South African black generation Y students' perceptions of local black celebrity endorsers' credibility
Molelekeng, Boitumelo Vincent
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The use of celebrity endorsers is a popular marketing strategy in many countries. Typically, many marketers believe that using celebrities is a viable marketing strategy for attracting customers, increasing market share and improving sales for their market offerings. The celebrity endorsement strategy using local celebrities is increasing in South Africa. Many South African marketers are now using popular local black celebrities in an attempt to attract the prosperous black emerging middle class, known as Black Diamonds. Black Generation Y students offer great promise to marketers in the South African market as their tertiary education is likely to lead to higher future earning potential and subsequent entry into the already prosperous black emerging middle class segment. Given the increased use of local black celebrities and the market potential of the black Generation Y cohort in South Africa, it is important to investigate whether this marketing strategy may be effective when used in this segment. Celebrity endorsement may work effectively if the correct celebrity is chosen to promote a product but may have costly results if an inappropriate celebrity is chosen. Ohanian (1990) developed a scale to facilitate the selection of celebrity endorsers. The scale is based on the source credibility model that includes the source attractiveness, trustworthiness and expertise model. This study set out to determine whether the black Generation Y students have positive perceptions of local black celebrity endorsers using the celebrity endorsers‟ credibility scale developed by Ohanian (1990). Furthermore, the scale was validated using confirmatory factor analysis and structural equation modelling in order to ascertain whether the scale remains applicable when used in the South African context. A non-probability convenience sample of 880 (440 per institution) black students aged between 18 and 24 years was taken in 2012 from the two registered public higher education institutions in the Gauteng province of South Africa. Following a top-of-the-mind-awareness test, four local black celebrities were identified, namely Connie Ferguson, Black Coffee, DJ Sbu and Zahara. In a second top-of-the-mind-awareness test to determine which product types each celebrity is considered to most suitable to endorse, Connie Ferguson was linked to cosmetics, Black Coffee to hot beverages, DJ Sbu to men’s clothing and Zahara to traditional African clothes and jewellery. The relevant primary data was collected using a self-administered questionnaire that had four versions – one per identified celebrity. Lecturers at the two public HEIs were contacted and asked if they would distribute the questionnaires (four versions) to their students to complete during lecture periods. The questionnaires were hand delivered to the relevant lecturers and those completed were immediately collected. The questionnaire requested respondents to indicate on a six-point Likert scale their perceptions of the four selected celebrities‟ attractiveness, trustworthiness and expertise in endorsing their selected product types. In addition, respondents were asked to provide certain demographic data. Findings from the study indicated that black Generation Y students have positive perceptions of the selected local black celebrity endorsers‟ attractiveness, trustworthiness and expertise in endorsing their selected product types. In addition, the results of both the confirmatory factor analysis and the structural equation modelling suggest that the scale developed by Ohanian (1990) to be a valid measure for selecting celebrity endorsers when applied in South Africa. Insights gained from this study will assist both marketing academics and practitioners understand the perceptions of the black Generation Y students towards the use of local black celebrities in product promotions in the South African market.