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Journal of Business Research 66 (2013) 25362544

Contents lists available at ScienceDirect

Journal of Business Research

Consumers un-tethered: A three-market empirical study of consumers'


mobile marketing acceptance
Tao (Tony) Gao a,, Andrew J. Rohm b, Fareena Sultan c, Margherita Pagani d
a

University of Victoria, Canada


Loyola Marymount University, United States
Northeastern University, United States
d
Bocconi University, Italy
b
c

a r t i c l e

i n f o

Article history:
Received 1 October 2011
Received in revised form 1 November 2012
Accepted 1 February 2013
Available online 14 June 2013
Keywords:
Global marketing
Mobile marketing
Consumer acceptance of new marketing
platforms
Innovation diffusion
Branding
Wireless communications
Youth consumers

a b s t r a c t
This study examines factors inuencing consumers' acceptance of mobile marketing across three inuential
markets, namely U.S., China, and Europe. The authors develop an integrative conceptual model on consumers'
attitudes and behaviors toward mobile marketing. The authors incorporate three individual-level characteristics,
namely personal attachment, innovativeness, and risk avoidance and investigate how permission-based acceptance inuences the relationship between consumers' attitude and mobile marketing activity. Focusing on Generation Y consumers, the model is empirically tested with data from U.S., China, and Europe. The ndings illustrate
several cross-market differences and similarities regarding the relationships between individual-level characteristics, attitude, and mobile marketing activity. Research and managerial implications of these ndings are discussed.
2013 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

1. Introduction
New developments in mobile technologies (such as latest generation
smartphones and tablets) have begun to turn the mobile device into
an innovative, powerful platform with which to engage consumers
(Shankar & Malthouse, 2007; Shankar, Venkatesh, Hofacker, & Naik,
2010). Indeed, the signicant growth in the worldwide penetration of
mobile phones has fueled the growth of mobile marketing spending
and focused marketers' attention toward building and promoting
brand presence on mobile devices, creating a marketing platform
referred to as brand in the hand (Sultan & Rohm, 2005). In this
study, we dene mobile marketing as a set of programs and practices
that rms employ to communicate and engage, in an interactive manner,
with consumers and enable them to access information, download
content, or purchase products on mobile devices (MMA, 2008). This
denition underscores the potential for companies to conduct branding,

The authors would like to acknowledge the nancial support of the Institute for Global
Innovation Management, the Center for Emerging Markets, and the Provost's Ofce at
Northeastern University for funding related to this research. They also thank Ting
Cheng, Suping Huang, Jiao Wang, and Ting Zhang for assistance with survey translations,
and Pu Liu and Wei Zhang for their assistance in data collection in China.
Corresponding author at: Marketing and International Business, Peter B. Gustavson
School of Business, University of Victoria, Victoria, BC, Canada. Tel.: +1 250 721 8264.
E-mail address: t.gao@comcast.net (T.(T.) Gao).
0148-2963/$ see front matter 2013 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jbusres.2013.05.046

marketing communications, and other mobile activities specic to the


consumer's current context, time, and location.
Scholars have examined the uniqueness of the mobile marketing
platform with respect to traditional, and even xed-Internet, media
along two dimensions: (1) that it involves a high degree of interactivity,
and (2) that its marketing content and messages can be based on one's
location (e.g., Bauer, Barnes, Reichardt, & Neumann, 2005; Rohm and
Sultan 2005; Shankar et al., 2010). Past research also suggests rms
can deliver advertising and other location-based promotions to consumers, in effect rendering the marketing content contextually valuable
to consumers (Pura, 2005). A case in point is Adidas' use of quickresponse codes in its innovative mobile window shopping platform
(Gigaom, 2012).
While a growing body of research has examined factors inuencing
mobile marketing acceptance among consumers, relatively fewer studies
examine and compare consumer acceptance across both developed and
emerging markets (Peng & Spencer, 2006; Shankar et al., 2010; Xu, Oh,
& Teo, 2009). Therefore, our key research question is what factors inuence youth consumers' acceptance of mobile marketing practices across
three inuential global markets. We have purposely chosen youth
consumers as our research focus since, to these digital natives
(Prensky, 2005), the mobile platform has overtaken the xed Internet
as the primary form of communication and access to content. Simply
put, these individuals represent the future for rms seeking to engage
with consumers in the mobile space.

