A company's long-term goals encompass a continuous effort to stay successful and be profitable in the extensive competitive environment. For this reason, companies need to differentiate themselves from their competitors. This can be achieved by brand. The higher the brand equity, the more powerful the brand is. Brand equity becomes an important element in the capacity to establish differentiation regarding products and services and being able to gain an advantage over the competition. In order to understand how much advantage companies can obtain through brand equity, it is necessary to assess the brand equity. There are mainly two approaches used in the assessment process of brand equity: one is financially-based and the other is through consumer behaviour perspectives. Others have proposed a mixed measurement taking into account both methods. In this research, brand equity is assessed using the method based on consumer behaviour for one of the leading online retail brands in the UK, ASOS, using a questionnaire survey conducted on the customers of ASOS.
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In order to assess the online brand equity measurement, we proposed the traditional consumer-based brand equity framework (RRM) based on brand awareness, brand associations (value and trust) and loyalty, which is applicable in an online retail context specifically by the use of confirmatory factor analysis. This study finds partial support for this framework, as brand awareness, brand value association, brand trust and brand loyalty are all sources that result in the creation of brand equity.
However, according to this study, there are three findings that differ from the Rios (2008) result. Firstly, the relationship between sources and brand equity is slightly weaker than the result of Rios (2008). There may be two main reasons for this. One is the construct of the brand equity, due to the characteristics of online business, other sources, such as website design and website functionality, need be taken into account in the measurement; another reason may relate to the observed variables, in that the method of asking respondents questions is inappropriate to reflect the perception of brand value in consumers' minds.
Secondly, the relationships between awareness and trust, value and trust, and value and loyalty are weak in Rios (2008)'s measure, but this study found that there are much stronger relationships among them, with an estimate range (R2 ) of between 0.672 and 0.875.
The last finding, surprisingly, is an additional relationship between awareness and loyalty which has been explored in the analysis. This finding is at odds with the results of Rios (2008) but, according to the previous analysis and discussion, and with the support of the literature, there is indeed a relationship between brand awareness and loyalty. We consider this a significant contribution, as this relationship is at least present in the e-commerce context; internet marketing uses social media tools to increase brand awareness and brand loyalty hand-in-hand online. However, this finding may need to be supported by further research.
It cannot be denied that every research method has its disadvantages; this can result in bias in the data and analysis and, consequently, the argument presented in this work, from the source of the research to its result (Saunders et al, 2007). These kinds of drawbacks are categorized into data collection, model and analysis technique.
First of all, the data collection method applied in the research is the online survey. This common method of primary data collection can help us to reach as many respondents as possible, but it can also influence the quality of the data, depending on the design of the survey; this would include its questions, instructions and even its administration, since it is self-administered, as well as other features (Saunders, 2007). The bias in the data cannot be eliminated entirely, but it can be controlled by other techniques. In order to reduce bias, a seven-point Likert scale has been adopted and a pilot survey has been conducted. We have also examined the validity, reliability and normality of the data before computing the statistical analysis. One the other hand, the representativeness of the data will be affected by the sample size. The reasons for using purposive and simple sampling method in this research are indicated in the previous section and are mainly due to the constraints upon the researcher. The failure to secure the cooperation of ASOS.com is also a factor in this choice. However, the sampling should keep to the principle of the statistics. Furthermore, demographic information is collected for this purpose. We also argue that our sample size is sufficient for CFA by using Hoelter.
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Secondly, the model tested in this paper was found to be insufficient. Although the result from the discussion has shown that the model can be used for online brand equity in fashion e-retailing, it also indicates that some improvements should be made. One of the reasons for this is that the relationship between online brand equity and the four traditional dimensions are weak. Another is that the traditional model failed at the first attempt and the RMSEA value is only 0.059, which shows that it is likely to have problems.
Finally, the CFA method is the main analysis tool adopted. The different software used will give different results depending on, for example, the setup, estimate technique and assessment indicators (McClave, Benson and Sincich, 2005). Thus, it is supposed to use the proper estimate method and the significant indicators or follow the professional guidelines (e.g. Brown, 2006). MLE is defended as the best choice in this research, due to the small sample size and expected data bias and problems. For the indicators, TLI, CFI, SRMR and RMSEA are suggested by many scholars (e.g. Brown, 2006, Rong, 2009, and Hou, 2004). Nevertheless, alternative indicators are suggested by others (). Therefore, the assessment of the model might be insufficient to some extent. OverallCoast2010-09-12T10:54:00
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Moreover, the study has implications for future researchers. It appears that all sources are effective factors in brand equity; therefore, managers working in the online companies (ASOS) should work primarily on increasing the brand awareness, together with other brand associations (trust and value) and hence brand loyalty. Within this context, managers should review their marketing strategies and goals in the light of factors that contribute to the brand equity, and rebuild them for the success of these factors.
Practitioners who are interested in researching brand equity for online companies need to further refine the measurement framework, not only on the comprehensiveness of the dimension construct but also the indicators, to obtain more reliable results. Regarding the research method, a larger sample would increase the availability of the response.