ArticlePDF Available

What factors determine brand communication? A hybrid brand communication model from utilitarian and hedonic perspectives



Introduction With the advancement of new media, brand communication has been taken into consideration by lots of firms. Apparently, customer affection plays a significant role in brand communications, though few studies have determined how the twofold of information function works in this communication mechanism. Based on this research gap and practical background, this paper proposes a hybrid model of communication comprising the utilitarian and hedonic aspects. Methods For this study, 575 questionnaires were collected, followed by the structural equation modeling of the derived data to test the research model. Results The results of statistical analysis show that the brand communication can be improved in terms of both utilitarian and hedonic aspects. Moreover, psychological contract and customer engagement play a chain mediation role in this mechanism. Discussion These findings contribute to the research of brand communication mechanism in digital era. Likewise, the findings offers several practical implications to the brand management.
TYPE Original Research
PUBLISHED 18 January 2023
DOI 10.3389/fpsyg.2022.958863
Claudio Lucchiari,
University of Milan, Italy
Kun-Shan Wu,
Tamkang University, Taiwan
Hubei University of Economics, China
Lingzhi Brian Fang
This article was submitted to
Cognitive Science,
a section of the journal
Frontiers in Psychology
RECEIVED 01 June 2022
ACCEPTED 23 December 2022
PUBLISHED 18 January 2023
Fang LB, Liu M and Tang L (2023) What factors
determine brand communication? A hybrid
brand communication model from utilitarian
and hedonic perspectives.
Front. Psychol. 13:958863.
doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2022.958863
©2023 Fang, Liu and Tang. This is an
open-access article distributed under the terms
of the Creative Commons Attribution License
(CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction
in other forums is permitted, provided the
original author(s) and the copyright owner(s)
are credited and that the original publication in
this journal is cited, in accordance with
accepted academic practice. No use,
distribution or reproduction is permitted which
does not comply with these terms.
What factors determine brand
communication? A hybrid brand
communication model from
utilitarian and hedonic perspectives
Lingzhi Brian Fang1*, Mingzhen Liu2and Liu Tang1
1School of Journalism, Fudan University, Shanghai, China, 2School of Management, Fudan University,
Shanghai, China
Introduction: With the advancement of new media, brand communication has been
taken into consideration by lots of firms. Apparently, customer aection plays a
significant role in brand communications, though few studies have determined how
the twofold of information function works in this communication mechanism. Based
on this research gap and practical background, this paper proposes a hybrid model of
communication comprising the utilitarian and hedonic aspects.
Methods: For this study, 575 questionnaires were collected, followed by the structural
equation modeling of the derived data to test the research model.
Results: The results of statistical analysis show that the brand communication can be
improved in terms of both utilitarian and hedonic aspects. Moreover, psychological
contract and customer engagement play a chain mediation role in this mechanism.
Discussion: These findings contribute to the research of brand communication
mechanism in digital era. Likewise, the findings oers several practical implications
to the brand management.
hybrid brand communication mechanism, customer engagement, customer psychological
contract, utilitarian and hedonic functions in brand communication, information function
1. Introduction
Brand communication in the digital era has been reshaped by new media platforms
(Voorveld, 2019), which changed the idea of how brands communicate on social media. Based
on prior studies on brand communication, it has been reached into the consensus that the
brand function determines the spreading and communication effect of a brand (Lynch and de
Chernatony, 2004;Steinmann et al., 2015). Thus, firms are always focusing on the effects exerted
by the utilitarian function brought by a brand.
There are not only utilitarian functions provided by brands. Current realities indicate that
psychological aspects of customers have begun to lie at the center of studies on customer
behavior. However, to date, many firms still insist that brands can only deliver utilitarian
functions to customers, thus, ignoring customers’ spiritual aspect, which has been criticized
by academics (Lynch and de Chernatony, 2004;Ham et al., 2019). Thus, consistent with the
relational marketing era coming, it is of great necessity that the hedonic function, that is,
spiritual aspects of brands, should be taken into consideration instead of the utilitarian function
of brands (Choi and Choi, 2014). Such revealing on brand communication demonstrates that
brand communication in this modern era is a hybrid mixture of utilitarian and hedonic functions
(Underwood and Klein, 2002;Wijaya, 2013;Uzunoglu and Kip, 2014).
Frontiers in Psychology 01
Fang et al. 10.3389/fpsyg.2022.958863
Moreover, the arousal of customer relationship management
requires scholars to focus on the customer’s psychological aspect
in brand communication (Sullivan et al., 2020). Unfortunately, few
researchers have investigated how utilitarian and hedonic functions
simultaneously shape brand communication. There are existed few
studies detecting this psychological role in the process of brand
communication. In addition, prior studies have shown the roles of
utilitarian or hedonic aspects in brand communication desperately,
whereas few studies have integrated these two aspects into one
consideration (Simon, 2017;Ham et al., 2019). This gives this study
the main research question: how can we process a satisfying brand
communication from the utilitarian and hedonic perspectives with
linkage to the customer relationship?
Based on mentioned research gap and the practical background,
this study poses a hybrid model of brand communication from the
perspectives of a two-fold information function. Specifically, this
hybrid model is focused on the utilitarian and hedonic functions
of information. Relying on customer relationships, the customer
psychological contract and customer engagement are proposed for
the mediators. This study shows that brand communication can
be strengthened both from utilitarian and hedonic perspectives.
According to the results, the psychological aspects, that is, the
hedonic function, take precedence over the utilitarian function in this
communication mechanism. The results contribute to the studies on
customer psychology and behavior.
This study is organized as follows. In the first part, the
related literature is reviewed in order to introduce the theoretical
background and then develop the research model. Hypotheses are
also posed in this part. The second part mainly emphasizes the
method. In this study, a survey was used to collect the data for
testing the model. Then, structural equation modeling (SEM) was
applied to evaluate the relationship among all the variables. At the
end of this study, based on the results of data processing, we further
discussed the results and proposed several theoretical contributions
and practical implications. More specifically, the proposition on the
hybrid model of brand communication contributes to the research of
brand communication, especially if it is from a novel perspective of
information functions, that is, the utilitarian and hedonic functions.
Furthermore, it offers several practical implications for making
branding strategies in the post-truth era.
2. Theoretical background and research
2.1. Literature review
2.1.1. Brand communication: A perspective of
information function
The rise of research on brand communication flourished because
of the popularity of social media and first began in a top marketing
research journal in 2008 (Voorveld, 2019). This fact suggests that
brand communication is linked closely to the development of media.
Based on this, as for the definition of brand communication, prior
studies demonstrated that brand communication is any piece of
brand-related communication “distributed via social media” (Yang
and Battocchio, 2020;Arya et al., 2022). Thus, this definition can
lead to an observation that brand communication is a reflection of
the relationship between internet users and the brand. Furthermore,
it can be conducted that brand communication is related to the
customer–brand relationship (Sharma and Varki, 2018;Dewnarain
et al., 2019;Youn and Jin, 2021).
Many scholars have brought up a large number of research
regarding brand communication from diversified perspectives.
According to Bergkvist et al. (2012), brand communication effect
has been influenced by the headlines of an ad. The result
of this research showed that a complete headline is beneficial
for brand communication. Simultaneously, communication style
may have an impact on brand communication. According to
Steinmann et al. (2015), communication style influences the attitude
and recommendation of the brand. Simon (2017) has found
that communal media gratification contributed more to brand
gratification. This finding was significant for brand communication
from the perspective of media. As a result, prior studies have revealed
the fact that brand communication is a complex concept linked with
information and media; however, few studies take the viewpoint of
information function into the research of brand communication.
Obviously, it is of significant necessity to identify the information
foundation on brand communication, due to brand communication
being an information process (Voorveld, 2019;Yang and Battocchio,
2020). Thus, several studies regarding the functions of information
were reviewed as follows. First, the information function is known for
the utilitarian and hedonic perspectives. As for utilitarian function,
prior research has focused on information usefulness as a utilitarian
feature of information. According to Luo et al. (2018), information
usefulness is regarded as an extension that has an impact on the
intention and behavior of individuals. Thus, various studies show that
information usefulness is the information that is perceived as valuable
by readers. This finding depicts the utilitarian aspect of information
(Saeed and Abdinnour-Helm, 2008;Gottlieb, 2012;Ham et al.,
2019). Moreover, as different forms of information presentation may
activate the psychological aspect of the customer itself, information
also provides a hedonic function. There are several examples serving
as evidence that image may be one of the most important formations
of information to trigger the sentiment or enjoyment of customers.