T.(T.) Gao et al. / Journal of Business Research 66 (2013) 25362544

This study contributes to the marketing literature in four ways. First,


although there is a growing body of research examining consumer
acceptance of mobile marketing (e.g., Bauer et al., 2005), these studies
do not specically explain drivers of mobile marketing attitude, nor
do they incorporate mobile marketing activity as an ultimate dependent
variable. We extend past research by developing and empirically testing
an integrative conceptual framework on the formation of consumers'
attitude toward mobile marketing, by studying the impact of attitude
on behavior, and by examining the conditions shaping the strength of
the attitudebehavior relationship in the mobile marketing domain.
Second, our approach goes beyond current conceptualizations of
acceptance models (primarily the TAM and innovation diffusion models)
to unite technology-based factors with consumer characteristics central
to mobile marketing in explaining consumer attitudes, as well as consumers' subsequent acceptance of and participation in mobile marketing
activities. More importantly, we examine the moderating roles of
consumer characteristics such as personal attachment (to the mobile
device), innovativeness, and risk avoidance on the effects of technology factors (e.g., usefulness perceptions) on attitude toward mobile
marketing.
Mobile carriers, marketers, and policy makers are confronted with
numerous obstacles, including the perception of mobile marketing
communications as intrusive, annoying, and posing a threat to personal
privacy. Therefore, while many academic studies have noted the challenges facing mobile, location-based marketing practices, including
feelings of intrusiveness as well as trust and privacy concerns among
consumers (e.g., Grant & O'Donohoe, 2007), the global youth generation
has readily embraced mobile devices and is more demanding than
previous generations in terms of their expectations for interactions
with brands involving the mobile experience (cf. Meyer, Michael, &
Nettesheim, 2008). Our expanded conceptual model, moving beyond
the TAM theory, seeks to address these unique consumer issues
surrounding mobile marketing.
Third, we investigate the role of permission as it relates to consumers'
acceptance of rms' mobile marketing efforts and extend the literature
by examining the role of permission-based acceptance on mobile
marketing activities among the youth segment. Whereas Jayawardhena,
Kuckertz, Karjaluoto, and Kautonen (2009) examined antecedents to
consumers' willingness to participate in permission-based mobile
marketing, their model did not include mobile marketing activities
as an ultimate dependent variable.
Fourth, much of the prior work on consumer acceptance of mobile
marketing practices has focused on single markets (e.g., Barwise &
Strong, 2002; Tsang, Ho, & Liang, 2004; Zhang & Mao, 2008), and few
studies have compared cross-market differences related to consumers'
acceptance of mobile marketing acceptance (Ngai & Gunasekaran,

2007; Sultan, Rohm, & Gao, 2009). Accordingly, our study of mobile,
location-based marketing is focused on the following three markets:
U.S., China, and Western Europe, across which markets technology
adoption seems to be converging. The number of smartphone users in
China, concurrent with the launch of 3G mobile data services, reached
almost 200 million by the end of 2011 (Ablott, 2011). And the potential
for continued growth in highly populated yet still developing markets
such as China (Ericsson.com, 2010) is signicant. In Europe, mobile
phone penetration now exceeds 100% (averaging more than one mobile
phone per person) in several countries including Germany and Italy.
In turn, mobile device penetration in the U.S. has surpassed 90%,
smartphone penetration is approaching 50%, and stiff competition
in industries ranging from consumer products to nancial services
is leading domestic brands to embrace new and innovative forms of
digital marketing communications in order to reach consumers
(Nielsen Research, 2010). Yet, with respect to areas such as online
privacy, there are apparent cultural differences (Daley, 2011). For instance, European laws and public policy toward protection of personal
information online are signicantly stricter than it is in markets such
as the U.S.
By nature of our proposed conceptual model and in light of the
trend toward globalization of consumer cultures and inuences
(Khanh and Hau 2007), we examine cross-market differences and
similarities in consumer acceptance with respect to mobile marketing
practices. The objective of our study, however, is not to focus on cultural
characteristics, but rather to examine antecedents to acceptance and
marketing-related activity related to mobile marketing and how
the relationships among these antecedents differ across three global
markets.
In the next section, we review the extant literature and present our
conceptual model of mobile marketing acceptance. We then detail our
research methodology and model analysis. Finally, we discuss the
study results, implications for theory and practice, study limitations,
and directions for future research.

2. Conceptual framework
Our study lies at the intersection of two issues: (1) the inuence of
technology adoption factors as well as individual characteristics on
consumers' attitudes toward mobile marketing and subsequent mobile
marketing activity, and (2) the analysis of cross-market differences
related to mobile marketing acceptance among youth consumers across
the U.S., China, and Western Europe. The conceptual framework shown
in Fig. 1 highlights the proposed relationships and hypotheses, the
rationales for which are presented below.

Attachment
Perceived
Ease of Use

H5b (-)

PermissionBased
Acceptance

H5a (+)

H2 (+)

H7a (+)
H1 (+)

Perceived
Usefulness

Attitude Toward
Mobile Marketing

H3b (-)
Innovativeness

H3a (+)

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H4a (-)

H4b (-)
Risk
Avoidance
Fig. 1. Conceptual framework.

H7b (+)

H6 (+)

Mobile Marketing
Activities

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T.(T.) Gao et al. / Journal of Business Research 66 (2013) 25362544

