Exciting red and competent blue: the importance of color in marketing

From beverages to consumer electronics, marketers are using color in innovative ways. Despite this, little academic research has investigated the role that color plays in marketing. This paper examines how color affects consumer perceptions through a series of four studies. The authors provide a framework and empirical evidence that draws on research in aesthetics, color psychology, and associative learning to map hues onto brand personality dimensions (Study 1), as well as examine the roles of saturation and value for amplifying brand personality traits (Study 2). The authors also demonstrate how marketers can strategically use color to alter brand personality and purchase intent (Study 3), and how color influences the likability and familiarity of a brand (Study 4). The results underscore the importance of recognizing the impact of color in forming consumer brand perceptions.

Color – Brand personality – Aesthetics – Logo design – Package design – Purchase intent

Published in the Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, DOI: 10.1007/s11747-010-0245-y

The marketers’ prismatic palette: A review of color research and future directions

Color carries meaning and can influence consumers’ thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Many disciplines, such as neuroscience, psychophysics, visual cognition, and biology have used new technologies to gain insights in understanding the complexities of color perception, yet there exists relatively little research in the field of marketing. This paper aims to reestablish the importance of color research in marketing, draw attention to the complex nature of this research, and to fuel further investigation and the development of new insights about color as it relates to marketing. The authors offer an integrated conceptual framework centered on the embodied and referential meanings of color and highlight the complexities and nuances that researchers must consider in order to develop this area. Insights from and gaps in the extant literature are highlighted to present a set of questions and propositions for future research in this area of investigation.

Color  – Sensory Marketing – Color Theory – Embodied and Referential Meanings of Color

Published in Psychology & Marketing, DOI: 10.1002/mar.20597

Color research in marketing: Theoretical and technical considerations for conducting rigorous and impactful color research

Since the beginning of the 21st century, there has been a surge in interest in color research (and in sensory marketing in general). In addition to discussing emerging color research contained in this special issue, this article also provides a discussion of theoretical frameworks for understanding color and provides technical guidelines for creating color stimuli. These guidelines include a discussion of the three dimensions of color (hue, saturation, and value) and provide researchers with guidance for controlling these dimensions when creating color stimuli. Additionally, this article discusses additive (red, green, blue) versus subtractive (cyan, magenta, yellow, and key) color models, gamut, and other considerations, such as screening participants for colorblindness, that future researchers may find useful for conducting rigorous color research.

color  – esthetics  – hue – saturation – sensory marketing – value – visual marketing

Published in Psychology & Marketing,

To be or not to be different: Exploration of norms and benefits of color differentiation in the marketplace

Building a strong brand identity is central for increasing brand equity. As a result, oftentimes, brands develop differentiation strategies in order to stand out from competitors. Yet, is value always gained through differentiation, or is it possible that some value could be forfeited by straying too far from established product category associations? This research examines color norms within product categories and addresses the question of whether visual differentiation is always helpful. With data for 281 top brands, the authors calculate product category color homogeneity scores for 15 product categories and 40 subcategories to empirically explore color norms. Then, these calculations are used in conjunction with brand equity scores to examine the relationship between color differentiation and brand performance. The results show that while color differentiation is helpful for some product categories, it can also be harmful for others. Specifically, the investigation reveals that adhering to color norms may be beneficial for product categories containing a dominant market leader, especially high-involvement categories. The results of this research highlight the existence of visual product category norms, and emphasize both the benefits and risks of visual differentiation should be considered.

color – Logo – Trademarks – Brand Equity – Differentiation – Branding

Published in Marketing Letters,

Fostering Consumer–Brand Relationships in Social Media Environments: The Role of Parasocial Interaction