According to its definition, an image can provide a sensory experience
for customers (O’Shaughnessy and O’Shaughnessy, 2002;Wijaya,
2013;A-Qader et al., 2016;Japutra et al., 2021). This may lead the
customer to behave more psychologically, and as such, there is a
multitude of reviews with positive sentiments on Instagram (Yu and
Egger, 2021;Rejeb et al., 2022). This fact shows that perceived image
can trigger the psychological aspect of customers, which reflects the
hedonic function in brand communication.
Overall, the information feature of brand communication reveals
the necessity to discuss brand communication from the perspective of
information function. However, few studies identify this process from
such perspectives. Consistent with studies into information function
from utilitarian and hedonic perspectives, this theoretical viewpoint
offers a research gap for us to fill up on brand communication.
2.1.2. Building the brand communication
mechanism from utilitarian and hedonic
perspectives: The role of customer relationship
Although two aspects of information function have been
revealed, in order to detect a more explicit mechanism of
Frontiers in Psychology 02
Fang et al. 10.3389/fpsyg.2022.958863
communication on how information function works, we have
focused on customer relationships.
According to prior related studies, customer psychological
contract and customer engagement have lied at the center of the
research into customer–brand relationships (Gillani et al., 2021;
Lin et al., 2021;Asante et al., 2022;Sim et al., 2022). When it
comes to customer psychological contract, existing research has
proposed that the psychological contract was first proposed in the
studies of organizational behavior and then defined in a relatively
straightforward manner, stressing individual and organizational
perceptions of obligations while also highlighting the stability
of their connection (Robinson et al., 1994;Coyle-Shapiro et al.,
2019). Above all, a psychological contract is the manifestation of
a spiritual contract. Moreover, the psychological contract has been
extended to a variety of contexts in recent studies and is no
longer limited to organizational settings. Customer psychological
contract is the extension of the psychological contract from the
organizational scenario to the marketing scenario, which specifically
studies the relationship between the consumer and the enterprise (Bi,
2019;Tomprou and Lee, 2022). Previous studies have shown that
transactional and relational psychological contracts are two types of
psychological contracts (Coyle-Shapiro et al., 2019). In summary, the
customer psychological contract symbolizes a process of deepening
the relationship between subjects (e.g., individuals) and objects (e.g.,
the media). The two categories of psychological contract reveal that
this concept typically describes the relationship from both utilitarian
and hedonic perspectives (Ozturk et al., 2016).
In addition, with the transformation of media technology, we
are entering the “engagement” era (Ferrer-Conill et al., 2021).
Consistent with the acceleration of customer participation evolving
into customer involvement, numerous studies have still classified
these relationships as having no profound bonds (Myrick and
Erlichman, 2020;Yamamoto et al., 2020;Barari et al., 2021).
Thus, the proposition of customer engagement found
by researchers aimed to identify this profound connection.
This novel relationship has resulted in customer engagement
both in customer psychology and behavior. Thus, customer
engagement is a typical manifestation of a deeper customer
relationship (Brodie et al., 2019). Undoubtedly, the permeation
of customer engagement has a typical impact on all customers
(Gummerus et al., 2012;Meire et al., 2019). Kilger and Romer
(2007) confirmed that customer engagement impacts consumer
purchase intention. Lin et al. (2021) stated that the popularity
of live broadcasting is directly related to customer engagement.
Although prior studies have begun to explore the impact of
customer engagement (Pentina et al., 2018), few have explored
the role and impact of this novel relational formation in
brand communication.
Building upon the new media has brought an evolved relationship
between customers and media; brand communication has thus
been shifted and influenced by this relationship transition (Youn
and Jin, 2021). In addition to information function studies, this
relational transition demonstrates that brand communication in the
digital age may be shifted by psychological and behavioral aspects
of customers (Park and Ha, 2016;Steinhoff et al., 2019). This
analysis has offered a research gap for this study; therefore, we are
aiming to figure out the effect of customer relationship exerting on
brand communication.
2.2. Hypotheses deduction
According to the literature on psychological contracts mentioned
before, there are two ways to construct a customer psychological
contract from the perspectives of transaction and relation, which
reflects the two-fold of information function (Ham et al., 2019;Yuan
et al., 2022). First and foremost, from the utilitarian perspective,
customers always seek out the value of information. From this
standpoint, information value provided by the brand can facilitate
customers to make useful decisions. Thus, customers could have
“perceived quality” through the information value. This may lead
to the construction of a psychological contract from a transactional
aspect (Luo et al., 2018;Zhao et al., 2020). In contrast, there is also
a relational and psychological way for customers to build up the
customer psychological contract. In terms of customers, brand image
can offer them a more hedonic and sentimental experience (A-Qader
et al., 2016;Park and Kim, 2022). As a result, a brand image can
have more influence on the customers’ psychological aspect from the
hedonic perspective. Overall, the compared hypotheses shall be posed
and identified. Therefore, Hypothesis 1 and its sub-hypotheses can be
proposed, as follows, in accordance with the preceding analysis.
H1. Different forms of information function lead to the
construction of the customer psychological contract in both
utilitarian and hedonic ways.
H1a. The perceived quality has more impact on the construction
of a transactional psychological contract rather than a relational
psychological contract via the utilitarian aspect.
H1b. The brand image has more impact on the construction of
a relational psychological contract rather than a transactional
psychological contract via the hedonic aspect.
In this study, however, considering that the customer psychological
contract can be constructed by information from both utilitarian
and hedonic perspectives, it can be deduced that the customer
psychological contract can facilitate the customer relationship
to march into the status of engagement (Kumar et al., 2019).
According to current research, the psychological contract can be
categorized into two aspects; one is behavioral, and the other is
psychological (Gillani et al., 2021;Asante et al., 2022). When it
comes to customer engagement, two constructive ways are to be
recognized. Based on the two aspects of information function,
the behavioral aspect of the psychological contract represents
the utilitarian aspect. Similarly, the psychological aspect of the
psychological contract represents the hedonic aspect. That is, the
transactional psychological contract can be linked to the utilitarian
aspect, and the relational psychological contract to the hedonic
aspect (Tomprou and Lee, 2022;Yuan et al., 2022). Specifically, from
the utilitarian perspective, the transactional psychological contract
has played a critical role. Similarly, the relational psychological
contract is necessary for customer engagement from a hedonic
perspective. Once customer engagement has been activated, brand
communication will be improved. Consequently, Hypothesis 2,
with its sub-hypotheses, and Hypothesis 3 were developed here
as follows.
H2. The customer psychological contract facilitates the
achievement of customer engagement.
Frontiers in Psychology 03
Fang et al. 10.3389/fpsyg.2022.958863
Research model of hybrid communication in utilitarian and hedonic aspects.
H2a. The transactional psychological contract facilitates the
achievement of customer engagement via the utilitarian aspect.
H2b. The relational psychological contract facilitates the
achievement of customer engagement via the hedonic aspect.
H3. Customer engagement improves brand communication.
In order to build the whole hybrid brand communication model,
all the factors should be taken into consideration. To begin with, as
for the utilitarian aspect, it can be concluded that perceived quality
could benefit the construction of the transactional psychological
contract. Furthermore, the transactional psychological contract
facilitates the establishment of customer relationship and then lead
to achieving customer engagement, ultimately improving brand
communication via the utilitarian aspect. In addition, from the
hedonic perspective, the brand image assists the construction of
the relational psychological contract, thus resulting in customer
engagement. Therefore, brand communication can be improved by
this impact mechanism in a hedonic way.
In summary, this two-fold aspect of customer psychological
contract, as well as customer engagement, offers a chain mediation
to improve brand communication from both utilitarian and hedonic
perspectives. Based on this, this study presents Hypothesis 4 and its
sub-hypotheses, listed later.
