ISSN : (Online)
DOI : https://doi.org/10.14377/JAPR.2012.9.30.119
The Assessment of Cultural Competiveness: focused on Mecenat Analysis*
Companies constantly strive to enhance their corporate image or the image of their products through diverse means of communication. Culture marketing refers to a new corporate strategy that basically incorporates culture as a tool for boosting the company's or product's brand images to distinguish it from conventional methods of marketing communications. As today's consumers' needs for culture-embedded products increased, companies need to correctly understand the potential impact of this trend from a socio-cultural perspective. Today's corporate image enhancement strategies began to reflect this change by making efforts to create consensus among consumers about new cultural codes designed to raise the consum-ers' awareness about culture as a useful communication tool. One of the most effective avenues of cultural marketing is corporate sponsorship to promote arts and culture programs. Known as Mecenat, corporate sponsor-ship of art and culture has been recognized as a good connector between business and art & culture communities, to establish it as an important way of enhancing business performance.
There are some notable differences in conceptual as well as practical perspectives between cultural marketing and conventional marketing. Firstly, from the product viewpoint, conventional marketing stresses bene-fits and functions of the products, while culture marketing emphasizes cor-porate image or emotions. With regard to pricing, conventional marketing resorts to rational pricing or discounts, whereas cultural marketing levies cultural premium on cultural products. Further, cultural marketing doesn't confine itself to physical stores, as it focuses on creating new cultural value by proliferating a cultural sphere inside and outside the stores. The cultural marketing achieves brand differentiation through cultural events or direct consumer experiences, not as much through message-based communica-tion strategies relying on media ads or word of mouth (Shim 2002).
Despite this increasing attention to the importance of cultural market-ing, previous studies on this topic still seem lacking. Previous literature dealing with cultural marketing has mostly approached the topic from the viewpoints of consumers' perceptions, focusing on how culture-based marketing enhances corporate image or brand equity build-up. It is, how-ever, very difficult to find studies on cultural marketing that investigated its impact on the effectiveness of communication medium like advertising.
In this study, we aim to investigate whether Mecenat activity, which is highly related to corporate image, positively influences the attitude to-ward product ad. Moreover, we aim to ascertain whether self-brand con-gruity mediates between attitude toward Mecenat and ad attitude. Finally, the study purports to verify whether self-monitoring and consumer in-volvement moderate the relationship between self-brand congruity and ad effectiveness.
II. LITERATURE REVIEW AND RESEARCH HYPOTHESES
1. Mecenat and Corporate Image
An overview of previous literature on Mecenat's impact finds three ma-jor groups of studies dealing with this issue; The first involves studies on Mecenat's influences on corporate image (Min 2001; Yang et al. 2002; Oh 2006), the second deals with the relationship between Mecenat and brand equity building (Kim 2004; Moon & Huh 2006; Oh 2007; lee 2007), The third involves image identification (congruity) between Mecenat and cor-porate image (Kim & Kwak 2003; Moon & Yim 2005; Kim 2009).
Looking into the first group of researches, most studies on Mecenat have taken on the issues of corporate image and consumers' purchasing decision. Min (2001) contended that consumer's perception of Mecenat involving company's social influences was one factor affecting the company's prod-uct images and its social responsibility images. His study further reported that the greater consumer's participation in Mecenat activities, the better the images of the company's product and its societal contribution. One study on brand awareness reported that perception of the company's social justice contributed to raise corporate value and brand equity, which led to better corporate image, and increased product trial and brand awareness, helping the company attain sustainable competitiveness in the market (Oh 2006). Another study that linked three facets of brand image with Mecenat activities found that Mecenat plays a big role in raising the company's im-age and thus, is effective in retaining customers. It was also found that Mecenat helps company employees to promote corporate culture (Yang et al. 2002). Another study on sports sponsorship suggested that a compa-ny's communication value didn't directly improve attitude toward spon-sors' product, yet it affected the communicational value of the companies participating in Mecenat and sporting events, resulting in improved prod-uct attitude and purchase intention (Kim et al. 2003). Another study that examined the effects of charity events participation on corporate image found that the type of charity is responsible for enhancing corporate images. Similar result was found that the events themselves aiming at the promotion of art & culture and succession of traditional culture contributed to enhanced corporate image (Yoon & Seo 2003).
