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EMAC 2020 Annual Conference

Is the Hierarchy of Effects Dead or Alive?

Published: May 27, 2020


Albert Valenti, IESE Business School; Gokhan Yildirim, Imperial College London; Marc Vanhuele, HEC Paris; Shuba Srinivasan, Boston University, Questrom School of Business; koen pauwels, Northeastern university


Hierarchy-of-Effects; advertising; mindset-metrics


Advertising influences purchase behavior when it changes how consumers think and feel about brands. While the Hierarchy of Effects (HoE) model has guided advertising decisions for decades, an extensive review found little support for any hierarchy, thus implying the death of HoE. However, the conclusion was not based on empirical comparisons of possible hierarchies. We analyze how mindset metrics intermediate the marketing effects on sales for the top brands in fifteen categories. We compare the fit of 26 models proposed in the literature, and conclude that the original concept of hierarchy (which signifies “sequentiality”) holds up firmly. However, the sequence varies across brands, with the Affect?Cognition? Experience being the most prevalent. Classical dimensions of category characteristics (hedonism and involvement) do not predict which sequence applies, but moderate the effects of marketing on mindset metrics.