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Brand Personality

Brand Personality

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Published by: Dheeraj on Jan 29, 2009
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06/30/2013

 
An Integrative Model of Brand Personality, Self–Concept and Consumer Personality Orientations
Ben Webb and John Gountas, La Trobe University, Australia
Abstract
Aaker (1997) developed a robust and reliable brand personality inventory, which ishypothesised to be generalisable across brand categories and it broadly reflects consumer  personality characteristics. Aaker’s brand personality is not anchored to any particular  personality theory and does not relate to any particular personality inventory. Brand personality generates descriptive information about the brand perceptions but it is not veryinformative of the kind of consumer that is likely to relate to the five-brand personality traits.This paper attempts to identify relationships between Aaker’s brand personality andconsumer’s specific personality traits. Consumer’s self-concept is also intrinsically linkedwith brand and consumer personality characteristics. This paper tests the triangular relationships between the constructs of self-concept, and consumer and brand personalitytraits. The empirical research findings suggest that there is a link between consumer’s personality, brand personality and consumer’s self-concept.
Brand Personality
The premise that brands have anthropomorphic characteristics that ascribe specific human like personality traits is widely acknowledged in the literature (Schiffman et al, 2001; Aaker et al,2004). The research on brand personality suggests that consumers select brands that arecongruent with their needs and personality characteristics. Brand characteristics tend to besimilar with consumer’s self-concept and personality traits, therefore behaviour choices are predictable if marketers identify consumer’s self-images and brand perceptions. Aaker’s(1997: 347) definition of brand personality is a collection of isomorphic characteristics withhuman personality traits. Aaker (1997) developed a reliable and generalisable brand personality construct, which has been tested with a number of product categories in the USA.The overall Aaker brand personality inventory structure and conceptualisation is original and bears no resemblance to Five Factor Inventory (FFI or the “Big Five” personality trait model)(Norman, 1963; Goldberg, 1990, 1993; McCrae and Costa, 1997). It is widely accepted thatmany personality inventories that have been used for research on branding issues have beendirectly imported from general psychology or have been developed in an ad hoc manner (Kassarjian, 1971; Aaker, 1997), and their usefulness are somewhat limited in predictingconsumer choices (Plummer, 1985). The Aaker brand personality inventory has beendeveloped to measure brand characteristics only without any connection to consumer  personality characteristics. The Aaker brand personality inventory has demonstratedempirically psychometric rigour and therefore it is a valid and reliable instrument.However, the brand personality inventory is not related to any particular personality inventoryand there are no direct associations between consumer personality and brand personality(Aaker, Kumar and Day, 2004; Aaker, Garolera and Benet-Martinez, 2001). Freling andForbes (2005) found that brands with strong personalities are likely to generate positiveattitudes with consumers, which are likely to result in evaluations that are more favourable.Strong positive brand personalities are more likely to be associated and contribute moretowards the creation of a distinctive brand identity with a clearer market position. Freling and
 
