Academy of Entrepreneurship Journal (Print ISSN: 1087-9595; Online ISSN: 1528-2686)

Review Article: 2021 Vol: 27 Issue: 2S

A Conceptual Model For Promotion On Digital Platforms

Ruchi Gupta, Assistant Professor, Department of Commerce, Shaheed Bhagat Singh College, University of Delhi, India

Kiran Nair, Associate Professor, Abu Dhabi School of Management, Abu Dhabi, UAE

Abstract

The purpose of this paper is to present a conceptual model for promotion on digital platforms. The case study of Swiggy (an online food ordering and delivery app in India) acts as a stimulus to design a conceptual framework explaining how the adoption of digital technology can lead to creation of sensory brand experiences and consumer brand engagement, which, in turn, can help in creating competitive advantage for the brand. The paper has an important contribution as it presents a conceptual model that links the various elements of promotion on digital platforms - influencer marketing, sensory brand experience (created through digital technologies), hedonic benefits of promotion and utilitarian benefits of promotion - to critical impact variables like consumer engagement, brand equity, brand attitude and purchase intention, in light of relevant literature. The findings indicate that plans for promotion on digital platforms should consider not only hedonic and utilitarian benefits for consumers but also the most appropriate digital technologies and social media marketing strategies, including the right set of social media platforms, influencer marketing, etc. This has special significance for marketers in the present digital era marked by the growing importance of social media platforms and the tremendous potential of digital technologies.

Keywords

Consumer Engagement, Influencer Marketing, Sensory Brand Experience, Hedonic Benefits, Utilitarian Benefits.

Introduction

Marketers seek the best way to connect with potential customers, and in Business-To-Consumer (B2C) marketing, promotions and incentive offers have proved popular. The rise of social media and digital technologies has added another dimension to promotional campaigns, and as the use of digital platforms expands, it is increasingly important for brands to use these tools to try to reach their target customers. Two factors underlie the proliferation of digital marketing: one, the incorporation of digital platforms into marketing strategies and the daily lives of consumers, and two, the preferences of consumers to make purchases using digital devices rather than in physical stores. Tanyel, Stuart & Griffin (2013) contend that firms can develop positive relationships with millennials through more innovative advertising campaigns on social media platforms. Given the growing importance of social media, marketers are trying to understand consumer behaviour in order to design appropriate strategies for achieving their desired objectives (Yadav et al., 2013, Arora & Sanni, 2018).

The rapid growth of social media has not only changed the dynamics of consumer behaviour but also transformed the way in which business is conducted (Dwivedi et. al, 2020). Digital technologies now play a significant part in every organization, including the way promotional campaigns are run on digital platforms. Incorporating social media marketing as an integral part of the overall business strategy can get substantial benefits for organisations (Dwivedi, Kapoor & Chen, 2015a; Kapoor, Dwivedi & Percy, 2016; Singh et al., 2017; Yang, Assad & Dwivedi, 2017; Shareef et al., 2018;). Social media marketing helps companies create brand awareness, influence consumer attitudes, improve brand equity and increase sales. (Kapoor et al.,2018; Stojanovic, Andreu & Curras-Perez, 2018; Mishra, 2019; Lal et al., 2020). However, there is a paucity of research in the area of digital marketing strategies and digital technology with respect to generating consumer engagement and its impact on consumer behaviour and the brand.

This paper discusses how digital strategies and digital technology can be instrumental in creating consumer engagement with a brand. The objective is to illuminate the relationships among various elements of promotion on digital platforms (influencer marketing, sensory brand experience created using digital technologies, hedonic benefits of promotion and utilitarian benefits of promotion), consumer engagement, brand equity, brand attitude and purchase intention. To illustrate these relationships, the paper first discusses a case study of the food ordering and delivering platform Swiggy, which used Instagram voice notes in an innovative way to achieve customer engagement in the ‘Swiggy Voice of Hunger Contest’. The contest required participants to make sounds by varying the pitch of their voice or using different sources of sound to recreate the shape of a dish (such as nachos) as a sound wave recorded by long-pressing the microphone button on Instagram DM. An intensive study of the case is conducted to understand the use of digital marketing technologies to create a sensory brand experience and the use of digital marketing strategies like influencer marketing for customer engagement. Customer engagement is defined as “the customer’s behavioural manifestation towards a brand… …. resulting from motivational drivers” (van Doorn et al., 2010). Swiggy also used intrinsic motivation (perceived enjoyment- the hedonic benefit of promotion) and extrinsic motivation (rewards in the form of food coupons- utilitarian benefit) to engage with customers. The contest achieved tremendous results.

After the discussion of the case, the paper links the strategies used in this case and past results in the field and compares the findings of the case with the existing literature to understand the relationships between the use of digital technologies and sensory brand experience, influencer marketing, the hedonic and utilitarian benefits of promotion, consumer engagement, various dimensions of brand equity, brand attitude and purchase intention. After this analysis, a conceptual model for promotion on digital platforms is presented.

