Purpose - The objective of this paper is to uncover the underlying dimensions of, and examine the similarities and differences in, personal uses of advertising, perceived socio-economic effects of advertising, and consumer beliefs and attitudes toward advertising in Bulgaria and Romania. Moreover, it aims to identify the relative importance of the predictors of attitudes toward advertising in the two countries. Design/methodology/approach - The paper draws upon findings of previous research and theoretical developments by Bauer and Greyser, Sandage and Leckenby, and Pollay and Mittal. The study uses a stratified random sample of 947 face-to-face interviews with adult respondents from major urban areas in Bulgaria (507) and Romania (440). Variables are measured on multi-item scales as a typical application of the reflective indicator model. Findings - Results show that there are significant differences between Romanian and Bulgarian respondents in terms of their attitudes toward advertising. Romanians are more positive about advertising as an institution than the instruments of advertising. Romanians seem to accept the role of advertising in a free market economy, but have less confidence in advertising claims and techniques. Bulgarian respondents seem more sceptical toward advertising in general and are less enthusiastic about embracing the role of advertising as an institution. Moreover, Bulgarians are highly negative towards the instruments advertising uses to convey its messages to consumers. Research limitations/implications - The research findings reflect the views of urban dwellers and may not be generalisable to the wider population of the two countries. Interviewer bias was reduced by eliminating verbal or non-verbal cues to the respondents, and by the use of stratified random sampling. Practical implications - The paper suggests that the regulatory role of codes of advertising practice and industry regulating bodies should be enhanced, and their ability to protect consumers enforced. Marketing campaigns should be more inclusive to involve diverse social groups and reflect generally-accepted social norms. Originality/value - This study reveals that, while general attitudes toward advertising may be similar, attitudes toward the institution and instruments of advertising may differ even in countries with geographic proximity and low cultural distance. © Emerald Group Publishing Limited.
- consumer behaviour