A set-theoretic approach to identifying effective configurations ofpromotional attributes

Suntong QI, Ling PENG, Yu-Jen CHEN

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review


Most previous studies have indicated promotional attributes separately (e.g. time pressure, giveaways, price discounts, exclusivity) and found controversial effects. This paper aims to explore how different attributes can be aligned with each other and integrated with different levels of brand strength to influence sales or purchase intention according to the fit logic.

Both field data and controlled experiments are used to understand the effectiveness of promotion configurations. This paper first conducts an exploratory study using qualitative comparative analysis, based on 625 online promotion campaigns. This paper identifies several effective configurations of promotion attributes, leading to the development of two hypotheses. Three experiments are then designed to test the validity of these two hypotheses.

The results show that strong brands should adopt nonmonetary promotion, whereas weak brands should adopt monetary promotion; exclusivity and time limitation should be used separately.

Research limitations/implications
This paper provides empirical insights on how promotion elicits sales in terms of the configuration of promotional attributes and brand strength. This paper examines the integrative effect of types of giveaways, promotion duration and promotion target as well as brand strength on promotion effectiveness. Future research can explore other promotional attributes. This study is a first attempt to introduce and apply the set-theoretic approach to address strategic research issues and inform strategic decisions and managerial actions.

Practical implications
The findings can facilitate marketers’ understanding and predictions of deal recipients’ responses to promotions.

This paper adopts a holistic view to investigate how different promotion attributes interact with one another to stimulate sales. It explores the integrative effect from field data and finds converging evidence through a set-theoretic approach and controlled experiments.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)626-637
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Consumer Marketing
Issue number6
Early online date18 Aug 2021
Publication statusPublished - 22 Sept 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, Emerald Publishing Limited.


  • Brand strength
  • Exclusivity
  • Promotional configurations
  • Promotional giveaways
  • Sales promotion
  • Time limitation


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