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Sladjana Starcevic, Ph.D., Asst. Professor of Marketing
Faculty of Economics, Finance and Administration – FEFA, Belgrade,...
The aim of this study, which dealt with mobile providers in Serbia (namely, Telenor, Vip
Mobile, and MTS), is to present a...
1998). This was confirmed by the research carried out on the users of Ford and Chevrolet
automobiles (Evans, 1959), as wel...
Brands are inanimate objects, hence their personality and, generally speaking, perception as a
person, is primarily made t...
the researchers who dealt with the congruence between the consumers’ self-concept and the
brand personality (Van de Rijdt,...
3) Inapplicableness of the original brand personality factor structure in other countries, i.e.
cultures.
In the lack of a...
cognitive abilities) - thus it is justified to use the extended model of “brand as a person” for
research.
H3: There is a ...
ads, social networks activities, the elements of the visual identity and the information
available on the other promotiona...
brands into categories, with the aim of constructing a scale and determining the factor
structure, cannot be arbitrary. It...
EXCITEMENT daring, trendy, exciting, lively, youthful (spirit), imaginative, original, unusual
COMPETENCY reliable, hard w...
lower middle upper
grammar
school
High
school
College/
university
MBA/doc
torate
inconspicuo
us
average attractive
MTS
7.5...
3
3,1
3,2
3,3
3,4
3,5
3,6
3,7
3,8
Arithmetic
mean MTS
TELENOR
VIP
TELECOMMUNICATIONS
Post hoc (LSD) tests determined which...
precise image on the operators. Although the average factor grade remained the same, there
were significant differences in...
significant role in this (e.g. Telenor is quite sophisticated). Even with factors and traits
influenced by other parameter...
what do the brands and categories have in common, which brands are the category
benchmark, which are at the forefront and ...
4. Aaker, J. (1999) The malleable self: The role of self-expression in persuasion. Journal of
Marketing Research, 36(1), p...
23. Huang, H. (2008) Self-identity and consumption: A study of consumer personality, brand
personality and brand relations...
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Sladjana Starcevic - Why we need to extend the classical model of brand personality the practical value of brand personality measuring tool for marketers

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Starcevic, Sladjana (2016) “Why we need to extend the classical model of brand personality: The practical value of brand personality measuring tool for marketers”, Proceedings of the XII Convibra International Conference – Business, online edition, Brasil

The brand personality is a very popular area of research in marketing. Consumers perceive brands as if they were living beings. They assign to brands positive and negative personal traits, demographic characteristics, physical characteristics and cognitive skills. The personality of the brand is a very important means of differentiation, which is the most difficult to copy. Although this topic has been popular in in theoretical marketing research for a long time, little has been done to implement brand personality measuring tool in practice. The author dealt with the methodological shortcomings of a large number of brand personality studies and presented an extended model of "brand as a person," which, in addition to personality traits includes other determinants of the brand as a person, in order to enhance the practical use of this measuring tool. The author has conducted her own research of the extended personality profile of brands of mobile operators in Serbia (telecommunications sector), including two international companies and one domestic company, in order to determine the diagnostic and predictive value of extended brand personality measuring tool. By determining a broader profile of the „brand as a person" (current or desired), we can clearly perceive: if the diversity of the brand compared to other similar brands is sufficient, where we made the mistakes, and how we can focus brand positioning in the future, using a variety of marketing tools.

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Sladjana Starcevic - Why we need to extend the classical model of brand personality the practical value of brand personality measuring tool for marketers

  1. 1. Sladjana Starcevic, Ph.D., Asst. Professor of Marketing Faculty of Economics, Finance and Administration – FEFA, Belgrade, Serbia Why we need to extend the classical model of brand personality: The practical value of brand personality measuring tool for marketers Abstract The brand personality is a very popular area of research in marketing. Consumers perceive brands as if they were living beings. They assign to brands positive and negative personal traits, demographic characteristics, physical characteristics and cognitive skills. The personality of the brand is a very important means of differentiation, which is the most difficult to copy. Although this topic has been popular in in theoretical marketing research for a long time, little has been done to implement brand personality measuring tool in practice. The author dealt with the methodological shortcomings of a large number of brand personality studies and presented an extended model of "brand as a person," which, in addition to personality traits includes other determinants of the brand as a person, in order to enhance the practical use of this measuring tool. The author has conducted her own research of the extended personality profile of brands of mobile operators in Serbia (telecommunications sector), including two international companies and one domestic company, in order to determine the diagnostic and predictive value of extended brand personality measuring tool. By determining a broader profile of the „brand as a person" (current or desired), we can clearly perceive: if the diversity of the brand compared to other similar brands is sufficient, where we made the mistakes, and how we can focus brand positioning in the future, using a variety of marketing tools. 1. INTRODUCTION Even though brand personality research have become popular during the last two decades, ever since J. Aaker (1997) published a study in which she proposed a theoretical model and brand personality measurement scale, brand personality as a term has been in use for many years now. Brand personality is a concept of interest to theorists and marketing practitioners. Numerous brand personality studies dealt with measuring brand personality, cultural adjustment of measurement scales, as well as with the influence of brand personality onto consumers’ behaviour and marketing outcomes – preferences, attitudes, purchase intentions, loyalty, the value of brand-consumer relationship, which Freling and Forbes (2005) call “marketing effects.” It is a fact that brand personality concept, as well as the measurement scale, are of great practical value in marketing. However, the majority of research has so far neglected the differences between the two terms: “brand personality” (which entails personality traits exclusively), and “brand as a person,” which includes not only personal traits, but demographics, physical traits and cognitive abilities as well. To gain a full insight, i.e. the complete consumer perception of a brand as a person, these demographics, physical traits and cognitive abilities need not only to be excluded from the brand personality measurement scale, but also measured separately as well. Personal traits of brand are just a part of this construct.
