International Business

i
Investigating the effects of consumercontrolled advertising on brand
perceptions in the fashion industry
DISSERTATION
BY
Name: Nawa Point
April 2021
Supervised by:
Professor Wilson Ozuem
Undergraduate dissertation submitted to the University of Hertfordshire
In partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of
BA (Hons) International Business
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Acknowledgement
Undertaking independent research has been one of the most significant academic
challenges I have had to face. Without the guidance and support of the following
people, this would not have been possible.
I would like to express the deepest appreciation to my supervisor, Prof Wilson Ozuem,
who despite his academic commitments undertook the role to be my supervisor. His
guidance, insight and knowledge have inspired me to improve myself every day during
the process of writing this dissertation.
Last but not least, my family and friends who have supported me greatly throughout
this process.

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Abstract
This research study attempts to examine how consumer-controlled advertising
influences brand perceptions through the use of social influence theory, with a
particular focus on the fashion industry. Three research objectives were set to aid the
composition and direction of the study.
The current study conceived it suitable to conduct this study from a qualitative
philosophical perspective. Qualitative research enabled the present investigation to
probe greatly into the subject. Thus, the study was carried out utilizing a case study
strategy in an abductive approach. The data collection utilized text mining on social
media platforms under the search terms ‘ad-block’, ‘#asseenonme’, ‘#sayitwithasos’,
and ‘Asos’ with data collected in the fashion industry through the fast-fashion brand
ASOS.
The findings from this research study revealed that consumers control their
advertisements by mainly exercising their social control to change brand perceptions
positively by actively participating in a brands content on social media platforms. The
findings also suggested that brand perceptions are affected positively if a brand’s
advertisements are relevant and safe. Finally, through linking all the data it was found
that in the majority of the cases consumer-controlled advertising will lead to positive
brand perceptions in the fashion industry. Overall, the results provide
recommendations regarding the largely untapped potential of user-generated content
in online brand communities.
Key Terms: User-generated content, Relevance, Annoying, Trust, Humour.
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Table of Contents
Acknowledgement…………………………………………………………………………………………………… ii
Abstract…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. iii
Chapter One – Introduction ……………………………………………………………………………………..1
1.1 Aims and Objectives ……………………………………………………………………………………….1
1.2 Research Questions…………………………………………………………………………………………1
1.3 Background of the study …………………………………………………………………………………1
1.4 Rationale of the study ……………………………………………………………………………………..2
1.5 Scope and Limitations …………………………………………………………………………………….3
1.6 Summary………………………………………………………………………………………………………..3
Chapter Two – Literature Review …………………………………………………………………………….5
2.1 Introduction……………………………………………………………………………………………………5
2.2 Conceptual Clarifications………………………………………………………………………………..5
2.2.1 Consumer-controlled advertising ………………………………………………………………5
2.3 Dimensions of CCA…………………………………………………………………………………………7
2.3.1 Individual Control…………………………………………………………………………………….7
2.3.2 Social Control …………………………………………………………………………………………..9
2.4 Brand perceptions and CCA………………………………………………………………………….11
2.5 CCA and Social Influence theory …………………………………………………………………..12
2.6 Similar research on the topic …………………………………………………………………………14
2.7 Summary………………………………………………………………………………………………………14
Chapter Three – Research Methodology………………………………………………………………….15
3.1 Introduction………………………………………………………………………………………………….15
3.2 Research Paradigm……………………………………………………………………………………….15
3.3 Research approach and strategy ……………………………………………………………………16
3.3.1 Abductive approach………………………………………………………………………………..16
3.3.2 Descriptive research………………………………………………………………………………..16
3.3.3 Case study………………………………………………………………………………………………17
3.3.4 Text mining…………………………………………………………………………………………….17
3.4 Data collection methods…………………………………………………………………………………18
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3.4.1 Primary and Secondary data …………………………………………………………………..18
3.4.2 Quantitative and Qualitative method……………………………………………………….19
3.5 Strengths, Weaknesses and Ethical concerns of the methodology…………………….20
3.5.1 Strengths ………………………………………………………………………………………………..20
3.5.2 Weaknesses …………………………………………………………………………………………….20
3.5.3 Ethical concerns ……………………………………………………………………………………..20
3.6 Summary………………………………………………………………………………………………………21
Chapter Four – Data analysis and Findings……………………………………………………………..23
4.1 Introduction………………………………………………………………………………………………….23
4.2 Thematic analysis………………………………………………………………………………………….23
4.2.1 Producing the report……………………………………………………………………………….23
4.2.2 Coding ……………………………………………………………………………………………………23
4.3 Generating Themes……………………………………………………………………………………….24
4.3.1 Naming and Defining themes…………………………………………………………………..24
4.4 Discussion and achieving results from the data ………………………………………………25
4.4.1 Annoyance and Relevance……………………………………………………………………….26
4.4.2 Conformance and Humour ……………………………………………………………………..31
4.4.3 Assurance and Social media trends………………………………………………………….33
4.5 Summary………………………………………………………………………………………………………40
Chapter Five – Conclusions and Recommendations …………………………………………………41
5.1 Introduction………………………………………………………………………………………………….41
5.2 Evaluation of the key findings………………………………………………………………………..41
5.3 Recommendations…………………………………………………………………………………………42
5.3.1 Ensuring the advertisements are relatable and shown in a safe environment
………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………42
5.3.2 Generating meme trends and funny products to encourage consumer
dialogues
…………………………………………………………………………………………………………43
5.3.3 Forming trusted communities where consumers can interact ……………………43
5.4 Conclusion ……………………………………………………………………………………………………43
5.5 Further Research Directions………………………………………………………………………….44
5.6 Summary………………………………………………………………………………………………………44
Personal Reflection ……………………………………………………….. Error! Bookmark not defined.
Gibbs Reflective Model…………………………………………… Error! Bookmark not defined.
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References……………………………………………………………………………………………………………..46
Appendices……………………………………………………………………. Error! Bookmark not defined.
Appendix One – Dissertation Proposal………………………… Error! Bookmark not defined.
Appendix Two – Similar research on the topic …………… Error! Bookmark not defined.
Appendix Three – Secondary Research Declaration Form …………Error! Bookmark not
defined.
Appendix Four – Text mining …………………………………….. Error! Bookmark not defined.
Appendix Five – Python Coding………………………………….. Error! Bookmark not defined.
Thematic analysis 1………………………………………………… Error! Bookmark not defined.
Thematic analysis 2………………………………………………… Error! Bookmark not defined.
Thematic analysis 3………………………………………………… Error! Bookmark not defined.
Thematic analysis 4………………………………………………… Error! Bookmark not defined.
Thematic analysis 5………………………………………………… Error! Bookmark not defined.
Appendix Six – Producing the Report…………………………. Error! Bookmark not defined.
Appendix Seven – Dissertation Log…………………………….. Error! Bookmark not defined.
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List of Figures
FIGURE 1: EDIT EXAMPLE………………………………………………………………………………21
F
IGURE 2: HALF OF THE POPULATION IS ANNOYED WITH ADS ON WEBSITES (API,
2020
A)…………………………………………………………………………………………………..26
F
IGURE 3: SEVEN OUT OF TEN ARE ANNOYED WITH ONLINE ADS (API, 2020B)……..26
F
IGURE 4: 3/4TH OF THE POPULATION FEELS THAT ONLINE ADS ARE IRRELEVANT TO
THEM
(API, 2020C)…………………………………………………………………………………27
F
IGURE 5: ADBLOCKS ARE PRIMARILY USED BY YOUNGER GENERATIONS (API,
2020
D)…………………………………………………………………………………………………..28
F
IGURE 6: MOST USED WORDS WHEN ASKED “WHAT MAKES YOU ENJOY ADS?”….28
F
IGURE 7: ADS SHOWN NEXT TO RELEVANT CONTENT HAVE A LIMITED POSITIVE
EFFECT ON BRAND PERCEPTIONS
(API, 2020E) ………………………………………….29
F
IGURE 8: ADS SHOWN IN NONSAFE ENVIRONMENTS CAUSE A NEGATIVE
PERCEPTION OF BRANDS
(API, 2020F) ………………………………………………………30
F
IGURE 9: TAGGING A FRIEND AND WRITING SOMETHING POSITIVE (INSTAGRAM
ASOS, 2021) ………………………………………………………………………………………….32
F
IGURE 10: #ASSEENONME(1) (TWITTER “#ASSEENONME”, 2021B)………………………35
F
IGURE 11: #ASSEENONME(2) (TWITTER “#ASSEENONME”, 2021C)………………………36
F
IGURE 12: #SAYITWITHASOS (TWITTER “#SAYITWITHASOS”, 2021B) ………………….37
F
IGURE 13: MENTIONING THE BRAND FOR PERSONAL BENEFIT (TWITTER ASOS,
2021) …………………………………………………………………………………………………….38
F
IGURE 14: GIBBSREFLECTIVE CYCLE (GIBBS, 1988A)….. ERROR! BOOKMARK NOT
DEFINED
.
FIGURE 15: TOP WORDS ASSOCIATED WITH THE USE OF ADBLOCK ……………ERROR!
B
OOKMARK NOT DEFINED.
FIGURE 16: TOP WORDS ASSOCIATED WITH BAD COMMERCIALS ………………..ERROR!
B
OOKMARK NOT DEFINED.
FIGURE 17: TOP FIVE WORDS USED BY ASOSS CONSUMERS IN POSTS COMMENTS
……………………………………………………………. ERROR! BOOKMARK NOT DEFINED.
FIGURE 18: TOP WORDS REPEATED UNDER THE CHANNELS OF #ASSEENONME AND
#SAYITWITHASOS ………………………………….. ERROR! BOOKMARK NOT DEFINED.
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List of Tables
TABLE 1: CODES……………………………………………………………………………………………24
T
ABLE 2: NAMING AND DEFINING THEMES………………………………………………………24
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Chapter One – Introduction
1.1 Aims and Objectives
This study adds to current marketing literature by presenting a context that
incorporates different manifestations of customer behaviour in digital media and
connects them to forms of consumer control. This research aims to achieve the
following objectives:
To organize a fragmented body of literature by linking consumer digital media
participation with evolving sources of power.
Investigating why people use ad-blocks and how that affects brand perceptions.
To explore how social media trends and humorous content enable consumers to
advertise and change each other’s brand perceptions in the process.
1.2 Research Questions
In order to map the future of consumer-controlled advertising; the following
questions must be answered through this study:
How do consumers change their view of a brand based on the advertisements
they see?
How are the consumers and brands benefiting each other through social media
trends?
In what way is consumer-controlled advertising affecting brand perceptions in
the fashion industry?
1.3 Background of the study
Ever since the concept of market segmentation was introduced in the 1950s, it has
guided every marketing strategy to exist (Smith, 1956). Through the use of social
media, it is easier for brands to find and interact with their target market, as users use
these platforms to form groups dedicated to their interests and hobbies. Although

