J. Service Science & Management, 2010, 3, 206-217
doi:10.4236/jssm.2010.32025 Published Online June 2010 (http://www.SciRP.org/journal/jssm)
Copyright © 2010 SciRes. JSSM
Brand Relationships: A Personality-Based
Helena M. Nobre1, Kip Becker2, Carlos Brito3
1Instituto Superior de Administração e Gestão (ISAG), Rua do campo Alegre, Portugal; 2Administrative Sciences Department, Bos-
ton University, Boston, USA; 3Universidade do Porto–Faculdade de Economia, R. Dr. Roberto Frias, Portugal.
Email: hnobre2@gmail.com, kbecker@bu.edu, cbrito@fep.up.pt
Received February 21st, 2010; revised April 2nd, 2010; accepted May 8th, 2010.
The authors investigated the relationship between brand personality and brand relationships. The conceptual model
was based on the hypothesis that brand personality may nurture specific consumer-brand relationships and that these
relationships may influence the quality of the ties that consumers develop with brands. An instrument from intimate
interpersonal relationships was used to measure consumer-brand relationships. An SEM analysis conducted on a sam-
ple of 733 consumer-brand relationships, involving nine highly known brands of different product categories, gave
support to the theory. The research offers two significant contributions by: 1) Emphasizing the role of consumer-brand
relationship in understanding multi-brand, symbolic consumption and 2) Offering a holistic perspective in the under-
standing of brand personality.
Keywords: Brand Personality, Brand Relationships, Interpersonal Relationship Theory
1. Introduction
Some authors consider brand as a partner in a dyadic
relationship with the consumer [1-6]. The relational ap-
proach may provide a better and broader understanding
of the phenomena that arises between the customer and
the brand. Investigating branding as a variable of con-
sumer loyalty and customer retention may reduce influ-
ences resulting from symbolic consumption [7] since
loyalty may be considered as a specific kind of a rela-
tionship [8]. Adopting a relational view of consumption
is more consistent with the need to develop a more holis-
tic approach of brand knowledge [9].
In 1998, in an innovator approach, Susan Fournier used
the inter-personal relationship metaphor to study con-
sumer-brand relationships. Susan Fournier postulated that
brand is a partner in a dyadic relationship with the con-
sumer highlighting the holistic character of the phen-
omena. She concluded that consumer-brand relationships
are a source of self-efficacy, self-esteem and self-identity.
Building on Fournier’s study, J. Aaker et al. [2] de-
veloped a conceptual model to explain consumerbrand
relationships which was based on the fact that acts of
transgression and brand personality have a prominent
role in the relationship strength formation. They reported
two classes of relationships related to the brand person-
alities of Sincerity and Excitement [10,11] which rely on
the same constructs of the two Ideals of Relationships:
Intimacy-Loyalty and Passion [12]. A review of the con-
sumer-brand relationship research indicated there was a
need for further investigation in order to understand the
type of bonds different consumers establish with distinct
brand personalities, as well as the relevant relationship
patterns that can affect consumer-brand interactions.
Recognizing this research gap, the researchers were
motivated to develop a conceptual model whose premise
was that a brand’s personality has an important role in
the establishment of ties with the consumer. The hypot-
hesis, that brand personality may nurture specific types
of consumer-brand relationships and these consumer-
brand relationships may influence the quality of the ties
that consumers develop with brands, was constructed to
test the model.
2. A Framework for Brand Personality
Utilizing a multivariate analysis design, J. Aaker [10] de-
veloped the Brand Personality Scale which is a five-fac-
torial model operationalized in terms of human charac-
teristics and was inspired by the Big Five model of hu-
man personality [13-15]. Despite its importance in the
representation and explanation of brand personality [9],
the scale is not generalizable to different cultures. As a
result, J. Aaker et al. [11] developed transcultural studies
Brand Relationships: A Personality-Based Approach207
in order to adjust the scale to other populations: the Ja-
panese and Spanish populations.
The Spanish model included two universal factors-Sin-
cerity and Excitement-as well as three culture specific fa-
ctors. These are Passion (a specific element of Latin culture),
Peacefulness (a shared element with the Japanese scale),
and Sophistication (a mist of markers of North American
Sophistication and North American Competence).
