- Brand Personalities and Consumer-brand Relationships as elements of successful brand management (2011)
- The focus of this dissertation lies on the brand personality (BP) and the brand relationship concept. They represent two particularly important measures of brand equity. And more importantly, both concepts still lack a comprehensive understanding. Hence, this dissertation provides deeper insight in how two manage and measure BP and how to build strong consumer-brand relationships. Thus, the purpose of this dissertation is twofold: In particular, the first objective is to discuss consumer’s perception of brand personality. In particular, the first goal is to gain an understanding of the way consumers perceive brands. The aim is to explore the amount of variance in consumer perception of brand personality. Do all customers perceive the same intended BP or do customers perceive the same intended BP differently? Reviewing the extant literature on BP reveals that there is much criticism on the existing BP scale (Aaker 1997). In order to address this issue, the research objective is to introduce an alternative conceptualization of BP by drawing upon social psychology. The aim is to analyze the role of emotions linking BP perceptions, brand attitude and purchase intentions. The second purpose of this dissertation is to illustrate how customers form relationships towards brands. Hence, in a first step, this dissertation pursues a thorough literature review. The aim is to scrutinize past research on consumer-brand relationships. This literature review will portray how the concept of consumer-brand relationships has been used in the marketing literature. The aim of this state-of-the-art review is to precisely identify the variables and concepts that deserve more attention. Subsequently, these variables will be investigated in an empirically tested model. So, the fourth aim is to identify the relevant antecedent and mediating variables of consumer-brand relationships. In doing so, this thesis seeks to provide a clear picture of the current state of BP and consumer-brand relationship research. Moreover, it aims at promoting research in these two research fields by addressing current issues in marketing. The first study (chapter 2) applies the existing BP scale. It develops a taxonomy which fills a gap in empirical knowledge about consumer perceptions of brand personalities. To the author’s knowledge, this is the first study that empirically derives a taxonomy from dimensions drawn from academic research (Aaker 1997). Overall, the results reveal that customers who perceive a strong BP perceive higher levels of performance in terms of brand attitude, preference and satisfaction. The second study (chapter 3) is the first to empirically investigate the applicability of the stereotype content model in the context of consumer goods brands. The review of extant research on BP shows a growing concern about the appropriateness of the Aaker scale. In order to address this issue, the study draws upon social psychology and the stereotype content model. The empirical study suggests that the stereotype content model is a viable alternative conceptualization of the BP concept. This study contributes to current research in two ways. First, it helps reducing complexity in BP measurement. Second, the results provide evidence that the consumer’s behavioral intention results from his stereotypes towards the brand, his emotions and his brand attitude. By providing a current state-of-the-art review, chapter 4 serves as a valuable source of information to enhance research concerning consumer-brand relationships. First, the overview shows that consumer-brand relationship research still is in its infancy. Second, it reveals that current research on consumer-brand relationships focuses on the interpersonal context. Chapter 5 proposes an alternative conceptualization of the brand relationship quality construct by integrating current knowledge from the relationship marketing literature. The results show that brand relationship quality is well captured by the dimensions relationship commitment, trust, and relationship satisfaction. Second, this study is the first to apply the Relational Exchange Theory by Macneil (1980) to the consumer goods brand context. It introduces the norm concept from a business perspective and shows that relational norms play a mediating role in actual relationships between consumers and brands. Hence, the present study approves the question by Johar (2005) whether norms are attached to brand behavior. Furthermore, this chapter advances the current knowledge on consumer-brand relationships by empirically testing a comprehensive framework of consumer-brand relationships. This framework includes not only consumer and brand characteristics, but also brand relationship characteristics as relevant drivers of the consumer-brand dyad. The findings indicate that consumer characteristics are especially related to relational norms and that brand relationship characteristics rather influence the degree of perceived brand relationship quality and brand loyalty. Brand characteristics on the other hand can be linked to both mediators and the out-come variable brand loyalty. Overall, this dissertation advances the understanding of the two key brand equity measures BP and brand relationship by reducing complexity: Whereas the first study develops a taxonomy of brand constellations, the remaining two empirical studies transfer existing knowledge originating from marketing or related disciplines to the brand context. As such, this thesis reduces complexity and enriches research in the two fields by adding knowledge which has proven of value in related contexts.