How do influencer marketers affect brand associations?
A semiotic Instagram study in the sports fashion industry
Written by L. Juhlin, M. Soini
Business Administration>Marketing & Sales
Thesis: Brand associations Brand associations are considered by most researchers as an important part of the brand image concept (Herzog, 1963; Keller, 1993; Newman, 1957) and are very important to the company (Keller, 1993). Brand associations can be defined as consumers' different beliefs and judgments about the brand (Keller, 1993). Brand associations have been proven to have an impact on consumers' brand considerations and purchasing decisions. In addition, brand associations will also make it easier for consumers to choose products that meet their needs, because they may already have some pre-existing knowledge of the brand (Romaniuk & Nenycz-Thiel, 2013). The creation of brand association is based on two parts. First, marketing managers need to specify which associations they want to create. Second, consumers need to understand these connections in some way (Koll & von Wallpach, 2014). It is expected that this relationship between brand association and realization of brand association will be the core concept of this article. Different brand associations are usually analyzed through dimensional favorability, strength and uniqueness (Keller, 1993). Brand associations can be positive or negative, which means that companies need to analyze the favorability of brand associations (Keller, 1993). The strength of brand associations will be affected by the quantity or quality of the information that associations rely on (Keller, 1993). For example, if consumers know little about a certain aspect of the product, then the strength of this association will be low. The uniqueness of the association depends on its popularity among competing brands. Being able to be different from other brands is a necessary condition for supporting price premiums (Aaker, 1996). Having a unique and active Lenovo can give a company a huge competitive advantage (Keller, 1993). There are many kinds of brand associations, and there is no universally accepted definition (Keller, 1993). But according to the theories of Keller (1993) and Aaker (1996), this article will use two main types of associations, which will be described below. 2.1.1 Attributes The first type of association is attributes. Attributes are descriptive characteristics and can be product-related or non-product-related (Keller, 1993). Product-related attributes are mainly the physical characteristics of the product, such as color, design, and fit. They are related to the physical composition of the product (Keller, 1993). The attributes unrelated to the product are external aspects, such as price, user image, and usage image (Keller, 1993). User images are about the types of people who use the product, and use images are about the circumstances and where the product is used. Other attributes that are not related to the product can be brand personality attributes. 2.5 The rapid growth of influencer marketing social media has enabled consumers to better understand the company and put higher demands on the quality of its products and services (Litterio et al., 2017). Although today's social media platforms are different in many ways, one of the commonalities is that they are all based on user content. This content is usually related to the brand and product and can influence consumers' brand perception (Litterio et al., 2017). The strong influence of word-of-mouth on consumer decision-making and brand perception has been fully demonstrated (De Veirman et al., 2017; Litterio et al., 2017). Compared with traditional marketing messages from the company itself, consumers pay more attention to the opinions of other individuals (De Veirman et al., 2017; Litterio et al., 2017). Nowadays, social media makes it easier for consumers to share their opinions with others, which makes word-of-mouth a more important part of a company’s marketing strategy. Companies have begun to realize the effectiveness of influencer marketing and have begun to recruit celebrities and influencers to support their products (Litterio et al., 2017). Influencers are usually defined as people who have a large number of followers, usually on different social media platforms such as Instagram or Snapchat (De Veirman et al., 2017). Companies are increasingly trusting influencer marketing in their marketing activities in order to be able to reach a large number of people on social media. Influencers can be regarded as hubs in large networks, which allows their content to be shared with many people very quickly (Litterio et al., 2017). Influencers usually have very strong personal relationships with their followers because they share insights into their personal daily lives through uploaded content (De Veirman et al., 2017). By building this strong relationship with their followers, influencers can influence many people's brand perception and purchasing decisions (De Veirman et al., 2017). Since influencer marketing is usually related to common content uploaded by influencers to their followers, it can be considered more trustworthy and fair than many other marketing efforts (De Veirman et al., 2017). This makes online celebrity marketing more credible and effective than traditional marketing (De Veirman et al., 2017). 2.5.1 Social media and Instagram Research on social media is still in its early stages, and the term has not yet been universally accepted (Coelho, Oliveira and Almeida, 2016). However, Boyd & Ellison (2007) suggests to define social media as a space where users create personal profiles, express themselves, and interact with other people, brands, and companies at different levels. The growth of social media platforms in the past few years is obvious. Read Less