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BIANCA GROHMANN*

Although masculinity and femininity are personality traits relevant to


brands, their measurement and contribution to branding theory and
practice have not been examined. This article describes the development
and validation of a two-dimensional scale measuring masculine and
feminine brand personality that is discriminant with regard to existing
brand personality dimensions and scales measuring masculinity and
femininity as human personality traits. This scale is applied to show that
(1) spokespeople in advertising shape masculine and feminine brand
personality perceptions; (2) brand personality–self-concept congruence
in terms of masculine and feminine brand personality and consumers’
sex role identity positively influences affective, attitudinal, and behavioral
brand-related consumer responses; and (3) masculine and feminine
brand personality lends itself to the creation of brand fit in a brand
extension context, which in turn leads to more positive brand extension
evaluations and increased purchase intentions with regard to the
extension.

Keywords: brand personality, measurement, brand management, brand


evaluation, brand extension

Gender Dimensions of Brand Personality

Positioning strategies frequently aim to associate brands taining to gender dimensions of brands and as a diagnostic
with masculine or feminine personality traits (e.g., “The tool in the evaluation of positioning strategies.
softer side of Sears”). Although masculinity and femininity The application of the masculine brand personality
are personality traits relevant to brands, their measurement (MBP) and feminine brand personality (FBP) scale in this
and contribution to branding theory have not been exam- article advances the brand personality literature by address-
ined. Currently, marketers use human personality scales to ing the following questions: (1) How is brand personality
measure gender dimensions of brand personality in the created? Do spokespeople in advertisements shape con-
evaluation of positioning or repositioning strategies. How- sumers’ brand personality perceptions? (2) Does brand
ever, scales measuring masculinity and femininity as personality–self-concept congruence result in positive
human personality traits have not been validated in a brand behavioral consumer responses that go beyond the attitudi-
personality context. Their use in the measurement of brand nal responses reported in the literature (e.g., Aaker 1999)?
personality is inappropriate because there is evidence that and (3) Can fit of parent brand personality and extension
scales measuring human personality traits do not necessar- category perceptions enhance brand extension evaluations
ily lend themselves to the description of personality traits and purchase intentions with regard to the brand extension?
associated with brands (Caprara, Barbaranelli, and Guido The remainder of this article is structured as follows: A
2001). The primary objective of this article is the develop- more detailed discussion of the nature and significance of
ment and validation of a scale that measures the gender gender dimensions of brand personality precedes Study 1,
dimensions of brand personality for use in theory tests per- which describes the development of the MBP/FBP scale.
Masculinity and femininity emerge as two independent per-
sonality dimensions that are captured by six items, respec-
*Bianca Grohmann is Associate Professor of Marketing, John Molson
School of Business, Concordia University (e-mail: bgrohmann@jmsb.
tively. Study 2 illustrates the scale’s generalizability to both
concordia.ca). The author gratefully acknowledges feedback on previous symbolic and utilitarian product categories. Study 3 pro-
versions of this article provided by Onur Bodur, Joseph Sirgy, and Sandor vides evidence of the scale’s predictive ability. Study 4
Czellar. This article benefited tremendously from the constructive com- establishes the scale’s discriminant validity with regard to
ments provided by two anonymous JMR reviewers and Russell Winer. the Bem Sex Role Inventory (BSRI; Bem 1974)—a meas-
This research was funded by the Fonds Québécois de la Recherche sur la
Société et la Culture (FQRSC). Chris Janiszewski served as associate edi- ure of masculinity and femininity as human personality
tor for this article. traits (Study 4a)—and the ruggedness and sophistication
dimensions of Aaker’s (1997) brand personality scale

© 2009, American Marketing Association Journal of Marketing Research


ISSN: 0022-2437 (print), 1547-7193 (electronic) 105 Vol. XLVI (February 2009), 105–119
106 JOURNAL OF MARKETING RESEARCH, FEBRUARY 2009

(Study 4b). Three studies then address the central research King 1968). At this point, research on how masculinity and
questions. Specifically, Study 5 shows that spokespeople femininity fit with the five-factor model supports various
in advertisements contribute to the creation of brand per- relationships between the Big Five and gender dimensions
sonality. Study 6 demonstrates a positive effect of brand (Lippa and Connelly 1990; Marusic and Bratko 1998;
personality–self-concept congruence on affective, attitudi- Ramanaiah and Detwiler 1992; Whitley and Gridley 1993),
nal, and behavioral consumer responses to brands. Study 7 but because of their complex nature (Digman 1990), these
confirms that brand fit based on brand personality and relationships are still being investigated. In summary, there
extension category perceptions enhances brand extension is a precedence for the investigation of masculinity and
evaluations and purchase intentions with regard to the femininity beyond the Big Five.
brand extension. Second, a consideration of gender dimensions of brand
personality arises from consumers’ need to express them-
MASCULINE AND FEMININE DIMENSIONS OF BRAND selves along multiple dimensions (Aaker 1997). The mar-
PERSONALITY keting literature suggests that the need to express masculin-
Brand personality is “the set of human characteristics ity and femininity through brand choice (e.g., Dolich 1969)
associated with a brand” (Aaker 1997, p. 347). It is a multi- is based on the notion that gender is part of consumers’
dimensional and multifaceted construct (Aaker 1997) that self-concept (Freimuth and Hornstein 1982). Consumers
enables consumers to express themselves along several draw on masculine and feminine personality traits associ-
dimensions. Similar to the “Big Five” model of human per- ated with a brand to enhance their own degree of masculin-
sonality (Goldberg 1990), brand personality is measured ity or femininity when they use brands for self-expressive
along five dimensions (sincerity, excitement, competence, purposes (Fournier 1998; Sirgy 1982). Therefore, gender
sophistication, and ruggedness) that uniquely apply to con- dimensions of personality appear to be especially relevant
sumers’ characterization of brands (Aaker 1997). Con- to brands that have symbolic value for consumers attempt-
sumers associate human personality traits with brands ing to reinforce their own masculinity and femininity (e.g.,
because they relate to brands as they would to partners or personal care, fragrance, apparel brands). In practice, mar-
friends (Fournier 1998), because they perceive brands as keters support consumers’ need for self-expression by cre-
extensions of their selves (Belk 1988), or because mar- ating masculine or feminine brand associations—for exam-
keters suggest that brands have certain characteristics (e.g., ple, using packaging color (e.g., bold versus pastel colors
“Built Ford Tough”). Therefore, it is likely that consumers in deodorant packaging)—but lack appropriate scales to
map a wide range of human personality traits, including evaluate these marketing efforts. In light of the importance
those associated with gender, onto brands. of gender dimensions of brand personality in self-
A consideration of MBP and FBP traits appears to be expression and brand choice (Fournier 1998) and their
warranted for two reasons: (1) the multidimensional nature impact on marketing practice, it is appropriate to investi-
of brand personality and accessibility of masculinity and gate masculinity and femininity as brand personality
femininity as human personality dimensions and (2) dimensions. Such an investigation can also contribute to the
consumers’ need to express their masculinity/femininity brand personality literature by examining the dimensional-
through brand choice and consumption. First, the impor- ity of masculinity and femininity in a brand context.
tance of masculinity and femininity as human personality Because consumers draw on human personality traits when
traits has resulted in their inclusion in many comprehensive imbuing a brand with personality (Aaker 1997), the dimen-
human personality inventories: the Adjective Check List sionality of MBP and FBP is expected to mirror the two-
(Gough and Heilbrun 1983), the California Psychological dimensional structure of masculinity and femininity
Inventory (Gough 1978), the Comrey Personality Scales supported in the psychology literature (Bem 1974; Con-
(Comrey 1970), the Gilford–Zimmerman Temperament stantinople 1973; Freimuth and Hornstein 1982), which
Survey (Guilford and Zimmerman 1949), and the Min- suggests that people possess both masculine personality
nesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (see Digman traits (e.g., self-assertion, dominance; Deaux 1985) and
1990). Other scales measuring masculine and feminine per- feminine personality traits (e.g., nurturance, interpersonal
sonality traits (e.g., BSRI [Bem 1974], Personal Attributes warmth, communion; Deaux 1985) to varying degrees. This
Questionnaire [Spence, Helmreich, and Stapp 1974]) are prediction is contrary to some of the findings on gender
still widely applied in human personality research. Because perceptions pertaining to product categories in the market-
masculinity and femininity are important aspects of human ing literature, which suggest that masculinity and feminin-
personality (Constantinople 1973), people often use mascu- ity form the extremes on a continuum (Iyer and Debevec
line and feminine personality traits (in addition to demo- 1986, 1989), though other researchers consider masculinity
graphics, such as sex) to describe others (Lippa 2005). and femininity independently (Golden, Allison, and Clee
Thus, masculine and feminine personality traits are readily 1977).
accessible to people. Therefore, it is likely that along with
other personality traits, consumers also associate masculine CONSTRUCT DEFINITION
and feminine personality traits with brands. Consistent with definitions of brand personality (Aaker
A consideration of gender dimensions of brand personal- 1997; Azoulay and Kapferer 2003), the gender dimensions
ity raises the concern that though most personality invento- of brand personality are defined here as the set of human
ries and scales measuring masculinity and femininity pre- personality traits associated with masculinity and feminin-
date Goldberg’s (1990) five-factor model, masculinity and ity applicable and relevant to brands. Several scales meas-
femininity are not part of this model. However, alternative uring masculinity and femininity as human personality
integrations of personality factors resulted in multifactor traits exist, such as the masculinity–femininity scale of the
models that include masculinity (Comrey, Jamison, and California Psychological Inventory (Fe; Gough 1978), the
Gender Dimensions of Brand Personality 107