As brands solidify their place in social media environments, consumers’ expectations have amplified, thus spurring the development of technologies to assist with the engagement process. Understanding the ways in which brands can preserve the one-to-one characteristics and intimate relationship qualities offered by social media while still meeting consumer expectations amidst the escalating volume of interactions has become essential. Drawing on the communications literature, this research proposes that parasocial interaction (PSI) theory may be used as a theoretical lens for designing successful social media strategies. Three studies, using a multi-method approach, provide evidence of PSI’s role in the development of positive relationship outcomes. Mediation analysis reveals that this sense of feeling connected with the brand goes beyond the interaction itself and drives increased feelings of loyalty intentions and willingness to provide information to the brand. Evidence from this research suggests that these effects may not hold when consumers are aware of the possibility that the brand’s social media response may be automated. These findings offer marketers theoretical guidance for fostering relationships in social media environments.

social media marketing – branding – parasocial relationship – parasocial interaction – authenticity

Published in Journal of Interactive Marketing,

Consumer power: Evolution in the digital age

The predictions of growing consumer power in the digital age that predated the turn of the century were fueled by the rise of the Internet, then reignited by social media. This article explores the intersection of consumer behavior and digital media by clearly defining consumer power and empowerment in Internet and social media contexts and by presenting a theoretical framework of four distinct consumer power sources: demand-, information-, network-, and crowd-based power. Furthermore, we highlight technology’s evolutionary role in the development of these power sources and discuss the nature of shifts in power from marketers to consumers in terms of each source. The framework organizes prior marketing literature on Internet-enabled consumer empowerment and highlights gaps in current research. Specific research questions are elaborated for each source of power outlining the agenda for future research areas

Published in Journal of Interactive Marketing,

Online personal branding: Processes, challenges, and implications

This research examines how people manage online personal brands in a Web 2.0 context. Using a novel mixed-method approach and consenting participants, the authors generated digital brand audits of 12 people and asked undergraduate students and a human resources professional to judge their profiles (made anonymous), both qualitatively and quantitatively. After comparing these evaluations with participants’ own judgments of their online profiles, the authors conducted long interviews to understand how people manage online profiles and feel about others’ judgment of the content they post. According to these results, people engage in personal branding, though their efforts are often misdirected or insufficient. They consider personal online branding challenging, especially, during life changes or when managing multiple audiences.

Published in Journal of Interactive Marketing,

The Assimilative and Contrastive Effects of Word-of-Mouth Volume: An Experimental Examination of Online Consumer Ratings

The popularity of online rate-and-review websites has increased the importance of word-of-mouth (WOM) volume (number of ratings) yet the retail literature has not paid adequate attention to understanding its impact. This paper highlights WOM volume as a high-scope, decision-making cue upon which the influence of other WOM-relevant characteristics on a WOM message’s persuability depends. We begin, via a pretest, by demonstrating the intuitive expectation that high volume, relative to low volume, accentuates or assimilates perceptions of positivity or negativity of WOM targets. Then, through two experimental studies, we show that depending upon how high volume interacts with WOM consensus and consumer decision precommitment, it can contrast preference away from the valence of a target also. In our third and final experimental study, we demonstrate that consumers differ in their susceptibility to the influence of high volume. Those with a higher desire to be different from others, compared to those with a higher desire to be similar, are resistant to high volume’s assimilative sway and do not show the valence-accentuating effects demonstrated in the pretest. Retail managers and researchers should find these insights about the different roles of WOM volume beneficial.

Word-of-mouth  – Assimilation and contrast  – Social influence  – Volume  – Valence  – Consensus  – Consumer precommitment  – Need for uniqueness  – Online user ratings

Published in Journal of Retailing,

Toward an Understanding of the Online Consumer’s Risky Behavior and Protection Practices

This research draws upon protection motivation theory and social cognitive theory to investigate the extent to which the level of perceived threat and likelihood of threat along with online self-efficacy affect online behaviors. This article contributes to the literature by investigating a wide range of risky and protective behaviors and examining the role of online self-efficacy with a national online survey of 449 nonstudent respondents. Results show that both self-efficacy and demographic factors such as age have a differential impact on the type of behaviors taken online.

