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Peer crowd-based targeting in E-cigarette advertisements: a qualitative study to inform counter-marketing.


BACKGROUND:Cigarette lifestyle marketing with psychographic targeting has been well documented, but few studies address non-cigarette tobacco products. This study examined how young adults respond to e-cigarette advertisements featuring diverse peer crowds - peer groups with shared identities and lifestyles - to inform tobacco counter-marketing design. METHODS:Fifty-nine young adult tobacco users in California participated in interviews and viewed four to five e-cigarette advertisements that featured characters from various peer crowd groups. For each participant, half of the advertisements they viewed showed characters from the same peer crowd as their own, and the other half of the advertisements featured characters from a different peer crowd. Advertisements were presented in random order. Questions probed what types of cues are noticed in the advertisements, and whether and how much participants liked or disliked the advertisements. RESULTS:Results suggest that participants liked and provided richer descriptions of characters and social situations in the advertisements featuring their own peer crowd more than the advertisements featuring a different peer crowd. Mismatching age or device type was also noted: participants reported advertisements showing older adults were not intended for them. Participants who used larger vaporizers tended to dislike cigalike advertisements even if they featured a matching peer crowd. CONCLUSION:Peer crowd and lifestyle cues, age and device type are all salient features of e-cigarette advertising for young adults. Similarly, educational campaigns about e-cigarettes should employ peer crowd-based targeting to engage young adults, though messages should be carefully tested to ensure authentic and realistic portrayals.

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