|dc.description.abstract||Marketers often present brands with humanlike characteristics (brand personification) to encourage consumers thinking about brands in human terms (anthropomorphism). Building on the literature in brand personification, consumer-brand relationships, and theory of anthropomorphism, the present research aims to examine the process of anthropomorphism, the antecedents influencing anthropomorphism, and the anthropomorphism effects on consumers’ consequential responses to the advertisements as well as the advertised brands. To delve into the anthropomorphism’s overall impact on consumer responses, this research investigates the primary and combinatory effects of brand personification in advertising and individual differences in terms of need for cognition, need for belonging, attachment style, and parasocial interaction. This research further examines whether anthropomorphism works similarly or differently for known and unknown brands.
A 2 (brand personality: congruent versus incongruent) × 2 (brand name: known versus unknown) between-subjects experimental design was implemented via Amazon Mechanical Turk. A total number of 338 responses were collected. The results validate a conceptual model and provide empirical evidence that consumers elicit knowledge related to human agents, which results in anthropomorphism, to process brand personification in advertising. Conceived as an in-process output, anthropomorphism not only leads to positive advertising outcomes, such as ad engagement and attitude toward the ad, but also positive brand outcomes, such as attitude toward the brand and purchase intention. Individual differences in need for cognition, need for belonging, and parasocial interaction are significant predictors of consumers’ tendency to anthropomorphize a brand. Anthropomorphism and its interactions with need for cognition, attachment style, and parasocial interaction influence consumers’ responses to the ad.
Findings of this research shed light on the process of anthropomorphism, antecedents of exhibiting anthropomorphism, and anthropomorphism effects on consumer responses in a brand personification context. The findings contribute to the theory of anthropomorphism in consumer-psychology literature, and the theoretical frameworks regarding brand personification as well as consumer-brand relationships in marketing and advertising literature. The research illuminates marketers’ branding strategies that target consumers with different dispositions in making anthropomorphic inferences across situations. An empirical investigation of the universal mechanism, anthropomorphism, offers managerial suggestions for utilizing brand personification strategically to establish and maintain consumer-brand relationships.||