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Spreading joy: examining the effects of smiling models on consumer joy and attitudes

Hanna Berg (Center for Consumer Marketing, Stockholm School of Economics, Stockholm, Sweden)
Magnus Söderlund (Center for Consumer Marketing, Stockholm School of Economics, Stockholm, Sweden)
Annika Lindström (Center for Retailing, Stockholm School of Economics, Stockholm, Sweden AND Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden)

Journal of Consumer Marketing

ISSN: 0736-3761

Article publication date: 14 September 2015

Abstract

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.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors gratefully acknowledge the generous support from the Torsten Söderberg Foundation, the Hakon Swenson Foundation and The Nils-Erik Wirsäll Program that has enabled this research.

Citation

Berg, H., Söderlund, M. and Lindström, A. (2015), "Spreading joy: examining the effects of smiling models on consumer joy and attitudes", Journal of Consumer Marketing, Vol. 32 No. 6, pp. 459-469. https://doi.org/10.1108/JCM-03-2015-1356

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited