Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) among generational cohorts: investigating attitude towards disabled models and advertising effectiveness

Sidharth Muralidharan, Carrie La Ferle, Osnat Roth-Cohen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The worldview of each generation (e.g. Baby Boomers, Gen-X, Gen-Y, and Gen-Z) has unique elements, and advertising effectiveness is contingent upon considering these differences. One area where these differences manifest is in the principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). DEI has become an important factor in advertising; however, empirical research on disabilities is limited. From the perspective of generational cohort theory, two key questions are how different cohorts perceive advertisements that have models with disabilities and how DEI levels might influence this perception. To address these questions, we focused on how younger (i.e. Gen-Y and Gen-Z) and older (i.e. Baby Boomers and Gen-X) generations perceive models with disabilities that require the use of a wheelchair and how these perceptions relate to attitude towards the ad, attitude towards the brand, and purchase intention (PI). A U.S. sample (n = 313) was recruited and randomly assigned in a 2 (Generation: younger vs. older) × 2 (Disability: wheelchair vs. control) between-subjects factorial design. Findings indicate that older generations consistently preferred the control ad over the ad with the model in a wheelchair, while younger generations had stronger PI than older generations after viewing the ad with the model in a wheelchair. Furthermore, for the ad with the model in a wheelchair, DEI levels in the younger generation fully mediated the positive impact of attitude towards people with disabilities (PWDs) on attitude towards the ad and PI. No mediation effects emerged for the older generations. Theoretical and managerial advertising implications are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Advertising
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2024

Keywords

  • advertising
  • disabilities
  • diversity
  • equity
  • generational cohort theory
  • Generations
  • inclusion

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