Language is one of the most important tools in marketing communications. How do various language factors affect consumer behavior? What is the mechanism behind these psycholinguistic effects? Researchers and marketers are both interested in these issues. This article reviews studies on psycholinguistic effects in marketing communications. Based on the classification of language factors and the mechanism, this paper constructs a theoretical framework and explores some possible research directions.
Based on the complexity of language factors, this paper divides them into three categories: words, sentences and others. Firstly, the findings on words are reviewed from the perspectives of pronunciations, semantics and visual forms; secondly, this paper summarizes and comments the literature about the rhetoric and pattern of sentences; thirdly, this paper discusses other factors such as narrations, multiple languages, and textual paralanguage.
Previous research suggests that language factors affect consumer behavior through one of the two mechanisms: automatic processing or controlled processing. Automatic processing includes sensory-motor combination, concept activation and processing fluency. Controlled processing includes content understanding and source perception.
For theoretical contribution, this paper proposes a theoretical framework of psycholinguistic effects in marketing communication. Meanwhile, the findings of this paper provide a theoretical basis for marketing managers to optimize their communication language with consumers in dimensions of the voice and semantics of brand names, rhetoric, sentence patterns, narrations, multiple languages, and textual paralanguage.
This paper attempts to propose four possible research directions which may be worth of paying attention to. Firstly, how user-generated content affects consumers’ perceptions of brands and how these effects are moderated by contextual factors are worthy of further discussion. Secondly, previous research on voice has focused more on the vocal characteristics of words. Future research can focus on the effect of auditory attributes of sentences and narrations. Finally, the interactions of text and graph are also valuable topics in the future.