Defining brand personality (BP)

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This chapter presents the methodology used for the empirical study. It introduces the context of research and following the research paradigm and design are explained.

Context of the study: hip-hop and sneakers

This study centers its empirical study on the perceptions of the brand personality (BP) that consumers and listeners of hip-hop music have over brands of sneakers. The aim of studying fans of hip-hop responds to the need of investigating a population that could allow us to speak of BP in terms of music.
The interpretive character of this research requires the perspective of the population studied to develop the personification metaphor. Moreover, for the hip-hop culture, sneakers represent a fashion good or symbolic item that fills symbolic purposes.
It can‟t be ignored the utilitarian benefits obtained of a tennis shoe. They satisfy our needs of protecting the skin of our feet when we walk. However, rarely someone will think of that way when buying a pair of sneakers. Nowadays a consumer buys products not for what they do, but for what they mean (Levy, S. 1959).
Sneakers represent a product category that endows cultural meaning, speaks about the personality of who wears it and communicates aspects of social-class. Sneakers give consumers a sense of value; for the youth sneaker brands represent a way of self-expression that often goes beyond reasonable parameters; where in some places people is assaulted for wearing new or exclusive sneaker models (Smothers, N; 1993).
During the last 3 decades, sneakers gained a dramatically different place in post-modern culture. They surpassed purely functional purposes and have earned a cult-like attitude in many consumers (Cunningham, C., 2008). Sneakers and the Hip-Hop culture share somehow the urban-spatial and chronological dimensions in which they appeared on our modern society. Hip-Hop culture is since its origins plagued by the characteristics of a urban cultural movement, that saw the light for the first time in the blocks of New York, and particularly in the United States, it evolved from a “youth culture” to a proper dominant cultural fact (Dimitriadis, G., 2009, New York). Hip-Hop originates in the United States in the 1970‟s as a cultural scene that then in turn developed in a musical style which broadly integrates DJing/scratching, sampling, rapping and beat boxing as stylistic elements (Randel, D., M., 2003). However, Hip-Hop artistic culture takes Graffiti writing, MCing, DJing and brake-dance as the key artistic elements that forged a face-to-face social contact and interaction. Literature on the Hip-Hop culture in Sweden is scarce and due to language-barrier could not be examined further. However, it can be accounted that the overall elements of the Hip-Hop culture from the United States have permeated young local demographic groups (Sernhede, O. 2002).
For the context of this study, hip-hop fans in Sweden will provide their impressions on how sneaker brands have interacted with music. The choice of sneaker brands is also beneficial for the conduction of brand image research. Most popular sneaker brands are marketed worldwide, thus the consumers‟ studied will not find difficulties identifying them and sharing the associations that they already know of the brands.
The empirical aim is to use the knowledge that hip-hop fans in Sweden have over how sneaker brands have been marketed and how they have interacted in their social and personal life. In addition, the extramusical information that music-genres communicate to hip-hop fans will be used as the channel of expression to talk about their perceptions over the brands studied.

Population of study

The participants of this study were fans of Hip-Hop music that live in Sweden. In particular, most of participants were located in the city of Jönköping. The total population of study resulted difficult to determinate do to the inexistent measure on the total number of individuals who are fans of Hip-Hop in Sweden. However, small organizations gave account of the possibility to determinate a sampling method. Some of them are:
The Dirty Rap Scholars: This organization is integrated by a group of students from Jönköping University, whose main activity is the host of a radio program broadcasted on the local frequency 98.5FM and at the same time is streamed online and on-demand. This community is known to be active promoters of Hip-Hop on the local scene. Their database accounts up to 180 registered members, which many of them are followers of their Facebook® fan page.
Bunkern!. This local organization is also a commercial recording studio that operates in Jönköping, Sweden. Their Facebook group page accounts for 225 members. The individuals who follow this organization comprehend musicians, fans, music producers and regular followers of the hip-hop local scene.
These two organizations present common members in their online communities; therefore it can‟t be summed up. Leading members of the organizations mentioned above were contacted and informed about the intentions of the research; their response and support was positive towards the facilitation and participation of respondents to the studies.
Diverse online communities of hip-hop fans in Sweden. A third sub-group of the population is any person who doesn‟t belong to any of the two organizations mentioned previously, but in some way manifests that is a fan of Hip-Hop. A way to deduct this, for instance, was doing a filtered-search on Facebook through its paid targeted advertising, where the social network accounted 285 users who manifested that lived in Jönköping and having Hip-Hop as their main interest.
In addition, the musical social network contains the existence of 3 users groups devoted to Hip-Hop: Swedish hiphop with 64 members, Svensk hip hop with 160 members and Swedish Hip Hop with 96 members; however the members of these groups in some cases belong to all or more than one group, also, they seem to come from any country in the world, but the vast majority resides in Sweden.
All the member numbers were accounted until December 1st, 2010. In addition, screening filters to avoid repetition of participants were also employed.
Respondents were coordinated to participate either on the in-depth interviews or the two group sessions using projective techniques. Further explanation on the characteristics of participants used for each method is presented in the next sections.

