Consumer Behavior And Brand Equity Marketing Essay

Keeping in view the scope of the research, this section provides a thorough understanding of consumer behavior and brand equity, both these concepts are discussed separately to elaborate the details and the section ends up with discussion about the relation between the two concepts by seeking evidence from existing literature.

An area of interest for both the economists and marketing scholars and practitioners, consumer behavior has been an issue of interest for quite a long time (Sigurdsson,Larsen and Gunnarsson, 2010). There have been offered many theoretical models and theories of consumer behavior by a number of scholars and it is not unusual to quote that consumer behavior does not have a single definition. Kotler and Keller (2009, p.151) defined consumer behavior as the process of studying the process through which customers, individual or groups, make choices while purchasing. Another definition of consumer behavior as offered by Belch and Belch (2004) presents more or less same opinion as that of Kotler and Keller (2009) in these words: “the process and activities people engage in when searching, selecting , purchasing, using, evaluating and disposing of product and services so as to satisfy their needs and desire” (Belch and Belch, 2004). If one analyses all these definitions, it becomes obvious that consumer behavior is a set of factors and processes that make a consumer buy one product or service and make him prefer one commodity or service over the other. The process is of vital importance to the organizations as all the modern organizations place consumer at the center of their working and the focus of all operations as well as innovations is to maximize the value for consumer.

There are quoted a number of factors which affect the decision making among consumers, which leads to the consumer behavior in broad terms. These factors are all well identified in the consumer behavior literature. The three major categories of factors affecting consumer behavior include demographic factors, such as age, gender, location, ethnicity, marital status and religion of the consumer; psychographic factors such as locus of control, importance of significant others, pressure from social groups, taste and preferences and conformity with peers and environmental factors. The environmental factors include information about the product, experience from previous purchases, marketing mix of the product, proximity of the product, packaging and perceived value and so on. These factors not only affect the consumer behavior bout a particular product but also affect the goodwill of the product line as well as the organization. When viewing it through the perspective of consumer, the post sales services are a major factor dictating the consumer behavior and brand loyalty.

Ugala (2001) classified the process of making purchases by customers into two types on the basis of information and experience. Another classification of consumer behavior was provided by Dalqvist and Linde (2002) who categorized the buying behavior of consumers into four types, including rational, conscious, social and unconscious consumer behavior. There exists a huge volume of literature on consumer behavior but most of these studies offer the study and analysis of consumer behavior, as it relates to brand equity, from the perspective of the organizations as they view the consumer and there is need of addressing the issues related to consumer behavior from the perspective of consumers themselves as well (Holehonnur et. al (2009).

Out of all the discussions about consumer behavior, three contemporary issues are the e-consumer behavior, consumers’buying behavior towards the products and services considering the environmental friendly nature of product or service and the ethical concerns about consumer behavior. With more and more companies ensuring their presence on the internet, it is essential for the analysts to study the factors affecting online purchases among the target market. It is also essential to look for the factors which make a customer to switch from one product to another due to presence of the substitute on internet where purchase are a matter of only few clicks. With increasing number of organizations and services being available on internet, it is a matter of increasing importance to consider the new dimensions of marketing mix of the products in order to attract and retain more customers.

The second issue is to consider the ethical concerns rising from the purchases (both online and in brick and mortar stores). There is raising a voice among the marketing and economics figures in the society that what are the factors which make consumers to act ethically or unethically when making buying decision and how these decisions are related to the ethical practices in the organizations producing the product or rendering the service. In case of international and global organizations, the effect of country of origin image also needs to be considered when studying consumer behavior. This country of origin effect can be considered as one important variable in explaining the results of a study like the present research which uses a comparison of two firms of which one in of national origin while the other is of international presence.

The last and the most contemporary issue in consumer behavior are to assess the sensitivity of consumers towards the environmental effects or side effects of the products and services. There is an increasing amount of research taking into account these factors into the purchase decisions of consumers. Up to now, there is a general consensus of the scholars and practitioners that as a result of increased awareness of customers about the environmental issues, consumers prefer those products which they perceive are environment friendly and prefer to buy from the organizations which use and produce in an environment friendly manner.

Having discussed the relevant and important concepts in consumer behavior, the next section lays foundation of brand equity.

2.1.2 Brand Equity

The word equity refers to what an organization’s owners owe to the business itself. Before dissecting the concept of brand equity, a brief discussion is given about what a brand is and some relevant concepts are defined.

