EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: People attach symbolic meaning to goods they consume and thereby send symbolic signals to others by the choice of their products. Gender perceptions are part of the symbolic meaning for consumer goods and are challenged by different social developments. First, gender-incongruent shopping behavior takes place and leads to men increasingly engage in the consumption of feminine products and vice versa. Second, a variety of new manifestations of gender has developed and existing gender roles are transformed. In the meantime, people however still unambiguously classify products with regard to their traditional genders. The contradiction of these developments challenges the validity of existing symbolic signals for consumption. Emerging gender-incongruent sponsorships reveal a case where contradicting gender perceptions come into play and a perceived masculine (feminine) sponsor needs to be linked to a feminine (masculine) sponsee in order to reach sponsorship fit. A quantitative pre-test shows that people attach gender to events in the same manner than to products and also stick to traditional gender perceptions during the classification. By introducing people to fictive examples of gender-incongruent sponsorships within the qualitative research part it is revealed that perceived sponsorship fit between a perceived masculine (feminine) sponsor and a perceived feminine (masculine) sponsee can exist. The perceived fit is however found to be connected to the ability of a feminine (masculine) sponsor to adjust its brand image to the image of the masculine (feminine) sponsee. In addition, the gender roles marking the environment of brand and product category on one hand and the event on the other hand need to be aligned to create associative links between sponsor and sponsee in the mind of people. Sponsees can positively impact a brand’s image and strengthen existing characteristics of the brand image in case of perceived sponsorship fit. Gender perceptions within the context of gender-incongruent sponsorships are frequently evolving around education, profession and the ongoing shift from traditional to modern gender roles. Sponsorship activation is further noted to increase the associative links people find between sponsor and sponsee. In this manner, engagement in gender-incongruent sponsorships can present companies with a valid strategic possibility to extent its existing target and include a gender that has traditionally struggled to use the products of the brand.
|Educations||MSc in Brand and Communications Management, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis|
|Number of pages||163|