ABSTRACT: The study examined the impact of celebrity endorsement on consumer buying behaviour; a case study of AIRTEL testimonial advertisement. The study was used Source Credibility Model And Source Attractiveness Model And Match-Up Hypothesis. The research used survey method coupled with questionnaire as a data collection instrument. Three hundred and fifty three (353) respondents were selected using Taro Yamane Formula while only 342 copies were correctly filled and returned for analysis. The data collected were analysed and discussed in descriptive statistics (frequency and percentage method). Finding majority of the respondents (35%) agreed that Airtel always uses the right celebrities to influence their brands to a high extent. Also, majority of the respondents (35.7%) emphasized that Airtel often used sports and entertainment icons to promote its products to a very high extent. Also, many of the respondents (34.8%) stressed that celebrities in AIRTEL adverts makes the advert more attractive and catchier to a very high extent. Also, lager percentage of respondents (34.8%) noted that the attractiveness of the celebrity influence their buying decision to a high extent. Many of the respondents (35.5%) emphasized that Airtel has been successful as a brand with the many celebrities they have as brand ambassadors to a very high extent, majority of the respondents (35%) noted that people subscribe to AIRTEL because they like the celebrities, they see in adverts. It is recommended that seductive women image should be used with caution because some culture and religion negate it use while the body saddled with the responsibility to control and see to what and how the advertising business operates (APCON) should be thorough in the discharge of their duties.
Keywords: CELEBRITY ENDORSEMENT
1.1 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
In recent years, the telecommunication industry in Nigeria is growing tremendously. However, it has continued to experience high level competition as a result of more firms entering the industry. The players in this industry in Nigeria include MTN, GLO, AIRTEL, and 9MOBILE. These companies compete in the area of Internet services, Short Messaging Services (SMS), phone calls and mobile money services. Advertisement through the use of celebrity endorsement has been found as a useful means of creating products awareness and perception in the minds of target customers in the telecommunication industry (Martey & Frempong, 2014; Samar & Samreen, 2015). Youths of today see celebrities as role models and opinion leaders due to their social status and fame. They tend to emulate these celebrities’ lifestyle; the way they dress, the way they talk and even to look like them physically (Okorie, Oyedepo & Akhidenor, 2012).
There is no way one can really talk about celebrity endorsement without tracing it down to one of the marketing 4Ps, (which is promotion). Promotion as defined by Pride & Ferrell (1997) “is a means of communicating with individuals, groups, or organisations to directly or indirectly facilitate exchanges by informing and persuading one or more audiences to accept an organisation’s products, brands or services”. Therefore, promotion is often saddled with the following objectives:
- creation of awareness,
- stimulation of demand,
- encouragement of product trial,
- identification of prospects
- retaining loyal customers,
- facilitation of resellers’ support,
- Combating competitive promotional effect to reduce sales fluctuation.
For the aforementioned objectives to be achieved, promotion uses promotional mix which includes: Advertising, Personal selling, Public relation, Sales promo etc. for the very purpose of this study, advertising will be looked into.
Advertisement is a persuasive tool which conveys a brand’s message to a targeted audience with an objective of persuading them towards buying that brand or product. Since the last decade, marketing environment has totally changed as many new ways of branding or marketing a product/brand have come under practice; celebrity endorsement is one of these new techniques. Nowadays, Celebrity Endorsement has become a multimillion industry in the field of marketing. Celebrity endorsement has been defined as: “Recognized individuals who associate their recognition, fame and image with consumer goods or with organizations’ brands by promoting such brands through their appearance in commercials or advertisements” (McCracken, 1989).
In this modern era, the world of advertisement undergoes a change from classical ways; it has converted to take a modern route. This modern route requires marketers to develop strategies incorporating the elements of emotions, humor, and realistic encounters. The main purpose behind these strategies is to get brand exposure, attention, interest, desire and action. In order to make these strategies into success, marketers employ famous celebrities due to the fact that these celebrities have the power to create a greater impact on the consumers buying behavior. Since some of the celebrities have charismatic personalities and they enjoy public recognition because they possess distinctive qualities like trustworthiness and attractiveness, many big brands make use of the concept of celebrity endorsement as a marketing communication tools.
As a consumer surrounded by brands, there is exposure to millions of personalities on billboards and television. Every brand tries to capture the consumers’ time and attention to inform them on what they have to offer, and enlighten them about the different attributes of their product. And this is where the challenge lies as the marketers have to delve what will retain the consumer’s attention. In order to achieve this, celebrity endorsement is put into effect.
Owusu-Mensah, Nimssah and Mensah (2013) asserted that an advertisement from celebrities is not only effective as it captures the attention of the consumers to buy the product being promoted, but also to create a long lasting memory in the minds of consumers as this will influence the consumers to purchase the product repeatedly. In the views of Amaoteng and Poku (2013), the information in a celebrity-endorsed advert is perceived to be true because of the belief held by most consumers that celebrities would not want to destroy their integrity by getting linked with ‘fake products’.
Celebrities are often perceived as idols by many, and people want to follow their lead by trying out those products which have the touch of celebrities to them as they make those products more alluring and desirable.
