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Customer-to-Customer Communication: Referral of High and Low Involvement Products through Stimulated Word-of-Mouth

Referral reward programs (RRPs), considered as a form of stimulated word-of-mouth (WOM), provide incentives to existing customers to bring in new customers. The research here adds to previous knowledge by exploring the usage of referral codes for high and low-involvement products in three stages of the consumer decision journey, on a sample of 218 consumers analyzed by regression analysis. Results show that components of the Theory of Planned Behavior influence the behavioral intention toward participating in an RRP, with perceived behavioral control having the strongest effect, followed by subjective norm and Attitude. Referral codes have a significant effect on respondents’ behavior; high conformity of high-involvement products and low conformity of low-involvement products was found, with referral programs having a weaker effect on high-involvement products. Customers tend to follow all steps of the traditional consumer journey when buying a high-involvement product; in the case of low involvement products, low conformity was even lower when using a referral code. Low-involvement products at the need recognition stage, and high-involvement products at the active research stage, are the least affected by the RRP. Results provide insights for companies to optimize their marketing strategy through stimulated WOM, and with the usage of RRPs.

Open Access
(Over)Eating with Our Eyes: An Examination of Mukbang Influencer Marketing and Consumer Engagement with Food Brands

With the popularity and success of food-related social media content, food marketers have begun utilizing social media influencers to promote their food brands. In particular, mukbang—video broadcasts of individuals eating copious amounts of food—is a prominent genre of public social media food exhibition that can provide opportunities for food-related social media influencer marketing. The present study examines how parasocial interaction (i.e. nonreciprocal interpersonal relationships formed with media personalities) with a mukbang social media influencer impacts advertising effectiveness and information credibility. A total of 404 U.S. participants completed an online survey. Structural equation modeling found that participants’ parasocial interactions with mukbang social media influencers predicted perceived source trustworthiness, perceived source expertise, and credibility of the information regarding the food content posted. Furthermore, influencer source credibility and information credibility positively impacted consumer brand and video attitudes, as well as behavioral intentions to consume the foods featured in the social media content. Study results provide evidence-based implications for food-related social media influencer marketing strategies and insight into the important role of information credibility on eating behaviors of social media consumers.

What Makes Customers More Engaged on Social Media? An Investigation of Customers’ Responses to Brand-Generated Content on Twitter

This study employs thematic content analysis to explore how the content source (brand vs. brands in collaboration with celebrities), content type (informative, social, and entertaining), and content format (videos, links, photos, and text) shape customer engagement on Twitter. It also aims to unpack the user-generated content (UGC) patterns and users’ attitudinal and behavioral reactions in response to brand-generated content (BGC). Using 5086 tweets generated by a brand and 4676 brand-related tweets generated by users, the findings demonstrate a significant increase in user engagement with the content generated by brands in collaboration with a celebrity compared to the content generated solely by the brand regardless of the content type. The findings also reveal that social and entertaining content attracts more user engagement than informative content. Users tend to engage more with tweets containing images than tweets containing videos or links. The findings further illustrate that most users’ brand-related content is in the ‘mention’ style, and most users’ comments include negative behavior-related content. Our findings provide marketing managers with actionable insights into monitoring and managing brand-related social media content.