Brand Advertising in an Access–Ownership World, How Marketing Channels Impact Message Persuasiveness: An Abstract
In light of the growing popularity of peer-to-peer sharing and other access-based consumption phenomena, firms are increasingly looking to expand beyond traditional ownership marketing channels by gaining entrée into emerging access marketing channels. In contrast to ownership, access-based consumption does not involve the outright purchase of a product; rather, it involves market-mediated transactions in which consumers acquire the short-term right to use or “access” goods (Bardhi & Eckhardt, 2012). One way traditional ownership-based firms are responding to this shift is to gain entrée into emerging access marketing channels. For instance, since Daimler launched the first manufacturer-driven car-sharing program, car2go, in 2009, other automobile manufacturers, such as BMW (DriveNow), Ford (Ford2go), Volkswagen (Quicar), and General Motors (attempted acquisition of Lyft), have followed suit (Baumeister et al., 2015). In fact, industry observers project that the car-sharing market will grow to $6.4 billion in retail sales by 2024 (Lorenz, 2016). Thus, an important challenge facing many ownership-based firms is how to promote themselves in an access marketing channel.
One apparent assumption by many practitioners and academics is that consumers who prefer access over ownership are strongly driven by ideological concerns, such as proenvironmentalism and waste reduction (e.g., Gollnhoffer et al., 2016). Yet, refuting this assumption, there is evidence that functional concerns, such as cost savings and flexibility (e.g., paying a monthly sharing fee versus buying and maintaining a car), may be stronger drivers of preference (e.g., Eckhardt & Bardhi, 2015; Rudmin, 2016). Therefore, an important question for firms is if and how marketing communications should differ across access and ownership marketing channels in terms of the emphasis placed on functional and ideological concerns.
In this research, we examine whether functional appeals will always result in more favorable attitudes toward access offerings or if and when ideological appeals will be equally or more persuasive. Building on the satisficing, maximizing, and brand personality literatures, we propose that people are more likely to satisfice in an access marketing channel, becoming more persuaded by appeals that fit with—or meet minimum expectations given—the brand’s personality. In contrast, people are more likely to maximize in an ownership marketing channel, becoming more persuaded by appeals that do not fit with—or exceed minimum expectations given—the brand’s personality. The results of two experiments with competent, exciting, and sincere brands largely support these hypotheses.