Researchers have shown that consumers often prefer and choose brands with appealing personalities in an attempt to affirm and enhance their sense of self (Escalas and Bettman 2003; Swaminathan, Stilley, and Ahluwalia 2009). However, this line of research has not examined actual brand use, and has not tested whether using these brands actually results in self-enhancement. The purpose of this dissertation is to explore how consumers self-enhance by using brands with strong and appealing personalities. To do so, we introduce implicit self-theories--lay beliefs that consumers hold about personalities--as an important factor that moderates how consumers use brand personalities to self enhance. We draw upon this theory to identify the ways that consumers might use brand personalities to self-enhance, and to explain why some consumers are more affected by brand personalities.
We present our findings in two essays. In Essay #1, we examine how consumers use brands with appealing personalities to self-enhance, and identify possible ways that consumers with different implicit self-theories use these brands to self-enhance. In Essay #2, we examine whether or not consumers perceive themselves as having the brand's personality after they use brands with appealing personalities. More importantly, we examine if implicit self-theories determine the extent to which consumers are influenced by appealing brand personalities.
Our findings provide an important step in understanding self-enhancement approaches through brands with appealing personalities, and the influence of brand personalities on consumers. Implicit beliefs that consumers hold about their personal qualities influence ways that consumers use brands with appealing personalities to self-enhance; entity theorists attempt to self-enhance by using brands with appealing personalities as a signal, whereas incremental theorists attempt to self-enhance by using these brands to directly improve their personal qualities. Therefore, when consumers have an opportunity to experience the signaling value of brand personalities, the brand's personality "rubs off" on consumers, but only for those who hold entity theory beliefs. Entity theorists perceive themselves to be better-looking, more feminine, and more glamorous after using a Victoria's Secret shopping bag and more intelligent, more of a leader, and harder-working after using an MIT pen; incremental theorists are unaffected.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. May 2011. Major: Business Administration. Advisor:Deborah Roedder John. 1 computer file (PDF); x, 106 pages, appendices A-C.
Park, Ji Kyung.
The influence of brand personalities on consumers:exploring the moderating role of implicit self-theories..
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