Impacts of Manipulative Advertising on the Consumer Perceptions of Ready-To-Eat Foods Market in London

Research Paper (postgraduate), 2018

49 Pages, Grade: A


Table of Contents

Executive Summary

Chapter I- Introduction
1.1 Introduction
1.2 Background
1.3 Problem Statement
1.4 Research Aim and Objectives
Research Questions
1.5 Significance of the study
1.6 structure of the Thesis

Chapter II- Literature Review
2.1 The importance of Advertising
2.2 Manipulative Advertising
2.2.1 Characteristics of manipulative Advertising
2.2.2 Manipulation in Food Advertising
2.3 Consumer perceptions of Advertising
2.4 The Consumer Buying Decision Process
2.4.1 Impact of Advertising on Consumer perceptions
2.5 Ready to Eat (RTE) market in UK
2.5.1 Key RTE Consumers’ trends
2.5.2 Competitive Landscape
2.5.3 Prospects of RTE in UK

Chapter 3: Methodology
3.1 Research Design
3.2 Research Philosophy
3.3 Research Approach
3.4 Research Strategy
3.5 Sampling
3.5.1 Respondents of the study
3.5.2 Sample Size
3.6 Data Collection
3.6.1 Secondary data
3.6.2 Primary Data
3.6.3 Questionnaire
3.7 Analysis of Data
3.8 Ethical Considerations

Chapter IV- Data Analysis
4.1 Analysis of collected data
4.2 Consumers Personal Information
4.3 Consumer trends of RTE Foods
4.4 Perceptions of RTE Advertisements
4.5 Summary of Research Findings

Chapter V- Conclusion and Recommendations
5.1 Conclusion
5.2 Recommendations


A. Reflective Statement
B. Contextualisation Statement

Executive Summary

The research evaluated the aspects of manipulative advertising, their execution, and the anticipated impacts on the consumers buying behaviour of RTE foods sector. The aim of the research leads a quantitative and direct investigation of consumers’ perceptions in London through carefully designed and effectively conducted survey. This growing sector in UK is also reviewed with the help of secondary and primary data.

The literature review in this study comprised on a strong evidence that manipulative advertising is widely used specifically in food sector and consumers are highly influenced from the emotional and fallacy argument of this type of advertising. In this review, important models of consumer decision making and strong based of the literature on consumers perception of advertising ate discussed. In view of the rising trend of RTE market in UK, the importance of ethical means in advertising becomes moiré important.

The explanatory design has been selected for the current research is. This is due to the fact that it deals with quantifying the data and analyzing the results through numerical tools. This research design is based on the collection of only quantitative data from consumers and then analyse this data with help of mathematical tools. Questionnaires based survey strategy supported the data collection from consumers of RTE food in London.

The analysis of collected primary data revealed that RTE foods are preferred in UK consumers market due to their health and hygienic value, taste and convenience. Furthermore, respondents expressed their concern about the manipulative advertising of food brands and preferred that this advertising is commonly practiced for RTE foods as well. The important issues addressed in these advertisement discussion reveals that the emphasis of RTE foods advertisement is primarily on the emotional appeals and attractive campaigns but respondents did not agree that these ads share nutritional information or caloric values.

Hence, RTE sector recommended using cautious and ethical means of advertising to increase brand reputation and to convey accurate product knowledge to the consumers, Self regulation ad trust ion consumers’ vision are important in devising future advertising campaigns for this sector. The limitations of mono-method of research and limited scope should be resolved in future researches.

Chapter I- Introduction

This chapter introduced the research topic and rational background along with the research study's problem statement. Furthermore, the objective and aim, research questions are also included. Significance of the study will also be discussed in below pages.

