a short-term, because many people do not believe it. After a period of time, the advertising will give consumers a psychological hint, which will let consumers believe it is true. Then, they will buy it. When most consumers do not refuse this idea, it will become a “fact”. At the same time, the company earns money.

For luxury products, it is totally different that with common products, because luxury products just have a few numbers of consumers who can afford them. But those consumers will be the loyal consumers, because luxury products demonstrate those consumers’ higher social position and class. Also, luxury products have a lot of potential consumers who cannot afford them. Because rich people will give them purchase predisposition, when they can afford it, they will buy these luxury products because some of them want to – through buying luxury – prove their success and act as loyal consumers. So, most of luxury brands do not have very many slogans in their advertising because they do not need them.


11 thoughts on “The functions of advertising

  1. Yafen Liu April 30, 2015 / 2:57 am

    I agree with you that the persuasion function is the most important mission for advertising. As an essential part of companies’ investment, ads should be profitable like other investments. Ads do not persuade consumers to buy their products directly, buy utilizing a number of marketing strategies. Just as you mentioned, consumers buy toothpastes do not only the white teeth, buy also for the attractiveness it brings. Interesting article!


  2. Jim Butterworth April 30, 2015 / 2:24 pm

    I tend to agree with most of the premises you address. However, I’m not sure (at least in my case) how effective these advertising tactics are in promoting a specific product. I agree that toothpaste is advertised for the attractiveness it can bring. But, I am going to buy toothpaste whether advertised or not. And while I might even be buying toothpaste subliminally for that reason, I am not buying a specific advertised brand.
    This is another place where I kind of disagree with your premise, that luxury brands do not need slogans. I would think just the opposite, on low-priced everyday products, I am going to buy on experience, or quick decision (maybe on packaging), but rarely on product advertisement. Conversely, on high-priced luxury items, I will pay attention to advertising (along with research) before purchasing a product.


  3. Chris Lantagne April 30, 2015 / 3:41 pm

    I agree with Jim in that for luxury products advertising is probably more important. For me, toothpaste with always be just that, toothpaste. What the brand is or what the packaging looks like has very little meaning to me because it serves the same purpose. For products like these it will all depend on price for me. Whatever the lowest price is then that’s what I’m buying.

    For luxury products I do pay attention to the advertising being done. I have certain luxury products that I will always go to because of past purchases or what I perceive the brand to be, and my perception of the brand was created by their advertising. Oakley sunglasses to me will always be my preferred brand for sunglasses, which was done through their campaigns. Also, the fact that thousands of professional athletes are seen competing in Oakley sunglasses (the majority of the time) makes me feel like I own a high quality pair of sunglasses.


  4. Brendan Sullivan April 30, 2015 / 8:38 pm

    I agree that some products you do need such as toothpaste.It is up to the advertiser to persuade you in what type of toothpaste you should buy. If one type of toothpaste guarantees you whiter teeth and no cavities then that will be the better option to buy. Customers can also buy based on different things such as price or what is popular. Some customers do not want to spend that much money on certain products. Maybe they do not care how white their teeth are and they will buy the bargain brand. Some customers immediately go out and buy a new phone because that is whats popular. It really depends on the customer and what they want to buy.


  5. Andrew Dresner May 4, 2015 / 2:55 am

    I agree with the sentiment on luxury products. Personally I am going to lean heavily on the advertising of any luxury product before I buy. Perception of these types of brands is key and advertising plays a big role in that. I have included a link of a few luxury brands and their advertising efforts this past year.


  6. Ryan MacLeod May 4, 2015 / 1:18 pm

    I think that with advertising the average consumer could care less about day to day products and items such as soap, toothpaste, etc. But, as Andrew points out in the above, with luxury products consumers are probably more persuaded by advertising. I think this is because with higher priced products we tend to put more thought into these purchases. The advertising of these products can help attract a consumer to become more interested and potentially buy that item. Advertising is a great tool to spark interest and get a consumer thinking about a product.


  7. Charlie O'Connor May 5, 2015 / 3:59 am

    As Ryan mentioned, the average consumer could care less about day to day products such as soap, toothpaste etc. and I tend to agree with him. However, the power of persuasion is certainly important when trying to build a customer base for these day to day products. Toothpaste, protects against cavities and other oral diseases/complications and occasionally can whiten your teeth. Depending on the brand, I am more likely to buy what is the best bang for my buck as whitening isn’t the biggest reason that I buy/use toothpaste. The attractive aspect of having white teeth can be obtained through other means of whitening such as strips or going to the dentist and having them “actually” whitened. I understand your point about persuasion though. When it comes to luxury products, I agree that they do not need to advertise as heavily. They seem to have a more simple slogan or marketing scheme, I think because you know what you’re going to get when you purchase the product. In terms of Luxury cars, I find that the most high end of vehicles don’t advertise at all as they are of a status not attainable to the common folks that are most likely to see the ad. To that, I would agree with you when you say they don’t have many slogans because they don’t need them. For example, when’s the last time you saw a Lamborghini commercial?


  8. Nandish Patel May 7, 2015 / 5:01 pm

    I agree that persuasion is the key factor for marketing. You need to convince the consumer why they should buy your product. But in case of common products demand and brand dominance also play a important role. For toothpaste Colgate has always been the most dominant brand in the market. I won’t change from Colgate to any other toothpaste unless they have something really promising to give that Colgate can’t give me.
    On other hand for luxury products, only way to sell a luxury product is by persuasion, direct or indirect. For Rolls Royce, they have persuaded the world that they are the most royal brand in the world.


  9. Xiaolong Yang May 7, 2015 / 6:26 pm

    Advertising lets a company get new clients or existing clients to use their product or service. Certain businesses require vast amounts of advertising in order to break through all the clutter of other competing businesses. Advertising also lets a company establish a brand image – which gives potential customers an idea of what to expect from the company’s product or service.


  10. Xiaolong Yang May 7, 2015 / 6:49 pm

    Although I am not a fan of NFL, but I know big data information is very important for sports. Accurate data analysis is always more dependable than experience.


  11. Megan Lac April 19, 2016 / 11:25 pm

    I agree in the sense that persuasion is the core mission of advertising. Consumers buy products because these products or services fill a want or a need and the idea of advertising is to create this want or need. Advertisers need to make a case and persuade a customer as to why they need their product and/or how the product fits a consumers current need.
    As you mentioned, good advertisers will use psychology to base their value propositions on. A common theme is mallows hierarchy of needs. If an advertiser can convince someone their product fits a need, such as the bottom level of physiological, with it being essential to staying alive a consumer is more likely to buy a product they feel will help them over a product that shows no benefit.


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