A study on modelling the personality construct of brands.
"Brand Personality", which is defined as the personality traits associated with brand (Sentis and Markus, 1986), helps marketers create a differential positioning of a brand in a mature and highly populated market. The personality attributes associated with a brand stimulate consumers' decision related to brand selection. Consumers often try to express their personality, or certain attributes of their personality through the use of brands. Thus selection of a brand often depends on consumers' perception about the personality of the brand and consumers' desire to express that personality attribute/s. Companies design and direct their marketing communication to attain a favourable brand personality perception of the consumers. Research works in the field of brand personality have identified the constructs of brand personality, and also structured the inventory of brand personality under certain dimensions. For constructing the appropriate brand personality attributes, knowledge related to the constructing components of brand personality is also necessary. A deep understanding related to the consumers' personality is also an important requirement of the marketers, without which the design of marketing communication will be futile. Studies in the field of brand personality have identified the important components which create the perception about brand personality in the mind of the consumers. Studies in the field of consumer behaviour have also highlighted the variables which play important role in the construction of consumers' personality. But most of the studies related to the construction of brand personality are theoretical in nature, and no suitable methodology is developed so far to empirically validate the constructing components of brand personality. Moreover, the methodology to judge the relative importance of the constructing components of brand personality is not yet formed. Adhering to the theoretical studies related to the construction of brand and consumers' personality, the following work primarily tries to build an empirical model of brand personality. The work also develops a methodology through which the relative importance of all the constructing components of brand personality could be evaluated.
Review of Literature
Arena of the brand personality study is rich where the contribution ranges from identification of the importance of brand personality as a symbolic attribute associated with the brand to the construction of brand personality. Gilmore, (1919) pointed out that symbolic use of a brand is possible as consumers often imbue brands with human personality traits. Several research works were related to the identification of the importance of brand personality as a tool to induce the symbolic benefit of a brand. Halliday (1996) marked brand personality as a key device to differentiate product categories and brands. Biel (1993) identified brand personality as a central driver of consumers' preference. Importance of brand personality as a tool to market a brand across culture was identified by Plummer (1985). Chernatony (2001) highlights the association of brand with the communication imagery and claims that brand personality acts as a prolific agent for brand positioning. The ability of brand personality to perform symbolic and self-expressive functions for their users, were highlighted by Keller (1993). Researchers have also identified the ability of the brand personality to express consumers' own self (Belk, 1988), an ideal self (Malhotra, 1981), and specific dimension of the self (Klein, Klein, and Kernan 1993).
Researchers have used the human personality traits to identify and conceptualize brand personality. Initially, the selection of personality traits for measuring the personality attributes of brands was arbitrary in nature. Jennifer Aaker (1997) constructed the brand personality dimensions to categorize the brand personality inventory. Her empirical study brought forth five distinct brand personality dimensions, Sincerity, Excitement, Competence, Sophistication, and Ruggedness. The validity of Aaker's framework was tested across different product categories (Siguaw, Mattila, and Austin 1999; Wysong 2000; Villegas and Burns 2000; Kim 2000) and across different countries and cultures (Ferrandi, 2000, Aaker 2001, Hieronimus 2003, Supphellen and Gronhaug 2003, Rojas-Me'ndez 2004, Sung and Tinkham 2005, Chu and Sung 2011, Rojas-Me'ndez 2013). The studies found relevant results that supports Aaker's Brand Personality framework.
Significant theoretical studies have been conducted on the construction of the brand personality. Plummer (1985) states that the perception related to brand personality traits are formed and influenced by direct and indirect contacts between the brand and the consumer. McCracken (1989), one of the proponents of the theory of direct association, categorically underlined the list of direct association attributes. He claimed that personality traits come to be associated with a brand in a direct way by the people associated with the brand-such as the brand's user imagery; the company's employees; and the brand's product endorsers. Batra, Lehmann, and Singh, (1993), advocated the theory of indirect association. They postulate that indirect association, between brands and personality traits, takes place by means of product related attributes, product-category association, brand name, symbol or logo and so on.
Although much is discussed about the construction of brand personality, empirical validation of the constructing components were not done. Methodology to measure the relative importance of brand personality constructing components was also not designed. The following study aims to attain the following research objectives:
Based on the theoretical studies on the creation of brand personality, the following research objectives are constructed:
1. To measure brand personality index of brands.
2. To model brand personality as a function of the components of Direct and Indirect Association.
3. To analyze the relative importance of brand personality constructing components across different brands.
Theoretical Structure of Brand Personality
Following the Direct association theory of McCracken (1989), and Indirect association theory of Batra, Lehmann, and Singh, (1993) a model has been prepared to represent the process of brand personality formation (Figure I).
