FASHION BLOGGERS AS HUMAN BRANDS: EXPLORING BRAND PERSONALITY WITHIN THE BLOGOSPHERE
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As the fashion industry increasingly implements fashion bloggers into its marketing and branding strategies, the degree to which bloggers influence consumer engagement is questioned. Thus, this study drew on Aaker’s five brand personality framework (human-like attributes of a brand) to analyze fashion bloggers as human brands. While the concept of brand personality has been applied to diverse domains such as news media, professional athleticism, and book publishing, little research has focused on fashion bloggers in the fashion industry and how their brand personalities affect consumer engagement. A content analysis method was pursued to analyze fashion bloggers’ blog posts and the number of consumer comments elicited per blog post. The usable sample comprised five female bloggers, age ranges from 23 to 31 years old who based their blogs from 3 major cities in the United States (i.e. New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco). In particular, chi-square test for independence allowed examination of fashion bloggers’ brand personality across individual posts and the corresponding frequency of comments. Additionally, simple correlation enabled investigation of bloggers’ comprehensive brand personality and the number of comments elicited per post. The results suggested an insignificant relationship between brand personality and frequency of comments. Consequently, both hypotheses were rejected: (1) consumer engagement is dependent upon consistent messaging of blogger’s personality and (2) increased levels of consumer engagement is dependent upon frequency of messaging aligned with blogger personality. A post hoc analysis was then administered utilizing TagCrowd, a web application used to evaluate bloggers’ blog posts and identify frequently stated words outside of Aaker’s five brand personality dimensions. The findings aligned with existing literature identifying the brand personality concept as a suitable avenue for investigating product categories. Specifically, bloggers describe the details of fashion ensembles in blog posts and as consumers associate particular brand personalities to tangible products, brand experts may uncover novel findings within the fashion blogosphere. Though word frequencies did not lend to a personality, the results revealed the common theme of attention to detail, therefore, indicating the possibility of an additional brand personality for the fashion industry such as uniqueness. This study provided insights for communication experts and brand and marketing managers who aim to build relationships with fashion bloggers in order to create brand equity and long lasting connections with consumers. In addition, fashion bloggers’ online presence lends to strategic brand messaging guidelines for fashion industry professionals.