The American Marketing Association (AMA) defines a brand as a "name, term, sign, symbol or design, or a combination of them intended to identify the goods and services of one seller or group of sellers and to differentiate them from those of others sellers."(Kotlers and Keller,2006). So branding is a key aspect of marketing a product. Wheeler explains that brand is created in consumer's minds, he states that it gives a 'promise', the 'reputation' and an 'expectation' about the product and the brand its-self, when these factors are managed properly it results in increased awareness and brand loyality(Wheeler,2003) appart from that, branding helps to convey the market position of the brand to potential customers. Branding in fashion industry is to be concentrated in this paper, as clothing/ fashion industry is one of the most growing industries (reffer to appendix 1).
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According to Verdict reports, "The global market for luxury brands has grown rapidly over the past two decades. Estimated to be worth $263billion in 2007 which represents a 31% increase over the past five years, predictions indicate a 71% growth over the next five years, largely fueled by high demand from emerging economies" (Verdict, 2007 in Caroline Tynan et al 2009).
Fashion shopping is a personal element of consumer culture, it has become a popular leisure activity (Campbell, 1987). Aron O'Cass(2002) states that "there is no single factor that dominates the morden popular cultural psyche as much as fashion." Apart from this, fashion is a significant way of identity portrayal (Crane, 2000; Wilson, 1990). The expression of personality and individuality with the use of cloths is not a new phenomenon, it was used to represent social class and profession as early as the beginning of civilastion. However, the nature of the modern fashion prospect is such that identities can be created and recreated as fast as posible than ever before (Popp, 2000). 'Commentators characterise this phenomenon as "fast fashion". Similar to the fast food revolution, fast fashion entails rapid change in garment styles - some garments having a fashion life of only weeks rather than months or years' (Jackson and Shaw, 2001). With the help of celebrity and gossip magazines and media power there has been a formation of a culture in which the indecisiveness of fashion has brought to a quite fanatical speed,(Ingrid Jeacle.2009).
If a popular celebrity is seen in a particular costume a new fashion trend is born, and then the high street store have to reproduce that look as fast as possible before the competition. (Rosenau and Wilson, 2001). This ability to react to the change as fast as posible is known as "quick response" (Ingrid Jeacle.2009,Abernathy et al., 1999). This huge clothing, industries total main media advertising expenditure amounted to £56.7m in the year ending March 2009.(Key Notes, 2009 Clothing Retailing 2009). So a study on how brand is used in this industry and the importance consumers give it, in different aspect would be usful for the industry. The following research aims are set, which is undertaken in this study:
To establish a relationship between consumer psychology and brand
To analyse brand experience and customer satisfaction
To analyse factors affecting brand choice
What is branding?
Branding is the main focal point of this study, it would be appropriate to look into what a brand signifies. There are many definitions given to branding by many scholars as it is one of the basic consistencies of marketing. Branding in simple words could be defined as 'information that a provider of products or services communicates about the value of its offerings to establish trust and build loyalty among its customers. Brand messages differentiate in the marketplace, acting as a filter for making choices. Brand communicates: "If you use my product/service, you will get X level and kind of value." For product and service providers, brand is critical because it helps develop loyalty among the customer base and creates opportunities for cross-selling and for deeper sales within a product/service category. Consumers make decisions about products and distinguish among multiple offerings based partly on brand.'Anon(2002).
According to Chernatony (2006) there are a variety of interpretations for branding and they are based on three categories, Input-based: stressing branding as a particular way of managers directing resources to influence customers, Output- based : consumers' interpretations and considerations of the way brands enable consumers to achieve more, and Time-based : recognising their evolutionary nature. A brand is an identifiable product, service, person or a place, augmented in such a way that the buyer or user perceives relevant, unique, sustainable added values which match their needs most closely(Chernatony and McDonald,2003). Similarly (Miller, 2005) states that brand are name, which has a visual expression, like a symbol, a design, a trademark, a logo. He also argues that a brand is directly used to sell products or services. Like these definitions The American Marketing Association (Kotler and Keller, 2006) defines branding as "A brand is "name, term, sign, symbol, or design, or a combination of them, indented to identify the goods or services of one seller or group of sellers and to differentiate them from those of competitors"
All these definition by scholars have shown the importance of branding in an organisation or a product. Branding is complex and it is different products offered with different attributes. How ever the successfulness of a brand could be decided ultimately consumers mindsets, it exists largely by virtue of a constant co-ordinated activities across an organisation apprehensive with delivering a group of values are interpreted and internalised by consumers. The decision making tendency of a potential customer will be affected by the culture and sociological nature of the individual.
