ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

Acta Psychologica Sinica ›› 2019, Vol. 51 ›› Issue (8): 945-957.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2019.00945

• Reports of Empirical Studies • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Does nostalgic advertising contribute to the spread of a brand’s word of mouth? An emotional two-dimensional perspective

LIAO Yichen,XU Chuanzhe(),GONG Xuan   

  1. Department of Marketing and Tourism Management, Economics and Management School, Wuhan University, Wuhan 430072, China
  • Received:2018-07-19 Published:2019-08-25 Online:2019-06-24


Nostalgic emotional advertising is a common advertising strategy used among businesses. It allows consumers to recall past experiences, by evoking emotional resonance and self-identity, which can improve brand communication. Previous studies have shown the predominantly positive impact of nostalgic advertising. However, some research has contested these findings. For example, nostalgic advertisements released by certain brands have failed to produce fruitful results. In this study, we explore the effectiveness of nostalgic and non-nostalgic emotional advertising by examining their impact on word-of-mouth communication. More importantly, we introduce brand image as the moderation, which is divided into warm-type and competent-oriented brands.

This article uses one study that employed second-hand data and two experimental studies that used first-hand data to prove the conclusions. First, we collected data from 15 brands through Weibo for the entire year of 2016, including posting content, likes, comments, and forwarding numbers. Through the research, the 15 brands were divided into warm-type and competent-oriented brands. After screening and coding, we obtained nostalgic and non-nostalgic posts. The experimental results show that for warm-type brands, nostalgic posts had better effect on word-of-mouth communication than non-nostalgic posts. For competent-oriented brands, non-nostalgic posts had better effect on word-of-mouth communication than nostalgic posts.

Next, we conducted two experimental studies to validate our hypothesis further. One study focused on designing experiments from the perspective of emotional arousal; the other deals with designing experiments from the perspective of cognitive arousal. The experiments use a 2 (ad type: nostalgic vs non-nostalgic) × 2 (brand image: warmth vs competence) between-subject design. First, the experimental results reinforce the conclusions obtained by the study using second-hand data. For competent-oriented brands, nostalgic advertising had better effect on word-of-mouth communication than non-nostalgic advertising. For warm-type brands, non-nostalgic advertising had better effect on word-of-mouth communication than nostalgic advertising. Second, we examined the mediation mechanisms of sense of history, trust, loneliness and satisfaction. The results show that consumer perceptions are more emotional for warm-type brands. Nostalgic advertisement can reduce consumers’ loneliness and make consumers feel satisfied. It also diminishes consumers’ desire to share information and gain social connections, which reduces word-of-mouth communication. For competent-oriented brands, consumers are more rational, and nostalgic advertisements bring consumers a long-standing perception of brand. Consumers are able to trust in the brand, which then improves the effect of word-of-mouth communication.

The theoretical contributions of this research are as follows. First, this study enriches understanding of nostalgic advertising. In the past, research on nostalgic advertising focused on the positive aspects of advertising, whereas this study found that nostalgic advertising focus on two perspectives. Second, this study expands understanding of the cognitive and emotional attributes of nostalgic advertising and deepens understanding of the two dimensions of emotion. Third, this study extends the internal mechanisms of the effects of nostalgic advertising on word-of-mouth communication. This study verifies the continuous double mediation mechanism of the influence of nostalgic advertisement on word-of-mouth communication from the perspective of consumer psychology.

Key words: nostalgic advertising, brand image, word-of-mouth communication, information, emotion

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