The second group of research on Mecenat effects attempted to link it with brand equity building. Mecenat was found to significantly affect com-panys' brand equity, but this impact was not found in age and sex (Oh 2007). Also, Mecenat was confirmed for its role in building prestigious brand im-age (Lee 2007). Another study contended that corporate Mecenat, regard-less of its type, had a positive impact on improving brand association. The study suggested that one can build up brand equity through enhanced brand association by transferring positive Mecenat image to brand image (Kim 2004). A related study on luxury brand image found that the luxury brand's image differed according to the brand's evolutionary stage and the means of delivering Mecenat (i.e., culture promotion, culture assistance, culture play, and culture halo) (Moon and Huh 2006). Shin's (2004) case study suggested that a company can use its social responsibility campaign, of which Mecenat is a part of, to help enhance brand image and brand equity. It was also found that social charities had a greater effect on corporate image than on company's ad, and that social charities indirectly affected brand attitude through corporate image (Yoon and Seo 2003). A similar study reported that a company's social responsibility program played a role in building positive corporate image and ultimately increasing consumer's purchase intention, but that its role was indirect since the purchase intention was also caused by a variety of marketing activities such as product, ad, brand image (Han and Ryu 2003). The above discussions on the positive effects of Mecenat on corporate image form the basis for proposing the following hypothesis.
H1: Positive attitude toward Mecenat will have a significantly positive effect on corporate image.
2. Self-Brand Image Congruity
As explained earlier, the third group of research on Mecenat involves image-based congruity between Mecenat and corporate image. Self-con-cept or self image refers to thoughts or emotions that are evoked when an individual reflects oneself in his/her relationship with others based on his/her frame of reference that is shaped by social norms (Onkvisit & Shaw 1987). Self-concept also refers to the individual perception regarding one's personality, competence, limitation, appearance, and merits. People tend to behave in the way which helps maintain and strengthen one's self concept and they strive to achieve this by means of products they purchase and use (Stern et al. 1977; Sirgy 1985).
Furthermore, self-concept (or self-image) exerts its influence on con-sumer behavior (i.e., product evaluation and purchase behavior), in reso-nation with consumers' attitude toward the products. Sometimes, consum-ers purchase products because the product's brand image conforms with their self-image. This phenomenon may be explained using an image con-gruence hypothesis which proposes that a consumer prefers a brand which projects an image similar to his own. According to this hypothesis, consum-er's evaluation of the product or retail store is a function of the congruity between his/her own self-image and the images he/she has of the product or store. Previous studies on the relationship between image congruity and product preference have mainly focused on retail stores and products like automobiles, beer, and cigarette (Dolich 1969; Grubb & Stern 1971; Sirgy 1985), having consistently shown the presence of a positive relationship. Other studies have linked brand congruity with brand equity, confirming that brand congruity increased brand equity through increased brand awareness and association (Lee & Ra 002), and that it directly influenced on positive word of mouth but indirectly on customer loyalty (Kim 2009).
