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Blowing one¿s own trumpet¿ and muffling those of others? : a study of the influence of brand competence on consumer self- and other perception

Hartman, L. (2005) Blowing one¿s own trumpet¿ and muffling those of others? : a study of the influence of brand competence on consumer self- and other perception.

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Abstract:The present study revisits the recent previous studies of the influence of brand personality on consumer self-perception of personality traits. These studies showed that brands with different salient personality dimensions have different effects on consumer self-perceptions of specific aspects of their self-concept. However, these studies have left aside so far if brand personality also has an impact on the perception of personality traits of other consumrs. As the world is becoming more complex, consumers use also brands in a more complex way. A second topic that is unaddressed is the effect of exposing brands with both high and low ratings on a personality dimension of consumer perceptions of personality traits. In the present study, the brand personality 'competence' is used for examination in an experiment. Hypotheses are formulated and the design is adjusted to examine the new insights. The design used for this experimentation is a 4 (brand competence: no/high/low/both high and low) x 2 (target description: self/other) between-subjects design. A total of 192 students (all male) acted as participants in this experiment. These participants were randomly assigned to the experimental conditions. Participants were told that they were participating in an experiment to examine consumer attitudes toward differnt brands in specific contexts of use. Participants were instructed to read first a scenario with a description of the preparation of a weekend trip to Barcelona for three minutes. Within this description, a total of four brands of four product categories (automobile, clothing, soft drink and magazine title) were mentioned and depicted. The brands were selecte don the base of ratings in a pilot study from the previous studies. High ratings were defined as highly competent brands and low ratings as low competent brands. In the self-condition, the scenario concerned the participant self. In the other-person condition, the 'I' was replaced by the Dutch name 'Jan'. Next, participants received a questionnaire with traits of Big-Five and Malhotra personality dimensions and questions of the brands for distracting purpose. High ratings on the scale referred to a positive perception and low ratings to a negative. Effects show that brand competence has an influence on both consumer self- and consumer other-person perceptions. An important distinction between self-perceptions and other-person perceptions is that especially in the low competent brand condition the self-ratings were high. An explanation for this finding might be that participants use the self-protection motive in assessments. The other person is perceived as less intelligent after exposure to low competent brands. On the self-ratings no effect was found on this dimension. On the contrary, on the dimension 'conscientiousness' ratings of the other person were high. An explanation for this finding might be this that this dimension is less 'threatening' or 'damaging' to the overall presentation. Another explanation might be that preparation of a weekend trip are associated with traits as being well organized and structured, traits of conscientiousness. Ratings on traits of the other consumer are consistently lower than on the self, except on the dimension 'Conscientiousness'. Here, the other person was rated higher than the self, probably for the same reason as described above. With this study we also proved that brand personality has an impact on consumer perception of personality traits. Additional to the previous study, we can conclude that both self-perceptions and other-perceptions can be influenced by brand competence. We can also conclude that assessments of the self is mostly from the self-protection motive, where on assessments of the other consumer this motive does not count. Assessments are also more positive of the self, like research in personality and social psychology also shows. In line with social psychology researchers, we can conclude that in this context, the bad is also stronger than the good on both self- and other person perceptions. However, the distinction between the both is that the negative or bad information (low competent brands) had a stronger negative influence on consumer other-person perceptions than on consumer self-perceptions
Item Type:Essay (Bachelor)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:05 communication studies
Programme:Communication Studies BSc (56615)
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