  2. 2. The aim of this study, which dealt with mobile providers in Serbia (namely, Telenor, Vip Mobile, and MTS), is to present an expanded “brand as a person” perception measurement model. This model can be used as a guideline for further research, while at the same time, it could help marketers determine the current position and image of brand and possible brand improvement dimensions in a much more precise way than it is possible with the classic brand image research. Additionally, this research aims to point out to the importance of advertising in the process of brand personality creation, as well as to the influence of a product category onto the perception of brand personality. 2. LITERATURE REVIEW 2.1. Brand personality concept and the factors that influence the creation of brand personality Brand personality is a metaphor that refers to the consumer’s observation and the perception of a brand as a person, i.e. to the description of a brand as a human being (Huang, 2008, p. 126). It was known for long that the consumers tend to observe brands as living beings. Theories of animism claim that consumers anthropomorphise objects to ease the communication with their surroundings (Puzakova et al., 2009). Consumers ascribe to them physical characteristics (such as beautiful, attractive, etc.), positive and negative personal traits (such as charismatic, determined, shy, responsible, etc.), demographic characteristics (gender, age, education, social status, etc.) and even cognitive abilities (such as intelligence) (Starčević, 2013). Consumers buy certain brands to express their own identity or image (Fournier, 1998). Such observations introduced the term of brand personality into marketing. The most cited in literature is the definition by Jennifer Aaker, according to which a brand personality stands for a “set of human characteristics associated with a brand” (Aaker J., 1997, p. 347). Azoulay and Kapferer gave similar definitions, according to which a “brand personality is the set of human personality traits that are both applicable to and relevant for brands” (Azoulay and Kapferer, 2003, p.144). Similarly, Upshaw claimed that a “brand personality is outward face of the brand; its tonal characteristics most closely associated with human traits” (Upshaw, 1995, p.18). Although most researchers used the definition by J. Aaker as a starting point, this definition and similar definitions were also criticised because, besides the personal traits (in accordance with the definition of personality in psychology), they also included other elements of brand identity. Brand identity is a broader term than the brand personality itself. It is mostly about physical and demographic characteristics, included by the researchers within the same measurement scale with brand personality traits, which further complicates the results interpretation. The creation of brand personality in practice came into life when celebrities and artificially made characters became brand promoters, thus significantly before its theoretical definition. The famous Michelin Man was presented back in 1894 in an exhibition in Lyon. The Marlboro Man, as the most successful example of the creation of brand personality, was created in 1954 by Leo Burnett agency, at the time when “brand personality” has still not existed in theory. Martineau used this term in 1958 to mark the “character of the store” as a nonmaterial symbolic dimension of store (Martineau, 1958). The researchers soon began to describe the brands with human personality traits, claiming that is how brands differentiate from one another and increase their importance to consumers (Wells et al., 1957; Fournier,
  3. 3. 1998). This was confirmed by the research carried out on the users of Ford and Chevrolet automobiles (Evans, 1959), as well as by the significantly later research on Pontiac and Volkwagen automobiles (Grubb and Hupp, 1968). The results showed that users observe brands as persons with a certain image and compare them to their own image. King (1970) claimed that people choose brands as friends. Besides their appealing physical traits and skills, people like brands the same way they like other people. During the second half of the ‘80s, it became more and more difficult to differentiate brands based on their product characteristics. That was when the Ted Bates agency presented the concept of the “unique selling personality” as an extension of the “unique selling proposition”. Consequentially, in practice it led to the introduction of a new item, “brand personality”, into the copy strategy (Olins, 2003). Some time later, the research on brand identity necessarily included brand personality as one of the brand identity dimensions. Thus, Kapferer (2004), in his brand identity prism, introduced brand personality as one of the six brand identity key dimensions. D. Aaker (1996) introduced a comprehensive model for brand planning and managing, while at the same time suggesting brand personality as an important aspect of an expanded brand identity. 2.2. The basic factors that influence brand personality creation The researchers have significantly dealt with the causes and consequences of brand personality creation. Brand personality and human personality have certain similarities: they are both permanent and stable, and can be used to explain and predict future actions (Tan, 2004). However, although similarly conceptualised, they differ in how they formed, because brands are inanimate objects (Aaker, 1995). Processing of information on human personality takes place in a completely different part of brain compared to processing of information on brand personality (Yoon et al., 2004). The conclusions on human personality traits are drawn directly – based on behaviour, physical appearance, attitudes, beliefs, demographic characteristics, etc. On the other hand, observing brand personality traits is influenced by any direct or indirect contact with the brand (Aaker, 1997). To humanise a brand, consumers draw conclusions based on the observation of “brand behaviour”. Since a brand cannot act in real life, it all summarises into a consumer’s perception. According to D. Aaker (1996), the perception of human personality is influenced by everything connected to it, including friends, activities, clothing, human interaction, etc. The author believes that brand personality is perceived the same way, and generally divides its originators into:  Features connected to the product (product category, pack, price, attributes), and  Features not connected to the product (average consumer, sponsorship, symbols, brand age, country of origin, corporate image, advertising, other promotional activities, company owner, celebrities, etc.). Levy noticed long time ago that consumers ascribe to brands not only personality traits but demographic characteristics and physical traits (Levy, S., 1959: 117), as well as cognitive abilities or skills (Starčević, 2013). For instance, Victoria Slim cigarettes are usually perceived as female, whereas Marlboro’s are usually male; Apple is perceived as a young brand yet IBM as an older brand; Sax Fifth Avenue belongs to the upper social class and K- Mart to the working class (Aaker, 1997). However, the problem with most research so far was they used the same measurement scale.
