In this section relevant literature and theories related to the purpose of this study are reviewed. Thus, the variables that influence attitudes are defined and a conceptual model is developed.
An attitude towards a brand, or brand attitude is a major component for valuing a brand’s equity. Mitchell and Olson (1981) define this term as an individual’s evaluation of a brand. In other words, an attitude of an individual towards a brand depends on the consumer’s perception (Shimp, 2010). An attitude can be formed in several ways, including classical conditioning, instrumental conditioning or through a complex cognitive process (Solomon et al., 2013).
Three Components of Attitudes
Attitudes are based on evaluations of certain beliefs that a consumer has about an object, for example a certain product or a brand (Fishbein and Ajzen, 1975). They are comprised of a three-component model also known as the ABC model of attitudes: affect, behavior, and cognition. The first component is related to the consumer’s feelings and emotions towards an attitude object. These feelings can be either positive or negative and are based upon the beliefs that the consumer has towards the attitude object. The behavioral, or the cognitive component, depicts the actions and intentions to act upon the object, for example to buy or not buy the product of a certain brand. The last component, cognition, refers to beliefs and thoughts a person has about an attitude object (Rosenberg & Hovland, 1960). This model emphasizes the interactions between knowing, feeling, and doing (Solomon et al., 2013). Even though all three components of an attitude are important, their importance varies depending upon the consumer’s level of motivation to the attitude object (Solomon et al., 2013). Consequently, a change within the attitude towards a given concept can result from a change in belief about a concept (Fishbein & Raven, 1962). A consumer is more likely to engage in a certain behavior if that person has a positive attitude towards undertaking the behavior (Ajzen, 1985).
The Functional Theory of Attitudes
Psychologist Daniel Katz developed the functional theory of attitudes to explain how attitudes facilitate social behavior. Attitudes exist because they serve as a function for the person (Katz, 1960). Two individuals can have the same attitudes towards a brand or product for very different reasons (Solomon et al., 2013). Katz (1960) identifies four different attitude functions: utilitarian function, value-expressed function, ego-defensive function, and knowledge function.
First, the utilitarian function can be related to the basic principle of reward or punishment and attitudes are formed by whether individuals get rewarded or punished because of their actions. If a consumer likes the results of a product, that consumer will develop a positive attitude towards it. Second, the value expressive function of attitudes is not based on its objective benefits. The attitudes are based and shaped by the symbolic value of the product and what the usage of the product or brand says about the individual as a person (Solomon et al., 2013). Third, in the ego-defensive function, consumers form and use attitudes to protect their self-image from either external threats or internal feelings (Solomon et al., 2013). Last, the knowledge function of attitudes is formed when an individual needs to organize and structure the information they may receive. This need usually arises when a person is in an ambiguous situation or confronted with a new, unknown product (Solomon et al., 2013).
As mentioned in the problem discussion (chapter 1), prior research found that several variables, such as personal, socio-cultural and marketing variables have an influence on men’s attitudes towards care products. In the following section, these variables are explained in more depth
Individuals define their self-images through the consumption of certain products (Firat, Dholakia, & Venkatesh, 1995). In fact, consumption is not solely concerned with the action of consuming itself, but substantially, with the creation of identities within this complex process of the consumption activity (Kellner, 1992).
Within marketing literature, the self-concept appeared approximately fifty years ago (Grubb & Grathwhol, 1967). It refers to the beliefs a person has about his or her own characteristics and how these are evaluated (Solomon, et al., 2013); it explains “who and what we are” (Schouten, 1991, p. 413). The self-concept includes physical, psychological, and social aspects, which may be influenced by a person’s attitudes, beliefs, and habits (Souiden & Diagne, 2009), and may vary from one context to another (Snyder, 1989). The self-concept consists of two or more dimensions (Solomon, et al., 2013; Abdallat, 2012). Yet, marketing literature does not allow a clear description or nomination of these dimensions due to the fact that they vary tremendously between different authors (Abdallat, 2012). Therefore, the basis will be Solomon et al.’s (2013) distinction: actual self-image, ideal self-image, social self-image, and ideal social self-image. The actual self-image describes the most realistic assessment of a person, what they really are; whereas the ideal self-image refers to how the person wishes to be. Hence, celebrities or other role models may represent the “ideal” a person wants to achieve (Solomon, et al., 2013). Furthermore, products might be purchased in the belief that they may help a person to achieve these goals. In fact, cosmetics may be one of the tools that are used to boost one’s self-image (Souiden & Diagne, 2009). Some products, however, may be chosen because they correspond with the consumer’s actual self-image (Solomon, et al., 2013). Consequently, there is a connection between self-concept and product-image. Products are assumed to have an image; these symbolic product-images are built by associations with the product such as the image of typical users of these products (Grubb & Grathwhol, 1967; Levy, 1959). Moreover, the match between the actual self-image and the product image is referred to as “self-congruity”, whereas the match between the ideal self-image and the corresponding product image is known as “ideal congruity” (Sirgy, 1980).
