Branding is the single most important aspect of any marketing strategy. The purpose of the proposed research is to determine the ways in which branding strategies can be utilized to alter consumer behavior to the benefit of retail outlets. Retail businesses need to understand the factors so that their branding strategies are developed in a way that contributes positively to profitability. The proposed research aims to provide the necessary tools to assist retailers in implementing the appropriate brand strategy. The research design will be a combination of both qualitative and quantitative methods. The qualitative aspect of the research will involve a review of the literature currently existing on the topic of branding's influence on consumer decisions. The quantitative aspect of the proposed research will involve 25 participants who will complete a 15 part questionnaire that utilizes the Likert scale. The research design will allow the researcher to gauge the actions of consumers based on both secondary and primary research. By combining both qualitative and quantitative methods the researcher will investigate the actions of consumers while also providing concrete statistical evidence to support the claims. It is hypothesized that retail branding has a profound effect on what consumers' purchases.
Branding is an essential aspect of having a successful product or services. Businesses all over the world spend a great deal of money annually to introduce and/or secure their brands. The proposed research will focus on the manner in which branding influences consumer decisions as it relates to retail purchases. The purpose of the proposed research is to determine the ways in which branding strategies can be utilized to alter consumer behavior to the benefit of retail outlets.
Relevance of the Proposed Research
The information contained in the proposed research is essential to understanding the branding factors that will influence consumer decisions. Retail businesses need to understand the factors so that their branding strategies are conducted in a way that can contribute positively to profitability in the retail sector. Possessing the proper branding strategy increases the likelihood that the brand will have longevity and be successful well into the future.
Key Research Studies and Relevant Bodies of Theory
There are several studies that have been conducted involving the importance of retail branding in consumer decision making. For instance, Ries (2011) points out the ways in which brand power can be achieved and the significance of brand power to consumers. The author names four ways in which brand can attain power in the eyes of consumers: Be First, Be First in Mind, Be Different and Be Focused (Ries 2011,p.38). Each of these ways of attaining brand power places a company at a competitive advantage and secures their ability to attract consumers.
Branding enables a company to gain consumer recognition and when consumers are familiar with a brand they are more likely to purchase products or services related to the company. According to Hatch & Schultz (2001) as an aspect of marketing," branding and corporate identity studies, we find a growing awareness that corporate brands can increase the company's visibility, recognition and reputation in ways not fully appreciated by product-brand thinking. The corporate brand contributes not only to customer-based images of the organisation, but to the images formed and held by all its stakeholders (p. 1042)."
Retail branding has specific attributes that must be understood and correctly implemented if a company is to enjoy success (Sayman et al., 2002). Ailawadi & Keller (2004) explain that retailer brands differ from other product brands so much that the application of the accepted branding principles can differ greatly. For instance retailer brands tend to be "more multi-sensory in nature than product brands and can rely on rich consumer experiences to impact their equity. Retailers also create their brand images in different ways, e.g., by attaching unique associations to the quality of their service, their product assortment and merchandising, pricing and credit policy, etc. (Ailawadi & Keller 2004, p. 332)." With these things understood retail companies must make a concerted effort to develop branding strategies that are uniquely situated to meet the needs of retailer and dictate consumer decisions.
Cognitive theories are most often utilized to explain consumer behavior and decision making (Foxall et al., 2011) however the field lacks a "universally-accepted theoretical framework or model (Foxall, 2005). Additionally "The disciplines of economics and psychology (especially cognitive and social) have traditionally provided the theoretical foundations of consumer behaviour and have lent their research towards more cognitive approaches (Jacoby, Johar & Morrin, 1998 quoted in Foxall et al. 2011, p.39 )."
Research Questions to be Investigated
1. How does branding effect brand loyalty amongst consumers?
2. What are the ways in which branding impacts retail purchases?
3. Are consumers more likely to purchase retail products if they are familiar with the brand?
4. What level of importance should retail businesses place on developing branding strategies?
The research design will be a combination of both quantitative and qualitative information. More specifically the research will be designed to ascertain the feelings and reactions of consumers as it pertains to the influence of branding on their decisions as found through existing literature on this topic. The quantitative aspect of the research will involve the answering of a questionnaire by individuals who have agreed to participate in the study. There will be a total of 25 participants that will complete a questionnaire consisting of 15 questions. Each of the participants will be asked to sign a consent form. The participants will be chosen through a class database. The information from the questionnaire will be gathered through the use of questionnaires that utilize the Likert Scale.
As it pertains to the qualitative research, all of the literature related to the topic will be collected via library databases such as EBSCO and ProQuest. The literature gather will be from books or scholarly journals such as Journal of Retailing and European Journal of Marketing. Only the pertinent information concerning the topic of branding's influence on consumer behavior will be utilized. As it pertains to the quantitative aspect of the research, the surveys will be distributed electronically via email and participants will have to return the questionnaires within 10 days. All of the surveys will then be printed out and the researcher will ensure that each question has been answered. The surveys will then be evaluated by the researcher.
The data will be analyzed using SPSS statistical software. This software was chosen because it provides the researcher with the opportunity to analyze the research in various ways that include simple statistics, charts, graphs and other quantitative information that will assist in drawing precise conclusions about the research. The analysis of the data will be produced in both qualitative and quantitative formats.
How Research Design and Methods answers the Research Questions
This particular research design will allow me to gauge the actions of consumers based on both secondary and primary research. By combining both qualitative and quantitative methods will allow the researcher to investigate the actions of consumers while also providing concrete statistical evidence to support the claims. In addition the design of the research is consistent with providing the relevant information. The Likert scale is a reliable way to determine how the participants feel about certain issues. In addition the literature review will provide a wealth of information taken from a significant range of years. All of this information will combine to ensure that the findings are relevant and accurate.
Ethical Considerations and Drawbacks
The most important ethical considerations involve insuring that the participants have signed consent forms and that their responses to questions remain anonymous. It is also important that the researcher approach the project in a manner that is unbiased so that the conclusions drawn are based on facts and not opinions. The only drawback to the study…