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The perceived brand age

Denis DARPY
Professeur des Universits Universit Pierre et Marie Curie (Paris 6) Centre de recherche DMSP DRM (UMR CNRS 7088 Universit de Paris Dauphine) Office data Universit Paris Dauphine Centre de recherche DMSP 75775 Paris Cedex 1tel : 01 44 05 41 86 mail : denis.darpy@dauphine.fr

Adrien LEVESQUE
Chef de produit NISSAN Europe Office data : NISSAN Europe 13 r Jean d'Alembert 78190 TRAPPES tel. : 01 30 13 66 86 mail : alevesque@nissan-europe.com Abstract : Revitalization programs have outlined the importance of the brand age. The perceived age brand is defined as a multidimensional concept based on the physical appearance of the brand and on its market role. Scale development and validation procedures are conducted. The research shows the strong relationship between the perceived brand age, conceptualized as a second order construct and the brand attitude. This link provides the marketer with the appropriate tools to select the best actions he should undergo to rejuvenate its brand. Keywords : Brand management revitalization programs scale measurement brand age brand personality brand attitude.

The perceived brand age


1 Introduction Whatever its age, a brand is regularly undergoing revitalization programs (Aaker, 1990 ; Keller, 1998 ; Kapferer, 1995). Many brands are perceived as young or old without any link to the chronological age. How can a 100 years old brand (such as car makers) may be considered as young by consumers. Brand management literature insists on the negative consequences of the brand growing old. For many researchers, the brand is getting old when consumers begin to neglect it and do not integrate it anymore in their evoked set (Aaker, 1991 ; Lehu, 2004). While the chronological age of the brand is sometimes an asset, the perceived brand age is an important concept for the consumer which is not defined from a consumer point of view. In spite of the importance of the concept for managerial decisions, there is no available tool to measure it. This paper defines the concept of perceived brand age, proposes a measurement scale and evaluates its impact on the brand attitude. 2 Perceived brand age : a distinct construct from brand personality The brand age concept belongs to a wide research field using consumer animism & anthropomorphism tendencies to study the symbolic consumption of brands. So far, the concept of brand age has only been considered as a component of the brand personality. Following Levy (1959), Birdwell (1968) or Jacoby and Olsen(1985) recommendations, Batra & al. (1993) and Aaker (1997) both include age items ("old" / "young") in their brand personality scale. However, the introduction of the brand age concept into the brand personality has never been demonstrated as such and its validity can legitimately be questioned. Moreover, this hypothesis appears to be inconsistent or contradictory with other research fields, notably : a) the age is considered as more salient and independent from the personality in the self concept theory (Rosenberg, 1979; Sirgy, 1982), b) personality is marginally impacted by ageing and remains stable throughout lifespan (Costa et MacCrae, 1988, 1992), c) personality traits are not sufficient to describe a person according his age (physical and social attributes are largely used) and moreover, personality traits are not necessary as they are marginally discriminating between age groups (Deaux et Lewis, 1983, 1984; Kite et Johnson, 1988; Hummert, 1990) . Therefore, to propose a valid and consistent framework, we do believe the perceived brand age construct has to be considered as distinct from the brand personality construct. 3 Perceived brand age : definition Human ageing is a complex phenomena with biological consequences, social and psychological consequences. Perceived human age is conceptualized as multidimensional construct with four dimensions : physical, social, cognitive and psychological (Kastenbaum et al., 1972 ; Barak et Schiffman, 1981). The cognitive and psychological approach is relatively difficult taking into account information available to the individual to forge a judgement. The perception of the age of others thus seems to be based mainly on physical and social dimensions (Barak et Schiffman, 1981). Under minimal conditions of information, such as in a first meeting, some of the most salient characteristics of the individual met, like its physical appearance, will be used to evaluate the age (Britton et Britton, 1961 ; Kastenbaum et al., 1972 ; Lawrence, 1974). Several attributes typical of the physical appearance are recognized as sources of information to help age categorization : the expression of the face, the posture of the body, the voice, the beauty, the color of the hair, clothing, the make-up. The audio-visual elements of the brand, such as