Culture and sociological factors affecting decision making process
Roth (1995) states that, "Consumers' shopping motives are known to be influenced by cultures, social values and socioeconomic conditions of the market."
In an increasingly globalised business atmosphere, it is essential that marketing managers study about differences in consumer decision making with regards to culture. 'The success of an organisation in a culturally different market place may be largely affected by how well the decision makers grasp the consumers' buying behaviours, and how well they are able to incorporate such understanding into their marketing plan and strategies.'(C. Leo et al 2005). "Consumer decision making style refers to the mental orientation or approach a consumer has towards making choices" (C. Leo et al 2005). Though, consumer decision making style represents a comparatively regular prototype of cognitive and affective responses (Bennett & Kassarjian, 1972) national culture has been proven to impact considerably on personal values and attitudes (Hofstede, 1980), thus, culture is expected to encompass significant influence on consumer choice. Fashion industry is a very complicated industry, it is handled differently in different parts of the globe, especially in the east and the west. There is evidence of cultural differences in consumer decision making styles for fashion industry in the Chinese and other cultures.(Fan & Xiao, 1998; Hiu, Siu, Wang & Chang, 2001; Lysonski, Durvasula & Zotos, 1996).according to Byoungho, J(2003)'Shopping motives may be a function of cultural, economic or social environments.' As it is this factor, that drives the attitude that brings consumers to stores, consumers valuation of a store's attributes and successive shopping results, for instance shopping satisfaction, must be different according to their shopping motives (Groeppel-Klein et al., 1999; Van Kenhove et al., 1999) thus in countries which has diverse cultures, tastes, and living habits, international service companies require to be conscious of and adaptive to local requirements (Hofstede, 1980; Prahalad and Doz, 1987). Mc Donald would be a good example of this.
Veena Chattaraman, Sharron J. Lennon. (2008) research states, that strength of ethnic identification was an important in determining cultural apparel useage and attributes of 'emotions and meanings to the consumption'.
De Mooij (2000) says, "Although there is evidence of convergence of economic systems, there is no evidence of convergence of peoples' value systems".
Cultural and social assumptions trigger our opinion, thoughts and judgment (Hoppe, 2004) this is a great factor in our decision making process. Culture points out the forceful practice that takes place within any perticular society grouping and this helps initiate "the cognitive map of beliefs, values, meaning and attitudes that drive perception, thoughts, reasoning, actions, responses and interactions" (Tung, 1995)
Hofstede's seminal typology of cultural dimensions was first announced in 1980 and still leads in the research topic for management and marketing researchers (Furrer, Liu & Sudharshan, 2000;M.H Bond,2002). "It characterised culture with five dimensions:
(1) Power distance (a tolerance for class differentials in society).
(2) Individualism (the degree to which welfare of the individual is valued more than the group).
(3) Masculinity (achievement orientation, competition, and materialism).
(4) Uncertainty avoidance (intolerance of risk; and later).
(5) The Confucian dynamic or long-term orientation (stability, thrift, respect for tradition and the future)."( Hofstede and Bond, 1988 in Jhon C et al 2000). However many schloars debate that Hofsted model, is used to 'stereotype'.(M.H Bond. 2002).
Appart from the cultural factors scoial infuvence is also very important in the marketing of luxury products or high street fashion goods, according to Bagwell and Bernheim, "luxury products marketing is related to conspicuous consumption or status superiority signaling" (Bagwell and Bernheim, 1996).