CASE STUDY: SWIGGY ‘VOICE OF HUNGER’ CONTEST

Founded in 2014, Swiggy is one of India’s largest online food ordering and delivery platforms. Swiggy has partnered with more than 80,000 restaurants and food joints and operates in more than 100 cities in India. The platform provides a variety of customer-centric services like fast delivery, no minimum order value, live order tracking and 24/7 customer care support. Their core target audience is the 18- 35 year old age group.

The brand has grown rapidly as more restaurants have partnered with it, and Swiggy has been able to expand its market in terms of target audience as well, with more customers signing up. Swiggy is now a household name; in fact, some ads feature older people to show that the platform is not limited to only the younger generation in terms of its target market.

The online food ordering and delivery industry is characterised by intense competition in an attempt to win customers. A very close competitor for Swiggy is Zomato, another online food ordering and delivery app that is very popular in India. Zomato’s current promotional strategy is to gain customer attention and engagement by using humorous content in its promotional messages. In comparison, Swiggy has employed a dynamic marketing strategy. The brand has experimented with numerous creative and innovative posts, campaigns and offers. In terms of content strategy, the promotional messages of the brand rely on humour and wit and are aimed at creating brand awareness and customer satisfaction. The brand has also generated content of various dynamics on Instagram. Thus, Swiggy has started experimenting with digital platforms and digital technologies to engage with its customers and create memorable brand experiences for them.

Objective of the Campaign

Swiggy wanted to engage with its followers in a way that marketers had never done before. It aimed to use digital technologies in its social media marketing campaign to go beyond normal user engagement to create a sensory brand experience and perceived enjoyment of participating in the contest, which would, in turn, inspire user-generated content and register the brand in the minds of consumers.

Specifically, the campaign aimed to achieve the following:

◾ To increase the brand preference for Swiggy among 18 to 35 year olds (its core user base)
◾ To improve customer engagement with Swiggy’s online communities
◾ To increase the follower base on Swiggy’s Instagram handle
◾ To create memorable brand experiences

Target Audience

For the contest, Swiggy aimed to target their core user base of 18 to 35 year olds. This younger generation is more willing to experiment with new things, especially on social media. Moreover, this demographic group was more aware of the voice message feature on Instagram, which was new and not well-known at the time of the contest.

About the Contest

In February 2019, Swiggy launched a very unique contest on Instagram that took advantage of the platform's new voice message feature. The campaign adopted digital technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and voice-enabled technology with the aim of increasing customer engagement by creating a sensory brand experience as well as the hedonic benefit of perceived enjoyment (intrinsic motivator) and utilitarian benefit of winning food coupons (extrinsic motivator). The contest was promoted by influencers, who made funny videos demonstrating how to participate in the campaign.

The contest was run in the form of a challenge for the user, posted on Swiggy’s Instagram feed. Every day, users were given a challenge to recreate the shape of some food item/dish (like nachos, kebabs, etc.). The contest required people to make sounds/noises by varying the pitch of their voice or by using different sources of sound to recreate the shape of that dish as a sound wave recorded as a waveform by long-pressing the microphone button on Instagram DM.

The campaign consisted of five challenges: recreating the shape of nachos, a kebab skewer, pancakes, shawarma and 21-stack pancakes. To be eligible to win the mega prize, a year's worth of food vouchers from Swiggy, all five challenges had to be completed. In addition, there were daily prizes that could be won for each challenge.

Promotional Strategy

Advertising media used-instagram:Companies use various social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter etc. to run their brand promotions. The choice of the platform depends on two factors - target consumers and marketing strategy (Dwivedi et al., 2020). Swiggy’s social media marketing campaign was run on Instagram. The choice of this platform was ideal, as one of the objectives of the campaign was to increase the brand preference for Swiggy among consumers in the 18- to 35-year-old age group. Instagram has over 1 billion users and is one of the most popular platforms for reaching younger consumers (statista.com, TechCrunch, 2016). Globally, India ranks second in the number of Instagram users, with 88 billion, compared with 120 million in the United States (statista.com). Moreover, this platform is most popular with teens and millennials: 64 percent of Instagram’s global user base is between 18 and 34 years old (April 2020, statista.com). Also, it has been found that Instagram, as a social media platform, is more suitable for interactive content that has an informative-entertainment appeal (Kusumasondjaja, 2018). Swiggy’s promotional strategy was to design a campaign that had an entertainment appeal, which in turn, would help drive consumer interactions with the brand.

Influencer marketing:Influencer marketing has provided new ways for brands to reach out to their customers. Influencers are defined by huge followings on social media and include bloggers (food bloggers, travel bloggers, etc.), fashionistas, comedians, etc. By posting brand-related content, they can influence their followers to take action (Casalo, Flavian & Sanchez, 2018; De Jans et al., 2019; Nurhandayani, Syarief & Najib, 2019; Sokolova & Kefi, 2020). Influencers also help companies design unique promotional content that draws additional followers.

