Academic theories

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Literature Review


This research aims to provide an establishment based on the academic theories from which the research is built on. The purpose of the research is to increase the readers understanding of the different concept of branding and the effect it has on consumer purchasing decision.

Understanding Branding

The word branding originated from the word Brandr which means burn. This was used in ancient times to burn cattle's in order to identify them to their owners. From this notion of identity, it brought about branding which originated as a means by which firms could be able to differentiate products from those of its competitors (Cowley,1991). (Baker, 2000) furthers clarifies this by stating that the product should meet the economic, psychology or functional need of a potential customer for it to be valued.

Brand building wasn't that easy, companies like Procter and Gamble and General electric would take some time before creating the best brand. A consumer therefore was to associate himself or herself with the brand quality of the company. Systematic branding which took a while to build was overshadowed with the new technology by using laser like vision which has created an instant world of branding.

Branding acted as promise of consistency and quality for customers but now branding is renowned as unique set of perceived benefits which aren't found on other product (Randall, 1997).These perceived benefits, simplifies consumers purchasing decision making and provides a basis for customer loyalty.

In today's over- communicated and product saturation world, has brought about complexity in branding which has been inspired by competition and this has made product differentiation to be difficult. In order to solve this problem companies are using integrated marketing communications tools to highlight the increasing saturated markets (Hamel & Prahalad 1994).Everything the company does contribute to brand building process, therefore marketing cannot be considered in isolation, it is what a company is in business to do.

Brand definition and its purpose

The American Association defines a brand as 'a name, term, sign, symbol, design, or a combination of them' (Kotler 2003, p.518).Brand is also defined as an extrinsic cue which is an attribute related to the product but not part of the physical product itself.

The brand name is an identity which has an influence on both the brand image and the customer's perceptions. Brand identity is linked to psychological associations and forms brand essence (Keller, 1998).Brand identity identifies the seller or the marker of the brand, therefore a brand image is therefore considered to be a sellers promise to deliver a set of features, benefits and services which will aid in consumer purchasing decisions.

According to (Klein 2008) people think branding is all about awareness, but this statement is wrong, branding is all about knowing your prospect to perceive as the only solution to a problem. Once a consumer perceives he or she can't shop anywhere else this means the consumers are willingly to pay a premium price for a brand.

(Macrae, 1996) has defined 'Brand Essence' as being the heart and soul of a company. Few examples of brand essence are "Nike: Authentic athletic performance", "Hallmark: Caring shared" and "Starbucks: Rewarding everyday moments".

According to (Keller 2008) he closely related the "brand essence" to "brand mantra" .The brand mantra reinforces on the internal communication and it should therefore be able to define and set brand boundaries by clarifying on the uniqueness of a brand. Therefore the brand should be memorable, short, crisp and vivid.

(Macrae, 1996) furthered this definition by stating that companies must value their own employees the same way they value their customers. He justifies this by stating that employees promote the product and services to customers in direct sales, therefore there should be a link between the company's internal working with the outside world of consumers via their brand.

According to (Chematonya and Christo 2002), a consumer may follow a hierarchy in order to better understand how to asses a brand. A consumer may be rational which means putting value first, and then progress to emotional values and then the experience which the brand has promises. This progression represents a structure of consumer brand knowledge. The triangle formula of brands is represents on the following diagram.

Source adopted from de Chernatony and Christodoulides 2004,p.240)

A brand serves a variety of purposes to both the business and the consumers. For the business brand provide labels by which firms use them to distinguish, promote their products, show market positioning and to ensures quality and guarantee. Brand also provides the business by providing certainty and security of demand by creating barriers of entry that makes it difficult for other firms to enter the market (Keller 2003).

Strong brands also help to retain the workforce of a company. If a brand is seen by the public it has a good reputation, there is no need of a company to pay a high salary for the purpose of retaining the talent they have. A brand also ensures companies to behave in an ethical way in order to retain their customers and to attract other customers. The stronger the brand is towards being ethical the stronger is the media attention (Gieske 2006).

To consumers a brand name enables the consumer to recognise a product immediately, and to facilitate choice when attributes become difficult to employ. A brand also provides simplifications for consumers to make their purchasing decisions, by contributing to awareness, reputation, prominence and the value in the market place (Keller 2003).