packaging, communication, design of the products and the logos, advertising musics and jingles will play the same function. The social dimension is also largely taken into account in the evaluation of the age of others (Lawrence, 1974). People assigned social roles to specific forms of family structure and professional occupations. The family life cycle links social roles to age (Levinson and Al, 1978). They are different mainly by their degree of utility, by their social productivity (i.e. their contributions to economic, social or artistic life) and their fruitfulness (i.e. capacity to procreate and renew the population). In addition, these roles are more or less visible: professional occupations are generating social bonds while the retirement implies a reduction in the social interactions according to the theory of disengagement (Cumming and Henry, 1961) and one form of alienation with respect to social environment, i.e. a separation of the social structure of membership (Seeman, 1959). Social roles are transposable to the brand. First of all the utility of the brand is provided by its single character (the unicity of associations to the brand, perceived difference). Beyond, the impressions of productivity and fruitfulness can be generated by all the elements which contribute to create the brand life : the innovation, the restoration, brand extensions, new uses of the products, product modifications. They show the brand has energy, competences and financial solidity to make move its market and to structure it. All these elements contribute to evaluate the role on the market of a brand. When identifying a brand to a person, physical and social dimensions should help the consumer to perceive the brand age. Consumers evaluate the physical dimension through the adequacy of the audio-visual signs of the brand at their time, with current fashion trends, current tastes and preferences. Meanwhile, the consumers can evaluate the contribution of a brand to its market, i.e. the specific "role" that it is due to it. The perceived age is a sociodemographic characteristic of the brand, appreciated in a subjective way by the consumer based on physical aspect of this brand and the specific role which it holds on the market. On the basis of this definition the concept is measured with a new measurement scale and its effect on brand attitude towards is assessed. 4 Perceived brand age scale measurement development 4.1 Study 1 : scale development A focus group was organized to generate items while proposing to participants the following instruction: Quote the adjectives which according to you express best the physique of a brand and its role on the market". This first exploratory phase generated 39 bipolar items potentials. The redundant pairs of items and the items not representative of the construct as it is proposed in its definition were eliminated. A questionnaire containing the 14 most representative bipolar items set in random order has been submitted in French to 100 individuals of more than 20 years (average = 27,4 years; median = 26 years). 10 questionnaires are not exploitable because of missing data. The opinions are collected on 3 automobile brands: Peugeot, Renault, and Citroen. 270 observations are available for the analysis. After having to check that all the items captured variance, the analysis in principal components with Varimax rotation reveals two dimensions. After elimination of the items saturating strongly on two dimensions, one obtains a simple structure with 8 items.
Physical appearence esthetics/ unaesthetic beautiful/ ugly Graceful /disgraceful seducing/ not very seducing visible/ insignificant ,895 ,878 ,873 ,808 ,161 Role on market ,275 ,267 ,297 ,478 ,895

present/ in withdrawal Fashionable / not fashionable innovative/ traditional

,381 ,404 ,316

,807 ,796 ,768

Table 1 : Principal component analysis of the perceived brand age scale with varimax rotation

The first dimension gathers the items relating to the aesthetics of the brand which we call Physical Appearance. It explains 42% of the variance observed among the items with alpha = 0.94. The second dimension gathers the items describing the more or less active role and pivot of the brand on its market, and we let us name it Market Role (39% of explained variance; alpha = 0,89). 4.2 Study 2 : validation study A second study was conducted to replicate the factorial structure of the new scale, to test the validity of measurement and to measure the impact of the perceived brand age on brand attitude. 136 individuals completed the questionnaire as part of a general battery. The scale of perceived brand was consisted of the 8 remaining items at the end of the first study. Six brands were chosen for the data collection: Lancme, Garnier, Biotherm, Renault, Peugeot and Citroen. A direct measurement of the attitude, a direct measurement of the perceived age as well as the measurement of the subjective age were added for control. To check the dimensionality and the reliability of the scale, a confirmatory factorial analysis is carried out. A first analysis with the 8 items reveals strong standardized residuals around the items fashionable and seducing. When one item has important residuals in absolute values while no factorial structure is emerging, it is advised to remove it (Steenkamp & van Trijp, 1991). Both items above mentioned are thus withdrawn and a second confirmatory factorial analysis on 6 items shows a reasonable adjustment of the scale to the data (GFI = 0,986; AGFI = 0,964; CFI = 0,993; RMSEA = 0,056). Saturations of all the items on their respective factor are significant on the p level < 0,001. Two dimensions have an excellent reliability calculated by the rh of Joreskog (see table 2). The convergent validity of the items compared to dimensions which they are supposed to measure is also good : the variance shared between dimensions and its measurements is higher than 0,5 (Fornell and Larcker, 1981).
Factors Items Phsysical appaearnce Graceful disgraceful (Gracieuse disgracieuse ) Beautiful ugly (Belle laide) Aesthetic unaesthetic (Esthtique inesthtique) Visible insignificant (Visible efface) Role on the market Innovative Traditional (Innovante Traditionnelle) Present in withdrawal (Prsente en retrait) 1 1,198 (t=22,269) (ML): 0,054 1,258 (t=21,939) (ML): 0,057 1 0,816(t=16,729) (ML): 0,049 1,013 (t=22,080) (ML): 0,046 std 0,761 0,941 0,914 0,878 0,681 0,890 0,74 0,89 0,767 0,90 vc Joreskog