Publisged in Journal of Consumer Affairs,

An Integrated Marketing Communications Perspective on Social Media Metrics

Marketers are being inundated with social media metrics, but there is little consensus on what one should be measuring, let alone how these measures inform marketing strategy. This article attempts to bring clarity to the situation by adopting an integrated marketing communications perspective. By screening extant metrics for alignment with social media communications objectives, seven key social media metrics are identified. These metrics are then described and their application to social media marketing from an integrated marketing communications perspective is discussed. Finally, limitations of the metrics are considered to arrive at suggestions for future research.

Keywords: social media, metrics, integrated marketing communications

Published in International Journal of Integrated Marketing Communications,

[PDF] from

Making choices while smelling, tasting, and listening: the role of sensory (Dis) similarity when sequentially sampling products

Marketers are increasingly allowing consumers to sample sensory-rich experiential products before making purchase decisions. The results of seven experimental studies (two conducted in field settings, three conducted in a laboratory, and two conducted online) demonstrate that the order in which consumers sample products and the level of (dis)similarity between the sensory cues of the products influence choices. In the absence of any moderators, when sampling a sequence of sensory-rich experiential products (e.g., fragrances, chocolates, flavored beverages, music) with similar sensory cues (e.g., smell, taste, color, sound), consumers prefer the first product in the sequence. However, when sampling a sequence of products with dissimilar sensory cues, consumers prefer the last product. These findings (1) contribute to a better understanding of the role of sequential sensory cues on consumer choice formation, (2) have implications for effects related to sensory habituation and sensory trace fading, and (3) help resolve apparent inconsistencies in prior research on order effects in the context of choices for sequentially sampled experiential products.

Published in Journal of Marketing ,

“Digital buddies”: Parasocial interactions in social media

This paper aims to focus its inquiries on the parasocial interactions (PSI) and relationships (PSR) consumers form with personae in online social media communities. The authors extend the marketing literature on parasocial interaction/relationship beyond brands by focusing on personal social media accounts (public student-athletes).

Published in Journal of Research in Interactive Marketing,

Exploring social motivations for brand loyalty: Conformity versus escapism

We posit and show that some consumers may remain brand loyal because of their motivation to conform; in contrast, others may do so because of their motivation to break away. Furthermore, we identify two central moderating variables – product knowledge and self-image congruence – that determine how conformity or escapism motivation affects brand loyalty. We show that these common communication goals play an asymmetric role for each motive. In particular, self-image congruence is found to enhance brand loyalty for consumers who are motivated to conform, but not for those who are driven to escape. Alternatively, product knowledge is found to enhance brand loyalty for escapism-motivated consumers, but inhibits brand loyalty for consumers who are bound to conform. Given that both moderators are central to most brand-related marketing communication, the insights of this study will help brand managers better understand the impact of communication goals on brand loyalty and ultimately marketing performance.

Published in Journal of Brand Management,

Celebrity endorsement in social media contexts: understanding the role of parasocial interactions and the need to belong

As celebrity endorsements have extended from traditional media to social media, the role of celebrities has been amplified and celebrities have been able to establish unprecedentedly close relationships through interacting with consumers. This study, grounded in the theory of parasocial interactions and celebrity endorsement, aims to propose a framework of antecedents and outcomes of parasocial interactions with celebrities on social media.

Published in Journal of Consumer Marketing,

Social media  – Brand  – Need to belong  – Celebrity attachment  – Parasocial interactions

The impact of pronoun choices on consumer engagement actions: Exploring top global brands’ social media communications

To enhance the understanding of consumer engagement with brand content on social media, this study examines how pronoun choices affect different types of consumer engagement (e.g., likes, comments, shares) by simultaneously exploring five different pronoun types (first-person singular, first-person plural, second person, third-person singular, and third-person plural). Furthermore, this study explores how the effects of these linguistic (pronoun) choices vary across two brand classifications: characteristics (hedonic vs. utilitarian) and offerings (goods vs. services). The proposed multivariate Poisson regression model, analyzing 15,788 unique brand posts from Facebook over an 8-month period, reveals differences in engagement due to pronoun usage across brand classifications. These results offer a deeper understanding of how the way brands talk to consumers on social media platforms influences consumers’ attitudes (likes), propensity to engage with the brand (comments), and willingness to share branded content with their social networks (shares) across different brand classifications.