According to (Turly& Moore, 1995), the weight of a brand is seen as very important when the product has an intangible nature since it signifies a good source of information about the company in consumers' repurchase evaluation. (Kotler 2003) expands on the notion of brand identity by stating that a brand is a complex sign and it is able to convey up to six level of meaning to a targeted audience. The levels are attributes, benefits, values, culture, personality and user.

Brand Positioning

Brand positioning is the place occupied by a product or service brand in the given market as perceived by target customers, within a given competitive set in the consumer's mind. Brand positioning is a function of the brand promise and how brand is comparable to other brands regarding the quality, innovation and perceived leadership (Vahie & Paswan 2006)

The elements of brand positioning are brand essence, promise and personality which exists in the mind of the consumer .Brand positioning can be simply understood as nodes which are like semantic DNA which are linked to the associative networks of memory which enables the consumer to instil objects and trademarks. These associative networks are genes which are called 'memes' and they are used by marketer to map how brands are viewed by consumers (Wagner et al , 1996).

The following diagram reveals how marketers can unpack subjective meaning of how healthy living which is associated with neighbouring associates which are known as genes.

Development of Brand Equity

In contemporary market, consumers have a variety of choice between similar products and the brand customer wants to buy can have a huge impact on the price that they might have to pay. For instance, a consumer wanting to buy a soft drink can either pay the price and buy the best in Coca-cola or go for a cheaper version in Tesco cola or even Pepsi.

Therefore brand equity increases the willingness of consumer to pay premium prices and it seems obvious that brands add value to the basic product and service. Brand equity is a phrase employed to describe both the value of the brand and the brand's component values (Farquhar 1995).

Brand equity has a positive relation with brand loyalty, by increasing the likelihood of brand selection therefore leading to a specific brand (Pitta& Katsanis 1995).

To the marketers brand equity increases possibility of brand licensing, ensures efficiency in marketing communication ensures elasticity of consumer's price reduction and reduces the company vulnerability to competition and crises. (Simmon & Sullivan 1993).

In addition, brand equity towards the marketers is the brand extension towards other product categories this is because the brand extension has a lower advertising costs and higher sales. Brand extension is defined as existing of brand to launch a new product in the same broad market (Aaker & Keller, 1990).

Brand equity is defined by David Aaker quoted in (Montoro et al 2006 p. 26-39) as 'a set of assets and liabilities linked to a brand's name and symbol that adds to or subtracts from the value provided by a product or service to a firm and or that firms customers'. This definition creates a clear link between a product's values whether it is financial or intangible and a brand name.

According to (Feldwick 1996), has identified three approaches to brand equity which are: (1)brand value which is measured on the financial perspective, (2) brand strength which is measured on the consumer based perspective, (3) brand description which is measured also on the consumer based perspective.

Using financial perspective -a brand is measured on how much a consumer is willing to pay regarding a certain brand. This approach also measures the total value of the brand as accompany intangible asset. When viewing brand equity from this perspective, marketer will consider over head costs such as advertising and include them in a balance sheet. (Aaker 1991)

Consumer based perspective-entails how the power of brand lies in what customers have learned, felt, seen and beliefs about a particular brand and the experience they had over time cognitive approach. (Keller 2003).It also shows the strength of consumer commitment to a particular brand behaviouristic approach.

Brand extension perspective -assess whether a brand is able to launch an extension of different product ranges within the same brand name. The cash flow enjoyed depends on the ability to stretch consumer acceptance of a brand across categories (Aaker 1991).

( Aaker, 1991) focused on five dimension of brand equity, which are: brand awareness, brand associations, brand loyalty, perceived quality and other proprietary brand assets. While (Keller, 1993) on the other hand adopted two approaches which are direct and indirect approach. Direct approach focuses on measuring customer based brand equity highlighting on brand awareness and brand image. While the indirect approach focuses on distribution channels, effectiveness of marketing communication and success of brand extensions while highlighting on relationships among brand associations.

The creation of brand equity requires a consumer to reach a certain pinnacle of the brand, which occurs only when the right building blocks are put in place. The building blocks which create the brand equity are as follows ( Kotler Keller 2009).

Brand salience- This involves putting the brand top of the customers minds in order to make them recall the brand easier.

Brand performance- This is described as how well a brand is able to meets customer's purposeful needs.

