People don’t always fall for celebrity advertising
A high number of premium and not-so-premium products are being advocated by celebrities today…one would have thought that this is because it works for the marketers. Well, it may not be working… assuming that the research I am about to quote has some element of truth in it.
This recent Celebrity Endorsement Survey of 2019 people across 12 metros and small towns by IMRB (Indian Market Research Bureau) and the PR company IPAN, has revealed that although 86 percent of those surveyed said they remembered ads with celebrities in it, only 3 percent said that they actually bought a brand because of the celebrity. And only 22 percent of the people actually believed that the celebrities actually used the product they endorsed. IMRB has said that factors like quality, price, word of mouth and experience is what actually propels people to buy. That’s good news.
I for one have always believed that Indian consumers aren’t stupid and don’t spend their hard-earned money to buy a product just because their favourite celebrity uses it…well, not the majority anyway. And that is why I have been a little bewildered with the sheer volume of celebrity endorsements in the media today. Some film and sports stars endorse dozens of brands each!
So why do marketers continue to pay celebrities crores to endorse their brand? Well, it could be that marketers are not in tune with the pulse of ordinary people. However, the same survey also says that people do recall the brands endorsed by celebrities (brand recall surveys are a tool that ad agencies use to measure the success of their ad campaigns). Logically it should follow that Brand Recall leads to actual buying of the brand, but I do not believe that celebrity endorsement is the critical factor in most cases, well not in India anyway. I may find a brand familiar, say Lux, but may never buy that soap.
Celebrity endorsement could alter perception of quality…and reality?
A western research study on “Product Differentiation, Celebrity endorsements and the Consumer’s Perception of Quality”, the link to which I got from this blog, says that buyers do get influenced by celebrity endorsements:
It is believed that when an endorser is used in an ad, the indirect information inferred by the consumer becomes more credible and more relevant. The result is that the consumer has the perception of a higher quality for the advertised product. Since consumers prefer high quality over low quality, the endorsed product is more likely to be purchased.
What is important is that the study qualifies this conclusion by saying this is dependent not just on the popularity and attractiveness of the star but also on the specific traits of the endorser, say factors like expertise and knowledge of the product. In other words the celebrity needs to “match” the brand. Otherwise there could well be a negative effect on the brand. If one takes this in the context of India, then the Indian research which says that celebrities are falling flat on their face when it comes to delivering results for the brands they advertise, makes more sense.
I think most Indian celebrities aren’t matched very well to the brand they advertise and this makes their claims about the product sound hollow and incredible. If a sports star endorses a sports shoe it would be far more credible than him endorsing a hair oil. And Shah Rukh endorsing Fair and Handsome??!! He should instead endorse Botox! 🙂
Stars are also overused in advertisements and studies have shown that this negates the effect of brand recall as it confuses the consumer. Yet, marketers continue to overuse stars. At times I think the CEO of the company must be a big fan of the star… I can almost hear him saying: I want Katrina Kaif!!
Indian ads have far more celebrities than those in the western nations…it’s almost as if our marketers firmly believe that Indian consumers are a bunch of idiots who will believe that the already white Aishwarya uses Fair & Lovely and that they will ‘imitate’ Amitabh Bachchan and buy a Parker pen. Oh well, if the ad is only to induce brand recall, then I guess the marketers are getting their money’s worth, but are they really? If I just talk about myself then I would say whenever there is a celebrity in the ad, I always fail to recall the actual product.
(Photo from the bbc)
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