The subject of celebrity endorsement has always been topical since it was first coined back in the day. The use of celebrities to endorse brands has over the years remained a global phenomenon with leading international brands namely Nike, Pepsi entering into multi-million partnerships with international celebrities and personalities. This trend has seen local companies and brands engaging local celebrities to endorse their brands. On this blog, we have written before about celebrity endorsement with a particular emphasis on Jah Prayzah and the multiple endorsements under his belt. This piece is not just a follow up but rather, the subject matter wrought academic curiosity in one of our team members who did a thesis on celebrity endorsement. As such, the findings contained herein are part of academic literature drawn from Benjamin Juru’s thesis “A study on the effect of celebrity endorsement on brand attitude and purchase decision by millennials. Case study of the service industry in Zimbabwe” in which the author sought to explore and assess the impact of celebrity endorsement on purchase decisions among millennials.
As alluded to prior, the purpose of the research was to establish and ascertain the impact of celebrity endorsement on purchase decisions and thus the researcher sought to answer these curious questions;
- To what extent can consumer purchase decisions be influenced by celebrity endorsement?
- What is the relationship between celebrity endorsement factors and consumer brand attitude?
- What effect does celebrity endorsement have on consumer choice of brand and likelihood of switching?
Employing a mixed methods research methodology which made use of surveys, focus group discussions and interviews, the research came out with the findings below. Descriptive and inferential statistical tools were used to analyse data.
- Celebrity endorsement and Purchase decisions
The study done by Benjamin Juru which consisted of a sample drawn out among millennials revealed that while consumers may be happy and even consider buying a product endorsed by their favorite celebrity, they might not buy simply because of the celebrity’s presence in the advert. The presence of likable features which other theorists (Ohanian 1990) coined the source model are critical in creating a favourable impression of the brand in the consumer’s mind. Furthermore, a matchup between the celebrity and the brand is key to deriving value through celebrity endorsement.
- Multiple endorsements and Scandals
Another important variable which this research sought to uncover was celebrity factors namely scandals and multiple endorsements. The research revealed that respondents value trustworthiness and honesty in a celebrity, most of them (62.5%) alluded to that celebrity factors such as involvement in scandals, negative attention etc does not affect their attitude towards the endorsed brand. Respondents noted the separation between the celebrity and the brand thus resulting in no change in attitude towards the brand. This is in contrast to other studies on celebrity scandals as in the case of Tiger Woods’s extramarital affairs scandal, this research showed no evidence of celebrity behavior creating negative brand attitudes from a pragmatic point of view.
Multiple endorsements as in the case of Jah Prayzah, Madam Boss etc were found to be of no effect on choice of brand as long as endorsed brands are not competing brands. However, a limited number of respondents said multiple endorsements bring confusion. This follows the local market dynamics where Jah and Madam Boss routinely keep bagging brands to endorse with no outcry from their fans.
- Celebrity endorsement and Brand loyalty
The findings in the research revealed that the presence of a celebrity does not lead to brand loyalty but appearance of a favourite celebrity can entrench loyalty.
Given the findings in this research, it follows that brands which are using local celebrities need to take heed of the findings in crafting their celebrity endorsement strategies. This piece is an abridged version of the full thesis which can be made available on request or via the NUST students portal.