  4. 4. Brands are inanimate objects, hence their personality and, generally speaking, perception as a person, is primarily made through marketing, especially advertising. That is why one of our goals was also to determine how much was the mobile operators brand personality made by the influence of advertising. 2.3. Measuring brand personality There have been many attempts to measure associations linked to brand personality through qualitative and quantitative techniques (Stein, 2004). The studies that used qualitative techniques (primarily association tests and projective techniques) preceded a wave of quantitative research. Quantitative techniques were mostly borrowed from psychology, mainly scale techniques. To study brand personality, the trait theory and the five-factor model of personality (FFM/ Big Five) were used in order to quantify on a scale personal traits the consumers ascribe to brands. Some researchers used other approaches, such as cognitive and psychoanalytic approach. Many psychologists, after a decade of research, and following the work of Olport, Catell and Eysenk, agreed that the human personality traits structure is best to describe through the FFM (Čolović et al., 2005). To describe a person, this theory uses five basic factors, or dimensions, each of which further consist of various personality traits. These five factors are oftentimes referred to as OCEAN, in accordance with the most popular model by Costa and McCrae (Costa and McCrae, 1987): Openness to experiences, Consciousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness and Neuroticism. This structure emerged in various international studies as well. According to J. Aaker (1997), the researchers who first tried to measure brand personality used two scales: 1) ad hoc scales, developed for one study, with arbitrary items, or 2) ready- made psychology scales used to measure personal human traits. By using the limitations of the ready-made scales and techniques, J. Aaker set a goal to her own research to develop a theoretical framework of brand personality dimensions, as well as reliable, valid and generalizable scales to measure these dimensions. Her research was based on the FFM model by Costa and McCrae (1987) and on NEO PI-R personality inventory considered internationally as the “golden standard” for measuring personality traits. She considered 114 traits, 37 brands and subject sample (n=631) and made the correlation matrix 114x114 upon which she applied the factorial analysis by using the principal components analysis and varimax rotation. Hence, she determined the five main brand personality factors or dimensions to use to describe various brands. The factors were given names to present the type of traits they stand for: Sincerity, Excitement, Competency, Sophistication and Ruggedness. Further factorial analysis determined the set of traits for each factor (facets and items). One should have in mind that the facets and the items that further describe dimensions are not factors, but rather used to specify the main factors and improve the measurement scale (Church and Burke, 1994). The results indicate that the brand personality and the human personality do not have the identical factorial structure, and that the dimensions are called differently. Understandably, brands are inanimate objects and thus observed under the influence of other factors. However, there is a certain concurrence between some of the dimensions, which was first determined by
  5. 5. the researchers who dealt with the congruence between the consumers’ self-concept and the brand personality (Van de Rijdt, 2008; Geuens et al. 2008).  Excitement and extraversion dimensions significantly match.  Sincerity dimension matches agreeableness dimension, but also partly matches consciousness dimension.  Competency dimension primarily matches consciousness dimension. Geuens et al. (2008) determined the matching between competency and extraversion dimensions.  Most authors consider openness to experiences and sophistication dimensions do not match. Van de Rijdt (2008) believes there is a connection between them, because they both cover the idea of matureness, culture and creativity.  Neuroticism and ruggedness dimensions do not match. Neuroticism cannot be applied to brands because traits emerging out of cognitive processes (thus internal) are not applicable to inanimate subjects. For instance, it is difficult to describe a brand as “very worried” or “easily disturbed.” Furthermore, many traits entailed by this dimension are negative. Nonetheless, we believe some cognitive abilities (such as intelligence) could be used to describe brands as persons, but they have to be isolated from a brand personal traits measurement scale, because they are not personal traits. For instance, Telenor mobile operator uses the “Smart network” headline in their advertising, but that is not the only example. Many brands, products and even entire product categories are, for a while, referred to as “smart (e.g. smart phone, smart TV). Everyday speech brought about the opposite situation, i.e. when the consumers dissatisfied with a product or a brand refer to it as “stupid.” All that leads to a conclusion that certain cognitive abilities are applicable to describe brands, although brands are inanimate objects. Following the initial researches, which mostly dealt with the J. Aaker study replica, a new wave of research emerged, to test the sustainability of the scale in other countries and cultures (Sung and Tinkham, 2005; Ambroise et al., 2005; Azoulay and Kapferer, 2003; Chan et al., 2003; Ambroise et al., 2003; Ferrandiet al., 2000). Some of these studies demonstrated slighter or greater sustainability of the original structure by J. Aaker (Aaker J., 1999; Aaker J. et al., 2001; Kim et al., 2001). In most researches the factor structure was not repeated in other cultures, even though some dimensions or dimensions related to them, recurred (sincerity, excitement and competency). Even in cases of applying a different measuring scale construction methodology, significant cultural differences emerged. Interestingly, most researchers did not take into account important methodological shortcomings to previous studies, which all demanded modifications in the research process: 1) A free definition of brand personality, which includes characteristics that are not a personality traits (Azoulay and Kapferer, 2003; Bošnjak et al., 2007). An additional objection is the non-inclusion of negative attributes into the measuring scale. 2) Inapplicableness of factor structure for the subjects level analysis, i.e. when they are the element of difference for a specific brand or a product category (Austin et al., 2003; Milas and Mlačić, 2006).
