Brand Personality: Impact on Brand Trust and Consumer Preferences : A comparative study of Germany and Sweden
A brand could be considered to be the face of a company. The most visible aspect of a brand is the logo, but there is another perspective widely known, namely brand personality. Previous studies have acknowledged that brands, in the eyes of consumers, can be seen as having personality traits. With this knowledge, it becomes important for managers to understand what type of personality their brands possess and how therelationship between brand personality and consumers, especially their behavior, works.
The purpose of this study was to explore whether brand personality has an effect on consumers‟ preference and trust towards a brand, and furthermore, whether brand personality is first influencing brand identification, as an indirect link, on its way towards preference and trust. Another aspect of this study was to make a cultural comparison between Germany and Sweden in order to find out if there are any differences in how consumers from different cultures view brand personality, and if that affects the results for brand identification, preference and trust. The findings will help marketing managers to understand the effects of brand personality, its relationship with the consumer, and moreover if the concept of brand identification is an important aspect in order to increase consumers‟ preference and trust towards a specific brand.
A quantitative method was used for this study, since a large sample was thought to be needed. A total of 317 respondents provided answers for this research, out of those 190 were gathered from an online survey, while the remaining 127 answered a standard paper-based questionnaire. 181 of the respondents were German and 136 were Swedish.Two non-probability sampling techniques, snowball and convenience, were used. The questionnaires consisted of 26 questions, 13 for each brand, measuring brand personality, brand identification, preference and trust, using Likert-scales from 1 to 5. Four brands, Apple, Nike, Ikea and Mercedes Benz, were used, each restricted to one page. In order to not provide the respondents with an overwhelmingly number of questions to answer, a split of the questionnaire was made. Two questionnaires, the first with the brands Apple and Nike, and the second with Ikea and Mercedes Benz were conducted. The splitting procedure was also used to provide answers concerning cultural differences. One questionnaire was culturally neutral, while the other was culturally biased, allowing for the exploration of the effects of country of origin and consumer ethnocentric tendencies.
The results of this study showed that there were indications of brand personality affecting the level of trust towards a brand among consumers. Especially, correlations were found between the brand personality dimensions of Competence and Sincerity with brand trust and between Excitement and preference. However, the concept of brand identification, as a connecting link, is found to have very weak effects on consumers‟preference and trust. Nevertheless, the findings indicate that brand personality effects consumers‟ preference and trust directly. Regarding the cultural comparison with Germany and Sweden, the responses provided an inconclusive result. In questionnaire one, the answers were fairly similar. The same could be said about questionnaire two, even though German respondents tended to produce higher scores for the brand personalities than Swedish respondents. Overall, by illustrating the results in a graph, it can be determined that the answers from both groups exhibit the same pattern. Furthermore, it was concluded that there were no clear indications of country of origin or consumer ethnocentrism effects.
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