Celebrity endorsement has become a pervasive means of communication strategy by marketing
practitioners worldwide. One of the main aims of celebrity endorsement is to utilise the prominent
status of the celebrity to positively impact the consumption behaviour of consumers. However, due
to globalisation, marketers use internationally renowned celebrities (usually Hollywood stars) to
promote products in foreign markets. The costs of using these celebrities are quite significant and as
such the objectives of the communication strategy need to be realised if the firm intends to continue
with the communication strategy approach.
Social Identity plays an important role in mainstream societies as it provides a basis for identification
and belonging for people. Individuals who are part of a specific culture or society are positively
influenced by the group norms. The sense of identification can be based on race, religion or cultural
dimensions. Literature on celebrity endorsement has discussed in depth the source characteristics
required by a celebrity to ensure positive consumption behaviour, but it has not explored the role of
racial congruency (in the context of Social Identity) between the celebrity and the target market (i.e.
race as a source characteristic). As such, the aim of this research is to investigate the relationship
between the race of the celebrity endorser and consumer purchase behaviour in multi-racial
A quantitative design study was conducted with a sample of 278 respondents across two firms. The
data collected from the survey was analysed using non-parametric and descriptive statistical
The main finding of the research was that consumers do not outwardly regard the race of the
celebrity as an important characteristic in the endorsement process and their subsequent
consumption intentions. Interestingly though, the findings showed that consumers have an innate
preference for celebrities that are of the same racial profile, which indicates that race plays a role
when selecting a celebrity for a specific target market.