2.1. TAM hypotheses


Existing models of consumer technology acceptance have foundations within several diverse theories, most notably innovation diffusion
theory (Agarwal & Prasad, 1998; Moore & Benbasat, 1991), the Theory
of Reasoned Action (Ajzen & Fishbein, 1980), the Theory of Planned
Behavior (TPB) (Ajzen, 1991), and the Technology Acceptance Model
(Davis, 1989). In recent years, mobile communications have received
increased attention from the academic community, as represented by
the growing number of publications on drivers impacting adoption
and/or diffusion of mobile services (e.g., Bruner & Kumar, 2005; Hong,
Thong, & Tam, 2006; Hsu, Lu, & Hsu, 2007; Kim, Chan, & Gupta, 2007;
Pagani, 2004).
Although there are numerous studies examining the adoption and
diffusion of marketing-enabling technology (e.g., Daghfous, Petrof, &
Pons, 1999; Holak & Lehman, 1990; Plouffe, Vandenbosch, & Hulland,
2001), previous work has mainly focused on the adoption of products
and technology (e.g., Davis, 1989; Pagani, 2004, 2007; Verhoef &
Langerak, 2001). Few cross-market studies address consumers' adoption of the mobile phone as a new platform with which to receive and
react to marketing communication messages. One such study (Sultan
et al., 2009) developed a conceptual model investigating the inuences
of marketing-related and value-based mobile activities, including information provision and content access and sharing, on consumer acceptance of mobile marketing practice within the U.S. and Pakistan. To
address the paucity of academic research on consumers' acceptance of
mobile marketing and add insights beyond Sultan et al. (2009), we
extend the widely-adopted TAM to the mobile marketing domain by including three variables related to individual characteristics (innovativeness, risk acceptance, and personal attachment to wireless devices). We
examine how these individual variables jointly inuence consumers'
attitude toward mobile marketing.
The portable and personal attributes of the mobile device separate it
from other electronic devices and serve to distinguish mobile marketing
from both online and ofine marketing (Shankar et al., 2010). Considering the trade-offs between benets and risks, consumers' acceptance of
mobile marketing practice requires conscious, deliberate cognitive
efforts, and as such, it may represent a case of reasoned action regarding
consumer acceptance (Zhang & Mao, 2008). Thus, we suggest that
theories such as TAM and TRA apply in the context of consumers'
acceptance of mobile marketing. In line with previous studies that
have examined the relationship between perceived ease of use, perceived
usefulness, and attitude toward information technologies (Adams,
Nelson, & Todd, 1992; Davis, 1989; Mathieson, 1991; Pagani, 2004;
Szajna, 1996), we propose that:
H1. Consumers' perceived usefulness of mobile devices is positively
related to their attitude toward mobile marketing.
H2. Consumers' perceived ease of use of mobile devices is positively
related to their perceived usefulness of mobile devices for marketing
purposes.
2.2. Innovativeness
Consumer behavior researchers dene consumer innovativeness as
the predisposition to try or be the rst to buy new and different products
and services (Ajzen & Fishbein, 1980). Numerous studies identify
innovativeness as a personality construct (Ajzen & Fishbein, 1980;
Goldsmith & Hofacker, 1991; Pagani, 2004) and draw distinctions
between the adoption behavior and the psychological trait of innovativeness (Goldsmith & Hofacker, 1991; Pagani, 2004). The literature
identies stimulation need, novelty seeking, independence from others'
consumption experiences, and need for uniqueness as four explanations leading to high levels of innovativeness among consumers
(Roehrich, 2004). In empirical work, researchers have operationalized

innovativeness as a cognitive, personality-like construct (Goldsmith &


Hofacker, 1991).
Prior studies have examined various outcomes of innovative behavior,
including the number of products owned (Manning, Bearden, & Madden,
1995; Venkatraman & Price, 1990), ownership of a particular product
(Davis, 1989), purchase intentions (Flynn & Goldsmith, 1993), and the
relative time of adoption for a particular product (Goldsmith &
Hofacker, 1991). In a related study, Pagani (2007) found that for leisure
services (such as mobile games or mobile TV) usefulness is not the
most signicant driver inuencing attitude and innovativeness in the
adoption process.
Consistent with prior research, we suggest that the pursuit of excitement and stimulation through mobile activity may lead consumers, especially the youth generation, to form favorable attitudes toward mobile
marketing practices independent of usefulness perceptions. We further
posit that for highly innovative consumers, features meant to foster the
perception of usefulness related to mobile marketing with the average
consumer could become distractions or even annoyances as these features might remove the fun, thrill, or sense of novelty associated with
mobile campaigns. As such, innovativeness may reduce the prominence
of usefulness perceptions in impacting consumer attitudes toward mobile
marketing. Therefore we propose:
H3a. Consumer innovativeness has a signicant positive inuence on
attitude toward mobile marketing.
H3b. As consumer innovativeness increases, the effect of perceived
usefulness on attitude toward mobile marketing decreases.
2.3. Risk avoidance
Potential loss of privacy has largely been studied as a deterrent to
consumer disclosures, in particular with reference to online transactions (Milne, 2000; Phelps, Nowak, & Ferrell, 2000; Shankar et al.,
2010). Consumers' concern for privacy refers broadly to the issues
of who has access to their personal information and what is done
with it (Jarvenpaa, Tractinsky, & Vitale, 2000). When consumers feel
they do not have full control over the disposition of personal information (e.g., demographics, lifestyle, nancial data, purchase habits, and
locations), they may feel vulnerable.
Privacy issues in the online setting have been shown to inuence
attitudes toward and intentions to use online marketing (Malhotra,
Kim, & Agarwal, 2004). We propose that this may be the case as well
with mobile marketing. Consumers' attitude toward mobile marketing
involves not only perceptions of the technology itself (such as usefulness
and ease of use) but also beliefs about the trustworthiness of the mobile
marketing company (cf. Zhang & Mao, 2008). The risks and annoyances
represent disadvantages (or sacrices) associated with mobile marketing and may impact consumers' attitudes opposite from the inuence
of perceived usefulness. That is, highly risk-averse consumers might
form negative opinions about companies' mobile marketing practices
despite their usefulness. Furthermore, improved usefulness of mobile
marketing programs might not be possible without the price of heightened risks. As such, high levels of risk avoidance on the part of consumers
might work to weaken the role of usefulness in eliciting positive attitudes. Therefore, we propose:
H4a. Risk avoidance has a signicant negative inuence on attitude
toward mobile marketing.
H4b. As risk avoidance increases, the effect of perceived usefulness
on attitude toward mobile marketing decreases.
2.4. Personal attachment
Consumers, especially teens and young adults, increasingly consider
their mobile devices as indispensable and, therefore, become emotionally

