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The Effects Of Celebrity Endorsements Through Advertising Marketing Essay

The cosmetics industry is one of the largest multi-national, industries in the world. It is increasingly becoming competitive as there are various different brands that offer similar products to a specific target market (Mintel, 2007). The industry has grown rapidly since the first few cosmetic providers launched a limited range of products. This is due to the fact that consumers believe that beauty is part of their daily lifestyle and has become so much more important than it was a few years ago (Mintel, 2007). Companies are investing a lot of money to form an affiliate relationship between their brands, the company and endorsers. (Mintel, 2008)

The current economic recession has prompted companies to target consumers through the use of advertising to improve product demands, therefore an increase in revenue (Mintel, 2007). It is essential that the advertisements are successful and effective to justify the funds that were required to create the advertisement (Mintel, 2007). This is done through the use of advertising strategies. These could be persuasiveness by using celebrities to endorse products (Mintel, 2005). This will potentially allow the company to gain a competitive advantage over their rivals. (Mintel, 2008)

Both women and men are frequently exposed to a variety of products to choose from as there are frequently new and developed products being launched within the beauty market. (Mintel, 2008). This consequently affects the consumer’s decision of what product to purchase and from which brand. The performance, price, quality and brand recognition all have a major influence on consumer’s choices between competitive brands and products (Schiffman et al. 2009).

According to Erdogan (1999) through a marketing communications perspective companies form strategies that provide competitive differential advantage for a company’s products and services that they provide. To differentiate their products from other brands, companies are using celebrities and beauty experts to endorse their products to consumers (Pringle, 2004). This is usually done through advertising. According to Percy, Rossiter and Elliot (2001), advertising is an indirect way of turning a potential customer towards the advertised product or service by providing information that is designed to effect a favourable impression, this is called positive brand attitude. The main forms of advertising are magazines, TV, newspapers, internet, posters and radio.

Howard (1979) states that in 1979, commercials were estimated as one in every six advertisements the featured celebrity endorsers. By 1988, (Motavalli, 1988) estimated that it was now one in every five advertisements. A celebrity endorser has been defined by McCracken (1989) as any individual who enjoys public recognition and who uses this recognition on behalf of a consumer good by appearing with it in an advertisement. Celebrity endorsers are usually used to convey a specific message that purchasing the product will help consumers look as good as the endorser. (Mintel, 2008)

For example, Eva Longoria endorses L’Oreal’s hair colour; this could encourage females to purchase the product because of her beauty, this shows how a celebrity’s appearance can have an impact on the brand being endorsed (Pringle, 2004).

A research study carried out by Mehta (1994) established that there were no major distinctions in the attitudes towards advertising brands and the intentions to buy endorsed products between celebrity and non-celebrity endorsement circumstances, however there were differences in the cognitive responses generate by receivers. The study shows that in the non-celebrity surroundings, receivers focused more on the product and brand features however in the celebrity surroundings receivers concentrated more on the celebrity in the advertisement than the actual product and brand. Further research conducted by Atkin and Block (1983) and Petty, et al. (1983) found that positive attitudes and increased purchase intentions were produced by using celebrity endorsers rather than non-celebrities.

The project will have to investigate if consumers actually end up purchasing the products instead of just having the intentions to purchase.

Studies carried out by Agrawal and Kamakura (1995) and Mathur, Mathur and Rangan (1997) evaluate the economic worth of celebrity endorsers (Erdogan 1999). These studies were carried out to assess the impact celebrity endorsements had on the company’s future success. The findings in both studies emphasised the effectiveness of using celebrity endorsers.

Erdogan (1999) established that celebrity endorsers are more effective than non-celebrity endorsers in generating all desirable outcomes when firms use celebrities whose personality match the products and target audiences and those that have never endorsed products in the past. He stated the outcomes as attitudes towards advertising and endorsed brand, intentions to purchase, and in fact actual sales.

Celebrities are used to gain advantage over a company’s competitors as they are frequently competing to gain the consumers attentions (Pringle, 2004). Celebrities also help advertisements stand out from the surrounding clutter, therefore improving communicative ability by cutting through excess noise in a communication process (Sherman 1985). However Rossiter and Percy (1987) believed that a common concern is that consumers will focus their attention on the celebrity more than the brand and product itself.

Although there have been successful benefits of using celebrities to endorse cosmetic products, there are also negative effects. The negative factors that can occur are the sudden change of image of celebrities, the decline in popularity, social and moral issues, and loss of credibility by multiple endorsements or the product being ‘overshadowed’ by the celebrity (Cooper 1984; Kaikati 1987). According to Klebba and Unger (1982); Till and Shimp (1995), consumers’ perception of celebrity endorsers can be influenced by negative information about the celebrity and the product being endorsed. Many consumers’ are more likely to focus their attentions towards the celebrity rather than the brand being endorsed (Rossiter and Percy 1987). Cooper (1984) over emphasises the fact that the product, not the celebrity, must be the star. Celebrities often become involved in controversial issues; these can cause embarrassment towards the company and brand. (Pringle, 2004). A recent example includes Tiger Woods controversial family matters that have been made public. This has lead to the termination of contract with Gillette (Fox News, 2009).

