In today’s world, people are being manipulated by many factors which influence the countless decisions they make in the global markets. To increase profitability, and to keep up with the consumer’s ever shifting needs and wants, corporations constantly develop new and more effective marketing strategies (citation). This subject matter is important for my chosen degree pathway as it helps me realise how are we, as customers, being affected by many factors through different channels of mass media every day.
This essay will examine celebrity endorsement and its influence on buyers and their behaviour. This strategy is so prominent across corporations because as consumers, we often create an unconscious association between the products or brand being endorsed, and the celebrity (citation). This link between the brand/product and celebrity can be profound, and the fates of either side often directly impact the other (citation).
In order for a firm’s business to be successful within any given market, it has to have a business plan dependent on the so-called ‘Marketing Mix’. The Marketing mix is defined as a “set of actions or tactics that a company uses to promote its brand or product in the market” (The Economic Times). This Marketing Mix is heavily intertwined with the ‘Four P’s” – product, price, place, and promotion, which are dependent on each other and ultimately responsible for the business’ overall success (McCarthy, 1960).
In the marketing industry, promotion plays a crucial role in spreading the awareness, raising costumer’s interest and thus increasing the company’s profitability (citation). Promotion can take many forms and endorsement is one of them (citation). Every year, billions of dollars are being spent on celebrity endorsement. Practice has proven that famous personalities, endorsing a product, attract the publicity and influence buyers’ decisions (citation). Celebrities can come from all disciplines, and their diversity may actually be to the benefit of marketers in certain situations, who can apply more efficient tools in certain settings (citation). Recognising the celebrity’s environment is key, as presented in the theory below.
The Match-Up hypothesis (Brian D. Till and Michael Busler) is based on the assumption that when it comes to celebrity endorsements, it is most important to choose an appropriate celebrity, who will share the same characteristics with the brand. This match will result in the most effective marketing campaigns. (Roy, 2016). If the celebrity and the brand aren’t perfectly aligned, the connection between a celebrity evokes distrust and diminishes the credibility of the celebrity as well as the brand (citation).
Furthermore, Christina Schecht had the following to say about celebrity endorsements: “it can be said that within corresponding social groups, celebrities generally differ from the social norm and enjoy a high degree of public awareness (Schlecht, 2003).” This, to some extent, explains the appeal of the celebrity – they are a familiar face, making it easy to recognise them, but they also are different and “special” to us. “Presenting a familiar face is one of the fastest and easiest ways for companies to create brand associations in the minds of consumers. When a widely loved actor or heroic sports figure endorses a product, that product gains immediate credibility” (Marketing-Schools.org). When recalling a product that has been endorsed by a celebrity, the public tends to identify them with people that we actually know. This evokes trust and familiarity which are vital variables in the decision-making process of whether or not to buy a product or service (citaiton).
Interestingly, this has been supported by research, which essentially concludes that there are significant changes in brain activity, on a biological level, due to celebrity endorsements. In 2010, a team of Dutch researchers (Agnes, et. al, 2010) conducted an experiment on 24 females. The females were shown 40 pictures of normal women, and of celebrities wearing footwear. The images which presented the celebrity showed increased activity in the orbitofrontal cortex (also linked to affection), which was lacking when the females were looking at images of unknown individuals. In other words, positive feelings toward celebrities transfer onto positive feelings about a product, because the women were more likely to buy the product with the celebrity.
Marketing strategies have emerged a complex entity, most focused on how well a brand and celebrity fit and work together, and how that celebrity should be marketed. This, matched with an increase in celebrity endorsements, and advertising in general means that celebrities have come increasingly important in representing what any given brand stands for.
When looking at the bigger picture, if a company is to have a flawed Marketing Mix, it is generally accepted that consumers will move on to a different product, despite heavy marketing. Customers are now becoming more aware of the various forms of advertising, which will lead to individuals getting a healthier perspective on what products to actually buy (citation). It is important to consider that perhaps no matter how much we wish to believe that we are not affected by this over-zealous marketing, we may be more affected than we think.
Ultimately, however, this paper has provided some insights into why companies so frequently refer to celebrities when advertising, and has shown some of the manipulation to which we are subjected. Despite this, it is likely that celebrities will only be utilised more frequently, because there is nothing as effective as a friend “honestly” recommending you an amazing product.