Erdem et al. (1999) study established that social status was the most imperative brand or store attribute to clothing or fashion shoppers and emphasized so as to brand or store image fashioned through the brand or store attributes significant to shoppers should be coordinated to individuals values to achieve 'need or motive satisfaction'. The studies recommended that the significance of the brand attributes might differ depending on the purpose of shoping. Ian Phau's research states that, status seeking teenagers have an positive apporach to internatinal luxury brand apparel.( Ian Phau, Yip Siew Leng.2008). (Baudrillard 1988, in Ingrid Jeacle. 2009) analyzes spending practices in terms of the conception of signifying practices. Merchandise act as signs, he argues, and thus their buying the goods is not necessarily to apply any financial need, but rather to communicate status to pear group or other consumers. Bourdieu (1984) has also projected a hypothesis to describe the spending of cultural capital, such as privileged edification. Social status has been seen to survive superior by most consumption practices, they are infused with the symbolism of experience which expedites distinctions farther made between consumers.
Psychological effect is one of the most important factors affecting decision making while selecting a brand or a fashion item like clothing or accessories. The consumers develop better association and links with the brands that they are more familiar with (Hoeffler and Keller, 2003). This aspect is very important to marking managers as in the case of luxury goods people may pay more for the particular product than what they pay for similar products in department stores or other ordinary stores.
The sales of luxury goods improve as growing passion for quality and stylish goods set a market segment. The number of people with a passion for fashion is continuously growing, in the competitive world people who are willing to pay more for goods which are produced in limited quantities (H.Elizabeth 2010). Owning limited quantities of higher-priced merchandise make many people feel social and confident. Consumers often evaluate imported goods differently than they do identical domestic products (Herche, 1992). In the cases os brands like, Callaway golf or Victoria's Secret products, customers are largely acknowaging to the emotional benefit provided by these luxury goods (Traci Warrington ,2004).
Research mainly conducted in further developed countries, have shown that consumers have a common fondness for domestic-made merchandise over foreign merchandise, mostly when information about the product is lacking (Damanpour, 1993; Elliott and Camoron, 1994; Wall and Heslop,1989). The importation figure of apparel products, for instance, was found to have an impact on consumer perception of the quality of clothing brands. Cloths from developing country had the image of quality being significatly inferior. (Dickerson,1982; Morganosky and Lazarde, 1987 Cheng-Lu, et al. 2004). However, a reverse pattern of this effect was seen in less developed countries, where consumers may possibly have a liking for imported brands as contrasting to domestic brands (Agbonifoh and Elimimian, 1999; Li et al., 1997; Marcoux et al., 1997; Wang et al., 2000). there are several other factors that affect consumers perception, there hasent been huge amount of research in this area of business in the past how ever some researchers have indicated with the intention of consumers' perceptions of brand attributes persuade perceptions of shopping costs and shopping satisfaction(Jiaxun He,2010; Ingene, 1984; May, 1989, Sherman et al., 1997). Ingene (1984) study reveled that a pleasant and enjoyable shopping ambience positively affected the shopping time and the amount of money that customers spend in a store, in addition to the sensation of shopping. Another study by May, (1989) explains that status/ prestige or the attractive displays of stores be able to lead consumers to forgo the time and effort necessary to go extra distance to more distant stores. These examples imply that consumers shop at the place where they can maximize their satisfaction effectively. And other researchers argue that ther are other factor that important in consumer perception, like price and energy (Kim and Kang, 1995) In other words, these studies recommend that perception of the cutomers shopping expenses is a different dimension that must be taken into thoughtfulness to recognize shoppers store selection process.
Buying habits, like all these factors, helps in marketing and targeting the market segment. Understanding the buying habits of potential consumers will help in branding and marketing, there are many scholars who have given importance to this subject area, (K.P Kaas, 1982; Caroline B. et al, 2009; P. Knowles, 2002). These researches help in improving the brand image and loyalty. Designer brands use these buying habits to personalise the services given to their regular customers, (in most cases they might be celebrities). In other words buying habits helps us to stereotype consumers and results in targeting only the potential customers, for example, Bruce in his paper states that, "young and affluent shoppers who are the fashion stores core customers and fast-fashion chains such as Zara and H&M target these customers." (E.Bruce, and Wing-Gar Cheng,2010) They also state, that most department stores in China and other countries "devote most of their space to high-margin goods such as cosmetics, clothes, and shoes. Those items now account for 70% of sales at the top department stores" (E.Bruce, and Wing-Gar Cheng, 2010)
According to Sanguanpiyapan, Thitiporn, and Cynthia Jasper. (2010) customers shop for luxury goods where they shop is due to the functinal and nonfunctional shopping motives. According to their research the nonfunctinal motive is very important to analise why they shop where they do. Their research shows that the overall experince which they get from a store is very important in influvencing the customer decition as to where they go for the luxury goods. (Sanguanpiyapan, Thitiporn, and Cynthia Jasper, 2010). Costomers decisions concerning where to purchase or shop are based on their approach toward a store's products mix in addition to the shoppers' personal inner orientations, such as motives, needs or values (Gentry and Burns, 1978, Finn and Louviere, 1996;).
