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Clearing the Air
Most people want to live in a clean environment. Marketing cleaning products involves tactics ranging from rationality and logic to emotions and instincts. Some companies use the simplest possible terms, as basic as calling bacteria “germs.” Advertisers use cartoons and simple diagrams to show how the product kills bad germs and makes things “sparkle.” At the other extreme are the more complex and scientific explanations regarding a product’s ability to clean things up.
In this context, the market for air purifiers has grown and developed in the past decade. Smaller items, such as air freshener sprays and plug-ins made by brands such as Glade, have been available for many years. Now, newer technologies, such as HEPA hydro-allergenic filtration, are available.
The Sharper Image has been a leader in the marketing of new air cleaning technologies. The company’s basic product and brand, the Ionic Breeze, has been sold through retail stores and Web sites and via infomercials and inbound telemarketing for many years.
One primary feature of all the Ionic Breeze products is silent operation. The Silent Electronic Propulsion technology made the original product the number-one air-cleaner brand in America. Through this silent air circulation technology, the company promises effective removal of airborne contaminants, reduction of common household odors, no filters to replace, low energy costs, an attractive design, ease of operation, and low maintenance.
Variations on the base model now include advancements such as the Germicidal version; the QUADRA; a smaller, plug-in bathroom version; and the new MIDI, which is smaller than earlier products. Other features associated with the Ionic Breeze are its OzoneGuard with PremAir catalyst, developed by BASF Catalysts LLC, which converts the byproduct ozone to oxygen.
Not surprisingly, competition has emerged. One of the new major players is Oreck, a company that gained fame and brand strength through its line of vacuums, which are lightweight, but powerful carpet cleaners. A logical brand extension would be into air filtration.
Oreck promotes products that kill viruses, bacteria, mold, and fungi. One major difference is that the Oreck model does move the air. In advertisements and promotional materials, the air clearers are demonstrated as being superior because of this feature. Product materials strongly emphasize the health benefits of cleaner air. Oreck air cleaners are also featured in infomercials, on Web sites, and through standard television advertising.
Both Oreck and Sharper Image note that the air inside a house often is much more polluted than the air outside. Consumers are warned that asthma, allergies, and respiratory illnesses or on the rise. Air cleaners are offered to help.
Now, many lower-priced air cleaners are also available through retailers such as Wal-Mart and Target. Consequently, consumers have a vast array of potential prices, product features, and promotional claims to consider when choosing an air cleaning product. The future of the air cleaning business appears to be either bright or cloudy, depending on one’s perspective, and consumers will undoubtedly see the number of options for methods to clear the air continue to rise.
Sources: Case based on information available at www.oreck.com and www.sharperimage.com.
(1) How would a consumer’s level of involvement, need for cognition, and level of shopping enthusiasm affect the purchase of an air filtration product?
(2) Explain how cognitive mapping could be used to demonstrate a consumer’s reaction to either the Ionic Breeze or the Oreck Air Cleaner.
(3) Which model best explains the evaluation of alternatives when it comes to air filtration products, the evoked set model, the multiattribute approach, or affect referral?
(4) Should air cleaner companies focus on fear, health, or other emotions to sell products? Explain.