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buyers will always have the right to vote or buy products they want with their
money, they today have more leverage to control not just what they purchase, as well
as what others purchase. Motivated by social platforms and internet devices,
consumers continually decide when and how they interact with brands. They have
been both critics and producers, seeking a more personalized experience and wanting
to be given the chance to influence the goods and services they buy (Enginkaya and
Yılmaz, 2014). Consumers have earned a speech, and they want it to be heard. They
are now more able to express their thoughts and insights with others. In certain
categories, buyers are hesitant to buy without impartial guidance and this disrupts the
conventional direction of purchase. As a result, there is a disparity in customer
demands and the willingness of companies to satisfy them (Khadka and Maharjan,
2017). Businesses are trying to keep in touch with the ever-fickler consumer.
Consequently, this research study aims to ascertain the role of consumer-controlled
advertising in influencing brand perceptions by linking it to the social influence
theory.
1.4 Rationale of the study
At the advent of the Internet, researchers started forecasting a change in control from
the marketer to the customer, indicating a new type of consumer-firm partnership
(Deighton and Kornfeld, 2009). Since the launch of the World Wide Web, normal
citizens have acquired access to massive volumes of information and have created
ways to impact their own lives, both in the industry and beyond. The social media
world of seamless communication, made possible by the introduction of mobile
phones, has, in turn, not only improved access to information but also enabled
customers to generate content and amplify their views, around the globe, for
everyone willing to listen. Any projections of the consequences of these shifts have
come to light; others have rotten on the vine (Shipman, 2001). This essay explores
the intersection of new media and customer behaviour to gain insight into consumer
empowerment and set the agenda for more study. Humans due to their nature are part
of a network of influence, defined by non-linear communication. It is a constant
process, regardless of external influence. Influence Impact report (Allison+Partners,
2017) shows that 52% of buyers always plan and research before they make a

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purchase and 62% prefer products that have been recommended by their friends or
family. With emerging technology joining the mainstream, further disruptions to the
conventional buying route are predicted. They also give companies new and varied
ways to engage with customers. The dilemma for companies is how to narrow the
gap by meeting millions of individual desires. This topic is worth discussing as it
helps in developing a framework and guide future research in the field of digital
marketing.
1.5 Scope and Limitations
For this study to be feasible, the scope of the research and development is limited to
the field of digital marketing. This study may be restricted due to insufficient
research on the implications of consumer empowerment through the use of social
media trend advertising, humorous content and real-time feedback in the field of
digital marketing making it harder to gather professional and credible arguments for
and against the mentioned topic.
In addition, the breadth of this study is limited due to time and financial constraints
which prevent the study to have an even more accurate data set and hence narrow the
scope of the study, the fashion industry. Therefore, to find how consumers by
controlling what they see affects the industry in a practical setting, the study should
have involved experts in the world of innovative marketing to gather their insight at
different categories and corporate positions. Also, the data collected for this research
will be limited to what is accessible in terms of secondary information.
Consequently, the generalisation of these findings may be regarded as narrow and
invaluable due to it being based on theoretical sources. Despite the limitations
embedded in this study, this thesis attempts to establish the change in perception of
empowered consumers towards a brand when they are given control of advertising.
1.6 Summary
The purpose of this dissertation is to ascertain the future of consumer-controlled
advertising by exploring how brand perception is affected by consumers taking an

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active part in the advertising process. To achieve this, a review of literature relating
to consumer-controlled advertising, its dimensions, brand perception and the theory
of social influence will be undertaken to put forward the past research and expert
arguments enabling the research to get a wider view of the topic. The final aim is to
find the factors that influence innovation in digital marketing through the view of
digital consumer empowerment and then suggesting the role brands will play in
influencing consumer behaviour in the future.

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Chapter Two – Literature Review
2.1 Introduction
In the previous chapter, this study discussed its objectives and limitations while
providing the rationale and a background on the topic. This chapter shall concentrate
on presenting relevant literature and theories that culminate in a framework for
research questions. This chapter discusses and defines consumer-controlled
advertising, its dimensions and its effects on brand perceptions up until now. Finally,
this chapter establishes a theoretical framework which will help this investigation by
keeping it relevant to the data found.
2.2 Conceptual Clarifications
2.2.1 Consumer-controlled advertising
Corporations produce and sell products/services. They advertise to persuade
consumers into buying their products. The media acts as a transport for these
advertisements by attaching them to both physical and digital data/content.
Consumers in order to enjoy this content are willing to view advertisements. In this
scenario everyone wins, people get their content, companies sell their products and
media earns through advertising (Ertimur and Gilly, 2010). This mutualism has
existed for a long time. Up until now, this relationship was simple and clear, but
recently this contract between the three is about to change terms and become more
complex (Steyn, 2011). Technological advancements have enabled consumers to
guide and control the content they consume. Technologies such as Spam-filters, Adblockers, Ad-free subscriptions, cookie personalisation, etc. Some of these
advancements can be credited to social media applications which give users the
power to “mute” another user, account, and business in order to not see their content
in their feed (Bhradwaj, 2018).
Botti (2006a) claims three factors influence consumer’s sense of control: freedom of
choice, power and information. These factors shine a light on why consumers are
concerned.

