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Exploring how Generation Y consumers engage with human brands: does it differ from how they engage with traditional brands?

Lawal, S., 2020. Exploring how Generation Y consumers engage with human brands: does it differ from how they engage with traditional brands? Doctoral Thesis (Doctoral). Bournemouth University.

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LAWAL, Savena_M.Phil._2020.pdf



Traditionally, brands have been known as cues that identify or distinguish products, businesses, services, or organisations. More recently, researchers have established that brands can also be human, yet to date very little literature has explored the concept of human brands. For the purpose of this study, traditional brands are brands used as a tool (name, colour, sign, symbol etc.) for marketing and differentiation purposes and specifically created for the sale of physical goods or services. Human brands are famous or well-known individuals (celebrities) in various sectors who are the centre of marketing communications and may or may not be tied to branded organisations. Much of the marketing literature relating to human brands focuses on the concept of endorsement. This study seeks to further establish the presence of human brands, by utilising the concept of consumer brand engagement to understand why and how consumers engage with human brands and traditional brands with a focus on Generation Y. This study further investigates how consumer brand engagement with the two brand types differs. Through 24 in-depth interviews, the findings identified influences of consumer brand engagement with traditional and human brands, which represent why consumers engage with the two brand types. Influences of consumer brand engagement with traditional brands (TB), from the findings of this research, are: product features, brand characteristics, self-brand concept, marketing communication, customer perceived value, consumer brand communication, celebrity/individual behind the brand, consumer-brand relationship, cultural representation. While influences of consumer brand engagement with human brands (HB) are: the celebrity performance, the celebrity characteristics, the celebrity influence, self-brand concept, celebrity authenticity, celebrity relatability, and community. The research findings also show that participants overall expressed more cognitive, behavioural, and emotional engagement attitudes with HB than with TB. Nonetheless, the findings show that there are differences and similarities in the way consumers engage with HB vs. TB. Six main engagement differences were found between the two brands: (1) Engagement with TB is product/service focused, while with HB engagement is focused on the celebrity. (2) Engagement with TB fluctuates whereas it is higher during or before purchase and lower after purchase, while engagement is constant with HB. (3) Engagement is more function-based with TB and more emotion-based with HB. (4) Engagement is highest with TB when consumer-brand relationship is present, while engagement is highest with HB when emotional connection is present. (5) Engagement with TB is adversely affected by negative customer service and decline in product characteristics/performance, while engagement with HB on social media is adversely affected by lack of authenticity. (6) Engagement with TB is higher online than offline, while engagement with HB is high both online and offline. Similarities were: (1) participants had similar online behavioural engagement patterns (liking, commenting, sharing etc.) with both human and traditional brands (2) participants’ cognitive engagement attitudes were low for both HB and TB. (3) Finally, stimuli promote online engagement with both brand types.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Additional Information:If you feel that this work infringes your copyright please contact the BURO Manager.
Uncontrolled Keywords:human brands; consumer brand engagement; consumer engagement; traditional brands; celebrity brands
Group:Bournemouth University Business School
ID Code:35203
Deposited By: Symplectic RT2
Deposited On:18 Feb 2021 14:18
Last Modified:14 Mar 2022 14:26


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