  6. 6. 3) Inapplicableness of the original brand personality factor structure in other countries, i.e. cultures. In the lack of agreement between researchers on the definition of the term and the crucial components of brand personality, J. Aaker formally defines brand personality as a “set of human characteristics that can be connected to a brand” (Aaker, 1997). It was acceptable since brand personality was a new theoretical concept, used in practice with different meanings. Many psychologists would not agree with such a broad personality definition, because, besides personal traits, it entails demographic characteristics and physical appearance, i.e. elements of brand identity, which is a term significantly broader than brand personality. Although some researchers, such as Allen and Olson (1995) adopted a more precise definition, and thus linked brand personality with the “internal traits,” others remained completely unaware of the problem. For instance, J. Aaker (1997) included into her personal traits measurement scale items that represent demographic characteristics (small-town, upper class), physical appearance (such as good looking), and cognitive abilities (such as intelligent) which psychologists do not even consider personality traits, as well as some items which, in this case, are significantly culturally marked (macho, Western, etc.) (Azoulay and Kapferer, 2003, Starčević, 2013). Many later studies also mixed personal traits with other human characteristics. That influenced the determination of the main factors, named on the bases of the facets and items contained by a factor. It is not surprising, that researchers ended up with a significantly different factor structures. Oftentimes, not even the same factor structure was repeated during a replica study within the same country. It was not the case with the FFM in psychology. Most often, researchers have not measured what they are supposed to measure - personality traits of the brand. 3. THE RESEARCH OF THE EXTENDED “BRAND AS A PERSON” CONCEPT IN MOBILE OPERATORS BRANDS IN SERBIA To point out to the importance of the expanded observation of the “brand as a person” and to establish guidelines for further research, we carried out a research of brands of mobile operators in Serbia. Those are two international mobile operators: Telenor (Norwegian multinational telecommunications company), and Vip Mobile (member of the Telekom Austria Group), and one local mobile operator, MTS – Mobile Telephony of Serbia (part of a domestic company Telekom - Telecommunications Service Provider in Serbia). These are the only three mobile operators on the market in Serbia. One of the main motives to choose them for the research was because mobile operators, not only in Serbia but worldwide as well, have extremely high advertising budgets. That way, it is possible for them to actively influence the creation of their personality, i.e. more widely, their brand as a person. 3.1. Hypotheses The research tested the four hypotheses: H1: The three mobile operators in Serbia statistically differ significantly according to the factor structure of brand personality. H2: The three mobile operators in Serbia statistically differ significantly according to the other characteristics of a brand as a person (demographic characteristics, physical appearance,
  7. 7. cognitive abilities) - thus it is justified to use the extended model of “brand as a person” for research. H3: There is a common category component for all operators - the perception of mobile operators brand personalities is under a certain influence of personality perception of the whole telecommunication category. H4: The perception of mobile operators personality in Serbia is under a great influence of advertising campaigns of these brands. 3.2. Sample structure, methodology and the procedure of the research The questionnaire was distributed online, on a sum sample of 402 subjects. Five demographic characteristics of the subjects were taken into account (gender, age, education, employment status, place of residence). Women encompassed 56% of the sample, men 44%; 42% of subjects were aged 26-35; 64% of subjects graduated from a college or a faculty; 74% of subjects are employed; 95% of subjects reside in urban environment. In the tested sample, 77% of subjects uses the service of only one operator (55% MTS, 33% Telenor and 12% Vip Mobile). 22% of subjects uses the services of two operators at the same time (15% Telenor and Vip Mobile, 6% MTS and Vip Mobile, 4% Telenor and Vip Mobile). Only 1% of subjects uses the services of all three operators. This research used the combination of qualitative and quantitative techniques. The first section of the research used the free association test followed by the semi-structured questionnaire. Descriptive statistics were used to analyse certain responses. Within the inferential statistics, from the range of the non-parametric tests Chi-square (χ²) test was used, whereas one-way ANOVA test was used from the range of parametric tests; as well as the asymptotic 0.05 significance level. To test the last hypothesis, the content analysis of secondary data sources was used. Prior to the main research, a pilot study was carried out upon the sample of 25 subjects (which also participated in the main research), to determine whether the instructions, questions and the values on the scales are clear. This pilot study was particularly important to determine the final items of the adjusted J. Aaker scale for measuring brand personality used in this research. In the first part of the research we used the free associations test. The subjects were instructed to state all associations to the mention of a certain mobile operator brand (words, phrases or sentences). The goal was to determine how many personality traits or other characteristics that describe the brand as a person are the consumers’ first associations to a brand. The key section was the research on the perception of mobile operators’ brands as persons. In the first part of this group of questions, the subjects ranked the three mobile operators according to five demographic characteristics (gender, age, place of residence, social status and education) and physical appearance, to determine if there were any statistically significant differences. After that, on a 5-degree Likert scale (I completely disagree / I completely agree) the subjects rated how well the 32 personality traits from the adjusted scale describe certain mobile operators, as well as the entire telecommunication sector, to extract the category component. To confirm or reject the last hypothesis, we carried out the qualitative analysis of the advertising content of the operators within the last several years, using TV commercials, print
