Investigating the Effect of Mobile In-store Promotions on Purchase Intention: Is WhatsApp More Effective? An Abstract

  • Valentina PitardiEmail author
  • Giulia Miniero
  • Francesco Ricotta
Conference paper
Part of the Developments in Marketing Science: Proceedings of the Academy of Marketing Science book series (DMSPAMS)


Mobile devices possess the ability to enable consumers to use and interact with in-store based technology (Grewal et al. 2016). Despite the increasing interest in this topic, relevant both for academics and practitioners, to date, only few studies have focused on mobile in-store advertising and its effects on consumers’ decisions (Bues et al. 2017; Hui et al. 2013). Yet, closer insights are needed in order to address the literature gap regarding the drivers affecting in-store mobile advertising effectiveness.

By focusing closely on location based advertising (LBA), this study investigates the effect of the platform used in the mobile promotion (Facebook–WhatsApp) and the content of the promotion (shopping goal congruent–shopping goal non-congruent) on consumers’ purchase intention. Specifically, the study hypothesizes that, due to the level of social presence perceived, WhatsApp mobile promotions are more effective in driving purchase intentions, and such effect will be greater when the promotion is congruent with the consumers’ goal.

Social presence (SP) is defined as the degree to which a medium allows users to experience others as psychologically present (Short et al. 1976) and is an important construct that affects consumer’s reactions to marketing communication stimuli (Robert and Dennis, 2005). The level of SP changes according to the communication media types. For instance, Karapanos et al. (2016) showed how WhatsApp triggers higher level of social presence (SP) compared to Facebook. The perceived congruity between the shopping goal and the promotion, too, may affect consumers’ responses in a shopping setting (van't Riet et al. 2016). Congruently, we expect to find WhatsApp in-store mobile promotion having more positive effect on promotion redemption than Facebook in-store mobile promotion, because of the higher level of social presence triggered by WhatsApp. Also, we propose that this effect will be stronger when mobile ads are goal congruent.

A pre-test and two experiments were conducted. Findings demonstrate that WhatsApp in-store mobile promotion is more effective in driving purchase intentions, especially for goal congruent promotion. Moreover, the research shows that the level of social presence triggered by the platform mediates this relationship.

Overall, the results demonstrate that goal congruent mobile promotion positively affects promotion redemption when delivered during a shopping expedition; also, they show that WhatsApp exerts a higher influence than Facebook, and such difference is particularly significant when the promotional message is goal congruent. From a theoretical perspective, the study sheds light on the role played by specific mobile platforms and applications, namely WhatsApp and Facebook. Moreover, by applying social presence theory in the context of real-time mobile communication, the study explains why WhatsApp is more effective in driving decisions, thus contributing to a better understanding of the differential advertising’s effects and implications of both platforms.


Mobile promotions Social presence Goal congruity Purchase intention 

Copyright information

© The Academy of Marketing Science 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Valentina Pitardi
    • 1
    Email author
  • Giulia Miniero
    • 2
  • Francesco Ricotta
    • 3
  1. 1.KEDGE UniversityMarseilleFrance
  2. 2.Franklin University SwitzerlandLuganoSwitzerland
  3. 3.Sapienza UniversityRomeItaly

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