Consumer Engagement with Brands’ COVID-19 Messaging on Social Media: The Role of Perceived Brand–Social Issue Fit and Brand Opportunism

Juan Mundel, Jing Yang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

While the trade press has started to report on consumer responses to brand messaging about the ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, empirical results have yet to emerge. In this study, we investigated how consumers in the United States responded to Instagram ads containing COVID-19 claims based on the perceived brand–social issue fit, which is determined by whether the brand’s product was considered essential or nonessential. Results showed perceived brand–social issue fit to be of dual nature, where stronger perceptions of fit (i.e., essential products advertised with COVID-19 claims) resulted in more positive ad evaluations, brand attitudes, and consumer engagement intentions. Lower perceptions of fit (i.e., nonessential products with COVID-19 claims) led to perceptions of brand opportunism, which we conceptualized as a negative evaluative outcome that negatively impacted ad/brand attitude and consumer engagement intentions. The findings provide insights for brands interested in placing ads addressing the changing environmental conditions resulting from COVID-19 and advances the literature on pandemic messaging.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Interactive Advertising
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2021

Keywords

  • Brand management
  • brand opportunism
  • brand–social issue fit
  • COVID-19
  • pandemic messaging

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Marketing

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