Where a brand can be defined in a number of ways, Kotler et al (2005, p.549) defined brand as a combination of some symbol, name or a particular set of signs or names which differentiate a product line or service from the other. Kapferer (2004) presented his views about brand stating that a brand is one of the major drivers of consumer behavior and has got the power to shape consumer decisions. He further explained that consumers form a psychological bond with the brand (which serves as identity for product or service having certain unique features) and these bonds usually get stronger with the passage of time. A brand is also representative of the material and non-material characteristics and qualities of a products or service as well as its producer or provider ( Parsad and Dev, 2000). In other words, a brand adds some value to the product and makes it differentiated from other products due to this augmented value (Jones and Slater, 2003). De Chernatony and MacDonald (2003) also confirmed the same value addition feature of brands.

Coming back to the discussion of brand equity, the concept of brands equity was defined by Keller (1993 p.8) as the experiential learning a brand has to attract and retain its consumers. Another definition, as provided by Farquhar (1989) is the value possessed by a brand which makes it distinct and unique from other products. At this point, it is essential to quote the most widely accepted definition of brand equity as offered by Aaker (1991). He stated that a brand is “a set of brand assets and liabilities linked to a brand, its name and symbol, which add to or subtract from the value provided by a product or service to a firm and/or to that firm’s customers” (Aaker, 1991, p.15). An analysis of all these definitions gives an idea that brand equity refers to all the characteristics and features of a brand. These assets of a brand may include both tangible assets, such as the material resources and financial assets, as well as the intangible assets such as good will, customer base and the learning which the brand has achieved through experience. Therefore, in order to study how the consumer behavior is related to the value and assets a brand has earned, it will be necessary to establish a link between the two parameters to formulate the theoretical basis of the study. The next section provides only the theoretical link between consumer behavior and brand equity in general. A more focused and specific discussion about the relationship is given in the second part of the literature review which presents literature on consumer behavior and brand equity in services industry and particularly in fast food industry.

2.1.3 Consumer behavior as a function of brand equity:

When researchers talk about consumer behaviour work as a function of brand equity it explores; what consumer is perceiving about the brand? A sequential research of multiple-step to develop a multi extend consumer based brand equity (MBE) that has been done by Aaker (1991) & Keller (1993) in order to develop a scale to measure that how consumers perceive any brand. The total population taken as 1530 Americans, Korean, and Korean American participator analyzed that 12 brands out of three product division that is film for cameras, athletic shoes, and colour television sets. The multiple steps of psychometric tests indicate that the novice brand equity scale is conscientious, substantial, compelling, efficacious, and generalizable through various cultures and product divisions. The researchers have discussed both approaches the practical implications, and the theoretical approach of the study. Brand equity of consumer goods and services is very essential for marketers.

According to the (Yoo. B & Donthu. N, 2001) brand equity expedites in the potency of brand expansion, and brand commencement. There are numerous methods to measure the monetary value of brand equity, the assessment of customer-based brand equity that has been lacking. Introduce a scale to measure on the basis of customer brand equity. The customer based brand equity is analyze from five fundamental dimensions of brand equity, image & personality, awareness, loyalty, preference, availability, and social image. In pragmatic tests, brands are usually scored higher customer-based brand equity scale extensively had high prices.

(Keller. K 1993) introduce an analytical model of brand equity for the individual consumer and according to their perspectives. Basically customer-based brand equity is explained as the distinguishing effect of brand comprehension on consumer feedback about the brand to the market. As the consumer is the buyer of the product and services we need to analyse what they see in their product which fulfils their need, and satisfy them through all aspects. A brand has two views when we talk about consumer-based brand equity first is positive and second is the negative aspect which consumer perceive about the brand. When the reaction of consumer is more (less) willingly to a phenomenon of the marketing mix for the brand after that they do the same marketing mix phenomena when it comes to give attribution to a chimerical named or unnamed adaptation of the product and services. Brand understanding is the analytical and conceptual according to the researcher when it comes to an association netting memory pattern when researchers talk about two components that are brand awareness, and brand image which comes in a set of the brand association. The customer-based brand equity takes place when the customer is well-acquainted with the brand and have strong unique, and confidential brand associations in memory pattern.

(M Geuens & B Weijters, 2009) suggested to analyse the consumer mind pattern, which is based on information process of consumer perception. It is very essential for any marketer in order to understand the consumer mind. The marketer strategy should consider these processed when he makes marketing strategy in order to attract consumers. The information process and foundation which strategy executive make in order to process or attract consumer they are as follows: Exposure stage: which should give high level of stimulus so that the idea trigger consumer’s mind. Attention stage: After the exposure stage, if the consumer find the idea attractive, he demonstrates his attention towards the product or services. Comprehension: When consumer give attention to the product he starts to understand such as the features, and benefits of the product. Involvement: After the consumer’s mind understand the idea they get involved in it. Mostly the involvement of early adaptors is comparatively very high whereas the involvement of Memory: At the end of this process the consumer’s mind save it in a memory. If the involvement level is high, then the information goes in the long-term memory. If the involvement level is low the consumer is less likely to remember it; hardly for few minutes.

