Library Dissertation Showcase

‘You can buy anything’: An investigation into how the individual motivations of millennial consumers influence the effect of ethical positioning on brand image and purchase intention. A case study of Barbie and social representation.

  • Year of Publication:
  • 2018

Purpose
The main objectives of this study were to investigate millennials’ individual motivators for purchase and to further explore how these motivations may influence the effect ethical brand positioning has on brand image and purchase intentions. Further application of these findings to the case study of Barbie aimed to examine this relationship from the perspective of social representation and empirically validate research conclusions.

Methodology
A review of the literature was carried out to determine existing research and provide substantiating evidence for certain lines of argument. This was supported by qualitative research in the form of semi-structured interviews with nine millennial consumers; used primarily to ascertain the individual motivations, attitudes and experiences behind their purchase behaviour and ethical consumption.

Findings
The interviews exposed several motivators for purchase in millennials, including congruent ethical values, commitment to social responsibility, peer influence, brand personality and self-interest. It was further established that several of these key motivators enhanced the effect of ethical brand positioning on brand image and purchase intentions, whilst others produced an adverse or mediating effect. Application of these outcomes to the case study revealed social representation as a vital area of consideration within the context of ethical positioning and empirically validated the initial findings.

Research Limitations and Implications
The study utilised qualitative methods of data collection in singularity, thereby suggesting its findings cannot be taken to be significantly representative beyond its small sample size. Socially desirable reporting and the potential for interview and respondent bias must also be accounted for when reflecting on the reliability and validity of results. On this basis, suggestion given for further research highlights the value in recreating this study using a mixed methods approach to allow for statistically quantifiable findings to be extrapolated across a larger sample.

Practical Implications
In light of the findings in this study, brand managers should consider incorporating the principles of ethical brand positioning into their wider business model in order to capture the strategic advantage derived from an enhanced brand image. Recommendation is also made that management conduct extensive market research into the attitude and values held by their millennial consumers to ensure congruence between this and their ethical market offerings.

Originality and Value
There is little research conducted concurrently into the areas of ethical brand positioning and marketing outcomes, and none that approaches EBP from the perspective of social representation. This study aims to provide insight into the motivations for and effects of ethical branding and understand the implications of gender and race on business practices.

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