Published in Psychology & Marketing,

A new information lens: The self-concept and exchange context as a means to understand information sensitivity of anonymous and personal identifying information

Given technological advances, consumers’ sensitivity around personal information is shifting, whereby information once considered innocuous, is now considered more sensitive and warrants more protection. This research examines the self-concept and exchange context as a new lens to understand consumer sensitivity to anonymous and personal identifying information exchange. Two studies examine the role of the public and private self in predicting attitudes toward sharing PII and non-PII items, and across different information exchange contexts. Implications for business and policy makers are provided

Published in Journal of Interactive Marketing,

Like, Comment, or Share? Self-presentation vs. brand relationships as drivers of social media engagement choices

To enhance our understanding of consumer engagement with social media brand posts, this research explores the underlying mechanisms driving consumer engagement choices with branded social media posts. We posit and provide evidence that two underlying mechanisms—self-presentation and brand relationship connections—drive engagement choices. Three exploratory studies provide consistent evidence that these motivations impact consumers’ decisions to engage with brand posts and these motivations partially determine engagement choice (e.g., Like, Comment, Share, React). We find that (1) likes and reactions are primarily driven by brand relationship connections; (2) comments are driven by both brand relationship connections and self-presentation; and (3) shares are primarily driven by self-presentation.

Published in Marketing Letters,

Color research in marketing: Theoretical and technical considerations for conducting rigorous and impactful color research

Since the beginning of the 21st century, there has been a surge in interest in color research (and in sensory marketing in general). In addition to discussing emerging color research contained in this special issue, this article also provides a discussion of theoretical frameworks for understanding color and provides technical guidelines for creating color stimuli. These guidelines include a discussion of the three dimensions of color (hue, saturation, and value) and provide researchers with guidance for controlling these dimensions when creating color stimuli. Additionally, this article discusses additive (red, green, blue) versus subtractive (cyan, magenta, yellow, and key) color models, gamut, and other considerations, such as screening participants for colorblindness, that future researchers may find useful for conducting rigorous color research.

Published in Psychology & Marketing,

The impact of the amount of available information on decision delay: The role of common features

In two studies, we show that features shared by products (common features) do not cancel out during the decision-making process but in fact are consequential as they decrease desire for delay in decision making. In study 1, we show that as the amount of available information about product features increases, decision delay decreases in spite of the additional information being identical across the products. Further, we also find that this effect is partially mediated by information adequacy. In study 2, we show that despite the overall difficulty of making decisions under avoidance–avoidance versus approach–approach conflict, an increase in common features decreases decision delay under both conflict conditions.

Published in Marketing Letters,

A multicultural service sensitivity exercise for marketing students

Services marketing and retailing courses place service quality at the heart of the curriculum, painting service providers as defenders of their customers’ welfare and thwarters of service failures by ushering in recovery solutions. Yet academic literature and the popular press provide evidence that in some cases, service providers act as discriminatory agents toward their own customers. Likewise, other customers in the servicescape can negatively influence a customer’s service quality experience. This article attempts to address shortcomings in services marketing textbooks and classroom discussions by providing educators with a multicultural service sensitivity exercise that they can employ in undergraduate, graduate, and executive MBA courses. The article offers educators an easy-to-implement, active learning exercise that shows students how many consumers fail to obtain quality service in the marketplace. The goal of the exercise is to help students develop an appreciation for diversity and understand how to manage a service setting so that all customers receive optimal service quality.