3. Interpersonal Intimate Relationships
In a new approach to the interpersonal relationships field,
Fletcher et al. [12] developed the Relationship Ideals, a
factorial model for explaining intimate (romantic) rela-
tionships, which is composed of two basic factors: Inti-
macy-Loyalty and Passion. Relationships of Intimacy-
Loyalty are caring, respectful, honest, trusting and sup-
portive; and relationships of Passion are related to feel-
ings of excitement, fun and independence. The authors
note that results may not necessarily be generalized to
other relationship domains and social contexts but that
issue could represent an interesting direction of research.
According to Aggarwall [3], customers will relate to
brands in ways that resemble their social ties. Aggarwall
further states that the norms of interpersonal relationships
are a basis for the assessment that customers make of
their relationships with brands. This study advances the
assumption that the Relationship Ideal Scale [12] is ap-
plicable to the consumer-brand relationship context.
4. The Conceptual Model
Building on the literature cited previously, the authors
developed a conceptual model bringing together eleme-
nts of several prior researchers (see Figure 1).
In an interpersonal-relationship theory perspective,
Altman and Taylor [16] considered that the development
of a relationship implies the gradual overlapping and
exploration of the mutual selves of the partners involved
in that relationship. They admit an unequivocal relevance
of some features of personality on interpersonal proc-
esses. It seems plausible, therefore, that there would be a
relationship between brand personality and the type of
relationship the customer establishes with the brand. On
one hand, brand personality is partially determined by the
experiences the consumers develop with that brand. On
the other, it acts as a base of information which provides
guidance to consumers on the establishment of their rela-
tionships with brands [3] and influence the quality, or
strength, of those ties [2]. Considering these facts, the
authors posited the follow hypotheses:
H1: Brand Personality will be a predictor of Consum-
er-Brand Relationships.
H2: Brand Personality will be a predictor of Relation-
ship Strength.
Brand personality is one potential source of relation-
ship expectations [17], in particular those relationship
expectations relating to partner quality based on the sum
of inferences consumers make through the observation of
a brand’s behaviours [4]. The partner quality inferences
have a foundation in judgements of equity and justice, in
socioemotional benefits, and have the purpose of defin-
ing the belief the customer has in his relationship with a
brand [2]. Therefore, partner quality can be considered to
be a mediating variable between brand personality and
consumer-brand relationship:
H3: The influence of Brand Personality on Consumer-
Brand Relationships will be partially mediated by the co-
nsumer perceptions of Partner Quality.
Figure 1. Conceptual model of the influence of brand personality on consumer-brand relationship
Copyright © 2010 SciRes. JSSM
Brand Relationships: A Personality-Based Approach
In the literature, longevity of a relationship is associ-
ated with the quality and stability [6] or the strength of
that relationship [18]. Moreover, the characterization of
the two Relationship Ideals proposed by Fletcher et al.
(1999) [12] indicated that relationships of Intimacy-
Loyalty, rather relationships of Passion, are associated
with lasting relationships. These are based on patterns of
commitment, trust and intimacy. Considering this, it was
H4: The type of Consumer-Brand Relationship will be
a predictor of Relationship strength.
The personality of the partners in a relationship influe-
nces the content and the development of that relationship
[19]. Thus, it is expected that:
H5: Consumer Personality will be a predictor of Cons-
umer-Brand Relationships.
According to Auhagen and Hinde [20], partner per-
sonality influences the behaviours in a relationship and
biases the character inferences based on the observation
of these behaviours. As such, the customer character ori-
entation would be determinant in the way one evaluates
the performance of a brand [3]. Taking this into account,
the influence of consumer personality on consumer-
brand relationship should also be indirect:
H6: The influence of Consumer Personality on Con-
sumer-Brand Relationships will be partially mediated by
the consumer perceptions of Partner Quality.
5. Methodology
5.1 Brand Selection
The study featured nine well known brands in the Portu-
guese market. These brands represented different product
categories, brand personalities and functional versus sym-
bolic usage. The utilitarian brands were Continente (sto-
res/supermarkets) and Luso (mineral water). The sym-
bolic brands were Chanel (fragrances), Ferrari (sport aut-
omobiles) and Nike (sports apparel). The both symbolic
and utilitarian brands were Mercedes (automobiles), Vol-
kswagen (automobiles) and Land Rover (sport utility
vehicle-SUV). Finally, Coca-Cola (soft drink) was used
as a control brand. The 2005 Superbrands Portugal [21],
the 2005 Best Global Brands [22], and the information
about sales performance of the Portuguese automobile
industry in 2006 (supplied by the Automóvel Clube de
Portugal [23]) provided guidance in the selection of the
brands. Two additional aspects influenced the selection
procedure. The first was that brand personality is more
important in symbolic categories such as automobiles
and fragrances [24]. The second was that the automobiles
category is notable in terms of brand sensibility [25].
