Self-relevance diminishes the effectiveness of importance and trustworthiness cues in consumer response to online product-related messages
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The existing literature suggests that people rely less on norms and conventions when the context is more relevant to them. On that account, the paper proposes that the self-relevance of response to an online product offering diminishes the effectiveness of message-related cues regarding the importance of presented product attributes and the source trustworthiness. Three experiments (Study 1: N = 222, Study 2: N = 174, Study 3: N = 79) manipulated self-relevance by asking participants to imagine that they buy products for themselves (vs. the participants merely evaluated products) (Studies 1–2) and exposing participants to a product-related narrative (Study 3). Additionally, message-related cues were presented to the participants (attribute-importance cues in Studies 1–2, source trustworthiness cues in Study 3). Product preferences (Studies 1–2) and perceived message trustworthiness (Study 3) were measured. The results indicate that in the high self-relevance condition, the effect of attribute = importance cues on consumer product preference is weaker (Studies 1–2), and the effect of source-trustworthiness cues on perceived trustworthiness (Study 3). The paper presents a novel perspective linking the concept of consumer self-relevance with the effectiveness of message-related cues in product offerings. The results suggest to online marketers when to communicate cues regarding attribute importance and source trustworthiness and provide valuable guidelines for policymakers and consumers about how to resist those cues.