1.1 Introduction

The marketing and promotion strategies of the business are always directing the venture according to the customers' point of view and opinions they possess and these need to fit with the company's objectives and goals. Fill (2013) declared that the business must focus completely on the needs of consumers. The communication in marketing is a combination of various promotional tools that can showcase the product or service. Particular messages are designed and executed to persuade consumers for making purchase decisions (Kenneth and Donald 2010). Advertising is a vital component of marketing communication that offers the various tools, means, and the methods to attain the marketing objectives of sales and promotions of products/ service. In words of Kotler (2012), advertising is the paid form of promotion and there is a sponsor behind every advertising campaign. Therefore, manipulation of messages and products become quite normal through advertising and the companies achieve their sales rates through manipulative advertising. The manipulation of customers affect their decision making powers when these consumers deciding their purchases.

1.2 Background

It was considered revolutionary when shelves were busted in the 1950s with ready meals and prepared food. According to the Ford (2016), initially launched RTE foods were intolerably exciting and exotic, and things were magical. About almost one decade ago, at that time people only imagined ready to eat and prepared food aisle in the local supermarket, but now, this image is changed completely. According to the report of Euromonitor (2017), innovation, Premiumisation and attention on quality has increased which driven a market of ready to eat for refreshing and increasingly getting dominated by the private producers and labels of products. Moreover, standards are raised by manufacturers for what prepared offers and ready to eat must look alike.

The key driver of the growth in RTE consumption in UK and other European countries is due to the fact that increasing ageing population, more working women in labour markets, growth in millennial population, tight working schedules and fast food consumption increases are important. The on-the-go consumption trends are more prevalent due to the changes in lifestyle s of urban consumers as the amount and money consumed in cooking is equivalent to the purchase of premium brands from submarkets. According to Rayan (2012), convenience in consumption is become prevalent in information technology age in which consumers are devoid of quality time to spend in traditional activities. More specifically, past literature has talked about the increment in the market of RTE foods which could be greatly attributed to changes in the characteristics of socio-demographic and lifestyle of consumers. The lifestyle considers the different ways where the set of customers spend their precious time, what their perception is about the current issues, what things they see essential. Segmentation of food market is done by the lifestyle which could be applied to developing specific strategies of marketing for every segment of the market (FMI, 2017).

1.3 Problem Statement

An appeal of the consumers for ready to eat-RTE products is forecasted to grow fast in next five years because consumers are demanding more because of its convenient availability, premium quality, along with textural properties and exciting flavours (FMI, 2016). This sector achieves many milestones in recent years, for example, an extrusion technology was extensively used in producing RTE snacks or cereals because of operating ease and also the ability to create different shapes and texture that appeal to the eyes of consumers. However, several existing products of RTE are relatively higher in salt and sugar, hence, is considered as energy dense yet lack of nutrients in food. Nevertheless, some potential for manipulating exists in nutritional status of RTEs through altering potential of digestion of protein and starch, and also through the incorporation of some bioactive elements like dietary fibre. Thus, current observation and review of articles have explored many new types of research and studies in this area and illustrates many opportunities through which global industry of food could react actively to the requirements of consumers for the healthful snack of RTE products in future years. The consumer perceptions about the impact of advertisements on purchase behaviour are the vital field of research. The analysis will disclose the extent to which manipulative advertising is successful in portraying RTE foods as healthy replacement of the home-cooked meal.

1.4 Research Aim and Objectives

The aim of this study is examining how manipulative advertisement influence consumers perception during purchases. The scope of the research is limited to the a study of ready- to- eat (RTE) market in London, Therefore, the research is intended to evaluate the perceptions of consumers as a result of the manipulative advertising campaigns for RTE market in London.

Hence, the research addressed following objectives for this comprehensive aim of the study:

1. To review the perceptions of consumers about RTE foods in UK.
2. To identify the factors affecting the perception of consumers and their buying behviours of RTE foods in UK market
3. To examine the impact of manipulative advertising on consumer perceptions reference to the purchasing of RTE foods in London.
4. To determine the issues and challenges consumers facing regardless of massive advertising of RTE foods in London.
5. To recommend strategies to improve the advertising campaigns of RTE for consumers in UK in view of the suggestions and perceptions of consumers.