H. Brad(2010) also argues that the envoirnment is very important for sucsessful retailing, he says that the sles staff should be fully trainsd and knowlageble about the proucts that they sell and the attitude of thes staff is very important in customer satifaction and repeat business.
According to Sproles and Kendall (1986,), a consumer's decision-making patterns are "a mental orientation characterizing a consumer's approach to making choices". Their research identified eight mental characteristics describing a consumer's decision-making style. The eight decision styles are:
(1) Quality conscious;
(2) Brand conscious;
(3) Fashion conscious;
(4) Recreational and hedonistic orientation;
(5) Price conscious;
(6) Impulsive and careless tendencies;
(7) Confused by overchoice; and
(8) Brand loyalty
These eight factors illustrate the most common and basic psychological or mental characteristics of a potential customer's decision making and these are directly related to the consumer choice and behaviour. This information is also necessary in identifying the target market, (i.e. the segments of consumers sharing similar attitudes to shopping ) (Lysonski et al., 1996). Since clothing is one of the most growing industry (it provide huge options) and these behaviours can be identified because of the huge choice available in this industry. The usual factors that one thinks of when selecting a dress or an accessory would be to evaluate the style, colour, brand, design, price and some people check the country of origin. These choice stlyes or behaviors are mostly appropriate to certain shopping attitudes of interest, such as "brand conscious", "fashion conscious","price conscious", and "hedonistic orientation".from this, it is fascinating to see the connection among consumer decision-making styles and the choice made.(Cheng-Lu, et al. 2004)
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Tauber (1972) hypothesizes six personal motives for shopping (i.e. role playing, diversion, learning about new trends, self-gratification, physical activity, and sensory stimulation) and five social motives (i.e. social experiences outside the home, communication with others who have a similar interest, peer group attraction, status and authority, and pleasure of bargaining) this was found with in-depth interviews. Tauber's study will be very useful in studying the buying habits of consumers.
Fashion leaders are very influential in the decision making process. Most people are always looking forward to celebrities or famous people. Celebrities' life style can be imitated by many people, especially by fashion conscious people. This phenomenon has been studied by very few researchers. In the 21st century the fashion world revolves around this phenomenon.
If a popular celebrity is seen in a particular costume a new fashion trend is born, and then the high street store have to reproduce that look as fast as possible before the competition. (Rosenau and Wilson, 2001). Most high street fashion stores survive on reproducing the styles that celebrities set. This ability to react to the change as fast as posible is known as "quick response" (Ingrid Jeacle.2009,Abernathy et al., 1999). Apart from celeberies, fashion leaders can be a popular members of their peer group. Michon R, et al (2007) says that, the mall surrounding can be "directly influences fashion leaders' hedonic shopping experience and approach behaviour. Fashion followers' hedonic shopping experience may be mood driven, while that of fashion leaders' is triggered by higher involvement cognitive processing" (Michon R, et al 2007). (Vernette E ,2004) Reveals that in women's fashion, especially magazines, a media plan targeted at opinion leaders can succeed, that these opinion leaders tend to be positive towards and discuss advertising media and that they read more women's fashion magazines and have more affinities with such media than non-opinion leaders.