T.(T.) Gao et al. / Journal of Business Research 66 (2013) 25362544

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attached to them (Vincent, 2005, 2006; Wehmeyer, 2007). The construct


personal attachment refers to the extent to which consumers view their
mobile phone as an integral part of their life and seek to personalize it
with unique content (such as mobile applications and ringtones) as a
way to present their devices as an extension of the self. One recent
study (Vincent, 2005) highlights how individuals' attachment to their
mobile device results from the connections with others that it provides.
Recent industry reports (e.g., Nokia, 2010) show that individuals in
countries characterized by high levels of collectivism, such as Asian markets, show stronger personal attachment with mobile devices. For many
users, mobile devices are an extension of themselves (Wehmeyer, 2007),
to the extent that when separated from their mobile phone, respondents
described it as a terrible experience. For many young consumers,
possessing a mobile phone further gives users a sense of belonging to a
group, being part of a scene, and being accepted (Vincent, 2006).
Users are attached to their mobile devices also because they contain
a wealth of personal, unique, and highly valued information. Several
studies have examined the role of personal attachment and mobile
phone use, including studies of children and teenagers in Finland
(Kasesniemi & Rautianinen, 2002) and youth consumers in the U.S.
(Harris Interactive 2007; Sultan et al., 2009). The central theme in
these studies is that the mobile device represents more than just a communication device; it also represents the self through personalized
features.
Considering the above trends, we posit that high levels of attachment to the mobile device will motivate consumers to search new
ways of customizing their cell phone and associated mobile experiences. Accordingly, highly attached consumers will be more willing to
embrace mobile marketing programs. Furthermore, consumers highly
involved with their mobile phone may derive unique benets from
the customization process such that the traditional notions of usefulness become less relevant in shaping their views of mobile marketing.
Thus, we propose the following hypotheses:

1975). Several studies have examined consumer acceptance of mobile


data services such as text messaging (e.g., Nysveen, Pedersen, &
Thorbjornsen, 2005) and mobile marketing (e.g., Jayawardhena et al.,
2009). Prior research in similar contexts has investigated the extent to
which the Internet (e.g., Novak, Hoffman, & Yung, 2000) and mobile
devices (Peters, Amato, & Hollenbeck, 2007) are viewed as viable commercial and advertising media. Specic to our research, consumer
acceptance relates to respondents' receptiveness and intention to
engage in activities such as receiving product- or information-related
marketing communications and promotional offers and purchasing
products via mobile devices.
Past research suggests that explicit consumer permission to receive
mobile advertisements (through opt-in approaches) can lead to relatively high acceptance levels (Barwise & Strong, 2002; Jayawardhena
et al., 2009; Leppniemi, Sinisalo, & Karjaluoto, 2006). As such, we
measure mobile marketing acceptance as consumers' willingness
to provide explicit permission to receive marketing or promotional
offers on one's mobile phone, willingness to receive offers from
companies selling products, and willingness to receive solicitations from
companies.
In many markets, mobile advertising is permission-based by either
law or policy in order to keep consumers free of unsolicited messages
and offers. As mobile phones are very personal devices, consumer
perceptions of controlling permission related to mobile advertising
(e.g., how many messages they receive in a given period) are considered important factors that might affect consumer acceptance of mobile
marketing (Barwise & Strong, 2002; Nysveen et al., 2005; Shankar et al.,
2010). Given the important role of permission-based marketing in the
mobile space (Karjaluoto, Lehto, Leppaniemi, & Jayawardhena, 2008),
we propose:

H5a. Personal attachment with the mobile device positively inuences consumers' attitude toward mobile marketing.

H7b. Consumers' permission-based acceptance of mobile marketing


has a positive moderating effect on the relationship between attitude
toward mobile marketing and mobile marketing activity.

H5b. As personal attachment increases, the effect of perceived usefulness on consumers' attitude toward mobile marketing decreases.
2.5. Attitude, acceptance, and activity related to mobile marketing
Consumers' attitudes, acceptance of, and behavior related to mobile
marketing are the key outcome variables in this study. Attitude is a central
concept in marketing, particularly with respect to emergent forms of
marketing communications and commerce. Fishbein and Ajzen (1975)
dene attitude as a learned predisposition, based on which individuals
respond to stimuli in various ways. Specic to our research, attitude
toward mobile marketing relates to respondents' feelings and beliefs
toward using their mobile phones for accessing information from
brands, downloading content, purchasing products, and/or receiving
incentives such as coupons.
According to the Theory of Reasoned Action (Fishbein & Ajzen,
1975), attitude precedes actual behavior and it has been used as a key
adoption determinant in user acceptance research (Venkatesh, Morris,
& Davis, 2003). Based on a meta-analysis, Sheppard, Hartwick, and
Warshaw (1988) conrm the strong positive relationship between attitude and behavior, while other studies (e.g., Davis, Bagozzi, & Warshaw,
1989; Taylor & Todd, 1995; Venkatesh & Davis, 2000) similarly note its
prediction of technology usage. We extend this research to the study of
mobile marketing and propose that:
H6. Consumers' attitude toward mobile marketing is positively related
to their mobile marketing activity.
Acceptance, or behavioral intent, has been dened as the strength
of one's intention to perform a specied behavior (Fishbein & Ajzen,

H7a. Consumers' attitude toward mobile marketing is positively related


to their permission-based acceptance of mobile marketing.

3. Methodology
This study is based on data collected from identical written surveys
administered to young mobile phone users in three global markets
(China, U.S., and Western Europe) in late Fall of 2009 and early Spring
of 2010. The China survey was administered to undergraduate students
at two large universities in Northern China; the U.S. survey was administered to undergraduate students at a large university in the Northeast;
and the Western Europe survey was administered to undergraduate
students from several Western European markets studying in an international exchange program at a large university in Italy. Both the U.S.
and Western Europe surveys were conducted in English (the language
of instruction in the Italian university's international exchange program
is English.), while the China survey was written and administered in
Chinese and then back-translated to English to check for consistency
with the English version. The choice of a sample representative of Gen
Y consumers was based on the widespread usage of mobile devices
for communications and data services among the youth market.
3.1. Survey development
Each construct was represented by multiple scale items either
adapted from existing scales for application to the mobile setting or
developed for this study where existing scales did not exist. The
scale for mobile marketing activity was specically developed for
this study. We included four common marketing uses of the mobile
phone in this scale and use the sum of these activities to form the
overall indicator for this construct. Prior to administering the survey,

