There was a time when marketing was considered as a secondary function in the organization. With time, organizations have evolved and competition has increased. In this era of globalization and high competition, marketing is considered as important organizational function. One of the roles of marketers is to create high brand equity for the brand. Brand equity is defined as the value premium that a company realizes from a product with a recognizable name as compared to its generic equivalent (Parker, 2014). For example, brand equity is that value for which consumers are willing the I Phone or I Pod rather than buying a local brand or Brand Equity is the value for which consumers are willing to buy a Coca-Cola rather than buying a local soda.
Today, organizations have realized that brand equity can help them to influence the decision of consumers. Marketers have realized the concept of relationship marketing and marketers have realized that relationship marketing can help to increase the brand equity. It would not be incorrect to say that brand equity of a product or brand would have an impact on consumer decision process (Valenzuela, 2013). It is expected that consumer would be willing to pay a premium price if the brand equity of product is high. Today, marketers have realized that consumers do not only buy a product but they also buy a brand. It can be said that brand equity is the promise that brands offers to customers. The objective of this research paper is to study the way brand equity can impact the consumers’ decision to buy a particular product. The paper would also discuss the extent to which brand equity can influence the buying decision. The main research question of this research work cane be highlighted as:
“To What Extent does a company's brand Equity impact consumers decision to buy a particular product?”
Lehmann & Neslin (2012) argued that there has been a fundamental difference in the way consumers used to make the purchase decision. There was a time when consumers used to analyze the quality of product itself and they paid little attention to brand. That was the time when corporations had limited reach and the ‘product concept’ of marketing was prevalent. With time, the concept of branding and brand equity has been established (Sachse, 2011). Nowadays life in a society is decided by ‘What people have not by what people are’. Therefore, this leads to situation where everyone wants to have a prestige in the society by maintaining the standard of living, which makes him or her different from the rest of the people. This prestige could be obtained with branded products. In today’s society, the brands not only represent the symbol of company but the standard of living also (Schmitt, 2009). Which product a person uses in his day-to-day life reflects his taste, his status in the society, his economic background and many other things. Therefore, it makes a close relationship between the company and its brand with the consumer. Therefore, people would buy the products from a reputed brand.
Guizani & Merunka (2011) argued that the competition has increased in the current world. There was a time when competition was limited and organizations were able to reach out to customers through their products. However, today the fact is that there exists very little difference between the same products of different companies. For example, the carbonated drink of Pepsi and Coca-Cola. In fact, people would find it difficult to identify the product when they are blindfolded (Lin, 2008). Therefore, it can be said that people do not just buy the product but they buy the brand and they want to get associated with the brand. People do not just like the cola in Pepsi or Coca-Cola but they like the brand. Therefore, it can be said that the purchase decision of consumers depends on the brand equity. This decision is influenced more when there exist minimal differences in the product (Tribó, 2011). This decision could be impacted less if the products are different and consumers are able to differentiate the products based on certain tangible and intangible attributes.
Huang & Sarigollu (2012) mentioned that for a single commodity, multiple brands are available in the market, so it gives a mental and physical activity to a consumer which product to use. For this consumer has to be active, should have an enormous amount of information with regards to product and services available. Customer has to follow the sequence of step in decision process to purchase a particular product. They start realizing the requirement of product, get information, identify and evaluate alternate products and finally decide to purchase the product from a specific brand. There are number of clues present in the environment that guide public in selection (Schroeder, 2009). One of them is brand. Here comes the importance of brand. In each of the step of consumer buying process, the brand equity could have an influence. For example, when users are evaluating the options, he or she may reject or accept some options because of brand reputation or brand value. It is important for marketers to analyze the consumer purchase process for their product and then align the branding strategy based on the consumer purchase process (Allen, 2014). It would give an idea to marketers about the phase where products should be marketed to customers.
Nam & Whyatt (2011) highlighted that Brand is a combination of name, symbol and design. Brand represents the customer’s perception of opinion about the performance of the product. The powerful brand is one, which resides in the mind of consumer and they become loyal to the brand. Brand is nothing but a promise and consumers may want to take a promise that could be fulfilled by companies. Therefore, brand value of the company can have an impact on the consumer purchase decision. In fact, some of the brands have good products but they are not able to sustain the market because they do not have any brand equity.
Buil & Chernatony (2013) argued that it is easy to develop or manufacture the product and start a company. However, it is difficult to create a brand. It can be said that brands are not created in a day or two. It can take months and years to create a brand. There are various factors and attributes of brands that can attract customers (Yaprak, 2008). These attributes would include both tangible and intangible things. It would include the product itself, the pricing, promotion etc. It would include the marketing mix of product and it would also include the packaging of product. As the branded products have attractive packaging, so it appeals to consumers. It has a logo, which can be easily identified by the customers. As the life of the people is too busy, they need shortcuts, which is provided by brand identity in selection of products (Tellis, 2013). Many researchers agree that the choice of brand name can alter the consumer judgement about the product and their purchase decision-making process. With competition getting fiercer and product quality becoming more homogeneous, a better brand name can be decisive in product choice if the consumer compare several products (Tellis, 2008). However, many companies are able to have better products and yet are unable to compete in the market due to poor branding activities. Thus, strong brands have the potential to generate long term and loyal customers, which would eventually lead to an increase in sales in the future. One Instance in support of this can be highlighted as:
“In October 2012, report from Forbes magazine, Apple was ranked as the top global brand with a value of $87.1 billion. This is how brand affects the buying decision of consumers”.