Table 2 CFA results

Covariance analysis between the two dimensions ( = 0,779 ; t = 8,851 ; = 0,527) shows a quite natural proximity. However discriminant validity is confirmed between the two dimensions (Physical Appearence et Market role: 2 appearance-role = (0,527)2 = 0,277 < vc appearance and vc role (see table 2) (Fornell & Larcker (1981).

In addition the convergent validity was tested compared to a direct measurement of the perceived age. A first half of the sample was submitted to a questionnaire in which direct measurement included item young old belonging to the brand personality scale (direct Age A). The questionnaire submitted to second half of the sample required from the respondents to specify their direct judgement on one item young dated with the preliminary instruction to evaluate the item without referring at the real age of the brand (direct Age B) as it was thought to be more representative of perceived age. Practically, when two measurements converge, their correlation coefficient is high. Table 3 presents the bivariate correlations between the scores of two dimensions and the two versions of direct measurement.
Corrlations - Sous chantillon 1 - N = 260 Physical Appearence Role on the market direct Age A Physical appearence Role on the market 1 direct Age B Corrlations - Sous chantillon 2 - N= 239 Physical appearence 1 ,514(**) ,442(**) 1 ,536(**) 1 Role on the market direct Age B

Physical 1 appearance Role on the ,427(**) market direct Age A ,016 ** sig. p level < 0.01 (bilateral). * sig. p level < 0.05 (bilateral).

1 -,130(*)

Table 3 bivariate correlations between perceived age dimensions and direct measures

The correlation coefficients between the two dimensions of the perceived age of the brand and direct Age A on the one hand are not significant whereas they are significant with the direct Age B on the other hand. When it is requested from the consumer to regard the brand as a person independently of its real age (direct age B), there is strong convergence with dimensions Appearance and Role which are theoretically the base of the perception of the age. This should show the convergent validity of the concept of perceived age of the brand. In addition the absence of significant correlation with the measurement of direct age A shows that the integration of simple item young - old does not allow to measure the perceived age of the brand. Indeed, a question of control had been inserted in the questionnaire to collect the opinion about the true age of the brand. For the automobile brands the answers were very precise (98 or 102 years), therefore suggesting that the direct question in the form direct age A is strongly influenced by the real age of the brand. This underlines the pertinence to develop a specific measurement tool of the perceived brand age. To consolidate this development, the perceived brand age is integrated in a network of assumptions intended to establish the nomological and predictive validity concept. 4.3 Nomological and predictive validation The nomological validation of the scale must take into account the integration of the new concept in a network of relations which will highlight the bond between dimensions of the perceived age and the brand attitude because the programmes of revitalization of the brand are intended to modify the attitude towards the brand. The model is tested with structural equations model with perceived brand age modelized as second order construct. The attitude being a latent variable measured by a single indicator, the identification of the model requires that the variance of this last latent variable is fixed at 1. All the relations between variables are significant. The model is adjusted correctly with the data (Chi-two = 38,83/ dl = 12/ p=0,000; GFI = 0,949; AGFI = 0,949; CFI = 0,987; RMSEA = 0,067). The results of this model show that the perceived age of the brand is a second order construct being reflected in two dimensions Physical Appearance and Role on the market with a significant effect on the attitude towards the brand. The smc values indicate that 65% of the

variance of the perceived brand age is explained by the Physical Appearance dimension whereas 42% is explained by the Market Role.