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T.(T.) Gao et al. / Journal of Business Research 66 (2013) 25362544

it was reviewed by three outside executives familiar with mobile


marketing practice as well as research assistants and visiting scholars
for clarity and applicability to the topic being investigated. All scale
items and their appropriate sources are shown in Table 1.
3.2. Data collection
The survey responses were as follows: for the U.S. sample, 430
responses were obtained; for the China survey, 456 responses were
obtained; and for the Europe survey, 450 responses were obtained. The
data reported is based on respondents (all active mobile phone users)
who answered all questions used in the study. The respondent characteristics of the three survey samples are as follows: in the U.S. sample, 53%
were male; in the China sample, 31% were male; and in the Europe sample, 54% were male. A large majority (99% in the U.S. and China and 100%
in Western Europe) of respondents were between 18 and 24 years old.
Despite demographic differences, mobile marketing activity was similar
across the three samples.
3.3. Construct validation
To validate the measures of our constructs, we conducted a series
of conrmatory factor analyses (CFA) using LISREL 8.8 (Joreskog &

Sorbom, 1999) to test the dimensionality, reliability, and convergent as


well as discriminant validities of the measures (cf. Anderson & Gerbing,
1988). We performed CFAs for the U.S., China, and Western Europe samples in separate measurement models. For each sample, we conducted
CFAs rst for individual constructs (i.e., one measurement model per construct) and then for all constructs in one overall measurement model.
Given the cross-market nature of our study, it was important to
ensure measurement equivalence before testing the theoretical model
(Steenkamp & Baumgartner, 1998). We assessed the structural equivalence of the measurement model across the three markets by performing
contrast tests on the overall pattern of factor loadings across all three
pairs of two-country samples (Joreskog & Sorbom, 1999). Subsequent
2 tests for the unconstrained and constrained models conrmed structural equivalence in measurement models across the three markets
(Steenkamp & Baumgartner, 1998).
Table 1 shows the results of the overall measurement model
containing factors for all constructs for each sample. Aside from the
factor loadings, we also report the t indices, Cronbach's alphas, construct reliabilities, and average variances extracted (Fornell & Larcker,
1981). The t indices collectively show adequate t of the measurement
model with the data (Hu & Bentler, 1999).
All path coefcients from latent factors to their corresponding indicators were appropriately high and signicant. The composite reliability

Table 1
Conrmatory factor analyses by market.
Constructs and items

US

Perceived ease of use (source: Davis, 1989)


It is easy to use my mobile phone to access entertaining content such as games and other mobile applications
It is easy to use my mobile phone for nding out what is currently happening in my city
(e.g., events, concerts, new places to go)
It is easy to use my mobile phone to send photos and videos to friends and family
Perceived usefulness (sources: Davis, 1989)
My mobile phone is useful for accessing information related to stores, products, restaurants, etc.
My mobile phone is useful when I want to learn more about companies in which I am interested
My mobile phone is useful for helping me to keep up to date with current news
Personal attachment (sources: Vincent, 2005, 2006; Wehmeyer, 2007)
I can't live without my mobile phone
I use my mobile phone 24/7
I am addicted to my mobile phone
Innovativeness (source: adapted from Goldsmith & Hofacker, 1991)
When choosing what new mobile phones and other personal electronic products to buy, other people often turn to me for advice
I often recommend new applications (e.g., games, entertainment guides, brand-specic applications) available on mobile phone
I often send my friends information on new games or other applications for their mobile phone
Risk avoidance (sources: Jarvenpaa et al., 2000; White 2004)
I often reluctant to provide personal information such as my name and e-mail address in order to receive something of value to me
It is annoying when I receive random or unsolicited texts from companies or organizations
I am often reluctant to provide my personal information such as my name or email address in order to access news and information
in which I am interested
Attitude (sources: Fishbein & Ajzen, 1975)
I like the idea of using my mobile phone to purchase products or services
My mobile phone could be a good way for me to access information about things to do and places to go at anytime, anywhere
I would enjoy receiving coupons or other offers and incentives on my mobile phone
Permission-based acceptance (source: Jayawardhena et al., 2009)
From a company which asks for my permission
I would be willing to receive offers on my mobile phone from companies selling products related to an event I am attending
(for instance, at a sporting event)
I would be willing to receive real-time offers on my mobile phone from a store in my near vicinity
Overall, I would be willing to receive offers on my mobile phone from companies to whom I gave my permission
Mobile marketing activities
Purchase products or services
Download music
Download mobile applications (non-commercial)
Download mobile applications (brand-specic)
Model t indices

(.74; .77; .54)a (.75; .76; .53) (.71; .74; .50)


.74
.59
.69b
.60
.72
.69

a
b
c

.85
(.78;
.88
.74
.82
(.85;
.77
.87
.82
(.87;
.84
.81
.83
(.72;
.64
.67
.91

China

Europe

.72
(.72; .75; .51)
.67
.71
.74
(.76; .77; .53)
.78
.71
.70
(.75; .76; .53)
.75
.74
.67
(.74; .77; .53)
.74
.62
.81

.83
(.77; .80; .59)
.72
.75
.81
(.82; .83; .62)
.77
.83
.73
(.78; .79; .56)
.80
.71
.72
(.78; .82; .60)
.79
.69
.83

(.84; .81; .59)


.70
.76
.83
(.83; .85; .68)

(.84; .76; .52)


.69
.68
.78
(.81; .83; .62)

(.84; .75; .51)


.67
.73
.73
(.80; .84; .63)

.81

.76

.82

.82
.80
1.00c

.78
.81
1.00c

.81
.76
1.00c

2 = 470.63,
df = 182,
p b .001,
RMSEA = .06,
CFI = .97,
NFI = .96.

