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Abstract

Branded service encounters, in which various aspects of frontline employees are strategically aligned with the firm’s brand positioning, can be achieved along several dimensions such as employee appearance, manner, and personality. While previous research has mainly focused on behavioral traits of employees, this research examines the employee’s physical appearance in association with the brand personality trait across two studies. Study 1 shows that salesperson look-brand personality congruence enhances brand affect by inducing positive affect. Specifically, a brand-congruent look of a salesperson increases positive affect among customers by confirming their prior expectations about what a salesperson of a certain brand should look like as a brand representative. Study 2 reveals that the positive impact of salesperson look-brand personality congruence on brand affect is significant only for customers with high social anxiety whereas this effect disappears for those with low social anxiety. These findings extend previous research on branded service encounters by showing why and when frontline employees’ physical appearance shapes customers’ affective responses toward the brand.

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