Research Questions

1. What are the significant factors affecting the perception of consumers and their buying behviours of RTE foods in UK market
2. How is the manipulative advertising impact on consumer perceptions with reference to the purchasing of RTE foods in London?
3. What are the issues and challenges consumers facing regardless of massive advertising of RTE foods in London?

1.5 Significance of the study

RTE foods advertising has put customers at the centre of the campaign by unremitting the focus on freshness and quality, as much developing the premium market ready to eat and prepared meals and food. For many other businesses, the path towards success might look like the relatively rocky path, but if businesses could keep it to the form of consistent and sustainable growth of offerings which RTE brands in the UK managed, then irrespective of the regulatory laws, this industry has future growth in the industry. Hence, the role of advertising is important in setting the perceptions of consumers about the quality and features of RTE foods in the UK. In this context, present research will add value in the literature on riling of deceptive and fallacious advertising on changing consumer perceptions. The analysis on important aspects in which advertising affect the consumer purchase behaviour of RTE foods is important to form future advertising strategies for UK consumers.

1.6 structure of the Thesis

This thesis has a structure comprised of the five full-length chapters, managed and organized in following order:

1. Introduction: An initial background and introduction found in the chapter. The objectives and aims of the research with raised questions of research are included, the importance of the research and the structure of thesis are important components of the thesis.
2. Literature Review: The chapter of literature review has provided empirical and theoretical foundations for the recent research.
3. Methodology: The important and famous theoretical support and the help of research methodology, data collection methods and also analysis and also important factors of the research methods explained in the chapters.
4. Data Analysis: The section or chapter is completely based on elaborated statistical analysis of the collected quantitative information from the large sample. An interpretation of outcomes and conclusions are provided in the chapters.
5. Conclusion: This concluding or summarising section represents the research findings' conclusion, recommendations and many other significant conclusive remarks over research.

Chapter II- Literature Review

This chapter presents the critical review of the literature on manipulative advertising and its implications on the consumers’ perceptions and purchase behaviour. The literature on consumes decision making and impacts of ready to eat food advertising is discussed in detail. The analysis of the ready-to-eat (RTE) food sector in United Kingdom (UK) is also conducted in this chapter.

2.1 The importance of Advertising

The businesses have to foresee their objectives and interests and several times these remain far from the aligning with needs of customers, and most do not get hesitated in making up the marketing solutions that deceive or misconduct customers, for achieving the sales. In addition to this, the appropriate field of marketing for these activities is only communication. A marketing communication mix is a tool used for the promotion of products or services through the transmission of specification messages or texts of consumers, with the aim of persuading them for buying these their products. AMA (2011) stated that advertising is a component of the communication mix that offers all the required tools, ways and means of actions used for the promotion of company's marketing objectives. If business deliberately decides itself for manipulating its consumers by advertising for achieving objectives, then it needs to take some stimuli into account that will achieve concrete practices of advertising.

Kalliny and Gentry, (2007) emphasized that there are various stimuli acting ob consumers while processing the informant given in advertisements. The first stimuli are the knowledge of consumers’ perception and specific behaviour and the skill of the company to target these specific areas in promotional campaigns. Stokes, (2009) identified the other important role of manipulation in advertising the extent of the capability to manipulate the necessary information to manipulate the consumers. Kotler and Armstrong added that the actual focus of advertising is on the mechanism and processes used by consumer to make purchase decisions, therefore, manipulation of information and products features are dome to persuade more consumers. In view of Sprott (2008), the rate of exposure to advertisements is very high in consumers since the interaction is on diverse media. Therefore, seduction of consumers is the ultimate goal of consumers. However, the challenge of consumers’ perceptions of advertising has always been crucial for marketers as positive image of the products abs services is important to portray through advertising.