According to the (HJ Park, 2009) one of the basic measurement system that captures and retain the consumer atteintion in a primitive questionnaire pattern. This kind of questionnaire pattern manifest feelings with respect to a specific features, and attribution of the brand and show whole experience regarding the service. The other qualitative research measurement shows to apprehend the purchase decision of the consumer that how the consumer behaves, take purchase decison, and the factors effecting the consumer. When the market takes place to the global level with a clear vision and persistent global brand image all over the nations, the marketers always take cultural issues into consideration. The researcher emphasize that percentage of the cultural influence is comparatively high and the issue is seriously taken into consideration as an important issue across the nations in comprehension of the consumer utilization value that also analyze the options of consuming daily use products and services. As many of the big shots establish a persistent global brand image, therefore a benchmarked brand image strategies which generally doesn’t take brand image into consideration. This study has established a analytical framework which integrated the cultural value. The study is mainly focused on the difference among cultural value, brand image, and consumption value netween the South Korea, and the United state.

2.2 Brand equity and Consumer behavior in fast food industry :

An empirical study measures association characteristics, such as set size, valence, uniqueness, and origin, and examines differences between high and low equity brands on these measures. The results show that consumer association differences are external area of the product which make consumer to use it and make the product strong reason of sale.

It is very important to have a actual variety of the food in the market it is very necessary to have a complete range of the food. Need arises when there should be the demand is not fulfill or there`s a lack of range. A variety of factor affects the actual size of the food. Depletion of the available supply of the product arises when a major cause change in the actual state. Dissatisfaction can also triggered the need recognition it may also caused by the food quality to meet expectation (Steenkamp et al. 1996).

Influences such as culture, subculture, or lifestyle trends, or changes in sociodemographic characteristics (e.g., birth of a child) may affect in desired state in various ways. Green pepper, courgette, eggplant, and other vegetables in northern Europe is, at least partially due to positive experiences consumer had with these products as tourist in southern Europe are the another key factor to affect.

The best way to recognize the product to consumer is by advertising, in store-promotions, and ensuring adequate shelf space through which the consumer recognizes the product in the super market.

It is very important to influence the consumer when making their choices, success in brand management arises from understanding and managing brand equity correctly to produce strong attributes. Strong brand equity has become very important factor that influences consumer perception of a brand.

The brand personality is an important aspect of stability and growth of a fast food restaurant (Murase & Bonjanic, 2004). Usually fast food restaurant use a competing pricing strategy to compete in the market. Such strategy only can be easily imitated by competitor and less effective in creating a sustainable competitive advantage for a fast food restaurant. Brand personalities have a great influence on consumer behaviors in various aspects such as consumer preference and usage (Sirgy, 1982). And it’s a better way to differentiate a fast food restaurant from its competitor in the long run.

Human personality traits associated with a brand personality. It is one of the major components of brand image in addition to the product`s physical attributes to a good quality of food and drink. Creating product differentiation and positioning is a sustainable advantage to gain consumer interest. For example “a kid-friendly place in McDonald endeavors to create its brand personality to differentiate itself from the competitors by positioning this place in its restaurant as well as “I am loving it” campaign, and “happy meal” that provides support to the children and families.

High brand awareness is positively related to brand equity because it can represent brand loyalty and brand commitment which also helps a consumer to consider the brand at the point of purchase, which may help them leading to a favorable behavior for the brand. As well as the brand advertising also influence the consumer to understand more about the brand which may help them to buy the food easily. Long term marketing activities help the consumer to remember the brand name and may easily recognize it. That’s why multi millions of dollars have been invested in advertising and other forms of marketing communication in order to create the brand awareness in consumer for a fast food restaurant.

There should be the importance of implication for the brand success that the extent to which a brand is favorable, attractive and distinctive. The consumer perception of a brand can have an impact on their opinion of the desirability of the brand as a relationship partner.

Consumer favorable reaction towards the of a fast food restaurant, the brand association is an important component for a fast food restaurant to be consider. This is particularly important when it seeks to achieve a distinct and competitive advantage which could finally result in desirable consumer outcomes, such as, consumer positive perception of brand attractiveness.

To increase the restaurant attractiveness there should be focus on certain dimension in eliciting consumer`s favorable reaction toward the brand of fast food restaurant such as trying to convey the image of reliability, security, intelligence, and confidence in their advertising messages. To elicit desired consumer response brand personality could be used as a strategic tool.]moreover its very necessary to pay attention what dimension of brand personality a fast food restaurant wishes to create as each dimension of sincerity, excitement, competence, sophistication and ruggedness do not have identical impact on consumer.

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