Does non-hard-sell content really work?
Leveraging the value of branded content
marketing in brand building
Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, Singapore
Temerlin Advertising Institute, Meadows School of the Arts, Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas, USA
School of Journalism and Media Studies, San Diego State University College of Arts and Letters, San Diego, California, USA, and
Division of Humanities and Social Sciences, United International College, Zhuhai, Guangdong, China
Purpose –This study aims to test the role of branded content marketing on YouTube in brand building and explicates the mechanism through which
brand content inﬂuences brand loyalty and purchase intentions.
Design/methodology/approach –This study uses a quantitative, Web-based, three-step randomized intervention design and recruits YouTube
users through the Amazon Mechanical Turk (n= 925).
Findings –Post-intervention results (n= 596) show that consumers’repeated exposure to branded content facilitates their social learning
processes. Consumers derive value from the relevant content and subsequently form more favorable brand attitudes, greater brand loyalty and
heightened purchase intentions. Brand loyalty mediates the effect of perceived brand content value on purchase intentions.
Practical implications –This study’sﬁndings support the advantages of investing in the creation and dissemination of valuable brand content
through a brand’s own social media channel(s). While informative content and entertaining content can both drive brand loyalty, high product-
involvement brands are advised to emphasize on informative content to precipitate brand–consumer attachment. Low product-involvement brands,
on the other hand, are advised to feature more enticing and captivating content to stimulate consumer devotion.
Originality/value –This study reveals the positive impact of branded content marketing within social media on consumers’brand attitudes, brand
loyalty and purchase intentions. It also explicates the mechanism through which content marketing inﬂuences brand evaluation and purchase
intentions by coordinating consumer learning and value derivation.
Keywords Purchase intentions, Brand loyalty, Content marketing, Consumer social learning, Content value
Paper type Research paper
In today’s computer-mediated world, consumers are
continually exposed to digital messaging. For this reason,
value-rich contentis more likely to make a lasting impressionby
breaking through the noise clutter. This practice of “content
marketing”has been in existence since the earliest days of
advertising. For example, the tire company,Michelin, has been
creating and distributing travel planning guides annually since
1900 (with the exception of during WWI). This practice
promoted the Michelin brand to tire consumers via its
provision of alternative yet useful information (Miller, 2016).
The Content Marketing Institute (CMI) deﬁnes content
marketing as “a strategic marketing approach focused on
creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent
content to attract and retain a clearly deﬁned audience –and,
ultimately, to drive proﬁtable customers action”(Content
Marketing Institute, 2018a). Drawing on empirical evidence,
Holliman and Rowley(2014) deﬁned digital content marketing
as “the activity associated with creating, communicating,
distributing, and exchanging digital content that has value for
customers, clients, partners, and the ﬁrm and its brands”
While content marketing may share the same deﬁninggoal as
advertising, it differs in its approach (Neff, 2015). Advertising
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on
Emerald Insight at: www.emeraldinsight.com/1061-0421.htm
Journal of Product & Brand Management
28/7 (2019) 773–786
© Emerald Publishing Limited [ISSN 1061-0421]
The authors would love to thank the two reviewers for their invaluable
suggestions in revising and strengthening the theory building and
arguments of this manuscript.
This study was funded by 2017 Nanyang Technological University Start-
up Grant [grant number M4081983.060].
Received 19 July 2018
Revised 19 December 2018
20 January 2019
16 February 2019
Accepted 19 February 2019