"How Does Branding Affect Consumer Purchasing?." Using this research question, analyze the strengths and weaknesses of each research method (qualitative and quantitative) within the scope of the proposed dissertation topic. Identify which method you will select (or state whether you will use a mixed methodology) and explain the reasons for your choice.
DBA Qs 1 Answer
The marketing guru Philip Kotler perceives branding as a "name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller's good or service as distinct from those of other sellers." It has also been adopted by the American Marketing Association. Michael Dunn, President and CEO, of Prophet, a strategic professional services firm in San Francisco, states that branding is just a defensive tool against market competition; but acts as "insulation against deteriorating economic conditions."
The essence of a brand is the base upon which the prosperity of the parent company thrives upon. The entire corporation must support the brand in order to optimally manage the relationships between the customers, investors, workers and suppliers. The instance of Nordstrom is quoted by Sara Mason in her paper "Branding Matters" to describe the prospective degree of success that can be achieved; given the company brings on board all stakeholders. The workforce at Nordstrom is not required to gain approval from its boss for each and every decision. Instead, they are offered a viable commission and bonus so as to encourage this trend. (Mason). The late CEO of Coco Cola, Robert Goizueta, touches upon the value of the brand of Coco Cola by clarifying that even if all the production facilities at the company burnt down, it would not make a dent in the actual asset value or market value of the business in itself. The true worth of the company lies in the goodwill the brand name of Coco Cola holds. (Brands: Kotler on Marketing). The way a brand is marketed and promoted is meant to create an emotional connect with the target audience. This is why the role of branding is strategic towards consumer purchase.
One can classify consumer behavior as a psychological process that one goes through when he identifies his need, seeks various methods to fulfill it and then takes on a final choice. Consumer behavior is essentially dynamic in nature. Purchasing trends will evolve in one's lifetime as needs change as well as other external factors. These include technology, ambiguity of the future, and new inventions that can improve the quality of life. (Rence, 2006). The buying process analyzes a number of variables which include where to purchase from, previous exposure, return policy etc. All this consideration can be pooled into one term: the brand. It is important to distinguish between consumer markets and industrial segments that employ the branding concept. It is termed as a "multi-dimensional construct matching a firm's functional and emotional values with the performance and psychological needs of consumers." (Keith Walley, 2007). However, according to Walley and his fellow writers, the differences in the two markets are significant. The industrial market has less frequency of purchase with a high number of involved parties. The relationship between the buyer and seller is close and often the product is customized for the client. The bargaining process can be prolonged and usually, notable brand loyalty exists. In the industrial market, the brand name can be the company's name. On the other hand, consumer segments have multiple portfolios of brands, catering to variant needs.
Walley discussed a study that was carried out on 878 farmers in the United Kingdom. The intent was to study the role of branding had to play in their buying decision. A quantitative and multivariate statistical technique, known as conjoint analysis, was employed to carry out the research. This was selected as prior studies had resorted to simple interviewing techniques that did not take into account the fact that a number of factors influence consumers to buy items. It assumed that products have versatile components and such a method would be more reliable to evaluate the variables that an individual uses to make a purchase decision. An entire factorial design was applied that was founded on attributes that tractors possess as well as the corresponding levels. A literature survey was conducted to identify appropriate characteristics as well as semi-structured interviews with farmers. This qualitative research technique permitted the examiner to gain insights from within the farmer's mind. The following attributes were identified: brand, price, location of dealer, service quality, and prior experience. A response rate of 28.7% was achieved with 428 farmers on board. They ranked 25 cards that were created to profile different hypothetical tractor designs. The conjoint analysis indicated that the role of the brand had the greatest influence and accounted for 38.95% of the entire buying process.
While this supports the fact that branding is vital to the purchase decision, this study did have its shortcomings. It was limited to the tractor market only in England. Also, further research is required to verify that branding is important in industrial marketing. However, the employment of the conjoint analysis did provide a reliable picture of the role of branding as it took into account the different attributes that customers' consider as well as the relationship the attributes have to each other. (Keith Walley, 2007)
Another study conducted in the North African country of Tunisia examined the value of brand personality's influence on consumer purchasing. A total of three hundred and eighty participants received an SMS advertisement. As mass marketing is being done away with, corporations are seeking fresh and innovative ways to gain access and communication to their target market. (Olfa Bouhlel, 2011). This paper evaluates the relational approach of brand personality and mobile marketing communication on the customer's buying decision. The brand personality has been defined "as a tendency to show coherent modes of cognition, affect and behavior" by Costa and McCrae. It explores the importance of trust and attachment that a brand can hold for a customer. A quantitative technique was employed, that of non-probability sampling. A questionnaire was designed and pretested on a sample of 28 mobile phone consumers. The brand constructs of brand personality, sensitivity, involvement, trust, attachment, commitment and purchase intention were each measured on a five-point Likert scales ranging from 1 (strongly disagree) to 7 (strongly agree). It was discovered t hat customers did view mobile communication as a reliable and accurate means. This co-related the brand trust and attachment positively to the purchase intention.
However, there were some inadequacies in the research design. Basically, the sample was biased towards Tunisian university students and did not target consumers from other age brackets. Yet the study did provide strategic insights on how companies can utilize mobile communication to build trust and dependence.
Studies also explore the factors that influence a consumer to purchase in the beverages sector. It has been argued that taste is not the final determining factor; yet that brand, packaging and labeling also hold importance. Jess Halliday analyzed a study based in three German cities that was conducted by Simone Mueller and Gergely Szolnoki in 2010. Five hundred and twenty one wine tasters listed their preferences for white wine at a blind tasting. Then, they appraised variant attributes of the product. This included the grape variety, brand, packaging style, and the area of origin. The findings included a strong inclination towards the brand and then the label design. The distinctive part of this study was that price preferences were asked after the blind tasting and all the other research questions had been performed. Product quality, taste and monetary limitations had other implications. The problem with this design was that factors such as health were not taken into account and also whether prior alcohol consumption had taken place by the respondents. However, as the nature of wine incorporates extrinsic variables in the purchase decision, the study was still a moderate indicator that branding does affect consumer behavior. (Halliday, 2010)
A new avenue contributing to purchase intention is that of the relationship between a consumer's personal reciprocity and brand loyalty. The writer in this particular research paper takes on Morales's depiction of it as a "consumer's conscious tendency to engage in a reciprocal and mutually beneficial relationship with a brand provider." The study took place in Hong Kong and wanted to explore whether brand loyalty, trust and product familiarity had positive relationship with the concept of personal reciprocity that in turn influenced future purchase decisions. It was decided that the scope would be defined to one particular product category. To commence the process of choosing a product category, the qualitative research procedure of focus groups was put to use. Each session had eleven university students. All the respondents were requested to name the product category to which they had had the greatest exposure too. The male elements stated mobile phones and printers whilst the female members were most familiar with clothing and cosmetics. In order to avoid gender bias, the category of printers was…