Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to examine consumer response to pictures of smiling models in marketing, focusing on the roles of emotional contagion from the smiling models and the perceived typicality of marketing with smiling models. Design/methodology/approach – This paper reports the findings from three experimental studies, comparing consumer response to two versions of an advertisement (Study 1) and a packaging design (Study 2 and 3), including either a picture of a smiling or a non-smiling model. To measure consumer response, a combination of self-report questionnaires and eye-tracking methodology was used. Findings – The pictures of smiling models produced more consumer joy and more positive attitudes for the marketing. The positive effects on attitudes were mediated by consumer joy, and the effects on consumer joy were mediated by the perceived typicality of the marketing with smiling models. Originality/value – Despite the ubiquity of photos of smiling faces in marketing, very few studies have isolated the effects of the smile appeal on consumer response to marketing objects. By comparing marketing where the same model is shown smiling or with a neutral facial expression, the positive effects were isolated. The roles of emotional contagion and perceived typicality in this mechanism were also examined and implications of the findings for research and practitioners are discussed.
Journal of Consumer Marketing – Emerald Publishing
Published: Sep 14, 2015