Most research has focused on the actual and ideal self (Abdallat, 2012) yet, when taking a person’s social environment into consideration, the social self-image and the ideal social self-image raise interest. Thus, the social self-image represents how a person is seen by others. In contrary, the social ideal self-image describes how a person wants to be seen by others. The match between social self-image and product-image is named “social congruity” and the match between ideal social self-image and product image is referred to as “ideal social congruity” (Sirgy, 1980).
The rising concerns towards environmentally friendly and sustainable consumption and therefore, the consumption of green products trigger the interest of another self-image: the moral-self.
Individuals evaluate their identity towards the moral or immoral end, when their individual perception of who they are in a certain situation matches the moral identity (Stets & Carter, 2011). When individuals are incapable to regulate self-perceptions to maintain at the level of their personal identity standard, they will be exposed to negative emotions (Stets & Carter, 2011). Thus, these negative emotions will drive them to a change in behavior in order to reach a better match with their internal identity standard (Stets & Carter, 2011).
Although people generally rate health and sustainability highly (Nielsen, 2015; Laroche, Bergeron, & Barbaro-Forleo, 2001), they do not always follow their ideals or socially accepted norms with their behavior (Schwarzer, 2008; Vermeir & Verbeke, 2006). Therefore, Onwezen, Bartels, and Antonides (2014) suggest that emotions such as pride or guilt might guide people to follow their instant attitudes and norms due to a self-regulatory function.
Self-Esteem and Self-Consciousness
According to Solomon et al. (2006), self-esteem is defined as “the positivity of a person’s self-concept” (p. 209). Self-esteem is often linked to the acceptance of others (Solomon et al., 2013). People with a low self-esteem do not expect themselves to perform well in different situations, whereas, people with a high level of self-esteem are more confident about themselves (Solomon et al., 2013). These levels of self-esteem can be influenced by marketing activities, for example by using role models in advertisements. People compare themselves to these role models and further evaluate their own self-concept (Solomon et al., 2013).
Moreover, Harter (1999) states that self-esteem is connected to the thoughts one has about his or her body and that physical appearance might be an indicator of one’s level of self-esteem. Therefore, a positive body image is strongly linked to a higher level of self-esteem and vice versa (McCabe & Ricciardelli, 2003). For example, a stain on the skin might lead to uncertainties about physical appearance and may therefore result in low self-esteem (Pruzinsky & Cash, 2002).
In contrast, self-consciousness is understood as “the tendency of persons to direct attention inward or outward” (Fenigstein, Scheier, & Buss, 1975, p. 522). In other words: it describes the image a person wants to communicate to others (Solomon et al., 2013). Consequently, people with a high level of self-consciousness tend to pay more attention to their looks. In fact, people who have a high level of public self-consciousness are more likely to be keen to clothing and using cosmetics (Solomon et al., 2013).
Motive Disposition Theory and Self-Determination Theory
According to Atkinson (1982), motive dispositions are acquired or learned orientations towards specific stimuli in the environment. This learning begins in the early childhood (McClelland, Koestner, & Weinberger, 1989), typically through parents who impose standards and achievement-related striving (McClelland & Pilon, 1983). Through social learning and classical conditioning, individuals may rely on positive experiences inordinately (Job & Brandstätter, 2009). In other words, motive dispositions make people want certain types of incentives and thus, it has to be focused on the different motives a person might have and the effect on the outcomes which result in behavior (Sheldon & Schüler, 2011).
In contrast, the self-determination theory focuses on people’s motivation and personality by taking the social-environmental conditions into consideration (Ryan & Deci, 2002). These social environments can either have a positive or negative impact on one’s tendencies, resulting in behaviors and intrinsic experiences (Ryan & Deci, 2000).
Various studies show that social standards have a great impact on personal standards and goals (Beer & Keltner, 2004; Tangney, Stuewig, & Mashek, 2007). In addition, according to Leary (2007), self-conscious emotions might have a positive influence on social interplays and relations. Hence, these emotions are placed on personal and social aspects and interact with such.
Although there is pressure towards an ideal appearance by media, this pressure is intensified when peers enlarge these messages (Dunkley, Wertheim, & Paxton, 2001). Despite the fact that friends and family might provide social support, they may also contribute to one’s concerns regarding their body image (Ata, Ludden, & Lally, 2007).
Consuming a product usually comes from the wish to fulfill certain needs which are often influenced by culture and personal beliefs (Souiden & Diagne, 2009). Consequently, Weber and De Villebonne (2002) state that consumers’ behavior is highly influenced by culture, for example their beliefs, as one of the cultural aspects. In fact, machismo as one of these beliefs still exists in many cultures (Härkönen, 2007). Hence, this belief contradicts with men using care products due to the fact that those are not seen as manly (Souiden & Diagne, 2009). Yet, the impact of open-minded environments on men leads to a higher acceptance of care products within this target group and does not denote these products as exclusively for women (Souiden & Diagne, 2009). As a result of marketers’ knowledge that these machismo beliefs still exist, they make use of macho celebrities in their advertisements to oppose these attitudes and teach these societies that care products for men are not contradicting their masculinity. Therefore, the acceptance of men using care products is constantly increasing (Souiden Diagne, 2009). In addition, by establishing beauty standards, the society pushes men to get an image that is in accord with their cultures (Dano, Roux, & Nyeck, 2003).
