The Influence of Different Kinds of Reference Groups on Self-brand Connections
DU Wei-Qiang,YU Chun-Ling,ZHAO Ping
2009, 41 (02):
Self-brand connections (SBC) measure the extent to which consumers have incorporated brands into their self-concept. Reference groups and their “typical brands” play an important role during this process. Brands with images consistent with an ingroup enhance SBCs whereas brands with images consistent with an outgroup have lower SBCs. However, previous research does not investigate the influence of different categories of outgroups and ingroups and brands with images consistent or inconsistent with all kinds of reference groups on SBCs.
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Two studies were conducted. 82 undergraduate students participated in study 1. We employed a 4(group type)×2(match, not match) mixed design. Participants of the four groups were asked to write an ingroup, aspirational group, dissociative group or neutral outgroup respectively. They then wrote down a brand whose image is consistent and inconsistent with the group they had chosen respectively, and estimated the SBCs of the two brands. SBCs were measured by the scale (α＝0.90) developed by Escalas and Bettman (2003). 92 undergraduate students participated in study 2. We employed a 2(ingroup, outgroup)×2(match, not match) between subject design. The study is similar to study 1. The scale developed by Ellemerset et al., (1999) was used to measure the consumers’ affective commitment to the ingroups (α＝0.712).
Two ANOVA models were used to predict SBCs in the two studies. The main effects and the interaction effect are significant in study 1 (F(3, 160)=5.64，F(1, 160)=14.44，F(3, 160)=20.08, ps<0.001). In study 2, we find a significant interaction of ingroup type by brand image match on SBCs (F(3, 160)=20.08, p<0.001). The results show that possible selves motivate behavior to achieve the realization of personal goals and brand images consistent with an aspirational group enhance SBCs whereas brands with images inconsistent with an aspirational group have lower SBCs (t =6.41, p<0.001). Brand images consistent with a dissociative group have lower SBCs whereas brands with images inconsistent with a dissociative group enhance SBCs, t =3.79, p<0.001. As for brands whose images consistent or inconsistent with a neutral outgroup, the SBCs are indifferent, t =1.55, p>0.12. Affective commitment is an important part of social identity. When consumers’ affective commitment to the ingroups is high, brand images consistent and inconsistent with an ingroup led to higher and lower SBCs respectively, t＝2.41, p<0.02. When consumers’ affective commitment to the ingroups is moderate, brand images consistent and inconsistent with an ingroup led to higher and lower SBCs respectively, t＝2.27, p<0.03. However, if affective commitment is low, consumers do not want to be a member of the ingroups, so the conclusion does not hold, t=0.54, p>0.59. The effects of ingroup on SBC are moderated by the consumers’ affective commitment.
These findings improve our understanding of the influence of reference groups on SBCs. Companies could employ our findings to promote SBCs between consumers and their brands, which is important because high SBCs could promote brand equity, improve customer loyalty and induce positive WOM