H4. The psychological contract and customer engagement act
as chain mediators in the mechanism of improving brand
communication from both utilitarian and hedonic perspectives.
H4a. The transactional psychological contract and customer
engagement play a chain mediating role in the mechanism of
improving brand communication via the utilitarian aspect.
H4b. The relational psychological contract and customer
engagement play a chain mediating role in the mechanism of
improving brand communication via the hedonic aspect.
2.3. Research model
Consistent with the literature review mentioned before, it is of
significance to figure out the effects of information function exerted
in brand communication. The two-fold of information function has a
different role in brand communication. Based on this, Figure 1 shows
the research model developed in this study.
Specifically, to begin with, perceived quality facilitates the
construction of the transactional psychological contract and leads to
customer engagement, which improves brand communication from
the utilitarian perspective. Moreover, the perceived image assists
in building up the relational psychological contract hedonically.
Then, brand communication will be improved as a result of
customer engagement being achieved from the hedonic perspective.
As for mediators, transactional psychological contract and customer
engagement play a chain mediating role in this mechanism from
the utilitarian perspective. Similarly, relational psychological contract
and customer engagement act as hedonic chain mediators.
3. Method
This study has mainly relied on a survey method. All participants
were required to finish the questionnaire for inclusion in the study.
Therefore, we distributed our questionnaires through social media
platforms, in which a third-party survey corporation was entrusted
for distribution.
At the beginning of the questionnaire, all participants were
requested to fill in a brand they were familiar with. The remaining
questions were required to be finished in accordance with the brand
they filled in.
Specifically, this questionnaire was designed in four parts. In the
first part, after filling in the brand, there are questions about perceived
quality and brand image. The second part is items of customer
psychological contracts and customer engagement. The third part is
for testing brand communication. The last part of the questionnaire
was designed to collect the demographic data of participants as
control variables. All parts of the questionnaire adopted a 5-point
Likert scale for responses (from “1 =strongly disagree” to “5 =
strongly agree”).
3.1. Survey procedure
Due to the whole survey procedures were taken place in China
from January 2021 to June 2021, it is necessary for our researchers to
Frontiers in Psychology 04
Fang et al. 10.3389/fpsyg.2022.958863
take the difference in the research context into consideration. In order
to ensure the reliability and validity of the results of this study, it was
decided that all the questionnaires be translated into Chinese and that
local versions of the instruments be adopted as much as possible. This
study tries to ensure that the instruments adopted by this research
closely follow those already published in high-level domestic and
international academic journals.
To ensure the suitability of the instrument, this study first
introduced a pre-test for all questionnaires. Approximately 10
individuals were requested to finish and examine the instruments.
After this small-scale testing, we revised the instrument based on the
result of the data pre-test.
After that, a large-scale survey was conducted to verify the model.
At the beginning of the instrument, participants were required to
fill in a brand with which they were always communicating. Then,
they were asked to finish the survey based on what they had filled
in. The instrument was distributed by ourselves and the third-party
survey corporation as well. Overall, a total of 575 valid questionnaires
were collected in this study after setting up reverse question items,
establishing question items in the same direction, and removing
questions in which the answer time was too short (t<180 s) and
those with a series of identical answers. These 575 questionnaires
include 325 from the “snowball” collection and 250 from the third-
party survey corporation. The psychometric properties of the sample
are displayed in Table 1.
In the large-scale survey, 54.6% of the survey participants were
female participants (Nfemale =314, Msex =0.454, SDsex =
0.208), which is slightly more than for male participants. It also
can be observed that people aged 31–40 accounted for 32.2% of
the total sample that paid more attention to this research (Mage =
3.715, SDage =0.0486). At the same time, the majority of these
participants, 52.5% of the whole sample, have a bachelor’s degree
(Medu =2.93, SDedu =0.0343). People from companies accounted
for 52.5% of the entire sample (Mjob =2.417, SDjob =0.506). Finally,
persons with a salary exceeding 8,000 CNY per month made up 37.9%
of the whole sample (Msalary =3.823, SDsalary =0.05).
3.2. Measurement of variables
As for the measurement of variables, this research first adopted
suitable items to test all six variables. Furthermore, in order to identify
whether these items are fit for this research context, confirmatory
factor analysis (CFA) and reliability analysis were employed for each
measurement of these variables. Table 2 shows the reliability and
convergent validity results of all the above-mentioned variables in the
research model.
First, we attempted to find suitable items for measuring perceived
quality and brand image. For measuring perceived quality, this study
refers to the items of perceived quality provided by Yoo and Donthu
(2001) and Snoj et al. (2004). Since this variable was measured by
only two items, we just assessed its reliability and validity based
on Cronbach’s α, which was 0.749. In terms of brand image, there
were six items that refer to measure this variable, according to Keller
(1993) and Yoo and Donthu (2001). We then utilized CFA and
reliability test to identify whether this measurement is fit for this
research. The whole results show that this variable is suitable for
this study.
TABLE 1 Psychometric properties of the survey.
Category Characteristics N%
Gender Male 261 45.4
Female 314 54.6
Age Under 18 1 0.2
18–25 103 17.9
26–30 139 24.2
31–40 185 32.2
41–50 114 19.8
51–60 29 5.0
Above 60 4 0.7
Education High school or lower 28 6.8
Junior college 99 17.0
Bachelor’s degree 435 52.5
Master’s degree or
53 33.7
Occupation Government agency
or public institution
110 19.1
Enterprise employee 302 52.5
Individual industrial
and commercial
31 5.4
Students 77 13.4
Other 55 9.6
Salary (monthly) Under 1,000 CNY 30 5.2
1,000 CNY3,000
62 10.8
3,000 CNY5,000
106 18.4
5,000 CNY8,000
159 27.7
Above 8,000 CNY 218 37.9
N=575; this study will assign a value to the control variable, which has listed later. Gender: 1
=male; 0 =female. Age: 1 =under 18; 2 =1825; 3 =2630; 4 =3140; 5 =4150; 6 =
5160; 7 =above 60. Education: 1 =high school or lower; 2 =junior college; 3 =bachelor’s
degree; 4 =master’sdegree or higher. Oc cupation: 1 =government agency or public institution;
2=enterprise employee; 3 =individual industrial and commercial households; 4 =students;
5=other. Salary (monthly): 1 =under 1,000 CNY; 2 =1,000 CNY3,000 CNY; 3 =3,000
CNY5,000 CNY; 4 =5,000 CNY8,000 CNY; 5 =above 8,000 CNY.
Moreover, in terms of the variable of the psychological contract,
we have referred to the research regarding employee psychological
contract (Coyle-Shapiro et al., 2019) and customer psychological
contract (Kingshott and Pecotich, 2007). After the interview of
30 people and grounding theory, five items for the transactional
psychological contract and four items for the relational psychological
contract have been generated. After CFA, the results of these two
concepts show it has a great degree of validity and reliability. As for
customer engagement, the measurements of this concept referred to
some studies regarding social media engagement (Brown et al., 2022)
and customer engagement (Brodie et al., 2013;Kumar et al., 2019).
The pre-test results for testing customer engagement show that the
measurement of this variable possesses a great degree of validity and
reliability for this study.
Frontiers in Psychology 05
Fang et al. 10.3389/fpsyg.2022.958863
TABLE 2 Reliability and convergent validity result for measurements of variables.
Validity and reliability index Perceived
CMIN/DF 3.33 1.962 2.91 3.7
RMR 0.014 0.016 0.011 0.029
TLI 0.965 0.988 0.995 0.944
GFI 0.985 0.993 0.973 0.958
CFI 0.981 0.994 0.991 0.96
RMSEA 0.064 0.041 0.058 0.069
Cronbach’s α0.749 0.818 0.81 0.71 0.858 0.676
Number of items 2 6 5 4 10 2
N=575; CMIN/DF represents χ2
df ; RMR, the root-mean-square residual; TLI, the Tucker–Lewis index; GFI, goodness-of-fit index; CFI, the comparative fit index; RMSEA, root-mean-square error
of approximation.
Finally, according to some studies on communication and brand
communication (Voorveld, 2019;Harrison and Windeler, 2020), the
measurement of brand communication was considered based on
two items from the perspective of personal influence. The brand
communication passed the validity and reliability test based on its
Cronbachs αof 0.676.
