Personal debt is a common problem among Hong Kong people. Personal loan marketers promote their products and services aggressively, especially to young consumers. The purpose of this paper is to examine how young consumers respond to personal loan advertisements.
Face-to-face interviews were conducted with 38 interviewees in the age group of 18-25 years. They were asked to report their perceptions of three selected personal loan TV commercials and their attitudes toward personal loan advertisements in general.
Four themes were identified from the data analysis: a personal loan is a modern way of solving a debt problem; personal loan advertisements encourage materialism and overspending; personal loan advertisements are misleading; and personal loan advertisements do not affect me. The overall perception of these commercials is that borrowing money is easy and quick. Some report that they would try the product if they need to borrow money in the future.
Given the small sample size, the findings cannot be generalized to the population. Future studies can use survey methodology to compare perceptions of personal loan advertisements by demographics.
Despite their effectiveness in communicating product features and benefits, personal loan advertisers suffer from negative brand image among young adults. The study has implications for socially responsible marketing for lenders.
Credit counselors, policy makers, universities and employers should look into the need for raising the financial literacy of young adults.
To the best of the authors’ knowledge, this is the first study on consumers’ response to personal loan advertisements among young adults.
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