In the advertising strategy called pseudo-ownership advertising appeal, ownership-implying language (e.g. my, our or your) is used to induce consumers’ “ownership” of a brand. This study aims to investigate the influence of pseudo-ownership advertising appeal on brand psychological ownership and consequent brand attitude, purchase intention and choice. This study also assessed the relative effectiveness of different types of possessive pronouns in different customer segments.Design/methodology/approachFour experiments, involving both students and non-students, were conducted to test the hypotheses. Experiments 1 and 2 investigated the effects of the first-person singular and plural possessive pronouns (“my” and “our”) on psychological ownership and on brand attitude, purchase intention and choice. Experiment 3 investigated the interacting effects of self-construal (independent vs interdependent) and possessive pronoun (singular vs plural) on psychological ownership and brand attitudes. Experiment 4 investigated the interacting effects of customer type (potential vs current) and possessive pronoun (first-person vs second-person) on psychological ownership and brand attitudes.FindingsPseudo-ownership advertising appeal resulted in the development of brand psychological ownership, as well as inducing favorable attitudes, purchase intentions and brand choice. Furthermore, consumers with interdependent self-construal developed stronger psychological ownership when pseudo-ownership advertising appeal incorporated plural possessive pronouns, and consumers with independent self-construal developed stronger psychological ownership when pseudo-ownership advertising appeal incorporated singular possessive pronouns. Potential consumers developed stronger psychological ownership when pseudo-ownership advertising appeal incorporated second- vs first-person possessive pronouns, and current consumers developed the same psychological ownership for first- and second-person possessive pronouns.Originality/valuePossessive pronouns used in advertising can enhance brand psychological ownership. Conditions that moderate the relative effectiveness of first- vs second-person and singular vs plural possessive pronouns on brand psychological ownership and consequential consumer responses can be identified. These findings extend research focusing solely on the self-referencing effects of second-pronoun use (“you”) in advertising on consumer attitudes and behaviors by paying attention to the “ownership” effects of possessive pronouns.
Journal of Product & Brand Management – Emerald Publishing
Published: Feb 24, 2021
Keywords: Self-construal; Psychological ownership; Language; Customer type
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