Ruoou Li

Date of Award

Fall 2022

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


Moore School of Business

First Advisor

Linyun W. Yang

Second Advisor

Abhijit Guha


As the demand for creating and embracing a diverse marketplace increases, marketing strategies that over-generalize the needs of different consumer groups are no longer viable. Thus, many brands and companies have begun offering inclusive products that accommodate the specific needs of historically underserved consumers (e.g., women, people of color). One important question for marketers to answer is how these inclusive products should be promoted to appeal to these previously undervalued consumers. While prior research suggests that consumers will favor products with more explicit descriptions of the target consumer (i.e., blatant targeting) because doing so makes the targeted identity salient, I find that explicitly identifying underserved consumers as the target consumer can backfire because doing so can raise the suspicions of underserved consumers. In turn, these heightened suspicions negatively impact assessments of the company’s intentions and ultimately evaluations of the product. In addition, my research also provides actionable solutions for managers to communicate effectively to these consumer segments. Specifically, I show that featuring an ingroup product creator can effectively reduce underserved consumers’ suspicions surrounding blatant targeting.