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Brand Congruence: Consumer Behavior And Purchase

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Marketing
Wordcount: 3071 words Published: 28th Apr 2017

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With the retail format gaining prominence in India, especially in the urban areas, the question a brand needs to ask is how to get noticed among the brand clutter on the retail shelf. With hundreds of brands available across each category effectively means that a consumer has numerous choices from among to choose from and the brands must differentiate in order to get noticed.

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With the R&D technology and new product innovation being consistent across the industry, product differentiation is difficult to achieve. Also the cluttered structure of the industry and almost consistent cost price across the Industry, price differentiation is again a long-drawn thought. In-store branding has become an important tool for the companies to advertise their products. As most of the urban India is well connected and accessible through road, rail, air or water, differentiating on the distribution basis will again not have a significant impact. Thus out of the 4 P’s of marketing, the only feasible and significant tool is Promotions.

Most of the promotion is directed to create a top-of the mind recall among the shoppers, which is an extremely difficult to achieve, given sheer volume of communication that a consumer is being subjected to. Thus it may really help if the time gap between the message exposure and consumer purchase decision is reduced, so as to create a recall at the time of purchase. So POP or In-store branding is gaining popularity among the marketers.

According to the dictionary of marketing POP may be defined as- “advertising that is built around impulse purchasing and that utilizes display designed to catch a shopper’s eye particularly at the place where payment is made, such as a checkout counter.” Though the concept of in-store branding and POP has existed before and was an integral part of the traditional retail, but in the last few years, with the rise of modern retail, it has come of the age. The emphasis of an retail outlet is to provide a entertaining experience to the shopper, a one similar to that of a theatre. The various types of POP employed by the marketer’s now-a-days are- Posters/Banners, Danglers, Wobblers, Standees, Normal/Glow Boards, Leaflets, Cutouts, Floor graphics and Signages.

Now having seen the importance of POP materials in advertising, a marketer has certain decisions to make- the type of POP, the colours, graphics and the message that will appear on the POP. The monies and the stakes are too high for any brand, & thus there has to be a careful planning as to decide on all the aspects of POP as discussed above. Though there goes a lot of planning as to the aesthetics and the message of the POP, but marketers have completely ignored the first aspect i.e. to find the most suitable and fitting POP for my brand. Today marketers use a mix of various kinds of POP’s for each of their products, and the POP choice has no logical reasoning.

The purpose of this research is to come up with a POP personality, map it with the Brand personality so as to explore the extension of congruence to the POP & the Brand. This may help in defining the most effective POP material that may be relevant and suitable for my brand & thus translate into sales for the brand.

Literature Review

In geometry, if two figures have same shape and size, they are said to be congruent. In other words, two set of points are said to be congruent if one of those can be transformed into the other by a set of geometrical iterations which may involve rotation, reflection or translation. In Latin congruere means to come together or agree. Taking cues from the above definitions, we see congruence as a state of similarity or agreement between two objects. A wide variety of literature is available on congruence, a variety of associations and definitions of the term ‘congruence’ have been proposed in the past researches. The earliest reference to the term ‘congruence’ was done in terms of ‘fit’ in relation to brand extensions (Aaker & Keller, 1990; Park, Milberg, & Lawson, 1991; Lane, 2000) and co-branding (Simonin & Ruth 1998). Other still have used the congruence concept in terms of fit and relevance to explain the category fit for a newly-launched product(Aaker & Keller, 1990), or of the sponsorship of an event(McDonalsm, 1991).Meanwhile some authors have referred congruence in terms of similarity (Boush et al., 1987) or typicality (Boush & Loken, 1991). The concept of congruence has been extended into advertising and conceptualized as a bi-dimensional concept (Hecker and Childers, 1992) in terms of relevancy and expectancy of association. All this research have conceptualized and applied the term congruence in a variety of ways, but the common view that emerges out of all the research is that congruence has a positive impact in driving the customers purchase intentions; and is applicable to the different areas of marketing, brand strategy and marketing communication.

