Brand Preference Literature Review

“A consumer buying a product is buying it for its function, performance, utility & nevertheless he/she is buying for its image & status” (Terpstra & Sarathy, 1997). In fact, consumer products have implications much greater than just their function or utility. (Levy, 1959; 2007 Business Monitor Survey, 2007; Ericksen, 1996; Mick, 1986; Czikszentmihalyi et al., 1981; Sriram, et al. 2006; Leigh and Gabel, 1992;). Products are now are not just consumed for their material utilities but also for their symbolic meaning which is conveyed by their brand images. (Elliot, 1997). Deducing that, the products are not merely “sets of attributes which yield any particular benefit” (Holt, 1995, p. 1).

Therefore, a consumer is much likely to use brands to express how he/she is either similar to/different from people of their group (Markus and Kitayama, 1991).It has been reported by Bhat & Reddy (1998) that, the brands have practical & emblematic importance for its consumers. This emblematic importance that is associated with the brands, is often conveyed through the choice a of brands (McCracken, 1986; Gottdeiner, 1985). Meaning that, there exists relation between brand image, which is in sync along the consumer’s self image & the emblematic importance of the brands. (Zinkham and Hong, 1991; Chang and Chieng, 2006). Consumer will prefer those brands whose personalities match to his/her self image (Schiffman and Kanuk, 2000). Consumers does so mainly to express themselves; as being alike to the personalities (Kassarjian, 1971; Aaker, 1999; Sirgy, 1982). In other words, consumer prefers certain brands to either create or maintain his/her self image to themselves or to their groups (Zinkham and Hong, 1991; Sirgy, 1982; Wallendorf and Arnould, 1988). In current scenario, “purchase and consumption have emerged as silent ways of self-expression” (Jamal and Goode, 2001, p. 483).

Researches shows us that self expression or perceived self image do affect consumer’s brand preference & their purchase intentions (Domestic Beer - US - December 2007, 2007; Ericksen, 1996; Mehta, 1999;) Its live example is, Ericksen’s research in 1996 where he found significant relation in self image and the intention to buy US based automobile (Ford Escort). Therefore, it could be inferred that “individuals prefer brands that do have image compatible with their self perceptions” (Solomon, 1983; Ericksen, 1996; Belk, et. al., 1982; Jamal and Goode, 2001; Zinkham and Hong, 1991;) The higher self image consistency will strengthen positive attitude towards brands & products (Ericksen, 1996; Sirgy, 1982, 1985, 1991; Sirgy, et. al., 1997; Schoenfelder and Harris, 2004). Therefore, consumer’s self-image is strongly related to the brand’s image & vice versa is also true. (Graeff, 1996).

To the brand’s exact status & deducibility for weather the brand is strongly related to the image of an individual; brand awareness is critical. Brand awareness is defined as, “a rudimentary level of brand knowledge involving, at the least, recognition of the brand name” (Hoyer and Brown, 1990, p. 141), practically brand awareness is considered as a consumer’s ability to recognize a specific brand within a group in order to make the purchase (Percy and Rossiter, 1992). This reason that, every advertisement aims at creating and maintaining brand awareness; (McMahon, 1980; Investopedia, 2008). Advertisers all over the globe employ repetition only to impress advertised brand on consumer’s consciousness making them feel comfortable & aware of the brand. (Bogart, 1986). It could be said that, advertisers pursue consumers to keep brand name in their evoked set for creating better chances of purchase (Wang, 2007). Hoyer (1984) deduced that consumers are passive receivers of the product’s information and they spend minimal cost (i.e., efforts, time) in choosing amongst brands.

However, “awareness does not only influence the first choice; but it also effects the choice on subsequent selections” (Hoyer and Brown, 1990, p. 147). Therefore, brand awareness has become a significant stimulator in decision-making process of the customer (Jarboe, 2006) as, increased brand awareness supports the probability of products being able to show up to consumer’s expectations and the increased chances of a particular brand being purchased; (Baker, et. al. 1986; Nedungadi, 1990) which means that a consumer has greater a tendency to buy familiar and or well-established brands (Jacoby et al., 1977). Moreover, researchers have also found positive relation between advertising for increasing brand awareness & the sales (Jarboe, 2006; Bass and Leone, 1983; Bass and Clarke, 1972). Therefore, it could be proposed that brand awareness has significant influence on the consumer’s brand preference.

Maneuvering the research further we reach a yet another key concept that could be discussed here is the concept of Customer-based brand equity as it has a tremendous effect on consumption behavior. Coustomer-based brand equity is defined as ““. . . the differential effect that brand knowledge has on consumer response to the marketing of that brand. A brand is said to have positive customer-based brand equity when consumers react more favorably to a product and the way it is marketed when the brand is identified than when it is not” (Keller, 2003, p. 60).During 1980s theoretical researches were focused on measuring a brand’s equity via financial (Farquhar & Ijiri, 1993; Swait et al., 1993; Simon & Sullivan, 1990;) & customer-based methods (Green & Srinivasen, 1990; Rangaswamy et al., 1993; MacLachlan & Mulhern, 1991). Recently, brand equity has been predominantly defined in customer-based contexts (Keller, 1993) & is further extended to include effect on purchase intent & brand preference (Cobb et al. 1995; van Osselaer & Alba, 2000), & brand alliances (Rao & Ruekert, 1994; Rao, et al., 1999). The focus of this research will be the brand equity from the brand alliance perspective.