Published in Journal of Marketing Education,

Addressing online behavioral advertising and privacy implications: A comparison of passive versus active learning approaches

Sophisticated technology advances are delivering new and powerful ways for marketers to collect and use consumer data. These data-driven marketing capabilities present a unique challenge for students, as they will soon be expected to manage consumer data and make business decisions based on ethical, legal, and fiscal considerations. This article attempts to address shortcomings related to the “information privacy gap” in marketing education by providing educators with an online behavioral advertising exercise that they can employ in their courses. This article offers educators an easy-to-implement
learning exercise that can help students better comprehend these new technologies and the implications for consumer privacy. Furthermore, we compare two exercises (active vs. passive learning) to assess the outcomes of each approach.

learning styles, ethics, skills/traits development, e-commerce/Internet marketing, course content, privacy, behavioral advertising

Published in Journal of Marketing Education,

Stimulating the senses: An introduction to part two of the special issue on sensory marketing

Published in Psychology & Marketing,

Effects of sequential sensory cues on food taste perception: cross‐modal interplay between visual and olfactory stimuli

Sensory cues are often encountered sequentially (rather than simultaneously) in retailing, food packaging, and other consumption contexts. While prior studies on effects of sensory cues have examined scenarios where the sensory cues are encountered simultaneously, this research takes the novel approach of examining order effects of different sensory cues encountered sequentially. Specifically, four experiments examine the effects of sequentially encountered visual and olfactory sensory cues on food taste perception. We theorize and find empirical evidence that an olfactory cue benefits from first encountering a visual cue, but not vice versa. More specifically, encountering a visual cue before (vs. after) an olfactory cue (i.e., V-O vs. O-V sequence) results in more positive outcomes (higher taste perception, volume consumed, product recommendation, and choice). Moreover, ease of processing the olfactory cue mediates the effect of sensory cue sequence on taste perception. These findings highlight the sensory cross-modal effects of sequential visual and olfactory cues on gustatory perceptions and have implications for consumer well-being as well as for food/beverage packaging and for designing retail outlets and restaurants.

Published in Journal of Consumer Psychology,

Web 2.0 and Consumers’ Digital Footprint Managing Privacy and Disclosure Choices in Social Media

In the modern marketplace, personal information is readily and widely available through the Internet, just as easily as stock prices are available in The Wall Street Journal. In a world of noisy self-confessions, evolving technology, and Web 2.0 tools (e.g., social networking, microblogging) that make it easy to divulge life stories, disclosure choices offer a means to keep personal information private, or not (Milne & Bahl, 2010; Poddar, Mosteller, & Scholder-Ellen, 2009). The aggregation of disclosed information creates a digital footprint or profile of personal information, accessible online to a wide spectrum of people (Madden, Fox, Smith, &Vitak, 2007). Such footprints are common; a recent study shows that 47% of adults use social networking sites (Pew Research Center, 2010). Accordingly, mounting participation in blogs and social networks creates new privacy issues related to digital profiles in the marketplace …

Published in Online Consumer Behavior (peer-reviewed book chapter),’_Digital_Footprint_Managing_Privacy_and_Disclosures_Choices_in_Social_Media/links/634dc0c112cbac6a3ed4bd59/Web-20-and-Consumers-Digital-Footprint-Managing-Privacy-and-Disclosures-Choices-in-Social-Media.pdf

When data security goes wrong: Examining the impact of stress, social contract violation, and data type on consumer coping responses following a data breach

Data breaches and misuse of data are rising, causing compromised consumer privacy. This research explores the impact of stress and perceptions of a social contract violation have on both firm-focused outcomes and consumer protection behaviors following a data breach. Additionally, we investigate the impact that the type of data lost/compromised in the breach– personally identifiable (PII) and non-personally identifiable (NPII)– has on these outcomes. To explore this, we conduct an experimental survey (Study 1) of 230 respondents. Results indicate that stress and perceptions of social contract violation impact our outcome variables. The results differences in terms of how these impact consumer coping behaviors across different data types (PII vs. NPII). In Study 2 we explore how industry clusters differ in their levels of stress and social contract violation, actions businesses can take to them, and whether these actions could help reduce negative consumer responses.