Brand imagery-This is described as the properties of a product or service which is bale attempt to meet the social needs of an individual.

Brand judgements-This is when a consumer judges a brand according to his or her own opinions.

Brand feelings- Customers feelings about themselves and the relationship they have with the brand. The feelings can be warmth, fun excitement and security.

Brand resonance- This is described as the nature of relationship the customer have when interacting with the brand, and the extent to which they feel they are in connection with it (Kotler & Keller 2009)

The most cited model is the model for David Aaker which has been looked into in a number of empirical investigations and it involves the verification of the dimensions on which brand equity is based upon (Eagle et al., 2000)

Brand Loyalty

According to (Oliver 1999), brand loyalty is defined as 'deeply held commitment to re buy a preferred product or service over and over again despite the marketing effort to switch behaviour'.

According to (Aaker 1991) definition of brand loyalty reflects on how likely a customer might switch to another brand either because of price or in product features. On the other hand (Keller 2003) looks at brand loyalty as 'brand resonance' which refers to the relationship a customer have with the brand.

Customers who have a low degree of loyalty, thinks of switching brands but customers with higher degrees of loyalty share their experience with the others in the society. Ensuring customer loyalty is very important in the business since it creates a sustainable competitive advantage which can be understood better through marketing efforts (Dick&Bisau 1994).

According to (Oliver 1999), one can therefore conclude that brand loyalty has a direct result to satisfy the desires of consumers that main competitors do. Therefore loyalty can be achieved by understanding personal characteristics of the targeted consumer market segment.

In the diagram above customers are divided into five different categories. The bottom loyalty level represents the buyers who are not loyal and are completely indifferent to the brand. To them the convenience of use plays a more pivotal role and is referred to as price buyers (Aaker 1991)

The second level in the diagram consists of buyers who are satisfied with the brand and also the ones that are not dissatisfied; but they are vulnerable to switching to competitors if provided significant visible benefit to switching and are generally referred to as habitual buyers. (Aaker 1991)

The next level also consists of satisfied but these buyers have to incur a switching cost if they wanted to shift to another brand which could be in the form of cost in time, money or they perceive a risk that another brand would not have the same performance level. These customers are generally termed as switching-cost loyal.

The fourth level consists of customers who have a significant preference for the brand which could be due to experience from previous usage, high perception of quality or because the brand associates a symbol of class or status. The final level resembles customers who are committed to the brand. The brand is very important to these customers and they are important to the company more for their recommendations to other customers rather than the sales they generate (Aaker 1991).

Brand Awareness

According to (Aaker, 1991 p.61), 'defines brand awareness as the ability of a potential buyer to recognise and recall that a brand is a member of certain category'.

Brand awareness is considered basically on the strengths of the brand, it shows how well consumers can be able to identify a brand under variable situations it therefore refers how brand comes to mind before purchasing and when purchasing.

Brand awareness is considered as a necessary communication objective before consumer can consider forming attitudes before a product or service. .

According to (Aaker 1991), there are four stages of brand awareness. They are illustrated in a

According to (Keller 2003) brand awareness plays a role when a consumer want to purchase products or services, this role brings along three advantages which are learning advantage, consideration advantage and choice advantages. Therefore a customer needs to have a familiarity with the brand and unique associations of the brand in memory.

Perceived Quality

Perceived quality is defined by Jacoby 1971 quoted in (Zeithaml 1996) as the customer overall quality of a product. It is also defined by Jacoby as the customer's perception of the overall quality.

Perceived quality is seen as a competitive tool and it has turned customer driven quality to being a strategic weapon. It draws connection among products and service quality, customer satisfaction and profitability of the company (Kotler 2003).Perceived quality aids in gaining distribution among distributors, retailers and other channel members.

According to (Murphy 1987), perceived quality comprises of three important contexts which are product quality and service quality. Murphy describes about conformance quality which is manufacturing based quality. Customers will have a positive perception only if products are reliable, durable and leave a lasting impression towards the customer.

Brand Association

According to (Aaker, 1991), Brand association is "anything linked in memory to a brand". They are impression of images placed on the consumers mind with respect to different associations. Brand association reflects characteristics of products and services and it acts as motivators to consumer to purchase. Therefore the consumption of brand can result in a consumer to develop a new set of brand association (Chen 2001).

