Summary of the Article
Discuss about the Marketing Management for Automotive Brand in Sultanate of Oman.
A critical analysis of a journal article ‘Automotive Brand In Sultanate Of Oman: Customers’ Perspective’ written by Amitha KN , Anan Akhtar, Brindha N, Kakul Agha and Nagesh Poojary has been done. In the first step in this analysis the major issues in the given article have been summarized. An effort is made to understand how a consumer’s perception about a brand is formed on the basis of brand identity. The concept of branding has been discussed. It has been explained how automobile companies like Renault have been able to create a market for their vehicles in Oman by offering products that provide unique experiences. In the next step, the given article has been evaluated to determine to what extent the arguments of the authors are convincing. The customers’ perceptions about a brand do affect its value and development, but the brand managers of the companies are also successful in evolving the brands as per their requirements to a great extent (Ferrell and Hartline, 2013). In the next step an analysis of the Omani market for automobiles has been made and the behavior of Omani buyers has been explained (Hoyer, Maclnnis and Pieters, 2013). Finally a conclusion has been reached regarding what the companies need to do to sell their products and to what extent the consumer perception about brands is important.
In the given article, the author has proposed that it is the perception of the consumers about a brand that determines its brand value. This customer perception is formed by the brand image that is communicated to the consumer through the various communications done by the company regarding the brand and also through the actual experience of the consumer of using the product and the related services (Shimp and Andrews, 2013). If a consumer can identify with a brand due to some existing congruence then it would lead to a purchase decision if the consumer feels that the product meets the individual’s needs. There is a need for a business organization to create a distinct identity for its brand because there are many products in the market being sold by different companies. In order for a product to gain the attention of a consumer it should have some distinct physical characteristics, name, packaging containing information about the product and the company (Baker and Saren, 2010). Once the consumer is introduced to the brand identity, this identity is further strengthened in the minds of the consumer through subsequent exposure to promotional campaigns done by the company to promote the brand (Tuskej, Golob and Podnar, 2013).
An Evaluation of the Article
By creating a distinct identity for its brand, the company gives the opportunity to consumer to compare its brand with the brands of other companies. There are companies like Renault which have been able to make significant sales of their vehicles in Oman by offering brands to consumers which stand apart from brands of other automobile manufacturers in the country. Renault has succeeded in convincing the consumers that their products and services are unique give more value to them than those offered by their competitors. It is not just about conveying the right message about the brand but taking measures that ensure that the company delivers a high quality product through procedures that heighten the customer satisfaction (Zehir et al., 2011). This leads to brand loyalty and results in repeated purchases and positive word of mouth publicity by consumers about the product. This in turn, leads to company acquiring new customers.
The author has focused on management of the brand on the basis of the customers’ opinions and perceptions. The views of the customer regarding what they want from their product are increasingly becoming important for modern business organizations in taking decisions regarding molding their brands. The management of a company would consciously develop a brand by making changes in the product characteristics and also communications to public regarding the brand over a period of time (Bruhn, Schoenmueller and Schäfer, 2012). This helps to maintain brand loyalty among consumers. An effort is made by the company to create a distinct identity for its brand that buyers get connected to. These ideas have been discussed appropriately in the given article and also proposed in the journal article ‘The Role of Consumer–Brand Identification In Building Brand Relationships’, (Tuskej, Golob and Podnar, 2013).
A modern business organization wants to present its customers with new choices. It carries out research and development activities to make innovative products which sometimes the customers have not even thought of. These new products change the lives of consumers in different ways. There are global organizations which have access to a wide range of information regarding how the people are leading their lives, what kind of products can meet their needs in a better way. These companies have trained engineers who use different types of materials, designs and technology to create improved products (Renault, 2016). The consumers generally do not have such information and knowledge. The companies present the consumers with new products or improvements in the older brands. The consumer purchase decision is based on their perception of their actual requirements, incomes and maintenance costs. If the brand offered by a company meets the perceived needs of the customer, the consumer would identify with the brand. In this case the role of effective communication by the organization regarding its brand is also important because it has an effect on the purchasing decision of the consumer. If the company is able to convince consumers that the new product offerings are actually good and needed by them, the consumers would buy the new product. The consumer’s opinion regarding a brand and the company is also formed by the attitude and response of the sales staff of the dealers of the company. These ideas have been taken up correctly in the given article and this view point has been supported in the journal article, ‘The Effects Of Brand Communication And Service Quality In Building Brand Loyalty Through Brand Trust; The Empirical Research On Global Brands’ (Zehir et al., 2011). Thus the brand managers of a company are able to control to a great extent how the brand evolves over a period of time.
The consumers have faith in a company like Renault which enjoys immense customer loyalty. Many consumers believe that the company would offer them products that are of good quality and would take care of their needs in a better way. This customer loyalty is also due to the satisfaction derived from the use of automobiles of Renault by consumers (Tsai, 2011). It is the ultimate experience that the consumers get by using the product that decides the fate of a brand. If the product itself is not good all the advertising in the world would not be able to sustain the brand in the market (Nam, Ekinci and Whyatt, 2011).