Published in Journal of Business Research,

Authenticity in online communications examining antecedents and consequences

Web 2.0 has raised new concerns for consumers in their experiences with brands and marketing communications. An increase in constructed realities in the Web 2.0 environment makes it increasingly difficult to differentiate between real and unreal objects, and consequently, consumers are left searching for authenticity. Recently, authenticity has been discussed widely in the online consulting literature (Mitra, 2002) and is considered a fundamental building block of an online strategy. Within the marketing literature scholars are beginning to explore the importance of authenticity (Alexander, 2009; Grayson & Martinec, 2004; Leigh, Peters, & Shelton, 2006), yet it remains unclear what factors lead to or result from authenticity. Some studies have tried to capture the meaning of authenticity and its attributes (Grayson & Martinec, 2004), however, their focus was on an offline context (authenticity of items and experiences …

Published in Online Consumer Behavior (peer-reviewed book chapter),

Graves, gifts, and the bereaved consumer: a restorative perspective of gift exchange

When a gifting relationship is disrupted by death, why might a living consumer continue to invest in it? Consumer spending on deceased loved ones does not end with the funeral. Given the embodying power of a physical gravesite, this article examines the practice of gift giving to the deceased in the context of American cemeteries. We employ a longitudinal approach, in which 180 cemetery gravesites were photographed. The photographic data are coupled with a netnography of grief and bereavement communities. Findings support a restorative perspective of gift exchange. Bereaved consumers utilize restorative giving as a mechanism to cope with loss and maintain relationships with deceased loved ones. We outline five categories of gifts given to the deceased and present a framework of restorative giving practices. Implications are discussed in terms of identity development, symbolic communication, and reciprocity in gift giving, as deceased consumers continue to be recipients of tangible goods.

Published in Consumption Markets & Culture,

A framework for social responsible retailing (SRR) business practices

The role of retailers in the practice of social responsible initiatives has been overlooked in the literature. This paper develops a framework for analysis of Social Responsible Retailing (SRR) by focusing on retailing business practices across the supply chain to the end consumer and among the internal and external stakeholders of the retail landscape. The framework is presented as a starting point to develop the concept of SRR and focuses on the potential role retailers can play in developing and coordinating social responsible business practices.

Value Creation (vs Value Destruction) as an Unintended Consequence of Negative Comments on [Innocuous] Brand Social Media Posts

Social media allows brands a place to reinforce their identities and build positive interactions with their customers. Despite all the benefits social media offers to brands, it is also is a place where consumers can post negative comments (unintended consequence #1) with the intention to cause harm (value-destruction). But could these value destruction attempts backfire, resulting in value-creation for the brand (unintended consequence #2)? Study 1 (qualitative online content analysis) uses 237 real consumer comments on brand posts to explore the initial unintended consequence—the phenomenon of consumers posting negative comments on innocuous brand posts and identifies four categorizations based on two distinct comment types (personal vs. brand) and tones (lecturing vs. mocking). Building on Study 1, Study 2a investigates how observing consumers view the four different comment categorizations identified in Study 1 and explores whether they vary in terms of their justification (i.e., justified vs. not). Study 2b identifies which categorizations impact observing consumers’ perceptions of a comment as “complaining” or “trolling”. Lastly, Study 3 utilizes an experiment to test unintended consequence #2—we find that “trolling” negative comments on innocuous brand posts can increase observing consumers’ likelihood to engage with the brand.

Published in Journal of Interactive Marketing,

Small sounds, big impact: sonic logos and their effect on consumer attitudes, emotions, brands and advertising placement

The purpose of this paper is to show how sonic logos, despite their brief exposure time, resonate with consumers’ emotions and attitudes in a manner that until now has been attributed to only longer background music in advertising. The moderating role of sonic logo placement within the ad (beginning versus ending) and the mediating role of emotion felt after exposure to the brand and advertisement are also explored.

Published in Journal of Product & Brand Management,