Celebreties are used in advertisement of fashion goods because; in general they tend to be perceived as more attractive, competent, or honest when they are associated with specific branded products characterized by a prevalence of elements that remind perceivers of the corresponding credibility sub-dimension (Guido and Peluso's, 2006). (Kamins 1990) study found that, a highly attractive celebrity endorser is effective for attractiveness-related products. When advertising fashion goods selecting a brand ambassador is very important because they are looked as the face of the brand, they way the look is very important for these goods, apart from this their social life is also very important (Guido et al 2009). Because their social life can affect the image of the brand a good example for this would be Tiger woods, in 2010 when his personal life was under lime light, his personal image was portrayed in a negative format and thus many brands associated with him felt that these media images might affect the image of the brand. These influential people in the society are watched very keenly and some time people try to imitate them mainly the way they dress.
Doyle (1989) stated, that the most significant condition of brand success was connected with differential advantage and the stupendous reputation or image for "quality," "service," or "reliability." This he believed will in turn create brand loyalty.
Ehrenberg and Scriven, (1996) states that brand loyalty varies little from brand to brand. Some papers state that, cissessed in long term on the basis of a competitive advantage that competitors find difficult or complicated to copy or achieve and that consumers distinguish as highly desirable for example superior customer service or the brand image/attiude that create brand loyalty. (Cokayne 1991 and De Chematony and McDonald 1994)
Loyal customers are the strength of the "value of a brand" as it is these customers who are least likely to 'defect' and hence it will be these customers who will be going to buy the same brand for years to come (Hofmeyr and Rice, 2000). Isabel Buil,et al (2009)says that, "Brand extensions with high fit receive more favorable consumer evaluations and decrease the negative feedback effects of extensions on parent brand equity."
A brand can stimulate greater levels of the repeat purchase phenomenon among customers, especially the loyal ones (Miller, 2005). Customer loyalty has become something of a legend in marketing concepts and theories, which is based on the above assumption. Brand loyalty has largely been defined in terms of attitudinal terms or behavioural terms (Mellen et al,1996). The researchers generally consent to the point that Brand loyalty is a complex construct (Javalgi and Moberg, 1997) and claim wide acceptance to the definition brought forward in the first instance by Jacoby (1971). Thus the widely accepted definition for Brand Loyalty is that, it is biased (non-random) behavioural response (purchase) expressed over time by some decision-making unit with respect to one or more alternative brands out of a set of brands and is a function of psychological processes.
At the same time the definition enjoys wide acceptance it is also noted that the few people would be classified as truly loyal when all the above stated criteria have to be complied with. As Wood (2004) observes that it is possible for consumers to buy a brand they dislike because it is the one that is readily available to them .Also states that it should not be assumed that behavioural loyalty involves feelings or positive cognitive process as antecedents. Thus Brand loyalty however is not the sole driver for the customers to stick to a particular brand. One of the investigations into the issue introduced a new paradigm of brand commitment. Hofmeyr and Rice (2000) argue that the key to brand profits is creating a committed customer base. They suggests that the customer purchasing decision is influenced by how committed they are to the brand, as even though the consumer may buy a particular brand repeatedly, this may be because the brand of their choice is not available to too expensive. Hence points out that the brand attitude would be one of the deciding factors in loyal behaviour, there are other influential factors like distribution, market concentration and activities promoting the brand.
It is very important for the brand owners to keep track and understand the variables that are the basis of loyalty , specially that of the loyalty behaviour for the brands due to various reasons. Today, traditional consumer life-stages are fragmenting , the social and economic changes raging from fractured career paths, redundancy , increasing in single, separated, widowers and divorcee group etc - all of it disrupts the traditional pattern(Kottler and Keller,2006). ). Studies have shown that consumer buying behaviour is habitual, habit have also been hard to break, and looked on as safe and familiar (Bandyopadhyay,Gupta and Dube,2005). Therefore, if the competitor brand is to inspire loyalty and break an old habit, it would be a real success in marketing and brand management. A recent research on the importance of the nature of brand loyalty, argued that the relation between brand loyalty and size of the brand is inversely proportional(Bandyopadhyay,Gupta and Dube,2005). Smaller brands attract fewer customers than large brands, and customers opt for larger brands far more frequently, this double disadvantage of the less popular brands is termed by many experts as double jeopardy (Bandyopadhyay,Gupta and Dube,2005).
A study shows that business lose between 15 % to 20% of customers a year, and retention of 80 % means that customers on average , remain loyal only for 5 years and improving retention to 90% leads to the average life of a customer doubling to ten years (Boone and Kurtz,2006).