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Research philosophy

Interpretive research paradigm

The Interpretive paradigm was selected, as it is appropriate when a study is conducted within small samples or a specific population of study. In this regard, the research project is using as a population of study, hip-hop fans that live in Sweden. The intention of studying this population is to gain knowledge on how salient brands of sneakers are perceived on their BP. This study on BP differ with others studies on brand image research in that lifestyles attached to musical-genres are used as the theme to talk about the personality of a brand.
The Interpretive research paradigm on the business and organizational research is acknowledged to be of great use as it provides the researcher with information and knowledge to understand phenomena happening in unique situations (Saunders et al., 2009). Unfortunately, studies of this nature can‟t be used as a reference to infer on the same phenomena happening in other context.
However, with this perspective it will be possible to contribute with new insights on how to use diverse themes for the investigation of BP.
Williams (1998) suggests that Interpretive research is useful to learn about a social phenomenon yet unexplored or without clear theoretical boundaries, in particular:
“Interpretivist research is primarily exploratory and descriptive in purpose designed to discover what can be learned about the area of interest… In contrast to the causal mode of functionalist analysis, interpretive analysis is associative, for the interpretivist what is meaningful emerges from the data” The data obtained out of an Interpretive research will contribute better to understand and learn how music as cognitive schemas (CS) can be used to talk about BP; rather than quantitative approaches such as experiments or mathematical treatment of data (Cryer, P., 2006). This doesn‟t mean that quantitative data can‟t be used in a research with an Interpretive paradigm. The Interpretive research is flexible addressing research questions such as “What”, “Why” and “How” things happen. Some might argue that Interpretivism and Positivism are research philosophies impossible to combine, but others consider they are possible to conceal (Kirkwood, J., & Campbell-Hunt, C., 2007).
It can be argued, that the methodology used for this research doesn‟t follow traditional research paradigms, in particular the popular positivistic research philosophy which dominates the academic world of business and management (Kirkwood, J., & Campbell-Hunt, C. 2007). However, this study shares the vision of embracing and reducing ambiguity through the use of the necessary methods to provide convergent and complementary results in order to comprehend and explain the phenomena behind the consumer‟s preferences for a brand (Stewart, D., W., 2009).
Out of the three most popular research purposes, which are “explorative”, “descriptive” and “casual/predictive”; this research is conducted with “explorative” purpose. Research is a systematic and methodological process of inquiry and investigation that increases knowledge and provides solutions to problems (Williams, 1998). On one side, the shortage of research done on BP that measures musical associations makes it difficult to refer to other methodology. However, an exploratory research allows choosing the most appropriate research, data collection procedure and selection of subjects. Following below, it is presented the design adopted to conduct the empirical study; where in this research a triangulation of methods was adopted taking the brand image research (BIR) work done by Hofstede et al. (2007).

Research design

The objective of the study was to illustrate and identify the BP of three brands of sneakers using music-genres as CS. For that matter, the research design was developed considering the triangulation of methods to gather data and to complement each other.
The methodology used was inspired on the work done by Hofstede et al. (2007). In their study, Hofstede et al. (2007) triangulate projective techniques with quantitative data obtained from a brand personality scale (BPS) derived from the work of Aaker, J. (1997). Their aim was to compare the congruency between projective techniques within 2 sessions of projective techniques. On the first session, they instructed participants to illustrate through collages, what celebrities fit the personality of the brands. On the second session, the theme was changed to prototypical occupations.
However, important differences exist between the method used in this project and that of Hofstede et al. (2007). The analysis is done on a similar fashion to Hofstede et al. (2006); where the results of the brand collages are visualized and interpreted in combination with the results on the BPS. Distinctly to Hofstede et al. (2007), this study adds the projection of the personality of the brand using songs of diverse musical styles. The conclusive analysis of this study, will take all the information collected from the musical styles as cognitive schemas and will be evaluated in the way they contributed to learn how consumers perceive BP and the types of brand knowledge that can be obtained.