  8. 8. ads, social networks activities, the elements of the visual identity and the information available on the other promotional and sponsorship activities. 3.3. The components of the comprehensive observation of a brand as a person It was already stated that consumers do not describe brands with personal traits only, but also ascribe to them demographic and physical characteristics, even cognitive abilities. The researchers mainly dealt with observing brand personal traits or with the filtration of scales, which included items besides personal traits. However, these items were simply removed, not measured separately. From the point of view of marketing practice, it is very important to consider all other characteristics of a brand as a person. Although the terms are not precisely defined, the marketing research agencies oftentimes describe brands as persons in their reports. Additionally, in the models used by agencies, not only in Serbia but worldwide as well, there usually is an element that refers to brand personality, even though that element is arbitrarily described with all aforementioned characteristics. This research aimed to step forward and to determine if there are significant statistical differences between the brands based not only on personal traits but on other characteristics that matter in the perception of a brand as a person as well. Those characteristics are also important, because consumers use them to describe brands, and any strategic planning of a marketing campaign implies the observation of these elements. Thus, we consider that, for the comprehensive observation of a brand as a person, it is necessary to measure several components, shown in figure 1. Figure 1. Components of the comprehensive observation of a brand as a person It should be noted that this research did not include the perception of the operators according to cognitive abilities, but it is still recommended to include this component into future research, because the additional qualitative research have shown the component importance. 3.4. Adjustments of the J. Aaker scale for measuring personal traits Although it would make sense to form a separate factorial structure of the brand personality measurement scale for each cultural area, we have to be careful. First of all, such research would be extensive and would have to encompass numerous brands and product categories, also classified as symbolic, functional or mixed, to provide a generalizable scale. Grouping
  9. 9. brands into categories, with the aim of constructing a scale and determining the factor structure, cannot be arbitrary. It demands a preceding research on consumer perception. Aaker (1997) used EquiTrend database for her study, in which brands were already classified. Only after taking into consideration all of the aforementioned factors could we be definite on the scale reliability (i.e. that it provides a sufficient level of time stableness and internal consistency), as well as being general enough for various product categories. Namely, as not all these aspects were taken into account prior to forming scales for specific cultural areas, the results obtained showed a significantly different factor structure. During the implementation of a similar study within the same country, the factor structure was usually not repeated in the results, which was not the case with studies based on the FFM, which proved to be highly sustainable for the main factors on the international level (Starčević, 2016). Having in mind the enlisted issues that arose in the creation of a scale for measuring brand personality for some cultural areas, in this paper we decided to use the adjusted scale by J. Aaker because, compared to other scales, this main factor structure proved to have the highest sustainability and to be the most applicable to various brands categories. We believe the underlying cause for that was because Aaker research had the most right coverage of different types of brands and the brands sample was big enough, which cannot be said for many other studies. Measuring scale of J. Aaker was adjusted to this research in accordance with the perception of the subjects on the market in Serbia on which personality traits are applicable to mobile operators brands and the telecommunication category. It was also very important to filtrate the scale from all items that do not belong to the personality traits (small-town, upper class, good looking, feminine – which had a cultural denotation in the US, intelligent). Some items seemed similar to the subjects, thus we kept the item with clearer meaning. We also removed all items that were not perceived as traits to describe mobile operators brands with (such as masculine, Western, etc.) or the ones that do not comply with the main factor they belong to (e.g. original item on the market in Serbia is not perceived as an item to describe the sincerity factor). The greatest changes were performed upon the sophistication and ruggedness factors, because the traits belonging to these factors were are not applicable to the Serbian market. However, the factors themselves were of practical use to create the marketing campaigns, because they could be used to describe mobile operators brands. Additionally, the ruggedness factor was renamed into more understandable and more accurate meaning in the sense of brands on the Serbian market – strength, as one of the possible translation equivalents for the rugged factor. The final scale consisted of 32 items and is shown in table 1. Table 1. The adjusted J. Aaker scale used in the research FACTOR / DIMENSION Item – personal trait SINCERITY real, family-oriented, honest, sincere, wholesome, cheerful, sentimental, friendly
