Brand-Extension or Self-Extension? Using Avatars to Study the Effects of Self-Image Congruence on Brand-Extension Evaluation
Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Social sciences, Self-image congruence, Brand extension, Avatars
This dissertation investigates the effect of self-image on brand-extension evaluation in the context where self-images are influenced by an avatar. Prior studies have demonstrated the positive effects of self-image congruence on brand evaluation. The brand-extension literature has found that the congruency between the parent-brand and the extension influences the brand-extension evaluation, with moderately incongruent extensions having a stronger effect than either highly incongruent or highly congruent extensions. Missing in the past research is the role of congruency in the self-image/brand relationship, within a brand-extension evaluation context. The brand-extension evaluation literature seems to suggest that, while evaluating a brand-extension, the consumer's focus abandons the parent-brand/consumer relationship and shifts completely towards the parent-brand/brand-extension relationship. Thus, this dissertation had two objectives. The first objective was to confirm that consumers integrate self-image congruence into their brand-extension evaluation process and that this integration will affect their assessment of the brand-extension. The second objective was to show that a consumer's perception of self-image congruence (between the consumer and a particular brand) can be altered via avatar while encountering brand-extensions online.
The findings suggested that:  avatars indeed influence a consumer's perception of self-image congruence when encountering brands in a digital environment; furthermore, there is a stronger effect when the products of the brand are typically consumed in a public manner, compared to products that are privately consumed; and  self-image congruence affects a consumer's evaluation of a brand-extension, such that, highly congruent and moderately incongruent extensions are evaluated evenly, counter-arguing the traditional effects of the moderately-incongruent hypothesis. The steady increase in the number of companies implementing user-controlled avatars in various media outlets (e.g. - company websites, videos games, advergames, and virtual worlds) validates the managerial relevance of these findings.
Hamilton, Mitchell, "Brand-Extension or Self-Extension? Using Avatars to Study the Effects of Self-Image Congruence on Brand-Extension Evaluation" (2012). Marketing - Dissertations. 2.