2.2 Manipulative Advertising

Manipulative advertising is the type of persuasive advertising that involves in presentation of the product / service in the ultimate possible manner to the audience. The non manipulative advertising portrays the exact features and characteristics of the products, while manipulative form deals with exaggeration of positive features of the product and covering up the negative aspects. The advertisers use omission of details, lies, and intimidation of customers to the future decision making at the time of purchases. According to Viegas et al, (2011), non manipulative advertising is the true form as it provides convincing information to consumers in a logical and truthful ways. On the other hand, the emotional arguments observed in advertisements are based on the persuasion and information components. Therefore, the classification of persuasive and information a; advertising took place. In view of Keller (2012), the informative advertising provides facts and rational features of the brand, whereas emotional advertising influence the emotions of consumes through manipulation with their soft appeals. Another important element of manipulative advertising is the unethical behaviour of advertisers as the vested interests force these advertisers top use manipulation (Danciu, 2009). The persuasion becomes manipulative once role of ethics are denied. Therefore, ethics determine the decisions, behaviour, and practices of marketers and advertisers. Gray, (2011) asserted that ethics demand three principles to be enforced in advertising, these principles include law abidance, action in the mutual interest, and ethics conduct compliance. .

2.2.1 Characteristics of manipulative Advertising

Manipulative advertising is characterized in many forms in literature that addresses the specific nature of the advertising. The deceitful advertising is based on the deceptive facts that are confusing and untrue statements that can mislead consumers easily. For instance, the ready-to-eat foods expiry dates and the components ratios are important to decide, therefore, any misleading fact can deceit consumers’. This false advertising is observed in the packaging sizes, announcements of additional amount, and the percentages of ingredients commonly. Another form of manipulative advertising is bad arguments deals with the incorrect comparisons and arguments relate to the product/ service (Petty & Andrews 2008).

These major characteristics of manipulative advertising resulted in Exaggeration of quality, false graphs and claims, emotional appeals, and fallacious arguments (Cohen, et al 2008). Puffery in advertisements is the example of quality exaggeration with imprecise measures of quality mentioned, and normal consumers are unable to testify the quality claims (Berinato, 2010). In another study, Teves, (2009) referred the fallacy in advertisements as the error that repeats in several times and become an acceptable argument. These intentional fallacies have the potential to manipulate information to persuade consumers. The use of testing laboratories, celebrity brand ambassadors’ comments, and the false polls of consumers create these fallacies of arguments (Berinato, 2010). Furthermore, apart from these rational forms, the emotive persuasion is one of the common types that manipulate the consumer emotions with the promises or threats for amazing results or dangerous outcomes in case of the avoidance of product use (Grier et al 2007). The fear appeal or attractive signs of sex and slice of life are normally used to attract consumers (Sweeney, 2011). The family appeal and convenience with taste and variety are commonly used in RTE foods categories to persuade consumers purchase decisions

2.2.2 Manipulation in Food Advertising

The use of manipulative techniques in food advertising are also found common as Tanski, (2004) declared that the subliminal perception of consumers derives the unconscious reaction that is used in advertising blatantly. However, these consumers face loss of ability of denial of the manipulative messages and role of unconscious perception and subliminal knowledge that focused on controlling the behaviour of consumers (Kotler, 2012; Keller 2012). The knowledge of these issues in consumer behaviour leads marketers and advertisers to gain benefit from directing the human behaviour. The techniques and strategies used in manipulative advertising target interferes the subliminal knowledge and gain a change in this knowledge in benefit to the advertised products/ services. The manipulations of linguistics and visual are two common techniques used in manipulative advertising related to food sector, use of vibrant colours, backgrounds, sound effects, and other environmental factors contributed to the advertisements.

The information related to benefits, taste, and home equivalent quality brought in prominence in food advertisements. The other elements disappeared from background and the essential principles if visuals and linguistics applied in these food ads as well (Brown, 2010). Moreover, Brown, (2010) also asserted that use of familiar backgrounds and relevant slice of life themes make consumers minds comfortable with the advertisement settings. The use of warm colours such as red, orange and yellow in food companies’ advertisements stimulate the feeling of hunger and desire.