5.2 Participants
In order to reduce the possibility of participant fatigue,
which could bias the results, two groups of four brands
were presented. To ensure a close profile to the sample,
each group was composed by at least: one symbolic
brand, one utilitarian brand, and one utilitarian/symbolic
brand. Group 1 was composed of the brands: Continente,
Nike, Mercedes, Land Rover, and Coca-cola. Group 2
was composed of the brands: Luso, Volkswagen, Chanel,
Ferrari, and Coca-cola. Coca-Cola was included in each
group as a control element in order to assess the varia-
tions in the consumer perceptions. Coca-Cola was chosen
as the control element because it is recognized as one of
the most familiar brands in the world and should have no
real differences in the two groups.
A total of 388 individuals participated in the study. A
sample of convenience, by quotas in terms of age and
gender, of 350 valid questionnaires was obtained. Acc-
ording to the 2001 Census [26], age and gender were not
statistically significantly different from the Portuguese
population (age: (Msample = 40.3, Mpop. = 39.5), (t =
0.97, p = 0.33), gender: χ2(1) = 0.100, p = 0.75). The
respondents were between 18 and 86 years old.
The participants and the commercial brands were cho-
sen according to the identical principles that guided the
research of Jennifer Aaker and her colleagues in the
North American, Japanese and Spanish markets [10,11].
5.3 Measures
For the sake of proven test reliability and cross cultural
consistency existing and tested instruments were used to
measure each one of the constructs studied. The construct
of Brand Personality was measured by the Spanish Brand
Personality Framework [11] (see Appendix A) according
to an imposed-etic approach [27]. The construct of Cons-
umer-Brand Relationship was assessed by the short ver-
sion of Relationship Ideals Scale [12] (see Appendix B).
To analyze Relationship Strength and Partner Quality,
the Relationship Strength Indicators and Partner Quality
scale [2] (see Appendix C), respectively, were used.
Aware of the difficult task of choosing a stable fram-
ework to access the Consumer Personality Baumgartner
[28] suggests the Big Five taxonomy as a base to struc-
ture a trait specific framework to consumer behavior. The
Big Five is considered the most consensual framework
that explores the individual differences with an accept-
able level of abstraction [14] and allows studying the
human personality at the first level of analysis according
to McAdams [29]. In this study, for the sake of simplicity,
the construct Consumer Personality was studied through
the NEO-FFI [30] which is one of the Big Five instru-
ments. The NEO-FFI is the short version of the NEO-
Personality Inventory [13,15] which was translated by
Margarida Lima and António Simões in 2000 (unpub-
lished manuscript). Some psychometric studies devel-
oped by Lima [31] confirmed the reliability and predic-
tive validity of the NEO-Personality Inventory for the
Portuguese population.
Copyright © 2010 SciRes. JSSM
Brand Relationships: A Personality-Based Approach209
5.4 Procedures
The Relationship Ideals and Relationship Strength Indi-
cators scales were translated from English to Portuguese.
The Spanish Brand Personality framework was simulta-
neously translated from Spanish and English to Portu-
guese. The translations from English were assessed by
two bilingual researchers and from Spanish by a biling-
ual researcher. In order to test content validity [32], a
preliminary instrument was developed. This instrument
was replicated in two questionnaires according to two
different groups of three well known brands. Coca-cola
was again used as the control. Forty-two questionnaires
were collected by faculty, staff and post-graduate stu-
The final sample was collected using non-random me-
thods. Participants were contacted directly by undergrad-
duate students and some other volunteers who explained
the purpose of the study and distributed the questionnaire
with the instructions. The participants were instructed to
answer the questionnaires when alone and then to return
them. Participants were not paid. Each participant an-
swered one of the two different questionnaires (related to
the two groups of brands). To avoid primacy and regency
effects [10], the order in which the five brands were pre-
sented in the questionnaires and the order in which the
personality and consumer-brand relationship traits appea-
red were rotated.
