Rational appeals are those directed at the thinking process of the audience. They involve some sort of a deliberate reasoning process, which a person believes would be acceptable to other members of his social group. They attempt to show that the product would yield the expected functional benefit. Rationality has come to be equated with substance. A rational ad becomes believable and effective. Although there may be some disagreement regarding which motives are rational and which are emotional, the following are some buying motives, which are normally, considered rational under ordinary circumstances:
(i) High Quality: People buy television, stereophonic music systems, furniture, refrigerators, electric gadgets; kitchenware and a host of consumer durables for their high quality. Many consumer goods, too, are bought for their quality, such as clothing, beverages, food items, etc., and not merely because of their taste or fashion, or style.
(ii) Low Price: Many people buy low-priced locally made air conditioners for their homes because they believe that these products will show a product performance similar to, or slightly inferior to, that of nationally reputed brands at higher price. Whether this is true or not, a person, as long he believes this to be true, thinks his reason will be accepted as a “good” one by his social group. In this case, he is exhibiting a rational motive.
(iii) Long Life, as of a car tyre that will give 30,000 kms, before its utility has been exhausted.
(iv) Performance, as of a ballpoint pen that won’t release excessive ink or skip under any circumstances.
(v) Ease of use, as of a screwdriver with a magnetized tip which clings to the metal head of the screw, or a timer in the kitchen mixer which switches off automatically after a pre-determined time period.
(vi) Re-sale Value, as of a two-wheeler scooter. “Bajaj” has a better re-sale value than any other make.
(vii) Economy, in the operating expenses of some brands of refrigerator is greater because they consume less electricity. Many two-wheeler vehicles claim a better mileage per litre consumption of fuel than similar other vehicles.
We should, however, point out that some of the best ads are totally irrational. Porsche car ads listed such irrational benefits. Volkswagen built itself on the proposition it’s ugly but it works. Nine per cent of the human psyche is irrational. But, what is irrational can be made to seem rational. Gary Goldsmith is not content with just a rational benefit but expects the benefit offered to be such, which a rational person can understand.
Industrial buyers are most responsive to rational appeals. They make purchase decisions in line with the technical specification of the product, product quality, etc. Most industrial buyers are knowledgeable about the product class, trained to recognize value and are responsible to others about their choice. Often, industrial buying decisions are made after a thorough comparison of various offers and after evaluating the various benefits of different makes. Consumer durables of high value ‘are also often bought on the basis of rational appeals. People are ready and willing to give rational motives if asked why they have made a particular [purchase. Those who buy Playboy or Debonair are likely to say they buy them for the articles.
Even when decisions are made on emotional grounds, people like to rationalize their decision~ to show that they are based on sound rational grounds. Strong emotional propositions need rational underpinnings. Most of us want others to regard us as rational human beings. That is why we like to give socially acceptable reasons for our buying decisions. We feel that rational motives will raise our status in the eyes of our associates and colleagues.