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The Pet Exposure Effect: Exploring The Differential Impact of Dogs Versus Cats on Consumer Mindsets

The Pet Exposure Effect: Exploring The Differential Impact of Dogs Versus Cats on Consumer Mindsets

Lei Jia, Xiaojing Yang and Yuwei Jiang

JM Insights in the Classroom

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Teaching Insight:

Exposure to dogs (cats) makes consumers subsequently more promotion- (prevention-) focused, meaning that consumers will become more eager (cautious) in pursuing a goal and more risk-seeking (risk averse) when making decisions.

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Related Marketing Courses:

Advertising and Promotion; Consumer Behavior; Marketing Communications; Principles of Marketing, Core Marketing, Intro to Marketing Management

Full Citation:

Jia, Lei, Xiaojing Yang, and Yuwei Jiang (2022), “The Pet Exposure Effect: Exploring The Differential Impact of Dogs Versus Cats on Consumer Mindsets,” Journal of Marketing,https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/00222429221078036

Article Abstract:

Despite the ubiquity of pets in consumers’ lives, scant research has examined how exposure to them (e.g., recalling past interactions with dogs and cats, viewing ads featuring a dog or a cat as the spokescharacter) influences consumer behavior. The authors demonstrate that exposure to dogs (cats) reminds consumers of the stereotypical temperaments and behaviors of the pet species, which activates a promotion- (prevention-) focused motivational mindset among consumers. Using secondary data, Study 1 shows that people in states with a higher percentage of dog (cat) owners search more promotion- (prevention-) focused words and report a higher COVID-19 transmission rate. Using multiple products, Studies 2 and 3 demonstrate that these regulatory mindsets, when activated by pet exposure, carry over to influence downstream consumer judgments, purchase intentions, and behaviors, even in pet-unrelated consumption contexts. Study 4 show that pet stereotypicality moderates the proposed effect such that the relationship between pet exposure and regulatory orientations persists to the extent consumers are reminded of the stereotypical temperaments and behaviors of the pet species. Studies 5- 7 examine the role of regulatory fit and evince that exposure to dogs (cats) leads to more favorable responses toward advertising messages featuring promotion- (prevention-) focused appeals.

Special thanks to Holly Howe and Demi Oba, PhD candidates at Duke University.

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Lei Jia is Assistant Professor of Marketing, University of Massachusetts Lowell, USA.

Xiaojing Yang is Associate Professor of Marketing, University of South Carolina, USA.