Uses and Gratifications Theory
In today’s society, media are an integrated part of the everyday life and an aspect of social actions and interpretations of messages (O’Donohoe, 1994) and therefore, there is a comprehensive interest in studying this field. The initial studies within the field of mass communications tended to focus on the impact of the messages. The U&G theory was first and formally elaborated by Katz (O’Donohoe, 1994), and it was primarily applied onto the uses of Radio. However, later studies from the 1940’s till today, focus on what users do with the messages and media instead.
The U&G theory takes a functionalist perspective on communication through media (Luo, 2002; Lim & Ting, 2012). It addresses the users’ consumption preferences related to the choice of media and the gratification it results in (Lim & Ting, 2012). The theory argues that consumption of media derives from a desired outcome based on the users’ psychological needs (Katz, Blumler & Gurevitch, 1974; Luo, Chea & Chen, 2011), both cognitive and affective (Chua, Goa & Lee, 2012), and explains how the audience behave in subject to the fulfilment of these and past experiences (Katz et al., 1974). Moreover, U&G provides valuable insights on why certain media channels are adopted and the uses of the media (Rubin, 1994, as cited in Lim & Ting, 2012). Therefore it is regarded as a suitable approach to analyse users’ incentive for the usage of traditional media such as television and radio (Luo et al. 2011; Eighmey & McCord, 1998). Furthermore, recent literature argues that U&G is a useful tool to study online communication and interactive media as well (Ruggiero, 2000; Pai & Arnott, 2013; Luo et al. 2011; Lim & Ting, 2012).
The key terms under U&G are gratifications sought and gratifications obtained. The gratifications sought refers to the expectations a user has on a certain media, and how it can meet and fulfil these needs (Kim, Lee, Jo, Jung & Kang, 2015). The gratifications obtained refers to the gratifications a user experiences using the media, but these might not fit together with the gratifications sought. Hence, this gap is the reason why the user is either satisfied or dissatisfied with the medium, and it determines whether the user will adopt the media or not (Ruggiero, 2000; Kim et al., 2015). Moreover, the basic assumptions of U&G are (1) the audience is active and that their consumption is aligned with their goals; (2) the different media competes with other sources to satisfy the audience’s needs; (3) the choice of media is motivated by previous experiences of the specific media; (4) people select and use communication tools in order to satisfy their desires and needs, that is, the selection of media is motivated and purposive; (5) while the consumer’s individual past experiences should be taken into account, value judgements based on cultural influences should be neglected (Katz et al., 1974; Lim & Ting, 2012). Based on the assumption that the audience is active, media use is goal-directed. Therefore, to link the need gratification with the chosen media is the responsibility of the user (O’Donohoe, 1994).
Various Ways of Classifying
According to O’Donohoe (1994), the gratifications sought from media may be classified into (1) diversion, (2) entertainment and (3) information, which all in turn are affected by the social roles and psychological disposition of the user. Here, diversion is described as the way to add value, or something to do or watch to alleviate boredom. Entertainment was not thoroughly explained in this report, however, other studies refer to it as hedonism, and whether it is fun (Pai & Arnott, 2013; Lim & Ting, 2012). McQuail (1983, as cited in Luo, 2002, p.35) states that « the value of media entertainment lies in its ability to fulfil users’ needs for escapism, hedonistic pleasure, aesthetic enjoyment, or emotional release”.
Information is described as a way of obtaining some form of education, scanning of the environment or retrieving information about products. According to Luo (2002), the information gratification concerns whether the medium provides useful and helpful information. The information should be accurate, timely, useful and informational, in order to meet psychological needs (Luo, 2002).
However, given the amount of years that the U&G theory has been in use, there are various applications of it. Therefore, there are also many classifications of mass media uses, even though many of these display some similarities. For example, in one of the originating works on U&G, needs were divided into (1) cognitive, (2) affective, (3) personal integrative, (4) social integrative and (5) tension release (Kim et al., 2015). Here, the cognitive concerns the acquisition of information and knowledge, and the affective includes emotions, pleasure and feelings. The personal integrative comprises status, social integrative is about nurturing relationships. Finally, need is about escape and diversion. Furthermore, another categorisation of needs is provided by Kim et al. (2015), whereby the authors argue that information, identification, entertainment and social interaction were found to be the most important elements.
In recent research, the theory has been applied onto different media channels, wherebydifferent gratifications sought are based on the nature of the different ‘modern technologies’. For example, the end-goals in mobile phone usage are; sociability, instrumentality, entertainment, reassurance, status, mobility, and immediate access (Leung & Wei, 2000, as cited in Grellhesl & Pynyanunt-Carter, 2012), whereas social networking sites include belonging, reciprocity, hedonism and self-esteem (Pai & Arnott, 2013).
Given these multiple interpretations and approaches, studies often group several variables into distinct categories, which were previously seen as separate entities. This signifies the versatility of the theory and the different ways in which it can be applied. However, it is stressed that motivations may not fall perfectly into solely one category, but into several (O’Donohoe, 1994).
1.2 Problem Discussion
1.4 Research Question
2 Frame of Reference
2.1 The Changing Landscape of Marketing
2.2 Content Marketing
2.3 Theoretical Framework
3 Case background
3.1 The Swedish Grocery Retail Sector
3.2 ICA Gruppen AB
4 Methodology and Method
4.1 Research Philosophy
4.3 Research Purpose
4.4 Research Strategies
4.5 Data Collection
4.7 Validity of Research
5.1 ICA’s Content Marketing Efforts
5.2 Interview Summary
6.1 Why Does The Consumer Consume Content Provided by ICA as its Content Marketing
6.2 How do ICA’s Customers Carry out Their Grocery Shopping?
6.3 How is The Consumers’ Consumption of ICA’s Content Intertwined with the
Consumption Practice, That is, Grocery Shopping?
7 Conclusion and Discussion
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Content – From Selling to Helping