The Roles of Rational and Emotional Appeals in Business-to-Business Services Advertising: an Inductive Qualitative Content Analysis

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School of Business | Master's thesis
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Markkinoinnin laitos
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This thesis study aims to contribute in closing the existing research gap in the field of B2B services advertising. The key objective of this thesis is to discuss and analyze the roles of emotional and rational advertising appeals used in B2B services advertising in Finland. The key ambition is to answer the research question that was set to guide the progress: What are the roles of rational and emotional advertising appeals in business-to-business services advertising in Finland? The focus of this study is in examining the content of printed advertisements found in business related publications published in Finland during the past year. The advertisements selected to the sample are analyzed by utilizing inductive qualitative content analysis method. A previous existing framework is utilized to analyse the appeals and to compare the different service categories. The key contributions of this thesis and its findings include a comparison of different B2B service types and different advertising appeals utilized within them. The main purpose of this thesis is to function as a starting point for further studies and theoretical frameworks to be conducted to support the existing research field. The previous studies have examined advertising appeal usage to some extent, but there seems to be a lack of deeper insight concerning the phenomenon. In addition, it has been stated that the field of B2B marketing research as a whole is rather insufficient, thus the significance of the B2B and services setting has not always been identified in depth. The findings of this thesis are discussed in detail and reflected to the previous studies and findings in order to draw relevant conclusions and to provide a consistent base for further studies. The objective of this thesis in finally to provide interesting and relevant suggestions for further research as well as managerial implications. Before the data analysis phase of this thesis, which is conducted as a qualitative content analysis, the theoretical background is identified and analysed in detail. The areas of interest covered within the literary review include a brief history and definition of advertising as an academic field of study, B2B marketing, services advertising and emotional and rational advertising appeals. By addressing these theoretical topics, a comprehensive image of the existing literature was generated. Finally, after analysing the advertisements collected from the selected magazines, relevant findings were drawn. The findings of this thesis indicated that when it comes to B2B services advertising, rational advertising appeals are always used as the main advertising appeal. To answer the research question, it was found that rational advertising appeals have a dominant role within B2B services advertisements published in Finland, while emotional advertising appeals were mainly utilized as supporting appeals. It was also found that the appeals used varied between different service types advertised. In addition, emotional appeals were never used without rational appeals.
Thesis advisor
Mitronen, Lasse
Rusanen, Olli
B2B marketing, services advertising, advertising appeals, B2B services, B2B advertising, qualitative content analysis
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