In the first section of the questionnaires the particip-
ants answered the NEO-FFI Scale. The second section of
the questionnaires assessed the constructs Brand Person-
ality, Consumer-Brand Relationship, Relationship Stren-
gth, and Partner Quality. This section was repeated for
every five brands of each questionnaire. The participants
were asked initially about their familiarity with the brand
on a five-point Likert scale (1 = I don’t know the brand,
5 = I know the brand very well). The answers of the re-
spondents who rated below three, or failed this item,
were rejected unless they were (or had been) consum-
ers/users of the brand. Respondents were then invited to
fill the brand personality scale. Consumers were then
asked if they used/consumed the brand, why and how
long they had used it and, in the case they were not cur-
rent brand users, why not. The respondents were advised
to continue answering the questionnaire only in the case
they were (or had been) current users of the brand. Fi-
nally, the brand users were requested to answer the Con-
sumer-brand Relationship scale and the items related
with Relationship Strength and Partner Quality.
5.5 Sampling and Non-Response Bias
No significant differences were found among the rates of
Brand Personality, Consumer-Brand Relationship, Rela-
tionship Strength, and Partner Quality for Coca-Cola, in
the two sub-samples. In order to test the conceptual
model, a sample of consumer-brand relationships was
extracted from the 350 valid questionnaires, according to
the procedure used for sampling building by Cronin and
Taylor [33]. The concern that J. Aaker’s Brand Personal-
ity framework might not work in a research situation that
aggregates data within a single product category [34] was
a determinant in the sampling strategy. This sample in-
cluded 733 consumer-brand relationships. About 80% of
these relationships involved the brands Coca-Cola, Con-
tinente, Luso, and Nike, and the remained 20% involved
Volkswagen, Chanel, Mercedes, Land Rover, and Fer-
6. Results
Confirmatory Factor Analysis (CFA) and Structural Equ-
ation Modeling (SEM) were used to test the author’s
proposed theoretical framework (see Figure 1). Statisti-
cal software AMOS 16.0 [35] for Windows 2003 was
used for estimating parameters and computing goodness-
of-fit measures through Full-Information Maximum
Likelihood (FIML) estimator. The hypotheses were con-
sidered acceptable when a statistical level of p equal to or
less than 0.05 existed.
6.1 Reliability
Reliabilities were calculated through Cronbach’s alphas
coefficients based on the items for each factor of a given
scale. High internal consistency was achieved for each
factor of Brand Personality (Cronbach’s alphas ranged
from 0.80 to 0.90), of Consumer-Brand Relationship
(Cronbach’s alphas were 0.89 and 0.91, respectively), of
Relationship Strength (Cronbach’s alphas ranged from
0.87 to 0.93), and for the one-dimensional scale of Part-
ner Quality (Cronbach’s alpha was 0.91). With regard to
Consumer Personality, high internal consistency was
achieved for the measures of Neuroticism and Conscien-
tiousness (Cronbach’s alphas were, respectively, 0.82
and 0.80), and acceptable internal consistency for Extro-
version and Openness (Cronbach’s alpha was 0.71 in
each case, above the minimum of 0.70 recommended by
Nunnally, [36]). Agreeableness showed poor internal
consistency with an alpha of 0.54.
6.2 Measurement Model
A CFA was conducted in order to assess the correspon-
dence between measures and data. Each item or compo-
nent was restricted to load on its pre-specified factor with
the five first-order factors allowed to correlate freely.
The model contained five latent variables (Brand Person-
ality, Consumer-Brand Relationship, Consumer Person-
ality, Relationship Strength, and Partner Quality) and 22
measures. The items were averaged for each one of the
components of the scales. Although Agreeableness sho-
wed poor internal consistency with a Cronbach’s alpha of
Copyright © 2010 SciRes. JSSM
Brand Relationships: A Personality-Based Approach
Copyright © 2010 SciRes. JSSM
suggesting evidence of discriminant validity [41]. Second,
a chi-square test was performed for each pair of latent
constructs on a measurement model constraining their
correlation to equal one and on a baseline measurement
model without this constraint. Then, the difference betw-
een these two chi-square tests was submitted again to a
chi-square test for each pair of constructs, resulting in a
total of 10 significant chi-square-difference tests, also
providing evidence of discriminant validity [37]. Third,
the shared variance among any two constructs (i.e., the
square of their correlation) was then compared with both
their extracted variances (i.e., average variances ex-
plained in the items by the constructs) [42]. Since the
tests showed that all shared variances were less than the
respective extracted variances, evidence of discriminant
validity in the measures of all constructs under study was
again taken for granted.
