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Easing into Endorsements 

Even before local celebrity Kes cut his lengthy locks I would watch him on television and thought, if I sold or made hats I would get him to endorse my product. He sometimes wears these hats that tilt lightly back on his head. He has the personality that a non-celebrity hat-wearer can identify with- down to earth and fun. It was a good idea. Businesses in Trinidad and Tobago often use local celebrities, mostly in the music industry, to endorse their products. Some well-known examples are Patrice Roberts and Tolon-Tolon, Bunji Garlin and MeuKow, Nailah Blackman and White Oak Rum, and DIRECTV and Sunny Bling. All these selections were made for specific reasons, hopefully. As a growing business, your own establishment may consider the use of celebrity endorsers. You may consider transference marketing, by emotionally engaging customers through celebrities. With the use of endorsers, you can alter how prospects think or feel about your good and service. Endorsers can bring credibility, trustworthiness, and even expertise to your brand. There is a catch, however. One wrong choice and your company profits can be put under threat because of an endorser.  It could be that they are too famous or that their life choices change their own image. Whatever it is, let's look at endorsers, the why, the effect and how you can use market research to make sure you don't end up getting your endorsers more sales on their next CD while your company continues to have falling return on investment (just as an example, your endorser can be any well-known person. Think of  Lebron James and Sprite)

Why do people buy more products when it is endorsed? There are a number of scientific studies on this, so not to get too technical I will summarise. Once a celebrity has a good background, consumers trust them. This trust can develop in a number of ways. For one, consumers identify with celebrities as they would with a friend or any person they know. This identification happens whether or not the consumer is a fan. If the potential buyer is indeed a follower of the celebrity, then a greater value is placed on the marketed product. Think of it as a buddy telling the consumer that "this product is great, buy it!" Another way in which trust develops is the desire to be like the celebrity. No matter what the customer desires, whether it is beauty, good skin, or even money, the buyer may see the use of the product as a way to achieve admirable traits. When I was a teen, acne was one of my more annoying teen angst. I randomly tried solutions and it was only until I saw Vanessa Williams, who at the time I only knew from watching her music video for Pocahontas on AVM (CHANNEL 4), promoting Proactive, was I surely convinced that my cheeks would clear up.  I always thought she was beautiful, and her skin so clear, and so I bought the product. If Vanessa Williams, singer of one of my preferred Disney tunes could use Proactive, so should I. In that situation awareness, trust and familiarity are created. 

There are a few reasons why a business may opt-in for using an endorser. With endorsers, sales are usually increased. Through the transfer of the celebrity's expertise, attractiveness or credibility to the product, firms can earn much more. For example, in 2003, Chanel accumulated 30 percent more income by hire Nicole Kidman as an endorser. 

Businesses have to be cautious, however, as income can be lost with the selection of an unsuitable representative. Businesses cannot solely rely on endorsers to attain sales. The good or service must be of quality. Once the glits and glam of the celebrity wear off, consumers are most concerned about getting value for their spending.  Also, firms must carefully choose their endorser. This person must match the product image is or hopes to be. Firms also need to ensure that the reputation of the endorser is clean. A bad reputation can disrupt the image of the product or service through transference. On the other extreme, a brand should not use a celebrity that will outshine both the consumer and the product. The celebrity, if too attractive, can negatively affect the buyer's self-esteem, thereby reducing the likelihood of making a purchase. With respect to the product, there is also the chance of the celebrity having an increase in their own record sales and not the endorsed product. Do you remember those really awesome Pepsi ads? Remember the ad with Beyonce, Pink and Britney Spears in a colosseum? Apparently, though Pepsi had a series of commercials and ads with Beyonce and Britney, the appeal did not push the Pepsi brand, but instead, increased the public image of the two celebrities. 

Given the pros and the cons of celebrity endorsements, it is important to evaluate the potential profitability of such endeavors. This most important aspect of evaluation is fit- how well does the celebrity match the product image or brand. Even with changing the image of the brand, the fit is essential. Think of Sunny Bling and DIRECTV. DIRECTV a few years ago was seen as a product that only the upper-income earners can afford. With the use of Sunny Bling, the normal man or woman identifies with DIRECTV and believe even they can access the service. 

In your evaluation, there are certain variables that we at Data Minders Business Research thinks should be included. Before publicly distributing any ads, evaluate through research the attitude towards the planned commercials, the attitude towards the brand, the intention to purchase due to the endorser, the recall of the brand, product preference, and awareness. After making the ads public, make sure to track profits. Make sure that you are getting a return on your investment.

According to Dan Zarrella, a social media expert, "Marketing without data is like driving with your eyes closed." Making decisions without doing the adequate checks can result in lost money. We at Data Minders Business Research always encourages you to use research to solidify all your decisions.