Memetic Marketing in Theory and Practice

Sofie Strøm Toustrup

Student thesis: Master thesis


This thesis investigates how social media users consume internet memes and perceive internet memes in marketing initiatives (‘memetic marketing’). The interpretation of the data from this investigation is used to reflect on how companies can utilise the potential of memetic marketing in order to connect with consumers. Opening discussions of the academic understanding of internet memes and how they are consumed in pop culture framed the investigation throughout the thesis.
A questionnaire containing four memetic marketing simulations and additional questions was distributed on the social media platforms Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn. In the questionnaire, respondents were asked to provide their perceptions of the simulations with multi-choice answer options and optional text field responses for elaboration. The questionnaire targeted social media users with no specific generation in mind for a period of two weeks. The results of the multi-choice responses were analysed in relation to the respondents’ perception of the simulation, the company, and whether the respondents expressed intent to engage in behaviours such as sharing the initiative or follow the company based on their impression from the simulation. The results have been interpreted with a constructivist paradigm.
The following discussion connected the results from the study to marketing literature from academic researchers and practicing marketers. The discussion revealed three hypotheses on how companies could approach memetic marketing with various purposes to connect with target consumers – for awareness purposes, for branding purposes, and for customer engagement purposes. A list of considerations that companies should make before executing a memetic marketing strategy was created for companies to enable them to make well-informed strategic decisions. These considerations include but are not limited to the size of the company and area of business; approaches to memetic marketing; subjects of internet memes and intellectual property rights; instant reaction and long-term associations, such as credibility, internet communal disapproval, and ‘trolling’.

EducationsMA in International Business Communication (Intercultural Marketing), (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2017
Number of pages113