Thus we have a variety of definitions of congruence in a variety of literatures. The earliest reference was in terms of brand extension: a new product must be similar or consistent with the others offered by the brand (Boush, 1987). Later congruence was conceptualized in terms of category fit: typicality of a brand extension with the category (Ladwein, 1994). There are is also sufficient literature, describing congruence in terms of relevance and fit, representing the benefits of brand in category extension. The term congruence was used to describe complementary and compatible goals and objectives (Martin & Stewart, 2001). The underlying theory behind congruence is that of cognitive dissonance. In Psychology terms, cognitive dissonance states that it’s very difficult for a person or an organization to survive too long if there is incongruence between a belief and a behaviour. Later Festinger defined it as cognitions, which may be information or view or belief about the environment or oneself and one’s behaviour (Festinger, 1957). This was followed by the self consistency interpretation of dissonance (Aronson, 1968), which assumes that the inconsistency between the self-concept and behaviour give rise to dissonance. Cognitive dissonance is a feeling caused due to people holding conflicting views simultaneously. It says that people have a motivational drive to reduce dissonance; which may be through a change in attitude, beliefs and actions. The theory states that people have an urge to make choices consistent with their self & personality. Even if the choices are not consistent, they have an desire to make it congruent with their value system.

Another theory used to explain the phenomenon of congruence is the process of ‘internalisation’. According to Kelman (1961, p. 65), “internalisation is the process when an individual accepts influence from an external source as the induced behavioural change is congruent with his value system” is loosely the same as the theory of cognitive dissonance. This essentially means that people accept information from the source in the manner they intend to.

Various types of congruence are as follows:

Celebrity-brand congruence- The impact of using celebrities can be twifold- to increase awareness and to strengthen or change the brand image of a brand. Celebrity endorsement has been referred to as an exercise in co-branding or brand building (Anjali Tumkur Jaiprakash, 2008). Keller defines co-branding as one “where each party has an awareness and generates a brand image in the consumer’s mind.” The congruence studies have delved into the similarities

or correspondence between the product or brand and the celebrity which is popularly known as the “match-up” hypothesis (Misra and Beatty 1990). Celebrity-product congruence can be defined as the consistency between the personality of a product and the characteristics of the product he/she endorses (Misra and Beatty, 1990). Also there has been considerable research as to there is a direct relation between the product and endorser, i.e. the endorser has a positive impact on the brand salience and equity. Also the attractiveness of the celebrity has an impact on the brand in the sense that more attractive the endorser, the more positive the impact on the brand they are endorsing. The celebrity-brand congruence was explained by the self-reference theory, there will be a positive attitude change if the personality of a model is congruent to consumer’s ideal image which may translate into positive purchase decision (Sirgy, 1982).

The self-reference uses two motives to explain the consumption pattern namely, self-consistency and self-esteem. The self consistency motive encourages consumption of products that appeal to the actual self. Meanwhile there is the self-esteem motive that encourages consumption of products as per the personal aspirations, as thus satisfy the ideal self. Research proves that the self-esteem motive drives the purchase intention to a greater extent as compared to the self consistency motive, regardless of the discrepancy between self concept and product image (Hong and Zinkhan, 1995).

Another important learning that came out of the literature review was that the Brand Personality scale developed by Aaker (1997) was found out to be reliable and valid both for the celebrity and the brand (Subhadip Roy, Dr. Y. L. R. Moorthi,2009).

Retail -Consumer-Product congruence- Research shows sufficient evidence to conclude that store personality exists as a concept and that department stores have meaningful image differences. A research showed that 75 percent of the respondents have image impressions of the department stores in which they shop (Berry,). There has been sufficient research so as to gauge the effect of Store environment on the shopping behaviour of the consumer. One of the researches shows that the store environment is one of the important factors that influence the cognitive process of a shopper in a store. The store environment-product congruence influences the information search and processing process of the buyer and thus has an impact on his purchase behaviour. In some cases, store environment may have a lagged effect on the shopping behaviour (Shun Yin Lam, 2001). The congruence between the store environment and the consumer may have an impact on consumer’s categorization of the retail store and the interconnection between the store categorization and product evaluation will impact the shopper’s product evaluation (Grewal and Baker 1994).

Those whose views of self and store image on the objectivity-impulsiveness scale are congruent, tend to be more loyal. It can be inferred from this that projecting a store image (through the marketing tools) which is consistent with the target markets self image will increase loyalty among those shoppers (Danny N. Bellenger, Earle Steinberg, Wilbur W. Stanton,1976).

Positioning-Brand Advertising Congruence- (Arnott, 1992, pp. 111-14) defines positioning as:” the deliberate, proactive, iterative process of defining, measuring, modifying, and monitoring consumer perceptions of a marketable offering.” According to the author, the application of positioning involves certain related activities, i.e., defining the dimensions of a particular perceptual space that adequately represents the target audience’s perceptions; measuring objects locations within that space and modifying actual characteristics of the object and perceptions of the target audience via marketing communications strategies.