The model shows the composition of both direct and indirect association components and how they form the brand personality. The model demonstrates that Brand user imagery Image of the company employees, and Image of the Celebrity endorser together, forms the direct association. The model also demonstrates that Product related attributes, Product category association and brand name, symbol, logo and advertising style creates the indirect association. As both direct association and indirect association components are communicated from the company side, they form the market related relevant attributes. Buyers' perceptions about these market related attributes create the perception about brand personality.
The following steps were planned to follow to create the model of brand personality:
a. Creating the personality traits' pool by searching relevant personality traits' inventory.
b. Removal of repetition to create a unique personality traits' pool.
c. Identification of wrist watch related personality traits.
d. Identification of familiar brands of wrist watches to be used for the study.
e. Gathering consumers' perception about the wrist watch related personality traits and also their perceptions about the direct and indirect association attributes.
f. Analyzing consumers' perception to form the brand personality index
g. Modeling brand personality by using brand personality index and consumers' perception about the direct and indirect association attributes.
Creating Personality Traits' pool with Unique and non-repetitive Personality Traits:
Creation of the personality traits' pool was the first major task of this research work. The aim was to create a personality traits' pool which will be considerably large and contain unique and non-repetitive personality traits. All possible inventories of personality traits were required to be checked, so that a large pool of personality traits could be formed. Initially, a personality traits' pool was created by using relevant sources which include the following:
1. Personality traits used by Jennifer Aaker.
2. Personality traits used by academicians in the field of psychology, sociology, and management etc.
3. Personality traits used by the marketing practitioners.
Initially, personality traits used in the work of Jennifer L. Aaker (1997), titled "Dimensions of Brand Personality" were considered. The task has gathered 42 personality traits. Personality scales from psychology literature were also considered as a source of brand personality traits. Big Five Personality scales and Myers-Briggs Type Indicator were the two sources from psychology literature, which were considered. From these two sources, 59 personality traits were collected. A rich inventory of brand personality adjectives were also used by different academicians and researchers in this field. Research works of academicians such as Alt and Griggs (1988), Malhotra (1981), and Plummer (1985), and so on, were also studied in search of suitable brand personality attributes. Similarly a rich inventory of personality traits used by the marketing practitioners working in advertising agencies, market research group, and brand managers of different companies were also taken into account.Finally 37 personality traits were assembled from these two sources. After the consideration of all three sources, a pool of 138 personality traits was generated.
The objective was to create a personality traits' pool where all the personality traits will be unique. To form the unique personality traits' pool, repetitions are required to be removed. Two types of repetitions were found in the gathered personality traits' pool: repetitions related to the similar personality traits, and repetition related to synonymous personality traits. This in the next stage, all the personality traits were gathered together for the repetition removal, (repetition of similar and synonymous personality traits) and finally 54 unique personality traits were gathered. All these personality traits are unique and non-repetitive in nature and thus they are ready to be used for further study.
Identification of Wrist Watch related Personality Traits:
The gathered personality traits (54) were now required to be judged to identify the Wrist watch related personality traits. To avoid the possible subject fatigue, the selected personality traits are primarily divided into six sets each containing nine personality traits. The list of nine personality traits was given to the respondents. Respondents were asked to rate the nine given personality traits on the basis of their ability to explain the personality of the Wrist watches. A seven point Likert scale, (where 1 = not at all describing, and 7= perfectly describing) was used as a rating instrument. The data were collected from different shopping malls and the arrival of the consumers was considered as random. For each set of personality traits (nine in a single set), response of thirty respondents were taken, and thus the sample size for the stage was 180 (6 sets of personality traits X 30 respondents).From the collected data, the traits with highest modal value have been chosen. Finally seventeen personality traits were selected for Wrist watches (Table I).
Identification of Brands:
For estimating the model and the components of brand personality some well known brands were required as stimuli. A survey was conducted among 60 respondents to find out the most relevant brands in the wrist watch category. Respondents were asked to name the most familiar brands of Wrist watches. Finally, based on the frequency of the mentioned brand names suggested by the respondents, five brands of wrist watches were selected. The selected brands are as follows: Titan, Timex, Rolex, Tag Heur, and Fastrack.