Forbes suggest that brand personality could differentiate and create competitive advantage inthe consumer’s minds for brands that otherwise are indistinguishable from their competitors.Brand equity is more likely to be stronger for brands that are clearly distinguished anddifferentiated in crowded consumer markets (Lovelock, 1984; Keller, 1993). Effective marketsegmentation and communication strategies would be possible if brand personalitycharacteristics could be anchored with specific consumer market traits and other individualconsumer psychometric characteristics, such as, self-concept. Identifying congruityrelationships between brand image and consumer’s self-image would enable marketers to position and promote products more effectively with the appropriate target markets.Identifying more clearly symbolic brand personality meanings, consumer personalitycharacteristics and the interrelationships between consumer self-image and brand image,would provide an integrated nomothetic approach to understanding the symbolic with theactual consumer needs. Understanding the relationships between brand and consumer  personality would prove most invaluable, as personality constructs, are considered stable over a long timer and universally generalisable for all individuals and transcend culturaldifferences (Jung, 1921/1971; McCrae and Costa, 1997). Brand meaning and personality isfound to transcend cultural boundaries and therefore coupled with consumer personalitycharacteristics would be a valuable combination for marketing strategy purposes for all kindsof brands globally (Aaker and Schmitt, 2001; Escalas and Bettman, 2005).Thus the followinghypothesis is proposed.
H1:
Specific brand personality characteristics are positively related to consumer’s personality characteristics.
Self Concept and Brand Self-congruity
The use of personality as a predictor of self-congruity seems a natural extension of the self-concept/Self-congruity theory because both constructs are closely related to each other (Markus and Nurius, 1986; Schiffman et al, 2001). According to Pervin and John (2001), self-concept is often viewed as a component of personality. A number of researchers havesuggested that there is a positive association between self-concept and brand image (Levy,1959; Sirgy 1982; Sirgy and Su, 2000; Sirgy, Grewal and Mangleburg, 2000; Johar and Sirgy,1991). Self-concept is hypothesised to consist of four components, actual self-concept, idealself-concept, social self-concept and ideal social self-concept (Schiffman et al., 2001). Withinthis framework, actual self-concept refers to the present way in which individuals perceivethemselves (reality), whereas the ideal self-concept represents the manner in which theywould like to perceive themselves. Social self-concept represents the way individuals believeothers perceive them, while ideal social self-concept represents the way the individual desiresto be perceived by others.Self-congruity represents the degree of similarity between consumer’s self-image or self-concept and that of brand. The degree of consistency between the self-image and brand imageis self-congruity (Sirgy, 1982). The four aspects of self-concept compose the global self-image, which is hypothesised to influence consumer choices of products/brands through self-image with brand image congruity (Johar and Sirgy, 1991; Sirgy and Su, 2000). There is noclear position or evidence of whether ideal self-image is related to ideal product image andsocial self-image with social aspects of brand personality. Sirgy and Su (2000) suggest thatconsumers purchase product/brands that possess images or indicate specific types of either actual or aspiration brand images that are congruent with consumers multiplicity of self images, either actual or ideal ones. Congruity impacts are desirable because they influence
 
 positively consumer’s self-image, but inconsistencies or incongruity is likely to result infeelings of inadequacy, and dissatisfied with their choices (Johar and Sirgy, 1991;
 
Sirgy andSu, 2000). However, Kleijnen et al (2005) suggest that there is very little difference betweenactual and ideal self-image and therefore the measurement of congruence with brand imagesis very small and almost negligible. Bandura (1999) suggests that multiple conceptions of self cannot exist simultaneously, because it would require some sort of overseer self, enabling themanagement and coordination of the various selves, to determine which of the four aspects of self-image should engage with specific brand choice context. Therefore the overall or globalself-concept is not truly divided into clear and independent separate segments, but rather thereis a ‘core self’, which is able to determine appropriate modes of behaviour according tosituational contexts and demands. Due to the conceptual criticisms, the multidimensional self-concept perspective is reconceptualised into a unifying and integrative single global self-concept. Global self-concept integrates all four self-concept component but it permits themeasurement of the distinctive individual components of the construct as well. The proposedhypothesis is that:
H2:
 
Global
self-concept as a multidimensional construct, (entailing the four componentsof actual self-concept, ideal self-concept, social self-concept and ideal social self-concept) is positively related to brand image and consumer personality image.
Methodology
The research attempts to test the relationships between brand personality characteristics,consumer’s self image and consumer’s personality orientations. The context that has beenchosen is fashion clothes items that consumers have bought recently. There are no specificinstructions about the price levels, distribution outlets or type of clothing as long as they areconsidered to be relevant to the young consumer’s (students) self image. A purposiveconvenience sampling method was used to achieve a sample size of N=232 consumers. Thesample is predominantly composed of young adults studying in a Victorian university with anaverage age of 22 years old, including 60% females and 40% males. The reasons for thechoosing students in our sample are because they are mostly young age, tend to be fashionconscious and there is a strong likelihood that these type of consumers are more likely tochoose carefully clothing items. From our qualitative research the findings suggest that youngstudent consumes tend to be more concerned with self-image and brand image issues than anyother age groups. The survey questionnaire instrument was developed based on the literaturereview and qualitative research findings. Aaker’s (1997) brand personality factors were testedduring the focus groups and depth interviews and were adapted to suit the young targetmarkets. The researchers tried to take into consideration the research context of buyingfashionable clothing brands. The research instrument used thirty-six adjectives to describe allrelevant brand personality factors and was scored as dichotomous items. The consumer  personality items are taken from the Tourism Preferences Survey instrument developed byGountas and Gountas (2001) and Gountas (2003). Small adaptations were made to suit thecontext of brand purchasing and demographic characteristics of the study. The personalityorientations instrument contained thirty-two items which were scored on a five point Likertscale.

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