Lifestyle has a significant influence on people’s consumption behavior (Souiden & Diagne, 2009). According to Coley and Burgess (2003), lifestyle characteristics such as personal values and social class play an important role in the decision of what products to consume because these aspects impact consumer’s attitudes towards certain products. For instance, people who follow a healthy lifestyle are more likely to buy organic products.
The use of media is currently heavy among young people. They might use media to look for help in dealing with issues, related to their changing bodies and identities (Ata, Ludden, & Lally, 2006). Thus, mass media relays messages regarding ideals and undesirability of physical attributes (Ricciardelli, McCabe, & Banfield, 2000). Prior research has persistently shown that media, especially magazines, play a big role in the perception of body image (Levine, Smolak, & Hayden, 1994). Pressure from media towards men is mainly associated with muscularity and manliness (McCabe and Ricciardelli, 2003). In contrast to the female target market, there are not as many cosmetic advertisements that target men, yet the number is increasing (Souiden & Diagne, 2009). Specifically, magazines for men include advertisements of care products for men using physically appealing role models (Iida, 2004). Although the pressure towards men rose due to the increasing number of advertisements targeting men, it has also led men to feel more comfortable about the use of care products (Souiden & Diagne, 2009). The use of celebrities in advertisements, who get much attention within the media, positively changed men’s attitudes towards the consumption of personal care products; these celebrity endorsements transmit a unary image in people’s minds and may function as cultural leaders (Souiden & Diagne, 2009). Additionally, by making use of these role models people might not think of care products as female-characterized only, but as an enrichment product that can also be used by men (Souiden & Diagne, 2009).
According to McCracken (1989), celebrity endorsement can be defined as “any individual who enjoys public recognition and who uses this recognition on behalf of a consumer good by appearing with it an in advertisement” (p. 310). Even though a celebrity endorsement strategy is costly, it can have a positive impact on a brand (Solomon et al., 2013). On the one hand, celebrities increase the awareness of a company’s advertising and on the other hand, they enhance both brand attitudes and company image (Solomon et al., 2013). McCracken (1989) argues that some celebrity endorsements work better than others, due to a better match between the celebrity and the product. According to Kamins (1990), the “match-up hypothesis” suggests that endorsements are more effective when there is a “fit” between the endorsed product and the celebrity endorser. For example, an attractive celebrity is a better and more effective endorser for products that enhance one’s attractiveness (Till & Busler, 1998).
As stated by Freiden (1984) celebrities are effective endorses because they are viewed as highly trustworthy, likeable, believable and persuasive. Research has shown that celebrities who advertise and endorse several products are seen as less credible than those who only endorse a single product (Tripp, Jensen, & Carlson, 1994). However, the use of celebrity endorsement in advertisements is not always beneficial. Loui and Obermiller (2002) state that celebrities who are involved in negative headlines or events can cause harmful effects on the products they endorse. In other words, the effectiveness of a celebrity endorser is dependent on the celebrity.
Atkin and Block (1983) as well as Petty and Cacioppo (1983) argue that celebrity endorsers produce more positive responses towards the advertising of a product and a greater purchase intention than a non-celebrity endorser. Yet, it is crucial for advertisers to match the product with the characteristics of the target audience and the personality of the celebrity endorser, in order to establish and convey an effective message (Misra, 1990). Furthermore, Fireworker and Friedman (1977) found that celebrity endorsements have an increased overall attitude towards the product.
Heider (1946) is known for developing the first theory on cognitive consistency, also commonly known as balance theory. The balance theory can be seen as a simple social network with three actors, a triad, in which every actor is connected by either a positive or a negative link (Heider, 1946). According to the balance theory, individuals want to maintain psychological stability. Hence, they form relationships, which balance their likes and dislikes. Balance is achieved, when there are three positive links or two negative links with one positive (Heider, 1946; Solomon et al., 2013).
When two people do not share the same or similar attitudes, beliefs or feelings about something, tensions can arise (Hummon and Doreian, 2003). On a cognitive level, individuals seek balance in their relations with other people and objects (Solomon et al., 2013).
1.2 Problem Discussion
2. Theoretical Framework
2.2 Personal Variable
2.3 Socio-Cultural Variable
2.4 Marketing Variable
2.5 Conceptual Model
3. Methodology and Method
3.1 Research Philosophy
3.2 Research Approach
3.3 Research Design
3.4 Research Method
3.5 Sampling Method
3.6 Data Analysis
3.7 Research Quality
4. Empirical Findings
4.1 Background Information
4.2 Findings of Semi-Structured Interviews
4.3 General Information
4.4 Natural Care Products
4.5 Socio-Cultural Variable
4.6 Personal Variable
4.7 Marketing Variable
4.8 Summary of Empirical Findings
5.1 Personal Variable
5.2 Socio-Cultural Variable
5.3 Marketing Variable
5.4 Natural Care Products
6.1 Major Conclusions
6.2 Managerial Implications
6.3 Further Research
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