Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

Brand Schematicity Moderates the Effect of Aesthetic Brands on Brand Accessories Purchase Intentions

Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

Brand Schematicity Moderates the Effect of Aesthetic Brands on Brand Accessories Purchase Intentions

Article excerpt

The popularity of brand accessories, defined as additional appendages of a focal product, such as screen protectors, case covers, and home button stickers for iPhones, is increasing (ABI Research, 2015; Park, Jaworski, & MacInnis, 1986; Patrick & Hagtvedt, 2011). The growth in this market highlights the importance of identifying the factors that influence the success of brand accessories and the functional complementarity between a focal brand and its accessories (Englis & Solomon, 1996; Estelami, 1999; Shocker, Bayus, & Kim, 2004; Solomon, 1988). Complementarity has been conceptualized as the functional relationship between a focal product and its accessory (Estelami, 1999; Herrman, Huber, & Coulter, 1997). Essentially, a higher level of complementarity of accessories with the focal product(s) results in a more positive evaluation of the accessories (Estelami, 1999; Solomon, 1988). Thus, accessories with lower complementarity levels may have a lower likelihood of succeeding in the marketplace.

Although the complementarity of accessories is important, its effectiveness may be limited by the level of aesthetics of the focal brand. Aesthetic brands are designed to fulfill consumers' need for sensory pleasure (Park, Eisingerich, Pol, & Park, 2013; Postrel, 2003; Schmitt & Simonson, 1997). Prior research shows that functionally and aesthetically related products are used cognitively by consumers to jointly define aesthetic congruity (Englis & Solomon, 1996; Lowrey, Englis, Shavitt, & Solomon, 2001; McCracken, 1988). Further, Englis and Solomon (1996) suggested that products and their accessories are consumed jointly because of the aesthetic pleasure derived from each product.

Scholars have recently raised the possibility of a consumer's brand schematicity influencing the perceived complementarity of an accessory, which, in turn, influences the accessory's potential (Puligadda, Ross, & Grewal, 2012). Brand schematicity is a representation of consumers' information-processing approach, such that brand-schematic consumers are more likely to process product information by focusing on brand information, whereas brand-aschematic consumers use other information, such as product attributes. Thus, we believed that brand-schematic consumers may be more likely to buy brand accessories with high, compared to low, aesthetic appeal in the condition of moderate functional complementarity.

We theorized that the use of aesthetic brands would result in consumers purchasing additional accessories within their consumption environment. Thus, we empirically tested the relationship between the aesthetics levels of focal brands and the evaluation of brand accessories, and explored the moderating roles of functional complementarity and brand schematicity on this relationship.

Aesthetic Brands

The aesthetic appeal of products and services has long been recognized as a key determinant of marketing and sales success (Bloch, 1995; Kumar & Garg, 2010; Park et al., 2013; Schmitt, 1999). Aesthetics comes from the Greek word aesthesis, referring to sensory experience (Krishna, Elder, & Caldara, 2010). In a marketplace where consumers often take product quality and competitive pricing for granted, aesthetics has become an important criterion by which consumers evaluate and differentiate products when making purchase decisions (Krishna et al., 2010; Kumar & Garg, 2010). Prior researchers have suggested that aesthetic offerings have a powerful influence on consumer decisions as consumers often base their brand decisions on aesthetics (Bloch, 1995; Norman, 2003; Patrick & Hagtvedt, 2011; Postrel, 2003). An aesthetic response is defined as engaging in the interpretation of the symbolic value of an aesthetic product (Chattaraman, Rudd, & Lennon, 2010). In particular, aesthetic responses involve an affective reaction to stimuli and, in a corporate context, positive responses to products' aesthetics provide a sustainable competitive advantage (Schmitt & Simonson, 1997; Vieira, 2010). …

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