The level of identification a consumer exhibits toward a marketing spokesperson influences the extent to which the consumer absorbs the spokespersons message and changes his or her behavior accordingly. We want to determine just what specific attributes of spokespersons (race, gender, celebrity status, etc.) lead to consumer identification. We will also attempt to decipher whether consumer identification with spokespersons is a function of similarity with spokespersons, familiarity with spokespersons, or a combination of both of these factors. For example, do consumers identify with Star Jones as a spokeswoman for Payless Shoes because they feel familiar with her (i.e. they are loyal fans of The View) or because they are similar to her (i.e. they are upper-class African-American women in their mid 30s)? The answer to this question could significantly alter the execution of the advertisement itself to make it more effective (i.e., mentioning The View in the ad if identification is based on familiarity).
The match-up hypothesis indicates that the effectiveness of a spokesperson campaign is also dependent on the perceived similarity between the spokesperson and the product being advertised. We will look at whether consumer identification with the spokesperson in question has an effect on the importance of an appropriate product-spokesperson tie. Returning to the Star Jones example, Payless probably chose Ms. Jones as a spokesperson due to her well-known status as a shoe connoisseur. Does the fact that a consumer identifies with her based on similarity temper the need for such a strong match-up? If so, Payless could have saved money and achieved the same effect by hiring a look-alike.
The Star Jones example makes it perfectly clear that a more complete understanding of the roots of identification and the effects of identification can help a marketer to better choose a spokesperson that will resonate with the target audience and lead to positive, desired behavioral changes among this audience.