To expand on the above discussed previous findings on brand congruity, we may be able to propose a relationship between Mecenat and purchase intention. A few previous studies have examined the relationship based on Mecenat's effect on consumer's attitude toward corporate brand. For instance, Moon and Yim (2005) used Aaker's (1997) brand personality scale on mobile phone service and Mecenat activities (e.g., classic concert, art exhibition, documentary movies) to assert that brand personality and Mecenat's personality each affected brand attitude through brand identity and Mecenat identity, respectively. Kim and Kwak (2003) analyzed corpo-rateMecenat fitness (CMFit) to develop a model of Optimal Corporate Mecenat--Culture/Art Selection which helps to find the best fit between the two. Another study on corporate social responsibility examined the ef-fects of company's public interest activities on company employees' identi-fication with the company from the perspective of organizational affinity, and confirmed that organizational identification positively affected the or-ganization's cohesiveness (Kim 2009). The study results discussed so far suggest that consumers who are aware of Mecenat would positively eval-uate a company active in Mecenat through brand image congruity. That is, when a consumer positively identifies oneself with a company, his/her attitude toward the company's publicly responsible activities (i.e., Mecenat) will translate into a positive corporate image, which will then positively affect the attitude toward the company's product ad representing the company. Based on the above rationale, we propose the following :
H2a: Consumer's self-brand image congruity will mediate between at-titude toward a company's Mecenat activity and the attitude toward the company's ad.
H2b: Consumer's self-brand image congruity will mediate between the corporate image and the attitude toward the company's ad.
In previous literature on the effects of image congruity on product pref-erence, a majority of studies have focused on social class (Gentry et al. 1978), product personalization (Sirgy 1981), and product ownership (Gentry et al. 1978). However, it is not easy to find studies which included personality or personal predisposition into the image congruity hypothesis. For instance, Munson (1974) examined the moderating effects of consumer's aggressiveness on substantive self image and ideal self image. Also, Belch (1978) investigated whether a person's belief system representing diverse levels of functional details had an impact on image congruity. Given this theoretical underpinnings, the studies of ad effective-ness may be extended to incorporate the concept of personal predis-positions like self-monitoring tendency in order to further explore the role of image congruity on product purchase and use.
Self-monitoring refers to the extent to which one observes and controls self expression and ostentatious behavior in conformity with social cues (Snyder 1979; Gould 1993). People with high self-monitoring tend to ad-just their self expression to project desirable public image, and they detect what others expects of themselves and easily identify social cues that best represent their self expression and they are keenly aware of others' self ex-pressions as well (Snyder 1979). In contrast, people with low self-monitor-ing tend to behave in little conformity with prevailing social norms, as they have relatively low levels of ability and desire to control their self ex-pression (Snyder and Gangestad 1986).
Some studies applied self-monitoring to measure its impact on ad effectiveness. They based their thesis on the belief that people with high self-monitoring would be highly keen to the publicity and promotional messages that provide information on the image which reflects on the pur-chase and use of particular products. Past studies have found that high self-monitoring people rate image-based ad more preferably. On the con-trary, low self-monitoring people rate product-based ad more preferably, and they are willing to spend more money on products advertised by qual-ity-based message, and tend to trial purchase products that advertise their quality. Bearden et al. (1989) argued that low self-monitoring people, being less sensitive to their social environment, would pay particular attention to social interpretations offered by ads, whereas high self-monitoring peo-ple do not heed social appeals from ads, but would prefer to gain social recognition within the social context. Also, Graef (1996) reported that as self-monitoring increases, the effects of image congruity become more sig-nificant for publicly consumed products (e.g., automobiles and sneakers) than for privately consumed ones (e.g., beer and magazine).
Then what is the role of self-brand congruity with regard to the self-mon-itoring in advertising terms? Previous studies examined the relationship between self-monitoring and product-based or image-based ad message (Snyder& Debono (1985, 1987). But it is difficult to find studies on the role of self-brand congruity with respect to the relationship. Hence, this study purports to verify this triad relationship based on the premise that the extent of self-monitoring will affect the relationship between self-brand congruity and ad effectiveness, as proposed in the following hypothesis.
H3: Self-monitoring will moderate the relationship between self-brand congruity and ad effectiveness. That is, people with high (low) self-mon-itoring disposition, through interaction with self-brand congruity, will show positive response to image (product) based ad.
