This paper aims to explore brand sexual associations and to understand the antecedents of these associations by drawing from an anthropomorphic view of consumption and a socio-psychological perspective.
An exploratory qualitative analysis based on 18 semi-structured interviews was conducted. Following symbolic interactionism and inter-subjectively reflective approaches, three main methods were used: interviews, projective drawings and a pen-and-paper exercise.
The results of this paper strongly confirm that a brand is perceived by consumers as having a sex, a gender and a sexual orientation. These findings point toward a crucial distinction between these three constructs. Construct conceptualizations are developed and definitions are suggested. Nine antecedents for brand sexual associations are studied.
French subjects constitute the sample. Future studies might investigate the transferability of our results to other cultures. The three constructs broadens the existing brand-as-a-person metaphor and brand gender literature.
Managers need to consider the construction of their brands’ sexual identities, namely, the sexual associations that brand strategists desire to create and maintain. The study of the antecedents of brand sexual associations provides brand managers the opportunity to manage actively those specific types of associations.
This research contributes to the brand-as-a-person metaphor and to the brand gender literature with new insights about the nature and structure of brand sexual associations. This paper moves the conceptualization of these constructs forward.
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