Self-image congruence and brand evaluation: examining approach and avoidance behaviour

Piya Ngamcharoenmongkol, 2010

The self-image congruence concept can be used to explain and predict both approach and avoidance behaviour. However, much of the self-image congruence research has focused on examining approach behaviour using positive self-image congruence. Considerably less attention has been given to the role of negative self-image congruence in explaining approach behaviour. More importantly, the role of both positive and negative self-image congruence in avoidance behaviour has been relatively neglected in the literature. This thesis contributes towards understanding of the role of different types of self-image congruence in approach and avoidance behaviour. The underlying premise in this thesis is that the value of self-image congruence in explaining and predicting how consumers prefer and choose certain brands and how consumers avoid and reject certain other brands is limited unless both positive and negative aspects of the self are taken into account.

Two studies were conducted using different measurement methods. For Study 1, self-image congruence was measured indirectly with a dimension-based approach. For Study 2, self-image congruence was measured directly with a non-dimension-based approach. The research findings confirm the theoretical expectations that the congruencies between self-image and brand-user image may vary depending on the types of brand that are being evaluated by consumers. When the brands consumers actually used are evaluated, actual self-image would seem to be more congruent with brand image than ideal or negative self-image, whereas when the brands consumers would ideally like to use are considered, ideal self-image would seem to be more congruent with brand image than actual or negative self-image. On the other hand, when the brands consumers would avoid or reject are evaluated, negative self-image rather than positive self-image (actual or ideal) would seem to be more congruent with brand image.

In addition, the research extends previous self-image congruence research by examining the role of different types of self-image congruence in approach and avoidance behaviour. The findings indicated that there was a significant relationship between self-image congruence (actual, ideal, and negative) and brand evaluation (attitude, preference, and purchase intention) in both approach and avoidance behaviour. These different types of self-image congruence (actual, ideal, and negative) can be influenced by the types of situations consumers faced (choice or judgement) when making both choice and anti-choice decisions (approach and avoidance). Consumers would be motivated to purchase (or avoid) positively valued brands (or negatively valued brands) that are perceived to be compatible (or incompatible) with their actual self-image. On the other hand, consumers would tend to have a positive/favourable (or negative/unfavourable) evaluation of positively valued brands (or negatively valued brands) that are perceived to be compatible (or incompatible) with their ideal self-image and/or negative self-image.