CONSPIRACY THEORIES AND MARKETING: LESSONS FOR STARTUPS?
Published: 29 Sep 2021
Abstract: Brands find increasing difficulties to communicate their message. In part, this is due to the huge competition out there for the consumer’s attention. There are so many advertising messages calling for us everyday, it’s difficult for brands to stand out and catch the consumer’s attention. Even more difficult if we talk about SMEs with shorter budgets. In part, this difficulty is also explained by the hard time brands find in having consumers believe in their messages. More and more, consumers mistrust brand’s advertising messages and turn to other sources of information to make their choices. At the same time, however, we notice the growth of conspiracy theories in many fields (politics, health, social relations, …) who seem thrive and find it easier than ever to enter people’s lives and gather believers. It seems like conspiracy theories found a way to catch people’s attention and, on the other hand, it seems like people are capable of believing in everything, from the earth being flat, to birds being all robotic machines, to vaccines being a Marxist conspiracy or (in some cases and) a Bill Gates conspiracy to insert a chip in everyone’s body. Can marketing learn something from the success of major conspiracy theories and their facility in attracting people’s attention and earning their trust? Should it? Should marketing fear the success of conspiracy theories as they seem to result from decentralized and uncontrolled forms of communication and tribe creation? This paper sets up to start these discussions by gathering information about the way people see both phenomena (advertising and conspiracy theories) and how they judge their information sources. The generic conspiracy beliefs scale is used to characterize a sample’s tendency to believe in conspiracy theories and then their attitude toward advertising is measured using a previously tested scale. Comparisons are made on how conspiracy theories, SMEs and small political parties have adjusted and benefited (or not) from the technological evolution in the communication and connectability areas. Conclusions are drawn for brands’ guidance, both in effective communication and in ethical behavior.
Keywords: conspiracy theories, marketing, advertising, social networks
Cite this article: Fernando C. Gaspar. CONSPIRACY THEORIES AND MARKETING: LESSONS FOR STARTUPS?. Journal of International Scientific Publications: Economy & Business 15, 313-322 (2021). https://www.scientific-publications.net/en/article/1002254/
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