Self-referencing (SR) is defined as a cognitive processing strategy where a consumer relates message information to his or her self structure (Burnkrant and Unnava 1995). From this perspective, the self represents a frequently-used construct in memory that aids the elaboration of encoded information. Hence, self-referenced information is more easily associated with previously stored information. A general definition of consumer involvement refers to the level of perceived personal importance, interest or relevance evoked by a stimulus or stimuli, which are linked by the consumer to enduring or situation-specific goals. Such stimuli can be products, services, product categories, brands, purchase decisions or advertisements (Beharrell & Dennison, 1995; Juhl & Poulsen, 2000; Mitchell, 1979; Zaichkowsky, 1985). In the present paper the effect of SR and involvement on consumer behavior is investigated. It is hypothesized that both SR and involvement have a great role to play in consumer behavior and are tools that can be used to improve marketing strategies. The following literature reviews attempt to demonstrate and support this hypothesis.
In a research article by Sujan,Bettman, Baumgartner, the affective nature of autobiographical memories and the various mechanisms and conditions progressing to the transfer of this affect to brand and ad judgments are investigated. They have found that a greater level of SR is felt when the consumer is shown an ad that encourages the retrieval of autobiographic memories and this positive effect is readily transferred to the ad and enhances its evaluations. But, this is based on the link that is foraged in the ad between the brand and the consumer’s personal memory. This is the result of study 1. Another study put forth by the researchers shows that when autobiographical memories are encouraged in an ad, the brand evaluation is not very different given strong versus weak product arguments. This shows further evidence that these brand evaluations are not based on the analysis that the product claims when such memories are encouraged. Although this study has implications for the broader research on SR, it provides evidence that SR in ads can hinder learning about the brand, but can enhance brand and ad evaluation if it is closely linked to self or encourages the retrieval of memories. Hence it confirms the hypothesis that SR has an impact on consumber behavior and is a tool that can be used to improve marketing strategies.
Next the effect of SR on Persuasion is a paper conducted by Burnkrant R and Unnava H.R. The research conducted here examines SR. The paper states that when the product information is favorable, we would also expect attitudes towards the product to be favorable under high SR than under low SR conditions. Evidence by Debevec and Iyer(1988) provided evidence to support the above statement as it was found that when subjects were shown messages that they could connect and relate to they favored the ads more compared to when the ad did not relate or connect to them. There were two experiments conducted in this research. Experiment 1 yielded a result that stated that increasing SR led to an increased message elaboration and in turn increased persuasion when the message arguments were strong and firm. However the next experiment yielded results that stated that when SR was combined with another variable that was said to increase elaboration of the message, an inverse result was obtained where the generally favorable effect of SR on persuasion was moderated or reversed. The research conducted in the previous paper above ties in nicely with the research reported in this article. Both papers show that it is possible to maximize message elaboration, theyby influencing attitude toward the product, by referring directly to the subjects and reminding them of past experiences with the product class or product under consideration. This enforces the use of SR as a marketing tool....
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