Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

PhD in Business


Department of Marketing

First Advisor

Pierre Berthon

Second Advisor

Linda Edelman

Third Advisor

David Hannah


Keeping secrets is common to both corporations and public organizations. However, secrets have, until recently, received little attention in the marketing literature. The research on secrecy, to date, has been focused on the appropriating value from innovation. The purpose of my dissertation is to explore how secrecy can be used to create value for consumers. Paper one integrates the existent research on secrecy to develop an overarching framework and categorize four common types of secrets: reputational secrets, trade secrets, managerial secrets, and marketing secrets. The drivers and consequences of secrecy are identified across all three levels of analysis: individual, organizational and macro level. Paper two develops a conceptual model of marketing secrets. It maintains a relational approach to model three types of relationships that can be augmented by secrecy: between a secretive brand and customers knowing the secret (insiders), brand and customers from whom the secret is hidden (outsiders), and between insiders and outsiders. Finally, paper three provides an empirical evidence through an explorative quasiexperiment and a series of laboratory studies in the context of the video games industry. Taken together, the three papers link the phenomenon of secrecy to the marketing literature on branding and consumer behavior. These studies contribute to the literature on consumer uncertainty, new product pre-announcements, and brand signaling. The practical implications include guidance on the use of secrecy in marketing campaigns.