0.54, the items were also averaged in a single factor as
according to the procedure used by Bagozzi and Dhol-
akia [37].These composite variables served as indicators
in the CFA, except in the case of the one-dimensional
scale of Partner Quality, where the six items served as
measures. This strategy was subordinated to the mini-
mum sample size requirements for SEM designs of a
ratio of 5 cases for each estimated parameter [38].
Results, as interpreted by the goodness-of-fit measures,
indicated that the model fit the data well. The chi-square
of this model was significant (χ2(107) = 408.4, p < 0.001),
in opposition with the convention that an acceptable
model is one that p is equal or in excess of 0.05. However,
since the chi-square statistic is sensitive to sample size,
additional fit measures (independent of sample size) were
calculated. This model achieved 0.95, 0.96, 0.96, and 0.95
for NFI, CFI, IFI, and TLI, respectively (values of 0.90
or greater are recommended for an acceptable fit); and
0.06 for RMSEA (acceptable values range from 0.05 to
0.08, according to Hair, Anderson, Tatham, & Black [39]).
6.3 Path Analysis Model Estimates
Since the model showed construct validity the path dia-
gram was estimated. The final model achieved a good fit:
Chi-square = 519.0, df = 109, p < 0.001, RMSEA = 0.07,
CFI = 0.95, IFI = 0.95, NFI = 0.94, and TLI = 0.94. Most
of the direct paths proposed were statistically significant
with the exception of the direct relationships between
Consumer Personality and Partner Quality, Consumer
Personality and Consumer-Brand Relationship, and Brand
Personality and Relationship Strength (see Figure 2).
The analysis of the standardized loadings of each ind-
icator on its construct, which were all statistically signi-
ficant and sufficiently large, with an average loading size
of 0.77, showed evidence of convergent validity [40].
Discriminant validity was assessed in three different
ways. First, we checked whether the correlations between
any two constructs were significantly different from one.
The test showed that the respective confidence intervals
(± two standard errors) do not include the value of one,
= .74
= .28
= .58
ote: The estimates were completely standardized.*Coefficient is significant at the .001 level (2-tailed).
Figure 2. Path diagram
Brand Relationships: A Personality-Based Approach211
As expected, the estimates confirmed that Brand Per-
sonality is a predictor of Consumer-Brand Relationships
(hypothesis 1). It is interesting to note that Brand Per-
sonality had a significant positive direct effect (0.66, p <
0.01) on Consumer-Brand Relationship. This prediction
was strengthened by a significant indirect effect (0.16, p
< 0.01) through Partner Quality. Although small, this in-
direct effect supported the hypothesis 3. The total effect
(0.82, p < 0.01) showed that Brand Personality had a
strong positive effect on Consumer-Brand Relationship (see
Table 1). Also as expected, a positive significant effect
(0.71, p < 0.01) of the Consumer-Brand Relationship on
Relationship Strength was noted which supported hypo-
thesis 4. Results, however, did not support the hypothesis
2 since no significant direct effect of Brand Personality
on Relationship Strength was found. To the contrary, a
significant indirect effect of Brand Personality on Rela-
tionship Strength (0.58, p < 0.01) was achieved that sug-
gests Consumer-Brand Relationship mediates all the ef-
fects of Brand Personality on Relationship Strength.
No significant effects were found for the path of Con-
sumer Personality on Consumer-Brand Relationship and
no significant indirect effects of Consumer Personality
on Consumer-Brand Relationship through Partner Qual-
ity were determined. Thus, both hypothesis 5 and hy-
pothesis 6 were rejected.
Additionally, Partner Quality showed a moderate to
small indirect effect on Relationship Strength (0.22, p <
0.01) through Consumer-Brand Relationship. By con-
trast, no indirect effect was found for Consumer Person-
ality on Relationship Strength through Consumer-Brand
Relationship as implied in the theoretical framework.
