business world, many strategies have been devised to gain and retain customers. Phenomena such as globalization, market saturation, and better information technology have driven strategies such as customer awareness and long-term customer relationships to be favored above relatively short-term strategies to gain new customers, such as product price and quality (Kinuthai et al., 2012, p. 223). Indeed, creating brand loyalty in order to retain customers in the long-term has played a key role in long-term business success. To accomplish this, brands such as those operating within sportswear have emphasized strategies to appeal to consumers responding to products at the individual level. As such, customer loyalty is a significant determinant in the amount of product being bought and the frequency of repeat purchases.
On the basis of this, the dissertation will aim to examine brand loyalty among the youth of a developing country (Kenya) as compared to the same phenomenon in a developed country (the United States). To examine this, factors like brand development and strategies, consumer behavior, and advertising strategies will be examined. The objectives of the dissertation are to:
Determine the differences in consumer behavior among the youth of the two countries.
Determine how brand development and strategies influence this behavior.
Examine how advertising can influence brand loyalty
Brand Development and Strategies
According to Mante (2011, p. 2), one of the best ways for a company to achieve equity within its market is by means of branding. Branding and the loyalty created in this way involves various benefits for a business. This includes repeat business from loyal customers, an increase of sales and profits, investor attraction, and customer pride in terms of association with the brand. The author also mentions "branding flavor" in order to ensure the company's survival, even within a dynamic and often stormy business environment. Branding flavor means that a company must constantly be involved in innovation and development of its products. Better products with sustainable improvements must be the result. Companies that want to create and maintain customer loyalty should predict the wants and needs of their customer base and provide for these. This is particularly important when the global environment is taken into account. Sportswear customers in Kenya, for example, may have different concepts of style and comfort than those in the United States. These need to be researched carefully in order to ensure that customer demands and product supply are adequately matched. Success within this requirement will create a highly competitive platform for the business, especially in terms of catering to specific tastes and individual requirements.
According to Haig (2004, p. 8), this is something the sports brand Adidas managed to do with great success. One of the success factors in the Adidas brand is its unifying logo, which is three stripes. This logo has come to be associated not only with the highly functional nature of the brand in different sports, but also with its image of being "cool." This image has been created by the association of the brand with rap artists such as Run DMC and Missy Elliot, as well as sports stars such as David Beckham. The international appeal of these celebrities also creates international appeal for the brand in both the developed and developing world.
To appeal to a wider market, Adidas also includes a Sport Style line for those who are fashion conscious. This is particularly appealing to young people, many of whom are highly concerned with their appearance regardless of the kind of activity they are participating in. This is also a relatively universal concern, even in developing countries, where globalization has had a significant influence.
Branding and advertising go hand in hand to create customer loyalty. According to Shaefer, Parker, and Kent (2010, p. 31), celebrity endorsements are among the most popular strategies companies use to advertise their products. This is particularly so in the sports apparel industry, where world renowned celebrities like Tiger Woods and David Beckham are employed for their appeal to the mass market.
In the United States alone, more or less 25% of all advertising includes a celebrity to endorse the product. Indeed, millions of dollars are invested to secure the endorsing services of celebrities. Some of the benefits of this practice include enhanced ad recall, higher product desirability, and increased glamor associated with the product.
Celebrity endorsements are also used in developing countries such as Kenya. What is interesting in such cases is that these are often associated with purposes beyond enhancing product purchases. Ayuk and Nyaseda (2008, p. 2008) Olympic long-distance runner Paul Tergat as an example of this. His endorsement of products and companies, according to the authors, is "cosmetic," since the companies in question already have significant market success. Nevertheless, Tergat's association with these companies does create a certain image and value for the companies in question. Customer loyalty, in other words, does not only lead to retaining these customers, but can also enhance the company's reputation and image in the public mind.
Brand Loyalty and Consumer Behavior
More specifically, Kinuthia et al. (2012, p. 230) consider brand loyalty in terms of swimwear among university students in Kenya. Factors that are found to influence brand loyalty include price and variety, perceived attractiveness, size and brand reputation. Interestingly, Speedo was found to be the most popular brand of swimwear among Kenyans. Since factors like attractiveness tends to depend upon individual taste, manufacturers who wish to create brand loyalty will have to provide a significant variety of styles and designs for students to choose from.
When compared to the United States, Baker, Sterenberg, and Taylor (n.d., p. 10) note that Kenya's consumers tend to operate from a collectivist perspective that is nonetheless open to global influence. This focus on global brands could also have influenced a tendency towards greater individualism among youthful customers of swimwear brands.
The United States, on the other hand, has a highly individual focus on its own cultural values and brands. This means that, whereas a Kenyan young person would be loyal to a global brand in a more or less collectivist way, an American would have a tendency to focus on local brands in a more individualist way.
In addition to various aspects related to consumer investment and brand loyalty, the literature review reveals that relatively little has been done, specifically, to investigate the differences regarding these aspects among young people in developed and developing countries. Nevertheless, authors have focused their efforts on several related factors of brand loyalty, which can be applied to inform the current study on brand loyalty among young sportswear customers in the United States and Kenya.
Hwan and Kandampully (2012) focus their work on the emotional aspects in the relationship between young consumers and branded products. The authors recognize that there is currently a gap in the literature regarding specific factors when it comes to young people and the factors that encourage their loyalty to brands. The three emotional factors investigated include self-concept, emotional attachment, and brand love. The market of investigation was luxury clothing.
The findings suggest that emotional attachment is the strongest influencing factor upon brand loyalty, followed by self-concept and brand love. The implication for marketers is that emotional attachment among young people should receive the most prominent attention when creating advertisements for their apparel advertisements within this market.
This study also has interesting implications for investigating young people in Kenya as compared to the United States. Young people experience emotion in a certain way, especially when it comes to clothing products. Various emotional aspects might influence their brand loyalty to sports apparel. This aspect could be variable among young people in the different regions.
The study by Javani et al. (2013) focuses on a developing region, which is Iran. Specifically the brand loyalty among professional football league fans is investigated. Products associated with the sport, rather than a single specific product, formed the center of the study. The central idea proposed around the concept of brand loyalty was that brand associations and loyalty to specific teams are essential elements in creating loyalty and associated success for any given product. To investigate this, the effects of attributes, benefits, and attitudes on brand loyalty among sports fans and their level of brand loyalty were investigated.
The findings confirmed a cause-and-effect relationship between the brand association dimensions investigated and brand loyalty among fans. Attitudes, benefits and attributes were good predictors of brand loyalty among Iranian fans of professional league football. The subscales of logo, success, management, and head coach were also found to correlate positively with attractive associations with brands in the minds of fans.
An important factor the study revealed was that specific cultural and sports association factors also exerted some influence on brand loyalty among football fans. This is something investigators need to be aware of when investigating and comparing cultures within the developed and developing worlds. Indeed, there may be variable factors associated even with similar influences on brand loyalty among Kenyan young people and…