Feeling Fit and Looking Good: The Impact of Materialism, Peer Approval and Sex Appeal on Youth Consumer Perceptions towards Fitness Studio Advertising
This paper addresses young Malaysian consumers’ perceptions and marketplace behaviour through advertising for aspirational and lifestyle consumption. The aim is to study the impact of aspirational advertising on materialism, peer approval, sex appeal, and body image. The literature review uses marketing and social theories, while the appeals of emotional advertising will be discussed through a case study analysis examining how Malaysian fitness advertisements on digital and social media impact youth attitudes towards physical appearance and through capturing emotional experiences and their association with materialistic values, peer approval and self-image. Findings present a cultural perspective in understanding the current standards of ethical decision-making and what factors are relevant as lifestyle aspects of ethical choices and decision-making for fitness brands among youth consumer market segments. It was found that aspirational advertising for fitness brands in Malaysia is designed to build perceptions that personal consumption choices represent values such as social and peer approval, with less emphasis on materialistic values and body image. This demonstrates that advertising may influence some aspects of materialist, aspirational consumption choices, but peer pressure and cultural values have strong implications on youth consumption behaviour. Some practical recommendations are suggested for marketing practitioners and consumer behaviour researchers to invest, in optimising the power of social media marketing and advertising.
Ansarin, M., & Ozuem, W. (2015). Social Media and Online Brand Communities. In G. Bowen, & W. Ozuem (Ed.), Computer-Mediated Marketing Strategies: Social Media and Online Brand Communities (pp. 1-27). IGI Global. https://doi.org/10.4018/978-1-4666-6595-8.ch001
Barbie Fashionista (2022, 11th May). Barbie unveils its first-ever doll with hearing aid [Image]. CNN. https://cutt.ly/PKwJGx0
Barve, G., Sood, A., Nithya, S., & Virmani, T. (2015) Effects of Advertising on Youth (Age Group of 13-19 Years Age), Journal of Mass Communication & Journalism, 5(5), 2-9. https://cutt.ly/nKwG8s5
Belk, R.W. (1985) Materialism: Trait aspects of living in the material world. Journal of Consumer Research, 12(3), 265-280. http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/208515
Berger, A.A. (2017) Cultural Perspectives on Millennials. Palgrave Macmillan.
Blazevic, V., Wiertz, C., Cotte, J., de Ruyler, K., & Keeling, D.I. (2014) GOSIP in Cyberspace. Journal of Interactive Marketing, 28(2), 87-100. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.intmar.2013.09.003
Bowen, G., & Ozuem, W. (2019) Leveraging Computer-Mediated Marketing Environments. IGI Global.
Celebrity Fitness Studio. (2022). [image] https://www.celebrityfitness.com.my/
Chaplin, L.N., & John, D.R. (2007) Growing up in a Material World: Age Differences in Materialism in Children and Adolescents. Journal of Consumer Research, 34(4), 480-493. https://doi.org/10.1086/518546
Chassiakos, L.R., Radesky, J., Christakis, D., Moreno, M.A., & Cross, C. (2016) Children, Adolescents and Digital Media. Pediatrics, 138(15). e20162593 https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.2016-2593
de Mooij, M., & Hofstede, G. (2011) Cross-Cultural Consumer Behavior: A Review of Research Findings. Journal of International Consumer Marketing, 23(3), 181-192. https://doi.org/10.1080/08961530.2011.578057
de Mooij, M. (2005) Global Marketing and Advertising: Understanding Cultural Paradoxes. SAGE Publications.
Dittmar, H., Halliwell, E., & Ive, S. (2006) Does Barbie make girls want to be thin? The effect of experimental exposure to images of dolls on the body image of 5- to 8-year-old girls. Developmental Psychology, 42(2), 283-292. https://doi.org/10.1037/0012-16188.8.131.523
Dwivedi, Y.K., Ismagilova, E., Hughes, D.L., Carlson, Filieri, R., Jacobson, J., Jain, V., Karjaluoto, H., Kefi, H., Krishen, A.S., Kumar, V., Mohammad M. Rahman, Raman, R., Rauschnabel, P.A., Rowley, J., Salo, J., Tran, G.A. & Wang, Y.C. (2021) Setting the Future of Digital and Social Media Marketing Research: Perspectives and Research Propositions. International Journal of Information Management, 59, 1-37. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijinfomgt.2020.102168
Fitness First website homepage. (n.d.). [Image] https://www.fitnessfirst.com.my/
Gentina, E., Shrum, L.J., & Rose, G.M. (2018) An Integrative Model of the Influence of Parental and Peer Support on Consumer Ethical Beliefs: The Mediating Role of Self-Esteem, Power, and Materialism. Journal of Business Ethics, 150, 1173-1186. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10551-016-3137-3
Gentina, E., Rose, G.M., & Vitell, S. (2016) Ethics during Adolescence: A Social Networks Perspective. Journal of Business Ethics, 138(1), 187-197. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10551-015-2577-5
Hultin, M., & Lundh, E. (2004) Sex in Advertising: How it influences young men and women. [Undergraduate Thesis] Luleå University of Technology. https://www.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:1021172/FULLTEXT01.pdf
Isaksen, K.J., & Roper, S. (2012) The Commodification of Self-Esteem: Branding and British Teenagers. Psychology and Marketing, 29(3), 117-135. https://doi.org/10.1002/mar.20509
Jacobson, J., Gruzd, A., & Hernandez-Garcia, A. (2020) Social Media Marketing: Who is watching the watchers? Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services, 53(119788), 1-12. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jretconser.2019.03.001
Jongenelis, M., Sparrman, A., and Kirby, M. (2018). Innocents and Experience: Concern about “sexualised” children often misses the point. The Economist. https://cutt.ly/wKwHmaL
Kasser, T., Ryan, R.M., Couchman, C.E., & Sheldon, K. (2004). Materialistic Values: Their causes and consequences [11-28]. In T. Kasser and A.D. Kanner (eds.) Psychology and Consumer Culture: The Struggle for A Good Life in A Materialistic World. American Psychological Association.
