An identity, integral to our understanding of who we are is our gender identity. It is perhaps the first and the most easily recognizable feature of our persona that we. Unlike sex, our gender is not congenitally determined; rather it is constructed, developed, and refined through social and cultural exchanges. The appropriate and discriminatory gender roles ascribed by the society, direct communication, and influence of media coerce us to develop a personal sense of “maleness or femaleness”.
Whatever be the case, once we develop a gender identity we communicate and demonstrate it in a number of ways. A common way is to appropriate consumption practices and props that reflect our gender identity. Marketers’ gender work is instrumental in creating gendered brands. Since gendered brands appeal to the gender of consumers, they are suitable for either men or women, but not for both. As such, gendered brands create distinct gender cultures populated with gender specific brands. However, of late stagnant sales and societal changes have encouraged many marketers to engage in brand gender bending by deconstructing the gender exclusivity of brands. Marketers are continually expanding the gender spectrum of previously gendered brands by bringing women into the male-skewed customer base of male-gendered products and vice versa. The historical divide between masculine and feminine products is blurring and “unisex” is emerging as the new consumption ideology.
An article from Business Perspective and Research attempts to integrate and extend the theory of brand gender bending by convening arguments from different but complimentary social sciences. Based on the review and scientific understanding of the long-standing research, the study underscores the difference in the reactions of men and women to brand gender bending. It also proposes a conceptual framework that highlights the determinants that drive consumer responses to brand gender bending.
In the postmodern era, many marketers have disturbed the strict gender discipline traditionally associated with gendered brands. Marketers are redoing their gender work by blurring the stark distinction between masculine and feminine brands. New consumption ideologies are developing that transcend the gendered meanings of brands and encourage men and women to infiltrate brands traditionally associated with the opposite gender. “Unisex” is emerging as the byword. This review convenes the phenomenological consumer responses to brand gender bending. It specifically highlights the contrast between the ways in which men and women react to dilution/revision of the gender identity meanings of their brands. This article also underscores the ethnographic, sociological, psychological, and anthropological reasons that justify these reactions.
Endorsement of luxury brands by celebrities is not a new phenomenon. The role of celebrities in influencing modern culture as well as consumption patterns is gaining prominence. Celebrities act as arbiters of style, taste and public opinion all over the world. The celebrity endorsement enables brand managers to catch attention, add credibility and numerous intangible benefits to the brand in a way which are perhaps difficult to be attained through any other form of advertising.
The celebrity culture has followers across Asia. In Japan and South Korea, 70 per cent of commercials use a celebrity. However, the phenomenon is picking up in India and China where it has acquired momentum in a relatively short span of time. Celebrity power has taken off very rapidly in India, and firms are vying with each other to secure contracts for their brands with Bollywood actors and sportspersons. The Indian luxury goods market is not only unique but also a challenging one for international luxury brands seeking to establish their presence here. The luxury market was earlier driven primarily by the preferences of these ultra-rich households. However, in the recent past, rising incomes and aspirations have created a new segment of typically upper middle class aspirers who are potential luxury buyers. By launching entry-level luxury brands for this potential segment, luxury brands try to help these consumers move up the ‘consumption ladder’ by customizing the shopping experience. This is a significant opportunity for brands for establishing strong consumer relationships. Celebrities can be perhaps one of the ways companies can use to connect with the customer.
An article from the Journal of Creative Communicationsmakes a contribution to understanding Indian luxury market by exploring the relationship between brand equity dimensions and celebrity endorsements. Brand awareness is first essential step in consumer purchase process. Therefore, the target market has to be made aware of a firm’s brand(s). This can be achieved through advertising or other form of communication. However, a celebrity along with the firm’s brand name will not only improve the likelihood of brand recall but also infuse the brand with charisma of the celebrity.
Managers need to understand that effectiveness of brand awareness is only up to a certain limit beyond which organizations need to build associations which are strong, favorable and unique in the potential customer’s mind so as to ensure brand purchase. This illustrates the importance of marketing of the brand beyond simply awareness and understanding simultaneously the important role of brand associations for building brand equity. Celebrities may, thus, help in generating consumer attention and recall of advertising campaigns if there is an appropriate fit between the brand and the celebrity. A proper congruence between the celebrity and the luxury brand can help not only a brand stand out of the clutter but also in better brand recall.