BSRI (Bem 1974), the Personal Attributes Questionnaire effect of product category on brand personality perceptions,
(Spence, Helmreich, and Stapp 1974), the Masculinity Trait product categories in which at least one masculine and one
Index/Femininity Trait Index (Barak and Stern 1986), and feminine brand were identified. Overall, 1509 usable
the Sexual Identity Scale (Stern, Barak, and Gould 1987). responses were obtained.
However, these scales have not been validated in a brand Exploratory factor analysis. A two-factor solution
personality context. Indeed, their use in the measurement of emerged in a principal components exploratory factor
brand personality may be inappropriate because scales analysis; the first factor (masculinity) accounted for 41.6%
measuring human characteristics do not necessarily lend of the total variance explained, and the second factor (femi-
themselves to the description of personality traits associ- ninity) accounted for 29.5%. After exclusion of ten cross-
ated with brands. For example, Caprara, Barbaranelli, and loading items, factor loadings exceeded .60, and item-to-
Guido (2001) fail to replicate the Big Five model of human total correlations exceeded .50. In a two-factor
personality (Goldberg 1990) for brands and conclude that confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) (LISREL 8.52), normed
human personality characteristics may not translate directly fit index (NFI) = .92, nonnormed fit index (NNFI) = .93,
into brand personality traits. That the dimensions of Aaker’s comparative fit index (CFI) = .93, goodness-of-fit index
(1997) brand personality scale do not replicate those of the (GFI) = .31, standardized root mean square residual
Big Five model supports this conclusion. Given that gender (SRMR) = .17, root mean square error of approximation
dimensions of personality are included in widely used, (RMSEA) = .19, and critical N (CN; Hoelter 1983) =
comprehensive psychological inventories and given that 60.44. Average variance extracted (AVE; Fornell and Lar-
human personality scales should not be indiscriminately cker 1981) was .57 (.66) for the masculine (feminine) scale,
applied to measure brand personality (Caprara, Bar- and composite reliabilities for both scales were .98.
baranelli, and Guido 2001), it is necessary and appropriate Item reduction. Items were eliminated on the basis of
to develop a scale that measures the gender traits associated individual item reliabilities (<.50) or modification indexes
with brands rather than to rely on existing scales of mas- (>3.84; Bagozzi and Yi 1988). To equate the number of
culinity and femininity as human personality traits to cap- scale items of the resultant eight-item MBP and six-item
ture these brand personality dimensions. FBP scale, the item with the lowest item-to-total correlation
was dropped, and a chi-square difference test was con-
SCALE CONSTRUCTION
ducted between the CFA of the full scale and the CFA of
Item Generation and Content Validity the reduced scale (Voss, Spangenberg, and Grohmann
In an item generation exercise, 60 undergraduate students 2003). The reduced scale was accepted as better if the chi-
(53% male) listed words associated with MBP and FBP. square difference test was significant and the adjusted GFI
Because brand personality involves human personality increased. This process was repeated until the chi-square
traits associated with brands, scales measuring masculine difference test was not significant or the adjusted GFI
and feminine personality traits were added to the item pool decreased, resulting in a six-item MBP scale (adventurous,
(BSRI [Bem 1974], Personal Attributes Questionnaire aggressive, brave, daring, dominant, and sturdy) and a six-
[Spence, Helmreich, and Stapp 1974], and Masculinity item FBP scale (expresses tender feelings, fragile, graceful,
Trait Index/Femininity Trait Index [Barak and Stern 1986]), sensitive, sweet, and tender). A two-factor CFA model indi-
along with relevant items from other sources (Block 1973; cated good fit: NFI = .98, CFI = .99, NNFI = .98, GFI =
Burke and Tully 1977; Otnes and McGrath 2001). The ini- .95, SRMR = .03, RMSEA = .06, and CN = 251.86. The
tial item pool consisted of 184 adjectives pertaining to chi-square value was significant (χ2(53) = 131.19, p < .01)
MBP and 202 adjectives pertaining to FBP. but did not exceed three times its degrees of freedom
Using the definition of MBP and FBP, four consumer (Bollen 1989). The AVE was greater than .50 (Fornell and
researchers rated the items as a poor, fair, good, or very Larcker 1981), suggesting that both MBP and FBP are uni-
good representation of the respective construct. The experts dimensional constructs. Their correlation (standardized φ =
could identify ambiguous items or add relevant items if –.12, SE = .05) strongly suggests that these dimensions are
they wanted. On the basis of expert ratings (intraclass cor- independent. Table 1 summarizes the relevant scale
relation = .64; Shrout and Fleiss 1979), an item was elimi- characteristics.
nated if (1) at least one expert believed that it was ambigu- SCALE VALIDATION
ous, (2) at least one expert indicated that it was a poor
Study 2: Generalizability Across Product Categories
representation of its respective construct, or (3) at least two
experts rated it as fair. Item reduction resulted in 40 items Study 1 included mainly symbolic brands. Following
pertaining to MBP and 32 items pertaining to FBP. Aaker’s (1997) use of Katz’s (1960) symbolic–utilitarian
framework, Study 2 examines the generalizability of the
Study 1: Initial Administration MBP/FBP scale across a variety of brands drawn from
Three hundred sixty-nine students at two North Ameri- symbolic, utilitarian, and symbolic–utilitarian product cate-
can universities (51% female) used 72 items (on nine-point gories. Brand personality scales that apply to both symbolic
scales anchored by “not at all descriptive” and “extremely and utilitarian product categories are more useful for theory
descriptive”) to rate four well-known, widely available tests pertaining to symbolic consumption and its moderat-
brands: one brand of soap (Irish Spring or Dove), fragrance ing effects (Aaker 1997).
(Old Spice or Tommy Girl), deodorant (Right Guard or Product and brand selection. The EquiTrend Study
Secret), and cigarettes (Marlboro or Virginia Slims). The (2006), which rates brands in 25 product categories in
brand and product category choice was based on a pretest terms of media expenditure, perceived quality, familiarity,
(n = 60), in which participants listed brands associated with purchase intent, and equity, was used to select brands for
masculine and feminine personality traits. To control for an this study. Brands with familiarity ratings of at least 50%
108 JOURNAL OF MARKETING RESEARCH, FEBRUARY 2009

