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Consumption Symbols as Carriers of Culture: A Study of Japanese and Spanish Brand Personality Constructs


Author Info

  • Aaker, Jennifer

    (Stanford U)

  • Benet-Martinez, Veronica

    (U of Michigan)

  • Garolera, Jordi

    (Universitat Pompeu Fabra)

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    This research argues that the meaning embedded in consumption symbols, such as commercial brands, can serve to represent and institutionalize the values and beliefs of a culture. We conducted four studies to examine how the symbolic and expressive attributes associated with commercial brands are structured, and determine the degree to which this structure varies across three cultures. Relying on a combined emic-etic approach, we identified indigenous constructs of `brand personality' (Aaker, 1997) in two non-Anglo cultures (Japan and Spain), and compared these dimensions to those previously found in the United States. The results of Studies 1 and 2 revealed a set of brand personality dimensions common to both Japan and the United States (Sincerity, Excitement, Competence, and Sophistication), as well as culture-specific Japanese (Peacefulness) and American (Ruggedness) dimensions. Studies 3 and 4 extended this set of findings to Spain. Results from these studies also identified brand personality dimensions common to both Spain and the United States (Sincerity, Excitement, and Sophistication), plus non-shared Spanish (Passion) and American (Competence and Ruggedness) dimensions. The meaning of the culturally-common and -specific brand personality dimensions is discussed in the context of cross-cultural research on values and affect, globalization issues, and cultural frame shifting.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Stanford University, Graduate School of Business in its series Research Papers with number 1668r.

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    Date of creation: Sep 2001
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:ecl:stabus:1668r

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    Postal: Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305-5015
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    1. Belk, Russell W & Pollay, Richard W, 1985. " Images of Ourselves: The Good Life in Twentieth Century Advertising," Journal of Consumer Research, University of Chicago Press, vol. 11(4), pages 887-97, March.
    2. McCracken, Grant, 1986. " Culture and Consumption: A Theoretical Account of the Structure and Movement of the Cultural Meaning of Consumer Goods," Journal of Consumer Research, University of Chicago Press, vol. 13(1), pages 71-84, June.
    3. Aaker, Jennifer L & Maheswaran, Durairaj, 1997. " The Effect of Cultural Orientation on Persuasion," Journal of Consumer Research, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(3), pages 315-28, December.
    4. Richins, Marsha L, 1994. " Valuing Things: The Public and Private Meanings of Possessions," Journal of Consumer Research, University of Chicago Press, vol. 21(3), pages 504-21, December.
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    Cited by:
    1. Rojas-Méndez, José I. & Murphy, Steven A. & Papadopoulos, Nicolas, 2013. "The U.S. brand personality: A Sino perspective," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 66(8), pages 1028-1034.
    2. Valette-Florence, Rita & De Barnier, Virginie, 2013. "Towards a micro conception of brand personality: An application for print media brands in a French context," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 66(7), pages 897-903.
    3. Aguirre-Rodriguez, Alexandra & Bóveda-Lambie, Adriana M. & Montoya, Detra Y., 2014. "Exploring ethnic consumer response to crossover brand extensions," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 67(4), pages 457-463.
    4. Bibby, David N., 2011. "Sponsorship portfolio as brand image creation strategies: A commentary essay," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 64(6), pages 628-630, June.
    5. Daewook Kim & Myung-Il Choi, 2013. "A Comparison of Young Publics’ Evaluations of Corporate Social Responsibility Practices of Multinational Corporations in the United States and South Korea," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 113(1), pages 105-118, March.
    6. Hosany, Sameer & Ekinci, Yuksel & Uysal, Muzaffer, 2006. "Destination image and destination personality: An application of branding theories to tourism places," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 59(5), pages 638-642, May.
    7. Aaker, Jennifer L. & Fournier, Susan & Brasel, Adam, 2003. "When Good Brands Do Bad," Research Papers 1716, Stanford University, Graduate School of Business.
    8. Smit, Edith & Bronner, Fred & Tolboom, Maarten, 2007. "Brand relationship quality and its value for personal contact," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 60(6), pages 627-633, June.
    9. Milas, Goran & Mlacic, Boris, 2007. "Brand personality and human personality: Findings from ratings of familiar Croatian brands," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 60(6), pages 620-626, June.
    10. Baum, Matthias & Kabst, Rüdiger, 2013. "How to attract applicants in the Atlantic versus the Asia-Pacific region? A cross-national analysis on China, India, Germany, and Hungary," Journal of World Business, Elsevier, vol. 48(2), pages 175-185.
    11. Chattaraman, Veena & Rudd, Nancy A. & Lennon, Sharron J., 2009. "Identity salience and shifts in product preferences of Hispanic consumers: Cultural relevance of product attributes as a moderator," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 62(8), pages 826-833, August.
    12. Mark Holder & Ben Coleman & Kamlesh Singh, 2012. "Temperament and Happiness in Children in India," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 13(2), pages 261-274, April.
    13. Bathaee, Atieh, 2011. "Culture affects consumer behavior: Theoretical reflections and an illustrative example with Germany and Iran," Wirtschaftswissenschaftliche Diskussionspapiere 02/2011, Ernst Moritz Arndt University of Greifswald, Faculty of Law and Economics.
    14. Lim, Elison Ai Ching & Ang, Swee Hoon, 2008. "Hedonic vs. utilitarian consumption: A cross-cultural perspective based on cultural conditioning," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 61(3), pages 225-232, March.
    15. Müller, Brigitte & Kocher, Bruno & Crettaz, Antoine, 2013. "The effects of visual rejuvenation through brand logos," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 66(1), pages 82-88.


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