3.3. Data pre-test
3.3.1. Data quality
Since questionnaires were gathered in a variety of ways, an
independent-sample t-test was conducted on the data from two
distinct sources to determine whether the questionnaire collection
method influenced the analytical results. The results of the
independent-sample t-test are presented in Table 3. The test reveals
that the alternative ways of questionnaire collection had no impact on
the study results. In order to avoid common method biases (CMBs)
in this survey, Harman’s single factor test was used to test sample data
in the statistical control, effectively also avoiding common approach
deviations in procedural control. It can be observed from the
analytical results that the CMB of this survey is within an acceptable
range (Var%component 1=30.012, Cultimative%component 1=30.012).
3.3.2. Descriptive analysis and multicollinearity test
This study performed a statistical analysis and a validity test
for a more comprehensive follow-up regression analysis. Table 4
displays the descriptive statistics, convergent, and discriminant
validity results for the survey data. At a certain point, this study ran
a multicollinearity test on the data to ensure that it was appropriate
for regression analysis. Using SPSS 22.0, the VIF value of all variables
was found to be <10, which indicates that the independent variables
are not multicollinear, and regression statistical analysis can be
conducted. Furthermore, when it comes to the convergent and
discriminant validity of all these variables, we used AVE and CR to
test whether the variables are of discriminant validity. Based on the
results in Table 4, the A.V.E and C.R values are acceptable (AVE >
0.5; CR >0.7). This result demonstrates that the variables in the
theoretical framework are of acceptable discriminant validity.
4. Result
In order to test the model proposed in this study, this study
depended on SEM through Amos 24.0. All results are displayed
in Figure 2.
In this study, gender, age, education, occupation, and salary
(monthly) are used as control variables. This research first
concentrated on the main effect without control variables, then the
control variables were added to the analysis. The results of SEM
without control variables have already demonstrated a great degree of
model fit. In turn, the results of SEM with control variables showed a
better model fit than without controls. The coefficients of each path
are shown in Figure 2 and Table 5. Specifically, the above estimates
are parameters without controls, and those below are with controls.
It can be observed that these controls have some impact on
brand communication. For the last estimate of this model, the main
effect of brand communication is now not considered significant
(p>0.01). This demonstrates that brand communication, which
is of great complexity, is primarily influenced by a variety of
factors. Nevertheless, this does not prevent us from analyzing
the whole communication mechanism. Table 5 details the results
of SEM.
4.1. Improving brand communication from
the utilitarian and hedonic perspectives
Based on the SEM results, it can be observed that brand
communication can be improved through utilitarian and hedonic
ways. This fact is supported by the evidence listed later. First, when
it comes to the utilitarian aspect, perceived value influences the
construction of the transactional psychological contract more than
the relational psychological contract (βTransaction =0.392, P<
0.001;βRelation =0.143, P<0.001;βTransaction > βRelation).
For the customer, the utilitarian aspect of information has always
been focused on making decisions and so on. In contrast, from
the viewpoint of the hedonic aspect, a perceived image shows more
impact on the construction of the relational psychological contract
than on the transactional psychological contract (βTransaction =
Frontiers in Psychology 06
Fang et al. 10.3389/fpsyg.2022.958863
TABLE 3 Independent-sample t-test for variation in the methods for instruments.
Constructs Levene’s test for equality
of variances
T-test for equality of means
FSig. TSig.
Customer engagement Equal variances assumed 0.035 0.852 0.141 0.89 0.01 0.04
Equal variances not assumed 0.14 0.89 0.01 0.04
psychological contract
Equal variances assumed 0.006 0.939 1.01 0.31 0.06 0.06
Equal variances not assumed 1.011 0.31 0.06 0.06
Relational psychological
Equal variances assumed 0.421 0.517 0.966 0.33 0.04 0.04
Equal variances not assumed 0.964 0.34 0.04 0.04
Brand image Equal variances assumed 0.302 0.583 0.953 0.34 0.04 0.04
Equal variances not assumed 0.941 0.35 0.04 0.05
Perceived quality Equal variances assumed 0.95 0.33 1.035 0.30 0.05 0.05
Equal variances not assumed 1.039 0.30 0.05 0.05
Brand communication Equal variances assumed 0.041 0.839 0.073 0.94 0.00 0.04
Equal variances not assumed 0.073 0.94 0.00 0.04
N=575; SD, standard deviation.
TABLE 4 Descriptive statistics, convergent, and discriminant validity.
Variables Mean SD AVE CR 1 2 3 4 5 6
Customer engagement (1) 4.08 0.52 0.65 0.85 (0.81)
Transactional psychological contract (2) 3.72 0.67 0.56 0.86 0.498∗∗ (0.75)
Relational psychological contract (3) 4.13 0.52 0.55 0.83 0.657∗∗ 0.510∗∗ (0.74)
Brand image (4) 4.17 0.53 0.53 0.87 0.676∗∗ 0.435∗∗ 0.697∗∗ (0.73)
Perceived quality (5) 4.11 0.59 0.8 0.89 0.472∗∗ 0.413∗∗ 0.512∗∗ 0.521∗∗ (0.89)
Brand communication (6) 4.30 0.50 0.76 0.86 0.526∗∗ 0.366∗∗ 0.574∗∗ 0.568∗∗ 0.586∗∗ (0.87)
N=575; ∗∗P<0.01; SD, standard deviation; AVE and CR provide evidence of the validity of this model following testing; the diagonal value is the square root of AVE.
SEM results of the hybrid communication model in utilitarian and hedonic aspects. N=575; ***P<0.001, **P<0.01.
0.564, P<0.001;βRelation =0.624, P<0.001;βTransaction <
βRelation). These results led to the identification and support of
Hypothesis 1 and its sub-hypotheses.
Moreover, psychological contracts have accelerated the process
of achieving customer engagement. Through the results offered
by SEM, it can be observed that the psychological contracts,
whether transactional or relational, positively influenced customer
engagement overall (βTM =0.124, P<0.001;βRM =
1.035, P<0.001;βTM < βRM). Thus, Hypothesis 2 and its sub-
hypotheses are supported. These findings of estimates present us
with a more interesting phenomenon that relational psychological
contracts present greater impacts on customer engagement than
transactional psychological contracts.
At the last stage of this communication process, customer
engagement leads to the improvement of brand communication.
Although brand communication was found to be influenced by
Frontiers in Psychology 07
Fang et al. 10.3389/fpsyg.2022.958863
TABLE 5 Results of SEM.
Hypothesized path Model without controls Model with controls
Path coecient SE CR Path coecient SE CR
Main eect
TPC PQ 0.428∗∗∗ 0.098 4.353 0.392∗∗∗ 0.097 4.025
RPC BI 0.584∗∗∗ 0.054 10.818 0.624∗∗∗ 0.057 10.956
RPC PQ 0.186∗∗∗ 0.038 4.847 0.143∗∗∗ 0.04 3.589
TPC BI 0.523∗∗∗ 0.102 5.132 0.564∗∗∗ 0.102 5.542
CE TPC 0.087∗∗ (p=0.004) 0.03 2.89 0.124∗∗∗ 0.035 3.497
CE RPC 1.102∗∗∗ 0.096 11.437 1.035∗∗∗ 0.096 10.821
BC CE 0.837∗∗∗ 0.066 12.638 0.134 (p=0.187) 0.101 1.32
Control eects
BC Gender 1
BC Age 1
BC Occupation 1
BC Education 1
BC Salary (monthly) 1
Model fit
CMIN/DF 3.092 2.423
RMR 0.028 0.032
TLI 0.905 0.912
GFI 0.902 0.907
CFI 0.915 0.922
RMSEA 0.06 0.05
N=575; ∗∗∗ P<0.001, ∗∗ P<0.01. PV, perceived value; PI, perceived image; TPC, transactional psychological contract; RPC, relational psychological contract; CE, customer engagement; BC, brand
communication; SE, standard error.
many factors according to multiple previous studies (Harrison
and Windeler, 2020), it is still positively influenced by customer
engagement (βwithout controls =0.837, P<0.001;βwith controls =
0.134, P>0.01). These analysis results support Hypothesis 3.