Table 1
MBP/FBP SCALE CHARACTERISTICS

Study 1 Study 2 Study 3 Study 4 Study 6


Factor Item-to-Total Factor Item-to-Total Factor Item-to-Total Factor Item-to-Total Factor Item-to-Total
Item Loading Correlation Loading Correlation Loading Correlation Loading Correlation Loading Correlation
MBP
Adventurous .79 .75 .90 .80 .84 .76 .82 .75 .76 .68
Aggressive .86 .78 .76 .75 .85 .76 .84 .78 .84 .71
Brave .88 .81 .91 .83 .91 83 .94 .85 .90 .81
Daring .85 .76 .90 .81 .89 .80 .91 .83 .89 .81
Dominant .73 .80 .53 .55 .76 .70 .78 .73 .80 .70
Sturdy .78 .67 .51 .51 .55 .50 .57 .52 .59 .52

FBP
Expresses
tender
feelings .85 .60 .81 .77 .86 .78 .85 .79 .84 .78
Fragile .78 .62 .61 .58 .87 .77 .84 .78 .83 .77
Graceful .89 .81 .73 .69 .90 .81 .88 .82 .81 .73
Sensitive .89 .83 .82 .77 .86 .76 .83 .78 .85 .82
Sweet .88 .72 .77 .72 .59 .53 .84 .78 .76 .76
Tender .88 .82 .79 .83 .86 .81 .90 .85 .88 .85

AVEa
MBP .67 .63 .66 .67 .65
FBP .75 .56 .70 .74 .69

Composite Reliability
MBP .92 .90 .92 .92 .92
FBP .92 .88 .93 .94 .94

Coefficient Alpha
MBP .91 .89 .90 .91 .91
FBP .90 .90 .91 .93 .90
aAccording to Fornell and Larcker (1981).

were considered, and an attempt was made to choose tors: The AVE exceeded .50 (Fornell and Larcker 1981),
brands in product categories used in the validation of and the constructs were not highly correlated (standardized
Aaker’s (1997) five-dimensional brand personality scale. φ = .44, SE = .02).
Although the brands included here differ to some extent Discussion. Study 2 suggests that the MBP/FBP scale is
from Aaker’s because of the rise of new brands (e.g., Star- applicable to brands in symbolic, utilitarian, or mixed prod-
bucks) and shifts in brand familiarity and ratings over time, uct categories. The independence of the gender dimensions
the product categories examined are utilitarian (e.g., pain of brand personality replicated in this study allows for a
relievers, household cleaners), symbolic (e.g., cosmetics, classification of brands into (1) high-masculine/low-
jeans), or both (e.g., athletic shoes). The selected brands feminine, (2) low-masculine/high-feminine, (3) low-
were grouped into two sets of 22 brands (see Appendix A), masculine/low-feminine (undifferentiated), and (4) high-
which are similar in terms of product categories included. masculine/high-feminine (androgynous) brands. Mapping
Sample, procedure, and measures. In an online survey, brands in terms of their masculinity and femininity can
281 students (57.2% male) were randomly assigned to a set serve as a diagnostic tool to analyze consumer perceptions
of brands presented in random order. Participants rated of competing brands or to identify (re)positioning opportu-
each brand’s MBP (Cronbach’s α = .89) and FBP (Cron- nities. Figure 1 maps the brand personality perceptions
bach’s α = .90). The analysis is based on 3174 brand identified in Study 2.
ratings. Of interest is the absence of androgynous brands in
Psychometric properties. In a LISREL measurement Figure 1. One explanation for this is the brand selection
model, NFI = .96, NNFI = .95, CFI = .96, GFI = .91, process employed in this study, which was not aimed at
SRMR = .08, RMSEA = .11, χ2(53) = 1942.68 (p < .001), identifying brands representing all quadrants. Alternatively,
and CN = 136. Across utilitarian, symbolic, and utilitarian– marketers may not consider androgynous brands a viable
symbolic product categories, the two-factor model for the positioning strategy, perhaps assuming that masculinity and
MBP/FBP scale shows good fit, except for the RMSEA, femininity represent a continuum rather than two indepen-
which exceeds .06. However, the value of this frequently dent dimensions. It is also possible that androgynous
used cutoff criterion is somewhat subjective (Browne and brands are more difficult to manage and sustain over time
Cudeck 1992), and its validity has been questioned (Steiger because of conflicting consumer expectations of such
2000). Thus, the measurement model was accepted as ade- brands.
quate. Masculine and feminine dimensions of brand person- Overall, Study 2 indicates that the MBP/FBP scale can
ality again emerged as unidimensional and independent fac- be used for symbolic, utilitarian, and mixed product cate-
Gender Dimensions of Brand Personality 109

Figure 1
STUDY 2: MAPPING MBP AND FBP

Notes: For the sake of clarity, overlapping brand names were suppressed.

gories. A test of the scale’s predictive validity is presented Sample, procedure, and measures. Two hundred eighty
next. undergraduate students (43% male) rated one brand of soap
(Irish Spring, Dove, Safeguard, or Lever 2000), fragrance
Study 3: Predicting Brand Personality of Existing Brands (Old Spice, Chanel, Ck One, or 4711 Eau de Cologne),
This study examines the predictive validity of the MBP/ deodorant (Right Guard, Secret, Sure, or Degree), and soft
FBP scale. The scale is applied to a set of brands for which drink (Mountain Dew, Lipton Brisk iced tea, Coca-Cola, or
a priori expectations with regard to their MBP and FBP Pepsi) using the 12-item MBP/FBP scale. The analysis is
were established in a pretest. based on 1050 responses.
Pretest. Participants (n = 36) listed masculine, feminine, Psychometric properties. The psychometric scale proper-
undifferentiated, and androgynous brands from any product ties were again satisfactory. The LISREL measurement
category that came to mind. Brand selection was based on indicated the following: NFI = .96, NNFI = .96, CFI = .96,
this categorization and frequency of mention. The pretest GFI = .92, SRMR = .07, RMSEA = .09, χ2(53) = 553.38
yielded several product categories (soap, fragrance, deodor- (p < .01), and CN = 149.03. The correlations (standardized
ant, and soft drinks) with brands associated with different φ = .10, SE = .03) between the gender dimensions of brand
personalities, such that one brand in each category was con- personality supported their independence.
sidered relatively high in masculinity (Irish Spring, Old Results. The pretest suggests that Irish Spring, Old Spice,
Spice, Right Guard, and Mountain Dew) and one brand was Right Guard, and Mountain Dew are more masculine than
considered relatively high in femininity (Dove, Chanel, Dove, Chanel, Secret, and Lipton Brisk iced tea, respec-
Secret, and Lipton Brisk iced tea) compared with all other tively. Furthermore, Dove, Chanel, Secret, and Lipton Brisk
brands in the same category. The pretest did not yield iced tea are more feminine than Irish Spring, Old Spice,
androgynous brands but allowed for the selection of addi- Right Guard, and Mountain Dew, respectively. The addi-
tional undifferentiated brands. tional, undifferentiated brands are expected to be rated low
110 JOURNAL OF MARKETING RESEARCH, FEBRUARY 2009

