In this part, theories pertaining to the topic are presented. Explanations and comments on the theories are also given. Furthermore, explanations on the pertinence of the theories are given which are going to be discussed. As I have decided to focus on brand and the link between brand and consumer preferences, the theories are based on them. This starts with presenting a diagram which depicts how theories are divided and explained on branding and consumer behaviour.
.Logos and Symbol
. Consumer Decision making
. Purchase Intention
The reason that the flow chart has been developed is because so that it will be easy to go through the construction of the chapter with ease. The theories that are presented here have been divided into different parts according to their pertinence. It has been started with brand equity, and continued with emotional branding and consumer behaviour. In the last part of the flow chart, different theories are expounded on consumer decision.
There are different definitions for the brand equity where it has some components with it. Brand equity relates to the information that usually gets different result from marketing of a product (Keller, 2003).
Paul Feldwick in his book “What is Brand Equity, Anyway?” has narrated the following description of Brand equity.
Paul Feldwick (2002) says that the term Brand Equity seems to be used in three quite distinct senses like
“Brand Equity is the total value of a brand as a separable asset- when it is sold, or included on a balance sheet”.
“Brand Equity is the strength of consumer’s attachment to a brand”.
“Brand Equity is the description of the associations and beliefs the consumer has about the brand”.
Cravens (2006: 276) says that “Brand equity is a set of brand assets and liabilities linked to a brand, its name and symbol that add to or subtract from the value provided by a product or service to a firm and/or to that firm’s customers”.
The above definition shows that the assets and liabilities have a connection with brand name or symbol so if some changes are introduced in the name or symbol, these may affect assets and liabilities. Aaker (1991) has developed and compiled a group of these assets and liabilities in following five categories to make them easier to understand.
Aaker (1991) describes Brand equity as having five components:
1. Brand Loyalty
2. Name awareness
3. Perceived quality
4. Brand association
5. Propriety brand assets
Brand equity is a beneficial asset for a company, which they want to and put in their brands. A strong brand enjoys a high level of customer brand awareness and loyalty. If a company has high brand equity it can have a competitive advantage (kotler et al, 2002). Brands which are growing and recognizing are valuable and financial assets for a company which is recognised by the financial market. Brand strength, investing in product quality and advertising are the important factors on which the financial value of the brand depends (Tuominen, 1995).
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Brand equity provides a great value for customers and its assets help the customers to capture and process the brand and store large number of information about Marketing programs can be developed through the brand equity and it helps in maintaining and attracting the new customers and loyalty and faith of old customers (Aaker, 1991). When the customer is aware of brand name and keeps some gratifying, strong and inimitable about brand association in cognizance then the customer based brand equity arises (Keller, 1993).
The brand awareness, brand association, perceived quality and brand loyalty are the important assets for the brand equity which helps in increasing the brand awareness in the market. The perceived quality and its association with the brand name can influence the customer’s satisfaction and this results them in purchasing that particular brand which results in the high brand loyalty (Chen, 2001).
Through customer relations and perceptions for the particular brand name, brand equity involves the value added of product (Wood, 2000). Brand equity assets can be illustrated as a way of adding or subtracting value for customers. Brand equity helps the consumers in analysing and holding the information associating to brands and it may also affect the level of confidence of customers in decision making process (Aaker, 1991).
Brand loyalty represents an encouraging approach towards a brand resulting in regular purchase of the brand over time (Tuominen, 1995). Brand loyalty is shape of continue purchasing a conscious to regular buying the same brand (Solomon, 2007).
Brand Loyalty reflects the ratio of regular buyers to the satisfied buyers who like the product This is more useful in marketing the product to existing customers because of good brand loyalty it will cost less effort and money, than to attract new ones(Tuominen, 1995). When loyal customers see any lack attachment to brand attribute, then he or she immediately transferred to the other brand products that offer a better deal. The reason for buying a same product from a familiar brand saves the time and reduces the perceived risk (Bloemer & Kasper, 1995). “The brand loyalty of the customer base is often the core of brand equity. If customers are indifferent to the brand and, in fact buy with respect to features, price and convince with little concern to the brand name there is likely little equity. If on the other hand, they continue to purchase the brand even in the face of competitors with superior features, price, and convenience, substantial value exists in the brand and perhaps in its symbol and slogan” (Aaker, 1991).
This is very interesting for this thesis, especially when tried to find out about this in the survey, how people become more loyal with specific brands and why people choose certain branded clothes. As mentioned above, there are many attributes in buying the same branded clothes which help them to get loyal customers.