In the world of advertisement, in order to stand out from the clutter, celebrity endorsement is considered the most effective tool that will do the job. This technique of involving celebrities with a brand is a winning formula to build the brand and enhance its value. However, it is relatively easy to select a celebrity for a brand but rather difficult to build a strong link between the brand and the endorsement. Therefore, for this reason, it can be rightfully said that celebrity endorsement is a two-edged sword; if properly dealt with, it can do wonders for the company and if not handled properly, it can destroy the image of the company and the brand itself..
1.2 STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
There have been numerous researches on the use of celebrity endorsement for product sales and services, and those researches have led to different conclusions. However, not all celebrity endorsement always has a positive influence on companies, some of the celebrity endorsement turns out to adversely affect the image of the companies and the product endorsed.
One of the problems with celebrity endorsement is choosing the most appropriate celebrity endorser for the product. According to McCormick (2016), it is crucial for companies to choose the right celebrity endorser in order to have a successful advertisement campaign. The celebrity’s personality must align with the product image to attract attention to the advertisement. The celebrity has to be recognizable enough to get attention, but not upstage the product itself. The product should be the main attraction, not the celebrity. (McCormick, 2016)
Scholars argue that celebrity endorsement could damage the brand image if the celebrity endorser has a negative reputation, or had been involved in scandals or other types of bad publicity. (White, Goddard, & Wilbur, 2009; Till & Shimp, 2008) The risk of damaging brand image is especially high for new brands or brands that have a strong association with the celebrity endorser (Till & Shimp, 2008).
Other research has proven the opposite. According to Kok Wei and Li (2013), people react more positively towards endorsement if the celebrity is attractive and fascinating. The consumer will have a positive approach towards the endorsement if they have a positive view of the endorser (Kok Wei & Li, 2013).
This area of research is interesting since there are factors that could both benefit and damage a brand image. As discussed above, previous researches have ended up in different conclusions about the risks of using certain types of celebrity endorsers. It is important to choose the celebrity with the appropriate attributes in order to promote the product successfully. There is a gap in theory on how consumers relate to celebrities and what the most important attributes of the celebrity endorser are from the consumers’ perspective. The uncertainty and the different conclusions from previous researches make this area a relevant one and worth doing more research on.
1.3 RESEARCH OBJECTIVES
The central objective of the study is to examine the impact of celebrity endorsements on consumer’s buying behavior. The specific objectives are to:
- Assess the impact celebrities create on Airtel consumers in terms of product-fit match between the product/brand and the celebrity
- Determine how the attractiveness of celebrities’ impact on the consumers’ conviction about the Airtel products
- Determine the extent to which celebrity credibility shape consumers buying intention about the Airtel products
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
- What impact does celebrity endorsement create on its consumers in terms of product-fit match between the product/brand and the celebrity?
- To what extent has celebrity credibility shaped consumers buying intention about the Airtel product?
- How has celebrity endorsement affected the fortune of Airtel in the competitive telecommunication market in Nigeria?
1.5 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
The study is limited to the students who are Airtel users in Adeleke University, Ede, Osun State as majority of the young people are fans of celebrities and they are very inclined with various telecommunication products/packages and services due to frequent communication needs, browsing (for fun- the aspect of social networks), research works and entertainment.
1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
This research will help to achieve insights on the impact celebrity endorsement has on the consumers buying behavior. It will assist the marketers to get a better idea as to what attributes are important and matters the most to the consumers of telecommunication in Nigeria. This study will also serve as a guide and successive-competitive tool for both the existing and emerging telecommunication companies in mapping out objectives and effective strategies with the consumer as the focal point.
Furthermore, it will be relevant for academic purposes. The rigorous nature of the methodology of this research will make it serve as a pedestal for advanced and continuous future research for students, market intelligence, research consultants and others. It will also serve as material for academic reference in the circles of marketing and strategic management treatment of the general topic of celebrity endorsements.
1.7 OPERATIONAL DEFINITION OF TERMS
Celebrity: “is a person who enjoys public recognition and who often has distinctive attributes such as attractiveness, credibility, and trustworthiness” McCracken (1989); Silvera and Austad (2004). The term celebrity “refers to an individual who is known to the public, such as actors, sport figures, entertainers and others, for their achievements in their respective areas other than the product endorsed by them” Friedman and Friedman, (1979).
Celebrity Endorser: McCracken (1989) defined celebrity endorser as any fellow who enjoys overt recognition and who uses this recognition on behalf of a consumer good by appearing with it in an advertisement.
Endorsement: is an act of giving public approval or support to someone or something.
Celebrity Endorsement – Celebrity endorsement is a particular strategy used by marketers to advertise a product on such a platform through which consumers can associate themselves with the brand value from the perspective of the celebrity personnel.
Consumer: is a person or group of people, such as the household, who are the final users of products or services. The consumer’s use is final in the sense that the product is not usually improved by their usage.
Consumer Buying Behavior: This refers to the buying behavior of the ultimate consumer. It is also the decision process, and an act of people involved in buying and using products.
Telecommunication: This is a communication at a distance by technological means, particularly through electrical signals or electromagnetic waves.
Impact: According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, it means to act upon [a person or person’s feelings] so as to cause a response.
Testimonial: According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, it is a statement testifying to benefits received. It is also an attempt to persuade the reader by using a famous person to endorse a product.