Academics have put an effort to explore the nature of brand associations by focusing on factors such as brand identity, personality, and culture of origin, essence and values. Therefore it emphasizes on the fact that a brand is just seen as network of associations in the consumers mind (Andrew, 1998).

Brand associations are very important to both the marketers and consumers. Marketers use brand associations to differentiate, position and extend brands in order to create positive attitudes and feelings towards brands and also to suggest the benefits of purchasing definite brands. On the other hand, brand associations help consumers to organise and retrieve information to help them in making their purchasing decisions (Aaker, 1991).

Consumer decision making process

Consumers usually base their buying decisions on rational and emotional basis. Customers will base their buying on rational basis for example buying breakfast cereals this usually occurs to repeat customers based on the brand they like example Kelloggs on an emotional basis. Therefore a firm should ensure their customers have an emotional attachment to their brand in order to keep them loyal by preventing them from being snatched by the competitors who are offering low prices or other inducement (Oakes 2009).

Understanding the customer buying behavior is based on the following characteristics.

  • Awareness- are the customer aware of your brand.
  • How often do they buy-This can be weekly ,occasionally,
  • Where do they purchase their products- This is the distribution channel which can be online buying or offline buying.
  • Where do they gather their buying information-Information about a product can be gathered from various sources example from friends or colleagues?

Studies found that consumers respond to brands during the decision making process in two ways which are, cognitive and emotional value. Cognitive is viewed as the thinking and feeling aspects while on the other hand emotional value is referred as the affective reactions towards a particular brand. Consumer is seen as being cognitive in that he or she is in a position to solve problems when seeking and evaluating information about brands which will fulfil his or her needs (Schiffman & Kanuk 2000).

The cognitive model has therefore followed some steps which are essential for the consumer when making decision about a brand. The steps involved are presented on the following diagram.

Problem recognition

The recognition of a need occurs when a consumer is faced in an imbalance between the actual and desired states. This imbalance is triggered when a consumer is exposed to either an internal or external stimulus. Internal stimulus are event which the consumer have experienced before for example when feeling thirsty it's obvious that the consumer will buy a drink .External stimuli are the influences from the outside world for example when a consumers sees an advert on T.V or a recommendation of a brand by a friend.

Marketer aim is to ensure the consumer recognize the imbalance in order to satisfy their wants and needs effectively (Solomon 2004)

Information search

When a consumer has encountered a problem the need to search for more information arises. A consumer will start to gather information by learning more about brands that compete in the market. Information search occurs in internal and external information search. Information search is information which is stored in the memory regarding an experience the consumer had with a particular brand. External search is information from the environment such as mass media like advertising on the (T.V and radio,) sales promotion (displays, contests) and sales people (Dupleiss and Rousseau 2003).

Evaluation and Selection of Alternatives

In this process, a consumer evaluates the brand evaluation process as being a cognitively driven and rational. The consumer relies on information which will enable him or her to remember a particular product. The consumer tries to solve problems by selecting products which will satisfy his or her needs. The consumer expects the brand to satisfy him or her on three needs which are functional need (external generated needs), experiential need (internal generated needs) and symbolic (self enhancement).The consumer will therefore solve problems by communicating to the marketer the characteristics he or she needs a particular brand to have. Thus the consumer will see products as package of attributes, which will have the ability to deliver its promise and therefore solve the problems it is therefore considered that in the consumer's point of view together with the personal and functional needs, affects branding objectives (Brunner & Wanke 2006).

Decision implementation

In order implement the purchasing decision, consumer needs to the brands and choose where to purchase that particular brand in order to resolve the problems which he or she is encountering. The decision on buying is implemented by in three ways which are: 1) simultaneous, 2) item first and outlet second 3) outlet first and item second. Most consumers engage in simultaneous process and brands. Therefore once the brand and the outlets have been decided, the consumer moves to purchase the product which will satisfy his or her needs (Kerin et al 2003).

Post -Purchase Evaluation

This is the final stage and it involves purchasing the intended brand and post purchase the evaluation. Post purchase is directly relevant to the level of purchase involvement of the consumer. Purchase involvement is concerned with the level of concern in the purchase situation and determines how widely the consumer has searched for the information. This means that when the consumer purchases a certain brand he or she expects it to perform in light of his or her expectations. These concerns a customer experience is known as 'cognitive dissonance' and they can therefore make the customer not to repurchase immediately but the customer is likely to switch brands. On the contrary if a consumer is happy with the product, the consumer will buy the product with no doubts in his or her mind and therefore repeat the purchase (Kerin et al 2003).