Brand awareness consists of brand recognition and brand recall performance. “Brand recognition relates to consumer’s ability to confirm prior exposure to the brand when given the brand as a cue” (Keller, 2003: 67). “Brand recall relates to consumers ability to retrieve the brand from memory when given the product category, the needs fulfilled by the category, or a purchase or usage situation as a cue” (Keller, 2003: 67).
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People commonly tend to buy the familiar brands on which they have confidence. Brand awareness is must to get the loyalty and awareness of a customer. If the customer has brand awareness then the unknown brands have to face the competition from the brands which are already having a good reputation and place in the market (Hoyer & Brown, 1990).
A well- known brand has a good opportunity. If a customer is in need of something he/she will not like to take a chance and prefer to purchase name aware brand first. Customers use the product on trial basis, after satisfaction of the quality of the brand they will use it regularly. Since promotion of brand name awareness is quite expensive, mass advertising is the best for it.
Generally people chose the well-known branded clothes. This is very interesting to find out why people choose the branded clothes and how it affects their buying decision. People chose well known branded clothes above unknown branded clothes because they are well aware about the brands, its reputation in market and have the direct or indirect experience about the product.
“If a customer expects a bad level of quality and receives it, he/she will reduce his/her level of preference for the brand” (Rust et al, 1999).
Perceived quality is an essential characteristic for every brand; it defines a customer’s perception and the quality or superiority of the product. It provides fundamental reason to purchase. It also influences brand integration and exclusion to consideration set before final selection. Perceived quality will enable a strong brand to extend further and will get a greater success possibility than a weak brand (Tuominen, 1995).
Mostly customers prefer to buy the products which are well branded rather than buying the unknown and new brand. Sometimes they do not want to take chance by trying new brand (Desai et al, 2008). The decision making process and the brand loyalty of a consumer is also influenced by the perceived quality of a brand. Perceived quality can be used as a helping tool when company intends to utilize a pricing strategy with premium price and further extend a brand in several markets” (Aaker, 1991). All customers are conscious about the product quality. The majority of the people prefer to buy the branded clothes which have a good reputation in the market for the distinctive attributes of the quality. There are many quality attributes which the customer looks for, like the quality, colour, design etc.
“Keller says that the strength, uniqueness of brand association and favourability are the dimensions which distinguishes the brand knowledge which plays a vital role in
determining the distinctive response that constitutes the brand equity, particularly in high involvement decision settings” (Chen, 2001).
Strength, uniqueness of brand association and favourability are the values which can be based on the brand association with some personalities and factors which provides plausibility and confidence among the customers. Brand association can be made through famous personalities who represent the brand, and their familiar character and life style. For example particular branded clothes can be associated with the lifestyle or fame of the celebrities and their association with particular brand. A company endeavours to associate some attribute to their brand, which makes harder for the upcoming brands to enter the market. Few brands can be associated with some other attributes like good service which is extremely difficult for the competitors because of the entrenched trust and faith of the consumers in the market (Aaker, 1991).
Several brand associations involves consumer benefits and product attributes which offer a certain explanation to consumers purchase and utilizes the particular brand. Brand stands as a base for buying decision and brand loyalty.
Propriety brand assets
“A competitor is someone who wants to take business away from you” (Falk, 2006).
Propriety brand asset is the most beneficial asset for a company in form of trademark which cannot be copied effortlessly. Protection is provided for the company by trademark, their symbol and brand name. Majority of the consumers recognize their brand product through the trademark design; so it is not easy for other companies to use their names. A very helpful tool for a company is patent which can stop the competitors from copying the product (Aaker, 1991).
Now-a- days, some efficacious companies are building relationships with customers by alluringly engaging them in some personal communication by responding to their needs. This is done by marketers by connecting with customers and creating a very strong emotional bond with their brands.
Emotional branding is also a part of branding but is a little bit difficult than the regular branding to measure, it depends upon the companies how they perform to achieve their jobs, how do it, how they deal with the customers and perform their job, if they are companionable and reliable (Don, 2003).
Companies have to build a personal communication with the consumers if they want to know what consumers feels about them; which is the best way for a company because customer perception is very important to them. Nevertheless a company can learn much by recording the customer views (Thompson et al, 2006). It is important for companies to accord by their product by emotionally relating to their customers (Papanastassiou & Yusof, 2006). Generally branding begins when a company contrive a product with great eternity and capabilities excelling than what the competitors are affording. The company will then have a good position in a product distinct classification against the competitors. The fine approach which clarifies the values of company to the customers is emotional branding (Marken, 2000).