Those who were already following Swiggy on Instagram learned about the contest from posts by the company. However, to attract new customers to Swiggy’s Instagram account, the brand used influencer marketing. The contest saw participation from various social media influencers, like Rohan Joshi, Barkha, Srishti Bansal and the Filmy Kudi. In fact, the advertising agency employed by Swiggy used more than 100 comedians, musicians, rappers, actors and DJs in voice and sound experiments for the campaign. Influencers were carefully chosen to ensure that they had the right reach and personality to do something perceived as “funny” and “weird”.

These influencers posted on their Instagram handles to tell people how to participate in the contest and win food coupons. These posts were then shared by Swiggy on its Instagram handle. This helped the brand in two ways. One, influencer marketing helped attract new customers (who were not initially following Swiggy on Instagram). After receiving information about the content, these new customers started following the brand on Instagram and participated in this fun-filled and engaging contest. Two, influencer marketing helped create buzz about the contest and further enhanced the engagement level. Organic reach followed as people started inviting their friends to take part in the contest.

Hedonic benefit of promotion (perceived enjoyment):Sales promotion offers three hedonic benefits to consumers: entertainment, exploration and opportunities for self-expression (Chandon, Wansink & Laurent, 2000). In the present case of Swiggy, the entertainment aspect in the form of fun and perceived enjoyment of taking part in the contest was the hedonic benefit of sales promotion. Consumers were required to make weird noises or make sounds using objects to record a soundwave on Instagram DM in a way that would match the shape of the food item in the contest. An individual consumer might try several times to make different noises to produce the desired shape of the food item in question. Some consumers even used the sound of a pressure cooker, a hair dryer and other items in an attempt to create the desired shape. As a result, consumers repeatedly engaged with the brand by recording messages (in the form of sound waves) and posting them. The perceived enjoyment of the entire process, which was full of fun and laughter and required consumers to try many unusual sources of sound and noises to create these sound waves, defined the hedonic value of this sales promotion contest.

Utilitarian benefit of promotion (use of food coupons):Consumers evaluate sales promotions on the basis of three utilitarian benefits: monetary savings, shopping convenience and improved product quality (Chandon, Wansink & Laurent, 2000). Such evaluation follows a rational thought process (Chandon, Wansink & Laurent, 2000). In the Swiggy case, monetary savings earned in the form of food vouchers served as the utilitarian benefit of this sales promotion contest. Each day of the campaign, Swiggy gave out 50 food vouchers to customers with the best entries. In addition, there was a mega prize of one year’s worth of food vouchers from Swiggy. This utilitarian benefit of sales promotion in the form of a food voucher providing monetary savings also served as an extrinsic motivator for the consumer.

How Did Digital Technology Help?

The launch of the contest coincided with the introduction of Instagram’s voice messaging feature. The use of digital technologies like AI and voice-enabled technology to create a sensory brand experience was instrumental in attaining consumer engagement with the brand.

Creating a sensory brand experience:According to Brakus, Schmitt and Zarantonello (2009), various brand-related stimuli, including brand communications, can evoke feelings, sensations, thoughts, and behavioural responses in order to create a brand experience. A successful brand experience is considered unique and memorable by the customer and is one that he would like to repeat, maintain and promote (Pine II & Gilmore, 1998). Positive experiences are effective in stimulating the senses and in creating linkages among the emotions, cognition and physical experience of the consumer. Digital technologies have enabled consumers to play a significant role in shaping their experiences with brands on digital platforms (Carlson et al., 2018).

Digital interactive technologies are increasingly used to design online environments to create sensory brand experiences through the five basic senses of sight, touch, taste, smell and hearing. In the present case, a sensory brand experience was created through sight and sounds, as the contest required people to make sounds/noises by varying the pitch of their voices or by using different sources of sound to recreate the shape of the food item. The contestants could see the shape that was recorded in the form of a sound wave when they made different sounds and noises, including some weird noises, in an attempt to match the sound wave with the shape of the food item. By long-pressing the microphone button on Instagram DM, they could also record their voice again to create a new sound wave if, in their earlier attempt, they were not able to record the desired shape.

Consumer engagement: Previous research has shown that consumer engagement is an outcome of social media marketing (Dwivedi et al., 2020). Engagement may be defined as a “customer’s cognitive, emotional and behavioural activities’ (Hollebeek, 2011). A multi-dimensional concept of engagement consisting of cognitive, emotional and behavioural dimensions has also been described in previous studies (Brodie et al., 2011; Dwivedi, 2015). Thus, consumer engagement may take place at a cognitive level where the consumer is thinking about the brand; at an emotional level where he feels connected to the brand; and at a behavioural level where, for instance, he engages with the brand post, as in the Swiggy case.

As discussed above, the contestants recorded and submitted various entries for the contest in order to match the shape of their recorded sound wave with the food item in question. In addition, every day, there was a new challenge in the form of a new food item. Thus, throughout the campaign, consumers regularly participated and posted entries, resulting in continuous engagement with the brand. However, it is pertinent to note that the hedonic benefit of this promotional campaign (fun and entertainment factor) and the utilitarian benefit associated with it (daily food vouchers to be won that would result in monetary savings) were also instrumental in achieving a high level of consumer engagement.

