Connecting with Celebrities: How Consumers Appropriate Celebrity Meanings for a Sense of Belonging

Posted: 28 Aug 2017

Date Written: January 31, 2017

Abstract

We propose that consumers appropriate brand symbolism that comes from celebrity endorsements to construct and communicate their self-concepts. We also argue that consumers with high need to belong (NTB) look to celebrities to a greater extent than those who have lower needs to belong, because high NTB consumers are more likely to look to celebrities for cues about which brands that may aid these consumers’ attempts to meet their affiliation needs. High NTB consumers are also prone to develop one-sided (para-social) relationships with celebrities, and these para-social relationships mediate the celebrity endorsement effect on self-brand connections. Three studies support these proposed relationships. Furthermore, the third study also manipulates the degree to which the celebrity’s image matches that of the brand being advertised, revealing that a symbolic match between the celebrity image and brand image is important for consumers who do not form para-social relationships with celebrities (i.e., low NTB consumers).

Keywords: celebrity endorsement, self-brand connections, need to belong

Suggested Citation

Edson Escalas, Jennifer, Connecting with Celebrities: How Consumers Appropriate Celebrity Meanings for a Sense of Belonging (January 31, 2017). Journal of Advertising, Vol. 46, No. 2, 2017, Vanderbilt Owen Graduate School of Management Research Paper No. 3025757, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3025757

Jennifer Edson Escalas (Contact Author)

Vanderbilt University - Marketing ( email )

Nashville, TN 37203
United States

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