Many articles and theories have been read about price strategy which is substantial and is very sensitive tool for companies as success or failure of the products in them market depends on product price to some extent. Price strategy is a challenge for companies because of self-regulating market, strong global competition and buyers who are conservative and slow progress in market (Cravens & Piercy, 2002).
Price is one of the valuable elements to generate profit for a company, to create brand awareness and to build a positive relationship with the consumer. Pricing strategy gives an account of how customers classify the price of the brand like high price, medium, low, how companies or customers take the price into consideration like frequently discounted or not. In most cases according to level of the price customers assign the status brand (Keller, 2003).
Brand which are successful always get a tremendous space in consumers mind. Price strategy is one of the valuable element which helps the brand product to become a successful brand and in attracting the customers from several brand products (Thompson et al, 2006).
Pricing strategy should be carefully designed and should consider the product performance and the price of competitive brand product. Consumers always want to purchase a product which is very cheap; otherwise they can switch to other brand products.
“The fundamental indicator of the brand is the name of the brand which is the basis for motivating the awareness of the brand. The important fact is that brand name can generate association which serves to describe the brand” (Aaker, 1991).
The brand name is a substantial choice because it apprehends the central theme of a product in a very concise and reasonable fashion. It can be intensely successful means of communication (Keller, 2003). A brand should be named in such a way that it should be anomalous that can be easily distinguished from other brand names, easy to remember and should be attractive to consumers (Papanastassiou & Yusof, 2006).
Brand name manifests the source of the product. A consumer who has brand awareness can discriminate the product from its competitor. A consumer can pay the high price to the branded product if the brand name is superior because they trust the brand name (Marjit et al, 2007). It differentiates the goods and services of one seller from the other seller and helps the customers in identifying the products that benefits them. Brand name also communicates regarding the quality of the product from which the consumers and sellers also benefits. Brand name provides legal protection for the product features which are unique, otherwise they might be copied by the competitors.
Logos and symbols
“All the symbols represent a brand gives a visual metaphor, a gesture, a character, a colour, a tagline, a program, a musical note or a package. Symbol is a part of brand equity and it functions as a tool for maintenance” (Aaker & Joachimsthaler, 2000).
The brand identification of the company can be shown by the logos and symbols which have a long history. There are disparate types of logos, which are uncommon from the corporate trademarks and names. The easy way to recognize the product is through logs and symbol. It is a great matter if logos and symbols are linked in cognizance to corresponding name of the brand and product to elaborate brand recall (Keller, 2003). Logos aid in developing the brand equity of a company through brand loyalty and augmented brand identification. They are very important assets where companies spend colossal money and time to promote symbols and brand logos (Hem & Iversen, 2004).
To get a desirable place in consumers mind the successful way is logos and symbols. Consumers feel more comfortable when they find something which is easily identified in a positive way. If there is not much difference between two brands then logos and symbols are the ones which differentiate them. Logos are used for bring the awareness of the origin and ownership of the brand in potential customers.
It’s quite interesting to examine that how consumer’s experience can affect the brand decision in the market. Customer’s views are taken during the survey to find it out so that their views become very important in this regard.
All brands build some feelings in consumer minds. The most powerful brand goes in a traditional way to steal the consumer’s heart and take on adhoc meaning to consumers through their product. Customers learn more about the brands with some time and experience and slowly find out which is the brand that satisfies their need and which brand doesn’t satisfy (Thompson et al, 2006).
Self-esteem always affects when the consumer’s purchases some product and the basic reason behind purchasing the product. Nevertheless it is very interesting to research this issue. This may have deep consequence on consumer’s brand choice.
Self-esteem means a person’s self-concept. When a person has a bad self-esteem it shows that he cannot do well and he/she will think that they will do a particular work by which they might be rejected (Solomon, 2007). It refers to the beliefs of a person. By relating the self-esteem to market and advertise the product attempts to provoke positive feelings about the self.
The study of consumer behaviour includes how an individual purchase, uses the products, how they experience to satisfy their desires and needs (Solomon, 2007). The consumer environment affects how the customers feel, cogitate and act. These environmental features are advertising, product appearance, packing, comments and feedback taken from other consumer’s; price etc. (Peter & Olson, 2005).
The consumer behaviour is pertained to the physical action of a customer which can be measured directly. The frequency of consumers visiting the shops or the shopping malls can be measured. Different types of behaviour can be measured like the shopping pattern of consumers in stores. The behaviour of a customer can be analysed in different ways, by offering lower price to them, by providing better service and good quality (Papanastassiou & Yusof, 2006).