Results of the Campaign

The contest recorded tremendous results:
◾ Swiggy registered a 40 percent increase in Instagram followers as a result of this social media marketing campaign. Of these new users, 40,000 were aged 18-35 years. Thus, the campaign will allow the brand to reach out to a greater number of people (followers) instantly for any future brand communications, offers, contests, etc.
◾ The campaign recorded a 7700 percent rise in Instagram traffic, a definite success in terms of reach.
◾ Brand interactions increased by 1165 percent. This means that people were not simply following the brand - they were now interacting with it. In fact, at the peak of the campaign, the contest was hitting at least 50 DMs. This response from consumers was tremendous enough to “break the internet” and crash the Instagram handle of Swiggy eleven times during the period of the campaign (10 days).

◾ 16 million social impressions were recorded for the campaign.
◾ The contest received more than 10,000 entries on the first day of the campaign. The campaign was run for 10 days, and more than 150,000 entries were received during the period of the campaign. These entries were primarily from India but were also from other countries, like the US. These figures reflect the kind of consumer engagement generated by this contest.
◾ Swiggy also saw a 24 percent average increase in orders for food resembling its most popular voice note creation.
◾ Moreover, brands like Airtel, Netflix and Kingfisher organically participated in the challenge.

By any measure, these figures emphasise the tremendous results Swiggy was able to achieve by running the ‘Voice of Hunger’ contest on Instagram. By innovating with the voice note feature on Instagram, Swiggy was able to strike the right chord with customers and interact with them in a creative way. The hedonic benefit of perceived enjoyment (intrinsic motivator) and utilitarian benefit of winning the food vouchers (extrinsic motivator) further ensured customer engagement with the brand.

Awards Won by the Campaign

The campaign won three Cannes Lions awards in 2019 (one silver Lion and two bronze Lions) for co-creation and user-generated content in the direct and mobile category and also in the social and influencer category. The campaign also won five Kyoorius Awards in 2019. These awards were given in different categories and included awards for social engagement generated through user-generated content on social media and for innovative use of social media, digital platform and digital technology in the digital innovation category.

Thus, the ‘Swiggy Voice of Hunger Contest’ discussed in this paper helps to identify the significant factors comprising promotion on digital platforms. The case illustrates that the perceived enjoyment that customers experience through the use of digital technologies is helpful in creating a sensory brand experience that, in turn, results in high levels of consumer engagement. Moreover, the perceived enjoyment (hedonic benefit of promotion) of matching noises and different kinds of sounds with the shape of a food item encouraged people to engage closely with the brand. Such consumer engagement can be instrumental in gaining competitive advantage (Kumar & Pansari, 2016) in this competitive industry. Moreover, the case study reveals how the right social media influencers can reach out to the intended target audience, further enhancing customer brand engagement. In this case, influencers actually made videos to demonstrate how to take part in this fun-filled and entertaining contest. These videos encouraged their followers (most of whom represented the target audience for this campaign) to take part in the contest. The utilitarian benefit of the promotion (winning food vouchers every day and a mega prize of food vouchers for an entire year) also motivated participation.

Few marketers have started experimenting with digital technologies in the way discussed here, and the case study of Swiggy is a testimony to the tremendous scope of digital technologies and their potential for outstanding results, especially when used with the right digital marketing strategies.

CONCEPTUAL MODEL FOR PROMOTION ON DIGITAL PLATFORMS

As discussed above, the case study of Swiggy highlights how digital technologies can be used to create sensory brand experiences for consumers. Influencer marketing, sensory brand experiences (created through digital technologies), hedonic benefits of promotion (fun and entertainment) and utilitarian benefits of promotion (vouchers in this case) individually and collectively generate customer engagement with the brand, leading to improved brand awareness, the creation of brand associations and even brand loyalty, and improved perceived brand quality, all of which are important elements of brand equity (Pride & Ferrell, 2014). Moreover, these elements of promotions on digital platforms may affect the brand attitude and purchase intention of consumers via a central route or peripheral route, as explained by the Elaboration Likelihood Model (Petty & Cacioppo, 1986). To guide future statistical analyses of the relationships among these factors, a conceptual model for promotions on digital platforms using the latest digital technologies is presented in Figure 1.

Figure 1 CONCEPTUAL MODEL FOR PROMOTION ON DIGITAL PLATFORMS

The conceptual model for promotion on digital platforms (Figure 1) shows how the various elements of a promotion conducted on a digital platform (influencer marketing, sensory brand experience created through digital technologies, hedonic benefits of promotion and utilitarian benefits of promotion) can lead to an increase in brand equity (improved brand awareness, brand associations, brand loyalty and/or improving perceived brand quality), brand attitude and purchase intention either directly or through customer engagement.

