Based on the perspective of dual-system information processing, this article explores how word-of-mouth (WOM) referral affects the purchase intentions of consumers with different types of self-construal. Two experimental studies, using WeChat as a research setting, tested the interactive influence of type of WOM referral (economic vs. public welfare) and type of self-construal (independent vs. interdependent) on consumers’ purchase intention toward the referred product and its intermediary mechanism. The results showed that economic (vs. public welfare) WOM referrals, which emphasize a product’s economic benefits, increased the purchase intention of consumers with an independent (vs. interdependent) self-construal, who typically take an individualistic perspective. In contrast, public welfare (vs. economic) WOM referrals, which emphasize the social benefits connected to a company for the community at large, increased the purchase intention of consumers with an interdependent (vs. independent) self-construal, who take a more collectivistic perspective. The results also shed light on the underlying mechanism by showing that different types of selfconstrual activate different information processing systems in consumers, which mediate consumers’ reaction to different types of WOM referrals. Specifically, economic WOM referrals can inspire consumers with an independent self-construal to engage in more emotional processing, thereby generating higher purchase intentions; in contrast, public welfare WOM referrals can stimulate consumers with an interdependent self-construal to get involved in more cognitive processing, thereby generating higher purchase intentions. These findings contribute to WOM literature and provide practical implications for companies adopting societal marketing strategy and implementing sustainable promotional plans.
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