Measuring Brand Personality Index and Consumer Personality Index of Wrist watch brands
For the preparation of brand personality index, a questionnaire was introduced. Primarily the respondents were asked to choose a particular brand of Wrist watch, from the list, which they were using. The list of personality traits selected for the particular product category was given to the respondents.Respondents were asked to rate the given personality traits (out of hundred) on their ability to explain the personality of the Wrist watch brand they are using. Following the direct association theory of McCracken (1989), consumers' perception rating about the Brand user's imagery (reflected through brands' ability to successfully manifest the image of users), Image of the company employees, and Image of the celebrity endorser were collected. Consumers' perception about the elements of indirect association proposed by Batra, Lehmann, and Singh (1993), was also collected. Consumers' responses about Product related attributes (reflected through brand's style quotient), Product category association (reflected through consumers' perception about the brand's relative position among competing brands) and impact of brand's name; symbol, logo, and advertising style (reflected through brand'sattractiveness) were gathered. The sample size for each brand was 300 and thus for five brands, responses from 1500 respondents were gathered. Responses were gathered from different shopping malls and the arrival of the consumers is considered as random. Responses were collected from two sex group (Male, Female), five age groups (18-25, 25-35, 35-45, 45-55, and 55 and above), three income group (less than 5 lac, 5-10 lac, and 10 lac and above), and seven occupational group (student, teacher, self-employed, entrepreneur, engineer, doctor, and others).
A normality test was conducted over the consumers' ratings on the personality traits for each brand. It was found that the personality variables follow normal distribution with 1 per cent level of significance. This is mandatory for discriminant analysis to be performed with the personality variables which would follow later. For the internal consistency of the scale items, a reliability test was done. The results demonstrated high value of Cronbach's alpha in all the cases, and the lowest among which is 0.824 for Tag Heur. High value of Cronbach's alpha denotes that the dataset is highly reliable. The respondents were clustered on the basis of direct and indirect association components. Using the cluster membership (created by the direct and indirect association variables) as a grouping variable, a discriminant analysis was performed on consumers' ratings about the ability of personality variables to explain the personality of the Wrist watch brands they are using. This is done for all the wrist watch brands.
Constructing Brand Personality Index
To estimate the model of the personality construct of the brands, an attempt has been made to construct the index of brand personality. In this context, Discriminant Analysis has been performed so as to estimate the following discriminant function:
BP Index = f([a.sub.1] [x.sub.1] + [a.sub.2] [x2.sub.+] [a.sub.3] [x.sub.3] + ... + [a.sub.k] [x.sub.k])
Where BP Index = Brand Personality Index
[x.sub.i]: ith personality trait associated with the different Brands of Product category
[a.sub.i]: Unstandardized coefficient associated with i th brand personality traits
This can be treated as a personality index of the brands. The discriminant analysis was done for all the wrist watch brands and separate brand personality index was created for all of them.
Empirical Modeling of Brand Personality
To find out the impact of direct and indirect association variables on building the brand personality, a Regression analysis was performed for each brand of wrist watches. Based on the theoretical studies, Brand personality is observed here as the function of all the direct and indirect association variables:
BP = f(Direct association, Indirect association) = (SQ, ATR, TOM, UI, CEN, CE)
[BP = Brand Personality, SQ = Style Quotient, Attr. = Attractive, TOM = Top of the Mind, UI = User Image, CE = Company Employees, CEN = Celebrity Endorsement]
Of all the above variables, UI, CE, and CEN are direct association variables, and SQ or TQ, ATR, TOM are indirect association variables.
To perform the regression analysis, brand personality index of all five Wrist watch brands were considered as dependent variables and the direct and indirect association variables were considered as independent variables. High and statistically significant value of adjusted [R.sup.2] is observed for all the Wrist watch brands (lowest R2 = 0.844 ** for Timex wrist watch). This indicates that the estimation of the model is highly robust. The value of condition index (less than 19.349 for Rolex wrist watch)indicates that the model does not have high problem of multi-Collinearity. Thus it could be inferred that the model is valid and it also validates the impact of both direct and indirect association components in constructing the personality of brands. (The detailed findings are given in Table II).
The impact of the different direct and indirect association components were also observed to differ across different brands. A comparative analysis of the standardized coefficients of these association components across different brands is performed. This is done to mark out the relevance of these association components and identify their variation across different brands. The results of the study are given in Table III (for wrist watch brands).
