1.1 Background to the Study
Today’s business society is characterized with globalization and competition, because most consumers are exposed to alternative product and these propel business organizations to employ the most effective methods, strategies and programmes in producing and marketing their products and services. In a bid to produce and market these products successfully to attract customers’ attention, advertising campaign managers have to differentiate themselves from others to achieve this objective. The challenge of the marketer is to find the hook that will hold consumers attention. Fortunately, the use of celebrity endorsement has been found as a veritable tool and an effective strategy.
Every now and then, consumers are exposed to different images and voices on television, radio, magazine, newspapers, websites and billboards and every brand attempt to steal atleast, a person’s unsuspecting time to inform him of the amazing attribute of their brands. Nwosu (2006) also observed that contemporary society is characterize with great quantities of not just products, but brands of uncountable numbers, not just from the domestic market, but also from the globalizing market of the world. All these occur in a world with dwindling disposable income, unprecedented increase in consumer expectation, consumer movements, government tight regulation and increase in monetization of virtually all facets of human endeavor. In the face of all these, consumers are becoming more discerning than ever, and firms not only communicate to the target market, but do it in most persuasive manner to achieve the desired goal, which is a positive change in both attitude and behavior of the target audience.
In this conventional time, people tend to ignore all commercials and advertisements while flipping through magazines, newspapers, or viewing television, but even then, the glamour of a celebrity seldom goes unnoticed. The use of celebrity endorsement for advertisement and its subsequent influence of a company’s brand are of great significance.Companies hire celebrities from particular fields to feature in their advertisement campaigns because these endorsers are seen as being dynamic with both attractive and likeable qualities and companies use their activities to transfer these qualities to their products, by matching the images of the products with the celebrities images, which tend to persuade consumers to fixed their choices from numerous and competing brands.
Millions of money are heavily invested on celebrities by companies to enable them align themselves with these endorsers whose qualities are transferred into these brands for huge profit. Furthermore, because of their fame, celebrities not only serve to create and maintain attention, but also help achieve high recall rate for these brands. No wonder, Aristotle said, “Beauty is a greater recommendation than any form of introduction” Every brand has an image and the consumer try to consume brands that have maximum fit with their personality image. The celebrity endorser fit in between these two interactions where he tries to bring the image of the product closer to the expectation of the consumer by transferring some of the cultural meanings residing in his image to the product with the purpose of entrusting these products that worked for him over to his fans.
Celebrity endorsement is powerful, and this strength is offered by the Instant awareness, knowledge about the brand and easy recall of the beauty and elegance of the celebrity endorser via the endorsement. Also values and image of the brand is defined, highlighted and refreshed by the celebrity which add new edge and dimension, credibility, trust, association, aspiration and connectivity to brand belief, efficiency and new appearance that will result in at least, trial usage.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Today, consumers are educated and well informed about their needs, and firms employ the best strategies to ensure consumers prefer and remain loyal to their brands. Consumers can be manipulated by positioning what they want to see, feel or hear, at the right time, in the right place and at the best manner so as to create a positive impact in the minds of consumers. Brands with celebrity endorsement can only receive attension when such brand is perceived as having a good quality by consumers. This brings us to the first problem of this work which is inability of firms to produce quality products to boast their brand. Most marketers do not seem to care about consumers’ wellbeing when producing their products; they seem to be operating in the era of production concept, when, whatever is produced is shifted to the market for consumers, their confident is that since well celebrated celebrity will endorse the product, it must be given attension, but they seem to forget that consumers are educated and also know that these celebrites are paid huge amount of money to advertise thsee products. Although celebrities are full of cultural meanings and aura, and they also transfer this aura to the product via endorsement, it is only when a quality product is produced that this great influence can be achieved.
On the other hand, most celebrity advertising experience this because of lack of ‘fit’ between the celebrity, endorsed brand and the target consumers. Celebrity over shadowing occurs when the attention of the advertisement shifts from the brand to the celebrity. Many celebrity endorsements fail because marketers identify celebrities they like in an emotive and unresearched manner, and then create advertisments to force-fit the celebrities into the creative concept. Hawkins et al (2001), insist that using a celebrity unrelated to the product shift the attention of the customers to the celebrity, rather than the brand and this affect the intended message negatively. Examples can be seen in Osuofia’s mismatch adverts in some of the products he endorsed, which include; harpic toilet cleaner, Antigal antiseptic soap, Emjay tomato paste etc. In Nigera, we are gender sentitive and when a wrong gender is used, especially for advert, it shifts the attention from the brand to the celebrity and also reduces the image of the endorser, the brand and the firm.
