What is rational appeal in advertising?

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The goal of marketing companies is to encourage you to buy products and services. To achieve this, marketing companies use advertising. But as everyone knows, advertising comes in many forms and appears on television and radio, in magazines and newspapers and on the Internet. However, it's possible to classify this advertising into three types: emotional appeal, rational appeal and combination. Of these, rational appeal is the most straightforward but not always the most successful.

Rational appeal and marketing campaigns

A marketing campaign aims to sell you a product or service. It needs to appeal to you in some way so that you are motivated to make a purchase. Rational appeal refers to the way in which such a campaign tries to make a connection with the logical left side of your brain. To do this, the campaign must present sensible arguments that convince you to buy a product or service.

Rational appeal and practical benefits

Rational appeal advertising makes sensible arguments by explaining the benefits of a product or service. The benefits must be practical, functional and utilitarian. For example, an advert may tell you that by buying a waterproof coat, you benefit by keeping dry in the rain. At the same time, rational appeal advertising stresses economic benefits. The advertising may say that the waterproof coat not only keeps you dry in the rain, it is half the usual price. Another rational appeal technique would be to say that the coat has a two-year guarantee and therefore represents great value.

Rational appeal for consumers and business

Marketing campaigns use rational appeal for business-to-consumer and business-to-business advertising. Very often, though, the campaigns aimed at consumers mix rational appeal with emotional appeal. Business-to-business advertising generally focuses on the rational reasons why a business should buy a product or service. This reflects the hard-headed nature of business and the overriding desire of business people for low costs and good value.

Where to find rational appeal advertising

Rational appeal advertising directed at consumers usually appears in print media. Newspapers, for instance, have advertising that stresses sales, low prices and value. Television and radio may also include these benefits combined with emotive images, sounds and music. Research has shown that emotional advertising television campaigns on television and radio are more effective at selling products and services than more forthright rational appeals.

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