The Choice of Image Aesthetic in Social Media and its Impact on Consumers - should brands use snapshot images, studio images or a mix between them?

Detta är en C-uppsats från Handelshögskolan i Stockholm/Institutionen för marknadsföring och strategi

Sammanfattning: Social Network Sites (SNS) has emerged as the premier communication-tool for consumers, but also as an important channel for finding product and brand information. In SNS, user-generated content is the norm and bloggers and so called "influencers" (influential SNS-users) have played an important part in developing the networks to commercial platforms. Brands have however had problems adapting to the platforms. An important differentiating factor from legacy media channels is the increasing use of images. This paper specifically addresses the dilemma of how to design the aesthetic profile in these images for commercial brands. Since brands promoting products on SNS through influencers have seen a lot of bang for the buck, other scholars have promoted that brands should mimic the aesthetic profile of SNS-users, which most often is amateuristic and personal, rather than professionally looking. The authors hypothesized that such a strategy might not be beneficial for marketers who seek to build strong brands on SNS. Instead it was hypothesized that a mix of legacy professional images and amateuristic images creates a better impact on consumers. To test this, an experiment was conducted in April 2018 including 526 US respondents. Dressed men's fashion was chosen as the product category. In total, 40 images, of two different aesthetic profiles defined as "snapshot images" and "professional studio images" were used as stimuli and the respondents were asked to scroll through 20 images and then fill in a questionnaire. As an open research question, the authors wanted further to understand if there was a difference in response between budget and luxury brands. Accordingly six survey groups were formed and exposed to two different brand descriptions and 20 different images (2'20 snapshots, 2'10/10 snapshots/studio images, 2'20 studio images). The results indicated no significant differences on the dependent variables running ANOVA-tests. The authors concluded in the discussion that three factors may have caused this. First, the chosen stimuli of snapshot images may not have been of enough aesthetic difference to the studio images, thereby resulting in no perceived difference between the stimuli. Secondly, the duration of the study may have been too short, consequently respondents may have made simple inferences of the brand from only a couple of images, shortcutting into a general conclusion. Finally, if assumed the method proved enough validity, the authors discussed that the dressed men's fashion category is too solidly grounded from its history of impersonality, gentlemanship and strictness, and thus triumph the rules of aesthetic decorum. Further research should thus look into these three possibilities.

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