Consumer behaviour chiefly focus on how customers decide to spend their money, time etc. on various products to satisfy their needs and meet their requirements. And consumer behaviour comprehends study of when, why, what and where the customers will purchase their products. It also sheds light on how often customers use the products. Furthermore, it also focuses on how the consumers classify the products after they buy them and the effect of evaluations on their future purchases (Schiffman & Kanuk, 2008)
Complex Buying Behaviour
When customers are highly involved for making a buying decision it is called as complex behaviour. Consumer has high involvement when it comes to complex buying behaviour. High involvement means the customers distinguishes the noticeable differences among the competitive brands. If consumers are buying the expensive and highly self-expressive products, they are highly involved. They are engaged in finding the extensive information about the product; they search and learn about the product to make a good buying decision. For example if a consumer wants to buy a newly released Nike shoes, he seeks information about the available brands in the market and compares his product with all other brands and makes up his mind (Kotler et al, 2002).
Dissonance reducing buying behaviour
The level of customer involvement is more in dissonance reducing buying behaviour. Customers usually undergo dissonance reducing buying behaviour in case of expensive and infrequent purchase. Customers who has this type of behaviour find little difficult to differentiate among the brands. For example consumer buying carpet may come across of dissonance reducing buying behaviour, as carpets are usually expensive and self-expressive. In case of carpets, consumers may deem most of the available carpet brands in the market within a certain price range to be of the same quality. Consumers may respond primarily to a relatively better price. After the purchase consumer might experience post purchase dissonance (after sales discomfort) (Kotler et al, 2002).
Habitual Buying Behaviour
In this type of buying behaviour, level of involvement of consumers is very low which means that customers do not search for more information among the brands available in the market and also they don’t find any differences between the brands available. For instance toothpaste can be taken as a best example. In this type of product category consumer involvement is low. In this type of buying behaviour consumers solely go to the store to purchase the product without a greater involvement. It becomes their habit if they keep on buying the same brand again and again.
The level of consumer’s involvement is also low in case of products that are frequently purchased. Consumers do not usually seek information much pertaining to available brands before making purchase decision. The consumers don’t assess different attributes of the available brands and make purchase decision as to which brand to buy. Consumers glean information relating to various brands and their attributes through watching television or reading newspapers.
In case of frequently purchased products, consumers’ involvement is low. They generally do not look for information related to available brands before making their buying decision. Consumers who have this type of buying behaviour do not assess different attributes of the brands available and make the buying decision as to which brand to purchase. Consumers collect information pertaining to various brands and their attributes by watching television and newspapers.
Variety Seeking Buying Behaviour
When it comes to variety seeking buying behaviour the percentage of consumer involvement is very less, but customers see considerable differences among the brands. In variety seeking buying behaviour, customers very often switch from one brand to other brand. As an example consumers change their brand in case of confectionaries without much assessment. But they assess the product at the time of consumption. Consumers switch to other brand when he/she is not satisfied
Consumer Decision making
The consumer decision making process defines different steps when a consumer goes through to purchase a product. If customer wants to make a purchase he or she takes a sequence of steps in order to do complete this purchase. Problem recognition includes when consumer feel a significant difference between the current state and ideal so consumer thinks there is some problem to be solved. The problem may be small or big. In the second step, the consumer seeks information about the product. The extent of information search relies on the level of consumer involvement. In case of expensive products, the level of involvement is high. Conversely, in case of relatively cheap products the level of involvement is usually low. In the third step, the consumer evaluates the different attributes of the brands. Consumer may consider the product attributes and compare brand products. In the final step consumer makes his choice about a product (Solomon, 2007).
It’s true that a consumer may not necessarily go through all the decision making steps for every purchase he or she makes. At times, consumer makes his or her decision automatically and the decision may be based on heuristics or mental shortcuts. Other times, in case of high involvement products consumer may take a long time before reaching a final purchase decision. It depends on consumers’ importance of the products like purchase of a car or home. More over consumers try to make an estimated brand universe on the basis of available information about the brands, and to make an estimated the utility function on the basis of past consumption experience (Davis & Cline, 2005).
The purchase intention is nothing but the consumer’s preference to buy a product whose image is contiguous to the consumer. Furthermore consumers are well aware of particular brand name through advertising, from their previous experience or from the information given by their friends and relatives (Teng, 2008).
The purchase intention of a customer to buy a certain brand can be defined as his/her willingness to purchase that brand. After watching many TV advertisements a customer might be interested in buying that product, but just being interested doesn’t mean that the customer has the tendency/intention to purchase the product.
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