Academic journal article International Journal of Marketing Studies

The Influence of Situational Variables on Brand Personality Choice

Academic journal article International Journal of Marketing Studies

The Influence of Situational Variables on Brand Personality Choice

Article excerpt

Abstract

The goal of this research is to investigate whether or not consumers select brands (and their brand personality) based on two important situational variables: social visibility and situational involvement. An experimental study was conducted in which two hundred and thirty-nine respondents were randomly assigned to one of four situations and asked via a self-administered questionnaire to describe the beer, with regard to its brand personality, that they would purchase in that situation. Situations were either high or low in social visibility and high or low in situational involvement resulting in a 2 X 2 factorial design. Three-way interaction effects between the situational variables (i.e., situational involvement and social visibility) and an individual variable (i.e., brand loyalty) were discovered. The results indicate that depending on the situation and an individual's brand loyalty, consumers will seek different types of brands (personality-wise). Thus, this research should help brand managers further understand how their brands are perceived and consumed.

Keywords: consumer behavior, branding, social visibility, situational involvement

1. Introduction

Understanding how an individual 'sees' a brand is of paramount importance in today's marketplace. In almost every product category, consumers prefer branded versus unbranded products. While there are a myriad of reasons as to why consumers buy the brands that they do, the image of the brand cannot be overlooked. Many times, consumers buy a brand because they identify with or simply like a brand's image. Thus, marketers must continually try to examine how consumers perceive their brand's image. To help understand brand image perceptions, researchers have turned to the concept of brand personality within the last fifteen years. With this approach, consumers are asked to think of the brand as if it was a person. By having consumers rate brands on human characteristics, such as honest, wholesome, daring, upper-class, tough, etc., marketing researchers and practitioners can further explore how and why consumers 'see' brands the way they do.

While previous research has determined that brands do have personalities (Aaker, 1997; Aaker, 1999; Wysong, Munch, & Kleiser, 2002; Beldona & Wysong, 2007), little research has examined whether or not consumers seek a brand (with a personality) based on the situation (Sung, 2011). While there are a number of variables that can define a situation, this research examines two such variables: social visibility and situational involvement. Both social visibility and situational involvement have been found to influence consumer behavior by previous researchers. Thus, the goal of this research is to investigate whether or not individuals select brands (and their brand personality) based on the social visibility and involvement of the situation.

An experimental study was conducted in which two hundred and thirty-nine respondents were randomly assigned to one of four situations and asked, via a self-administered questionnaire, about the type of beer (from a brand personality perspective) that they would purchase in that situation. Situations were either high or low in social visibility and high or low in situational involvement, resulting in a 2 X 2 factorial design.

The results of this research indicate that the social visibility and involvement of a situation can influence the type of brand personality that consumers seek in that situation. Specifically, a three-way interaction between social visibility, situational involvement and a consumer's brand loyalty, within the category, was discovered. Hence, marketers must continually strive to understand as much as they can about the context in which their product is consumed. With this information, marketers can create strategies that best fit a given situation and/or encourage consumers to purchase their brand in that situation.

2. Theoretical Background

Situational influences can and do explain variance in consumer behavior (Belk, 1975). …

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