2 = 362.94,
df = 182,
p b .001,
RMSEA = .05,
CFI = .96,
NFI = .93.

2 = 554.50,
df = 182,
p b .001,
RMSEA = .06,
CFI = .95,
NFI = .92.

.84; .67)

.86; .67)

.87; .70)

.79; .56)

The numbers reported in the parentheses are Cronbach's alpha, composite construct reliability, and average variance extracted (Fornell & Larcker, 1981), respectively.
Standardized factor loadings.
Loadings were xed to 1 for the formative scale.

T.(T.) Gao et al. / Journal of Business Research 66 (2013) 25362544

coefcients and Cronbach's alphas were close to or exceeded the


recommended cutoff values of .60 and .70, respectively (Bagozzi & Yi,
1988), showing evidence of acceptable reliability among the remaining
items for all dimensions. Collectively, these indicators show adequate
convergent validity for our measures in the three samples (Anderson
& Gerbing, 1988). We assessed the discriminant validity of the factors
(see Anderson, 1987) by performing a series of two-factor CFA models
for all possible pairs of factors and found discriminant validity for all
the construct factors using a chi-square difference test (2[1] > 3.84
for all pair-wise comparisons).
3.4. Common method variance testing
We assessed common method variance (CMV) with the commonsource factor test (Podsakoff, MacKenzie, Lee, & Podsakoff, 2003). Specically, for each market sample, we reran the nal CFA by adding a
same-source factor with this extra factor having as indicators all the
measures (Belschak, Verbeke, & Bagozzi, 2006; Podsakoff et al., 2003).
Partialing out the effects of common method variance did not substantially affect the measures in any sample. In addition, several of
our hypotheses related to non-linear effects, which should signicantly
reduce the risk of participants anticipating the research goals and
responding accordingly (Belschak et al., 2006).
4. Results
The descriptive statistics shown in Table 2 highlight the crossmarket differences for the study constructs. Of note are the signicantly
higher means for perceived usefulness, attachment, and attitude in the
U.S. sample and for ease of use, risk avoidance, permission-based acceptance, and overall mobile marketing activity in the China sample.
We tested the main effects in a structural equation model using
LISREL 8.8 (Joreskog & Sorbom, 1999) for the U.S., China, and Western
Europe samples, respectively. The t indices in all three tests show
adequate t between the conceptual model and the data (Hu &
Bentler, 1999). All seven main effect hypotheses were supported in
the China and Western Europe samples and all but one was supported
in the U.S. sample. Aside from estimating market-specic SEM models,
we also tested the across-market equivalence of all parameter estimates
(Steenkamp & Baumgartner, 1998). The results of these tests are shown
in Table 3.
These results show that in all three markets, consumers' attitude
toward mobile marketing was inuenced by perceived usefulness, innovativeness, and personal attachment; and in China and Western Europe,
it was further reduced by consumers' risk avoidance. For the U.S. sample,
the rejected hypothesis was H4a, showing that consumers' risk avoidance has a negligible impact on their attitude toward mobile marketing
relative to the other antecedents. The results also conrm that ease of
use plays a very important role in shaping usefulness perceptions in all
three markets; approximately 90% of the variance in perceived

2541

usefulness is explained by ease of use, regardless of the market. The results further reveal that in all three markets, consumers' attitude toward
mobile marketing enhanced both their permission-based acceptance of
mobile marketing and their actual participation in mobile marketing
activities.
We tested the moderating effect hypotheses using a series of hierarchical regression analyses (Cohen & Cohen, 1983), with the results
presented in Tables 4 and 5. The moderating effects of innovativeness
(H3b) and risk avoidance (H4b) on the inuence of perceived usefulness on attitude toward mobile marketing were conrmed for Western
Europe. The moderating effect of personal attachment (H5b) related to
perceived usefulness and attitude was conrmed for the U.S. and China.
These results show that among the Western Europe respondents, innovativeness and risk avoidance not only inuence their attitude toward
mobile marketing through the main effects, but also weaken the effect
of perceived usefulness on attitude. In the U.S. and China samples,
personal attachment had a signicant main effect on attitude toward
mobile marketing while negatively moderating the effect of perceived
usefulness on attitude. Taken together, the tests of the moderating
effects of innovativeness, personal attachment, and risk avoidance highlight the cross-market similarities and differences regarding the unique
roles of these constructs in contributing to attitude formation.
As Table 5 shows, the moderating effect of permission-based
acceptance on the relationship between attitude and mobile marketing
activities was conrmed in all three markets. Therefore, as consumers'
express permission for mobile marketing increases, the positive inuence of attitude on mobile marketing activities will become stronger.
5. Discussion, implications, and future research
In this study, we investigate the effects of technology attributes (related to mobile marketing programs and functions) and individual characteristics (including innovativeness, attachment, and risk avoidance) on
consumers' attitudes toward mobile marketing and self-reported mobile
marketing activity among young consumers in the U.S., China, and
Western Europe. Interestingly, we found that results from the U.S.,
China, and Western Europe samples were largely similar. The seven
proposed main effects were all supported in the China and Western
Europe samples and all but one (the inuence of risk avoidance on
attitude) were supported in the U.S. sample.
5.1. Theoretical implications
Taking into account past research examining cultural differences
along the dimensions of uncertainty avoidance and collectivism
(Hofstede 1980), these ndings indicate cross-market similarities and
differences in consumer responses to mobile marketing programs. On
the one hand, the Gen Y respondents in these three markets show
surprising similarities regarding the relationships among technology
acceptance factors, individual characteristics, attitudes toward and

Table 2
Descriptive statistics of study constructs by market.
Variables

Perceived ease of use


Perceived usefulness
Attachment
Innovativeness
Risk avoidance
Attitude
Permission-based acceptance
Mobile marketing activities
Signicant at .05.
Signicant at .01.
Signicant at .001.