Involvement refers to the level of personal relevance on a given subject based on an individual's motive, value and interest (Zaichkovsky 1985). When involvement is high, the consumer intends to maximize the benefits from the product's use and seek to minimize its risk (Sung et al. 2003). Hence, as involvement increases, individual's attention to the object in-creases, and the level of importance a person attaches to the ad message involving the object dictates how intensively he will process the message (Mueling & laczniak 1988; Mueling et al. 1993). Numerous studies on mar-keting communication have tried to verify the moderating role of involve-ment to understand the persuasive messages (Vakratsas & Amber 1999).
Elaboration likelihood model advocated by Petty et al. (1983) postu-lates that involvement moderates message effectiveness so that in high in-volved situations, rationally appealing message goes through central route, and it evokes more positive response when the rational appeal is identical with the exposed message (Brune and Kumar 2000; Cho et al. 2001). There also was a study on the relationship between involvement and media ef-fects, such that in high involvement situations, ad commands greater credi-bility than publicity, and vice versa in low involvement situation (Jung et al. 2007). Previous research in persuasive communication area reported that in terms of message quality, a message becomes more persuasive in high involving conditions than in low involving conditions. That is because people in highly involved situation make concentrated cognitive efforts to evaluate presented arguments, and their attitude is a function of such information processing activity (Aldoory 2001; Caffe & Roger 1986).
As seen in previous literature, involvement level was found to moderate awareness of simple message, effects of ad versus publicity, but no research addressed the relationship between involvement and brand image congruity. Therefore, this study seeks to test the hypothesis that proposes the moderating effect of involvement on self-brand congruity, which would influence ad's effectiveness as follows.
H4: Involvement will moderate the relationship between self-brand congruity and attitude toward ad. That is, people with high (low) involve-ment, through congruity with Mecenat companies, will show positive re-sponse to product (image) based ads.
Based on the discussion developed above, the following research model was developed.
[Figure 1] Research Model
In order to collect data for this study, we chose the brand Mr. Pizza. Mr. Pizza has in the past, launched some publicity campaigns about Mecenat activities in the media. The research questionnaire began with a dictionary style definition of Mecenat coupled with a PR information about the com-pany's cultural (i.e., concert) services targeting women. For the visuals for product ad, two stimuli were prepared, with one ad (product-based ad) showing pizza's picture under Premium Gold Pizza and copy message con-taining information on the ingredients as well as on how to enjoy full course pizza. Another ad (image-based ad) had a visual showing a model wearing a uniform and holding a trophy, with a copy reading My Grand Prix PizzaHappiness Finds You. It is an image-based ad linking pizza and the image of happiness.
1. Operational Definition of Variables
The major constructs used for this study were operationalized as fol-lows:
[Table 1] Operational Definitions of the Variables
[Table 1] Operational Definitions of the Variables
2. Data Analysis
2.1 Sample Characteristics
The survey data was collected from university students taking advertis-ing courses, who were enrolled in university located in Seoul. A total of 229 questionnaires were distributed, of which 215 were used for analysis. The sample characteristics showed that women constituted 52% with men making up 48%. As for occupation, student (80%) was the majority, with office worker (11%), professional (5%), and self-employed (2%), and oth-ers (4%).
2.2 Data Refinement
The result of factor analysis on the major constructs of this study is shown in Table 2.
[Table 2] Result of Exploratory Factor Analysis
As a result of the factor analysis, three of the five items of corporate image, and one out of seven items for ad attitude were deleted based on loadings below .50.
Second factor analysis was done to yield adequate loadings above .50, thus the factors extracted were considered to satisfy construct validity. The result of reliability test on each factor confirmed internal consistency among the items of each construct with Cronbach alphas exceeding .80 for all constructs.
Next, in order to establish discriminant validity of the major constructs, a confirmatory factor analysis and correlation analysis were conducted to calculate AVE's and correlation coefficients for each factor. As shown in the result (see Table 3), the correlation coefficients were all below .90 and none of the correlations coefficients square higher than AVE's, thus con-firming the discriminant validity.