Tatarkovski, (2011) studied that amount of amusement use in the food companies ads that relates with the satisfaction and entertainment disguised the actual food information and negative aspects. The food companies target kids and females and produce advertisements that are attractive to the whole family and the games and entertainment hide in the content of the advertisement persuade the viewers completely. For instance, Tatarkovski, (2011) discussed the example of Kellogg and General mills that hide the nutritional information of their cereal and the excessive sugar contents in the attractive ads for kids and whole family. Moreover, use of toys, kitchen items, and discount deals are son either fallacy techniques used to manipulate the actual features of the products. Consequently, de Mooij, (2011) referred the use of deceptive sizes of Campbell soup canes, Lays chips packets, and Kellogg jumbo deals use larger packaging to hide the actual size of the products inside. In this regard, Lauren, (2009) declared that price discounts and low price offers manipulate the expiry dates and compromise the nutritional content of food products. Consumers perceive pricing offers as promotional techniques of the brands.

2.3 Consumer perceptions of Advertising

Consumers’ perception is the way in which consumers unconsciously interprets the meanings of any promotional campaign or advertisement. Solomon (2012) expressed that five senses of consumers play their role in developing perceptions of the items in their surroundings. Thus, advertisers’ utilise above the line or deliberate advertising on mass media and below the line to direct attract consumers’. In view of Solomon (2012) and Shiffman and Kanuk (201$), the trust on the information received from the five senses is considered as important and customers rely on this information while making purchase decisions. Moreover, Shiffmann and Kanuk (2014) argued that the perceptions vary from person to person; therefore, the meaning of a single advert is different for different people. The perception process awareness assist marketer to deicide about the presentations of their brands, product images, and positioning of these products to target consumers.

2.4 The Consumer Buying Decision Process

The consumer decision making model presented by Kotler and Armstrong (2012) and Shiffman and Kanuk (2014) addressed the important stages involved in this decision making process. Previously, Backhaus and van Doorn (2007) suggested a five stage model of consumers’ decision-making process before and post purchase situations. Following diagram summarized this model as:

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Source: Backhaus and van Doorn (2007)

The analysis of Shiffman and Kanuk (2014) declared the relevance and importance of this model as it sequentially described the stages in which consumer involved prior to purchases. The length and severity of these stages depends on the involvement of products abs high involvement products decision making is complex and detailed information is required. Chironga, et al, (2011) argued that consideration of whole buying prices is important for marketers rather than only purchase decision step. Thus, understanding of all steps involved in the purchase [process provides an insight in the through to patterns of consumers and the internal and external factors affecting the decision stage. Shiffman and Kanuk (2014) extended this model with their black box model of consumers’ decision making. The decision making in consumers mind is like a black box that is difficult to understand due to the complexity of internal and external factors. However, routine purchases have fewer steps involved in decision making, therefore, marketers work on need arousal and most fast food chains and FMCGs advertising based on need arousal that leads to the purchase.

Nevertheless, Agwu (2012) suggested that customers’ reliance n personal information and reference sources are stronger than the outside sources such as advertisements. Therefore, use of word of mouth in the advertising campaigns gain more attention for FMCGs and food products. In this regard, the information sources used in manipulative advertising related to the testimonials and celebrity endorsements, considered as reliable for normal consumers. For premium brands such as Ready-to-eat food sector marketing. Euromonitor report (2016) emphasized that he trends of premium brands is prevalent in target consumers. Hus, the companies producing and marketing RTE food brands concentrate more on creation of premium image of their brands due to the preference of customers. Similarly, Bezijian, et al., (2008) declared that post purchase decisions are based on the satisfaction and feelings of consumers after consumption. Therefore, the post purchases decision making also important to consider in advertising.