Consequently, due to the results offered by SEM, it can be concluded
that brand communication can be strengthened from both utilitarian
and hedonic perspectives.
4.2. Mediating eect analysis
In order to test the whole mechanism, the mediation of this
theoretical model was tested. According to Preacher and Hayes
(2004), the test of the mediation effect has relied on the Bootstrap
utilized through SPSS 24.0 PROCESS. The results of this test are
displayed in Table 6.
Bootstrap is one of the primarily significant methods to identify
mediating effects, especially chain mediating effects. In order to
test whether there is mediation or not, we shall figure out whether
the confidence interval contains 0. The provided results support
Hypothesis 4 and its sub-hypotheses. From the perspective of
cognition, the transactional psychological contract and customer
engagement act as mediators in this mechanism. Through the
Bootstrap findings, it can be observed that if one wants to strengthen
brand communication in the utilitarian aspect, one should first start
from the perceived value and then pass through the transactional
psychological contract and customer engagement, ultimately
achieving a great degree of brand communication [CI (95%)direct =
(0.2979, 0.4203);CI (95%)indirect =(0.0899, 0.1861)]. Similarly,
from the viewpoint of affection, the results show that the relational
psychological contract and customer engagement play a chain
mediation role in improving brand communication [CI (95%)direct =
(0.1504, 0.334);CI (95%)indirect =(0.2184, 0.3755)]. Thus, through
this finding, the mechanism by which the hedonic aspect strengthens
brand communication was determined.
5. General discussion
This study has characterized the mechanism by which
brand communication is improved from utilitarian and hedonic
perspectives. In this study, the theoretical model was first proposed
following a literature review based on the linkage of the practical
background. Relying on the questionnaire survey method, this
study applied SEM to test the theoretical model. The results
of testing demonstrated that all the presented hypotheses were
entirely supported. This finding leads to the conclusion that brand
communication can be strengthened from utilitarian and hedonic
Frontiers in Psychology 08
Fang et al. 10.3389/fpsyg.2022.958863
TABLE 6 The chain mediation eect testing based on Bootstrap.
Mediator 1 Mediator 2 Dependent
CI (95%) Eect TSE
Perceived quality Transactional
psychological contract
Direct (0.2979, 0.4203) 0.3591 11.5207 0.0312
Indirect (0.0899, 0.1861) 0.1348 - 0.0243
Brand image Relational
psychological contract
Direct (0.1504, 0.334) 0.2422 5.18 0.0468
Indirect (0.2184, 0.3755) 0.2937 - 0.0401
N= 575; SE, represents standard error; CI (95%), represents the confidential interval at 95% level.
perspectives. However, there are still some remaining aspects that
require further discussion.
5.1. Theoretical contribution
This study offers some theoretical insights and contributions
to the research of brand communication mechanisms. These are
outlined as follows. To begin with, this study has established a hybrid
model of brand communication mechanism from an information
function perspective. The proposition of this hybrid model has filled
up the research gap in the marketing and branding research area, as
well as contributed to the related studies on customer psychology and
behavior. Second, during the process of research, it can be identified
that the information function of brands can provide both a utilitarian
and a hedonic function to the customers. This is reflected by the
chain mediation effect of the psychological contract and customer
engagement. Finally, this study has provided some insights into
understanding customer behavior in which their psychological aspect
has dominated. All theoretical contributions have been organized
as follows.
First and foremost, despite this model having been constructed
with utilitarian and hedonic aspects, there is an issue in that the
function and role of the customer’s psychological aspect need to be
identified in the digital era. According to prior studies, a variety
of scholars have insisted that utilitarian aspects play a critical role,
but they have not figured out the specific role of the customer’s
psychological aspect in the mechanism of brand communication
(Hayes et al., 2020;Miao, 2021;Gbadeyan and Deliceirmak, 2022).
Based on this theoretical gap, the model provided by this study may
offer some explanation. Although it is necessary for many people to
depend on the utility of a brand for the utilitarian aspect, the power
of the hedonic aspect, that is, the customer’s psychological aspect,
cannot be neglected. In this model, the findings have offered insights
given the fact that if there was a conflict between the utilitarian
and hedonic aspects of brand communication, people would yield to
their psychological aspects. It can be exemplified that the estimates
of their sentiment are all above those of cognition. People need
the stimulation of their psychological aspect for enjoyment and
sentimental gratification. On the other hand, these dominant effects
of the customer’s psychological aspect in the process of brand
communication also reveal that the function of the brand is mainly
to provide a certain hedonic aspect to customers. This relationship
is a typical way in which customers connect with brands. The
role of sentiment and spirit of customers, therefore, reveals that
this consumption is relational. Moreover, this fact reflects that our
TABLE 7 Hierarchy regression results of control variables and customer
engagement on brand communication.
Variable βSE
(Constant) 2.173∗∗∗ 0.179
Gender 0.038 0.036
Age 0.043∗∗ 0.017
Occupation 0.017 0.016
Education 0.004 0.024
Salary (monthly) 0.06∗∗∗ 0.019
Customer engagement 0.495∗∗∗ 0.034
N=575; ∗∗∗ P<0.001; ∗∗ P<0.01.
society may be a relational society, where every individual demands a
connection between themselves and others. Consequently, this model
provides some solutions for how the firms should make the strategy
of brand communication.
Furthermore, despite the fact that the role of the hedonic aspect
has taken precedence over that of the utilitarian aspect in brand
communication, it can be questioned whether the utilitarian function
of information provided by brands has lost its position. For the
customers themselves, though a large amount of time spent on media
has been filled with “searching for sensitive experiences of brands,
brands not only provide such experiences but also influence the
rationale of people (Ong and Yusoff, 2015). Specifically, the utilitarian
function of information provided by brands, that is, perceived quality,
is still the bedrock demanded by customers. The model developed
in this study also confirms the fact that people need information
provided by brands to be rational. The improvement of brand
communication from the utilitarian perspective cannot be neglected,
no matter how dominant the customer’s psychological aspect is.
Finally, in terms of brand communication, it can be demonstrated
by the SEM results that this variable is of such great complexity that
it may be influenced by many factors. Based on the results without
the controls, it can be observed that customer engagement has more
impact on brand communication (βwithout controls =0.837, P<
0.001). However, when it comes to the status of controls, customer
engagement has not played a critical role. For determining whether
or not the control variables have a greater influence on brand
communication, our study utilized SPSS 24.0 to establish a hierarchy
regression model, and the results are depicted in Table 7.
Frontiers in Psychology 09
Fang et al. 10.3389/fpsyg.2022.958863
It can be illustrated that, as mentioned earlier, hypothesis 3 is
supported by these regression results. In this regression model, all
the control variables were found not to have a significant influence
on brand communication, and their β-values are less than those of
customer engagement (βwithout controls =0.495, P<0.001). This
result ultimately supports the fact that brand communication is a
highly complex variable worthy of further study.
As a result, our findings contribute to the research of brand
communication by taking utilitarian and hedonic perspectives. In
order to explain the role that the information function played,
a hybrid brand communication model has been constructed. The
results of this study show that the psychological aspect takes
precedence over the rationale of the customer in this modern era.
5.2. Practical implication
This research provides not only theoretical contributions to
brand communication but also offers practical implications for
managing brand information and communication in the post-truth
era. Prior studies regarding media and journalism have demonstrated
that we are marching into the post-truth era (Waisbord, 2018;Majin,
2021), in which the affection of people takes a dominant position.
Based on the definition of the post-truth era from the Oxford
Dictionary, the most significant feature of this era is “Relating to or
denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential
in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal
belief.” In addition, it can be observed that brand communication
always has a close connection to the media and information from
the perspective of its definition. Thus, the characteristics of the
post-truth era have inevitably influenced brand communication.
This research has revealed that the psychological aspect, that is, the
hedonic aspect of customers, has played a significant role in the brand
communication mechanism. This results in an important marketing
strategy that corporations should pay more attention to customer
relationship marketing.