Table 2 BSRI/femininity (20 items, Cronbach’s α = .95; Bem


STUDY 3: BRAND PERSONALITY PERCEPTIONS OF EXISTING 1974). The analysis is based on 2406 complete brand
BRANDS evaluations.
Results. Three criteria were applied to demonstrate dis-
Product Category Brand MBP FBP criminant validity of MBP and BSRI/masculinity and FBP
and BSRI/femininity, respectively (Table 3): First, chi-
Soap Irish Spring 4.02 (1.81) 3.95 (1.71)
Dove 3.14 (1.93) 6.40 (1.67)
square difference tests were conducted between relevant
Safeguard 3.99 (1.85) 3.64 (1.97) one- and two-factor CFA models. In support of discrimi-
Lever 2000 3.64 (1.96) 4.30 (2.11) nant validity, two-factor CFA models significantly reduced
the chi-square statistic compared with the one-factor
Fragrance Old Spice 5.39 (2.16) 2.71 (1.69) models.
Chanel 3.66 (1.68) 6.19 (1.77)
Ck One 4.27 (1.75) 4.43 (1.86) Second, confidence intervals around the correlation esti-
4711 3.93 (1.82) 4.15 (2.00) mates did not include |±1| (Anderson and Gerbing 1988).
Third, AVE was compared with the squared correlations
Deodorant Right Guard 5.30 (1.82) 2.87 (1.68) between MBP and BSRI/masculinity and FBP and BSRI/
Secret 4.10 (2.31) 5.33 (1.87)
Sure 4.33 (2.11) 3.46 (1.96)
femininity (Fornell and Larcker 1981): AVE did not exceed
Degree 5.09 (1.94) 3.21 (1.80) the squared correlation of MBP and BSRI/masculinity
(AVEMBP: .65 < .66) and FBP and BSRI/femininity
Soft drinks Mountain Dew 5.69 (1.92) 2.87 (1.52) (AVEFBP: .62 < .64). Because of the conceptual overlap of
Lipton Brisk 4.48 (2.04) 3.41 (1.84) masculinity and femininity as personality traits associated
Coca-Cola 5.12 (1.80) 3.72 (1.72)
Pepsi 4.78 (2.11) 3.34 (1.79) with people or brands and the resultant overlap in items in
the two scales, it is perhaps not surprising that this criterion
for discriminant validity is not met. Overall, however, the
on both dimensions. These expectations were confirmed for results suggest that the MBP/FBP scale is discriminant with
all the product categories.1 Mean values appear in Table 2 regard to the BSRI.
(for contrasts, see Appendix B). In summary, the MBP/FBP Study 4b: Discriminant Validity of MBP/FBP and
scale adequately captured expected differences in the MBP Ruggedness/Sophistication
and the FBP of existing brands.
In the joint application of MBP and FBP and Aaker’s
DISCRIMINANT VALIDITY (1997) brand personality scales, it may be of concern that
Two studies were conducted to establish discriminant the sophistication dimension includes the scale items
validity of MBP and FBP with regard to masculinity and “feminine,” whereas “masculine” and “tough” are items
femininity as human personality traits (Study 4a) and with included in the ruggedness dimension of brand personality.
regard to other brand personality dimensions (Study 4b). Because neither the facets subsumed under sophistication
(i.e., upper class and charming) nor those subsumed under
Study 4a: Discriminant Validity of MBP/FBP and BSRI ruggedness (i.e., outdoorsy and tough) reflect the concepts
Because of its established two-dimensional structure and of femininity and masculinity per se, the gender dimensions
widespread use, the BSRI (Bem 1974) was tested against of brand personality are expected to possess discriminant
MBP/FBP in this study. validity with regard to sophistication and ruggedness.
Sample, procedure, and measures. Five hundred forty- Sample, procedure, and measures. Four hundred sixty-
four undergraduate students rated one of four sets of six one undergraduate students rated four brands from four dif-
brands in different product categories (pain killers, tooth- ferent product categories (soap, fragrance, deodorant, and
paste, running shoes, soap, fragrance, and deodorant) on the shampoo; identified in the pretest to Study 3) on the follow-
following nine-point scales: MBP (six items, Cronbach’s ing nine-point scales: MBP (six items, Cronbach’s α = .91),
α = .91), FBP (six items, Cronbach’s α = .91), BSRI/ FBP (six items, Cronbach’s α = .93), ruggedness (five
masculinity (20 items, Cronbach’s α = .96; Bem 1974), and items, Cronbach’s α = .89; Aaker 1997), and sophistication
(six items, Cronbach’s α = .88; Aaker 1997).2 Because this
1The results reported here hold for male and female participants. Analy-
study requires established brand personality perceptions,
ses of variance testing the effect of brand × participant’s sex on MBP and
FBP reveal a main effect for brand in all categories. Participants’ sex was 2Discriminant validity was established between masculinity and femi-
significant for deodorants only: In general, men rated deodorants higher in ninity and excitement, sincerity, and competence (Aaker 1997) on all crite-
FBP. None of the brand × participant’s sex interactions were significant. ria reported for sophistication and ruggedness.

Table 3
STUDY 4A: DISCRIMINANT VALIDITY OF MBP/FBP AND THE BSRI

MBP FBP
r χ2Δa φ (SE) R χ2Δa φ (SE)
Masculinity (BSRI) .81 0,5811.27 .82 (.01) .13 17,423.33 .15 (.02)
Femininity (BSRI) .15 17,485.11 .14 (.02) .80 0,2820.35 .89 (.01)
aAll chi-square differences have one degree of freedom and p < .00001.
Gender Dimensions of Brand Personality 111