Illustration of the Findings
The findings primarily prove that all the direct and indirect association components have significant impact in the formation of the brand personality of wrist watch brands. More than 62 percent of the values of Standardized coefficients are found statistically significant. This proves that the list of components provided by McCracken and Batra, Lehmann and Singh are relevant in terms of the construction of brand personality.
Findings related to different brand personality constructing components across different Wrist watch Brands:
The findings also highlight that the relative importance of different direct and indirect association components vary across different brands. Product related attributes are suggested as one of the indirect association component, which create the brand personality. As wrist watches are fashion accessories, style quotient of Wrist watch brands was chosen as the product related attribute. This indirect association component is observed to have significant impact for brand personality formation of all the Wrist watch brands, except Timex. More than 72 percent of the consumers of the other four brands (Fastrack, Rolex, Tag Heuer, and Titan), have suggested that these brands are highly stylish. The findings suggest that these brands have made considerable development in the style aspect and thus product related attributes of these brands, play significant role in shaping their brand personality. On the contrary, more than 67 percent of the users of Timex suggested that their brand is low in style quotient and thereby does not have any significant impact in creating the personality of the brand. Impact of brand's name; symbol, logo, and advertising style create attraction towards a brand. Thus attraction is considered as another indirect association component which creates brand personality. Brand's Attractiveness is also found to have a significant positive impact on creating the brand personality for these four brands (Fastrack, Rolex, Tag Heuer, and Titan) of wrist watches. More than 79 percent of the respondents found that these four brands are attractive. On the contrary, attraction is observed to have a negatively significant impact on building the brand personality of Timex. The impact of brand name, symbol or logo of Timex is not perceived as attractive by more than 83 percent of the consumers. The third and final indirect association component is known as brand's product category association. Product category association of a brand is tried to be identified by the brand's relative position among the other competing brands. Consumers of each brand were asked to mention their perception about their brand's relative position among the other competing brands. Significantly it was found that the relative position among the other brands have a significant impact in creating the brand personality of three brands (Rolex, Tag Heur, and Titan). More than 66 percent of the users of these three brands have said that they perceive their brands are placed in relatively higher position than the other competing brands. Thus it signifies that for these three brands, their relative position has positive and significant impact in building the brand personality. On the contrary, for the other two wrist watch brands, (Timex and Fastrack), no significant impact of product category association is found in building the personality of these brands. Only 34 percent of the users of these two brands have claimed that their brands are placed in relatively high position among the other competing brands. Image of the company employees is one of the direct association components, and it is also found to have impact in shapingthebrand personality of different wrist watch brands. Significant impact of the Image of company employees is also observed in creating the brand personality of Rolex and Tag Heuer Wrist watches. Among the users, more than 61 percent respondents emphasized the importance of company employees in creating the personality of these brands. The findings also signify that employee image of the premium wrist watch brands are viewed by consumers to have significant impact in shaping the brand personality. Brand's user imagery is another direct association component which creates the brand personality. Respondents were asked to rate the wrist watch brand's ability to manifest their users' personality. The findings suggested that brand's user imagery has a positive and significant impact on building the brand personality of Fastrack, Rolex and Tag Heuer. More than 60 percent of the users of these three brands suggested that these brands successfully reflect their personality. The findings also suggest that the users of these brands find that the brand is reflecting positive image of their users, and thereby contribute positively in building the personality of the brand. Thus, for these three brands, Brand user imagery is significant in building the brand personality. Contrary to this, brand user imagery is found to have insignificant impact in building the brand personality of Titan and Timex. Less than 20 percent of the users of these two brands have claimed that these two brands successfully reflect their personality. Thus brand user imagery does not have any significant impact in building the brand personality of Titan and Timex. Image of the celebrity endorser is the final direct association component which creates brand personality. Image of the celebrity endorser is found to have positively significant impact in building the brand personality of Rolex. The image of the internationally recognized celebrity is found to have significant impact in making the brand personality of this internationally recognized wrist watch brand.