This conceptual model is based on the Elaboration Likelihood Model (ELM) of persuasion (Petty & Cacioppo, 1986). The ELM model contends that the level of persuasiveness of a message can influence its effectiveness. A persuasive message may affect the behaviour and attitude of a person through a central route or a peripheral route. The central route of processing is invoked if there is high-involvement processing of the message. Conversely, in the case of low-involvement processing of the message, the persuasion process will follow a peripheral route. Since promotional messages vary in their content and objectives, there could be high or low information processing of the promotional message by the recipient (target consumer), who may then take a central route or peripheral route as suggested by the model. In both cases, the attitude and behaviour of the recipient of the message are impacted. However, if the message follows a central route of persuasion, a behavioural change would take place only after a change in attitude. On the other hand, if the message follows a peripheral route of persuasion, a behavioural change will lead to a change in attitude. Moreover, since we are proposing a broader framework for evaluating the impact of promotions carried out on digital platforms, we assume that these promotions impact various dimensions of brand equity in addition to brand attitude and purchase intention. That is, we assume that promotions on digital platforms and the use of digital technologies may help create brand awareness and brand associations, improve brand loyalty and improve perceived brand quality. Promotions that improve brand equity would give the brand a competitive edge.

Now let us explore the relationships between the various elements of this conceptual model.

Relationships among Influencer Marketing, Consumer Engagement, Brand Equity Dimensions, Brand Attitude and Purchase Intention

Influencer marketing has become an important social media marketing strategy in the present digital era. Social media influencers have the ability to influence others by promoting and recommending brands on social media. It has been forecasted that the influencer marketing industry will grow to $15 billion by 2022 (Schomer, 2019). Some recent research in the area of influencer marketing shows positive results on consumer engagement and behaviour.

According to Hughes, Swaminathan & Brookes (2019), the characteristics of a blogger and the blog post content affect online engagement (measured in terms of comments and likes). The study also measured the moderating effect of the type of social media platform and the intent of the advertising campaign. Similarly, the characteristics of the influencer also have significant impact on behavioural intention (Zhu & Tan, 2007; Uribe, Buzeta & Velasquez, 2016).

Previous research on consumer engagement has highlighted that influencer marketing and various attributes of an influencer affect the level of engagement (Rooderkerk & Pauwels, 2016; Balabanis & Chatzopoulou, 2019). Rodrigues da Costa & Maria Correia Loureiro (2019) explain how consumer engagement with the brand can also lead to organisational success (Kumar et al., 2020). Moreover, influencer marketing can impact various dimensions of brand equity (Zhu & Tan, 2007; Hughes, Swaminathan & Brooks, 2019).

Chen, & Shupei (2019) contend that in influencer-based marketing, the trust of followers in brand-related posts is affected by the influencer’s attractiveness, trustworthiness and his/her similarity to the followers. Trust, in turn, can lead to positive results for the brand, including influencing the brand awareness and purchase intentions of followers. Jin, Muqaddam & Ryu (2019) find that if consumers perceive a brand post by an Instagram celebrity as trustworthy, it can lead to a positive attitude for the promoted brand. Other recent studies have established that influencer marketing is an effective social media marketing strategy, as it aids the formation of positive brand attitude and may also lead to purchase intention (De Jans et al., 2019; Sokolova & Kefi ,2020; Casalo, Flavian & Sanchez, 2018; Nurhandayani, Syarief & Najib, 2019).

Thus, influencer marketing as a social media marketing strategy can drive engagement rates, increase brand attitudes and purchase intention, and be instrumental in building brand equity.

Relationships among Sensory Brand Experience, Consumer Engagement, Brand Equity Dimensions, Brand Attitude and Purchase Intention

According to Brakus, Schmitt & Zarantonello (2009), brand experience consists of four dimensions: sensory, affective, intellectual and behavioural. In the context of branding, experiences are the impressions created in the minds of consumers when they interact with the brand (Klaus & Maklan, 2007). Direct interactions with the brand take place when customers purchase, use or consume the goods or services of the brand. Indirect interactions with the brand are established when customers experience the brand's advertising and other marketing communications, WOM recommendations and reviews (Meyer & Schwager, 2007; Brakus, Schmitt & Zarantonello, 2009). Digital interactive technologies are helpful in creating sensory brand experiences through the five basic senses of sight, touch, taste, smell and hearing. Consumer brand experiences created with the help of digital technologies on social media platforms have a favourable impact on customer behaviour (Carlson et al., 2018).

Digital technologies have the potential to make the multisensory online experience more enjoyable, engaging and informative (O. Petit et al., 2018). Exposing customers to different stimuli creates sensory brand experiences that in turn help consolidate brand personality, interest, preference and loyalty (Brakus et al., 2009; Krishna 2010). This increased brand loyalty may be reflected in increased purchase intention for the brand. Multisensory brand experiences focus on differentiating the brand from competitors and positioning the brand in the customers’ mind (Foster & McLelland, 2015). Consumer brand engagement creates more positive brand associations and leads to increased brand loyalty and brand equity (Kuvykaitea & Piligrimieneb, 2014)

Lashkova, Anton & Camarero (2019) contend that sensory experiences reinforce satisfaction, engagement and loyalty. Sensory brand experiences may also impact various dimensions of brand equity directly and indirectly through cognitive, emotional and behavioural dimensions of consumer brand engagement (Brakus, Schmitt & Zarantonello, 2009; Yao, Wang & Liu, 2013; Lin, 2015; Hepola, Karjaluoto & Hintikka, 2017). Thus, the use of digital technologies to create a sensory brand experience for consumers may lead to increased consumer engagement with the brand, improved brand attitude, an increase in various dimensions of brand equity, and increased purchase intention.