Knoll, J. (2015) Advertising in social media: A review of empirical evidence. International Journal of Advertising, 35(2), 266-300. https://doi.org/10.1080/02650487.2015.1021898
Korn, D. (2006) Ethical Judgments of Sexual Appeals in Advertising Image-Based Products to Teens [Thesis] University of Rhode Island. https://cutt.ly/CKwHUl5
Kotler, P.J., & Keller, K.L. (2009) Marketing Management. 13th ed. Pearson-Prentice Hall.
Marie France Asia. (2017, 31 January) Body Goals: 6 Malaysian Fitness Gurus to follow on Instagram. https://cutt.ly/gKwJYg8
Martin, M.C., & Gentry, J.W. (2013). Stuck in the Model Trap: The effects of beautiful models in ads on female pre-adolescents and adolescents. Journal of Advertising, 26(2), 19-33. https://doi.org/10.1080/00913367.1997.10673520
Mitchell, A. (1997a). The Power of Ethical Branding. Marketing Week. https://cutt.ly/oKwHApi
Mitchell, A. (1997b). Brand Strategies in the Information Age. Financial Times.
Moreno, M.A. (2018) Advertising and Youth. Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) Pediatrics, 172(5), 504 https://doi.org/504. 10.1001/jamapediatrics.2018.0075
Moschis, G.P., & Cox, D. (1989) Deviant Consumer Behavior. Advances in Consumer Research, 16, 732-737.
Pechmann, C., Levine, L., & Loughlin, S. (2005) Impulsive and Self-Conscious: Adolescents' Vulnerability to Advertising and Promotion. Journal of Public Policy & Marketing, 24(2), 202-221. https://doi.org/10.1509/jppm.2005.24.2.202
Richins, M. L., & Dawson, S. (1992) A consumer values orientation for materialism and its measurement. Journal of Consumer Research, 19(3), 303–316. https://doi.org/10.1086/209304
Santos, C.R. (2013). Consumption Culture in Europe: Insight into the Beverage Industry. IGI Global.
Smith, C. (2020, 5 February). Pretty Little Thing: ‘Overly sexualised advert banned’. BBC News. https://www.bbc.com/news/business-51370851
Sugandhi, S., and Vashistha, A. (2015) Brand Engagement: Creating Relationship through Social Networking Sites. Prestige e-Journal of Management and Research, 2(1). https://cutt.ly/SKwH110
Tatler Asia. (2019, 5 April) 10 Ten Advocates on Instagram who have made Malaysians Fitter. https://cutt.ly/jKwJAu7
Terán, L., Kun, Y., & Aubrey, J.S. (2019) “But first let me take a selfie”: US adolescent girls’ selfie activities, self-objectification, imaginary audience beliefs & appearance concerns, in Journal of Children and Media, 14(3), 343-360. https://doi.org/10.1080/17482798.2019.1697319
The Merrier (2020, September 11). Celebrity Fitness the More Space. [Image] Facebook. https://cutt.ly/nKwJhu6
Valbuena, I. (2018) The Importance of Cultural Context in Engaging Multicultural Consumers. [Honors Thesis] University of Mississippi.
Valkenburg, M., & Buijzen, P.M. (2019) Identifying determinants of young children's brand awareness: Television, parents, and peers. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 26(4), 456-468. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.appdev.2005.04.004
Wearing, S., McDonald, M., & Wearing, M. (2013) Consumer culture, the mobilisation of the narcissistic self, and adolescent deviant leisure. Leisure Studies, 32(4), 367-381. http://researchbank.rmit.edu.au/view/rmit:28222
Yin, R.K. (2014) Case Study Research: Design & Methods. 5th ed. SAGE Publications, Inc.
Copyright (c) 2022 Stephen T.F. Poon
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.