Effects of Social Context and Linguistic Formality in Consumer Behavior: A Conceptual Framework and Empirical Investigation
Cao, Edita Sofia
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This dissertation is a two-fold examination of the persuasiveness of language formality in brand communication. The first section reviews the extant literature on language formality, organizes a framework of how persuasiveness is impacted by interpersonal aspects of social context (i.e., contextual tenor), and proposes marketing applications of tenor to guide future consumer research on leveraging the persuasiveness of language formality. The second section is an empirical investigation of how topical marketing applications of tenor—social needs in the form of social exclusion experiences and consumer-brand relationships in the form of whether a consumer is a new or existing customer of a brand—interact with brand language (in)formality to impact consumer engagement. Three lab experiments and a field experiment with Twitter data find that informal brand language, which brands often employ to presumably enhance perceptions of closeness, backfires with new customers who feel socially rejected but not those who feel socially included.
- Business administration