This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Interactive marketing strategies: Improving brand messaging through multi-level engagement congruent to consumers’ cognitive preferences




Brock, Mary Katherine

Type of Degree



Consumer Affairs


Since the advent of the Internet, companies have progressively sought to make full use of this tool in their marketing and consumer engagement endeavors. A recent trend is to increase consumer brand awareness through web-based Internet marketing campaigns. However, research assessing the effectiveness of these interactions in increasing consumer understanding of brand messaging is lacking. The purpose of this study was to create a model for understanding consumer message interactions and message interpretation in the context of an Internet marketing campaign centered on communicating messages of sustainability. This research was theoretically based on the Elaboration Likelihood Model (ELM) of attitude change established by Petty and Cacioppo (1981). This model states that people process messages in one of two ways: central or peripheral. Central processing involves deep message processing such as message deliberation, whereas, peripheral route processing is a cue-based approach to message processing. The specific objectives of this study were to: 1) discern important characteristics of sustainable products from a consumer perspective; 2) determine mechanisms of persuasion that evoke positive, lasting attitude shifts within the minds of consumers leading to behavioral change; and 3) determine the appropriate advertising strategy to utilize the identified persuasion cues. To accomplish this, a research model was used that explored relationships between consumers’ need for cognition, personal and social characteristics, motivations, message interaction, and message reception of both informational and transformational marketing messages. The study was concentrated in the textile industry and explored the consumer constituency of an international textile firm located in the Southeast United States. A two-sample survey method was used to collect the data, where a pre-test of junior and senior level interior design students was followed by a nation-wide sample of practicing interior designers and architects in the United States. Factor Analysis followed by Structural Equation Modeling was used to analyze the data. Through hypotheses testing it was determined that in the Southern and Western regions of the U.S., consumer understanding of informational and transformational marketing messages is related to their need for cognition and their motivation to seek sustainability-related information. It was revealed in this study that understanding consumer motivations to make sustainable consumptive choices is difficult at best, and there are significant gaps in current metrics for capturing this information. Findings also indicated a need for future research to better understand, classify and communicate with consumers about sustainability-related product information. In terms of the interactive website, this study showed that message interaction, as measured by click-through rate, was not related to message understanding and that perhaps new metrics are needed to asses message interactions in a web-based forum.