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Moore (1999) in his book “Crossing the Chasm” discusses the chasm between
entities that adopt technology right at the beginning and the inexorable ones who are
still hesitant to this change. According to the author, the pragmatists are on the edge
of crossing this technological gap by finally realising that they can command the
content and advertisements they come across. Once this chasm is crossed the only
thing limiting this growth is the law of technology adoption proposed by Picard
(2004), which claims that the rate of technological growth is directly proportionate to
the amount of control the technology grants to the consumer over certain aspects of
their life. More control provided the faster the technology will be adopted.
Marketing was developed in a broadcast environment where campaign styled
advertisements were preferred and consumers were only just another sale. The truth
is that brands need to build relationships over trust and assurance (Sahin et al.,
2011). This trust can only be gained if both the parties involved have a say in the
thing they share. These relationships if nurtured will benefit businesses as trust helps
in the growth of word-of-mouth marketing (Erciş et al., 2012). This verifies that
consumers have always controlled a portion of marketing through their connections
and trust bonds.
Brill (1992) defines consumer control as the resistance of customers to the influence
of salespeople. While, consumer control as described by Powers et al. (2012) and
Buhalis and Zoge (2007) is the power exercised by an informed and independent
consumer to avoid aggressive marketers. These descriptions view consumer power
from an individual perspective. However, according to Grégoire et al. (2009)
consumers show their power of control by influencing a firm by communicating with
it directly. While Overbeck and Park (2001) define consumer power as the level at
which the consumer thinks he/she can guide a firm’s decisions, responses, and
actions. This reveals another dimension that views consumer control from a social
perspective. This leads to consumer control being classified into two distinct
dimensions, individual and social control.
Still, Duffy (2010), Kim and Johnson (2016), Christodoulides et al. (2011), Barnes
(2011) and Hanna et al. (2011) agree that consumer power facilitates consumercontrolled advertising in the form of user-generated posts. However, Gaski and
Nevin (1985), Hardy (2016) and Mourali and Yang (2013) oppose this view by

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claiming that consumer power is created by marketers as they allow user-generated
content on their platforms.
Consumer-controlled advertising then can be defined as the power of consumers to
ignore the influence of marketers and guide marketing campaigns by creating the
advertisements they want to view or by deciding if they want to see advertisements
at all (Van et al., 2020; Boerman et al., 2017; Zhang and Mao, 2016; Rodgers and
Thorson, 2000; Li and Leckenby, 2004).
2.3 Dimensions of CCA
2.3.1 Individual Control
Cutright (2014a) suggests that people don’t want brands to be a hero, they want them
to be helpers. This is because doing this gives consumers a sense of empowerment, it
instils a feeling that eventually, they can control the outcomes of their lives again.
They want a product that says, “We’ll be there for you on your journey, but you have
to do the hard work.” This is what individual control is all about, feeling in control
of things that affect you directly. It can be further classified into two factors,
Demand and Information based.
2.3.1.1 Demand-based
Demand-based consumer control has existed even before the internet, it has just
taken new forms. In the past, this power was exerted mainly through purchase or
boycott (Zureik and Mowshowitz, 2005), today it is done mainly through online
channels by ignoring the brand’s messages wilfully (Ehrenberg, 2000). There is a
downside to practising this power as it provides little or no feedback to guide the
marketers (Hirschman, 1970a). Technological advancements such as search engines
have increased consumer knowledge on how advertisements operate. These
advancements have also enabled consumers to use Ad-blocks and ad-filters.
According to Malloy et al. (2016), an ad-blocker is a computer program that prevents
advertisements from being displayed alongside the content the consumer is

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intentionally viewing because the consumer considers the advertisement annoying or
distasteful (Pujol et al., 2015a). Some users in order to skip the advertisements alltogether take part in illegal activities such as piracy. Piracy as defined by Choi et al.
(2007) is the unauthorized use or reproduction of another’s work. For example, an
individual in order to avoid paying for content or watching ads in exchange for
content can simply just download a copied file from a secondary illegal source such
as Piratebay. This is a huge problem for businesses and content creators as this takes
away a part of their source of income (Piotr and Danny, 2009).
2.3.1.2 Information-based
Labrecque et al. (2013a) define information-based control as the power of the
consumer to influence other consumers by making user-generated content. They
claim that it promotes empowerment by providing a forum for self-expression,
broadening individual reach, and increasing the ability of individual opinion to
impact markets.
The influence of user-generated content creation expands much beyond the computer
– mediated environment, often surpassing conventional marketing strategies.
Electronic word of mouth (e-WOM), for example, can elicit more responses and last
longer than standard advertising, implying that it is a promotional “gift that keeps on
giving” (Trusov et al., 2009).
In contrast to the exit choice provided by demand-based power, the production
component of information-based power provides consumers with a means to catalyse
innovation by creating a control mechanism to publicise companies’ unacceptable
practises, policies, or outputs (Hirschman 1970b).
The need for self-expression is expressed through actions such as the creation of a
twitter profile, the publication of a post, the making of videos online, songs, or
podcasts, or perhaps the expression of compliments and criticisms on review, antibranding, or boycott sites. However, according to research by Schau and Gilly
(2003) into people’s motivations for creating personal websites, it was found that
some customers are not interested in content dissemination at all.

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Nowadays, instead of companies, more customers are creating information, which
boosts the information-based power of consumers. Previously, only businesses
gained power through user-generated feedback in the form of boycotts and
professional magazine reviews; now, consumers gain power over firms through
access to the increasingly huge quantities of information that fellow consumers
provide. This trend addresses a series of questions about how information-based
power produces a technological paradox (Mick and Fournier 1998) in which
customer power is balanced by some level of disempowerment.
Lin et al. (2012) discovered that customers prefer customer reviews with interactive
imagery over reviews lacking visual stimulation. Individual qualities, such as the
desire for individuality, have been shown to impact consumers’ inclination to post
customer feedback (Cheema and Kaikati, 2010) and the genuineness of other users’
reviews (Khare et al., 2011), while transitional behaviours, including depression,
affect resistance to brand messages (Wang et al., 2012).
2.3.2 Social Control
Definitely, before social media, people did share content and their thoughts. It was
just difficult for people to do so. Internet enabled people to interact and share with
convenience. This empowered the almost non-existent social dimension of consumer
control. Social media networks like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter have given
consumers and brands a chance to interact with ease. Sites such as Yelp, Trustpilot
and TripAdvisor help consumers raise their complaints freely by commenting and
rating on the platforms for business owners and other potential consumers to see
(Pires et al., 2006a). Consumers, through these same channels, hold firms
accountable and influence firms decisions. Hence, social control can be classified
into two classifications, Network and Crowd based.
2.3.2.1 Network-based
Network-based control focuses on activities where others can contribute to the
original content. This contribution comes from activities such as content

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dissemination (sharing content over different channels), interaction (commenting,
liking and tagging the content), or content modifications (rearranging/editing,
creating memes or jokes) in social networks (Labrecque et al., 2013b).
The power of control increases with the number of social connections in a
consumer’s network. In the past consumers trusted word of mouth (WOM) through
their close ones, today they look for online reviews and professional comments (eWOM) to find information about a product or service (Huete, 2017a). More the
followers, more the ability to influence others, through the use of e-WOM.
According to Deloitte (2014a), 81% of consumers read reviews and check ratings
before purchasing a product. While more than one in three people contribute to
online forums about their experience with the service/product.
Richard Dawkins first coined the term “meme” in his book ‘The selfish gene’ (1976)
and described it as a noun that “conveys the idea of a unit of cultural transmission, or
a unit of imitation.” With the help of social media, memes have grown to be a form
of communication that help people in spreading information through the use of
humour (Laineste and Voolaid, 2017). Social media platforms have enabled
consumers to control the narrative through liking, commenting and the use of visual
media such as memes and clever tweets.
2.3.2.2 Crowd-based
There is no uncertainty that consumers have grown in confidence by increasing
awareness of their rights, one can say that they have become ‘professional’ shoppers.
As consumers become empowered through awareness of their control, they actively
share their views, therefore, becoming an integral part of product/service
development. Social media platforms have given a stage to consumers who want to
voice their concerns and ideas. Firms take this positive or negative feedback to better
their product to their target market’s preference (Carlson et al., 2018).
The capability of similarly view-oriented people to come together and promote their
collective concerns/ideas allow active consumers in demonstrating the power of the
crowd. Such as tagging their close friends in the comments to share their views on

