INFLUENCE OF CELEBRITY ENDORSEMENT ON CONSUMER BRAND PREFERENCE OF SELECTED BEVERAGE BRANDS IN NIGERIA
In a bid to produce and market their goods and services in the most successful manner, most business organizations resort to the use of celebrity advertising to realize their goals and objectives. This research work under took an indepth study on the use of celebrity endorsement for effective celebrity brand advertisement. The research was prompted by the need for firms to produce quality products, select celebrities that are most apprpropriate for their brands’ endorsement and also the need for them to monitor celebrities’ activities, especially considering huge amount used in entering into contract with the company. The selected beverage firms studied were 7Up bottling company and NBC ltd in southeast geo-political zone of Nigeria. Today most consumers are exposed to alternative products and firms strive to employ the most effective methods, strategies and programmes to ensure consumers remain loyal to their brands. In order to achieve this, the use of celebrity endorsement has become a winning formular, especially for beverage firms. Ccelebrities posess certain attributes that are transferred to the brands via endorsement .The question now is, are these qualities actually transferred through the process of endorsement, or are they just formalities without having any positive influence on their targeted consumers. This led us to formulatie objectives and hypotheses, which include, to determine the extent of perception of consumers of beverages on the use of celebrity advertising for brand endorsement; to a certain the significant relationship between the celebrity advertising and brand preference of beverage industry in Southeast; determine the extent to which celebrity endorsement influences consumers preference of firms’s brands; determine the extent to which celebrity advertising facilitate brand switch, and finally to ascertain the match of celebrity personality on the endorsed brands of the beverages in south-East Nigeria. The researcher adopted discriptive research, while primary data was collected from the respondents through the use of questionnaire, and the secondary data,r was through related text books, internet material, journals, etc. Two population sizes were used, with sample size of 400 and 94 for consumers and management respectively as derived from Taro Yamane and proportionate sample sizes. The reliability test was measured using cronbach Alpha coefficient method, while T .test, PPMC and chi square were used in testing the hypotheses. Tables, simple percentages and charts were used to present and analyzed data. The result revealed that; the perception of consumers of beverages on the use of celebrity advertising for brand endorsement in south-East Nigeria was significant (F = 19.376, P< 0.05), secondly, celebrity endorsement had significant (F= 0.800, p < 0.05) relationship on consumers of a firm’s brand in southeast, thirdly, celebrity endorsement had a significant (R= 0.901, P< 0.05) influence on consumers preference of firms brand, fourthly, celebrity endorsement significantly (x= 286.16,P < 0.05) facilitated brand switch by consumers of beverages, and finally, beverage firms in southeast significantly (x= 286.16,P<0.05) choose celebrities that matched the endorsed brands. The researcher concludes that in order to influence consumes through celebrity endorsement, firms should ensure their products’ are of good quality, to gain consumers trust , monitor celebrities’s activities and also feature celebrities that match their endorsed brands, these ways, huge amount that is spend on hiring celebrities will not be a waste. The research was on beverage firms and therefore recommends that further study be made in beauty industry, which always feature mismatch adverts in their celebrity selection. Also digress to agriculture by featuring young and beautiful celebrity to feature in our agric sector.