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Application of Stereotypes in Marketing: Gender Cues and Brand Perception

Stereotypes and their applications and implications have emerged as an important area of investigation in the field of marketing. Yet, despite the growing interest and relevance of stereotypes among marketing scholars, the marketing literature lacks a cohesive understanding of their concept and application. In particular, little research in the field of consumer behavior has examined the effects of stereotypes on brand perception and the subsequent influence on consumer purchase intention. The goal of this dissertation is to create a deeper and more cohesive understanding of stereotypes and their implications for marketing practitioners, with a particular focus on gender stereotypes and brand perception. This dissertation consists of three projects. The first project outlines a conceptual framework of stereotypes and their application in the field of marketing by integrating knowledge from social psychology literature with knowledge from consumer behavior and marketing. Based on this framework, gaps in the marketing literature are identified and suggestions for future research are provided. Building upon project one, project two seeks to identify applications of stereotypes in the field of marketing. In particular, project two explores whether the use of gender stereotypes via gender cues (e.g., colors such as blue or pink) in a product description can influence brand perception along the warmth and competence dimensions and, consequently, impact upon consumer purchase intention. Further, the effect of gender cues is tested dependent upon the gender type of the product. The results indicate that feminine cues enhance perceived warmth which, in turn, increases purchase likelihood for masculine products. Perceived warmth serves as a mediator between the gender cue and purchasing likelihood, yet competence does not. Project three builds upon and integrates the findings from project two by investigating the effect of gender cues in the presence of warmth and competence cues. Thereby, a theoretical framework is proposed which takes multiple warmth and competence cues into account. Subsequently, this theoretical framework is used to assess the effects of gender cues, as well as warmth and competence cues, on consumer perception of brands and their purchase intention. Consistent with the theoretical framework, this project explores that feminine cues enhance perceived brand warmth and purchase intention when paired with a high competence cue, yet backfires when paired with a low competence cue. In contrast, implicit masculine gender cues enhance perceived brand competence and purchase intention when paired with low competence cues yet backfire when combined with high competence cues. Overall, this dissertation proposes recommendations on how practitioners are able to effectively use gender cues (i.e., butterflies, bears, circles, squares, colors such as pink and blue) as part of gender stereotypes within a firm’s marketing efforts (i.e., background of print ads or on the product packaging) to achieve desired consumer brand perception and improve purchase likelihood.
Type of thesis
Hess, A. C. (2013). Application of Stereotypes in Marketing: Gender Cues and Brand Perception (Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/7969
University of Waikato
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