The role of advertising on perceived quality of fast-moving consumer goods

The advertisement industry has experienced significant advances in recent years due to the growth and explosion of new technologies and platforms which resulted in the sales of Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FCMGs) in Africa on a steady decline. With the growth of competing brands and an influx of advertising messages, brands struggle to differentiate themselves in the market (Lepkowska-White, Parsons and Ceylan, 2014).

The study investigated the role of advertising, specifically magazine print advertising on the perceived quality of FMCGs in South Africa. Analysing the Clover’s advertisements found in magazines, the themes being investigated included adverting in relations emotions, quality and judgements. In order to determine the relevance of magazine print advertising, this study employed an interpretivism worldview in order to explore the phenomenon in more depth. Primary research was collected through semi-structured interviews from three participants based in Pretoria, South Africa, thus the findings cannot be generalised to a wider public as the sample was small. The findings revealed that participants viewed advertisements on magazines as fresh, authentic and trustworthy, indicating that magazine print advertisements play a significant role in shaping consumers’ judgements especially towards FMCGs.


Adverting has proved to be an ever-present concept through the years as brands battle for market-share and competitive advantage. Advertising is described by Lepkowska-White, Parsons and Ceylan (2014) as a way in which brands attempt to influence consumers buying behaviour through persuasive messages. The latter also states that brands attempt to communicate their products in such a way to persuade consumers to purchase them. Furthermore, Bolanos Melgar and Elsner (2016) elaborate that advertising has been enhanced by the rapid enhancement of technology, which allows brands to communicate with consumers across various platforms in various locations. However, print advertisement are still deemed to be credible by consumers.

When asked if the product appealed to them more after seeing the advertisement, all three participants stated that it did indeed. This correlates with Lepkowska-White, Parsons and Ceylan (2014) statement as the advertisement persuaded the participants to think positively of the product's quality before tasting it. Moreover, the participants stated that the product is appealing to them. In this case, it can be argued that Clover advertisement represented healthiness, provoked curiosity and happiness. This ties with Gagliardi (2015) who states that providing healthy food is a social issue which brands are looking to address. As a result, advertising healthy food in magazines is a form of quality communication. This is evident as the advertisement made the product more appealing to the participants, it was deemed “healthy” by both P1 and P2 and this therefore correlates with the statement by Bolanos Melgar and Elsner (2016) that advertising becomes effective when addressing social issues on magazines.


Beck (2014), states that there are four main emotions namely happiness, sadness, fear/surprise and anger/disgust. Oetting (2018) further states that brands seek to provoke the happiness emotion when advertising as they want to ensure they receive positive associations such as smiling and laughter from consumers. When asked about feelings that the Clover advertisement provokes within the participants, a common pattern occurred. The participants identified the advertisement as “interesting”, others went to argue that the Clover advertisement were evoking curiosity “made them want to try the product”. Lombrozo (2017) states that curiosity is indeed a complex emotion, and positive curiosity is promoted and can be associated with love and happiness. The participants' curiosity was one of anticipation, and thus a positive curiosity. Therefore, it is evident that the participants responses may be linked to happiness, and as explained above, happiness is an emotion that brands seek to provoke (Oetting, 2018).


The Clover brand prides itself on providing products that are deemed to be premium and of good quality (Clover, 2019). Therefore, it is essential to understand how the participants perceive the quality of the Clover brand. Akrani (2013) describes product quality as the product’s ability to meet the consumers’ needs and/or wants and thus provide a degree of satisfaction. The latter further states that quality can be represented as the product’s ability to be free of deficiencies. However, Gagliardi (2015) states that consumers are relating healthiness to quality when it comes to the FMCG food industry.

Participants stated that their opinion of the product after viewing the Clover advertisement on magazines is one that is positive. Phrases such as “it looks healthy” “Looks tasty” were some of the feedback from participants. It is clear that their opinions of the Clover product are one that are of good quality. Quintal and Phau (2013) assert that perceived quality is derived from the consumer’s use or consumption of the product or service. Akrani (2013) further states that quality could be associated with how consumers perceive the product in relation to others. The participants all stated that they think the Clover product advertised as better than that of other products in the same categories. Sharma (2017) states that a product in an advertisement may be perceived as a good quality product due to brand loyalty of the consumer. When participants were asked regarding the quality of the Clover products advertised, most of them explained that Clover products are of better quality than that of other products within the same category. This could be driven by the brand loyalty that the participants ascribed to Clover as they responded with “I am a Clover fan” and “I trust the brand” respectively.


According to Sharma (2017), perceived quality derives from judgements consumers have about the product at question. Moreover, judgements are described as the ability to come to a conclusion about a certain incident, individual or object (Wilder, 1996). When asked what comes to mind when looking at the Clover advertisement, participants said “healthy”; “Fruit”. According to Donvito (2019), fruits are associated with good health and thus the participant again perceives the product to be healthy, and in turn of good quality, after viewing the advertisement. This correlates with previous literature as Sharma (2017) states that judgements lead to perceived quality. These judgements indicate that the participants' conclusions represent good quality and trust in the product. This however is disjointed from Quintal and Phau (2013) statement that claims perceived quality derives from the use of a product, as participants had not tasted the product advertised and nevertheless came to a conclusion that the product seemed healthy and tasty as well as authentic. In essence, the participants predominantly linked Clover advertisement with positive association. Furthermore, patterns of health, taste and curiosity were found across the various as a positive attribute of judgement.

Concluding then, FMCG market has grown leaps and bounds and clutter is more evident now than ever. The use of magazine advertisement can then assist brands to communicate to the target market more meaningfully. Brands need to differentiate and stand out in the clutter (Pileliene and Grigaliunaite, 2017) in order to be more impactful. As noted with regard to Clover, there has been a positive association in respect to the advertisement paged on magazines. Consumers generally had a “happy” emotional attribute to the brand, the judgement towards the brand was positive and the perceived quality is one that is favourable.


Images via Pixabay under CC0

About the Authors

Mitchell Baumann

Mitchell Baumann is an Honours Graduate and entrepreneur who is currently a partner in two exciting start-ups. In 2019, he completed his Honours degree at IIE-Vega School in Pretoria, South Africa specialising in strategic brand management. Mitchell is currently a partner and Chief Operations Officer at Barktree, a digital marketing and software development agency, as well as a partner in a fintech start-up still in the seedling phase. He is a sports and outdoors enthusiast with a zest for life. His willingness to take on new challenges, and love for adventure, were what drove him to pursue an Honours degree and venture into the world of start-ups.

Ivan Mkhomazi (Supervisor)

Ivan Mkhomazi is a PhD scholar with a specialisation in Brand Leadership and freelance brand strategist. He is also a lecturer at Unisa’s Department of Communication Science and a part-time Navigator at the IIE-Vega School, where he supervises Honours students who are enrolled for Brand Communication/Brand Management Qualifications.