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the content posted by the brand, this not only influences these friends, but they
generate important feedback for the brand (Zappavigna and Martin, 2018a).
This power has risen to influence the consumer market by branching out beyond
reviews and complaints towards co-creation (Deloitte, 2014b; Kao et al., 2016).
Companies like Lego actively use crowd-based control to help them in creating their
products and ultimately helping them shape their marketing campaigns.
2.4 Brand perceptions and CCA
We see online brands every day, but have we ever thought about how we see the
brand, how we perceive it. Brand perception as defined by Romaniuk and Sharp
(2003a) is the sum of a consumer’s feelings, attitudes, and experiences with a
product/service. It is important for companies as these attitudes and feelings help in
creating a product that appeals to human emotions.
Of course, consumers are the ones who decide how they perceive a brand. It doesn’t
matter if a business sells coffee or lamps, it’s consumers who make or break a
product. Brand perception integrates a lot of different areas that cover how
consumers and brands interact with each other. It ranges from product development
to public relations, from packaging to social engagement (Ayanwale et al., 2005).
Brand perception is used as a tool by companies to test how their product feels on the
basis of visual presence, goodwill, and emotional character. All these factors control
how successful a product is (Smutkupt et al., 2011a).
For example, in 2018 after the Cambridge Analytica debacle, Facebook faced a fall
in brand perception as it became a medium for “fake news.” Allcott (2017) defines
“fake news” to be news articles that are intentionally and verifiably false and could
mislead readers. This breaches the trust a consumer has for a brand, ultimately
leading to short-term and long-term losses. This goes to show the importance of
brand perception.
Everyone at least once has read a professional review or seen a YouTube
advertisement. A report by Meeker (2018) shows that 82% of internet users close the
webpage when it has an auto-playing video advertisement. This is because the user is

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seeing the video involuntarily, without any interaction or permission from the user.
These small interactions build up to change a consumer’s perception of a brand from
negative to neutral to positive or vice versa (Romaniuk and Sharp, 2003b).
Consumers then will make an effort to either be ignorant to brand messages or take
an active part by voluntarily interacting with them depending on how they view
these brands. CCA means any empowered consumer can control these small
interactions be it by exercising their individual or social power (Labrecque et al.,
2013c).
What does this mean for companies trying to measure their brand perceptions? This
imbalance of power between consumer and brands has disturbed the traditional path
of the consumer journey. The customer journey model is a proven concept which is
useful in orienting a product according to the target market as a whole (Lemon et al.,
2016). Instead of a clear, defined selection process, consumer journeys now face
interruptions, distractions and delays due to the availability of endless user-generated
content in the form of reviews, comments and influencer posts (Liu et al., 2016a).
So, through the use of information-based, network-based and crowd-based control
consumers cause disruptions in the consumer journey. These disruptions confuse
marketers when selecting how their products should look, feel and appeal to the
consumers, hence causing confusion and loss of resources (Kuehnl et al., 2019).
Bonhommer et al. (2010) argue this by claiming that consumer-generated content
deepens the relations between the consumers and the brands. They also discovered
that through user-generated content a brand can positively affect its brand identity.
2.5 CCA and Social Influence theory
Kelman (1958a) proposed the theory of social influence, where he claimed that an
individual’s attitudes, beliefs, actions and behaviours are influenced by someone
they trust through three processes: compliance, identification and internalisation. He
suggested that social influence changes attitudes and behaviours at different “levels.”
He blamed this difference in levels on the different processes a consumer accepts
influence. The three processes are described by Kelman as:

13
Compliance occurs when consumers adopt influence and accept the induced
behaviour to reap rewards and avoid discontentment. So, “the satisfaction derived
from compliance is due to the social effect of accepting influence.” (p. 53).
Specifically, compliance is a form of social influence where a person does what
someone else wants him/her to do, by accepting their request or recommendation.
Identification happens when individuals accept the induced behaviour to maintain a
symbiotic connection. So, satisfaction occurs due to “the act of conforming.” (p. 53).
In easy words, an individual changes their public conduct (the way they act) and
their private views, but only when they are in the company of a community they
associate with. Internalisation is believed to occur when individuals embrace control
after perceiving the content of the induced behaviour to be satisfying, and the
induced content reflects the thoughts and acts of others. In this case, however,
satisfaction is due to the “content of the new behaviour” (p. 53). Plainly put,
internalisation is the deepest degree of conformity. Here an individual changes both
their public conduct and their private beliefs even when no one else is around.
Malhotra and Galletta (2005a) and Wang et al. (2013a) believe that compliancebased social influence has short-term effects, while the effects of identification and
internalisation span over long-term. Studies that theorise all three mechanisms of
social influence therefore suggest that social influence can vary dramatically across
groups in organisations (Wang et al., 2013b).
Information-based and network-based control play major role in influencing these
three mechanisms through online communities. Knoll and Schramm (2015)
discovered that social influence occurred in an online community when a common
group membership was established between strangers. Liu et al. (2020) found that
social influence had a positive impact on consumer’s contribution to online
communities which in result influenced user’s perceived value of the brand.
Huffaker (2010) claims that consumers socially influence others through high
communication activity, credibility, network centrality, and the use of affective,
assertive, and linguistic diversity in their online messages.
Consumers guiding brands and controlling what they see play a major role in
shaping how these processes work in the age of digital marketing. With consumers
now having the power to criticise, block and ignore the efforts of marketers, they

14
cannot be expected to be defined by these three process companies are trying so hard
to establish. Consumers aren’t restricted to the same rules of compliance,
identification and internalisation as they were three decades ago, they can now use
their individual and social power to get what desire and satisfy themselves
(Labrecque et al., 2013d).
2.6 Similar research on the topic
Please, refer to appendix two which connects this study with other similar research.
2.7 Summary
This chapter concentrated on providing clarifications of existing academic studies on
the topic of this study, CCA and Brand perceptions. Terms related to this study such
as consumer power and social influence were defined and clarified from the
perspective of the dimensions of CCA. In doing so the present study established a
base of research and direction of the investigation.

15
Chapter Three – Research Methodology
3.1 Introduction
The related relevant literature and theories that culminated in a framework for
research questions were presented in the previous chapter. This chapter shall
concentrate on presenting a summary of the methods used in the analysis. This
chapter discusses the desired research methodology, the research approach, the
analysis policy and the data collection process selected. Finally, this chapter comes
to a close consideration of the benefits, limitations and ethical concerns of the study’s
research methods.
3.2 Research Paradigm
Johnson and Christensen (2012: 31) describe the research paradigm as “a research
perspective of a research community based on a set of shared assumptions, concepts,
values and practices.” Research philosophy can be divided into a variety of
directions. Saunders and Lewis (2009a) summarize the key factors as positivism and
interpretive viewpoints that affect the nature of the study. Thus, an exploration of the
paradigm embraced for this study would be explored prior to describing the
arrangement of this research and methodology strategy.
Understanding the research philosophy is important since it sets the groundwork for
how one conducts their research (Jackson, 2013). The choice of a metaphysical
framework derives from the interpretation of ontology, epistemology, and paradigm
choices (Denzin & Lincoln, 1998). A paradigm is understood as “a basic set of
beliefs that guides action” (Guba & Lincoln, 1994). These model concepts indicate
that the selection of qualitative or quantitative analysis methods depends on the
fundamental principles that constitute legitimate research within the bounds of the
social environment and the detection and resolution of problems. Study in various
fields will take on different paradigms (Coll & Chapman, 2000). With this being an
enquiry into a qualitative case study this research assumes relativist ontology. This
excludes any possibility of a “true” construction and allows an investigation to be

16
interpretive. Greener (2008) described that interpretivism permits the researcher to
generate views for a research problem because it allows the researcher to see the
world through the eyes of the participants.
Thus, for this study, it is more appropriate to adopt an interpretivism method to gain
an understanding of how consumers through CCA and its dimensions change their
perception of a brand, rather than finding evidence that can be calculated by statistics
and factors that are relevant to the positivism approach. In addition, Jankowicz
(2005) points out that interpretivism is more applicable to market and management
situations.
3.3 Research approach and strategy
3.3.1 Abductive approach
Järvensivu and Törnroos (2010) classified abduction as an approach to information
development, which represents the common ground between positivism and
interpretivism. Similarly, Dubois and Gadde (2002) claim that abduction is a matter
of exploring the relationship between daily language and concepts. The present study
intends to use the research approach of systematic combining (Abduction) as it is
flexible enough to allow a research process that is less theory-driven than the process
of deduction and unlike induction, abduction accepts existing theory (Rashid et al.,
2019). The aim of the abduction strategy is to explore and understand a social event
through the lens of social actors, therefore it is the perfect approach to conduct a case
study. Abductive research results in a framework that provides a base for the
development of a theory by future researchers.
3.3.2 Descriptive research
For this review, the current study has opted for descriptive analysis, thereby
excluding exploratory and explanatory studies for the following purposes.
Exploratory analysis is undertaken by the researcher to explain unknown issues and
is more focused on qualitative approaches to increase understanding of the research

17
topic (Ghauri et al, 2020). However, this method of analysis is likely to draw on
statistics and figures that do not form the research emphasis of this report.
Exploratory analysis is also wasteful as this study aims to ask the question of “what”
and not “why”.
Accordingly, the descriptive research aimed at “representing an accurate profile of
persons, events and situations” (Robson, 2002: 59) seems to be the appropriate
approach of choice for this study.
3.3.3 Case study
Since this research is based on how consumers interact and view a brand by guiding
the content and advertisements they want to see, a case study will be conducted to
explore the advertising innovations in the fashion industry. In the case study, a realtime event is discussed within its naturalistic setting, taking into account that the
context will make a difference (Kaarbo & Beasley, 1999).
The case study was based on ASOS, a leading brand in fashion and social media
marketing. ASOS has multiple accounts on Twitter and Instagram. This study will be
focusing on its most-followed account @asos on both platforms. Asos has one
million followers on Twitter and eleven million followers on Instagram (in 2021),
with two famous channels where their consumers create content and share it with the
brand, their friends and fashion geeks. These channels, #asseenonme (Twitter
“#asseenonme”, 2021a) (Instagram “#asseenonme”, 2021) and #sayitwithasos
(Twitter “#sayitwithasos”, 2021a), are important because they contain user-generated
posts. These user-generated posts contain essential data which will help in answering
how CCA affects brand perceptions in the fashion industry.
3.3.4 Text mining
These posts contain data in the form of text. Text mining is “the discovery and
extraction from free or unstructured text of interesting, non-trivial information” (Kao
& Poteet, 2007, p. 1). Information is extracted from trends and interactions and can

18
be used to uncover data, consumer preferences or routines (Gupta & Lehal, 2009;
Harlow & Oswald, 2016).
Therefore, it is essential for this study to gather this textual data and identify the
attitude of these posts in order to determine how they affect brand perceptions. Still,
before doing that this study must first discover why people use ad-blocks, doing this
will help in learning what advertisements affect brand perceptions and how. This
will be done by engaging in the process of text mining on sites such as Reddit and
Quora as they mainly contain user-generated content (Jamnik and Lane, 2017; Patil
and Lee, 2016).
Once this is recognised this present investigation can link it to the data found
through Asos’s accounts on Twitter and Instagram. Finding this is essential to
establish how consumers change their brand perceptions when the advertisements are
created by fellow consumers in the fashion industry.
Data will be collected and compiled from different internet sources. This collected
data will then be analysed by using Python and text analysing software such as
NLTK. Natural language toolkit (NLTK) is software that deals with vast amounts of
textual data by removing irrelevant and repeated words from the data collected.
Bonzanini (2016) has provided a guide to use Python in order to undertake a textual
analysis, they claim that doing this improves the accuracy of the text mining.
3.4 Data collection methods
3.4.1 Primary and Secondary data
Primary analysis refers to the information collection method used by the researcher
for the research projected (Saunders and Lewis., 2009b). The value of primary data
collection is that the information gathered is specific, appropriate and up to date
(Shaw and Onkvisit, 2009).
Secondary analysis is a research approach that requires the use of existing evidence
(Vartanian, 2010). Existing results are summarized and compiled to improve the
cumulative efficacy of the study. Secondary analysis involves research papers

19
published in research papers and related records. These records can be made
accessible by public libraries, blogs, data gathered from surveys, etc. Any
government and non-government organizations often retain data that can be used for
analysis purposes that can be recovered from them (Church, 2002). This study has
opted to conduct secondary research for the purpose of the research because unlike
primary research, secondary research is easy on the budget and consumes less time
because it uses existing literature and doesn’t require the researcher to spend time
and financial resources to collect first-hand data (Johnston, 2017).
3.4.2 Quantitative and Qualitative method
Quantitative techniques refer to numerical techniques to solve problems (Williams,
2007). Since the data is gathered in numerical and objectionable form, it can be
evaluated with the use of the appropriate statistical procedures. Creswell (2002)
suggests that the key benefits of quantitative approaches are the use of numbers that
allow for better estimation of results, a well-established mathematical tool for
interpreting data and encourages comparison.
Qualitative analysis, narrowly defined, means “any kind of research that produces
findings not arrived at by means of statistical procedures or other means of
quantification” (Strauss and Corbin, 1990, p. 17) and, instead, the kind of research
that produces findings which translate into a reality where the “phenomenon of
interest unfold naturally” (Patton, 2002, p. 39). In comparison to quantitative
researchers pursuing causal determination, prediction, and generalization of
observations, qualitative researchers instead seek enlightenment, interpretation, and
extrapolation of comparable contexts (Hoepfl, 1997). A qualitative case study is a
research technique that seeks to examine the phenomena within a given context
through a range of data sources and undertakes an investigation via a range of
perspectives in order to uncover different aspects of the phenomenon (Baxter &
Jack, 2008). Therefore, adopting a qualitative method of research would fit the
purpose of the study.

20
3.5 Strengths, Weaknesses and Ethical concerns of the methodology
3.5.1 Strengths
Much of the knowledge in secondary analysis is readily accessible. There are several
databases from which valid data can be obtained and used, unlike primary studies,
where data has to be collected from scratch. This is a less costly and time-consuming
process as the necessary data is readily accessible and does not cost much if derived
from authentic sources. Minimum spending is related to the processing of results.
Data obtained by secondary research offer organisations or companies an
understanding of the efficacy of primary research. Organizations or companies may
then establish a theory and determine the costs of doing primary research. Secondary
analysis is faster to be performed because of the abundance of evidence. Secondary
analysis will be conducted within a few weeks, depending on the goals of the
undertaking or the size of the data required. (Lefever and Dal, 2007).
3.5.2 Weaknesses
Although the evidence is readily accessible, the credibility check must be carried out
in order to understand the authenticity of the information available. Not all
secondary data services include up-to-date information and figures, and if the data is
correct, it might not be revised enough to fit recent timelines. The hypothesis of
secondary research is extracted from collective primary research results. The success
of a study will depend, to a greater degree, on the accuracy of the research already
carried out by primary research. (Tripathy, 2013)
3.5.3 Ethical concerns
As some of the data is collected in the form of screenshots, these photographs may
contain personal data of the user such as their name and face. This is a breach of
privacy according to Kamleitner and Mitchell (2019) as the data is being taken from
these users without their consent. Since the data being collected is being taken from

21
social media platforms it is essential to ensure that their identity is not revealed. The
identity of the participants will be protected by hiding their social media handles
(Irwin, 2013). This will be done by editing the screenshots/texts and replacing their
names with “@taggedperson” and “@user” for example Figure 1. Here, this user’s
face has been whitened out and their name has been replaced with ‘@user’ while
keeping the data which will be used in the compiled data. Refer to appendix four for
the secondary research declaration form.
Figure 1: Edit Example
3.6 Summary
The research methodology used in this research study is the primary focus of this
chapter. This chapter rationalizes the methodology used in the data collection

22
process to discuss the analysis goals. This chapter further discusses the decisions
related to the analysis model, technique, policy, data collection techniques, strengths
and disadvantages, and the ethical problems of the methodology.

23
Chapter Four – Data analysis and Findings
4.1 Introduction
In the previous chapter, various methods which are to be applied in the research were
discussed. In this chapter, we apply these methods to answer the research questions by
conducting a thematic analysis on the social media accounts of ASOS a leading brand
in fashion. To properly set the base of the research, platforms such as Reddit, Quora
and YouTube were scanned for data. This data then was compiled in the form of
questions and answers to create a coherent way of reading and analysing it.
4.2 Thematic analysis
A thematic analysis will be conducted to discern how individual control affects
social control.
4.2.1 Producing the report
Text mining has been done in appendix three in the form of question and answers.
See appendix four for a better understanding of coding through Python and how it
was undertaken by the individual conducting this current study.
Also, see appendix five where a more in-depth report of all themes is displayed
relating back to Chapter two.
4.2.2 Coding
Now, we need to code the data. Coding means highlighting sections of our text –
usually phrases or sentences – and coming up with shorthand labels or “codes” to
describe their content (Gavin, 2008). The data was reviewed, and it was found that
multiple words were repeated in the texts (Table 1). These words when taken in
context are key in understanding patterns within data.

24
Table 1: Codes

Annoying Malware Unsafe Noisy Virus
Dislike Hate Ignore Irrelevant Negative
emotion
Comfortable Affordable Obsessed Good Love
LOL (Laugh
Out Loud)
Need HAHAHAHAHA So good Buy

4.3 Generating Themes
4.3.1 Naming and Defining themes
Table 2: Naming and Defining themes

Major theme Description Key subjects
Annoyance Annoyance can be
defined as the feeling of
irritation consumers sense
when they are faced with
advertisements that are
seizure-inducing, noisy,
pop-ups, compromised
with malware, blocking
content until you close
them, blocking content
and have a fake close
button, cause multiple
redirects, performance
hindering and bigger in
size than the actual
content (Li et al., 2002).
Annoying
Malware
Unsafe
Noisy
Virus
Scary
Loud
Creepy
Intrusive
Performance
Relevance can be defined
as the change in the
Dislike

25

Relevance attitude of consumers
towards a brand based on
how relevant or irrelevant
their advertisements are
(Baglione and Tucci,
2019).
Hate
Ignore
Irrelevant
Negative emotions
Conformance Conformance happens
when like-minded
individuals guide each
other’s purchasing
behaviour by interacting
together with the content
brands post (Cialdini and
Goldstein, 2004).
LOL
Need
HAHAHHAHA
So good
Buy
Assurance Assurance occurs when a
consumer trusts a brand
enough to create content
on their behalf by
participating in social
media trends (Ghodeswar,
2008).
Comfortable
Affordable
Obsessed
Good
Love

4.4 Discussion and achieving results from the data
Consumers are increasingly taking control of the media they consume and the
commercial communications they are exposed to. Use of ad blockers is one sign of
this – driven primarily by “too many ads” (48%), ads being perceived as “annoying
or irrelevant” (47%), and “ads are too intrusive” (44%), according to the (GWI,
2019). Figure 2 states that half of the internet population in the developed world is

26
annoyed with advertisements on websites and seven out of ten are irritated with autoplaying video adverts (Fig. 3).
Figure 2: Half of the population is annoyed with ads on websites (API, 2020a)
Figure 3:
Seven out of ten are annoyed with online ads (API, 2020b)
4.4.1 Annoyance and Relevance
27
How is this consumer annoyance affecting consumers attitude towards brands? Or
are they even seeing a brand in a positive/negative way? Simply, how does
annoyance affect relevance?
By looking at the opinions under the annoyance theme (Adblock Reddit, 2021), it
can be sensed that individuals block advertisements that are annoying and unsafe,
this was previously discussed under demand-based individual control in chapter two.
Opinions such as “Three factors led to my decision to remove all ads: 1) annoying
features: pop-up, pop-under, click-jacking, undesired sound; 2) security: malware in
the ad stream; 3) performance” and “I started running ad-block about 8 years ago.
My personal computer got a virus from an auto play ad on a website I frequented.”
However there were a few opinions which conflicted these comments such as “Ads
are the only way for creators to earn an income”, “You can control your cookies to
get targeted ads”.
Figure 4: 3/4th of the population feels that online ads are irrelevant to them (API,
2020c)
Figure 4 suggests that three-quarters of internet users consider online advertisements
to be irrelevant to them, as a result, they get annoyed and irritated and use ad-blocks
(Fig. 5).

28
Figure 5: Ad-blocks are primarily used by younger generations (API, 2020d)
It was found that in most cases an individual is willing to whitelist websites, but only
when they are relevant and targeted. For example, comments like “I do whitelist
websites I support and have non-intrusive ads”, “I didn’t mind ads when it was
targeted correctly.”, “When and where ads are displayed makes a difference” were
made when users asked questions similar to, “What makes you enjoy ads?” on
Reddit (Adblock wrong Reddit, 2021). Still, in contrast, few users claimed that “It
wouldn’t matter even if the ads were targeted”, “I don’t enjoy ads in general”.
Figure 6: Most used words when asked “What makes you enjoy ads?”
29
So, discovery one states that:

> Consumers are willing to watch advertisements when they are targeted,
relevant and safe
(Fig. 6) (Bilby, 2016; Teixeira, 2015).

This fulfils the act of compliance as the consumers are willing to adopt influence and
accept the induced behaviour to reap rewards and avoid discontentment, given that
this influence is safe and interests them.
Figure 7: Ads shown next to relevant content have a limited positive effect on
brand perceptions
(API, 2020e)
When people are shown advertisements next to relevant content only 31% of people
(Fig. 7) on an average claim to have a positive effect on brand perception, while
advertisements shown in non-safe environments affect brand perception negatively
by 52% on average (Fig. 8).

30
Figure 8: Ads shown in non-safe environments cause a negative perception of
brands
(API, 2020f)
The majority of the answers when asked questions similar to “Do some
advertisements make you hate the brand?” on Quora (Brand Hate Quora, 2021)
support these figures by stating “It’s quite easy to remember ads that annoy you
when they play repeatedly in an unsafe environment”, “You begin to associate the
companies which advertise irrelevant content with negative emotions, if exposed
enough, then it will be a conscious dislike for the brand”, “I simply stop visiting
portals which spam senseless advertisements for good rather than adding (them) to
white list.” However, a few opinions did oppose by saying, “As long as you are
aware the brand exists, it doesn’t matter if you hate it, the advertisement worked.”,
“Brands don’t care as long as you are aware they exist, and gradually you will take
part in E-WOM about the brand one way or the other.”
So, if advertisements are viewed in an unsafe environment, users start associating the
brand with feelings such as “negative emotions”, “dislike” and “hate” as established
in Figure 15 in appendix five. Inversely, it is fair to assume that when advertisements
are viewed in a safe environment, users will disregard the feelings mentioned above.
Therefore, discovery two finds that:

31
> How a consumer views a brand depends on if the brands advertisements
are relevant, targeted and safe
(Yeun Chun et al., 2014; Kaspar et al.,
2019).
This fulfils the third act of the social influence theory, internalisation. Thus, it can be
said that an individual will change both their public conduct and their private beliefs
about a brand when an advertisement is to their interest and liking. Willing
consumers will do so by exercising demand-based control to disable ad-blocks/adfilters.
As established earlier in discovery one, “
consumers are willing to watch
advertisements when they are targeted, relevant and safe.”
We now also know that
brand perception can be influenced by advertisements positively/negatively
depending on if they are safe/unsafe and relevant/irrelevant. If we apply the
consumer journey model and its disruptions discussed earlier in chapter two (2.4),
we can come to the conclusion that, when brands create advertisements that are safe,
relevant and targeted it allows consumers to view brands positively by disregarding
the feelings of irritation, negativity and hate that are formed if the brands do the
opposite. Plainly put, discovery three states:
> A consumer after coming across relatable and safe advertisements about a
brand will eventually start viewing it in a positive way
(Gardner,1985;
Sallam and Algammash, 2016; Praxmarer and Gierl, 2009)
.
4.4.2 Conformance and Humour
A pattern of humour with a sense of community can be identified under the theme of
conformance, this can be linked to chapter two under network-based social control. It
can be distinguished that when Asos incorporates humour in their content the
followers of the brand mention their friends, family and close ones in the replies. Is
this building a partnership with the brand, or is it simply enhancing their friendship?
Gradin et al. (2020) agree that there is a potential to affect consumers through
satirical content by appealing to their different cognitive and emotional components.
They claimed that by doing this a brand could possibly change the brand perceptions
as a whole.

32
Maecker et al. (2016) suggest that interaction builds a culture around the brand,
thereby helping to build a partnership with the brand. When the tag appears with a
positive comment, the person conveys his or her preference for the material of the
image. Tagging a friend and writing something positive, similar to Figure 9 such as
“This would look so good on you” or “I need this”, or “This is so funny, please get
me this” contributes to the friend’s view of the brand.
Figure 9: Tagging a friend and writing something positive (Instagram ASOS, 2021)
Since encouraging feedback on the photo that the company has shared is from an
acquaintance and not an outsider, it creates a greater impact on the tagged friend
(Cordell et al. 2013). As the person is being tagged with a positive comment by a
person they are close with, they are more likely to develop an interest in the brand.
Therefore, a positive comment tag increases the probability of attention being
generated. As a consequence, a curiosity and then a desire is more likely to arise.
This desire will, in turn, contribute to the reaction to the comment, the tagging of

33
another consumer and/or the buying of the product. Ultimately this process will lead
to the person liking the brand as it brings them closer to their already well-made
social connections. This fulfils the act of conformity i.e. Identification.
If a user is tagged along with a negative message, the same positive comment cycle
as described above would occur. In this case, though, the result is pessimistic for
ASOS. Instead of beginning to form a better picture of ASOS, this action impacts the
credibility of ASOS in a negative way.
In research conducted by Narving and Nilsson (2016) it was determined that
interaction and engagement in the form of networking and co-creation (social
control) shapes a positive reputation for ASOS. This is mainly because of the
engaging audience’s use of e-WOM when tagging other Instagram users while
commenting something positive and through the trend of #AsSeenOnMe and
#sayitwithasos.
It can be established that these chains of engagements follow the act of Identification
which states that an individual changes their public conduct (the way they act) and
their private views, but only when they are in the company of a community they
associate with. Hence, it can be said that customers attract and influence new
consumers positively/negatively by interacting with people they trust.
In conclusion, discovery four states that:

> Consumers in the fashion industry change brand perceptions through
active interaction with the brand by creating a community of trust

(Hayes and Carr, 2015; Islam and Rahman, 2016; Sharif et al., 2016;
Kudeshia and Kumar,2017; Chu and Kim, 2011)
.
4.4.3 Assurance and Social media trends
Recent market research shows a clear trend that customers’ trust toward traditional
advertising is declining: Customers increasingly trust information from other
consumers, be it a family member or an influencer on the Internet (Nielsen, 2015).
Customer-generated advertisements, therefore, will likely be perceived as more
credible and, consequently, more persuasive. User-generated content such as

34
YouTube videos and satirical posts help in the spread of e-WOM, as a result, a brand
advertises without a marketing strategy. This content is generated by influencers or
meme accounts on social media platforms. (Smith et al., 2012)
The #AsSeenOnMe campaign encourages consumers to share photos of themselves
wearing the retailer’s clothing and footwear via Twitter, Facebook and Instagram or
upload them directly via the ASOS.com website. ASOS has created a separate
channel that uses a visual commerce engine provided by Olapic to pull all of the
images into a system that staff can then use to link directly to the transactional
website. Consumers can browse through the images on the #AsSeenOnMe channel
and purchase directly. The images are also added at the bottom of a product page.
(ASOS report, 2017)
After interpreting the content created under the channels of #asseenonme and
#sayitwithasos, a bond of trust could be established between the brand ASOS and its
customers, this data then can be correlated to the definition of CCA and its three
dimensions: information-based, network-based and crowd-based customer control.
For example, the majority of the posts contained headings similar to Figure 10 and
Figure 11. The Dholakia et al. (2004a) study has shown that higher levels of
perceived worth result in greater community identification. This prompts customers
to transform their wide-ranging community objectives into specific areas of social
interaction. As a result, members will identify with a particular group or groups of
people instead of the online channel itself. Although it is doubtful that individuals
will personally know random users, they still identify with the group community as a
whole (Algesheimer et al., 2018; Dholakia et al., 2004b). This idea is evident in the
#AsSeenOnMe campaign, where people share their purchases on social media,
facilitating impulse purchases via a “see it, want it” motivation.

35
Figure 10: #asseenonme(1) (Twitter “#asseenonme”, 2021b)
36
Figure 11: #asseenonme(2) (Twitter “#asseenonme”, 2021c)
Under the channel #sayitwithasos, it was determined that the user-generated posts
were unrelated to fashion, instead, they contained details about what the user was
doing, experiencing or just a conversation starter with the brand. Some popular posts
under the channel were random and similar to the tweets in Figure 12.

37
Figure 12: #sayitwithasos (Twitter “#sayitwithasos”, 2021b)
These posts relate to the theme of Assurance and reveal that the users trust the brand
enough to share it with their friends, followers and strangers on the internet.
Discovery four “
consumers in the fashion industry change brand perceptions
through active interaction with the brand by creating a community of trust
” confirms
that these posts create a community that is capable of influencing Asos’s brand
perceptions and therefore the fashion industry.
Users indirectly advertise on behalf of the brand by mentioning it in their content. In
doing so customers exercise their power of information-based individual control by
taking part in e-WOM. Consumers which do so are aware that by mentioning the
brand they are attracting new followers which will benefit their power of influence
(Kotter, 2010; Kelman, 1958c), thus taking advantage of the goodwill the brand has,
which in this case is ASOS. It can be seen in this Twitter post (Fig. 13), here this
individual is tagging ASOS while mentioning their blog knowing that followers of
ASOS will notice their post and therefore their blog and might follow them too.

38
Figure 13: Mentioning the brand for personal benefit (Twitter ASOS, 2021)
The content these ‘micro-influencers’ post is mostly positive, often organic and
unpaid, as they get the opportunity to get their message to the world through the
brand and in return the brand gets free advertising. It was verified above in discovery
two “
how a consumer views a brand depends on if the brands advertisements are
relevant, targeted and safe.
” Since these ‘advertisements’ are created by friends or
other Asos customers without the influence of the brand, it can be said that naturally,
the advertisements will be relevant and safe as they fulfil, Identification, the act of
conformity. People conform for security within a group, as a lack of conformity
carries the possibility of social rejection (Bernheim, 1994). In summary, Asos’s usergenerated advertisements are relevant and safe and hold to power to change the
brand’s perception. The perceived credibility and reliability of the source result in
more positive perceptions of online messages (Chaiken, 1980; Chang & Wu, 2014;
Filieri, 2015; López & Sicilia, 2014; Luo et al., 2015; Teng et al., 2017; Filieri et al.,
2018).
As a result, enabling the brand to appeal to customers as a friend rather than a
corporation. Empirical evidence supports this argument. Scholars have found that
when an advertisement is generated by another customer, it is perceived to be more
trustworthy and persuasive than when it is generated by an advertising agency, or
when no information about the creator is provided (Lawrence et al., 2013).

39
Similarly, it was confirmed in discovery three that “a consumer after coming across
relatable and safe advertisements will eventually start viewing the brand in a
positive way
.” Since it was established earlier that the user-generated posts by Asos’s
consumers are relevant and safe and hence can affect brand perceptions, now it can
be said that these posts are capable of affecting Asos’s brand perception positively.
Thus, it can be concluded that letting your consumers advertise on your behalf
through the use of social media trends affects brand perceptions positively
(Thompson and Malaviya, 2013; Hansen et al., 2014; Lawrence et al., 2012). ASOS
has set a good example of consumer empowerment through the use of microinfluencers by handing consumers the control of their advertisements. By letting
consumers advertise on their behalf a brand fulfils the second process of the social
Influence theory, Identification, as consumers are accepting the induced behaviour
and maintaining a symbiotic relationship with the brand. Alvarado-Karste and
Guzmán (2020) examined how brand identity– cognitive style fit with the three
levels of social influence (Kelman, 1958b). The authors concluded that the
identification and internalisation forms of social influence have a significant positive
effect on the perceived value of the brand.
Therefore, discovery five states that:
> Consumers affect brand perceptions in the fashion industry positively
through the use of network-based social control by actively participating
in marketing strategies where customers control the content for the
mutual benefit of both themselves and the brands involved
(Taylor and
Costello, 2017; Wu and Wang, 2011; Ananda et al., 2019; Hung and Li,
2007; Ismail and Spinelli, 2012).
Similarly, the consumers who take an active part in creating negative content
through the same channels, be it a negative review or a complaint against the brand
affect brand perceptions negatively. Consumers participate in negative brand eWOM when they are dissatisfied or after negative consumption experiences, and
such consumers often carry over their negativity to overall brand evaluation (Kim et
al., 2016; Verhagen et al., 2013; Zeelenberg & Pieters, 2004). Though a majority of
the content under the channels #asseenonme and #sayitwithasos was found to be

40
positive, a rare amount of negative posts could be seen as well. These negative posts
were created as a complaint/review and not an ‘advertisement’ (Eisend, 2010).
This establishes the sixth discovery that:

> In the majority of the cases, consumer-controlled advertising will lead to
positive brand perceptions in the fashion industry
.

4.5 Summary
The data collected was categorised and analysed in this chapter and it revealed
multiple findings. The findings are as follows: 1) Consumers are willing to watch
advertisements when they are targeted, relevant and safe; 2) How a consumer views
a brand depends on if the brands advertisements are relevant, targeted and safe; 3) A
consumer after coming across relatable and safe advertisements about a brand will
eventually start viewing it in a positive way; 4) Consumers in the fashion industry
change brand perceptions through active interaction with the brand by creating a
community of trust; 5) Consumers affect brand perceptions in the fashion industry
positively through the use of network-based social control by actively participating
in marketing strategies where customers control the content for the mutual benefit of
both themselves and the brands involved; 6) In the majority of the cases, consumercontrolled advertising will lead to positive brand perceptions in the fashion industry.

41
Chapter Five – Conclusions and Recommendations
5.1 Introduction
In the previous chapter, we analysed the data found and then correlated the findings.
These findings will be explored further in this chapter. In this chapter, this study will
try to discover if the findings answer the research questions and fulfil the research
objectives. Additionally, based on these findings this present investigation will point
out some recommendations and managerial implications. Finally, suggestions will be
made for future research.
5.2 Evaluation of the key findings
One of the aims of this study was to organize a fragmented body of literature by
linking consumer digital media participation with evolving sources of power. The
current study did this by categorising consumer control (Botti, 2006b) into four
dimensions (Cutright, 2014b; Pires et al., 2006b) and defining the role of consumercontrolled advertising from the social influence perspective (Kelman, 1958c).
This research has also answered the question of ‘How do consumers change their
view of a brand based on the advertisements they see?’ In order to answer the
question this study saw it fit to find how individual control influences an individual’s
attitudes, beliefs, actions and behaviours through compliance, identification and
internalisation (Kelman, 1958d). During the process, it was found that consumers are
willing to disable ad-blocks when advertisements are targeted, relevant and safe.
Therefore, it was discovered that consumers will eventually start viewing a brand in
a positive way after coming across relatable and safe advertisements about the brand.
This research aimed to explore how social media trends and humorous content
enable consumers to advertise and change their brand perceptions in the process.
After conducting a case study on the consumer engagements under ASOS’s
humorous posts it was found that consumers in the fashion industry change brand
perceptions through active interaction with the brand by creating a community of
trust. These channels are a good example of crowd-based social control in action

42
where similarly view-oriented people come together and promote their collective
concerns/ideas, allowing active consumers in demonstrating the power of the crowd
(Labrecque et al., 2013e; Zappavigna and Martin, 2018b).
The research pursued an answer to the question ‘How are the consumers and brands
benefiting each other through social media trends?’, after analysing the hashtag
channels of #asseenonme and #sayitwithasos the current investigation found that
consumers affect brand perceptions in the fashion industry positively through the use
of network-based social control by actively participating in marketing strategies
where customers control the content for the mutual benefit of both themselves and
the brands involved. As previously discussed in chapter two, it can be clearly seen
that consumers are using their Information-based and Network-based control through
content dissemination by fulfilling the act of conformity, Identification (Wang et al.
2013c; Huete, 2017b). These posts and individual attitudes influence consumer
perceptions (Smutkupt et al., 2011b; Liu et al., 2016b) through the three processes of
the social influence theory (Malhotra and Galletta, 2005b).
Finally, it was found that in the majority of the cases, consumer-controlled
advertising will lead to positive brand perceptions in the fashion industry.
5.3 Recommendations
5.3.1 Ensuring the advertisements are relatable and shown in a safe
environment
In correlation with discovery three which states that in order to gain positive
perceptions for the brand, the advertisements must be safe and relevant. This study
recommends that a marketer must create advertisements in a way that they appeal to
consumers by confirming that these advertisements contain user-generated inputs.
These user-generated inputs can be in the form of webpage cookies, twitter
complaints, previous campaign reactions, etc. Marketers also need to use ethical and
safe ways to show advertisements. This can be done by avoiding inappropriate
content such as obscenity, drugs, spam sites, fake-news, online piracy, death/injury
and crime (Murphy et al., 2005).

43
5.3.2 Generating meme trends and funny products to encourage consumer
dialogues
In accordance with discovery four, brands can affect their perceptions by keeping up
with current social media trends and meme templates. They can do this by setting up
a team of Gen-Z professionals who are well versed in the meme culture. This
humorous content facilitates consumer engagements where consumers can sway
each other’s perceptions through self-made posts (Bury, 2016).
5.3.3 Forming trusted communities where consumers can interact
The findings of the research recommend that a brand must strive to create
communities on social media where consumers can trust each other and see the
brand in a new light. However, these communities must be free of the brand’s
influence so that consumers have the freedom to express themselves freely. There
will be some negative user-generated content that will provide important feedback to
the brand. So these communities are an essential hub for information and organic
marketing (Howard, 2009).
5.4 Conclusion
This study set out to find the effects of consumer-controlled advertising on brand
perceptions in the fashion industry. The current study aimed to do this by forming a
body of literature to understand how consumers control advertisements around them.
In doing so we defined consumer-controlled advertising and explored its dimensions.
Various platforms were sifted for data relating to the research questions. The data
was compiled in the form of question and answers, these answers pointed out
patterns which were helpful in fulfilling the aims and objectives of the study. When a
thematic analysis was undertaken on the data, four themes emerged: Annoyance,
Relevance, Conformance and Assurance. After finding how Annoyance affects
Relevance it was found that consumers are capable of changing brand perceptions.

44
Relevance was then correlated with the data under the Conformance theme, this lead
to the discovery that consumers change each other’s perceptions through their bond
of trust and friendship. The theme of Assurance contained the user-generated data
under the channels #Asseenonme and #Sayitwithasos, this data revealed that in the
majority of the cases consumer-controlled advertising will lead to positive brand
perceptions in the fashion industry, which answers the main research question.
Finally, this research found what it sought out to discover, consumer-controlled
advertising not only affects brand perceptions, but it affects them positively. In
conclusion, consumers control their advertisements by mainly exercising their social
control to change brand perceptions positively by actively participating with a
brand’s content on social media platforms.
5.5 Further Research Directions
This research has tried its best to include all the facets of consumer-controlled
advertising. However, due to the nature of the research and it being based on
secondary data it would be better if the research was undertaken through primary
sources. Again, due to time constraints the study was narrowed to one industry,
fashion. This research would gain multiple perspectives by gathering data from
different industries such as streaming platforms, luxury beauty products, retail and so
on. The research also has made some assumptions regarding human nature, this must
be tested with data. This field can be further explored by conducting research into
the topics of ‘CCA and machine learning’, ‘The effects of meme marketing on brand
engagements’, ‘Balancing brand influence in brand communities’, ‘How to keep up
with meme trends’, ‘Considering ethics and cultural differences in consumercontrolled advertising’, and many more. These topics can shape a deeper idea of the
field and facilitate further research and solutions to problems.
5.6 Summary
This chapter brings the study to a conclusion on the extent to which consumercontrolled advertising affects brand perceptions in the fashion industry. This chapter
45
summarised the findings of the research, reviewed the research objectives and
provided a conclusion on the literature and data studied. Finally, this chapter closed
with some recommendations and pointed future researchers in the direction of
further research on the topic of study.

46
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