7. Discussion
While recognizing the eventual influence of some exter-
nal factors to this study (e.g., the product category or the
context), the results demonstrated a clear contribution of
brand personality on consumer-brand relationship. This
provides two significant contributions that have both aca-
demic and managerial implications. First, the study em-
phasizes the role of consumer-brand relationship in un-
derstanding multi-brand, symbolic consumption. Second,
the study results offer a more holistic perspective in the
understanding of the construct brand personality. While
brand personality has been significantly studied and de-
veloped in literature with wide applications in brand
management the notion of consumer-brand relationship
has emerged recently and seems to lack practical imple-
The research has further demonstrated that the concept
of brand relationship is valid and helps to organize mea-
ning in a consumer’s mind. Moreover, the successful
application of an interpersonal relationship inventory in a
branding setting would be of particular interest to marke-
ters and may provide a basic and a user friendly frame-
work useful in the development of building long term
relationship brand strategy.
The analysis suggests that consumer-brand relation-
ship mediates all the effects of brand personality on rela-
tionship strength and, therefore, brand personality did not
demonstrate any direct impact on relationship strength.
This may indicate that although important in terms of
brand image brand personality per se does not insure rel-
ationship stability and durability. The type of consu-
mer-brand relationship may rather be an important indic-
ator of customer loyalty. This is consistent with the liter-
ature that considers brand personality mainly a differen-
tiating element in an environment of symbolic consump-
tion that allows for the simplification of the process of
selection, instead a direct player on the buying decision
process [24]. On the other side, these results were not
consistent with the conceptual model for consumer-brand
relationships proposed by J. Aaker et al. [2] where a di-
rect effect of Brand Personality on Relationship Strength
was indicated. A possible explanation is that the study of
J. Aaker et al. was limited to the brand personalities of
Sincerity and Excitement, which are associated to two
classes of brand relationships that rely on the same con-
structs of the Intimacy-Loyalty and Passion relationships.
Table 1. Standardized effects of the structural model
Partner Quality Consumer-Brand R. Relationship Strength
Direct Indirect Total Direct Indirect Total Direct Indirect Total
BP 0.53* 0.53* 0.66* 0.16* 0.82* 0.06 0.58* 0.64*
C-BR 0.71* 0.71*
CP 0.00 0.00 0.03 0.03 0.02 0.02
PQ 0.30* 0.30* 0.22* 0.22*
(Note: Values in cells are completely standardized estimates. The rounding is the cause of some discrepancies between total effects and the respective
direct effect plus the indirect effect. BP = Brand personality, C-BR = Consumer-Brand Relationship, CP = Consumer Personality, RS = Relationship
trength, PQ = Partner Quality. *Coefficient is significant at the 0.01 level (2-tailed).) S
Copyright © 2010 SciRes. JSSM
Brand Relationships: A Personality-Based Approach
Although consumer-brand relationship was measured
by a scale of attributes, the study of this phenomenon is
not limited to attitudinal aspects. The behavioral com-
ponent of brand relationships is captured by relationship
strength through Commitment (see Appendix C). This
behavioral component reflects operational investments in
committed and lasting relationships and can be consid-
ered behavioral indicators of loyalty [43].
8. Conclusions
It has been suggested that loyalty is a reflection of buyer
brand commitment and an expression of relationship
depth. As described by the author’s conceptual model
(see Figure 1), the consumer’s brand relationship streng-
th is a determinate of consumer personality, brand per-
sonality, partner quality and the resulting consumer
brand relationship. As such, the consumer’s relationship
with a brand is certainly a gestalt with the whole greater
than the sum of the parts. Actual brand loyalty results
when a consumer’s intellectual and emotional relation-
ship with a brand is sufficient to commit that customer to
pay higher prices seek out brand/products for repurchase
and are a source of referrals. Given this complexity, it is
not surprising that the author’s did not find a meaningful
correlation between brand personality and relationship
strength. It was, however, less problematical to demon-
strate the connection between brand personality with
consumer brand relationships. The consumer’s relation-
ship with a brand is dynamic and formed by the con-
sumer’s perception of both the actual physical as well as
the psychological elements of the product. It is this com-
bination, and its relationship to price, which creates a
consumer’s impression of value. The evaluation of a
product’s physical aspects tends to be intellectual based
on information about actual product features. The psy-
chological aspect of the product as discussed is an emo-
tional relationship formed by consumer beliefs and needs
not to be rational.
One aspect of attempts to bond brands and personality
relates to the manipulation of the non physical aspects of
the brand personality characteristics. This often is to ei-
ther maintain brand loyal customers or conversely steal
shifting or disloyal customers from competing brands.
