Cloudy with a Chance of Endorsements: Analyzing Vaping Communities through Taylor’s Strategy Wheel and Parasocial Interactions
Daniel, Emory Stephen Jr.
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The purpose of this dissertation is to launch a greater understanding of Taylor's Six-Segment Strategy Wheel (SSSW) and how it might pair with purchasing intentions with the use of parasocial interactions and celebrity endorsements. Recent research findings have concluded that younger viewers often consider their parasocial interactions/ relationships to be highly similar to their social interactions/relationships. Moreover, the dissertation presented addresses the question: since friends and family can influence our purchasing intentions; can parasocial influences have the same effect? What is it about parasocial interactions that make them useful to those viewing content? Also, within these interactions, what stands out the most? The present study uses research from the SSSW and other relevant theoretical frameworks to determine what were the most persuasive cues while watching an advertisement. This dissertation conducted two studies to help resolve these problems in more precise detail. First, a content analysis of YouTube comments for the channel Vape Capital's profile videos provided an insight of the visual sensory appeal of vape tricks and clouds. Also, the social component was also present with micro-celebrities on screen and the vaping community as a whole. Both sensory and social segments were the most used segments that influenced purchasing cues. The second study used focus group as a continuation of the research done in study one. Across the three focus groups conducted, the findings were similar to the content analysis. Focus group participants noted currently and retrospectively that they enjoyed the visuals, and were a separate collective group that disassociates themselves from traditional cigarette smokers. Lastly, although participants mostly liked the vapers on screen, they could not influence purchasing intentions exclusively. However, the micro-celebrities and videos conducted sparked purchasing inquiry. Participants were intrigued by the video and the positive interaction and stated that they would want to research the specific products listed in the video. Although this study is not a representation of all celebrity parasocial relationships with links to purchasing intentions, the study can spearhead a line of research to connect interpersonal communication and strategic communication.