Consumer evaluations of sponsor brand associations

Pi-Hsuan Monica Chien (2009). Consumer evaluations of sponsor brand associations PhD Thesis, School of Business, The University of Queensland.

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Author Pi-Hsuan Monica Chien
Thesis Title Consumer evaluations of sponsor brand associations
School, Centre or Institute School of Business
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2009-01
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Supervisor Professor T. Bettina Cornwell
Dr. Ravi Pappu
Total pages 364
Total colour pages 32
Total black and white pages 332
Subjects 350000 Commerce, Management, Tourism and Services
Abstract/Summary Corporate sponsorships have received increased attention from brand managers and academics in recent years. While researchers agree that sponsorship aids in generating favourable images for the sponsor, both at the corporate and brand levels, a lack of theory-guided models has prevented investigation into more complex phenomena. Current understanding of sponsorship effects is largely confined to the single sponsorship context with dominant emphasis on sponsorship awareness. The challenge surrounding sponsorship image measurement is only heightened by the increase in sponsorship activities. A growing number of brands are becoming associated with multiple events or entities. The purpose of the present research is to understand the mechanisms that underlie consumer processing of a brand’s sponsorship portfolio to affect inferences about sponsor brand associations, and in particular brand personality, brand meaning and brand attitude. The present research consolidates a range of conceptual and theory-guided models used by previous researchers, and adds to sponsorship literature by outlining how an accessibility based model can be applied to explain the cognitive processes involved when consumers encounter a brand’s sponsorships sequentially. In the context of a sponsorship portfolio, the associative network memory theory, congruence theory, and accessibility-diagnosticity theory are considered collectively and integrated into a conceptual framework to guide the development of hypotheses. The general theory proposed here is that accessibility of a sponsorship episode determines whether it will be used in subsequent information processing and percolate through to sponsor evaluations. A three-experiment research program is developed to explore the dynamics behind the portfolio effects. Pretests are conducted to identify brands and sponsorship properties that conform to the experimental manipulations but also to control for extraneous variables. Experiment 1 is designed to investigate the impact of perceived sponsorship portfolio fit on sponsor brand associations, and to determine how consumers assess portfolio fit. The experiment employs a 2 (sponsorship category relatedness: related vs. unrelated) x 2 (event personality fit: high fit vs. low fit) x 2 (sponsor product category: apparel vs. watch) between-subjects factorial design. Results point to sponsorship category relatedness as an important reference point in the evaluation of portfolio fit because it pulls sponsorships together when event personality fit is low, showing the predominance of category-based mode of processing. The role of event personality fit emerges when sponsorships lack categorical relatedness, leading to piecemeal-mode processing. Its influence of event personality fit is largely mute when sponsorships are categorically related, possibly because the individual event concepts are overwhelmed by a superordinate categorical imagery. Experiment 2 is designed to (1) allow replication of the portfolio effects with an additional sponsor product and different sets of sponsorship portfolios, and (2) investigate how individuals respond to a sponsorship portfolio which contains sponsorship properties with conflicting categories and personalities. Specifically, Experiment 2 aims to determine whether one sponsorship “frames” the processing of another sponsorship in a portfolio, and if so, determines the direction of framing. The experiment employs a 2 (sponsorship presentation sequence: sports first vs. cause first) x 2 (visual cues: present vs. absent) x 3 (sponsor product replicates: apparel vs. watch vs. juice) mixed factorial design. Two key findings emerge from this experiment. First, inferences about the sponsor brands’ personalities are made in an additive fashion by augmenting event personalities, conforming to the “entitativity” principle. Second, when a sports sponsorship (rather than a cause sponsorship) is presented first in a portfolio, conceptual fluency is enhanced. This is because the sequence of processing is consistent with the way that people naturally think, thus leading to greater processing fluency. Experiment 3 is developed to further test the sponsorship framing effect and to explore the role of articulation in forging a relationship for ostensibly unrelated sponsorships. The experiment uses a 2 (sponsorship frame: sports frame vs. cause frame) x 2 (articulation: present vs. absent) between-subjects factorial design, plus a replicate and two control groups. Results replicate the findings of previous experiment where inferences for the sponsor brand personality are determined in an additive fashion. The findings also provide insights into when and whether using articulation in sponsorship communications can be beneficial. While articulating the relationship between sponsorships increases the perceived brand meaning consistency and clarity, a boomerang effect on brand attitude is observed, possibly because the commercially oriented content attributes a sales-oriented motive to the sponsor, which in turn, leads to a less favourable brand attitude. Theoretically, this research adds to current understanding of consumer-focused sponsorship processing by moving beyond simple pairing of sponsor and event, to consider the relationship between sponsorship properties. Through the integration of accessibility-diagnosticity theory, this research demonstrates that the way sponsorships influence brand evaluations is likely to be more complex than suggested by the existing literature and contributes to the development of methods to measure image transfer process. Practically, this research assists managers who are interested in the formulation of sponsorship policy and strategic design of sponsorship portfolios. The conceptual model developed in this thesis offers useful guidelines in providing input into the decision-making process when considering whether sponsorships could be used as brand building tools.
Keyword Sponsorship
Brand associations
Additional Notes Colour pages: 122, 125, 133-134, 153, 156, 168-169, 183, 189, 205-206, 305-306, 315-318, 320-323, 342-343, 345-346, 348, 350, 353-356

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Created: Wed, 02 Sep 2009, 14:58:49 EST by Ms Pi-hsuan Chien on behalf of Library - Information Access Service