US

China

Europe

T-tests of mean differences

Mean

SD

Mean

SD

Mean

SD

USChina

USEurope

ChinaEurope

3.39
3.09
3.54
2.27
3.74
3.02
2.52
0.97

1.19
1.31
1.11
1.06
0.82
1.06
1.06
1.22

3.62
2.89
2.60
2.43
3.92
2.61
3.10
1.85

0.88
0.95
1.08
0.88
0.88
0.84
1.05
1.06

2.79
2.69
3.27
2.42
3.31
2.59
2.51
0.80

0.97
1.03
1.16
0.93
0.94
0.95
0.99
1.15

0.24
0.20
0.94
0.15
0.18
0.41
0.58
0.88

0.59
0.40
0.27
0.14
0.43
0.43

0.83
0.20
0.67

0.02
0.17

0.01
0.60
0.02
0.60
1.05

2542

T.(T.) Gao et al. / Journal of Business Research 66 (2013) 25362544

Table 3
Testing results of main effect structural equation model by market.
Hypotheses

2 difference for multi-group SEM test

Parameter estimates

H1: perceived usefulness attitude


H2: perceived ease of use perceived usefulness
H3a: innovativeness attitude
H4a: risk avoidance attitude
H5a: personal attachment attitude
H6: attitude mobile marketing activities
H7a: attitude permission-based acceptance
R2 for perceived usefulness
R2 for attitude
R2 for permission-based acceptance
R2 for mobile marketing activities
Model t indices

US

China

Europe

US vs. China

US vs. Europe

China vs. Europe

.58
.93
.39

.46
.94
.45
.27
.11
.39
.46

.45
.95
.33
.12
.10
.36
.54

4.28

4.17

.18
1.35
6.15
1.71
5.81

.67
2.41
5.91
.81
4.65
4.22

.92
.51
5.12
4.86
1.24
.45
2.98

.02
.09
.68
.41

1.23
.87
.88
.91
.84
.76
.55
.17
.21
.30
.46
.15
.17
2
U.S.: = 606.47, df = 197, p b .001, RMSEA = .07, CFI = .96, NFI = .95.
China: 2 = 391.68, df = 197, p b .001, RMSEA = .05, CFI = .96, NFI = .92.
Europe: 2 = 640.90 df = 197, p b .001, RMSEA = .07, CFI = .95, NFI = .91.

Signicant at .05.
Signicant at .01.
Signicant at .001.

acceptance of mobile marketing, and related mobile marketing activity.


Given the trend of a global Internet culture and the extent to which
markets are becoming aligned with respect to technological inuences
(Jenkins 2006; Khanh and Hau 2007), our ndings are suggestive of
how global mobile marketing strategies might evolve in the near future.
On the other hand, our study also demonstrates key differences in the
acceptance behaviors of consumers across these three markets. As
expected, consumer attitudes toward mobile marketing were inuenced
by perceived usefulness, personal attachment, and innovativeness in all
three markets. However, in the China and Western Europe samples, attitude was further reduced by consumers' risk avoidance. Conversely, for
the U.S. sample, risk avoidance had a negligible impact on attitude
toward mobile marketing.
From a theoretical perspective, these differences suggest the need
for further research to examine the extent to which the role of personal
risk and privacy concern on consumer acceptance of emerging digital
communications and marketing platforms may differ depending on cultural characteristics (such as collectivism and uncertainty avoidance)
and market conditions. Based on well-publicized concerns related to
online consumer privacy and data protection, including recent press
coverage of online marketers' ability to track consumers' virtual as well
as physical movements (Cohen, 2011), we had proposed that consumers'
desire to avoid risk related to companies' mobile marketing efforts
would signicantly affect attitudes toward mobile advertising and promotions across all three markets.
Therefore, these results (albeit expected in markets such as Western
Europe that are known for strict data and consumer privacy regulations
and laws) were surprising related to the U.S. sample. This nding seems
contrary to the explanation that in individual-oriented societies such as

Table 4
Testing results of moderating effects on attitude by market.
Predictor variables

Dependent variable: attitude


toward mobile marketing
US

Perceived usefulness (H2)


Innovativeness (H3a)
Risk avoidance (H4a)
Attachment (H5a)
Perceived usefulness innovativeness (H3b)
Perceived usefulness risk avoidance (H4b)
Perceived usefulness attachment (H5b)
Signicant at .05.
Signicant at .01.
Signicant at .001.