participants were included only if they were somewhat (spokesperson: masculine, feminine, none) × 2 (partici-
familiar with the brand they rated (two on a seven-point pant’s sex: male, female) between-subjects experiment. Par-
scale). The analysis is based on 1470 brand evaluations. ticipants’ sex was included to rule out differences in brand
Results. Correlations in Table 4 suggest a greater degree personality perceptions across male and female consumers.
of convergence between conceptually related constructs Pretests. The first pretest identified a product category
(i.e., MBP/ruggedness, FBP/sophistication) than between that was equally involving for male and female consumers
unrelated constructs. To demonstrate discriminant validity and a believable, appropriate, gender-neutral brand name.
of MBP and ruggedness and FBP and sophistication, Seventy-five students (60% female) completed the personal
respectively, chi-square difference tests were conducted involvement inventory (Zaichkowsky 1990) for various
between relevant one- and two-factor CFA models. In sup- product categories and rated fictitious brand names in terms
port of discriminant validity, the two-factor CFA models of familiarity, appropriateness for product categories,
resulted in a significant reduction of the chi-square statistic believability, and gender associations (masculine, feminine)
compared with the one-factor models (Table 4). on nine-point single-item scales. Product and brand order
Discriminant validity was established for both MBP was rotated. No gender differences in involvement emerged
and ruggedness and FBP and sophistication because none for vitamin C (p > .58). For the vitamin C brand (Thex-
of the confidence intervals around the correlation ton’s) selected for the main study, male and female partici-
estimated included |±1| (Anderson and Gerbing 1988). Dis- pants’ perceptions of believability, appropriateness, gender
criminant validity was also supported in a comparison of associations, and lack of familiarity with the brand did not
AVE and squared correlations between constructs (Fornell differ significantly (all ps > .16). The second pretest (n =
and Larcker 1981): AVE exceeded the squared correlation 67) indicated that the male and female spokespeople fea-
of MBP and ruggedness (AVEMBP: .67 > .30) and FBP and tured in the study differed in masculinity (t(65) = 11.22, p <
sophistication (AVEFBP: .74 > .41). Thus, the gender .001) and femininity (t(65) = 20.51, p < .001) but not in
dimensions of brand personality are distinct from the attractiveness and attitude toward the target (ps > .11).
ruggedness and sophistication dimensions of brand person- Sample, procedure, and measures. Two hundred ninety-
ality and can be administered to complement Aaker’s two undergraduate students (49% male) evaluated a print
(1997) five dimensions. advertisement for Thexton’s Vitamin C that featured a mas-
culine spokesperson, a feminine spokesperson, or no
NOMOLOGICAL VALIDITY
spokesperson. The advertisement featured the brand name,
Study 5: The Effect of Spokespeople on Brand Personality an image of the spokesperson or an orange (in the control
Perceptions condition), and a product description: “Thexton’s Vitamin
This study examines whether spokespeople in an adver- C—Natural source of vitamin C. No added flavors, sugar,
tisement influence consumers’ perceptions of MBP and or preservatives. Manufactured to the highest of purity stan-
FBP. How human personality traits come to be associated dards. 250 capsules – 500 mg.” After viewing the advertise-
with brands is an important question for the management of ment, participants completed the MBP/FBP scale and
brand personality perceptions. The literature suggests that demographic measures.
brand personality is shaped through brand name, symbol or Psychometric properties. In a LISREL measurement
logo, advertising, product attributes (Batra, Lehmann, and model, NFI = .94, NNFI = .94, CFI = .95, GFI = .87,
Singh 1993), or spokespeople (Aaker 1997; Keller 1998), SRMR = .07, RMSEA = .12, χ2(53) = 240.55 (p < .001),
but there is a lack of empirical research on the antecedents and CN = 93.03. The gender dimensions were independent
of brand personality (except for Pantin-Sohier and Brée (standardized φ = –.03, SE = .07).
2004). The product image literature indicates that the most Results. Because gender dimensions of brand personality
effective way to create or alter the gender image associated were orthogonal (r = .09), the effect of spokesperson on the
with a product is to vary the spokesperson (Iyer and masculine and feminine dimensions was assessed in sepa-
Debevec 1989). Thus, it is expected that this approach is rate analyses of variance (ANOVAs). In a 3 (spokesperson:
viable in shaping MBP and FBP perceptions. masculine, feminine, none) × 2 (participant’s sex: male,
female) ANOVA with MBP as the dependent variable, there
H1: Spokespeople depicted in advertising influence brand per- was a significant main effect for spokesperson (F(2, 286) =
sonality perceptions, such that (a) a masculine spokesper- 49.50, p < .001, partial η2 = .22). The masculine spokesper-
son increases the perception of MBP and (b) a feminine
spokesperson increases the perception of FBP.
son increased perceptions of MBP (M = 4.66) compared
with the feminine spokesperson (M = 2.86; t(226) = 8.57,
Method. Brand personality of a fictitious brand was p < .001) and the control condition (M = 3.20; t(175) =
measured after exposure to a print advertisement in a 3 6.27, p < .001). The main effects for participant’s sex and

Table 4
STUDY 4B: DISCRIMINANT VALIDITY OF MASCULINITY/FEMININITY AND RUGGEDNESS/SOPHISTICATION

MBP FBP
r χ2Δa φ (SE) R χ2Δa φ (SE)
Ruggedness .55 5811.27 .57 (.02) –.20 6693.66 –.24 (.03)
Sophistication .25 7572.28 .36 (.02) .64 3657.26 .64 (.02)
aAll chi-square differences have one degree of freedom and p < .00001.
112 JOURNAL OF MARKETING RESEARCH, FEBRUARY 2009

the spokesperson × participant’s sex interaction were not consumer responses: Brand personality is likely to result in
significant (ps > .13). In another 3 (spokesperson: mascu- positive outcomes when it is congruent with consumers’
line, feminine, none) × 2 (participant’s sex: male, female) self-concept (Aaker 1997). Consumers prefer brands that
ANOVA with FBP as the dependent variable, the main are congruent with their self-concept (Dolich 1969; Sirgy
effect of spokesperson was significant (F(2, 286) = 23.39, 1982; Wells et al. 1957) because such brands allow them to
p < .0001, partial η2 = .14). The feminine spokesperson reinforce their actual or desired view of themselves
increased perceptions of FBP (M = 5.19) compared with (Fournier 1998) and thus help them achieve personal goals.
the masculine spokesperson (M = 3.39; t(226) = 6.86, p < Given that both brand personality and consumers’ self-
.001) and the control condition (M = 4.18; t(183) = 3.14, concept consist of multiple dimensions (Aaker 1997; Sirgy
p < .01). The main effects of participant’s sex and the 1982), congruence can be achieved only if dimensions of
spokesperson × participant’s sex interaction were not sig- brand personality are matched with important consumer
nificant (ps > .44). These results support H1 and are illus- self-concept dimensions.
trated in Figure 2. This study examines congruence in terms of gender
Discussion. A masculine spokesperson in a print adver- dimensions of brand personality and consumers’ sex role
tisement increased consumers’ association of masculine identity. Sex role identity—a core dimension of self-
personality traits with the brand, whereas a feminine concept (Stern 1988)—reflects consumers’ perceptions of
spokesperson increased consumers’ association of feminine their own masculinity and femininity (Gould 1996). This
personality traits with the brand. These effects held for dimension of self is often reinforced by the use of brands
male and female consumers. The pretest ruled out product (see Fournier 1998). Brand-related consumer responses
category and brand name effects; therefore, the results are should be more positive when consumers’ sex role identity
due to the spokesperson featured in the advertisement. Con- and the MBP/FBP are congruent. This expectation is also in
sumers’ brand personality perceptions arose after a single line with congruence effects of masculine/feminine product
exposure to the focal advertisement in this experiment, but image and consumers’ sex role identity (e.g., Gentry, Doer-
they are likely to be shaped over time (Johar, Sengupta, and ing, and O’Brien 1978; Sirgy 1982; Vitz and Johnston
Aaker 2005). The impact of marketing activities, such as 1965).
marketing communication (e.g., message, media), and the H2: Brand personality–self-concept congruence (compared
product itself (e.g., brand name, brand-specific-type font, with brand personality–self-concept incongruence)
logo, product design; Batra, Lehman, and Singh 1993) enhances affective (affect, trust), attitudinal (attitude, pur-
should be of interest in further research on brand personal- chase intentions), and behavioral (loyalty, word-of-mouth
ity. Following this investigation of an antecedent of brand communication) consumer responses to the brand.
personality, the next study focuses on relevant outcomes of
MBP and FBP perceptions. In brand personality–self-concept congruence research,
congruence was based on multiple administrations of iden-
Study 6: Brand Personality–Self-Concept Congruence tical scales to measure brand personality and human self-
Effects on Consumer Responses concept dimensions (Aaker 1999; Graeff 1996; Grimm
2005). This raises concerns about demand cues. In addition,
This study applies the MBP/FBP scale to examine the in two of these studies (Graeff 1996; Grimm 2005), the
influence of brand personality–self-concept congruence on scales applied to assess brand personality and self-concept
brand-related consumer responses. Self-concept congru- had not been validated on either brands or consumers.
ence is a mechanism by which brand personality affects Thus, there is little evidence that these scales validly meas-
ure brand personality or self-concept dimensions or that the
Figure 2 findings extend beyond the context and products studied.
STUDY 5: EFFECT OF AD SPOKESPERSON ON MBP AND FBP An advantage of using the extensively validated MBP/FBP
PERCEPTIONS scale is that it can be administered along with valid and
widely used human personality scales, such as BSRI or sex
role identity. Such an approach has not been employed with
any other brand personality dimension to date. In addition,
the current study examines brand-related responses beyond
attitude toward the brand, which has been the main focus of
prior research on brand personality–self-concept congru-
ence effects (Graeff 1996; Grimm 2005).
Method. The hypothesis was tested using an experimen-
tal design in which brand personality–self-concept congru-
ence (congruent, incongruent) and brand served as a
between-subjects factor. Because consumer responses
included brand-related behaviors (brand loyalty and word-
of-mouth communication) in addition to affective and atti-
tudinal aspects (brand affect, trust, attitude, preference, and
purchase likelihood), the study involved three existing
brands.
Sample and procedure. In an online experiment, 371 stu-
dents (49% male) answered questions about one of three
randomly assigned brands (Gillette, L’Oréal, or Crest). Dis-
Gender Dimensions of Brand Personality 113