There have been several other studies which seem to corroborate the fact that brand loyalty is a highly desirable phenomenon to any marketing initiative. Customer loyalty and building long -term relationships is vital; as more saturated the market, the more difficult and expensive it is to win new customers and more the existing customers are.It goes to the extend that the increasing focus of marketers on retention of exsisting customers and less on attracting new ones(Verhoef,2003). One of the widely quoted studies in most of the literature was a research conducted by Bain and Co, which came up with a simple equation suggesting that the cost of winning a new customer would be five times as high as the cost of retaining an old one (Reichheld, 1996). This is a significant incentive for companies to invest in measures which help boost brand loyalty. The same paper also gave out a statistic suggesting that a minor control on the rate at which the customers defect form the companies brand can have a significant impact on the overall profitability i.e. a cut of 10-15% can boost the profitability by over 60% (Reichheld, 1996).
There is however little doubt about the role of brand loyalty in building the strength of a brand and adding value to the business. Specified below are some of reasons which emphasize the implications of building the emotional relationship with the customer in terms of brand loyalty (Miller, 2005)-
Cost: The costs of attaining new customers are condensed to a great degree
Distributors - e.g. retailers are happier to stock brands with high loyalty
Highly loyal customers tend to become brand advocates to family, friends and colleagues and thus act as ambassadors of the brand and bring in new customers
A loyal customer foundation acts as a 'breathing space' for companies a kind when faced with market changes
Brand loyalty has thus a important role in defining brand equity and brand valuation.
Brand image and brand attitude
significant research efforts has been concentrated on identifying important brand or store attributes that constitute brand or store image which influence consumers' store choice and benefaction (Dickerson and Albaum, 1977; Hansen and Deutscher, 1977-1978; Lindquist, 1975). Erdem et al. (1999) studed the nine dimensions of Lindquist (1975) and developed an evolved three key store attributes for clothing shopping:
(2) Merchandise; and
Apart from this approach, Westbrook and Black (1985) also hypothesized three categories of shopping motives:
(2) Experiential; and
(3) A combination of product and experiential.
Accordind to Park's and his teams study, brand images or advertisements based on an perceptive of consumer motives/needs have been viewed as an efficient way to converse product benefits (Park et al., 1986; Jiaxun He, 2010). Doyle (1989) revealed that the most essential principle of brand success combined with the degree of difference advantage was exceptional reputation or image for quality, reliability or service. This, he was convinced that this, enabled successful brands to accomplish numerous additional criteria, for instance seize higher prices than less successful brands. However some researcher argue that the success of a brand depends on factores like market share, shareholders equity and profitability (Innscher1993, , Gale 1987, Hansen, Gronhaug and Wameryd, 1990 and wilson 1978). (Dall Olmo Riley et al., 1997) have recognized strong correlations involving a brand's market share and consumer attitudes towards it. But according to Pitta and Katsanis (1995), successful brands were the brands with a "strong image or personality, when consumers perceived specific attributes as being strongly associated with particular brands". Keller (1993) describes, that the "brand associations needed to be congment because the favourability and strength a brand association could be influenced by other brand associations."
De Ghematony and McDonald (1994) in their study highlight's the importance of added values as a main feature of successful brands.
De Ghematony and McDonald (1994) also mentioned that, it was perceived effect, other than the actual quality that accounted and that this effect was assessed by consumers in camparison to other brands. These consumer-based achievement criteria are influential to business-based measures of achievement, such as the 'consistent stream of future income and the superior eamings that originate from high market shares, premium pricing and from the ability to resist pressure from the trade for discounts'. (De Chernatony et al,1998).
Joachimsthaler and Aaker (1997) explains that visibility have to be joined with clear brand identity, so that those conniving and implementing the communications channels do not accidentally send confusing or conflicting messages to consumers. Stephens et al. (1996) states, that a long-term good relationship with the consumer is very important in creating of successful brands image. With the creation of a high brand image and brand attitude, brand will be able to originate to premium pricing, high market shares, and from the ability to oppose pressure from the business for discounts. (Gokayne 1991)
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