#Sponsored? An Investigation into the Antecedents and Consequences of Scepticism towards Brand Related User Generated Content

  • Monica Mihaiu

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    User Generated Content (UGC) is being hailed as the “holy grail” of marketing due to its
    extensive influence on brand attitude and purchase intention. This study explores the darker
    side of UGC by empirically establishing the negative effects of consumer scepticism towards
    UGC and its antecedents. To address the research objectives the study used a sequential
    complementary research design consisting of an exploratory quantitative content analysis and
    two between-subject design experiments.
    The exploratory content analysis narrowed down the content-related factors that could
    influence consumer scepticism that were identified in the literature. The resulting variables
    (media type, brand prominence, plot relevance and tone towards the brand) were further tested
    to establish the scepticism-mediated relationships between the identified antecedents,
    attitudinal (brand attitude, brand authenticity) and behavioural outcomes (purchase intention,
    information search intention, eWoM intention) through two between-subject design
    experiments: a 2x2 with brand centrality (high vs low) and UGC type (image vs text), and a 3
    cell one with tone towards the brand (positive vs neutral vs negative) and goal seeking
    behaviour as a control variable, both experiments also highlighting humour as a moderator.
    The main findings indicated that 1) centrally placed brands elicit more scepticism; 2) content
    with a positive tone towards the brand causes a decrease in scepticism; 3) text UGC is subject
    to more scepticism than images. Additionally, the findings of the first experiment indicate that
    humour is a moderator between content characteristics and scepticism, while the second
    experiment found high levels of humour led to a decrease in scepticism. Most importantly,
    consumer scepticism has a negative impact on all the examined outcome variables.
    The study recognises a sophistication in consumer information processing by applying
    scepticism as a different lens to the effectiveness of UGC and makes important contributions
    to UGC literature. The study contributes to knowledge on UGC effectiveness by considering
    the impact of content-related and consumer-related factors. It is seminal in establishing a causal
    relationship between consumer scepticism towards UGC and key marketing outcomes.
    The study provides important insights for brands allowing them to more effectively use UGC.
    The results indicate that brands should encourage positive reviews to increase purchase
    intention. Further, when collaborating with influencers or launching UGC campaigns they
    could consider less centrally placed brand inclusions to reduce consumer scepticism. Further,
    it provides a basis for evaluating the impact of UGC that consumers are sceptical towards which
    can contribute to brand social listening efforts.
    Date of Award2020
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • Coventry University
    SupervisorAnvita Kumar (Supervisor), Nigel Berkeley (Supervisor), Yue Meng-Lewis (Supervisor) & Hongfei Liu (Supervisor)

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