Date of Graduation

8-2016

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Business Administration (PhD)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Marketing

Advisor

Elizabeth Howlett

Committee Member

Jeff R. Murray

Second Committee Member

Ronn J. Smith

Abstract

Social media is ubiquitous and allows consumers to display identity by through possessions through posts, images, and interactions. The self is all the individual calls their own and is expressed outwardly through everything visible, including possessions, relationships, and interactions. They tell their story through the display of envy-inducing artifacts, and create a perfect, photoshopped life. Consumers seek a connection to positively viewed brands they feel are self-representative through interaction. This dissertation seeks to better understand consumer rationale for and gratification from online brand engagement and how that, in turn, impacts the brand. Three studies examined the effects of self-brand connection, narcissism, brand status, and interactivity to better understand their effect on purchase intent. Study 1 measured the effect of narcissism, self-brand connection, and likelihood to interact on social media impact purchase intent. Results indicated narcissism, or concern public perception, positively moderated the relationships between self-brand connection and purchase intent, and likelihood to interact on purchase intent. Results showed self-brand connection mediated the relationship between social value of a brand and likelihood to interact. Study 2 extended the results to examine the effect of brand status. As narcissists are concerned with others’ perceptions and desire to be associated with high status, Study 2 added the variable of status. Results showed a positive relationship between self-consciousness and self-brand connection, as moderated by brand social value, with self-brand connection also mediating the relationship between social value and likelihood to interact. Last, product status moderated the relationship between likelihood to interact and purchase intent. Based on those results, Study 3 added interactivity with a brand to better understand the effect on purchase intent. Interactivity and self-brand connection both positively mediated the relationship on status and purchase intent, but it depended on the level of social value. Understanding the effect of consumer-brand interaction is critical to marketers spending key advertising dollars online, as it is a hallmark of identity. Online behavior helps shape the digital self, which partly depends on social interactions. As consumers develop their relationship to a brand, they are more apt to purchase those products to continue incorporating them into their lives.

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