Perceived brand age on brand attitude


,84 e1 esthtiq ,88 e2 belle ,58 e3 gracie Perceived brand age ,76 e4 visible ,47 e5 innov ,80 e6 prsente ,69 ,89 ,87 e8 ,65 ,43 market role e10 Chi-Two = 38,838 with df = 12 AGFI = ,949 ; GFI = ,978 ; CFI = ,987 RMSEA = ,067 ,67 ,94 ,76 ,92 e7 e9 ,65 Appearence ,81 ,80 attitude ,89 ,45 Brand att

In the same way 45% of the variance of the brand attitude is due to the second-order construct Perceived brand age. Consequently the perceived age of the brand is a significant and important determinant of the attitude. The nomological validity and the predictive validity are assessed with the significative existing path between the perceived brand age and the brand attitude. 5 Conclusion and perspectives We developed the concept of perceived brand age as an independent concept from the brand personality. The study of dimensions on which the individuals judge the age of another individual, and their transposition with the field of the brand, helped in defining the perceived brand age being defined as a socio-demographic characteristic of the brand, appreciated in a subjective way by the consumer starting from physical aspect of this brand and the specific role which it holds on the market. The scale derived from this theoretical framework includes two dimensions, physical appearance and role on the market. Validity and the reliability of this scale are assessed, on a sample of 6 brands. This is a useful measurement tool for managerial purposes to create a typology of brands according to the criterion of the perceived brand age. Hence managers will have opportunities to consider the pertinence of processes of "renovation" and "ageing" through physical appearance and role on the market. The description of these determinants of the age of make possible to refine the analysis of the data and the diagnoses, and to specify management actions for the managers who will want to make evolve/move their brand. Whereas colossal investments are necessary to build strong brands, the managers do not have management tools to precisely establish the age position of their brand and to control it in an optimal way. In particular, the perceived age of the brand, which is hypothesised to be an important and discriminating factor in the process of choice of the consumer, is not systematically studied. Many examples made popular in the economic press, show that the strategies of revitalization or renovation programs have been 5

awaiting a significant fall of the sales and a disaffection of the consumers to be launched, thus increasing the cost of these strategies. The periodic study of the perceived age would signal changes in the attitude ahead of troubles as the scale brings three fundamental types of information: (1) the precise knowledge of the brand position on the criterion of the age and a precise diagnosis of its forces and its weaknesses on each component (physical appearance and role on the market); (2) the position of the competitors and proximity with those according to the criterion of the age; (3) evolution of these positions in the course of time. Such a tool thus brings information necessary to carry out a regular assessment of the brand on the criterion of the perceived age, to highlight the evolution of the brand as well as the causes of this evolution, and to adopt an adequate strategy quickly. It thus makes it possible to better anticipate the difficulties and, ultimately, to limit and better control the costs. References Aaker D. (1994). Le management du capital-marque. Paris, Dalloz. Aaker J.(1997), Dimensions of brand personality, Journal of Marketing Research, 34, 347356. Barak et Schiffman (1981), Cognitive age : a non chronological age variable , Advances in Consumer Research, Association for Consumer research, 8, 602-606. Batra, Lehmann et Singh (1993), The brand personality component of brand goodwill : some antecedents and consequences , in Brand equity and advertising, David A. Aaker and Alexander Biel, eds. Hillsdale, NJ, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Birdwell (1968), A study of the influence of image congruence on consumer choice , Journal of Business, 41(1), 76-88. Bontour A. et Lehu J.-M. (2002), Lifting de marque, Paris : Editions dorganisations Britt (1960), The spenders, New York, MacGraw Hill. Britton et Britton (1961), Discrimination of age by pre-school children , Journal of Gerontology, 24, 457-460. Costa et MacCrae (1988), Personality in adulthood : a six years longitudinal study of selfreports and spouse ratings on the NEO personality inventory, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 54, 853-863. Costa et MacCrae (1992), trait psychology comes of age , in Nebraska Symposium on Motivation : Psychology and Aging, Lincoln, University of Nebraska Press, 169-204. Cumming et Henry (1961), Growing old : the process of disengagement, New York, Basic Book Inc. Deaux et Lewis (1983), Assessment of gender stereotypes : methodology and components , Psychological Documents, 13, 25. Deaux et Lewis (1984), The structure of gender stereotypes : interrelationships and components and gender label , Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 46, 991-1104. Fornell, C., & Larcker, D. F. (1981). Evaluating structural equation models with unobservable and measurement error, Journal of Marketing Research, 18, 1, 39-50. Grubb et Grathwhohl (1967), Consumer Self-concept, symbolism and market behavior , Journal of Marketing, 31, 22-27.

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