«of the AM’s Brand, Corporate Identity and Reputation SIG INSTRUCTIONS FOR THE SESSIONS Sessions chairs The main function of a session chair is to ...»
In the second study, we tested the first hypothesis that personification provides a better explanation of brand image related outcomes when respondents may be reluctant to provide open responses to direct questioning approach. Hence, the second study took place with employees as respondents and they were asked about the companies that they work for. The questionnaire was modified for the second study to increase the number of items of the different dimensions to have richer information. Moreover, since the second study is about understanding the difference in the employer-branding context, instead of the company/product brand, we asked their opinions about their employers (For instance, whether “they would recommend the organisation they work for to others” instead of “they would recommend the company/brand”). The other significant change was the involvement variable. Given the fact that employers are already aware of their employers, we changed this variable to engagement variable.
Findings Our first study with consumers showed that personification, as a measurement approach, is not a guarantee of a better explanation of outcome variables such as brand satisfaction than the less controversial, direct approach. Our second hypothesis that personification might be a more relevant approach in the context of a corporate or service brand was similarly not supported.
The hypotheses were tested using regression to see whether either measurement approach predicted greater variance in the potential dependent variables included in the survey. The results did not support H1 and H2.
We also examined the idea that personification is more relevant when respondents might be reluctant to provide responses. Pantene is marketed exclusively at women, so we wanted to see whether there is a difference between genders. When we reran the analysis to predict satisfaction the R2 for male respondents under non-personification was smaller compared to that for female respondents but the figures for personification were similar, with the regression for males yielding a slightly higher figure compared with that for females. This suggests that male might have been reluctant to admit to an affinity with a female oriented brand unless they were giving responses under personification.
Our second study is at its pilot stage and will differ from Study 1 in that the respondents will be employees. H1 will be tested in a context, where we might expect respondents to be reluctant to, for example, be critical of their employer. Secondly, in Study 1 only a limited number of items were used to assess brand imagery in both direct and personification surveys. In Study 2 more items will be used to explore the idea that personification provides a richer measure than is possible under direct questioning.
Theoretical implications Even though there have been are numerous academic studies carried on with both the personification and non-personification approaches when measuring brand image, there is a lack of consensus on what is the more valid measurement method, (e.g. Nguyen and Leblanc 2001). This is the main issue addressed in our research. Moreover, we do not only try to understand the difference between the two different approaches, but also try to explore different contexts in terms of consumers and employees and type of brand.
Managerial implications Personification is widely used as a measurement technique by practitioners. Some researchers such as Geuens et al. (2009) argue that the personification approach is superior to nonpersonification for measuring brand image, due to the fact that the consumers tend to use brands with a strong brand personality for building relationships with specific brands (Fournier 1998) or as a way of showing their own personality (e.g. Belk 1988). Other researchers point to criticisms such as personification being seen as unscientific and potentially misleading (Davies et al. 2001). Our work will offer guidance on such issues to both academics and practitioners.
Managing corporate branding/reputation is extremely crucial since it has an important effect on the consumers’ loyalty (Nandan, 2005). Yet, there is a lack of consensus on what is the best and most valid measurement method, and this has been criticized (e.g. Nguyen and Leblanc 2001) as a lack of consensus on validity can lead to ineffective brand image and reputation management (Sarstedt et al 2013).
Limitations In this research we focus on only two stakeholder groups, customers and employees. In the first study we used only 2 brands in one country and culture. Further research for example among other stakeholder groups, and across a wider range of brands might be useful in generalising from our findings.
Originality/value No work on comparing the two brand image measurement methods, namely personification and non-personification, in the same context has, as far as we can tell from our review of the literature, been previously reported.
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Customer-brand relationship: Lessons from virtual brand communities Mousavi, Sahar Roper, Stuart Keeling, Kathy Purpose A recent addition to the literature on customer-brand relationship is the work on virtual brand communities (VBCs) and the customer attachment that such a community may generate.
Little doubt exists about a VBC's strong impact on branding (e.g., Fournier and Lee, 2009;
Schau and Muniz, 2002). Specifically, brand community identification, participation, and community commitment all empirically lead to brand loyalty, positive word of mouth and purchase intention. However, the impact of VBC participation on customer-brand relationship remains unclear. There is a need for theory-based research on the basic mechanisms through which preferred VBC goals (Adjei et al., 2010), such as brand trust and commitment, are achieved. Specifically, scholars and practitioners should understand customer pathways to high level of brand relationship through VBC participation.
This study intends to uncover this issue and proposes a model of building customer-brand relationship in VBCs by integrating elements of social identity theory with the current literature on customer-brand relationship and virtual communities.
Figure 1 illustrates the proposed model. It starts with the three constructs that we have referred to as members’ activity characteristics in VBCs. According to social identity theory, people tend to choose activities that are congruent with the important aspects of their identities and support those institutions that signify their identities (Ashforth and Mael, 1989), in this case a VBC. A person's identification level to a community is likely to be related to a set of behaviour patterns (Bhattacharya et al., 1995). We chose to study three such behaviours: frequency of visiting the VBC, average duration of time spent on the community website per visit, and frequency of posting behaviour. Identification is likely to be intensely associated with contact with the focal organization (Bhattacharya et al., 1995), here a VBC. Greater contact with a VBC increases a member's readiness to categorize and define him- or herself as a member of that particular social group (Dutton et al., 1994). We hypothesized that each of these behaviours is likely to be associated with the intensity with which members identify with the focal VBC.
H1: Members’ frequency of visiting a VBC (H1a), average duration of time spent on the community website per visit (H1b), and frequency of their posting behaviour (H1c) has a positive effect on their social identity.
Figure1. The conceptual model Brands and brand consumption can build a foundation for the classification of individuals into social categories, such as VBCs.
By giving consideration to the way individuals develop and increase their social identities, Stokburger-Sauer (2010) states that embeddedness in social structures signifies a starting point for the creation of identities. Thus, VBCs serve as platforms for individuals to share their brand experiences and values and thus may enhance their members’ identification with the brand. As members’ social identity within a brand community increases, greater involvement with that brand takes place, which should promote the assimilation of the brand’s image into one’s identity (Bagozzi and Dholakia, 2006) and thus a member’s brand identification.
H2: Members’ social identity in VBCs has a positive effect on their brand identification.
Previous research has documented that individuals’ identification with a brand may have a favourable impact on their brand loyalty and their brand commitment (Stokburger-Sauer et al., 2012; Tuškej et al., 2013). It is likely that a long-term, customer-brand relationship develops when individuals believe that the specific brand mirrors their own personalities and increases their self-esteem and social status (Wang, 2002).
H3: Members’ brand identification in VBCs has a positive effect on their brand commitment.