There have been models created to find out how celebrity endorsers are selected. The Source Credibility Model (Hovland 1953), the Source Attractiveness Model (McGuire 1985), the Product Match-Up Hypothesis (Forkan 1980; Kamins 1989, 1990), and the Meaning Transfer Model (McGuire 1989).

The Source Credibility Model illustrates that message effectiveness is highly dependent on the consumer’s perception of the celebrity endorsers’ expertise and trustworthiness (Dholakia and Stemthal 1977; Hovland, et al. 1953; Hovland and Weiss 1951; Ohanian 1991; Solomon 1996).

A celebrity’s expertise is perceived by the level of knowledge, experience and skills that the celebrity possesses (Hovland et al. 1953). However, Ohanian (1990) suggests that an endorsers’ perceived expertise is important in explaining purchase intentions instead of the attractiveness and trustworthiness of the celebrity. Celebrities that are perceived by consumers as experts within the brand endorsed are more likely to be persuasive than other non-celebrities (Ohanian 1990; Horai, Naccari, and Fatoullah 1974).

According to Mintel (2009) many adults assume product claims as untrustworthy and there are some that believe that most products have not been supported by extensive research. It was found that “6 out of 10 people do not buy into them”, and “almost 2 in 5 people say there is little difference between celebrity brands and others on sale”. (Mintel, 2009)

Kelman (1961) states that the information provided from a credible source like as celebrity can highly influence the beliefs, opinions, attitudes and behaviour through the process of internalisation. This occurs when consumers accept their influence of the source through their personal attitudes and values regarding the product or brand being endorsed (Erdogan 1999).

The value of trustworthiness can benefit advertisers and companies by the selection of endorsers who are consider honest, dependable and believable (Shimp 1997).

The Source Attractiveness Model is refers to the choice of celebrities on the basis of their attractiveness and physical appearances (Singer 1983). The model states the effectiveness of the message provided depends on the likability, familiarity and similarity of the endorser to the consumer (McGuire 1985). Positive stereotypes are formed by consumers of attractive celebrities in advertisements, research shows that ‘physically attractive communicators’ are more likely to successfully change consumers beliefs about a product and brand (Baker and Churchill 1977; Chaiken 1979; Debevec and Kenman 1984). This successful change in beliefs consequently generates consumer purchase intention (Friedman et al. 1976; Petroshius and Crocker 1989; Petty and Cacioppo 1980). Erdogan (1991), suggests that attractiveness does not only refer to the physical attractiveness of the celebrity but characteristics like the intellectual skills, personality attribute, lifestyles and athletic competence are also included within attractiveness.

The Product Match-Up Hypothesis states that the messages that have been communicated by celebrity images and the product’s message should be similar for effective advertising (Forkan 1980; Kamins 1990). Packard (1957) proposed that celebrity endorsement strategies are effective in selling products, and services as celebrities are undeniably high status, and in endorsements, such these celebrities encourage consumers to use the products that they are using. In contrast to Packard’s view Erdogan (1991) suggests that if a connection between the endorser and the product is not evident, consumers may believe that the celebrity is only endorsing the product for monetary rewards.

Many consumers believe that most celebrity endorsers do not relate to the product as they think the products are not being used by them as well (Pringle, 2004).

The Meaning Transfer Model is about how celebrity endorsers apply their personal meanings to the endorsement process. According to Fowles (1996) the reason advertisers use celebrities to endorse their products is because most consumers are influenced by images of celebrities which in turn will make consumers purchase the products that are associated with the celebrities. People consume products and brands that have similar personality characteristics that are like their own, and those that they aspire to possess, (Fortini-Campbell 1992), these could be similar to the celebrities they desire to be like.

The models will be used within this research through the collection of primary data. The survey questionnaires will include questions on the models to find out the views of consumers and their purchase intentions.

Methodology:

This research will use the exploratory research design. By using the exploratory method this research will be able to “generate insights that help define the problem and increase the understanding of consumer motivations, attitudes and behaviour” (Hair et al. 2009 P15). This research will be conducted using two types of methods, quantitative and qualitative.

Primary data is ‘information specifically collected for a current research problem or opportunity’ (Hair et al. 2009 Pg 37); in this research it will be used to gather information about how advertising of cosmetics using celebrities has an effect on consumer purchasing behaviour.

Primary data will be collected using quantitative research methods this will “produce quantifiable insights into behaviour, motivations and attitudes of individuals (Wilson, 2006 pg 413). This will be carried out through a quantitative survey using a questionnaire as the marketing research tool. The questionnaire will consist of structured questions as it will “require the respondent to choose from a predetermined set of responses” (Hair et al. 2009 pg 407). The questions will utilise a likert-style rating scale this will produce information on the level of agreement on the statements included in the questionnaire.

The questionnaires will be carried out within the Harrow Westminster Business University and will be distributed to friends and family. An interviewer will be present whilst participants are completing the questionnaires; this is to ensure the validity of the data as some questions may be misinterpreted by respondents. Therefore, respondents may give different answers which will consequently result in the research being invalid. The questionnaire will generate data which will include the age and gender of respondents, there will be questions that will try to find out about the attitudes towards the celebrity, the brand, the product and the purchase intentions of the respondents after viewing the advertisements.