.56
.20
.04
.07
.01
.01
.06

China

Europe

.38
.25
.09
.16

.49
.19
.07
.06
.08
.10

.01
.01
.08

.03

the U.S., risk avoidance related to the mobile platform may have a stronger impact on attitude, whereas in Asian societies such as China dened
by higher degrees of collectivism, and where individual well-being is
subsumed within a system of collective welfare, the relationship between risk avoidance and activities such as accessing content in the
mobile setting may be heightened by communal, rather than individual,
concerns. One explanation for the unexpected nding about the U.S.
sample may be that younger consumers in media intensive markets
such as the U.S. increasingly perceive the line between commercial
advertising and real life as blurred (witness the recent popularity of
reality television programming and rise of product placement advertising) and they are becoming less risk averse, or more immune, to
the intrusion of commercial content in their daily lives, even when
delivered on their mobile phones.
Our research also adds support to past studies (e.g., Sultan et al.,
2009; Zhang & Mao, 2008) illustrating the varying roles of personal
attachment to mobile devices evident in all three samples as an
antecedent factor directly inuencing attitudes toward mobile marketing. The similar ndings with regard to attachment suggest that young
consumers in emerging markets in Asia such as China view their mobile
phones as a reection of the self and a status-based accessory with
which to convey personal identity, similar to the role of other fashion
items. In turn, personal attachment may inuence mobile marketing
activity in the form of accessing and sharing content. This nding is important to future theory development in that it illustrates the role of social
acceptance within certain consumer groups as an indicator of technology
acceptance and usage, especially among Asian societies.
Our ndings also show the role of consumers' attitudes toward
mobile marketing on permission-based acceptance. Whereas past research (e.g., Jayawardhena et al., 2009) has investigated permissionbased mobile marketing and its antecedents, we extend the current literature to include the moderating effect of permission-based acceptance on
the effect of attitude on behavior in the mobile marketing domain. Our
Table 5
Testing results of moderating effect on mobile marketing activities by market.
Predictor variables

Attitude toward mobile marketing (H6)


Permission-based mobile marketing acceptance
Attitude permission-based acceptance (H7b)
Signicant at .05.
Signicant at .01.
Signicant at .001.

Dependent variable: mobile


marketing activities
US

China

Europe

.45
.15
.13

.33
.09
.09

.29
.03
.10

T.(T.) Gao et al. / Journal of Business Research 66 (2013) 25362544

ndings show that permission-based mobile marketing acceptance signicantly enhances the inuence of attitude on mobile marketing activity
in all three markets. Industry organizations such as the Mobile Marketing
Association (mmaglobal.com) as well as regulatory agencies such as the
U.S. Federal Trade Commission stress the importance of consumer choice
and consent with respect to permission-based or opt-in marketing in the
wireless space. Against this background, our ndings point to the central
role of permission-based or opt-in approaches to the continued acceptance and growth of companies' mobile marketing efforts.
5.2. Managerial implications
Our ndings suggest several implications for companies and brands
developing global marketing communications and mobile marketing
strategy. Foremost, managers should recognize the similarities apparent
from this study related to the relationships between technology acceptance, individual characteristics, youth consumers' attitudes toward and
acceptance of mobile marketing, and related mobile marketing activity.
This study illustrates how perceived ease of use and perceived
usefulness are central to the continued acceptance of mobile marketing.
In general, the importance of ease of use and usefulness in relation to
wireless devices is illustrated by the concurrent growth of smartphone
penetration and usage and the growth of mobile marketing campaigns
and applications. Specic to this study, the mean for perceived ease of
use was highest in the China sample among the three markets. This
may in part be related to the function of mobile devices in China such
that, because of the characteristics of the Chinese language, fewer
keystrokes are needed to enter common words and phrases. In a similar
manner, the future growth of mobile marketing will in part depend on
continued advancements in the usability and usefulness of wireless
devices such as phones and tablets.
Our ndings related to the role of risk avoidance and its inuence
on attitudes toward mobile marketing, and subsequently acceptance
and mobile marketing activity, underline an important phenomenon
taking place in emerging markets such as China, where individuals'
initial exposure to the Internet often takes place through mobile devices.
Indeed, in developing Asian markets such as China, India, Pakistan, and
various African countries, some consumers' access to markets and information occur primarily through their mobile devices, resulting in high
dependence on the mobile platform. Even if an individual may be risk
averse with respect to online activity, in these emerging or developing
markets mobile communications and activity becomes compulsory simply because of a lack of alternatives. Additionally, the social structure in
many populous developing countries in Asia such as China is one in
which individuals (especially farmers) are often away from home for
long periods while pursuing work opportunities in urban areas. The
Chinese labor force in particular includes millions of workers from the
north and west that annually migrate to the south and for whom mobile
devices may be their only media and communication platform. Therefore,
mobile devices might play a central role within the lives of consumers in
markets in many Asian markets where existing communication infrastructures are less developed and where mobility is a central aspect of individuals' lifestyles.
However, the ndings reported here for the Western Europe sample
differ from those for China. Independent of acceptance level, mobile
marketing activity among the Western Europe respondents remained
comparatively low. One reason for lower mobile marketing activity
may be due to cultural differences related to privacy concerns, seen
through newly proposed laws that seek to balance freedom of speech
with consumers' right to privacy online (Daley, 2011) as well as an
overall and continued reluctance to buy goods and services online
(Lewis, 2009).
Lastly, to account for the positive role of perceived innovativeness on
attitude toward mobile marketing, companies will also want to further
explore the concept of social commerce or social media to enable consumers to purchase, talk about, and recommend products or services

2543

direct from mobile social media such as Facebook. This is particularly


true for companies and brands seeking to enter or compete more effectively in markets such as those studied here with widespread Internet
mobile device adoption.
5.3. Limitations and future research
In summary, the ndings reported here provide perspectives on
an emergent, homogeneous and global Internet culture that is increasingly dened by increased mobility. Given that markets such as
the U.S., China, and Western Europe remain culturally different, particularly with respect to online privacy regulations, future research
should examine specic cultural differences such as privacy concerns
in greater depth in order to illustrate how these cultural differences
inuence both usage and acceptance of mobile marketing. Because
this was a study employing a non-probability sample of the youth
segment within three markets, the choice of this sampling strategy
may limit the generalizability of the ndings reported here. Future research with a broader sampling frame should further examine differences related to age and gender as well as socio-economic and cultural
factors. Despite these limitations, this was an attempt at a parsimonious,
yet integrative model linking an array of antecedent factors to acceptance of mobile marketing practices across three inuential global
markets.
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