  10. 10. EXCITEMENT daring, trendy, exciting, lively, youthful (spirit), imaginative, original, unusual COMPETENCY reliable, hard working, competent, successful, responsible, leader, secure SOPHISTICATION sophisticated, charming, good manners, glamorous, elegant STRENGHT powerful, outdoorsy, persistent, tough, strong as person 4. THE MAIN RESEARCH RESULTS The research we carried out was very extensive, thus here we present the main results of it. Firstly, the free association test has shown a surprisingly high portion of personal traits and other person characteristics (demographics, physical appearance, etc.) in the sum set of associations to each mobile operator brand. To be more precise, the results are the following: Telenor – personality traits 54.32%, other person characteristics 3%, other associations 42.80%; MTS – personality traits 55.43%, other person characteristics 3.88%, other associations 42.80%; Vip Mobile – personality traits 42.70%, other person characteristics 3%, other associations 42.80%. Parallel to the positive associations, there were negative ones as well. For instance, MTS had the certain portion of negative traits due to the perception of state-owned companies in Serbia. This result complies with the objection to the personality traits measuring scale, i.e. the inclusion of positive traits only. Based on the results obtained and presented in the following tables, it can be concluded that mobile operators are perceived as persons with completely diverse demographic and physical characteristics, which strongly confirms the second hypothesis of the research (H2). Chi- square (χ²) test shows significant differences in gender, age, place of residence, social status, education, even the physical appearance of the operators. Table 2a. The percentage of subjects’ responses for the first three demographics variables % Gender Age Place of residence N male female young middle aged older big city small city willage MTS 65.4 34.6 16.4 58.7 24.9 58.5 34.8 6.7 402 TELENOR 74.1 25.9 24.4 65.4 10.2 75.9 21.1 3.0 402 VIP MOBILE 42.8 57.2 72.1 24.6 3.2 65.7 26.9 7.5 402 χ²=88.289 sig 0.000 Phi 0.271 χ²=348.4 sig 0.000 Phi 0.537 χ²=31.066 sig 0.000 Phi 0.160 Table 2b. The percentage of subjects’ responses for the remaining demographics variables and the physical appearance % Social status Education Physical appearance N
  11. 11. lower middle upper grammar school High school College/ university MBA/doc torate inconspicuo us average attractive MTS 7.5 61.9 30.6 3.5 15.2 67.2 14.2 5 68.2 26.9 402 TELENOR 3 40.3 56.7 2.7 8.7 64.4 24.1 2.7 51.2 46 402 VIP 13.9 56.7 29.4 4.2 25.4 61.4 9 4.5 47.5 48 402 χ²=98.672 sig 0.000 Phi 0.286 χ²=67.211 sig 0.000 Phi 0.236 χ²=47.426 sig 0.000 Phi 0.198 After that, the subjects rated on a 5-level Likert scale how well the 32 personality traits describe certain mobile operators, as well as the entire telecommunications sector. Levene’s Test for Equality of Variances and the post hoc (LSD) tests showed significant statistical differences between the operators for the excitement, competency, sophistication and strength factors (F=11.762, p=0.000; F=8.336, p=0.000; F=7.483, p=0.000; F=7.766, p=0.000). There were no significant differences for the sincerity factor only (F=1.564, p=0.196). Such data on the presence of significant differences between four out of five personality factors strongly confirm the first hypothesis (H1). The absence of statistically significant differences for the sincerity factor (when compared both the operators and the telecommunication sector) simultaneously indicates the presence of a common category component, tested in hypothesis three (H3). That is the factor (i.e. its score) that the operators share with the category. Based on post hoc (LSD) tests and the comparison of some pairs of operators with the telecommunication sector, we discovered that the category strongly influences both excitement and competency factors (the strongest influence being on the sincerity factor). The following table shows the overview of the arithmetic means (mean – M) and the standard deviations (SD) of factors for every single operator and the telecommunication sector, as well as the F statistics, their statistic importance (p value) and the size of Eta coefficient. What follows is the visual representation of the distance of arithmetic means for all factors. Table 3. Arithmetic means, standard deviations, F statistics and their statistic importance, and Eta coefficient for all operators and the telecommunication sector, according to single factors Chart 1. The distance between the arithmetic means according to single factors for mobile operators and the telecommunication sector FACTOR MTS Telenor Vip Telecommun ication sector F p ETA M Sd M Sd M Sd M Sd SINCERITY 3.39 0.91 3.31 0.85 3.33 0.86 3.26 0.89 1.564 0.196 / EXCITEMENT 3.28 0.96 3.56 0.85 3.59 0.91 3.6 0.82 11.762 0.000 0.147 COMPTENCY 3.57 0.93 3.7 0.85 3.4 0.88 3.6 0.83 8.336 0.000 0.124 SOPHISTICATION 3.29 0.91 3.58 0.84 3.4 0.85 3.42 0.89 7.483 0.000 0.117 STRENGHT 3.44 0.85 3.62 0.82 3.41 0.87 3.64 0.88 7.766 0.000 0.120