Power of Purchase Involvement

According to (Chaudhuri&Holbrook 2002) Purchase involvement is viewed as a continuum from low to high, in low involvement a consumer lacks cognitive effort during decision making and this will exclude the forming of a strong long term memory link which is associated with the message of the brand.

According to (Assael 1987) he has distinguished four types of consumer buying behaviour which he has based them on involvement and the degree of differentiation amongst different types of brands.

Complex buying behaviour-He has described consumers who display complex buying behaviour and who are distinguished by high involvement when purchasing. It occurs when buying expensive brands which are considered to be risky because of its complexity when searching for information. For example when buying a computer or a wide screen T.V set the consumer will take time to evaluate the brand before deciding to purchase it.

Dissonance-reducing behaviour-This behaviour is distinguished by high level of involvement in purchase experience but the consumers, they see few differences among the brands and therefore seek for more information concerning the product. This type of behaviour will create a dissonance on the brand expectation the dissonance will transform into attitudes which will lead to a purchase.

Variety-seeking behaviour-This is distinguished as a low involvement behaviour which has a high ability on the consumer to differentiate between brands. When the consumer feels little involved when purchasing a product they feel de-motivated and therefore they turn to brand switching in order to satisfy their needs.

Habitual buying behaviour -is distinguished by low importance when deciding to buy a particular brand. The consumer doesn't follow the sequence of other behaviour's of searching for information. Instead he or she gathers information from the medium of T.V radio and newspapers. Their belief of the brand is embedded in their mind based on what they've seen on the media.

Brands and Factors Influencing Consumer Choice

Studies have revealed that brand alone cannot influence the consumer to prefer another brand over another one. Therefore it is the marketer's responsibility to implement marketing tools in order to change the consumers mind and encourage them to buy a particular brand.

Brand and attitude and Belief

According to (Fishbein & Ajzen,1991),a person attitudes basically consists of his or her salient beliefs. Beliefs are considered to have associations which are activated from the consumer's memory, which can therefore be used to distinguish between two concepts for example 'I believe that brand A is better than brand B'.

The evaluation of brand attitude and belief are used by marketers to support the meaning of branded products. Attitudes and belief are considered by marketers to be a part of psychological factors which marketer use to change the consumers mind in order to make them feel that the brand has better value over other different types of brand (Dibb &'Simkin 2001).

According to (Dibb&Simkin2001) he explains that attitude and belief have a correlation between consumers having positive attitudes towards a brand and this leads to whether the consumer will decide to buy the said brand or not. Therefore positive attitude not only lead to competitive advantage but also to financial stability of the company. Consumers Attitudes are developed through a sequence of three mental stages which are: cognitive, affective and co-native (Dibb&Simkin2001).

The cognitive stage- is what we already know about a brand which is the attitude formation about a particular brand.

The affective stage- is how the consumers feel about a particular brand after learning about the brand.

The co- native stage-is the attitude towards a brand and how the consumer acts on it in terms of knowledge and feelings.

In this model, consumers seek information concerning the purchase decision by filling the cognitive stage first. Then feelings about the products are formed by filling the affective stage. Finally the behaviour is exhibited this is filled by the co-native stage. According to (Mooy & Robben 2002), he demonstrated that this sequence of steps in the hierarchy is not always the same. He has shown that the steps can start with co-native which is an impulse purchase and it can be preceded by affective.

Customers who are satisfied with a company's product are likely to reinforce positive brand attitudes which will therefore lead to frequent purchase of the same brand. Thus attitudes should be a predecessor to both loyalty and communication openness (Mooy &Robben, 2002).

Brand and Brand Experience

Purchasing and re-purchasing a product is fulfilled by the consumers influence on the experience after using the product. Brand image has a powerful influence to consumers when buying a certain brand which fits their desires. Direct experience on information search and brand evaluation enhances the consumer an opportunity to process the related information concerning the product (Steenkamp et al 2003).It can be concluded that customer experience after using a products or commodities can strongly persuade them to re-purchase the second time or make them change the brand. (Thakor & Lavack 2003).The satisfaction consumers get when re-purchasing products creates positive perception and attitudes towards that particular brand. Therefore marketers need to ensure they have fulfilled the brand promise to their customers over other brand in the market (Tai 2007, p.40-56).

