The influence of spokesperson achievement on consumer goal pursuit : a dual-mechanism perspective
Date of Issue2018
College of Business (Nanyang Business School)
While highly successful spokespersons are ubiquitous in the marketplace, ordinary ones with lower domain achievements are increasingly being featured in sports and fitness-related marketing communication campaigns. This research involves exploring this emerging trend by examining how the spokesperson’s level of achievement influences consumers’ motivation to pursue a goal in the same domain. I propose that perceived inspiration and attainability of the spokesperson’s domain achievement form two opposing forces predicting consumers’ motivation for a same-domain goal pursuit. Specifically, a higher-achieving spokesperson is more inspiring, but his or her achievement is less attainable, compared to a lower-achieving one. The relative influences of these two assessments, subsequently, determine consumers’ intention to pursue the goal. Moreover, the desirability versus feasibility focus shifts consumers’ relative emphasis on perceived inspiration versus perceived attainability, which, in turn, affects their behavioral response towards the spokesperson with varying levels of achievement. The results from five studies provide support for my proposition. In Studies 1A and 1B, perceived inspiration and attainability of the spokesperson’s sporting achievement explained consumers’ intention to pursue running (Study 1A) and their willingness to purchase a fitness device (Study 1B). Moreover, the findings of both studies suggest that these two forces work in opposite directions. In Studies 2 and 3, consumers’ desirability versus feasibility focus of goal pursuit was found to moderate the effect of the spokesperson’s running achievement on their intention to take up running. When consumers focused on the desirability aspect of the goal (i.e., under an abstract construal or an outcome focus), they showed a higher intention to run after being exposed to the higher- (vs. lower-) achieving spokesperson. On the other hand, when they focused on the feasibility aspect of the goal (i.e., under a concrete construal or a process focus), they were more motivated by the lower- (vs. higher-) achieving spokesperson to pursue running. Further, Study 3 also revealed a positive spillover effect of the spokesperson’s running achievement on consumers’ goal pursuit in a different yet related domain (i.e., healthy eating). Lastly, in Study 4, moderated mediation analysis showed that the influences of the two mediating forces (i.e., perceived inspiration and attainability) on consumers’ motivation for running vary in strength across consumers’ desirability versus feasibility focus. Compared to their counterparts focusing on the feasibility aspect of a goal, consumers who considered the desirability aspect were more influenced by perceived inspiration, and less affected by perceived attainability, of the spokesperson’s running achievement when forming their intention for running. My findings suggest that a higher-achieving spokesperson may not always be more effective than a lower-achieving one in encouraging consumers to take up a goal in the same domain. That is, the effectiveness of a higher- versus a lower-achieving spokesperson depends on consumers’ relative focus on the desirability versus the feasibility aspect in the goal pursuit. This research offers implications for health authorities and businesses to develop effective spokesperson strategies for sports and fitness-related marketing communication campaigns.