  12. 12. 3 3,1 3,2 3,3 3,4 3,5 3,6 3,7 3,8 Arithmetic mean MTS TELENOR VIP TELECOMMUNICATIONS Post hoc (LSD) tests determined which operator pairs significantly differ according to the main factors and how much do they differ compared to the telecommunication sector. The sincerity factor confirmed that there were no significant statistical differences (also confirmed by the p value). Thus we only confirm this factor as a common category component. All operators, including the telecommunication sector, are perceived as equally sincere, although the average grade for this factor was not so high. The value and the significance of the F statistics for the excitement factor confirms that there are statistically significant differences between all units (both operators and telecommunication) (F=11.762, p=0.000). According to the arithmetic mean value, the telecommunication sector was estimated as the most exciting (M=3.6), followed by Vip Mobile (M=3.59), Telenor (M=3.56), whereas MTS was estimated as the least exciting (M=3.28), as expected. For the competency factor, the value and the significance of the F statistics confirm the statistically significant differences between the observed units (F=8.336, p=0.000). Telenor was estimated as the most competent (M=3.7), followed by the telecommunication sector (M=3.6), and MTS (M=3.57), with Vip Mobile taking the last position (M=3.4). For the sophistication factor, there are statistically significant differences between all observed units (F=7.483, p=0.000). Telenor was rated as the most sophisticated (M=3.58), followed by the telecommunication sector (M=3.29) and Vip Mobile (M=3.4), whereas MTS was rated as the least sophisticated (M=3.29). For the strength factor, besides the significant differences between all operators (F=7.776, p=0.000), significant differences were noticed for the cross-comparison. The telecommunication sector is perceived as the strongest one (M=3.64), with a slight difference from Telenor (M=3.62), followed by MTS (M=3.44) and Vip Mobile (M=3.41). After this main factor analysis, the Levene’s Test for Equality of Variances and the post hoc (LSD) tests were carried out to determine if there were statistically significant differences between the operators according to the traits within each factor. It gives us an even more
  13. 13. precise image on the operators. Although the average factor grade remained the same, there were significant differences in the average grade according to the single traits within factors. What follows are the shortened results of the comparison of single traits within the main factors. Sincerity traits: MTS is perceived as a family-oriented person significantly more than the other operators. MTS and Telenor are perceived as significantly more real than Vip Mobile, while MTS and Vip Mobile are significantly friendlier than Telenor. There were no statistically significant differences between the operators according to the other traits of this factor. Excitement traits: Telenor is perceived as significantly more daring a person than the other operators. Vip Mobile and Telenor are perceived as significantly more trendy, interesting, lively and creative persons than MTS, whereas Vip Mobile is perceived as a more youthful and more creative a person than Telenor and MTS. Competency traits: Telenor and MTS are perceived as significantly more reliable, responsible, hard-working and competent persons than Vip Mobile, whereas Telenor is also perceived as significantly more successful person, self-confident and with leadership traits, compared to the other operators. Sophistication traits: Telenor is perceived as a significantly more sophisticated, elegant and glamorous person than the other operators. Vip Mobile and Telenor are perceived as significantly more charming persons than MTS, whereas all operators are perceived as quite refined. Strength traits: Telenor is perceived as significantly more powerful compared to MTS, and especially compared to Vip Mobile (significant statistical difference compared to MTS). Telenor is also perceived as significantly more powerful and more persistent than other operators, whereas Vip Mobile and Telenor are perceived as significantly more sports type than MTS. The aim of the last section of the research, which dealt with the qualitative analysis of the brands advertising in the last several years, was to determine how much the advertising, in combination with other promotional activities, truly represents how the subjects perceived the personal traits and other characteristics of mobile operator personalities. It was expected to see that the Telekom Serbia advertising and the state inheritance of this company still strongly influence the perception of MTS provider personality, because Telekom and MTS in Serbia are perceived as “one.” That is why it was virtually impossible to observe the MTS operator personality as an isolated unit. To consider the influence of advertising onto the mobile operator personality (or any other brand), we need to bear in mind that the advertising cannot equally influence all factors, i.e. personality traits. There can be no influence on some, even.1 The in-depth analysis proved the fourth hypothesis (H4) that the perception of mobile operators personalities in Serbia is under a strong influence of their advertising. With Telenor and Vip Mobile, it was clearly observed that the advertising is almost reflected in the perceived brand personality. Obviously, the elements of the visual brand identity played a 1 It can be explained by a simple example, if we compare it with a human personality. When we are rating a business competence of a person, the rating is not influenced by the clothing or the creativity of the person, but by our experiential impression of that person's professionalism or the impression provided by other sources' data. Similarly, we would estimate an operator's competency on our own experience with it rather than on a commercial. Namely, that does not mean that the advertising in that case does not influence the perception of operator's competency or single traits within that factor, but rather that precaution is required for the interpretation of advertising influence.