Discussion, Implication and Further Research Avenues
The following work is an attempt to model the brand personality under the light of the previous theoretical studies. The work primarily reduced the vast list of personality traits into a small amount of product oriented personality traits. The index of brand personality is used for constructing the model of brand personality. The method could be useful by researchers to further investigate them on different product categories and also for different brands. Market practitioners can use the methodology to identify the relative importance of different brand personality constructing components and thus they can manage their marketing communication to manifest the intended brand personality. The comparative study of brand personality constructing components will help marketers to find out their brand's relative position among the competing brands. They can also identify the direct or indirect association component, which requires to be taken care of to modify or prepare a suitable brand personality for the consumers. A suitably designed brand personality will also increase the amount of congruence between brand and consumers' personality, which in turn will increase consumers' inclination to a purchase decision. However, this study is also not without limitations. Although the study started from a theoretical basis, it followed a data-driven method of selecting and retaining personality traits for product categories. Thus, possibility of deleting meaningful and useful personality traits is there. The study was conducted on India using a huge sample of representative respondents on a single product category and its brands. But the methodology requires to be tested on diverse product categories, different brands, and also in other countries. A fruitful avenue for future research is to investigate the validity and reliability of the methodology to measure the models of brand personality. The methodology could be more enriched if it is tested across brands of different product categories, across different countries, and across different social and culture groups.
Brand personality is designed through the communication created from the company's end and consumers' perception about these communications are recorded and tested through this methodology. Although identification and creation of product related personality traits, is a long said concept, it is practically done in this research work. The same methodology could be used to find out the product related personality traits for other brands of different product categories. While designing the communication message related to brand personality, company has a perception how their brand personality will be perceived by the consumers. The methodology can also test the gap between the expected and the actual brand personality perception. The methodology is also equipped to measure the effect of every brand personality constructing components and thus it empowers the researchers and marketing practitioners to pin point the avenue/s which require more concentration, to communicate a desired brand personality. The methodology could also be used to model and test the relative importance of the brand personality constructing components of other brands of other product categories.
Paper received on February 17, 2016
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Assistant Professor, Head of the Department--MBA, Seacom Engineering College, Howrah, West Bengal.
Caption: Figure -1 Model of Brand Personality Construction
Source: Theoretical Construct of Brand and Consumer's Personality Congruence: A Study, Research Journal of Social Science and Management, Vol. 6, No. 8, December 2016, ISSN 2251-1571
Table--I Personality Traits Selected for Wrist Watches Active Aristocratic Competent Corporate Masculine Organized Outdoorsy Real Stable Successful Western Expert Friendly Glamorous Reliable Sophisticated Sporty Table--II Genesis of Brand Personality of Wrist Watch Brands Brand Model Fastrack 13.413 + 1.582 X SQ -0.073 X CEN + 1.138 X CE + 1.953 X Attr -0.194 X TOM + 1.808 X UI Rolex - 27.916 + 1.300 X SQ + 3.695 X CEN + 2.067 X CE + 1.292 X Attr + 0.956 X TOM + 2.462 X UI Tag-Heur - 22.748 + 1.004 X SQ + 1.910 X CEN + 1.817 X CE + 1.122 X Attr + 0.786 X TOM + 2.465 X UI Timex -12.770 - 0.171 X SQ - 0.509 X CE - 1.270 X Attr - 0.159 X TOM - 3.714 X UI Titan 30.403 + 0.938 X SQ - 2.256 X CEN -0.726 X CE + 3.143 X Attr + 0.929 X TOM + 0.815 X UI Brand Adj. R2 Max Value of Condition Index Fastrack 0.860 ** 18.795 Rolex 0.887 ** 19.349 Tag-Heur 0.893 ** 14.946 Timex 0.844 ** 14.689 Titan 0.866 ** 17.367 Dependent variable = BP, [SQ = Style Quotient, Attr. = Attractive, TOM = Top of the Mind, UI = User Image, CE = Company Employees, CEN = Celebrity Endorsement] Table--III Comparative Analysis of Standardized Coefficients of Direct And Indirect Association Components across different Wrist Watch Brands ` Brands\Attributes Fastrack Rolex Tag Heuer Style Quotient 0.297 * 0.212 ** 0.195 * Attractive 0.422 ** 0.218 * 0.233 * Top of the Mind -0.037 0.182 * 0.160 * User Image 0.395 ** 0.452 ** 0.461 ** Image of the Company Employees 0.199 0.460 ** 0.404 ** Celebrity Endorsement -0.005 0.271 ** 0.147 Brands\Attributes Timex Titan Style Quotient -0.023 0.233 * Attractive -0.237 * 0.779 ** Top of the Mind -0.029 0.222 * User Image -0.720 ** 0.234 ** Image of the Company Employees -0.095 -0.124 Celebrity Endorsement -- -0.166
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|Date:||Jul 1, 2017|
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