The sampling method that will be used is quota sampling. This involves selecting participants from within a specific quota. The quotas that will be used in this research are the demographic characteristics of participants. These are their age and gender.

The sample size for the questionnaires will be 50 females and 50 males between the ages of 18 – 27. Each age group will be given 10 questionnaires; this will be split between females and males.

A qualitative approach will also be used as it “attempts to gain an understanding of the existence of attitudes and opinions” (Bradley, 2007 pg 243). This will be carried out using focus groups. Focus group research involves “a formal process of bringing a small group of people together for an interactive, spontaneous discussion on one particular topic or concept” (Hair et al. 2009 pg 161). The use of a focus group allows respondents to elaborate on the topic and discuss their ideas, beliefs and attitudes towards the topic. The focus group will consist of semi structured questions. This will eventually generate a variety of responses on specific topics; the interviewer can therefore adapt questions to the flow of the discussion.

Two focus groups will be conducted, with 5 participants within each group. The groups will consist of all female and all males. By separating the groups between males and females, data can be gathered about the views and attitudes of both genders in relation to the effects of celebrity endorsements. The focus groups allow respondents to provide in-depth details of their experiences, and what influences their purchase decisions, this information cannot be gathered through questionnaires.

The focus groups will last for approximately 2 hours. For greater reliability and validity, all data collected during the focus groups will be transcribed. This will ensure the information collected is not misinterpreted and that information has not been left out.

Secondary data will consist of using journals, previous research reports, newspaper articles, magazines, company websites and market intelligence reports. A thorough literature review will be conducted using all the resources available. Each source will be reviewed and the relevant information will be gathered to contribute towards the literature review.

According to Saunders et al. (2009. pg 183) “ethics refers to the appropriateness of your behaviour in relation to the rights of those who become the subject of your work, or are affected by it”. Consent from all participants has to be obtained before distributing questionnaires and conducting focus groups. Also, the confidentiality of the answers given and their privacy has to be guaranteed. Whilst writing up the findings it is essential this is done in a moral and responsible manner.

Data generated through the questionnaires will be analysed using a SPSS software package. The data collected through the focus groups could be difficult to analyse as there could be an issue of participant bias as respondents might give answers that they assume the interviewer wants to hear. Also, the focus group discussions might be dominated by a specific respondent. However, these issues could have a positive effect on the research as more data may be gathered as the discussion could become more of a debate therefore information on both negatives and positives could develop.

Changes from initial project proposal:

After conducting the initial literature review it was clear that the objectives of the project were poor and too broad. At first there were four objectives, it was assumed that the research question could be answered through these objectives. However after researching the topic further secondary sources were used which developed more information; this eventually leaded to the development of the fifth objective which consists of drawing conclusions and formulating recommendations for future research. Also, the topic of consumer behaviour was not taken into consideration at first however after gathering information it was obvious that the research was centred on consumer issues which involve purchasing behaviour, attitudes, intention, and influences.

The poster event was very helpful as I was recommended to change a few things in my initial methodology. At first I decided to use semi-structured questionnaires as a research tool, however I was told to use structured questionnaires as it will be easier to analyse the data. Also to conduct focus groups rather than interviews, as this will gather more information through discussions of different views on celebrity endorsements.

Critique of validity and reliability of actual methodology:

Primary and secondary data were included within the methodology to ensure the reliability of the research project. Hair et al (2009 pg 645) refers to reliability as the extent to which the measurements taken with a particular instrument are repeatable”. If all the methods and the information are used in the relevant ways it is assumed that repeating the research will result in consistent findings. However, if the age and location where different the results will differ from the original research.

Validity refers to the “extent to which the conclusions drawn from an experiment are true” (Hair at al.2009 pg 650). All research methods have to be carried out with care as there could be a chance that the research might become invalid if the relevant process has not been followed. All data has to be recorded in any form as it will prevent any misinterpretations and data being left out when analysing all the findings. This will ensure that the research is valid and when conducted again it will hopefully provide the same results.

During the primary research stage it is essential that there is no bias as the focus groups will be face to face it is vital that the non verbal actions of respondents are not noted, as this could jeopardise the research project. As it is not part of the objectives of the research, there is no information that can be used towards the research.

Secondary data has to be relevant to the objectives as it is difficult to find all information through primary research. This will contribute to the literature review that will form the majority of the research as background information which consists of the strategies, models and past research.

Critical self-evaluation of work undertaken:

As mentioned above changes had to be made to the objectives as they were not sufficient to carry out a research project because it was difficult to draw conclusions with broad objectives. Revising the objectives took a bit of time as further secondary data had to be research to develop more precise and achievable objectives. At first it was assumed that the research topic was not very popular with minimum information and sources available.

However after extensive research it was clear that enough secondary resources were available to carry out a literature review.

The draft literature review and methodology have been written. The distribution of questionnaires and conducting focus groups will begin at the start of second semester.

Timetable:

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