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Communicating technological innovations: The role of technical complexity and product involvement

Timm F. Wagner (School of Business and Economics, Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Nürnberg, Germany)
Christian V. Baccarella (School of Business and Economics, Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Nürnberg, Germany)
Kai-Ingo Voigt (School of Business and Economics, Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Nürnberg, Germany)

European Journal of Innovation Management

ISSN: 1460-1060

Article publication date: 14 August 2017

Abstract

Purpose

Consumers’ perceptions of new technologies are vital for the adoption of innovations. However, due to the complexity of technological innovations and associated consumer concerns, marketing communications play a crucial role in shaping attitudes. In this context, the level of technical complexity presented in advertisements can be a critical determinant of communication effectiveness. The paper aims to discuss this issue.

Design/methodology/approach

By conducting an experiment in the context of plug-in hybrid electric cars, this study examines the impact of technical complexity on communication effectiveness. The authors also include consumers’ product involvement as a potential moderator of this relationship.

Findings

This paper reveals that individuals with low product involvement respond more favourably to technically simple ads. However, medium-involved consumers show the best responses towards ads with a high level of technical complexity. Interestingly, the authors could not find significant attitude differences for high-involvement individuals in terms of the level of technical complexity.

Practical implications

The results support the notion that the advice “keep it short and simple” is not always appropriate. In particular, when marketers want to communicate technological innovations, a more complex presentation can provoke positive reactions, when the audience has at least a medium level of product involvement.

Originality/value

There is little evidence concerning how technical complexity within marketing communications affects consumer attitudes. This study significantly contributes to the understanding of how advertisements of technological innovations are perceived by consumers.

Keywords

Citation

Wagner, T.F., Baccarella, C.V. and Voigt, K.-I. (2017), "Communicating technological innovations: The role of technical complexity and product involvement", European Journal of Innovation Management, Vol. 20 No. 3, pp. 392-405. https://doi.org/10.1108/EJIM-08-2016-0078

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited