Digital Spokes-Characters as a Tool Within Behaviour Change Programs for Older Consumers

Project dates: 2017

Increasingly social marketers seek innovative influencing tools to ensure effective behaviour change programs. Non-human spokes-characters are one such tool and have been successfully applied by social marketing practitioners in numerous behaviour change programs (see the Reduce Your Juice project).

Technological advancements have now moved spokes-characters from traditional print media to digital platforms.  From a social marketing point of view, digital platforms are increasingly favoured as they ensure target market reach and reduce barriers of accessibility; bridging age and communication gaps.

Given the ageing population in the Western world, one important target market for behavioural change is older consumers. Digital spokes-characters  present one potential tool to reach this target market in an accessible and non-judgemental way, however more information on how spokes-characters influence behaviour change through digital platforms is needed before social marketing practitioners can effectively design behaviour change programs with maximum impact in the desired target market.

This Honours project used experimental design to examine the effectiveness of digital spokes-characters in encouraging behaviour change amongst older consumers.

Main findings include that older consumers tend to prefer female spokes-characters whose appearance is more realistic than stylised. This extends theory in the area, and supports the evolution of spokes-characters from primarily male cartoon characters promoting a product, to often female realistic characters who offer assistance (e.g., Apple’s Siri, Ikea’s Anna), particularly in the case of older consumers.

Guiding Theory:

  • AMOP Framework of Spokes-characters
  • Anthropomorphism
  • Social Support Theory

Chief Investigators