Special Session Summary Formation and Consequences of Self-Brand Relationship: Implications For Brand and New Product Management

Merrie Brucks, University of Arizona
Samar Das, University of Arizona
[ to cite ]:
Merrie Brucks and Samar Das (1998) ,"Special Session Summary Formation and Consequences of Self-Brand Relationship: Implications For Brand and New Product Management", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 25, eds. Joseph W. Alba & J. Wesley Hutchinson, Provo, UT : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 65.

Advances in Consumer Research Volume 25, 1998      Page 65

SPECIAL SESSION SUMMARY

FORMATION AND CONSEQUENCES OF SELF-BRAND RELATIONSHIP: IMPLICATIONS FOR BRAND AND NEW PRODUCT MANAGEMENT

Merrie Brucks, University of Arizona

Samar Das, University of Arizona

Anchored by seminal articles by interpretative scholars, the view that the consumer is an active participant in creating "brand spaces" in her mind has been gaining wide acceptance. Our contribution, in this session, was to combine the interpretivist and experimental psychologist perspectives in forming an overarching theory of self-brand relationships. We presented models of how these relationships are formed and reported how they affect a variety of important marketing phenomena. The implications from these papers make contributions as individual pieces. Together, they form compelling evidence for a central role for the self-brand relationship in consumer behavior.

The papers in this session develop a finer understanding of the consumer psychology underlying the formation of the self-brand link and its consequences for important consumer outputs-judgments and inferences. As a set, they demonstrate how the self brand relationship or connection is at the heart of several very important consumer processes - specifically, formation of brand equity, new product evaluation, and reference group influence. Samar Das presented the first paper, which proposed a schema theoretic process model underlying the creation of Self Brand Relationship and then demonstrated the usefulness of this perspective by presenting a structural model of brand equity in which self-brand relationship was shown to have a stronger impact than attribute beliefs on the brand equity of leading brands of athletic shoes. The second paper, presented by Mita Sujan, examined how the self-brand link ffects product concept testing and presented results of experiments conducted in The Netherlands and the USA. The results indicated that product concept testing can be enriched by considering the relationship of the consumer to the product in addition to the consumer’s functional analysis of the new product. The third paper, presented by Jennifer Escalas, developed a framework called "prototype attaching," to explicate a process by which brands used by reference groups influence consumers’ meaningful self-brand connections. Empirical results strongly supported the conceptual framework. After the papers were presented, Sidney Levy offered a historical perspective on research on brand meaning, then led a lively and constructive discussion regarding the individual papers.

 

A THEORY OF SELF BRAND RELATIONSHIP SCHEMA AND ITS IMPLICATIONS FOR BRAND EQUITY

Samar Das and Merrie Brucks, University of Arizona

We propose that the self brand relationship schema is formed by an active link of the self-schema and the brand schema and develops cumulatively over a long period of time with frequent use, fantasies evoked by transformational advertising, specific affective experiences, and unique instances of brand’s relationship with self. We hypothesize that self brand relationship schema drives the equity in strong brands. To formally test the hypothesis, we developed a Lisrel based structural model of brand equity with "functional attributes", "self brand relationship", "perceived popularity" and "perceived style and image" as exogenous (independent) variables and brand equity as the endogenous (dependent) variable. We collected data on the consumer perceptions of four brands of athletic shoes with over 250 respondents. The results show a strong and significant effect of "self brand relationship" dimension on brand equity, accounting for the largest percentage of variance.

 

EXPERIENTIAL VERSUS ANALYTICAL THINKING: A COMPARISON OF TWO METHODS OF EARLY PRODUCT CONCEPT TESTING

Mita Sujan & Harish Sujan, Penn State University

Th. M. M. Verhallen, University of Tilburg

Cee De Bont, Center for Behavioral Research, Philips

The purpose of this research is to compare consumers’ evaluations of new product concepts using methods that encourage analytical thinking versus more experiential thinking. In a series of exploratory studies conducted in The Netherlands and the USA, we had subjects react to early product concepts, either by thinking of reasons why they would adopt the product or how they would use the product. Analytical or why thinking produced a focus on product features and a comparison, both positive and negative, to existing products. Experiential or how thinking produced imagined scenarios of the self interacting with the product that were rich with episodic detail or explicit statements that indicated subjects inabilities to engage in such anticipations ("this product is just not me"). Resulting product judgments were generally more positive but showed greater variance (were more extreme) and subjects used affective terms to describe their evaluations.

 

PROTOTYPE ATTACHING: THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE SELF, BRANDS, AND PROTOTYPICAL USERS

Jennifer Edson Escalas, University of Arizona

James R. Bettman, Duke University

It has been shown that people make product and brand choices by 1) imagining the prototypical users for each item in the choice set and 2) choosing the item that maximizes their similarity to a desired prototypical user (Neidenthal et al. 1985, Setterlund 1993). This heuristic for brand choice has been labeled "prototype matching." Our framework extends prototype matching. Given that 1) peole use brands and constellations of brands to define and create themselves, and 2) people seek consistency with and are influenced by reference groups, brands that are used by positive reference groups can become important to consumers’ self-concepts as consumers use these brands to define themselves. Results from a study of 45 undergraduate subjects show that the degree to which prototype usage influences individual meaningful self-brand connections, for both individual brands and constellations of brands, is contingent upon the degree to which the individual fits with the reference group or wishes to belong to the reference group. The better the fit, the more positive the influence of the reference groups’ brand usage on the connection between the subjects’ self-concepts and the brands.

REFERENCES

Niedenthal Paula M., N. Cantor and J. F. Kihlstrom (1985), "Self to Prototype Matching: A Strategy for Social Decision Making," Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, v 48, 575-584.

Setterlund, Marc B. and Paula M. Niedenthal (1993), "'Who am I Why am I here’: Self-Esteem, Self Clarity, and Prototype Matching," Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 65, 769-780.

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