tribution of male and female participants across brands was Results. Congruence between the brand’s personality and
approximately equal (χ2(1) = 1.89, contingency coeffi- consumers’ sex role identity was calculated for each partici-
cient = .07, ps > .36). pant on the basis of self-ratings of sex role identity and
Measures. Table 5 lists the dependent measures used in MBP/FBP brand ratings. For example, congruence
this study: brand trust (Cronbach’s α = .83), brand affect occurred for participant who rated L’Oréal high on feminin-
(Cronbach’s α = .89), brand attitude (Cronbach’s α = .92), ity and low on masculinity (compared with the scale mid-
brand preference relative to other brands (Cronbach’s α = point) and for those who rated themselves as high on femi-
.94), attitudinal brand loyalty (r = .74), behavioral brand ninity and low on masculinity (compared with the scale
loyalty (r = .83), purchase likelihood (r = .93), likelihood of midpoint). Incongruence occurred for participants who
recommending the brand (r = .93), and word-of-mouth rated Crest low on both masculinity and femininity but
communication (Cronbach’s α = .87), all of which were rated themselves as low on femininity but high on mas-
measured on seven-point scales. Participants also rated their culinity.3 In a multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA)
sex role identity (10 + 10 items; for masculine sex role with brand personality–sex role identity congruence and
identity, Cronbach’s α = .89; for feminine sex role identity,
Cronbach’s α = .89; Barak and Stern 1986), MBP (Cron-
bach’s α = .82), and FBP (Cronbach’s α = .87), and they 3The analysis was replicated using the geometric distance between
MBP/FBP ratings of the brand and consumers’ BSRI scores. For all
provided information on brand familiarity, brand usage, and dependent variables, regression coefficients for congruence were negative
demographics. All participants were at least somewhat and significant (all ps < .03): as brand personality–self-concept incongru-
familiar with the brand they evaluated. ence increases, consumers respond more negatively to the brand.

Table 5
STUDY 6: BRAND-RELATED CONSUMER RESPONSES MEASURED IN BRAND PERSONALITY–SELF-CONCEPT CONGRUENCE
STUDY

Measure Anchors Source


Bran Trust Strongly disagree/strongly agree Chaudhuri and Holbrook (2001)
I trust this brand.
I rely on this brand.
This is an honest brand.
This brand is safe.

Brand Affect Strongly disagree/strongly agree Chaudhuri and Holbrook (2001)


I feel good when I use this brand.
This brand makes me happy.
This brand gives me pleasure.

Attitude Toward the Brand Negative/positive


What is your global evaluation of the brand? Dislike/like
Favorable/unfavorable

Brand Preference Very poor/very good Sirgy et al. (1997)


Indicate your degree of liking or preference for Very unsatisfactory/very satisfactory
[brand] relative to other brands in the same Very unfavorable/very favorable
product category.

Purchase Intention Unlikely/likely


How likely are you to purchase this brand in the Improbable/probable
near future?

Attitudinal Brand Loyalty Strongly disagree/strongly agree Chaudhuri and Holbrook (2001)
I am committed to this brand.
I would be willing to pay a higher price for this
brand over other brands.

Behavioral Brand Loyalty Strongly disagree/strongly agree Chaudhuri and Holbrook (2001)
I will buy this brand next time I buy (product
category).
I intend to keep purchasing this brand.

Likelihood of Recommendation Unlikely/likely


How likely are you to recommend this brand to a Improbable/probable
friend?

Word-of-Mouth Communication Strongly disagree/strongly agree Kim, Han, and Park (2001)
I recommend to other people that the brand
should be theirs as soon as possible.
I recommend the brand to other people.
I talked directly about my experience with this
brand with them.
114 JOURNAL OF MARKETING RESEARCH, FEBRUARY 2009

brand serving as the independent factor, there were signifi- stronger purchase intentions, and increased likelihood of
cant multivariate effects of congruence (multivariate F(5, positive word-of-mouth communication.
361) = 2.86, p < .05, partial η2 = .04) and brand (multivari-
ate F(5, 361) = 4.62, p < .001, partial η2 = .06) but no sig- Study 7: The Effect of Brand Fit on Brand Extension
nificant interaction (p > .96). Brand effects were due to less Evaluations
favorable responses toward L’Oréal. Congruence had a sig- This study applies the MBP/FBP scale to test whether
nificant univariate effect on brand trust (F(1, 365) = 13.03, brand personality lends itself to the creation of brand fit in a
p < .01, partial η2 = .03), brand affect (F(1, 365) = 7.99, p < brand extension context, as proposed by Keller (1998). Fit
.01, partial η2 = .02), brand attitude (F(1, 365) = 11.40, p < between parent brand and extension product is an important
.01, partial η2 = .03), brand preference (F(1, 365) = 7.65, success factor in brand extension strategies (i.e., use of an
p < .01, partial η2 = .02), and purchase intentions. established brand name to launch a new product; Aaker
(F(1, 365) = 5.77, p < .05, partial η2 = .02). To examine the and Keller 1990; Völckner and Sattler 2006) because it
effect of brand personality–self-concept congruence on increases knowledge transfer (i.e., product-related associa-
brand loyalty and word-of-mouth communication, another tions, such as utilitarian benefits, and non-product-related
MANOVA was conducted that included only participants associations, such as symbolic brand benefits; Keller 1993)
who had used the brand before (n = 328). At the multivari- and affect (i.e., feelings associated with a brand name;
ate level, there were significant effects of congruence (mul- Boush and Loken 1991). There are two dimensions of fit
tivariate F(4, 319) = 3.98, p < .01, partial η2 = .05) and (Bhat and Reddy 2001; Czellar 2003; Park, Milberg, and
brand (multivariate F(4, 319) = 4.60, p < .001, partial η2 = Lawson 1991): product fit and brand fit. Product fit refers
.06). The brand effect was due to lower ratings of L’Oréal. to product feature similarity between parent brand and
At the univariate level, congruence significantly affected extension product category (Aaker and Keller 1990) or
attitudinal brand loyalty (F(1, 322) = 14.59, p < .001, par- transferability of skills in producing the parent brand to the
tial η2 = .04), purchase loyalty (F(1, 322) = 6.94, p < .01, extension, complementarity, and substitutability of parent
partial η2 = .02), likelihood of recommendation brand and extension (Bottomley and Doyle 1996). Thus,
(F(1, 322) = 8.77, p < .01, partial η2 = .03) and word-of- product fit consists of relevant product-related associations
mouth communication (F(1, 322) = 8.74, p < .01, partial between parent brand and extension category. Brand fit,
η2 = .03). In all cases, congruence between brand personal- which is also referred to as brand concept consistency
ity and consumers’ sex role identity resulted in more favor- (Park, Milberg, and Lawson 1991) or brand image fit (Bhat
able consumer responses. All planned contrasts were sig- and Reddy 2001), denotes fit between nonproduct associa-
nificant at p < .05 (one-tailed tests), and H2 was supported. tions (e.g., prestigious brand image, brand personality) of
Figure 3 illustrates these results. the parent brand and extension product category (Czellar
Discussion. Across brands, brand personality–self- 2003). In the brand extension literature, studies on the
concept congruence led to positive consumer responses, effect of brand fit on extension evaluations are scarce
including favorable brand attitude, stronger brand prefer- (Czellar 2003): Park, Milberg, and Lawson (1991) examine
ence over competing brands, greater brand affect and trust, the influence of brand fit on extension evaluation of pres-
higher degree of attitudinal and behavioral brand loyalty, tige and functional brands and find that brand fit affects
extension evaluations of prestige but not functional brands.
Figure 3 In another investigation of prestige and functional brands,
Bhat and Reddy (2001) find some support for an influence
STUDY 6: BRAND PERSONALITY–SELF-CONCEPT
of brand fit on affect toward and cognitive evaluation of the
CONGRUENCE EFFECTS ON CONSUMER RESPONSES TO
brand extension. Thus, research on the effect of brand fit on
BRANDS extension evaluation appears to focus on brands with a
prestige versus functional image. The effects of brand fit
based on other brand image components, such as brand per-
7 Congruence sonality, have not received much attention. The only study
Incongruence to consider brand fit based on brand personality (Diaman-
5.67 topoulos, Smith, and Grime 2005) focused on changes in
6 5.41 5.28 5.41
5.02 5.06 5.11 personality of the parent brand but did not consider exten-
4.69 4.69 4.77 4.88 sion evaluations.
5 4.31 4.35 4.36
4.09 4.09 The current research extends the notion of brand fit
3.45 3.62 beyond symbolic/functional brand image by exploring
4 brand fit based on gender dimensions of brand personality
and product gender perceptions of the extension category.
3 Because functional/symbolic brand fit is unlikely to result
in successful brand extensions for functional brands (Bhat
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cessfully extended if brand personality is used to create


