The effect of celebrity conformity on the purchase intention of celebrity sponsorship brand: The moderating effects of symbolic consumption and face-saving

Seong Yeon Park, Young Yang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations

Abstract

As media is becoming more influential in the era of new media, the impact and the power of celebrities of stage and screen have become greater than ever. Gradually, consumers tend to make their purchase decisions based on the symbolic and imagery aspects rather than substantial use of a product. Thus, popularity, affinity, and image of celebrities have a great impact on consumers so that wide range of consumers can be effectively led to mass purchase (The Korea Economic Daily, 2006). Accordingly, media is fully utilized not only as a direct commercial medium, but also as a vehicle for the spread of fashion trend via celebrities. Thus, a ‘star marketing’ strategy is fully activated and many celebrities not only promote brand awareness, but also stimulate consumer desires with sponsorship brands. In addition, face-saving Korean culture encourages the growth of public interests towards celebrity sponsorship brands. However, researches that examined the social and psychological factors of conforming and imitating behavior of celebrity products are limited. This research considered celebrity conformity as a variable that explains consumer imitating behavior in the luxury-fashion industry and examined whether consumer’s celebrity conformity level affects the purchase intention of celebrity sponsorship brand. Furthermore, this research also attempted to analyze the moderating effects of symbolic consumption and face-saving, which are regarded as influential consumer characteristics in luxury-fashion product consumption behavior. The test results showed that celebrity conformity had a positive effect on the purchase intention of celebrity sponsorship brand, thus, hypothesis 1 was supported. In addition, this research further analyzed the impact of the three sub-dimensions of celebrity conformity on the purchase intention of celebrity sponsorship brand. The results demonstrated that self-conformity and style-conformity positively (+) influenced the purchase intention of celebrity sponsorship brand. However, interest- conformity did not have any significant effect. This research also examined the difference between teen agers and adults. Both groups showed positive impact of conformity on purchase intentions. However, there was a difference in the effects of the three sub-dimensions of conformity. First, in teenagers’ responses, only interest-conformity did not have an effect on the purchase intention of celebrity sponsorship brands but self and style-conformity had a significant influence on the purchase intention (p<0.01). On the other hand, for adult respondents, both interest and self-conformity did not have an impact on the purchase intention and only style-conformity had a significant influence (p<0.01). In case of moderating effect, there was no significant interaction between celebrity conformity and symbolic consumption, thereby hypothesis 2 was rejected. This result indicates that the effect of the celebrity conformity on the purchase behavior is not influenced by symbolic consumption. However, symbolic consumption showed a significant effect on purchase intention of celebrity sponsorship brand. This indicates that even though symbolic consumption does not interact with celebrity conformity, symbolic consumption increases purchase of celebrity sponsorship brand. On the other hand, there was a significant interaction between celebrity conformity and face-saving, thus hypothesis 3 was supported. Face-saving also had a significant impact on purchase intention of sponsorship brand. The interaction of celebrity conformity and face-saving demonstrated a negative direction, which may have an interesting indication. Short interviews in the pretest showed that many of the respondents like celebrities and have experience in imitating what they did and wore. However, they feel a strong sense of embarrassment and resistance once their conforming behaviors are recognized by others. This indicates that people may have another dimension of face-saving (conscious of others/social surroundings) that is not wanting to be known as a ‘celebrity imitator’ by purchasing celebrity sponsorship brands. An additional analysis was conducted to examine the differences between the teenager and adult respondents. It was found that the relationship between celebrity conformity and symbolic consumption did not show a significant interaction in both groups. However, in case of adults, while interaction between celebrity conformity and symbolic consumption was not significant, there was a significant main effect of symbolic consumption on the purchase intention of celebrity sponsorship brand. This shows a stronger tendency of adults to display their ability, status, and taste by celebrity sponsorship brands. This research has the following theoretical contributions.First, the present research identified sub-dimensions of celebrity conformity, which was thought to be a single behavioral construct in the previous researches. In addition, even though most of preexisting studies explained the influence of celebrities on individual consumption behavior with mere celebrity endorsement concept, this research expanded the scope of academic inquiry by introducing the concept of celebrity conformity. Furthermore, the findings of the present research particularly have many practical implications for the luxury and fashion/ luxury brands. TV commercials are not the primary source for the marketing of fashion industry, and therefore, using celebrities as a marketing tool will be beneficial in terms of fit and visibility since a well-chosen celebrity may enhance brand awareness, may promote brand status and may effectively reinforce as well as create an image for a product/brand. Moreover, such indirect advertisements and promotions can be more powerful than direct and hard sell advertising for the luxury and fashion/luxury brands. The limitations of the present research are as follows: First, the age of the sample was not evenly distributed. Therefore, the future research should include a sample of wider age distribution. Second, this research examined the moderating roles of symbolic consumption and face-saving under the assumption of no interaction between them. However, the future research needs to explore the relationship between them. Third, the generalizability of this study is limited because it used a sample of single country. The future research may include and compare samples from diverse countries.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)215-229
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Global Fashion Marketing
Volume1
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - 2012

Keywords

  • Celebrity endorsement
  • Celebrity sponsorship brand
  • Conformity behavior
  • Face-saving
  • Symbolic consumption

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