Specifically, when managers make strategies for brand
communication, they should consider both utilitarian and hedonic
brand offerings. First, the utilitarian function is fundamental, so
managers should not neglect this basic function. Thus, in terms of
products, firms should focus on improving the quality of products, as
well as constructing utilitarian information the brands are delivering.
In contrast, in this relational era, according to the characteristics of
post-truth, marketing strategy should lay emphasis on the hedonic
function that brands convey. When these people start to work on
brand communication strategy, they shall put the psychological
aspect of brands to the primary position in order to build a
sentimental and spiritual image of brands. Therefore, a “warmth
customer relationship can be built and sustained.
6. Limitations and future research
Our study has some limitations as the two-fold. On the one
hand, as brand communication is of great complexity, this study
only explored the impact mechanism of the psychological contract
and customer engagement. It is necessary for scholars to discuss and
explore the more general factors influencing brand communication.
On the other hand, the total number of questionnaires should
have been more than 575, which could have been achieved by
conducting a larger-scale survey with more questions to resolve
certain unknowns.
In terms of future studies, the results of this study provide several
insights. Initially, the future study shall pay more attention to the
relational demand of customers. The value of relationships has been
delivered by this study, and it reveals a future research direction
in brand communication. Second, the specific role and function of
affection in communication should be more thoroughly discussed
in future research. Finally, the results also recall the scholarship to
balance the utilitarian and hedonic aspects in the process of brand
communication in future.
Data availability statement
The original contributions presented in the study are
included in the article, further inquiries can be directed to the
corresponding author.
Author contributions
LF contributed to the whole process of this article, including
proposing research questions and research models, data collecting
and processing, and manuscript writing. ML and LT contributed to
the revision of this article. All authors contributed to the article and
approved the submitted version.
This research was supported by the grants from the National
Natural Science Foundation of China (71872052 and 72102069).
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that the research was conducted in the
absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be
construed as a potential conflict of interest.
Publisher’s note
All claims expressed in this article are solely those of the
authors and do not necessarily represent those of their affiliated
organizations, or those of the publisher, the editors and the reviewers.
Any product that may be evaluated in this article, or claim that may
be made by its manufacturer, is not guaranteed or endorsed by the
Frontiers in Psychology 10
Fang et al. 10.3389/fpsyg.2022.958863
A-Qader, I. K., Omar, A. B., and Rubel, M. R. B. (2016). The influence of affective brand
experience dimension on brand equity of the smartphone millennial users in Malaysia.
Manage. Stud. 5, 25–37. doi: 10.17265/2328-2185/2017.01.003
Arya, V., Paul, J., and Sethi, D. (2022). Like it or not! Brand communication on
social networking sites triggers consumer-based brand equity. Int. J. Consum. Stud. 46,
1381–1398. doi: 10.1111/ijcs.12763
Asante, D., Tang, C., Kwamega, M., and Asante, E. A. (2022). In pursuit of
service encounter quality: Will service-oriented high-performance work systems
benefit high-contact service industries? J. Retail. Consum. Serv. 68, 103037.
doi: 10.1016/j.jretconser.2022.103037
Barari, M., Ross, M., Thaichon, S., and Surachartkumtonkun, J. (2021). A meta-
analysis of customer engagement behaviour. Int. J. Consum. Stud. 45, 457–477.
doi: 10.1111/ijcs.12609
Bergkvist, L., Eiderbäck, D., and Palombo, M. (2012). The brand communication effects
of using a headline to prompt the key benefit in ADS with pictorial metaphors. J. Advert.
41, 67–76. doi: 10.2753/JOA0091-3367410205
Bi, Q. (2019). Cultivating loyal customers through online customer
communities: a psychological contract perspective. J. Bus. Res. 103, 34–44.
doi: 10.1016/j.jbusres.2019.06.005
Brodie, R. J., Fehrer, J. A., Jaakkola, E., and Conduit, J. (2019). Actor
engagement in networks: defining the conceptual domain. J. Serv. Res. 22, 173–188.
doi: 10.1177/1094670519827385
Brodie, R. J., Ilic, A., Juric, B., and Hollebeek, L. (2013). Consumer engagement
in a virtual brand community: an exploratory analysis. J. Bus. Res. 66, 105–114.
doi: 10.1016/j.jbusres.2011.07.029
Brown, J. C., Graves, E. M., and Burke, M. A. (2022). Involvement, engagement, and
community: dimensions and correlates of parental participation in a majority-minority
urban school district. Urban Educ. 57, 899–934. doi: 10.1177/0042085920902245
Choi, B., and Choi, B. (2014). The effects of perceived service recovery justice
on customer affection, loyalty, and word-of-mouth. Eur. J. Mark. 48, e299.
doi: 10.1108/EJM-06-2011-0299
Coyle-Shapiro, J. A.-M., Pereira Costa, S., Doden, W., and Chang, C. (2019).
Psychological contracts: past, present, and future. Annu. Rev. Organ. Psychol. Organ.
Behav. 6, 145–169. doi: 10.1146/annurev-orgpsych-012218-015212
Dewnarain, S., Ramkissoon, H., and Mavondo, F. (2019). Social customer relationship
management: an integrated conceptual framework. J. Hosp. Market. Manag. 28, 172–188.
doi: 10.1080/19368623.2018.1516588
Ferrer-Conill, R., Karlsson, M., Haim, M., Kammer, A., Elgesem, D., and Sjøvaag, H.
(2021). Toward ’Cultures of Engagement’? An exploratory comparison of engagement
patterns on Facebook news posts. New Media Society 2021, 14614448211009246.
doi: 10.1177/14614448211009246
Gbadeyan, B. T., and Deliceirmak, F. D. (2022). Analysis of social networking sites: a
study on effective communication strategy in developing brand communication. Int. J.
Human. Soc. Sci. 9, 31–37. doi: 10.14445/23942703/IJHSS-V9I1P106
Gillani, A., Kutaula, S., and Budhwar, P. S. (2021). Psychological contract breach:
unraveling the dark side of business-to-business relationships. J. Bus. Res. 134, 631–641.
doi: 10.1016/j.jbusres.2021.06.008
Gottlieb, J. (2012). Attention, learning, and the value of information. Neuron 76,
281–295. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2012.09.034
Gummerus, J., Liljander, V., Weman, E., and Pihlström, M. (2012). Customer
engagement in a Facebook brand community. Manage. Res. Rev. 35, 857–877.
doi: 10.1108/01409171211256578
Ham, J., Lee, K., Kim, T., and Koo, C. (2019). Subjective perception patterns of online
reviews: a comparison of utilitarian and hedonic values. Inform. Process. Manage. 56,
1439–1456. doi: 10.1016/j.ipm.2019.03.011
Harrison, A., and Windeler, J. B. (2020). Framing communication: how agenda
alignment and media capabilities shape partially cooperative communication. MIS Q. 44,
771–807. doi: 10.25300/MISQ/2020/15062
Hayes, J. L., Britt, B. C., Applequist, J., Ramirez, A. Jr, and Hill, J. (2020). Leveraging
textual paralanguage and consumer-brand relationships for more relatable online
brand communication: a social presence approach. J. Interact. Advert. 20, 17–30.
doi: 10.1080/15252019.2019.1691093
Japutra, A., Roy, S. K., and Pham, T.-A. N. (2021). Relating brand anxiety, brand hatred
and obsess: moderating role of age and brand affection. J. Retail. Consum. Serv. 60, 102465.
doi: 10.1016/j.jretconser.2021.102465
Keller, K. L. (1993). Conceptualizing, measuring, and managing customer-based brand
equity. J. Mark. 57, 1–22.
