The study's findings indicate that high technology brands are exceptionally effective in defining the prestige aspects of their products and through the use of market branding, showing their value from a personal brand standpoint (Hamann, Williams, Omar, 2007). The study also showed that the more utilitarian aspects of products aren't relevant to positioning or branding, which is a point marketers have been making for decades in high technology (Hamann, Williams, Omar, 2007). The authors concluded the study with an extensive statistical analysis which is shown in the following table as well. This analysis indicates how powerful product quality is in defining the brand experience and perception of customers. Shortcomings of the study include the lack of statistical reliability of the sample, the lack of in-depth analysis of the key areas within quality and the need for greater depth of insight into the four components of quality defined in this iteration of the study.
Assessment of the study:
Consumer Involvement with Personal Computer Technology:
A Multi-Sample Analysis
The research premise of Consumer Involvement with Personal Computer Technology: A Multi-sample Analysis (Latour, Hanna, Miller, Pitts, 2002) concentrates on the inherent conflict between the utilitarian aspects of computing relative to the unique, highly personalized aspects of productivity well designed PCs and laptops can deliver. Using a dual-sample methodology the researchers sought to define the utilitarian aspects of computing relative to the highly differentiated, personalized use that many high technology vendors are pursuing today.
The sampling frame for the first sample was administrative, clerical and secretarial employees in a large southeastern university. The researchers were able to contact 769 potential respondents in these roles. The research instrument was a printed questionnaire that was delivered through the campus mail system to ensure anonymity. The researchers were able to get a 32% response rate with this approach, and once incomplete surveys were deleted the net response rate was 29.5% or 227 total responses. For the second sample, junior, senior and graduate-level students from a Midwestern university. These students rely on a personalized PC to complete tasks essential to their core courses. The convenience sample was defined of 324 students in preselected courses, with a net respondent base of 300 (Latour, Hanna, Miller, Pitts, 2002). Demographics of these two samples were highly slanted towards women (62%) and a mean age of 38 years of age. 31% had earned a high school diploma and 265% had a bachelor degree or higher. The median level of training on computers was 7.1 years across both sampling frames. Both survey sampling frames are also very active in staying current on technologies with 72% having taken courses through continuing education and 71% having courses in computer technologies. Only 4.1% had a college degree in a computer-related field (Latour, Hanna, Miller, Pitts, 2002).
The study results showed that the respondents favored the systems that could be easily tailored to their specific requirements and needs, and found the utilitarian systems were lacking in functionality they actually had. This aligns with previous studies of long-term learning potential by showing the personalized systems can support greater autonomy, mastery and purpose for each of the respondents (Latour, Hanna, Miller, Pitts, 2002). The programs installed on both systems had little difference in the results, however the systems with greater personalization to how the students wanted to use them actually had a higher percentage of features used. This has implications for software companies who define applications base don role-based concepts and definitions including the use of personas (Latour, Hanna, Miller, Pitts, 2002). The greater the aligning of systems and components to the unique needs of students the higher the use and the greater the level of further customization.
Of the many limitations to this study based on sampling frame variations across universities, there is also the lack of implied consistency in research instruments and computers used for the analysis. There is also a significant gap in how these studies defined autonomy, mastery and purpose, which are critically important for long-term learning to take place.
Based on the analysis of the four different studies, one of the most significant findings is how critical it is for high tech marketers to seek our branding strategies that communicate preside with intelligence and insight, not just on features alone. In aggregate all four studies show how important it is to not just rely on the bright shiny objectives of new features and push beyond that to how a given high tech device compliments the roles and responsibilities in a person's life. Branding, marketing and user experience are all attributes that must be earned through intensive levels of design iterations and a focus on delivering strong value to customers. The best high tech manufacturers push beyond the utilitarian aspects of their products and concentrate on the most critical areas of user experience and how systems and technologies compliment not only a customers' status, but their daily life as well.
The following recommendations are based on the four studies included in this analysis:
In the context of multi-generational marketing, its critically important to see the consumer more as a member of a psychographic group, not constrained by age (Williams, Page, Petrosky, Hernandez, 2010). Psychographics are more effective in segmenting markets today vs. any other factor, especially when attempting to sell products that appeal across multiple dimensions.
The online shopping experience, even for those consumers who are browsing, needs to be fueled by exceptionally rich content that often leads to impulse purchases (Koufaris, 2002). This is noteworthy in that it shows the Return on Investment (ROI) of content as driving impulse purchases online and motivating consumers to spend when they had not planned to.
The attributes of price, quality, usability and corporate culture are more effective as foundations of branding compared to any other series of factors within the customer experience, especially for high technology products (Hamann, Williams, Omar, 2007). Brands that accurately capture these factors and orchestrate them for high technology products also create a higher level of consistent trust over time as well, leading to higher customer lifetime value.
The ability to deliver systems that allow for greater flexibility in configuring and using them will in turn create a foundation of autonomy, mastery and purpose, giving customers greater satisfaction (Latour, Hanna, Miller, Pitts, 2002). In the case of students this will also lead to greater levels of long-term learning and higher levels of satisfaction with the systems they used for completing their classes as well.
Hamann, D., Williams, R.L., & Omar, M. (2007). Branding strategy and consumer high-technology product. The Journal of Product and Brand Management, 16(2), 98-111.
Koufaris, M. (2002). Applying the technology acceptance model and flow theory to online consumer behavior. Information Systems Research, 13(2), 205-223.