There is a danger in relying on brand strategies that focus
on the psychological repositioning, as opposed to actual
product modification. The danger is that today’s sophis-
ticated consumer, utilizing internet driven information, is
no longer easily deceived by campaigns designed to
promote an “illusion” of change to strengthen brand per-
sonality with little actual price or product modifications.
This is a clear warning that it is unlikely that Ford’s hol-
low slogan “Quality is job one”, which may have stirred
emotions and enhanced relationships in the 1980s, would
be accepted by today’s intense consumer scrutiny. This
would reinforce that obtaining an in depth understanding
of both the consumer brand relationship as well as the
underlying relationship strength is essential. This is true
as this understanding yields information about the degree
of the bond strength between product/company and con-
sumer. The delicate nature of a brand bond is illustrated
by the difficulty of the author’s to demonstrate a rela-
tionship between brand personality and relationship
Fournier and Lee [44] point to the need to fashion a
flexible brand relationship that allows individuals to
adopt new roles as lives, ages and values change. The
author’s model would suggest that, while needing to be
adaptable to life and company changes, for the cons-
umer brand relationship to be maintained, the company
must be careful to assure that both the consumer’s perso-
nality and the brand’s personality remain in equilibrium
over time and environmentally related incidences.
One environmental threat to the equilibrium, which
has not been adequately addressed by firms, relates to the
new internet information age consisting of twittering,
blogs and web ratings. These instant sources of commun-
ication have made it possible, due to widespread and low
cost information, for rapid disruptions in a brand’s image
to occur for legitimate or irrational reasons. It would se-
em that such disruptions could put pressures on the con-
sumer relationship by altering brand perception. Fears
resulting from sufficient actual incidences over the past
five years have resulted in the increased importance of
corporate business continuity programs whose major res-
ponsibility is the mitigation of threats to the brand which
could cause a shift in the relationship equilibrium. Rein-
forcing the importance of the consumer as a partner in
the relationship, firms must have a comprehensive un-
derstanding of how the personalities of their consumer
relate to partner quality and the consumer brand rela-
tionship. This is essential if they are to effectively react
to any incident of imbalance which could result in a shift
in consumer brand preferences and thus a loss in con-
sumers. Favaro, Romberger, and Meer [45], for example,
state that even downturns in business cycles present op-
portunities for firms to capture shifting loyal and non
loyal consumers from competitors. They recommend that
companies seize such opportunities to redirect shifters
toward their product choices. While taking what some
might consider an “older perspective” by stating that
loyals are too costly to redirect it is possible that a
broader understanding of the constructs underlying the
consumer brand relationship may make attacks on loyals
highly feasible.
9. Limitations and Suggestions for Further
Regarding the role of consumer personality on the estab-
Copyright © 2010 SciRes. JSSM
Brand Relationships: A Personality-Based Approach213
lishment of consumer-brand relationships, the studies
provided no relevant outcomes. It is interesting to note
that the influence of consumer personality on consumers’
brand evaluation seems to be clear according to the lit-
erature. This result could be influenced by the fact that,
although a consensual framework in the psychology field,
the Big Five model of human personality has not been
greatly explored in terms of consumer behavior [28].
Thus, this initiative may offer an exploratory basis for
further developments of the applicability of the Big Five
to the consumer behavior context.
Another possible explanation for the lack of interesting
effects relating to the consumer personality construct
may be the fact that confidentiality in the responses was
not always ensured, as the questionnaires were returned
directly to the volunteers that collected the data. Since
the questions under the rubric of consumer personality
dealt with personal and, perhaps, intimate information,
this problem should be addressed in future research.
When interpreting these findings one should have in
mind that product category interactions might bias results.
Thus, although this research relied on a rich database,
future researchers may expand the number of different
categories. It may also be advisable that more brand per-
sonalities (both utilitarian and symbolic) be introduced to
further extend the findings to a larger domain. In par-
ticular, two different brands in a single product category
might be a good way of controlling the likable product
category influence on brand image [46]. In respect to the
brand personality framework, significant differences
were found only for symbolic or both symbolic and utili-
tarian brands rather than for utilitarian brands (Conti-
nente and Luso). This may be, however, a confirmation
of the relative importance of brand personality construct
in less symbolic categories.
10. Acknowledgements
To Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia (FCT) that
supported this study.
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