Building valuable consumer-brand relationships through the notion of brand personality: The case of the fairtrade brand

Nina Hestehave Degn & Caroline Tetzlaff Ebbesen

Student thesis: Master thesis


Evolving around symbolic consumption, and written into the belief that consumers use brands as a means of constructing meaningful identities, this thesis addresses the strategic importance of co-creating brand meaning through the development and nurturing of valuable and mutually beneficial consumer-brand relationships. Providing the lens for looking into consumers’ identity construction, the Fairtrade brand serves as an interesting case due to its current challenge of consumers being aware of and positive towards the brand, but only few choose to commit to the brand through purchase. This thesis proposes the road to higher brand commitment, and thus a changed consumer behavior, to be found within the relationship between Fairtrade and their consumers. It is proposed that consumers are more likely to commit to brands whose personalities they find congruent with their own self-images, and thus that the notion of brand personality can act as a consumer-brand relationship facilitator, as it can provide robust, descriptive and realistic elements, to which the consumer can relate. Inspired by McCracken’s long interview method, a research study entailing interviews with eight Danish Fairtrade consumers is conducted. Seeking an understanding of which symbolic meanings or brand characteristics Fairtrade consumers ascribe to the brand, how these form Fairtrade’s brand personality, and whether these are found attractive in the consumer’s identity construction, insights into Fairtrade’s foundation for building relationships with these consumers are gained. In this connection, opportunities and challenges facing Fairtrade in building valuable consumer-brand relationships are reflected upon and discussed. It is presented that by working strategically with the notion of brand personality, Fairtrade can obtain a foundation for building valuable and mutually beneficial consumer-brand relationships, and thus acquire a forum for co-creating brand meaning with their consumers. Hereby committing consumers to the brand by providing the symbols they seek in their identity construction, which may ultimately result in changes in consumer behavior.

EducationsMSc in Brand and Communications Management, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2010
Number of pages137