Luxury become a powerful mechanism for managing brand equity.

Luxury Brands have recently known to represent better than the traditional markers of quality, trust and reliability to consumers.  A brand has become an integral part in the conscious decisions made by the consumer and offers them the portrayal of self-expression, self-realization and self-identity.  It is a value that is considered utmost important in each and every step of creation of the product because it is the most differentiating factor that ensures the success of any organization in a highly competitive business world. Brilliant execution of a brand through celebrity endorsements provides innumerable opportunities in terms of brand extensions, new brand launches which can lead to a portfolio of strong brands.

Celebrity endorsements can consistently create excitement and buzz and goes global which enhances its brand equity in the process to differentiate it from other brands and add value for customers, a brand can also build on its brand image and emphasize the image value. The image can be built by using celebrities like film stars, sports personalities. The idea is that by using a particular brand, customers will feel as if they belong to the same class or league. Customers will want to purchase these brands to be in the same league as their favorite celebrities. Britney spears, Tiger woods’?, Michael Jordan, these are the celebrity symbols of the modern advertising today. An understanding of the customer’s perception and attitudes towards a brand is very important before a celebrity is tried for endorsement.

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According to a research, Celebrity endorsers can transcend that of simply being an executional device which might be most appropriate in low involvement situations (Petty et al., 1983) and become a powerful mechanism for managing brand equity. It is the endorser as a „powerful mechanism? that renders this type of communication very well suited for luxury brands.  

Earlier Studies have revealed that there is connectivity with celebrity endorsements and how people perceive the brand. “Brands are complex entities that are conceived in planning documents, but ultimately they reside in consumers? minds” (de Chernatony, 1993:174). De Chernatony?s definition pinpoints the difficulty for luxury brands; how do you occupy the „luxury position? in a consumers? mind? Luxury brands build on perception and image and this image is created by associating the brand with favorable and desired values and images. 

 

The research undertaken by the below quoted author opines that the term luxury rests upon or exploits certain assumed connotations. Nueno and Quelch (1998) defined luxury brands as: “…those whose ration of functional utility to price is low while the ratio of intangible and situational utility to price is high” while Phau and Prendergast (2000) pointed out that while luxury? is a subjective concept “… luxury brands compete on the ability to evoke exclusivity, a well-known brand identity, … brand awareness and perceived quality”. 

Adding to the above research, Perceived quality has been defined as “customers? perception of the overall quality or superiority of a product or service related to relevant alternatives and with respect to its intended purpose” (Keller, 1998:176). And true to the core value of advertising, branding evolves as a discipline companies must be extra cautious to utilize every possible channel of communication rather than just a celebrity endorsement. 

 When there is a proper methodology of branding process adopted and executed then channels such as celebrity endorsements can provide the cutting edge as it did for Nike endorsement romance with Tiger woods?. What Nike did was to use celebrity endorsement as one of the main channels of communicating its brand to a highly focused set of customers. 

 So, Nike?s association with Tiger Woods was one of the parts of an entire branding process that Nike has been practicing consistently. On the other hand, self-enhancers will be more likely to reject brand associations created by a celebrity endorsement where the celebrity associations are rejected (i.e., a non-aspirational celebrity), compared to consumers who do not have active self enhancement goals. 

 In a survey done by the below quoted researcher, Organisations make huge investments to align their brands and themselves with endorsers. Such endorsers are seen as dynamic with both attractive and likeable qualities (Atkin and Block, 1983), and companies’ plan that these qualities are transferred to products via marcom activities (Langmeyer & Walker, 1991a, McCracken, 1989). 

 Furthermore, because of their reputation and popularity, celebrities’ contribution doesn’t restrict with creation and maintenance but enables to achieve a very good recall ability of the particular brand in this competitive environment. (Croft et al, 1996, Friedman and Friedman, 1979).

Most celebrity endorsers come from the entertainment world or sports world, though business personalities and politicians may also appear in advertisements. Luxury brands certainly are the requirement of consumers who have a liking for it. Through the discovery of new and different ways to give expression to their desires. In today’s Scenario it’s a million dollar industry in the world. Personality of the perceiver greatly influences the consumer’s perception process. 

People have the tendency to associate certain persons with others who may have certain attributes irrespective of whether they consciously recognize the attributes or not. This is where luxury brands are promoted with leading celebrities. Portraying an attractive celebrity to promote the product will have an added touch of persuasiveness. 

The following information on how to develop a positive attitude and rational behavior on the luxury brands is more than a fact, an attitude and preference towards it. Endorsements by leading celebrity is  an unique and most captivating process which would prove to be a better method compared to the traditional brand building process. Business giants make use of this opportunity to use endorsements by celebrities for their brands as they would boost up their sales and also change the consumers’ perception, which would also have a shift from the existing brand.

Any successful research on perception would study the US popular index, called the Q score, which portrays the various mindset or perception, opinion of consumers and their interest for the brand .The index could be based on a rating that takes into account agreed parameters/attributes, past-present media coverage/favorability and relevance, ground situation in terms of successful/unsuccessful seasons/tenures, future prospects, etc. This is the actual reliable index available today for a successful evaluation of Consumers perception.

 Several researches have taken this index as a base to identify the correlation between the celebrity’s worth and the company’s financial assessment of brand in a systematic and organized way and also predicting the future trends.  Davie-Brown Index uses eight criteria in its evaluation: 1. Appeal 2. Notice 3. Trend setting 4. Influence 5. Trust 6. Endorsement 7. Aspiration 8. Awareness

With all these inputs already researched , there is a need for understanding the perceptual effect on the consumers by celebrity endorsements for luxury brands and also find out there are specific factors which enhances a positive perception in the minds of consumers towards luxury brands and also to identify the benefits the companies draw with celebrity endorsements.