Relationships among Hedonic and Utilitarian Benefits of Promotion, Consumer Engagement, Brand Equity Dimensions and Purchase Intention

Chandon, Wansink & Laurent (2000) suggest that sales promotion offers both hedonic and utilitarian benefits to consumers. The hedonic benefits of sales promotion arise from opportunities for self-expression, entertainment and exploration. These benefits trigger the consumer evaluation process through emotional thoughts. On the other hand, utilitarian benefits of sales promotions (monetary savings, usefulness, convenience, etc.) trigger the rational thought process of the consumer evaluation process. Utilitarian purchasing behaviour is more logical, rational and non-emotional than hedonic purchasing behaviour and is characterised by greater information gathering (Sherry, 1990; Batra & Ahtola, 1990; Dhaundiyal & Coughlan, 2009).

Sinha & Priyanka (2018) show how the hedonic and utilitarian benefits of sales promotion can impact the various dimensions of brand equity (brand awareness, brand association, brand loyalty and perceived brand quality). Their findings indicate that the hedonic benefits of sales promotion have maximum impact on brand association. In terms of utilitarian benefits, the maximum impact is on brand loyalty. The results of this study indicate that marketers may use hedonic benefits of sales promotion to achieve consumer association with the brand and utilitarian benefits to promote repeat purchase of the brand.

Buli, Chernatony & Montaner (2013) found that the hedonic value of gift promotions significantly impacts brand attitude and purchase intention. Hedonic values also have a considerable impact on consumers’ behaviour. According to a study by Hanzaee & Khonsari (2011), both the hedonic and utilitarian benefits of promotion are instrumental in creating customer satisfaction and willingness to repurchase the promoted brand. In fact, the hedonic value of a post significantly impacts engagement with the post (Hollebeek & Macky, 2019; Hughes, Swaminathan & Brooks, 2019).

Thus, the hedonic and utilitarian benefits of promotion can lead to improved brand equity and can generate consumer engagement. Previous research has also demonstrated a positive impact on consumer behaviour, including generation of purchase intention. Table 1 highlights the list of studies that have established a relationship between various elements of promotion on digital platforms (influencer marketing, sensory brand experience, hedonic and utilitarian benefits of sales promotion) with various dependent variables in our conceptual model (consumer engagement, brand equity, brand attitude and purchase intention).

Table 1  
PREVIOUS RESEARCH RELATED TO THE VARIOUS ELEMENTS OF PROMOTION ON DIGITAL PLATFORMS
Independent variables Dependant Variables
Consumer Engagement Brand Equity Brand Attitude Purchase/Behavioural Intention
Influencer marketing Rooderkerk & Pauwels (2016), Hughes, Swaminathan & Brookes (2019), Balabanis & Chatzopoulou (2019) Zhu & Tan (2007), Hughes, Swaminathan & Brookes (2019), Lou, Chen, Yuan & Shupei (2019) De Jans et al. (2019), Jin, Muqaddam & Ryu (2019) Zhu & Tan (2007), Uribe, Buzeta & Velasquez (2016), Casalo, Flavian & Sanchez (2018), Lou, Chen, Yuan & Shupei (2019), Nurhandayani, Syarief & Najib (2019), Sokolova & Kefi (2020)
Sensory brand experience Yao, Wang & Liu (2013), Luarn, Lin & Chiu (2015), Hepola, Karjaluoto & Hintikka (2017), Lashkova, Anton & Camarero (2019) Zarantonello (2009), Krishna (2010), Foster & McLelland (2015), Lin (2015), Hepola, Karjaluoto & Hintikka (2017), Brakus, Schmitt & Lashkova, Anton & Camarero (2019) Zarantonello & Schmitt (2010), Hepola, Karjaluoto & Hintikka (2017) Zarantonello & Schmitt (2010), Carlson et al. (2018)
Hedonic and Utilitarian Benefits of Promotion Hollebeek & Macky (2019), Hughes, Swaminathan & Brookes (2019) Sinha & Priyanka (2018) Kempf (1999), Buli, Chernatony & Montaner (2013) Hanzaee and Khonsari (2011), Buli, Chernatony & Montaner (2013)

To undertake research using the conceptual model as given in Figure 1, we now define in Table 2 the measurement items for the various elements of promotion on digital platforms.