[Table 3] Result of Correlation Analysis with AVEs
3. Test of Research Hypotheses
In order to test H1 which proposed the effects of attitude toward Mecenat on corporate image, we conducted a regression analysis. The result ob-tained supports the hypothesis (beta=.641, t=10.803).
[Table 4] Regression Analysis for Hypothesis 1
Next, to test hypotheses H2a and H2b, which proposed the mediating role of self-brand congruity between Mecenat attitude (H2a) and corporate image (H2b) in relation to ad attitude, the prerequisite requirements for the presence of mediator effects were examined as proposed by Baron and Kenny (1986). To test the mediator effects, both predictor and mediator variable were input into the regression model. In order for the mediator effect to exist, the beta coefficient of the combined model (predictor plus mediator as independents) should be smaller than the beta for the predictor variable used for the model including only a predictor variable. As a result of testing for the mediating effect of self-brand congruity, Mecenat attitude and corporate image had self-brand congruity mediate for image-based and product-based ads, as their beta coefficients reduced when congruity varia-ble was constrained. Particularly, the reduction rate calculated by (a-b)/a (111.1%) was biggest between attitudes toward Mecenat and image ad, and smallest in relationship between corporate image and product ad. This re-sult supports hypothesis 2a which proposed the mediating role of self-brand congruity between attitude toward Mecenat and the company's image ad. Furthermore, as hypothesized in H2b, the result confirmed that the self-brand congruity mediated for product based ad as well, but the re-duction rate of beta coefficient was not as big as the one for image-based ad. The result of testing for the mediating effects is shown below.
[Table 5] Test of Mediating Effects of Self-Brand Congruity
Next, to test hypothesis H3 which proposed the moderating effect of self-monitoring on the relationship between self-brand congruity and ad attitude, self-monitoring variable was manipulated to represent both high and low group, using a median number (see Table 6). In order to verify the hypothesized effects, each of the high and low self-monitoring group was subjected to regression analysis. The result showed that in high self-congruity group, self-brand congruity significantly affected both image ad (beta=.357;t=4.122) and product ad (beta=.210; t=2.677) at .01 significance level. As shown in Table 7, the self-brand congruity was more significantly influenced for image ad than product ad. This result supports Hypothesis 3. Yet, further analysis revealed that the self-brand congruity had the significant effects on both kinds of ad for low self-monitoring group as well. This result partially supports hypothesis H3 which proposed that low self monitoring people would be more responsive to product ad than to imagead.
[Table 6] Descriptive Stats for Ad Attitude based on Self-Monitoring Level
[Table 7] The Effects of Self-brand Congruity on Ad Attitude based on Self-Monitoring Level
Next, with the aim of verifying hypothesis H4 which predicted that in-volvement will moderate the effects of self-brand congruity on ad attitude, median value of involvement level was used to divide the sample re-spondents into high and low groups (See Table 8).
[Table 8] Descriptive Stats for Ad Attitude based on Involvement Level
To test the hypothesis, regression analysis was performed on each of high and low involvement group. As a result of analysis, self-brand con-gruity significantly influenced attitude toward both image ad (beta=.311; t=3.088) and product ad (beta=.189; t=2.152) for high involvement group at .01 significance level. Based on the beta coefficient's size, the self-brand congruity influenced image ad more than product ad. Similar to high in-volvement group, in low involvement group, self-brand congruity influ-enced image ad (beta=.437;t=4.793) more significantly than product ad (beta=.219; t=2.094) at .05 significance level. This result partially supports hypothesis H4 which predicted that people with high (low) involvement will, through congruity with Mecenat companies, positively respond to product (image) based ads.