Inadequate monitoring of the celebrities’ activities to know either when the celebrities are being over used or when there is a scandal on any of these celebrities also, whether they are actually using the products they are endorsing. Over use of a particular celebrity causes celebrity trap. And this a situation where celebrity becomes an addiction for the marketing team and the task to find substitute become more difficult, leading to surfeit of celebrity. Again, if a celebrity has a scandal, the integrity of such celebrity is at risk because such scandal can be transferred to the brand, making it difficult to get consumers’ attention on such brand.Some celebrities endorse one brand and use another. Adequate monitoring has to be mounted on these celebrities, because a celebrity’s use of a competitor’s brand means the competitor’s brand has a better quality, and that’s a bridge of contrct which can cause brand switching of customers to the competitors’ brands. It is against this foundation that this study seeks to investigate celebrity endorsement and consumer choice of alcoholic beverages in Nigeria by using Hero and Life Lager Beer as a case study.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The broad objective of this study is to investigate celebrity endorsement and consumer choice of alcoholic beverages in Nigeria by using Hero and Life Lager Beer as a case study. The specific objectives however include;
i) To determine the extent of perception of alcoholic beverage consumers on the use of celebrity for product endorsement in Nigeria.
ii) To examine the significant relationship between celebrity advertising and brand preference in the alcoholic beverage industry Nigeria.
iii) To understand the extent to which celebrity endorsement influences consumers’ preference towards a company’s brand Nigeria.
iv) To determine the extent to which celebrity advertising facilitates brand switch by alcoholic beverages consumers in Nigeria.
1.4 Research Questions
The following are some of the questions which this study intends to answer:
i) What is the perception of alcoholic beverage consumers on the use of celebrity for product endorsement in Nigeria?
ii) What is the significant relationship between celebrity advertising and brand preference in the alcoholic beverage industry Nigeria?
iii) What is the extent to which celebrity endorsement influences consumers’ preference towards a company’s brand Nigeria?
iv) What is the extent to which celebrity advertising facilitates brand switch by alcoholic beverages consumers in Nigeria?
1.5 Research Hypotheses
The following will be the research hypotheses to be tested for this study:
i) There is no significant correlation between celebrity endorsement and consumers’ perception towards a company’s brand.
ii) There is no significant relationship between celebrity endorsement and celebrity advertising and the endorsed brand.
iii) There is no significant correlation between celebrity endorsement and consumers’ preference towards a company’s product.
1.7 Significance of the Study
The findings of this study will provide Hero and Life Lager Beer better ideas on how best to explore advertising techniques in positioning and repositioning their products in the minds of their customers. By this, they will be able to develop effective advert programs and also digress towards other elements, including production of quality products, selection of the most appropriate celebrity for their products, knowing when to hire celebrity, and being sensitive to know when to terminate such contract.
The advertising agencies will benefit from this study because; it will give them ample opportunities to understand consumer behavior (consumer buying process and determinants of consumer behavior) and with the acquired knowledge, they will be able to match the appropriate brand with the appropriate celebrity, and also know the right appeal that influences consumers’ attitude towards the advertised brands.
To the consumers, the study will provide them with the best criteria of selecting brands, among numerous alternatives. It will also provide guide to consumers, as well as enable them to be more meticulous, especially while going through the adoption process of anticipating, acquisition, actualization and accommodation. This ways, consumers become more familiar with their ideal products and probably build their brand preference based on awareness and assurance of the brand’s quality.
To the researchers and students in marketing, and other related disciplines, this study will stand as a good research topic and material, if they intend to expand their frontier of knowledge. More interestingly, the findings will contribute to the existing literature in relation to the influence of celebrity endorsement and brand preference criteria by consumers. It will also bridge the existing gap in the previous findings. And in our dynamic world, this study becomes a platform for academic pursuit of excellence.
1.7 Scope of the study
The scope of this study is alcoholic beverage industry in Nigeria, and the firms studied were Hero and Life Lager Beer. The theoretical scope is the various influences celebrity endorsement has on consumers’ brand preference.
1. 8 Limitations of the Study
For a study of this nature, the researcher would have wished to collect as much data as possible, to cover the entire nation, but constraints in collecting larger data and other constraints were met but the researcher was able to manage these constraints, and came up with something wonderful.
1.9 Definition of Terms
The following operational words were used in this study;
Advertising: Advertising is the message which is communicated through the media, paid for by an identified sponsor and directed to a target audience with the aim of imparting vital information about a company’s product and services.
Advertising Agencies: Advertising agencies are professional firms that plan, create and place advertisements into the media houses, on behave of its clients.
Perception: Perception simply refers to how one sees or views a company and its offerings.
Brand: Brand is a name, term, sign, symbol or design or a combination of them, intended to identify the goods or services of one seller or group of sellers and to differentiate them from those of competitors.
Celebrity Advertising: Celebrity advertising is the use of a public figure’s likeness for the purpose of selling a product or service.
Celebrity: Celebrities are people who enjoy specific public recognition by large number of certain group of people.