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brand fit.
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Parent brand selection. A pretest (n = 28; 40% male)


identified well-known brands with established, divergent
brand personalities. Gillette and Ivory were selected on the
Gender Dimensions of Brand Personality 115

basis of equal usage rate of their respective product cate- p < .001, effect size r = .67). In a MANOVA with extension
gories (personal care products, soap) among male and evaluation and purchase intentions as dependent variables,
female consumers (ps > .11), similar positioning in terms of the main effects of parent brand personality (F(2, 219) =
function (MGillette = 7.79, MIvory = 7.11; p > .96) and pres- 17.24, p < .000, partial η2 = .14) and extension category
tige (MGillette = 5.71, MIvory = 5.54; p > .99), and brand per- (F(2, 219) = 5.88, p < .01, partial η2 = .05) were qualified
sonality ratings (Gillette: MMBP = 6.88, MFBP = 3.87; p < by a significant parent brand personality × extension cate-
.001; Ivory: MMBP = 2.78, MFBP = 4.77; p < .001). gory interaction (F(3, 218) = 32.27, p < .000, partial η2 =
Extension category selection. Eighty-eight undergraduate .31). For the masculine brand, the masculine extension
students (41% male) rated a subset of 53 product categories category resulted in enhanced extension evaluation
drawn from extant literature on gendered product percep- (Mmasc_cat = 5.02, Mfem_cat = 4.02; t(110) = 2.92, p < .01,
tions (Gentry, Doering, and O’Brien 1978; Iyer and effect size r = .26) and purchase intentions (Mmasc_cat =
Debevec 1986) in terms of perceived masculinity (“not at 3.66, Mfem_cat = 3.05; t(110) = 1.29, p < .10, effect size r =
all masculine/very masculine”; Golden, Allison, and Clee .12). For the feminine brand, the feminine extension cate-
1977), perceived femininity (“not at all feminine/very femi- gory increased extension evaluation (Mmasc_cat = 1.91,
nine”; Golden, Allison, and Clee 1977), usage (“I never/ Mfem_cat = 4.43; t(110) = 7.86, p < .001, effect size r = .60)
regularly use this product”), functionality (“not at all/very and purchase intentions (Mmasc_cat = 1.57, Mfem_cat = 3.59;
functional”), and prestige (“not at all/very prestigious”) on t(110) = 6.45, p < .001, effect size r = .52). These inter-
nine-point scales. Participants also provided demographic action effects appear in Figure 4.
information. On the basis of equal usage rates for men and Discussion. This study shows that brand fit in terms of
women (ps > .27) and significant differences in product gender dimensions of brand personality and extension cate-
gender perceptions, exercise equipment (Mmasc = 7.32,
Mfem = 4.96; p < .001), pocket knives (Mmasc = 7.86, Figure 4
Mfem = 1.66; p < .001), low-fat food (Mmasc = 3.68, Mfem = STUDY 7: EFFECT OF EXTENSION CATEGORY ON EXTENSION
7.32; p < .001), and mineral water (Mmasc = 3.76, Mfem = EVALUATION AND PURCHASE INTENTION REGARDING THE
5.12; p < .01) were selected as extension categories. Prod- EXTENSION
uct gender perceptions did not differ by respondents’ sex
(ps > .23). Except for mineral water, which was perceived
as equally functional and prestigious (p > .40), extension
categories were more functional than prestigious (all ps <
.001). Thus, the extension scenarios in the main experiment
represent functional brands extending to functional cate-
gories, such that there is always a brand fit in terms of func-
tionality of parent brand and extension category but not
in terms of gendered parent brand/extension category
perceptions.
Sample, procedure, and measures. The experiment
employed a 2 (parent brand personality: masculine, femi-
nine) × 2 (extension category: masculine, feminine) mixed
design. One hundred twelve undergraduate students (51.5%
female) indicated their familiarity with each parent brand
on a nine-point scale and then considered a brief scenario
describing an extension of the masculine brand Gillette to
either low-fat food (feminine extension) or exercise equip-
ment (masculine extension) and an extension of the femi-
nine brand Ivory to pocket knives (masculine extension) or
mineral water (feminine extension). Participants completed
the following measures on nine-point scales: extension
evaluation (“bad/good,” “unfavorable/favorable,” “negative/
positive”; α = .96) and purchase likelihood of the extension
(“unlikely/likely,” “improbable/probable”; r = .96). Brand
fit (“The new product and the parent brand have similar
images,” and “The new product conveys the same impres-
sion as the parent brand”; Bhat and Reddy 2001; r = .86)
served as a manipulation check. Participants’ sex and brand
familiarity did not affect the results and are not discussed
further.
Results. The manipulation of brand fit was successful:
For the masculine brand, the masculine extension category
resulted in greater brand fit (Mmasc_cat = 3.25, Mfem_cat =
2.20; t(110) = 3.69, p < .001, effect size r = .33); for the
feminine brand, the feminine extension category increased
brand fit (Mmasc_cat = 1.44, Mfem_cat = 3.58; t(110) = 9.46,
116 JOURNAL OF MARKETING RESEARCH, FEBRUARY 2009