[Table 9] The Effects of Self-brand Congruity on Ad Attitude based on Involvement Level
IV. CONCLUSIONS, IMPLICATIONS, AND LIMITATIONS
In this study, we aimed to investigate the effects of Mecenat activities on attitude toward ads through self-brand congruity. In addition, we tested the moderating effects of self-monitoring as well as involvement on ad attitude.
The result of analysis revealed that most hypotheses proposed were confirmed. First, the effect of Mecenat on corporate image was confirmed, making it consistent with the findings of Min (2001) and Oh (2006) which reported that the perceived views of social Mecenat's influences and of the company's social responsibility contributed to enhanced corporate image. And the result gave support to previous findings on the relationship be-tween corporate image and culture-art fit (Kwak 2003).
Secondly, the finding that self-brand congruity mediates between Mecenat and ad attitude has been similarly reported in a previous study where the brand personality of a company engaged in Mecenat affects its attitude through congruity with Mecenat (Moon and Lim 2005).
In this study, we were able to confirm that both Mecenat attitude and corporate image had greater influence on image ad than on product ad through self-brand congruity. Based on the size of influence, Mecenat atti-tude, compared to corporate image, had contributed more to ad attitudes.
Thirdly, self monitoring had an impact on ad attitude with higher self-monitoring group showing more positive ad attitude than low self-monitoring group did. The moderating effect of self-monitoring be-tween self-brand congruity and ad attitude was confirmed so that high self-monitoring people showed more positive attitude toward image ad than toward product ad through significant interaction with self-brand con-gruity, and low self-monitoring people showed a similar result by having a greater impact on image ad than on product ad.
Fourthly, the involvement had an impact on ad attitude, with higher in-volved respondent group showing more positive ad attitude than low in-volved group. As a result of testing moderating effects of involvement be-tween self-brand congruity and ad attitude, it was found that high involved people showed more positive attitude toward image ad than toward product ad through significant interaction with self-brand congruity, and the sim-ilar result was found for low involved people showing more positive atti-tude for image ad than for product ad.
The study results offer several interesting implications for advertisers. The finding that corporate image was influenced by consumers' attitude toward the company's Mecenat activities attests the value of investing in Mecenat activities as a means of enhancing corporate image that is valued by the public. Also, the finding that not only the corporate image but attitude toward Mecenat contributed to positive ad attitude through brand con-gruity sheds significant strategic insights for brand management. That is, when consumers identify with a company's social responsibility activities like Mecenat, they are likely to form a preferable attitude toward the compa-ny's products featured in ads. This suggests, from the corporate per-spective, the importance of publicly reminding the consumers of the com-pany's level of participation in Mecenat activities, which leads to the pur-chase of the company's products. In addition, as image ad was more effec-tive than product ad when consumers have congruity with the brand, com-panies active in Mecenat activities would find it appealing to focus more on improving images of their products or brand than on the product attributes.
Also the finding that regardless of the level of self-monitoring, the self-brand congruity influenced image ad more than product ad, suggests that in the presence of self-brand congruity, image ad is more effective than product ad. This implicates the effectiveness of linking advertising with the company image by positioning the company as a good participant in social events.
The high level of involvement level didn't affect ad attitude when consum-ers identified with the brand. This counters the theory-based prediction that high involvement causes greater cognitive attention to an object. The finding suggests that, regardless of involvement level, when promoting a corporate image, image ad is more effective medium to use than product ad.
This study used pizza as it was considered to be a product whose con-sumers are highly brand conscious. This may have attributed to high level of self-brand congruity. Future extension of this study may need to consider the effects of the brand association or brand personality by including prod-ucts which are less brand dependent, such as industrial products or service providing companies. Use of university students may be regarded as a limi-tation in generalizing the study results to general public.
Finally, extension studies may as well extend the research model to in-clude more comprehensive corporate responsibility concepts like corpo-rate citizenship as a measure which substitutes Mecenat activities. Adding performance measures like purchase intention and word of mouth intention would be a worthwhile extension.
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