Special Session Summary an Examination of Consumers’ Aactive@ Responses to an Emerging Breed of Marketing Events


Heather Honea and Cristel Antonia Russell (2003) ,"Special Session Summary an Examination of Consumers’ Aactive@ Responses to an Emerging Breed of Marketing Events", in E - European Advances in Consumer Research Volume 6, eds. Darach Turley and Stephen Brown, Provo, UT : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 325-326.

European Advances in Consumer Research Volume 6, 2003      Pages 325-326



Heather Honea, San Diego State University, USA

Cristel Antonia Russell, San Diego State University, USA

Some have predicted the death of traditional advertising as marketers continue to shift expenditures toward sales promotions (Breen 2000) and consumers habituate to the 30-second ad spot, relying on tools like digital video recorders to "manage" the marketing communications they receive on television (Gimein 2002). While few believe that advertising is actually going to disappear, discussion prevails, in professional and academic circles alike, about how consumers might respond to or adapt to a changed marketing landscape. One common realization is that interactivity allows consumers to move to the "center" of the marketing process and shape the interaction that takes place between them, the marketers, and marketing content (Stewart and Pavlou 2002). However, whether consumers are able or even willing to process all of this additional information remains an open empirical question.

Sales promotions represented the first transition to a more active type of involvement for the consumer. At times, consumers structure their purchases around loyalty programs and special offers, although there is evidence pointing to consumers’ becoming less brand loyal as the marketing landscape slides into an increasingly fragmented postmodern state (Firat and Venkatesh 1995). Consumers commonly focus on process as opposed to simply products; the value of the purchase is not defined by the products themselves but also the deals and rewards associated with the products (Thaler 1985; Honea and Dahl forthcoming). They organize their flight plans around the miles, not the convenience of a flight rout. They spend purchase minimums to receive free gifts that they do not even want. As consumers focus more on the marketing content associated with products, it is not surprising that they may also shift attention to the marketers responsible for that content and the manner in which they distribute or manage it.

The advent of new forms of marketing techniques promises to affect how consumer interpret and direct the interactions they have with marketers and content. New classes of marketing activities rely heavily on integration of content into unique contexts, adding interactivity or consumer participation. Product placements within television programs, for instance, blur the lines between the entertainment content and the promotional message (Russell 2002). Permission-based marketing and consumer-mediated digital environments enable consumers to determine the content they will "allow" marketers to share with them. The interactive television environment combines all these elements so consumers can respond directly to promotional offers available on their television screens and even to the products placed in their programs. Beyond produced content, consumer-based marketing is another new trend where marketers attempt to recruit consumers to physically become, or at least to transmit, the marketing message in a consumer-to-consumer context. Marketers place products with the "alpha teenagers" at high schools (Goldstein 1999) and pay attractive women to discuss products with men at a bar. Consumers even display ads on the side of their cars and tattoo their bodies.

The three papers in this session serve as the catalyst for a discussion regarding this new breed of "consumer-based" and "(inter)-active" marketing events. We (1) discuss the elements which differentiate these methods from one another; (2) present preliminary findings about consumers’ responses to these marketing methods; and (3) propose a research agenda for this new class of marketing events. As a starting point for this discussion, we use the first paper on sales promotionCthe most widely deployed type of marketing event that demands consumer involvementCto examine the manner in which perceptions of procedural fairness govern the interaction between marketers and consumers in a retail context (Ashworth and Darke). The paper sets up the notion that, in an increasingly complex promotional retail environment, consumers’ perceptions of procedural fairness are a crucial component to assessing the effect of promotional techniques.

Then, we extend this discussion to consumers’ responses to integrated types of promotions, via a second paper (Honea and Russell) focused on the processing of promotional messages in an interactive television context. This paper discusses consumers’ memory for and responses to different types and combinations of product placements, advertisements, and promotions, and proposes that certain consumer characteristics (e.g., connectedness to the television characters) may moderate consumers’ acceptance of integrated promotional techniques. The final paper (Austin and Zinkhan) pushes the issue even further by extending the framework of promotional techniques to include the active, engaged consumers who themselves become and disseminate marketing efforts. That is, consumers have the potential to become both the media and the messages.

Collectively, the three papers address the increasingly complex issues of consumer preferences for passive versus active engagement with entertainment and marketing (lean forward versus lean back), and consumers’ levels of tolerance for the increasingly taxing marketing environment they live in. In addition to providing insights into the potential effectiveness of these emerging breeds of marketing events, the presentations invite the audience to debate the new mental environmentalist movement where consumers decide how to manage psychic "pollutants" created by an overwhelming presence of marketing events in their daily life (Lasn 2002).


Blattberg, Robert C. and Neslin, Scott A. (1990), Sales Promotion: Concepts, Methods and Strategies, New Jersey: Prentice Hall.

Breen, Peter (2000), "Seeds of Change," Promotion Trends 2000, Annual Report of the Promotion Industry Report compiled by Promo, (May), A3.

Firat, A. Fuat and Alladi Venkatesh (1995), "Liberatory Postmodernism and the Reenchantment of Consumption," Journal of Consumer Research, 22 (3), 239-267.

Goldstein, Lauren (1999), "The Alpha Teenager," Fortune, December 20, 1999.

Honea, Heather and Dahl, Darren (Forthcoming), "The Promotion Affect Scale," The Journal of Business Research.

Russell, Cristel A. (2002), "Investigating The Effectiveness Of Product Placements In Television Shows: The Role Of Modality And Plot Connection Congruence On Brand Memory And Attitude," Journal of Consumer Research, 29 (3).

Stewart, David W. and Pavlou, Paul A. (2002), "From Consumer Response to Active Consumer: Measuring the Effectiveness of Interactive Media," Journal of Academy of Marketing Science, 30 (4), 376-396.

Thaler, Richard (1985), "Mental Accounting and Consumer Choice," Marketing Science, 4 (3), 199-214.



Heather Honea, San Diego State University, USA
Cristel Antonia Russell, San Diego State University, USA


E - European Advances in Consumer Research Volume 6 | 2003

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