Typically, any research could be primary research or secondary research. This research would use a mix method of research. It means that this research work would use both primary and secondary research. The research methodology or research design would be to start with the primary research and the continue the secondary research. The research methodology for this research work would be divided into 7 phases. These phases can be discussed as:
Phase 1: Research Topic identification
This would be the first phase of the research project. This would be the phase where research topic would be identified. The identified research topic is ‘Brand equity and consumer purchase decision’. It can be said that this is one of the most important phase of entire research work as it is very important to identify the research topic (Hoicka, 2014).
Phase 2: Background Study
This would be the phase where the background study would be done on research topic. The background study would help to formulate the specific research questions. The background study would be done in the form of literature review of existing literature (Bryman, 2012). The background study would also be done on the previous research work of similar nature.
Phase 3: Identification of research questions
This would be the phase in which the research questions would be designed based on which entire research would be done. There are two crisp research questions identified for this research work (Saunders, 2011). It is recommended to have definite and specific research questions for any research work.
Phase 4: Primary research
This would be the phase in which inputs from respondents would be collected. It would be the phase in which survey would be designed and questionnaire would be mailed to sample of 200 people. The sample of 200 people would include both customers and executives. At least 40% of the sample (80) would be female candidates. Out of 200, 150 would be consumers and 50 would be from management layer of corporations. The 200 people would belong to age group of 18 years to 60 years with at least 20% of the sample with more than 50 years and at least 20% of the population with less than 30 years. This distribution would ensure a fair and equal participation from different age group. The survey would be targeted to only urban population. The survey would consist of only close-ended question. It would ensure that respondents do not find any difficulty to answer the questions. It has been observed that people would find it easy to fill the short survey. A sample of questions that would be part of this survey would be:
Question 1: On a scale of 5 (1 with least and 5 being highest), how strong would you rate your behavior to buy a product due to its brand name?
Question 2: On a scale of 5 (1 with least and 5 being highest), would you try a new product just because it is from reputed and establish brand?
Question 3: Would you be willing to buy a low price local product or a slightly high price branded product?
The primary research would be mainly quantitative in nature but it would also have some element of qualitative research. The qualitative research would be done in terms of focus group interview and group discussion. A focus group of experts would be created that would discuss the issue of brand equity and consumer behavior. It is expected that a good amount of information would be collected from focus group interviews (Babin, 2012). These interviews would be held with marketing executives of companies. The group discussion would be done with employees of organization, management and consumers.
Phase 5: Secondary Research
This would be the phase in which information would be collected from previous research in this area. This would be mainly qualitative in nature. The online sources would act as great source of information. The Internet is full of resources over brand equity and consumer purchase. The journals and articles would be used to collect data and information about brand equity and consumer purchase decision. It would be important to mention that not all the sources on Internet could be trusted. Therefore, only peer-reviewed journals would be used to collect the information from Internet as part of secondary research (Emma, 2007).
Phase 6: Data Collection
This is the phase where the collected data would be collected. The data would be collected as part of both primary research and secondary research. The surveys websites would be used to create survey and survey would be mailed to respondents. The next part would be data analysis part.
Phase 7: Conclusion and Report generation
This is the phase where inferences and conclusion would be made. In this phase a report would be generated to summarize the work of research. The report would be developed in a clear and simple writing that would summarize the results through graphs and charts.
Probably, one of the most important phases of entire research work is data analysis phase. The data would be collected as part of both primary research and secondary research. The statistical tools would be used to analyze the data. The tools like Microsoft Excel and SPSS would be used to analyze the data and make inferences. One of the important activities in data analysis phase would be to fill the missing values and filter or clean the data. It is also important that research data should be free of any form of bias. It is difficult for research to control the biasness of respondents. The data for focus group study and group discussion would also be analyzed (Bryman, 2011). This data would be in form of qualitative information. That would be collected as part of qualitative study. There would be predefined templates and charts that would help to analyze the data of group discussion and focus group interviews. These templates would be used to record the data. Once the data is recorded and captured, statistical tools would be used to analyze the data. Once the data is analyzed, researcher would be able to conclude the research. The data of secondary research would also be analyzed in a similar manner. It can be said that the data collected from secondary research does not have much of the bias as compared to data collected from primary research.
Any research work would include number of ethical considerations. The most important ethical consideration is that researcher should not use the information collected from respondents for any work, other than this research work. The data and information collected from people should not be shared without their consent (Shin, 2010). It is also important that researcher should avoid using the names and identity of the people involved in the research work. The researcher may face certain ethical dilemmas while using the result of research. It is important that researcher should not be judgmental in his approach. The ethical issues could be best avoided if researcher is able to work in an unbiased way. In any of the circumstances the confidential information of respondents should not be made public. It is important that researcher should create a balance between personal objectives and professional objectives. The ethical considerations could also be avoided if researcher could use a defined set of standards and procedures for the research work. The respondents should be made aware of these standards at the beginning of the research work.
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