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Multiple-method research strategy

The literature shows that the methodology used for BP often relies on creative approaches, such as casual explorations and holistic interpretations (Mathiesen, K., 2007; Hofstede et al., 2007). This research favors the posture of the triangulation of methods in brand image research with the aim of obtaining insightful brand knowledge (Hofstede et al., 2007; Freiling & Forbes, 2005a; Davis et al., 2010).
A Multiple-Method research strategy according to Davis et al. (2010), gives the opportunity to draw conclusions on data obtained from more than one source and to employ more than one type of analyze. Therefore, a mixed-method approach conveys the utilization of quantitative and qualitative data for the purpose of research.
Furthermore, Davis et al. (2010) work discusses the use of multiple-methods in marketing research; where the authors argue that research in marketing is characterized for the lack of diversity and inventiveness, traditionally relying on a single-method quantitative approach.
The use of method triangulation helps to provide more precision and validation to the data obtained (Jick, T. D., 1979). Therefore this empirical study was designed as a mix of qualitative and quantitative data gathering methods. The character of the research design is defined as a “Multiple Methods” research strategy focused in the use of the “Mixed-Model-Research” where qualitative data obtained will be quantified and quantitative data will also be interpreted from a qualitative perspective (Saunders et al. 2009). In addition, the triangulation of methods aims to increase the validity and reliability of the explorative study conducted.

Structure and plan for data collection

The research design was developed in a two-phase study. Phase I is considered the preliminary study that provided the information on the brands to be used in Phase II, but at the same time, it had the purpose of obtaining an overview of what he dynamics of fashion, clothing and culture for fans of hip-hop music in Sweden are. Phase I and Phase II followed a sequential process.

1. Introduction
1.1. Introduction of the research topic
1.2. Problematization
1.3. Purpose of the study
1.3.1. Research questions
1.4. Perspective of the study
1.5. Structure of the thesis
1.6. Contribution of the study
1.7. Definitions and abbreviations
2. Theoretical Framework
2.1. Defining brand personality (BP)
2.1.1. The function and role of BP
2.1.2. Anthropomorphism
2.1.3. “Brands are like friends”
2.2. Measuring BP
2.2.1. “The Big Five” personality dimensions
2.2.2. Projective techniques.
2.2.3. Collages
2.3. Musical-genres as cognitive schemas
2.3.1. Extramusical information
2.3.2. Music-genres as cognitive schemas
2.4. Summary of the literature review
3. Methodology
3.1. Context of the study: hip-hop and sneakers
3.2. Population of study
3.3. Research philosophy
3.4. Research design
3.4.1. Multiple-method research strategy
3.5. Structure and plan for data collection
3.6. Methodological procedure
3.6.1. Phase I: Preliminary study
3.6.2. Phase II: Brand image research
3.7. Limitations of the empirical study
3.7.1. Validity
3.7.1. Reliability
3.7.2. Ethical concerns
4. Preliminary study
4.1. Selection of brands
4.2. Data from interviews
4.2.1. Advertising of sneaker brands
4.2.2. On fashion aspects
4.3. Additional observations
4.4. Chapter summary
5. Brand personification through music
5.1. COLLAGES (session A)
5.1.1. Interpretation procedure
5.1.2. Processing of information of music-genres
5.2.1. Introduction
5.2.2. Results
5.3.1. LACOSTE
5.3.2. NIKE
5.3.3. VANS
5.3.4. Conclusion
6. Analysis
6.1. Brand knowledge obtained through music
6.1.1. Who uses the brand?
6.1.2. Symbolic attributes of the brand.
6.2. Evaluation of the methodology and triangulation of data
6.2.1. Differences using BPS by itself or combined with qualitative data
6.3. What is missing to use music to talk about BP?
6.4. Conclusion of the analysis
7. Conclusions
7.1. Music as a source of brand knowledge
7.2. Advantages and disadvantages of the methodology
7.3. Thesis statement
8. Final discussion
8.1. Limitations and recommendations
8.1.1. The perspective of listeners of hip-hop in Sweden
8.1.2. The “sneaker brand” and the “mother brand”
8.1.3. Deeper micro-cultural interpretation
8.2. External implications
9. References

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