Table 2
 MEASUREMENT ITEMS FOR VARIOUS ELEMENTS OF PROMOTION ON DIGITAL PLATFORMS

Elements of promotion on digital platforms

Items

References

Influencer Marketing

 

 

Attractiveness 1. Influencer X is attractive Ohanian (1990)
2. Influencer X is classy
3. Influencer X is beautiful/handsome
4. Influencer X is elegant
5. Influencer X is sexy
Trustworthiness 1. Influencer X is reliable Ohanian (1990)
2. Influencer X is dependable
3. Influencer X is honest
4. Influencer X is trustworthy
5. Influencer X is sincere
Expertise 1. Influencer X is expert Ohanian (1990)
2. Influencer X is knowledgeable
3. Influencer X is experienced
4. Influencer X is qualified
5. Influencer X has personal experience of using this product (adapted)
Relevance 1. Influencer X is appropriate for the product. Gupta, Kishor, & Verma (2017)
2.There is a meaningful link between influencer X and the product
3. Influencer X endorsing this product makes sense to me (adapted)
Sensory brand experience 1. I find this brand interesting in a sensory way Brakus, Schmitt & Zarantonello (2009)
2. This brand makes a strong impression on my visual sense or other senses
3. This brand does not appeal to my sense (reverse coded)
Hedonic benefits of promotion 1. This promotional scheme is attention getting Hughes, Swaminathan & Brookes (2019)
2. This promotional scheme is creative
3. This promotional scheme is emotional
4. This promotional scheme is energetic
5. This promotional scheme is humorous
6. This promotional scheme is memorable
7. This promotional scheme is unique
Utilitarian benefits of promotion 1. This promotional scheme is genuine Hughes, Swaminathan & Brookes (2019),
2. This promotional scheme is honest
3. This promotional scheme is informative
4. Benefits are available under this promotional scheme. Chandon, Wansink & Laurent (2000)
5. This promotional scheme offers monetary savings
6. This promotional scheme improves shopping convenience
7. This promotional scheme improves the product quality

Consumer engagement

 

I . Affective

Enthusiasm 1. I feel enthusiastic about Brand Y  
2. I am interested in anything about Brand Y
3. I find Brand Y interesting
Enjoyment 1. When interacting with Brand Y, I feel happy  
2. I get pleasure from interacting with Brand Y
3. Interacting with Brand Y is like a treat for me

II. Cognitive

 
Attention 1. I spend a lot of time thinking about Brand Y Dessart, Veloutsou & Morgan-Thomas (2016)
2. I make time to think about Brand Y
Absorption 1. When interacting with Brand Y, I forget everything else around me  

2. Time flies when I am interacting with Brand Y
3. When I am interacting with Brand Y, I get carried away
4. When interacting with Brand Y, it is difficult to detach myself

III. Behavioural

 
Sharing 1. I share my ideas with Brand Y  

2. I share interesting content with Brand Y
3. I help Brand Y
Learning 1. I ask Brand Y questions  

2. I seek ideas or information from Brand Y
3. I seek help from Brand Y
Endorsing 1.I promote Brand Y  

2. I try to get another interested in Brand Y
3. I actively defend Brand Y from its critics
4. I say positive things about Brand Y to others

Brand equity

 
Brand awareness 1. I am aware of Brand Y Yoo, Donthu & Lee (2000)
2. When I think of this product category, Brand Y is one of the brands that comes to my mind
3. I am familiar of Brand Y Netemeyer et al. (2004)
4. I know what Brand Y looks like
5. I can recognise Brand Y among other competing brands of this product category
Brand association 1. I have an image of Brand Y in my mind Severi & Ling (2013)
2. Brand Y has its own personality
3. Brand Y is different as compared to other competing brands
Perceived brand quality 1. Brand Y offers very good quality products Pappu, Quester & Cooksey (2006)
2. Brand Y offers products of consistent quality
3. Brand Y offers very reliable products
4. Brand Y offers products/services with excellent features
Brand loyalty 1.I consider myself loyal to Brand Y Yoo, Donthu & Lee (2000)
2. Brand Y would be my first choice
3. I will not choose other brands is Brand Y is available at my living space
Brand attitude 1. Makes Brand Y appealing Spears & Singh (2004)
2. Makes Brand Y pleasant
3. Makes Brand Y favourable
4. Makes Brand Y likable
Purchase intention 1. Will definitely buy Brand Y Spears & Singh (2004)
2. Will have high purchase interest for Brand Y
3. Will probably buy Brand Y

The conceptual model links the various elements of promotion on digital platforms to critical impact variables like consumer engagement, brand equity, brand attitude and purchase intention. Few researchers have studied the relationship between sensory brand experience and consumer engagement and linked these phenomena to different elements of brand equity, brand attitude and purchase intention. Marketers have now started experimenting with incorporating digital technologies in product promotion. Digital technologies can be used to create sensory brand experiences through the five basic senses of sight, touch, taste, smell and hearing, which can help create consumer engagement, brand attitude, brand associations, brand awareness and even brand loyalty in some cases. The conceptual model presented in the paper provides a foundation for expanding work in this very interesting area and can be used by researchers to study the impact of promotional campaigns in the present digital era.

