Growing research has documented consumers’ perceptions of brands in more ‘humanlike’ terms in the past decade, yet scant research has examined the ways in which they are constructed.This research aims to fill the gap by investigating the psychological process of anthropomorphism and its effects on consumer responsesin the context of brand personification.Building on the literature from marketing, sociopsychology, and consumer behavior, a conceptual model has been proposed. Data from an online survey (N = 338) via Amazon Mechanical Turk validated the conceptual model. The results show that consumers elicit knowledge structures pertaining to human agency (i.e., agent knowledge) to induce anthropomorphic thinking, which facilitates the processing of brand personification in advertising. This phenomenon leads to not only positive advertising outcomes (i.e., ad engagement and attitudes toward the ad) but also positive brand outcomes (i.e., attitudes toward the brand and purchase intention). These findings advance the understanding of how consumers exhibit anthropomorphism in the decision-making process and how it also influences consumer responses. Theoretical and managerial implications are discussed.
Journal of Marketing Management, Vol.5, No.2, pp.1-11