  14. 14. significant role in this (e.g. Telenor is quite sophisticated). Even with factors and traits influenced by other parameters, it was obvious that there was an influence by the ascription or non-ascription of certain attributes, benefits or value, in the advertisment. For instance, Vip Mobile, unlike Telenor, usually does not emphasise the strength of the company in their campaigns, not the leadership, power, etc., which clearly reflects in the personality profile of these two operators. The situation slightly differs with MTS, where the influence of advertising was much more present on corporation level (Telekom Serbia), as well as on state inheritance of this company onto the perception of MTS brand personality, while the specific advertisment of MTS had a slight, supporting role. This section of the analysis also brought about the conclusion that Telenor and Vip Mobile have a clearly defined communication platform, i.e. strategy, unlike MTS (and unlike communication strategy on corporation level, which is obviously more clearly profiled). Since we talk about a category in which there is a high level of advertising investment, it is very important to take care of the ways to use that budget – obviously, advertising greatly influences the perception of image and brand personality, thus its position on the market, which significantly influences the possibility of generating profit. 5. DISCUSSION Although the previous researches dealt with the methodological shortcomings of the brand personality measurement tools by filtrating the measurement scale from the items that do not belong to personality traits, the researchers had not dealt with the entire observation of a brand as a person. The aim of this papers was to point out to the importance of differentiation of two concepts: “brand personality” and “brand as a person,” and to present an extended measuring model which entails not only personality traits but also other characteristics with which consumers desribe a brand as a person. The free association test had shown that consumers, even when not clearly instructed to desrcibe a brand as a person, do it unconsciously. That stands in line with the claim that the practical models, used as guidelines to position brands, should not include only “brand personality” as one of the elements to arbitrarily describe with several words. Brand personality should be one of the main components of brand positioning on the market. Consumers truly perceive brands as persons, whether we like it or not. The first part of the brand as a person analysis had proven how meaningful it is to independently estimate the set of demograhic, physical (and cognitive) characteristics of brands, because there are statistically significant differences between mobile operators. Hence, the rating of these brand characteristics also indicates quite precisely the differences in the mobile operators brand image. Maybe the most important conslusion of the research was that the brand personality measurement tool, with the additional measurement of other “brand as a person” components, is an exquisite diagnostic means with a practical application. This tool provides a substantially more precise idea on the entire brand image than is the case with the standard tools and items used for the brand image research. Based on the profile determination of a brand as a person, it could be seen in which aspects do brands “miss” an element required for a desired position, what is their relation to other brands in the category and where there is room for improvement of the brand. Likewise, with the comparison of the category personality profile, it is clear
  15. 15. what do the brands and categories have in common, which brands are the category benchmark, which are at the forefront and which lag behind the others. Additionally, the tool is extremely time-efficient and expenses-efficient. It is even better to carry it out online, to allow the subjects for more honesty, which goes in favour of its practical use. It is crucially important for future research to take care of the indicated methodological shortcomings of the previous studies, in order to further explore the concept of brand personality properly. Hence the main contribution of this study is to try to indicate to future researchers what to take care of while studying this topic, as well as how to apply this model in practice. The only limitation of this study could be not carrying out a factorial scale analysis used in the research to measure brand personality. In this case, it would be necessary to first carry out a research on a minimum sample of 250 subjects, which would significantly increase the range of the research. However, psychologists also differ on the opinion on whether to carry out a factorial analysis on a slight scale modification. This shortcoming was compensated for by a pilot test the participants of which many were marketing specialists, to enable the sufficient heterogeneity between factors, as well as between the single traits within each factor. 6. CONCLUSION Up to today, numerous researches were carried out on the brand personality, and there emerged some new areas of research (destination personality, retail personality, restaurants, NGOs, sports teams personality, etc.). Brand personality is in significant practical use for some time now, as a sustainable means of differentiation, while other forms lose their significance (product attributes, price, etc.). However, although there is an important practical application of brand personality, this means of differentiation is oftentimes used without any particular guidelines that could influence the better marketing effects. This is evident even on the tools and models used by the research and marketing agencies in which “brand personality” really exists as one of the elements, but is not precisely defined. Similar problem remains in theory as well, because the elements that are and are not brand personality are often mistaken. One of the main causes for brand personality still being “trapped” in theory is the lack of solution on proper methodology to study brand personality and its effects, which is something we tried to solve in this research. It is clear that an important section of brand image is based on the perception of a brand as a person, which further suggests that more research and practical application of their results is needed. REFERENCES 1. Aaker D. A. (1996) Building Strong Brands, New York, The Free Press – A division of Simon & Schuster Inc. 2. Aaker, J. (1997) Dimensions of brand personality. Journal of Marketing Research, 34(August), p.347-356. 3. Aaker, J. (1995) Measuring the human characteristics of a brand: A brand personality hierarchy. Advances in Consumer Research, 22, p.393-394.
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