Big companies like Renault make automobiles that are meant for global markets. Though these companies would change certain features of their products to satisfy the desires of regional buyers, most of the features of their products would remain the same for the markets all over the world. Old companies like Renault have a rich history and culture. These organizations have been making certain kind of products over the years which have given these companies distinct identities. The consumers also prefer these brands due to their distinct features which have met their needs. These companies maintain strict quality controls during production which leads to standardized world class products. These organizations have a unique way of dealing with their customers. They have engaged in communication initiatives which have helped them to develop special relationships with their customers (Tsai, 2011). These organizations take constant feedback from their customers regarding their experiences relating to use of the enterprise’s products. In several cases, customer suggestions lead to product improvements being made by the company. The strengthening of these customer relationships leads to improved customer loyalty, which in turn helps the company to beat the competition.
But it is not necessary that the company would include all the changes desired by the consumers in their products. The enterprise has to take into account the different costs that would have to be incurred in carrying out modifications or developing new features in the product. Further the company would also have a perception about the willingness of the consumers to accept the increase in the price of the product due to these changes in the characteristics of the product (Baker and Saren, 2010). So the company would ultimately consider if the changes in a product would make economic sense for the organization or not. Thus there are many factors that decide the way in which a brand evolves. The level of technology available, government regulations, social outlook about environmental issues and quality of infrastructure all play a role in determining the kind of automobiles that are produced by companies.
The customers keep track of changes made by a company in its products. If the consumers feel that a particular brand has changed significantly and not to their liking, they would switch to products of other companies. So there is always pressure on companies to develop their brand characteristics according to the desires of the consumers. Many organizations fear to introduce innovations based solely on their perception of what is good for the consumer.
Oman is a country which is covered with desert and mountain ranges. The public transport system in the country is also inadequate. So the people need personal vehicles which can carry passengers and also other materials used by families. Thus the demand for light commercial vehicles is high in the country. People need vehicles which are durable and can travel distances with lower maintenance requirements. The economic prosperity in the last decade in Oman and the willingness of the people to spend on vehicles coupled with availability of vehicle finance has led to the increase in automobiles sales in Oman in the last decade.
As the people of Oman have the purchasing power, they want to have the best vehicle which can satisfy their needs. The consumers evaluate the different brands of automobiles that are available in the country. Companies like Renault have been able to make significant sales of automobiles in Oman because they have provided people of Oman with vehicles that are tough and can perform in demanding desert and mountain conditions (Focus 2 move.com, 2016). These are powerful vehicles which have to undergo several tests done by the engineers of the company before they are ready to be sold to consumers. These vehicles have been designed aesthetically to appeal to the senses of the consumers. For example, the designs of Renault vehicles have a Latin background. Consumers in Oman associate these global companies with world class products that have been driven on different terrains all over the world. These automobile companies have been engaged in informing consumers about their company’s culture, global sales, brands and prices in different countries including Oman. These companies have their own individual websites which carry pictures of their latest product offerings along with specifications. These organizations have also been resorting to other forms of advertising to promote their brands. These automobile companies have established supply chains in Oman and have distinct ways of doing business due to their different cultural background. For example one company would spend more on advertising than the other or it would have more service outlets than others. All these activities of the companies have helped them to carve out different corporate and brand identities in the minds of the consumers of Oman (Motorshow-oman--.com, 2016).
The designs of vehicles of a company like Toyota differ from that of Renault. The commercial trucks sold by Toyota are expensive than those sold by Ford in many markets. The horse power of these trucks from different companies, vary. Some of the brands provide additional facilities like cruise control (Autotrader.com, 2016). These companies would also rely on different kinds of promotional campaigns with different contents that project a distinct image of their brands in the minds of the consumer. Thus the brand managers of these companies employ different means to develop their brands.
There are consumers in Oman who have different needs and preferences. Some of them prefer more powerful vehicles than others. Some like European designs while others prefer designs of vehicles made by Asian manufacturers. All these factors make consumers in Oman identify with different brands and companies. This is the reason why several leading automobile manufacturers of the world make significant sales in Oman with Toyota being the market leader in 2015, having competitors like Nissan, Hyundai, Ford and Renault (Report Buyer.com, 2016).
The major automobile manufacturers of the world have access to huge resources in the form of research and development facilities to develop new improved products and also marketing tools and experts to engage in promotion of distinct brand identities. All these companies are competing with each other in different markets of the world. It is the ability of one company to combine its resources in a unique way to make available better products and services to consumers that would determine its capacity to compete against another company. The enterprise which can achieve this objective keeping its costs down would be able to make more profits. But the challenge before these organizations is not only to make products which they feel are better but make such products which can meet the expectations of the consumers. The company which can understand the consumer behavior better would be able to develop brands that sell in the market (Hoyer, Maclnnis and Pieters, 2013). The brand must appeal to the consumer as it meets some needs of the consumer that other products are not able to satisfy. A company has to ensure that the consumers are made aware of the fact that its brands are evolving with changing times, that the company is doing enough to provide better products and services.
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