Kilger, M., and Romer, E. (2007). Do measures of media engagement
correlate with product purchase likelihood? J. Advert. Res. 47, 313–325.
doi: 10.2501/S002184990707033X
Kingshott, R. P. J., and Pecotich, A. (2007). The impact of psychological contracts on
trust and commitment in supplier-distributor relationships. Eur. J. Mark. 41, 1053–1072.
doi: 10.1108/03090560710773345
Kumar, V., Rajan, B., Gupta, S., and Pozza, I. D. (2019). Customer engagement in
service. J. Acad. Mark. Sci. 47, 138–160. doi: 10.1007/s11747-017-0565-2
Lin, Y., Yao, D., and Chen, X. (2021). Happiness begets money:
emotion and engagement in live streaming. J. Market. Res. 58, 417–438.
doi: 10.1177/00222437211002477
Luo, C., Luo, X. R., and Bose, R. (2018). Information usefulness in online third party
forums. Comput. Human Behav. 85, 61–73. doi: 10.1016/j.chb.2018.02.041
Lynch, J., and de Chernatony, L. (2004). The power of emotion: brand
communication in business-to-business markets. J. Brand Manage. 11, 403–419.
doi: 10.1057/
Majin, G. (2021). A catastrophic media failure? Russiagate, Trump and the illusion
of truth: the dangers of innuendo and narrative repetition. Journalism 22, 2548–2565.
doi: 10.1177/1464884919878007
Meire, M., Hewett, K., Ballings, M., Kumar, V., and Van den Poel, D. (2019). The role
of marketer-generated content in customer engagement marketing. J. Mark. 83, 21–42.
doi: 10.1177/0022242919873903
Miao, Y. (2021). Brand communication of intangible elements delivery. J. Mark.
Commun. 27, 284–306. doi: 10.1080/13527266.2019.1674363
Myrick, J. G., and Erlichman, S. (2020). How audience involvement and social norms
foster vulnerability to celebrity-based dietary misinformation. Psychol. Popular Med. 9,
367. doi: 10.1037/ppm0000229
Ong, C. H., and Yusoff, R. Z. (2015). Bridging the gap between brand experience and
customer loyalty: The mediating role of emotional-based trust. Int. Acad. Res. J. Bus.
Technol. 1, 58–70.
O’Shaughnessy, J., and O’Shaughnessy, N. J. (2002). Marketing, the consumer society
and hedonism. Eur. J. Mark. 36, 524–547 doi: 10.1108/03090560210422871
Ozturk, A. B., Nusair, K., Okumus, F., and Hua, N. (2016). The role of
utilitarian and hedonic values on users’ continued usage intention in a mobile hotel
booking environment. Int. J. Hosp. Manage. 57, 106–115. doi: 10.1016/j.ijhm.2016.
Park, J., and Ha, S. (2016). Co-creation of service recovery: utilitarian and
hedonic value and post-recovery responses. J. Retail. Consum. Serv. 28, 310–316.
doi: 10.1016/j.jretconser.2015.01.003
Park, J., and Kim, R. B. (2022). Importance of offline service quality in
building loyalty of OC service brand. J. Retail. Consum. Serv. 65, 102493.
doi: 10.1016/j.jretconser.2021.102493
Pentina, I., Guilloux, V., and Micu, A. C. (2018). Exploring social media
engagement behaviors in the context of luxury brands. J. Advert. 47, 55–69.
doi: 10.1080/00913367.2017.1405756
Preacher, K. J., and Hayes,A. F. (2004). SPSS and SAS procedures for estimating indirect
effects in simple mediation models. Behav.Res. Methods Instrum. Comput. 36, 717–731.
doi: 10.3758/BF03206553
Rejeb, A., Rejeb, K., Abdollahi, A., and Treiblmaier, H. (2022). The big picture on
Instagram research: insights from a bibliometric analysis. Telemat. Inform. 101876.
doi: 10.1016/j.tele.2022.101876
Robinson, S. L., Kraatz, M. S., and Rousseau, D. M. (1994). Changing obligations
and the psychological contract: a longitudinal study. Acad. Manage. J. 17, 137–152.
doi: 10.2307/256773
Saeed, K. A., and Abdinnour-Helm, S. (2008). Examining the effects of information
system characteristics and perceived usefulness on post adoption usage of information
systems. Inform. Manage. 45, 376–386. doi: 10.1016/
Sharma, N., and Varki, S. (2018). Active white space (AWS) in logo designs:
effects on logo evaluations and brand communication. J. Advert. 47, 270–281.
doi: 10.1080/00913367.2018.1463880
Sim, M., Conduit, J., Plewa, C., and Hentzen, J. K. (2022). Customer engagement with
service providers: an empirical investigation of customer engagement dispositions. Eur. J.
Mark. 56, 1926–1955. doi: 10.1108/EJM-12-2020-0879
Simon, F. (2017). Relationship norms and media gratification in relational brand
communication. J. Bus. Res. 79, 12–22. doi: 10.1016/j.jbusres.2017.05.023
Snoj, B., Pisnik Korda, A., and Mumel, D. (2004). The relationships among perceived
quality, perceived risk and perceived product value. J. Prod. Brand Manage. 13, 156–167.
doi: 10.1108/10610420410538050
Steinhoff, L., Arli, D., Weaven, S., and Kozlenkova, I. V. (2019). Online relationship
marketing. J. Acad. Mark. Sci. 47, 369–393. doi: 10.1007/s11747-018-0621-6
Steinmann, S., Mau, G., and Schramm-Klein, H. (2015). Brand communication
success in online consumption communities: an experimental analysis of the effects of
communication style and brand pictorial representation. Psychol. Mark. 32, 356–371.
doi: 10.1002/mar.20784
Sullivan, K. T., Riedstra, J., Arellano, B., Cardillo, B., Kalach, V., and Ram, A.
(2020). Online communication and dating relationships: effects of decreasing online
communication on feelings of closeness and relationship satisfaction. J. Soc. Pers. Relat.
37, 2409–2418. doi: 10.1177/0265407520924707
Frontiers in Psychology 11
Fang et al. 10.3389/fpsyg.2022.958863
Tomprou, M., and Lee, M. K. (2022). Employment relationships in algorithmic
management: a psychological contract perspective. Comput. Human Behav. 126, 106997.
doi: 10.1016/j.chb.2021.106997
Underwood, R. L., and Klein, N. M. (2002). Packaging as brand communication: effects
of product pictures on consumer responses to the package and brand. J. Mark. Theory
Pract. 10, 58–68. doi: 10.1080/10696679.2002.11501926
Uzunoglu, E., and Kip, S. M. (2014). Brand communication through digital
influencers: leveraging blogger engagement. Int. J. Inf. Manage. 34, 592–602.
doi: 10.1016/j.ijinfomgt.2014.04.007
Voorveld, H. A. M. (2019). Brand communication in social media: a research agenda. J.
Advert. 48, 14–26. doi: 10.1080/00913367.2019.1588808
Waisbord, S. (2018). Truth is what happens to news: on journalism, fake news, and
post-truth. J. Stud. 19, 1866–1878. doi: 10.1080/1461670X.2018.1492881
Wijaya, B. S. (2013). Dimensions of brand image: a conceptual review from the
perspective of brand communication. Eur. J. Bus. Manage. 5, 12.
Yamamoto, M., Nah, S., and Bae, S. Y. (2020). Social media prosumption
and online political participation: An examination of online communication
processes. New Med. Soc. 22, 1885–1902. doi: 10.1177/14614448198
Yang, J., and Battocchio, A. F. (2020). Effects of transparent brand
communication on perceived brand authenticity and consumer responses.
J. Prod. Brand Manage. 30, 1176–1193. doi: 10.1108/JPBM-03-2020-
Yoo, B., and Donthu, N. (2001). Developing and validating a
multidimensional consumer-based brand equity scale. J. Bus. Res. 52, 1–14.
doi: 10.1016/S0148-2963(99)00098-3
Youn, S., and Jin, S. V. (2021). In AI we trust? The effects of parasocial interaction
and technopian versus luddite ideological views on chatbot-based customer relationship
management in the emerging feeling economy. Comput. Human Behav. 119, 106721.
doi: 10.1016/j.chb.2021.106721
Yu, J., and Egger, R. (2021). Color and engagement in touristic Instagram
pictures: a machine learning approach. Ann. Tour. Res. 89, 103204.
doi: 10.1016/j.annals.2021.103204
Yuan, C., Zhang, C., and Wang, S. (2022). Social anxiety as a moderator in consumer
willingness to accept AI assistants based on utilitarian and hedonic values. J. Retail.
