Several factors like product, price, packaging and celebrity endorsements influence the consumer decision making along with the ever-changing consumer needs. It is through advertising that marketers attract consumers to buy their products and gradually make them loyal by building a long-term relationship with them. Advertising helps in fostering a positive attitude about the brand that may culminate into purchases gradually. It is the means to inform the consumers about their unmet needs and the products that can make up for it. It also helps the consumers compare the competing brands and then make a suitable purchase decision (Sawant, 2012).
In today’s competitive markets, there are several brands competing for the same market share, thus, advertising is the only means that establishes a brand image and that influences the consumers significantly (Sawant, 2012). However, Bass et al. (2005) assert that marketers intending to escalate their sales through advertising must ensure that integration of brand-advertising strategy and the overall advertising and promotion strategy of the firm. Celebrity endorsements are one of the most effective advertising strategies which have been applied by organisations for decades.
An introduction to celebrity endorsements
The term “celebrity” refers to an individual who is well known to the public. Sports figures, actors, entertainers are known to be celebrities as they have attained a public figure with the aid of sheer achievements in their field of expertise (Smith, 2012).
There is a general belief among advertisers that if advertising messages are delivered by celebrities then there would be a greater degree of attention, appeal and even a positive effect of recalling the messages by the viewers who are also the targeted consumers of the marketed brand (Abhishek & Sahay 2013; Anjum et al. 2012)
The consumers of today’s world are exposed to thousands of images and voices through the aid of media like newspapers, magazines, billboards, television, radio and the internet. The advertisers, therefore, attempt to gain the attention of the consumers by stealing some fractions of time to inform the consumers about amazing and very different products available in the market. One of the major challenges of modern-day marketers is to find a hook that will hold the attention of consumers (Pedler, 2012). According to many such marketers, celebrities play a vital role in playing as the hook to hold back the attention of the consumers (Prasad, 2013; Zafar & Rafique, 2012)
Impact of celebrity endorsements on the consumer buying decision
Celebrity endorsements are basically an effective way to ensure a brand to get noticed. According to (Mahoney, 2010), celebrity endorsements make a huge impact on consumer mindset through the aid of TV commercials. Celebrities usually have a huge fan following. Hence, people usually prefer to do what their favourite celebrity does. As per the study of Gioia, Corley, & Hamilton (2012), it has been noticed that when two similar products of different brands are endorsed, one through celebrity endorsement and the other without it, the brand that has been endorsed by a celebrity has been found to have shown higher sales rate than that of the other. This is because of the positive perception of consumers for brands endorsed by celebrities. This in turn significantly impacts the purchase decisions. Thus, celebrity endorsement as evolved as an inevitable part of present-day advertising. Celebrity endorsement makes the brand stand apart from the competitors and consumers are able to easily identify it. Marketers are using this tactic to boost up their sales and enhance their brand image (Rengarajan & Sathya, 2014).
Thus, it can be ascertained that the concept of celebrity endorsements or brand advertisings originated from the implications of aspects related to messages sourced from trustworthy entities. Trustworthy sources are often associated with expert sources. Thus any kind of recommendation coming from the expert source is considered to be true and more impactful on the receiver. Furthermore, physical attractiveness which in most cases the majority of the celebrities who take part in advertising processes possess is said to generate favourable responses from the consumers.
Influence of celebrity endorsements on consumers
Celebrity endorsements deeply influence the purchasing power of consumers (Byrne, Whitehead, & Breen, 2003; Kumar, 2011). Celebrity endorsements are in fact considered to be one of the most effective ways to make an impact on the consumer buying process. According to (Gurel-Atay & Kahle, 2010), the very reasons why marketers find celebrities to be very effective in endorsing products is that these celebrities to great extent are successful in developing conspiring relationship with the consumers. It is by establishing a relationship with the consumers; the celebrities enable their followers to experience a personal experience as experienced by the celebrity.
Experiencing the celebrity’s lifestyle
In fact, when a celebrity endorses a wide range of products, the consumers who seem to follow the celebrity often end up purchasing the product in order to experience the same lifestyle and they believe in what their favourite celebrities are promoting as that of the celebrity. In a way, the celebrity that endorses multiple brands ends up benefiting all the brands (Rice, Kelting, & Lutz, 2012). Therefore, tracking down such celebrities with a huge fan following and influencing power is certainly an effective marketing technique for marketers. Such, celebrity – consumer relationship is known as “celebrity bricolages” and “celebrity-scapes”.
A chance at quality living
Since accessibility to television and other digital mediums of entertainment has increased over the years, celebrity endorsements are indeed considered paramount for the particular brand’s success. On knowing about the products bought and used by celebrities in their day to day lives, a consumer will be able to have an idea about quality standards. The products endorsed by the celebrities will more or less turn out to be benchmarks for commoners while striving to enhance their quality of living. According to the study of (Ilicic & Webster, 2011), the consumers’ predilection with celebrities makes way for development of sympathy towards the products or the brand. For instance, consumers might consider celebrities who are munching a bar of a Chocolate bar to know more than the commoners and as a result of which the consumers will simply follow what the celebrities are doing. However, (Keel & Nataraajan, 2012) contradicts this very idea of blind faith upon celebrities. According to Garthwaite, (2014), such a consumer buying process is gradually fading away as consumers now days are quite quick to respond to irresponsible brand promotions.
Added benefits like social responsibility
Customers of today are now armed with mobile phone apps that are responsible for validating the right services and products, despite what celebrities are wearing. Consumers are now trying for products that are not only cheaper but also healthier and better than alternative products. In fact, like Money, Shimp, & Sakano, (2006) opines, cause-driven marketing techniques are nowadays skyrocketing. Consumers now are found to be making purchasing decisions that are based on deeply held belief or an absolutely social act. Even if, consumers are found to be following celebrity endorsements, they would only be purchasing the product when the product accompanies other useful attributes like environment-friendly, healthy and price effective. So, celebrity endorsements as per latest marketing trends cannot be considered to be sole tool for influencing the consumer buying decisions. However, there is no doubt in the fact that celebrity endorsements may act as a catalyst for consumers to develop a sympathetic attitude towards a brand and eventually buying the branded products.
Role of celebrity endorsements in making a brand
Branding is an integral part of the marketing function as a brand is a highly effectual differentiator in the intense competitive scenario. It allows marketers to refract the competitors’ strategies. Also, branding nurtures trust, confidence and dependability amongst the consumers which in turn create perception, beliefs and values around the brand. Celebrity endorsements are one of the most effective ways to build this trust, confidence and dependability. Over time, brands become a part of the lives of the consumers when they make repeated purchases of the same brand under the influence of celebrities.
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