WRITER: OWUSU ABDALLAH. STUDENT JOURNALIST, GHANA INSTITUTE OF JOURNALISM
Celebrity endorsement is a form of advertising campaign or marketing strategy used by brands and companies to establish credibility and wide acceptability of their products or services. It involves a well-known person, especially well recognized sports and entertainment figures using their social status or fame to help promote the product or service.
Marketers use celebrity endorsers because they believe that the positive image of the celebrity endorsers will also be passed on to the products or the brands associated with the celebrities. Celebrities, no doubt, have mass acceptance, mass communication skills which can attract people’s attention easily. They have the street credibility, they appeal more to the sentiments of the wider audience especially the youths. So even their pictures alone can attract an unbelievable number of customers.
What celebrity endorsement does is to work on the sentiments of the customers thereby creating an affinity between them and the product. People would always identify with the person the love and the product they endorse.
A touch point can be defined as any way a consumer can interact with a business, whether it be person to person, through a website, an app or any form of communication. When customers come in contact with these touch points, it gives them the opportunity to compare their prior perceptions of the business and form an opinion. Consumer decision-making process is highly influenced by brand touch points.
In saying this, touch points influence the pre- purchase, purchase and post purchase stages of the decision making process. This is because they are constantly in contact with the consumer by the way of consumer experiences with the brand or service, advertising, contact with employees, social media and many other ways.
There are many ways in which touch points can influence the pre-purchase stage of the consumer’s decision making process. The pre-purchase stage can be said to be one of the most important stages of consumer decision making process. As it were, the consumer recognizes that they have a need for a product or a service. It is at this point of realization that pre-purchase touch points are crucial, because of the fact that this is the stage where the consumer actively search for information about a certain product. Such a search for information can be conducted via advertising, social media, internet, word of mouth and family/friend.
It is important that during this stage, in order for customer to consider purchasing from a brand, that they create relevant touch point that increase brand appeal. To further reiterate such as statement, in the present day, consumers have access to multiple electronic devices such as smart phones, laptops, tablets and television, and are sometimes connected to all such devices simultaneously.
As a result, brands may not acquire the desired amount of exposure because of the consumer’s tendency to switch from one device to another. Therefore brands must create short and engaging advertisements in order to capture the attention of the consumer.
Celebrity endorsement exploits the opportunities offered by these business touch points to appeal to the consumers. The celebrity endorsers use these avenues to convince the customer of the comparative advantage the product has over others; they share their personal experiences with the consumers to assure them of the authenticity of the product. The customer therefore, are given the opportunity to gather information about the product they are to purchase.
HISTORY OF CELEBRITY ENDORSEMENT
History reveals that the first product that used celebrity endorsement was “Wedgwood”, a pottery and chinaware Product Company in the 1960s before then what was popular was “royal endorsement”, where the king or queen recommends a particular product. Later on in history, trade cards were introduced. This was a system where there would be a picture of a celebrity with a photo of the product.
These trade cards would then be given to customers with the product or would be inserted in the packaging of the product itself. They feature celebrities such as actors and sports stars. A typical example was “Kodas”, a cigarettes company which featured baseball player cards in the packets of cigarettes as part of a customer loyalty scheme. This eventually increased the demand of the product.
It also reveals that in the early 1930s the major trending celebrity endorsers were athletes. Then by 1945, the trend changed and movie stars were the next big celebrity endorsers. When colour television was introduced in 1965, television personalities and entertainer became the celebrity endorsers especially for communication services and products.
In the 1980s, companies and firms started making products around celebrities or using their names. A typical example in 1984 when the company, “Nike” picked up Michael Jordan as its celebrity brand Ambassador for their sports industry. Thus Nike extremely relied on Michael Jordan’s social status to make the brand internationally well known. Because of this, celebrity endorsement and brand ambassadorship started becoming a big business. Athletes and entertainment celebrities then started negotiating salaries and payouts due to competition of other firms. And their salaries were always increasing because of the high demand for celebrities.
Customer decision making can be said to involve a continuous flow of interactions between environmental and behavioural factors. Thus Oraene (2005) observes that “man is said to be a social being, and his behaviour and attitude towards life issues is influenced by other people and by the groups he belongs or aspires to belong (called reference groups).” It is upon this backdrop that celebrity endorsement influences the customer in the area of pre-purchased evaluations.
As social beings, people’s opinions and behaviour are susceptible to influence and change. The American psychologist, B.R. Skinner suggested that “private events” including thoughts and feelings are subjected to the some controlling variables as observable behaviour. This becomes the basis for his philosophy called radical behaviourism. Skinner’s behaviorism theories that processes within the organisms should be acknowledged, particularly the presence of what he calls “private events” which are thoughts and feelings. He then adds that environmental variables also control these internal events just as they control observable behaviours.
How does behaviourism and stimulus-response theory relate with pre-purchase evaluation as affected by celebrity endorsement? The “private event” according to Skinner is the desire to purchase a particular product. This is also the intervening variable, talking about the stimulus response theory. The celebrity endorser would then create the stimulus through his/her recommendation, advert jingles with their voices, their pictures, etc. But then, the desired response is dependent on a variety of many other factors-the consumer’s desire to purchase, his/her love for the celebrity endorser, his/her emotional state, etc. This is why the (S-Iv-R) theory identifies the intervening variables as the factors that stand in between the stimulus (the celebrity endorsement) and the response (the decision to purchase the product).
This study has analyzed the impact of celebrity endorsement from the standpoint of behavioural marketing. The study has revealed customer’s’ behaviour can be influenced as a result of celebrity endorsement. In other words, celebrity endorsement is a very effective tool of marketing and advertising.