Aspirational Marketing on YouTube: A Netnographic Study of Content Creators’ Influential Power as Marketers of Own Conceptualized Product

Jeanette Havmand Andersen

Student thesis: Master thesis

Abstract

This thesis explores and develops the concept of aspirational marketing and thus aims to develop new knowledge within the area of social media marketing for ordinary consumers in the context of YouTube. For this purpose, the thesis sets out to answer the following research question: How and why does content creators use YouTube as marketing channel for promoting own conceptualized products, and influence their subscribers?
In the theoretical foundation, the present thesis reviews and reflects on existing literature relevant for creating a theoretical framework of constructs from which seven propositions will derive, and is compiled of three entities; Subscriber (Subs), Content Creator (CC), and Product. Thereafter, theory on traditional advertising will be applied in order to illuminate how the video content uploaded by CCs on YouTube may function as advertising to produce favorable evaluation of the CCs and their product. Finally, the relevant theoretical constructs will be presented to illuminate the Subs’ perception of CC along with the perceived match between the CC and affiliated product.
Methodologically, one carefully selected video will be investigated to establish the effectiveness of the content as advertising. Next, the attached comments will be analyzed and interpreted through qualitative patterns in form of a netnographic study to understand the influential power of the video content and the CC.
Based on the conducted findings of the exploratory research, six of the seven propositions were confirmed, however, the findings contradicts the attribution theory and rejects the sixth proposition, and reveal that the inclusion of own conceptualized products and Subs’ recognition hereof resulted in a high level of acceptance and enjoyment with the content as well as high level of believability of CC. Source likeability was revealed to be a driven factor influencing Subs evaluation of CC and the product which further led to an aspirational appeal of CC.
In conclusion, the conducted findings and performed discussion culminate on the formulation of a preliminary conceptual framkework, aspirational marketing in the context of YouTube which includes three elements found vital for CC to exert favorable influence on their Subs. Successful aspirational marketing must involve seductive and personal storytelling, soft selling advertising approach and CC must be attributed with social proof as an ordinary consumer and online celebrity.

EducationsMA in International Business Communication (Intercultural Marketing), (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
LanguageEnglish
Publication date2017
Number of pages238
SupervisorsAnne Martensen