2.4.1 Impact of Advertising on Consumer perceptions

The reviewed literature identified that the positive impacts of the message portrayed in advertising resulted in positive feelings towards the advertised product since emotional attachment created in the advertising has the power to persuade consumers effectively (Khuong, & Tram, V. 2014.). For instance, a high profile celebrity and expensive campaigns associated to high quality and premium brand. Therefore, market positioning of the brand determines the type and appeal of advertising used to address target market. However, Haan & Moraga-González, (2011) argument shows that advertising has no direct impact on the consumers’ willingness to purchase or to pay premium amount, but consumers’ perceptions of the brand are more inclined towards the image portrayed in advertisements. Similarly, Joshi & Hanssens, (2010) declared that the chances of purchasing and advertised product are more than that of an unadvertised products since advertising serve the purpose of increasing brand awareness. Thus, increase in brand recognition has also been proved to have a positive relationship with the cognitive attitude towards advertising. Hence, companies in food industry also use the notion that positive attitude towards advertised brands ultimately resulted in intentions of purchases in consumers.

2.5 Ready to Eat (RTE) market in UK

The Euromonitor report (2017) on ready to eat sector in UK asserted that the ready meals industry performed well in 2017. Premiumisation is one of the main factors that accounts for the growth of this category. One example of this is that when looking at many of the new product developments within ready meals in 2017, many targeted premium buyers. Hence, companies know that consumers are willing to pay more for premium ready meals and are seeking to meet their demands. The theme is so prevalent that it has led to a decline in other traditional foods. In report of Euromonitor (2017), it is stated that nearly £1.9 billion spent by consumers of UK in 2018, which is more than double the size of spending in France and six times higher than the amount spent in Spain in the same period. Furthermore, a market research report of report Linker (2016) illustrated that the demand of ready-to –eat meals across the whole Europe increased by 29 percent in the period of 1998 till 2002, where as the increase in the same period in UK is about 44%.

2.5.1 Key RTE Consumers’ trends

Industries in the UK are changing and evolving, with increasingly unique and new demands of customers, who always expect different varieties and the particular quantity of proactiveness to the latest food trends, mainly from their most favourite RTE brands. For example, Benigson, (2017) stated that a USP free from gluten of the Genius Foods, and rich in fibre and protein offers the Glorious Soup. Still higher than this, customers have, led through ventures such as Charlie Bigham's, that become accustomed along with an idea which prepared food and snack aisle that offer quality as famous for convenience. The producers of own label like Oscar Meyer and Greencore have driven the increment in quality offerings very drastically. However, for the brands, this quality increase and competition by the own labels have provided both opportunities and challenges. It is necessary for the marketers for understanding reasons lie behind the higher demand for RTE foods (Benigson, 2017). According to FMI (2017) report, disposable income increase and trends of green grocery organic food and healthy convenient food decline the trends of fast food consumption. The increase in demand of ready-to-eat food and related products are the result of these prevailing trends in UK market. The health and premium food producers marketing as a quality food equivalent o homemade food become popular in busy but health conscious consumers , therefore, paying premium price is not considered as more important in RTE foods choices.

2.5.2 Competitive Landscape

Brands that did particularly well in 2017 were Charlie Bigham’s, Slimming World and Genius. Despite the high price of Charlie Bigham’s ready meals (in Waitrose mostly GBP7.50-8.50), the brand increased its value share with current value growth of 48%. Slimming World saw current value growth of 29% with the brand capitalising predominantly on the health and wellness trend with a growing number of people choosing to lead a healthier lifestyle and make better choices for themselves and their families in relation to their food and calorie intake. Meanwhile, the gluten-free brand Genius increased its retail sales by 26% in current value terms. Despite many recent scientific studies claiming that gluten free diets are not high on the priority list of those seeking a healthier lifestyle, the trend shows no sign of fading away any time soon.


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Impacts of Manipulative Advertising on the Consumer Perceptions of Ready-To-Eat Foods Market in London
BPP University
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Manipulative Advertising, consumer perception, Fast food Market London, Impact of manipulative marketing, Impact of marketing in the business, London food marketing techniques, quantitative marketing analysis, manipulative marketing and consumer perception, Manipulation in Food advertising, Ready to eat UK market, The Consumer Buying Decision Process, Competitive Landscape, Ready to Eat consumption UK, Segmentation of food market, UK food market, London Food market
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Muhammad Khurram (Author), 2018, Impacts of Manipulative Advertising on the Consumer Perceptions of Ready-To-Eat Foods Market in London, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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