Evaluating an androgynous brand extension: the gender identity/ gendered brand relationship and influencing factors

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

Gender identification behaviour has altered drastically within the last decade. Consequently, there has been a noteworthy rise in the amount of androgynous individuals. Gender identity congruity theory posits that individuals display more favourable behavioural outcomes towards brands that possess similar images or identities to their own. Further, contemporary consumers express their identities via their brand choices. Thus, there is a strong implication that introducing an androgynous brand could prove to be a lucrative strategy for marketers. However, gendering brands as either masculine or feminine prevails as the most commonly employed strategy to differentiate a brand and appeal to target audiences. Introducing androgynous brands through a brand extension could prove to be less risky and costly than introducing such a brand as a novel, stand-alone offering. This study examined gender identity's potential influence on the evaluation of an androgynous brand extension. Further, it investigated the potential influence of three key factors on this central relationship: self-concept, product category and the gender of the parent brand. With regard to these moderators, it was posited that first, if the brand's image aligned with one's self-concept the evaluation of the androgynous brand extension would be more favourable. Distinction was made between actual and ideal self-concept. Second, a distinction could be made between functional and symbolic product categories with regards to the influence that gender identity exerted on brand extension evaluation. And third, that the gender of the parent brand would influence the evaluation of the androgynous brand extension. Subsequently, a 2 x 2 factorial design experiment was administered to a quota-controlled non-probability sample of Generation Y consumers. The findings demonstrated that gender identity influences the evaluation of an androgynous brand extension. Furthermore, self-concept moderated this relationship between gender identity and brand extension evaluation. The product category wherein the androgynous brand extension was implemented was evidenced to affect individuals' evaluation of the brand extension, with the one introduced in the symbolic product category receiving more favourable evaluations than the extension introduced in the functional category. The gender of the parent brand exerted no influence on brand extension evaluation, where androgynous brand extensions from both feminine and masculine parent brands were evaluated similarly. Self-concept also exerted an effect on brand extension evaluation, with ideal self-concept exerting a stronger influence than actual self-concept. Lastly, individuals were shown to prefer an androgynous brand to a masculine or feminine one. The principal inference resulting from this research is that marketers should strongly consider introducing an androgynous brand extension should they possess a feminine masculine brand within the clothing, deodorant, or similar products categories. Respondents evaluated the androgynous brand extension favourably across both assessed product categories and regardless of whether the brand extension was introduced from a masculine or feminine parent brand. This was observed for all gender identity segments. It is imperative that managers take gender identity and self-concept into account as these identity aspects exert noteworthy influences on individuals' consumption behaviours. However, managers should take note of the evidenced interaction between gender identity and self-concept. Where individuals perceive there to be a high level of congruence between their self-concept and the androgynous brand extension, individuals with high levels of masculinity should not be targeted as they displayed negative evaluations of the brand extension.

Includes bibliographical references