Brand and Value Perception

Value perception is considered to be a factor which creates an attitude towards brands. It occurs when a brand is able to be considered as unique by consumers. Value perception is used by marketers as a differentiation strategy which is able to create a positive image regarding the brand on the consumer's mind (Collins-Dodd &Lindley 2003).

Brand perception is considered to be very fundamental to both the marketer and the consumer. The influence of perception is vital to the consumer in that it provides information for the consumers and it enables the creation of symbolic links between the consumer and the brand image. Consumers will therefore have relevant tools which will enable him or her to distinguish between brands which are on offer and therefore be persuaded to make a decision when buying a brand (Podoshen 2006).

According to (Erdem 1998) he states that there are two determinants that influence consumer perception of brands. The factors are stimulus discrimination and stimulus generalisation. A consumer is considered to have the ability to discriminate a product between the various methods which are used to stimulate consumers. For example a consumer can discriminate a watch from Japan and USA and be stimulated to buy a Rolex watch from Switzerland. This shows how stimuli which is via advertising, packaging or word of mouth can affects the consumer during their purchasing decision making when selecting brands (Charles and Pettigrew 2006).

According to (McEnally &Chernatony 1999) there are four factors which are responsible for directing consumers towards a particular brand.

Perceived quality -Consumer evaluation towards a brand and how the consumer will have faith concerning a brand is based on perception of what is perceived and what is given.

Building excellent service-When a company offers after sales service this supports the perceived quality and eases activities which are found in the pre and post purchase in the decision -making which is regarded as the main creation of customer loyalty.

Standing out in the consumers mind-Companies try to differentiate their brand from other brands by trying to fit on the consumer's culture and mind. This is seen as the effective way to retain customers.

Investing in differential market-When marketers seek to build a brand, it is important to select a market strategy which they will be able to create differentiation in order to facilitate the concept of branding.

Brand & Product Attributes

Image attributes of products is important since it can affect the buying decision of consumers. A research found an interesting result that while mention of the brand, an image attributes was positively related to future purchase (Romaniuk 2003). This suggested that when consumers come to make buying decision, they buy because of the attribute. In other words, they buy the products because of what they will get from buying the items.

Brand and product attributes is associated with brand management. It is considered that the more attributes a brand is associated, the more the consumer will think about the brand and this will result in a positive purchase of a brand (Vranesevic & Stancec 2003). For example Gucci is a prestigious brand from Italy which is known for its glamorous handbags which provides customers with high quality leather handbags. The quality of leather used to produce Gucci is very high and this gives its customer an unbelievable effect which is trusted upon the consumers look.

Brand and Brand personality

Brand marketers tend to use the advertisements to convey the meaning of their brands. Advertising of branded products aims to convince the consumers to think about their own personality and influencing the consumers to follow the message which they are conveying (Simms &Trott 2006 ).

Advertisements which are incongruent with brand image are more effective in raising brand awareness and have the ability of storing the brand in the consumers mind. This will depend on the familiarity of the brand. Advertising which are incongruence reinforces the associations which already exists by elaborating the brand image further, while the incongruent advertising may not work well with the unfamiliar brands (Dahle 2003).

Advertisement in brand congruence improves attitude towards a particular brand and it also enables the consumer to memorize the familiar brand. Therefore advertisements need to be different and not be boring in order to capture the consumer's attention (Nandan 2005).

Research has investigated that non-verbal advertising has shown that it has ability to make consumer memorise about a product .It applies mostly to children but also it is seen to be effective in adults too. On the other hand verbal advertisement supply more information regarding a product and most of the times the consumers don't remember a lot of information regarding the products. An example of a non verbal advertisement is that of Vodafone whereby David Beckham uses the Vodafone phone to take pictures of the sunny clouds in Spain and sends the pictures to his friend who is in England where the weather is rainy and windy. This advertisement makes the consumer to memorise the brand more easily as well as the advertisement. A lot of brands tend to use such an advertisement in order to influence the consumer's preference (Bijmolt et al. 1998).

Brands and Perceived risks