Targeting the luxury consumer: A vice or virtue? A cross-cultural comparison of the effectiveness of behaviorally targeted ads

Publication Date: Monday 8 May 2017
Author(s): Shubin Yu; Liselot Hudders & Verolien Cauberghe
Appeared in: Journal of Fashion Marketing and Management: An International Journal, vol.: 21, issue: 2, 187-205


Purpose Behavioral targeting has become a popular marketing strategy among brands as it enables advertisers to display ads to consumers based on their previous surfing behaviors. The purpose of this paper is to investigate the effectiveness of behaviorally targeted ads for luxury brands and to explore how and when behavioral targeting works. Design/methodology/approach A 2 (targeted vs non-targeted ads) ×2 (culture: China vs the Netherlands) between-subjects factorial design is conducted to test the hypothesis. Findings The result reveals that as for luxury brands, behavioral targeting can shorten the psychological distance and in turn lead to a more positive attitude toward the ad. However, the effect of behavioral targeting depends on the culture. In the Netherlands, behavioral targeting can enhance the attitude toward the ad by lowering the psychological distance. However, in China, these effects are mitigated. Practical implications This study contributes to the research of online luxury marketing. First, luxury brands should adapt their marketing strategy to different regional markets. In addition, luxury marketers should not worry about a shorter distance with consumers caused by the use of internet. A shorter distance does not mean to reduce an aura of mystery, but to build up a closer relationship with consumers. Luxury brands are not necessary to be aloof and supercilious like an indifferent robot. A closer relationship with consumers brings more positive effects. Originality/value The current research makes important contributions both to the scientific literature and to the luxury industry. First, this research reveals the effectiveness and underlying mechanisms of behavioral targeting for luxury brands and also compares the effectiveness of behavioral targeting in two cultures, which contributes to the current cross-cultural studies and international marketing research. Second, this study also helps luxury marketers to realize the importance of behavioral targeting and to know how and when they can use this new marketing strategy in a global environment.

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