As emojis have penetrated every field in daily life, they have become critical management and marketing tools. With the popularity of emojis, emoji marketing was born. Emoji marketing refers to the marketing strategy that uses emojis in brand management, advertising, and product design. However, despite the rapid development of emoji marketing practice, the theoretical research on emoji marketing is still in the initial stage. The existing research on emoji marketing is relatively small and scattered. Emoji marketing is closely related to emoji usage. Therefore, this paper systematically sorts out the antecedents, after-effects, and mechanisms of emoji usage. The after-effect part of emoji usage mainly analyzes emoji use in marketing (i.e., emoji marketing) and the mechanisms. Emojis include yellow smiley, ASCII characters, kaomoji, and stickers. With the development of the form of emojis and their application scenarios, the concept of emojis also changes accordingly. Therefore, the concept of emojis needs to be updated with the times.
This paper firstly sorts out the concept of emojis and then analyzes the research panorama and overview of emojis through bibliometric analysis. This paper is the first research that combines quantitative (i.e., bibliometric analysis) and qualitative methods to sort out the literature related to emojis systematically. The findings and contributions are as follows:
Firstly, the concept of emojis in this paper is that emojis are non-written language symbols used by consumers or marketers to convey information, adjust the atmosphere, realize entertainment, and meet other needs. Emojis are a proxy of emotions. In addition, this paper proposes possible directions for improving the concept of emojis in the future.
Secondly, this paper uses bibliometric analysis to show the current status of emoji-related research and points out that the existing emoji-related research can be summarized into two categories: influencing factors of emoji use and emoji marketing.
Thirdly, combined with bibliometric analysis and qualitative analysis, this paper shows that: Emoji use is affected by gender, age, characteristic quality, culture, social context, and motivation for emoji usage, and the relationship between motivations for emoji usage is moderated by other factors mentioned earlier. Emoji marketing is related to the five marketing fields: advertising marketing, product design, word-of-mouth marketing, brand management, and research tool of emotions.
Finally, this paper guides the emoji usage of online platforms. It provides practical implications for marketers to use emojis in emoji design, advertising, firm-generated content on social media, and product design. And aiming to guide and encourage future research, this paper also summarizes several potential research questions.