The impact of e-cigarette marketing on social media


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Engagement with e-cigarette marketing and user-created communities on social media has a varied impact on users of these products, according to a study in the Journal of Advertising Research (JAR).

Joe Phua, an associate professor in the Department of Advertising and Public Relations at the University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, conducted this research.

Specifically, his paper, entitled E-Cigarette Marketing on Social Networking Sites: Effects on Attitudes, Behavioral Control, Intention to Quit, and Self-Efficacy, analysed the impact of sponsored ads, brand pages and user-created groups on social media among e-cigarette users.

A total of 1,016 participants completed an online questionnaire that underpinned the study. And their responses showed that the three different categories assessed “can exert a significant effect on health-related outcomes” when it comes to e-cigarettes.

Product users who had been exposed to sponsored ads, followed brand pages and were members of user-created groups in the last month were “significantly more likely … to have more negative health-related outcomes” than people who were not exposed to this material, the study revealed.

“In the current study, multiple points of contact (sponsored advertisements, brand pages, user-created groups) with e-cigarette brands on social networking sites might have increased brand loyalty, in turn leading to more negative health-related outcomes,” reported Phua.

People using these products and who belonged to consumer-created groups were much more likely to have “negative attitudes toward quitting, lower behavioral control, lower intent to quit, and lower smoking cessation self-efficacy” than individuals who were not members of such communities and either saw sponsored ads and followed brand pages, he added.

“Active participation in user-created groups resulted in consumers developing stronger relationships with e-cigarette brands,” Phua asserted.

Social identification as an e-cigarette user, his research discovered, was also important – and this factor “significantly moderated” between an exposure to e-cigarette marketing and behavioural control.

“When participants had been exposed to e-cigarette marketing, higher identification resulted in higher behavioral control, whereas if participants had not been exposed to e-cigarette marketing, higher identification resulted in lower behavioral control,” said Phua.

“Second, identification also significantly moderated between exposure and intention to quit. Higher identification resulted in greater intention to quit when participants had been exposed to e-cigarette marketing and lower intention to quit when they had not been exposed to e-cigarette marketing.”

“Third, identification also significantly moderated between exposure and self-efficacy. Among those exposed to e-cigarette marketing, higher identification increased self-efficacy to quit, whereas among those not exposed, higher identification resulted in lower self-efficacy.”

Sourced from Journal of Advertising Research; additional content by WARC staff




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