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Perception of puffery in advertising: investigating the China‐US differences

Zhihong Gao (Department of Marketing, Rider University, Lawrenceville, New Jersey, USA)
Na Li (Department of Marketing, Dalian Jiaotong University, Dalian, China)
Elaine A. Scorpio (Department of Psychology, Rider University, Lawrenceville, New Jersey, USA)

Asia Pacific Journal of Marketing and Logistics

ISSN: 1355-5855

Article publication date: 30 March 2012




The purpose of this paper is to explore the link between consumer psychology and puffery law in China and the USA, by reporting two empirical studies that investigated whether puff claims had different effects on Chinese and US college students in their perception of advertising truthfulness, brand attitude, and purchase intent.


The first study tested the six levels of puffery, identified by Preston, with two products, cane sugar and bottled spring water. The second study employed four products to test the interaction effects of product type and the “best” puff claim.


It was found that puffery had very limited effects on the participants' brand attitude and purchase intent, and the Chinese consistently reported higher purchase intent than the Americans.

Research limitations/implications

The studies had two primary limitations. First, all the participants were college students. Future studies may want to sample the general population and further examine how factors such as age, education, social class, and product experience influence the perception of puffery. Second, to strive for cross‐cultural equivalence, the ad stimuli used consisted of very simple designs and focused solely on puff claims without much context. The findings outline a possible roadmap to regulatory harmonization based on consumer psychology, which bridges the sharp divide between the two models of puffery regulation represented by China and the USA.


Previous empirical studies on the effects of puffery were all confined to the US context. The paper is the first effort to investigate the effects of puffery in a cross‐cultural context.



Gao, Z., Li, N. and Scorpio, E.A. (2012), "Perception of puffery in advertising: investigating the China‐US differences", Asia Pacific Journal of Marketing and Logistics, Vol. 24 No. 2, pp. 179-198.



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Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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