IMPLICATIONS FOR MARKETERS

The growing popularity of social media platforms and advancements in digital technologies have paved the way for innovative campaigns that allow brands to reach out to their customers and engage with them in novel ways. Digital technologies have tremendous potential to create a sensory brand experience that fosters consumer engagement with the brand. Digital marketing strategies like influencer marketing and the hedonic and utilitarian benefits of promotion are also instrumental in achieving consumer engagement. In turn, consumer engagement can positively influence not only brand attitude and brand equity but also consumer behaviour in terms of purchase intention.

The case of the ‘Swiggy Voice of Hunger Contest’ is testimony to these benefits. The facts of the case demonstrate that the perceived enjoyment that customers experience through the use of digital technologies helps create a sensory brand experience and high levels of consumer engagement, which can help brands attain a competitive advantage. Moreover, the case study illustrates how the right social media influencers can reach the intended target audience. Thus, plans for promotions on digital platforms should consider not only hedonic and utilitarian benefits for consumers but also the most appropriate digital technologies and social media marketing strategies, including using the right set of social media platforms, influencer marketing, etc.

Marketers need to have a deeper understanding of consumer behaviour and their interactions on social media platforms to be able to design successful marketing strategies. They must now be willing to experiment with digital technologies to create memorable experiences for their consumers. Hedonic and utilitarian benefits of promotion must seamlessly be integrated into the social media marketing strategy to generate consumer engagement. A carefully designed and well planned digital marketing strategy can benefit the brand and positively influence consumer behaviour.

DIRECTIONS FOR FUTURE RESEARCH

This paper presents a conceptual model that can be deployed to assess the impact of promotional campaigns on social media platforms. Future research may adopt this conceptual model to investigate about promotions carried out on digital platforms. Quantitative studies in the field shall be able to establish which of the defined relationships in the model are significant and require urgent attention of a marketer. It shall be interesting to explore which elements of promotion on digital platforms emerge important in case of different product categories. Future research should also investigate the moderating role of age and gender of consumers on the impact variables discussed in the model.

Additionally, the various elements of promotion on digital platforms may individually be studied to explore their impact on generating consumer engagement. For instance, despite the growing importance of influencer marketing as an important social media marketing strategy, relevant research is lacking, especially in terms of the engagement level that influencers are able to generate.

Engagement has been viewed as a multi-dimensional concept defined by the customer’s cognitive, emotional and behavioural activities (Hollebeek, 2011; Brodie et al., 2011). However, while measuring online consumer engagement, researchers have put more emphasis on the behavioural dimensions of engagement and have not put much emphasis on the cognitive and emotional aspects of it. For instance, Luarn, Lin & Chiu (2015) measured online engagement on Facebook in terms of likes, comments and shares. However, using the measurement items given by Dessart, Veloutsou & Morgan-Thomas (2016) for measuring consumer engagement (Table 2), it shall be interesting to unveil, whether cognitive and affective dimensions of consumer online brand engagement are as significant as the behavioural dimensions of the same. Nonetheless, future research needs to consider construction and validation of a scale for measuring consumer engagement on social media platforms.

With the proliferation of digital technologies, it becomes imperative for marketers to understand how these technologies can be used to cultivate consumer engagement with brands. Thus, greater research focus is now needed to comprehend the linkages between these. This specially includes an understanding of how the digital technologies can create sensory brand experiences for customers. This becomes important in the light of growing consensus that positive experiences are effective in stimulating the senses and in creating linkages among the emotions, cognition and physical experience of the consumer. A study in this area can bring forth an understanding of how a sensory brand experience can be instrumental in gaining consumer online engagement.

CONCLUSION

Digital technologies have transformed the way marketers can interact and engage with their customers. While planning their promotional campaigns on digital platforms, companies should consider how to best use the digital technologies. The immense potential of these technologies should be harnessed by the marketers in a way that positive experiences can be created for the customers. These experiences can, in turn, generate consumer engagement with the brand. Specially, for companies having a limited advertising budget, promotions run on digital platforms can help deliver tremendous results with careful planning of the campaign. Digital marketing strategies like influencer marketing are much affordable, and still deliver amazing results. The hedonic and utilitarian benefits of promotion also keep the consumers engaged with the brand. This engagement may lead to positive outcomes in terms of increasing the brand equity, improving the brand attitude and also generating purchase intention. The conceptual model presented in the paper shows how these various elements are related to each other. The case study of Swiggy presented in this paper is also a testimony to this.

Moreover, given the fact that digital marketing metrics are much easier to measure, it becomes easier for marketers to measure the success of their promotional campaigns. It also helps marketers gain insights to plan their future campaigns. Also, with more and more customers using social media platforms to connect with the brands, it is now the time when the marketers need to establish a connection with their customers in a unique and memorable way. Digital marketing strategies and digital technologies can help design a digital promotional campaign to achieve this.

REFERENCES

Get the App