gory perceptions results in more positive extension evalua- (e.g., toothpaste). Finally, MBP and FBP can be created
tions and greater purchase likelihood. It demonstrates that through the use of masculine or feminine spokespeople in
brand fit extends beyond the symbolic/functional dimen- advertisements.
sions of fit examined in the marketing literature to date
(Bhat and Reddy 2001; Park, Milberg, and Lawson 1991). Theoretical Implications and Further Research
These findings are especially noteworthy in light of the Similar to human personality, brand personality is multi-
functional nature of the parent brands and product cate- dimensional and comprises masculinity and femininity.
gories examined herein. The literature indicates that These dimensions are independent and mirror the orthogo-
functionality-based brand fit per se does not influence nality of masculinity and femininity as human personality
extension evaluations positively (Bhat and Reddy 2001; traits (e.g., Bem 1974; Freimuth and Hornstein 1982). This
Park, Milberg, and Lawson 1991); however, extension suggests that consumers indeed map human personality
evaluations of functional brands can be enhanced by brand characteristics onto brands (Aaker 1997; Fournier 1998).
fit based on brand personality and extension category The independence of MBP and FBP highlights the differ-
perceptions. ence between brand personality (human personality traits
SUMMARY AND IMPLICATIONS associated with the brand) and product gender perceptions
(gender associations with a product category), for which
An objective of this research was the development of a bipolar rather than independent scales are appropriate (Iyer
scale to measure the gender dimensions of brand personal- and Debevec 1989; Milner and Fodness 1995; Milner,
ity. These dimensions are captured by a two-dimensional, Speece, and Anderson 1990). Although both product gender
12-item descriptive adjective scale (MBP/FBP) that applies image and gender dimensions of brand personality pertain
to utilitarian and symbolic brands. The MBP and FBP con- to consumers’ perceptions of the gender of nonhuman enti-
cepts are distinct from Aaker’s (1997) ruggedness and ties, brand personality emphasizes human personality traits
sophistication dimensions, respectively. They complement associated with one specific brand; conversely, product
and can be used in conjunction with Aaker’s (1997) five image is based on a variety of factors other than personality
dimensions of brand personality. The MBP/FBP scale has traits (e.g., demographics of the perceived typical user of
discriminant validity with regard to the BSRI in a brand the product category; associations with the product cate-
context. Along with its extensive validation involving more gory overall, which may include “averaging” across various
than 2800 participants in eight studies, this suggests that the brands within that category). The independence of the gen-
MBP/FBP scale is more appropriate in measuring gender der dimensions of brand personality raises important ques-
dimensions of MBP and FBP than human personality tions for further research. For many of the brands included
scales. in Studies 2 and 3, masculinity and femininity appear to be
The MBP/FBP scale proved useful in addressing several negatively correlated: Consumers perceive highly mascu-
research questions: First, this research demonstrates that line brands as low on femininity, and vice versa. Although
marketers can shape gender dimensions of brand personal- there are instances of undifferentiated (i.e., low masculine/
ity through their choice of masculine and feminine spokes- low feminine; Bem 1974) brands, such as Benadryl or
people featured in advertisements. Second, gender dimen- Aquafina, there was an absence of androgynous (i.e., high
sions of brand personality influence affective, attitudinal, masculine/high feminine; Bem 1974) brands. Further
and behavioral consumer responses positively when they research could address whether androgynous brands result
are congruent with consumers’ sex role identity and thus in conflicting consumer expectations (e.g., how can a brand
enable consumers to express an important dimension of be convincingly aggressive and dominant but sensitive and
their self-concept. Finally, in a brand extension context, fit fragile?) and how these contradictions affect consumer
between gender dimensions of parent brand personality and responses to such brands.4 Androgynous brands could be
gender perceptions associated with the extension category contrasted with undifferentiated brands for which conflict-
enhances extension evaluations and purchase intentions. ing expectations appear to pose less of a challenge; a con-
This effect emerged for functional products extending into comitant lack of masculinity and femininity does not neces-
functional categories, for which research had not been able sarily cause a clash in expectations, which may explain
to identify brand fit effects on extension evaluations (Bhat why there are more undifferentiated rather than androgy-
and Reddy 2001; Park, Milberg, and Lawson 1991). nous brands. Consumers’ sex role identity might act as a
Managerial Implications moderator of the effect of expectations toward androgynous
brands on brand evaluation and adoption. Androgynous
The MBP/FBP scale is a diagnostic tool to (1) analyze
consumers who view themselves as caring fathers or ambi-
consumers’ perceptions of MBP and FBP following brand
tious, independent women might reconcile apparently con-
positioning, repositioning, or brand extension strategies; (2)
tradicting personality traits more easily and thus be more
map consumers’ perceptions of competing brands; and (3)
favorably predisposed toward androgynous brands. In addi-
identify alternative positioning strategies. Furthermore,
tion, a societal shift toward more androgynous gender roles
gender dimensions of brand personality affect brand-related
might positively affect consumer responses to androgynous
consumer responses, including brand extension evaluations
brands over time.
when the extension category is associated with specific
Another avenue for further research pertains to the effect
gender perceptions. These effects are especially important
of product category on brand personality perceptions. Par-
to the management of brands that speak to the enhancement
ticularly intriguing is the potential effect of a strong dis-
of consumers’ sex role identity, such as brands of personal
care products, clothing, or services (e.g., Curves fitness stu-
dios for women), but they also extend to utilitarian brands 4The author thanks the editor for suggesting this research direction.
Gender Dimensions of Brand Personality 117

crepancy between gender dimensions of brand personality that despite the theoretical and managerial importance of
and gender perceptions associated with a product category brand personality, there is hardly any research on the crea-
(e.g., for a low-masculine/high-feminine brand of power tion of brand personality or on managing a change in brand
tools) on perceived differentiation, credibility, and other personality over time (with notable exception of Johar, Sen-
brand personality dimensions (e.g., competence). Finally, gupta, and Aaker 2005). Perhaps the strong impact of brand
further research regarding potential antecedents of brand personality on brand-related consumer responses reported
personality, such as brand name, symbols, marketing com- herein will encourage additional research in this direction.
munications, pricing, and distribution (Aaker 1997; Batra,
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Appendix B
STUDY 3: DIFFERENCES IN BRAND PERSONALITY PERCEPTIONS OF EXISTING BRANDS

Product Effect Effect


Category Brand n MBP Contrasts for MBP Size r FBP Contrasts for FBP Size r
Soap 1. Irish Spring 63 4.02 (1.81) 1–2 t132 = 2.70* .23 3.95 (1.71) 2–1 t132 = 7.57*** .55
2. Dove 71 3.14 (1.93) 1–3 t125 = .88 .01 6.40 (1.67) 2–3 t133 = 8.59*** .60
3. Safeguard 64 3.99 (1.85) 1–4 t125 = 1.14 .10 3.64 (1.97) 2–4 t133 = 6.54*** .49
4. Lever 2000 64 3.64 (1.96) 4.30 (2.11)

Fragrance 1. Old Spice 65 5.39 (2.16) 1–2 t127 = 5.28*** .42 2.71 (1.69) 2–1 t127 = 10.85*** .69
2. Chanel 64 3.66 (1.68) 1–3 t132 = 3.50** .29 6.19 (1.77) 2–3 t131 = 5.56*** .44
3. Ck One 69 4.27 (1.75) 1–4 t118 = 4.29*** .37 4.43 (1.86) 2–4 t117 = 6.10*** .49
4. 4711 55 3.93 (1.82) 4.15 (2.00)

Deodorant 1. Right Guard 67 5.30 (1.82) 1–2 t129 = 3.35** .28 2.87 (1.68) 2–1 t129 = 7.73*** .56
2. Secret 64 4.10 (2.31) 1–3 t119 = 2.58* .23 5.33 (1.87) 2–3 t115 = 5.54*** .46
3. Sure 54 4.33 (2.11) 1–4 t132 = .57 .05 3.46 (1.96) 2–4 t129 = 6.68*** .51
4. Degree 67 5.09 (1.94) 3.21 (1.80)

Soft drinks 1. Mountain Dew 67 5.69 (1.92) 1–2 t136 = 3.60** .30 2.87 (1.52) 2–1 t136 = 5.28*** .42
2. Lipton Brisk 71 4.48 (2.04) 1–3 t138 = 1.70 .14 3.41 (1.84) 2–3 t142 = 1.07 .09
3. Coca-Cola 73 5.12 (1.80) 1–4 t133 = 2.67* .23 3.72 (1.72) 2–4 t137 = .24 .02
4. Pepsi 68 4.78 (2.11) 3.34 (1.79)
*p < .05.
**p < .01.
***p < .001.
Notes: p-values are for one-sided tests with adjustment for multiple comparisons. In each product category, the reference brand in contrasts (Brand 1 for
contrasts involving MBP, Brand 2 for contrasts involving FBP) was identified as high masculine–low feminine (Brand 1) or high feminine–low masculine
(Brand 2) in a pretest.
118 JOURNAL OF MARKETING RESEARCH, FEBRUARY 2009

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