There is a virtually unlimited number of products competing for the limited attention (and money) available to consumers. Because customers lack the time and inclination to do in-depth research of the available choices before every purchase, it is in the best interest of producers to create awareness and positive associations for their brand. Product advertising can fulfill this role.
Product advertising is generally agreed to have begun with newspapers. Given the technological limitations of the time, early adverts were simply descriptions of the products and lists of prices.It wasn't until mid-19th century that advertising agencies realized that trademarked goods could be loaded with meaningful symbolic connotations, taking product advertising to the next level.
From Advertising to Brand Management
By mid-19th century, as a result for the industrial revolution, retailers and manufacturers sought to foster the perception that standardized, trademarked goods offered reliable quality at low prices. Initial brand-building efforts were based on mass promotion, generating product recognition by reiterated advertising messages. It was not until the early 20th century that marketers realized that the purely sales-oriented outlook had to be replaced by a conception of advertising as a systematic method of creating good reputation. Advertising agencies became specialized service providers that did not only attractively visualize the products of their clients, but attached vital social meanings to their brands.
Contemporary product advertising relies on a wide variety of possible approaches, depending on the nature of the product and the target market. There are ads that provide basic information about a product (informative advertising), appeals that try to convince customers (persuasive advertising) and direct comparisons between the marketers' products and the offerings of the leading brand (comparative advertising). Buyers of high-tech products, for example, are likely to appreciate comparisons and in-depth information but may perceive persuasive marketing as manipulative, while buyers of fashionable jeans are likely to be unimpressed by data alone.
Advertising and the Product Life Cycle
Product advertising campaigns must be attuned to the life cycle of the product they sponsor. Broadly speaking, the likelihood that an individual who has not purchased a new product will do so is related to the amount of available information about the quality and value of the new product. For new products, advertising is the only available source of information, but as innovators adopt the product they turn into word-of-mouth information carriers. Eventually critical mass will be reached, and word-of-mouth produced by satisfied customers should overtake producer-originated adds. Research indicates that for most new products the optimal policy will start with high advertising outlay and gradually reduce it as the product moves through its cycle.