Consum. Serv. 65, 102878. doi: 10.1016/j.jretconser.2021.102878
Zhao, X., Fu, N., Taylor, S., and Flood, P. C. (2020). The dynamic process of
customer psychological contracts in a service context. Int. J. Mark. Res. 62, 707–724.
doi: 10.1177/1470785319867637
Frontiers in Psychology 12
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
Full-text available
Instagram is a leading social network for information sharing and communication. Rigorous studies are missing that leverage bibliometric techniques to comprehensively portray the field. To fill this knowledge gap, this study carries out a holistic bibliometric and network analysis of Instagram research, illustrating the dynamic evolution from 2013 to 2021. On the basis of 2,242 publications from the Web of Science database, which were authored by 6,206 researchers, this study identifies the most prominent scholars and articles in the literature. Furthermore, it analyzes diverse bibliometric networks, such as citation, co-citation, collaboration and keyword co-occurrence networks, and presents two intellectual structure maps (i.e., conceptual structure map, thematic map). The results indicate that the number of academic studies about Instagram has been growing significantly over time and that the dominant topics are the psychological motivation of Instagram use, the COVID-19 pandemic, Instagram marketing, social media platforms, and healthcare.
Full-text available
This study examines how brand communication influences consumer‐based brand equity through social networking sites in the presence of brand attachment as a mediator. The outcomes related to consumer‐based brand equity, such as consumers' pay intention and loyalty to a brand and a brand's vocal ability, are also explored in this study. An empirical investigation for 498 responses was carried using Smart‐PLS, Process‐Macro & Artificial Neural Network modeling (ANN) based hybrid approach. The analysis indicates that brand consumer‐based brand equity is high when a brand's communication on social media platforms is positive. A strong mediating role of brand attachment is confirmed. The study is unique in terms of explaining the role of brand communication on Social Networking Sites (SNSs) and its impact on consumer‐based brand equity in the presence of brand attachment as a mediator. While focusing on Millennials' tech‐savvy characteristics and considering SNSs as an advanced tool for brand communication, brands should refine their marketing strategy.
Full-text available
Algorithms increasingly automate or support managerial functions in organizations, with implications for the employee-employer relationship. We explored how algorithmic management affects this relationship with a focus on psychological contracts, or employees' perceptions of their own and their employers' obligations. Through five online experiments, we investigated how organizational agent type—algorithmic versus human—influenced one's psychological contract depending on the organizational inducement type—transactional versus relational. We explored psychological contracts in two stages of employment: during early phases, such as recruiting (Studies 1 and 2) and onboarding (Studies 4 and 5), when the agent explains the inducements to the employee; and during employment, when the agent under-delivers the inducements to varying degrees (Studies 3–5). Our results suggest that agent type did not affect psychological contracts around transactional inducements but did so for relational inducements in the cases of recruiting and low inducement delivery (Studies 1–5). Algorithmic agents signaled reduced employer commitments to relational inducements during recruiting (Study 1). Using human agents resulted in greater perceived breach when delivery of relational inducements was low (Study 5). Regardless of inducement type, turnover intentions were higher when the human agent under-delivered compared to the algorithmic agent (Study 5). Our studies show how algorithmic management may influence one's psychological contract.
Full-text available
Information production, dissemination, and consumption are contingent upon cultural and financial dimensions. This study attempts to find cultures of engagement that reflect how audiences engage with news posts made by either commercial or state-owned news outlets on Facebook. To do so, we collected over a million news posts ( n = 1,173,159) produced by 482 news outlets in three Scandinavian countries (Denmark, Norway, and Sweden) and analyzed over 69 million interactions across three metrics of engagement (i.e. comments, likes, and shares). More concretely, we investigate whether the patterns of engagement follow distinct patterns across national boundaries and type of outlet ownership. While we are skeptical of metrics of engagement as markers of specific cultures of engagement, our results show that there are clear differences in how readers engage with news posts depending on the country of origin and whether they are fully state-owned or private-owned outlets.
Full-text available
Associate editor: Bing Pan Color plays a critical role in recognizing tourist experiences and influencing their emotions. By classifying tourism photos on Instagram using machine learning, this study uncovers the relationship between color and user engagement based on pictures with different features. The findings show that the presence of the color blue in photos featuring natural scenery, high-end gastronomy, and sacral architectures contributes to user engagement. A red/orange color scheme enhances pictures regarding local delicacies and ambience, while the coexistence of violet and warm colors is crucial for photographs featuring cityscapes and interior design. By taking a broader lens from aesthetic philosophy and narrowing down to color psychology, this study offers guidelines for marketers to promote tourism activities through the application of color.
Integrating social exchange and psychological contract theories, this study examines how perceived service-oriented high-performance work systems (service-oriented HPWS) augment high-contact service organizations to improve their service encounter quality. In addition, it also tests the impact of psychological contract fulfillment, innovative work behavior, and prosocial service behavior as parallel and serial mediating variables in the relationship between service-oriented HPWS and service encounter quality. Using survey data collected in three-time lags from 394 full-time frontline employees and their customers across high-contact service contexts, direct and indirect effects of service-oriented HPWS on service encounter quality were tested employing structural equation modeling. The results revealed that service-oriented HPWS is positively associated with service encounter quality via psychological contract fulfillment, innovative work behavior, and prosocial service behavior. The study contributes to the extant literature by integrating social exchange and psychological contract theories in explicating the impact of service-oriented HPWS on service encounter quality.
Purpose While businesses seek to engage customers, their efforts are often met with varied results, as some customers are more predisposed to engage than others. Understanding customers’ dispositions to engage is central to understanding customer engagement, yet research examining customer engagement dispositions remains sparse and predominantly focused on personality traits. This paper aims to consider the general nature of a disposition and draws on qualitative findings to depict a framework for customer engagement dispositions. Design/methodology/approach To investigate customer engagement dispositions comprehensively and in-depth, an exploratory qualitative approach was adopted. In total, 20 semi-structured in-depth interviews were conducted with customers in ongoing relationships with financial planners residing in Australia. Findings Nine attributes reflecting customer engagement dispositions emerge from the data. These include the customer’s internal tendency to engage (confidence, desire for control, extroversion and enthusiasm); a tendency to engage determined in the interaction with the service provider (sense of similarity, sense of social connection and trust in the service provider); and the capacity to engage (expertise and knowledge and time availability). Research limitations/implications This study provides a conceptual foundation for future empirical measurement of customer engagement dispositions and their nomological network. Practical implications This study establishes a foundation for managers to build distinct engagement disposition profiles and segments and target initiatives to maximize engagement activity. Originality/value This research challenges the view of customer engagement dispositions as largely personality factors, or exclusively cognitive and emotional dimensions of engagement, and offers a comprehensive framework reflecting a customer’s disposition to engage with a service provider.
This study develops a comprehensive research model to explain user willingness to accept AI assistants, and the acceptance path pertaining to this process. User data was used to test how the advantages of AI assistant (accuracy, responsiveness, compatibility, anthropomorphism, & affinity) influence consumer utilitarian and hedonic value, and explore how their willingness to accept AI assistants is affected by their value perceptions. This research also examines whether social anxiety moderates the relationship between AI assistant advantages and utilitarian/hedonic value. The study reveals that AI assistant advantages are important factors affecting the utilitarian/hedonic value perceived by users, which further influence user willingness to accept AI assistants. The relationships between AI assistant advantages and utilitarian and hedonic value are affected differently by social anxiety. Marketers and managers in the AI context can refer to the study methods to help improve AI assistants and develop more effective marketing strategies for product promotion.
While there is an increasing awareness of the importance of developing successful business-to-business relationships, little research has explored the dark side of these relationships. We drew upon the concept of psychological contract, underpinned by social exchange theory to examine breach and the dark side of business-to-business relationships. We conducted in-depth interviews with 24 consultants in the UK and found that breach could take varying forms, resulting in differing levels of intensity of the dark side. The four theoretical categories of breach were classified as minor infractions, negative disruptions, intensified adverse events, and intolerable transgressions, which correspond to low, moderate, high, and very high levels of the dark side of business-to-business relationships, respectively. The dark side behavioral outcomes were identified as self-adjusting, renegotiating, escalating, and departing. We develop a set of research propositions, integrating and extending the business-to-business and psychological contract literature. We also highlight key implications for theory and practice.