Brand-Sponsorship Congruence- Past Research has established that moderate levels of brand-sponsorship congruence may be more effective than high or low levels of congruence. Researchers have been increasingly interested in evaluating sponsorship effectiveness but must take into account two specific characteristics of this medium. Two important aspects of sponsorship may be- “its processing is peripheral”(Janiszewski, 1990, 1993) i.e. consumers interact with the medium first which may be attending a sports event, concert etc. rather than the message. This essentially means that the sponsors may face the situation when they may not get the eyeballs of the desired target audience for whom the sponsorship was directed, leading to a superficial processing of the ad. Secondly,” the message is usually nonverbal and implicit rather than clearly stated.” This means that the message is not the real communication (Nathalie D. Fleck, Pascale Quester , 2007).

Also research has established that more the fit, relevance and congruence between the sponsorship and the product, the more interested will be the consumers towards the sponsors and thus more favourable will be its effect on the driving the purchase intention of the consumer towards the impact (Rodgers, 2003). “Thus the sponsorship congruence is derived from two distinct sources, expectancy and relevancy “(Nathalie D. Fleck, Pascale Quester , 2007).

Store Staff-Customer Congruence- The source credibility model (Ohanian, 1990) states that the three dimensions across which an endorser may be relevant to a customer are: their expertise, their trustworthiness and their attractiveness. Thus more attractive the endorsers are more effective in promoting positive consumer behaviour towards the product. Also an endorser may be effective when the endorsed product is relevant to its attractiveness and appearance. This is also the basis of the ‘match-up hypothesis’.

Research has shown that physically attractive people are more persuasive, and have more positive qualities than less attractive people. Many organisations are using staff as the ‘front line’ endorser of the company or product. In line with the match-up hypothesis, “attitudes towards the product and purchase intentions will be significantly higher when the staff member is more physically attractive and the product is appearance-relevant (ie there will be a significant interaction effect between product type and attractiveness of staff)” (Bianca Price, Duncan Murray, 2009)

There has been a lot of work done on various other types of congruence like the product-gender congruence, product-distribution channel congruence, retail events and consumer congruence, background music(at an outlet) and product congruence, self and brand congruence. Sufficient literature is available to establish the relationship between each one of the aforementioned variables. Thus we see there has been sufficient application of the congruence phenomenon to explain the relationship among the various variables of marketing.

In the modern trade especially in the urban areas, there is a growing emphasis on the POP and the in-store branding as a marketing tool to attract consumer attention and thus influence the purchase decision. Often called the ‘Moment of Truth Marketing’, it provides them with a chance to have a last impact on the consumer mindset and thus influence his purchase behaviour. Marketers are using a variety of innovative and creative POP’s to advertise their products, so as to catch the necessary eye balls and make that one last appeal to the shoppers.

In today’s highly competitive world, where we talk in terms of profits and margins, it becomes imperative for the marketers to invest carefully choosing the most relevant and effective marketing tools. The same applies to in-store branding as well, the type of POP must be chosen so as to be consistent with the

Thus we see that there has been a lot of application of congruence as a concept in marketing and communications, but there has been no study to gauge the impact of POP-brand congruence on the purchase intention of a consumer. Thus we see there is a sufficient gap as the kind of POP used to advertise a product may have a significant bearing on the purchase decision of the consumer.

Research proposal

Problem statement

To understand the effect of congruence between brand personality and POP personality.


To understand the brand personality of various brands belonging to a particular category,

To understand the POP personality of various POP’s at a retail outlet,

To study the fit and relevance of POP personality on the Brand personality and its effect on the purchase intention.

Information Areas:

To understand the brand personality of various brands belonging to a particular category

To evaluate the brand on various attributes of the Aaker’s scale

To understand the personification of the brand

To understand the POP personality of various POP’s at a retail outlet,

To find out the awareness level of the various POP’s

To evaluate the POP on various attributes of the Aaker’s scale

To understand the personification of the POP

To study the fit and relevance of POP personality on the Brand personality and its effect on the purchase intention.

To understand the impact of POP on consumer’s intention to purchase

To evaluate the impact of POP-Brand congruence on buying behaviour

Research Design

Research Methodology

The methodology will involve two stages, the first being quantitative research, using the Aaker’s brand personality scale to measure the personality of the brand and the Point of Purchase. This will be followed by a second stage which will involve picture elicitation test so as to understand the congruence between the BP and POP.

Universe Definition

Data Analysis

We will be using exploratory factor analysis to find out the most prominent factors to gauge the personality of the brand and the POP. This will be followed by correlation or a chi-square analysis to find the relationship between BP and POP personality.


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