One of the most researched field currently is brand alliance; brand alliances, is a market- driven relation where two brands co-exist so as to enhance value of the product. It is defined as a the circumstance where “. . . two or more brand names are presented jointly to the consumer.” (Rao et al., 1999 p. 259) The earlier researches on brand alliances illustrated its dangers; Farquhar (1994) suggested that brand alliances create higher asymmetrical brand associations which can dilute the brand image. Also, the brand equity has obvious dangers derived from the consumer’s perceiving potentially negative experience with an allying brand which they transfer to the new allied product or brand. Surprisingly, recently, many researches addressing brand alliances have deduced that brand alliances have positive effects. Recent researches have found that brand alliances:

  • allows the consumers to perceive that higher quality brands will only ally with high-quality brands. (Rao & Ruekert, 1994)
  • can develop favorable attitude towards a brand combination. (Simonin & Ruth, 1995)
  • may help the low-quality brand in gaining a good customer base when allying with a high quality brand. (Levin, Davis, & Levin, 1996)
  • can bring greater beneficial effects for less known brands than for the much known brands (Simonin & Ruth,1998)
  • may be helpful in signaling greater product quality to the customers. (Park et al., 1996)

Despite aforesaid positive prediction, van Osselaer & Janiszewski (2000) found that pairing two brands could produce both positive and negative effects on the participating brands. Confirming previous research (e.g., Park, Jun, & Shocker, 1996; Simonin & Ruth,1998). Janiszewski and van Osselaer (2000) in their research concluded that a brand alliance can/can not be helpful for the allying brands, depending on when consumers were first aware of individual brand versus the brand alliance. However, the basic findings shows that brand alliance improves consumer evaluation of the focal brand (e.g., McCarthy & Norris, 1999; Lafferty et al., 2004; Voss & Gammoh, 2004; Vaidyanathan & Aggarwal, 2000;Washburn et al., 2004;) as there exists different types of brand alliances such as partnerships for : joint promotions (Rao et al., 1999) where the partnering brands (e.g., Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice & Smirnoff Vodka) are promoted as being complimentary to each other; dual branding in case of two restaurants (e.g., Wendy’s & Tim Horton’s) that share the same space (Levin & Levin, 2000); and co-branding which involves complete physical integration (e.g., K.C. Masterpiece barbeque sauce flavoring with Ruffle’s potato chips) of two brands (Levin & Levin, 2000).

Co branding

Concept of co-branding has been there since long, however the widespread practice of this concept in consumer goods market became popular in early 1990s. (Khan, 1999). Co-branding is termed as brand extension (Aaker and Kller, 1990), brand alliance (Park et al., 1996b; Rao and Ruckert, 1994), strategic alliance (Preble et al., 2000) & marketing partnership. In a larger context, co-branding is defined as collaboration of multiple brands in marketing, production, even technology while not loosing their separate individual business entities (Stewart, 1995). According to Park et al. (1996a) co-branding is a combination of multiple brands to become a single separate brand. In addition, co-branding is also believed to add greater value to the customers & is also known to be a good method to enter a new market. (Carpenter, 1994).

Creation of shared values for customers is key aspect of co-branding. There exists several levels of co branding which are as follows from lower to higher level meaning higher the level closer is the practice to theory.

  • Level 1: Reach Awareness is the lowest level of involvement with largest potential for participation from diverse fields. e.g. the co branded credit card of General Motors’ /Visa.
  • Level 2: Values Endorsement, is when the partnering brands aim at enhancing their customer’s perceived value through the endorsement of the brand value of the allying brands to the customer. E.g. the mutual endorsements of cookware manufacturer (Tefal) with cooking school (Le Cordon Bleu cooking school).
  • Level 3: ingredient co-branding – customer perception of higher value of a brand can also be built by using ingredients from a market leader brand. e.g. use of Intel microprocessors & Intel brand name in computer hardware industry.
  • Level 4: complementary – this highest level of value creation is categorized with smallest potential pool of participants; that is minimum number of allying brands. This level of co-branding is practiced mainly by two strong complementary brands. e.g. tie up between petrol pumps (Esso) & supermarkets (Tesco) for 24-hour mini supermarkets at petrol pumps in UK.(Kippenberger 2002)

Therefore, co-branding is a way to increase the influence & scope of the brands, embrace newer technologies, enter new markets, reduce costs through cost sharing & restimulating the market demand through refreshing the brand image (Blackett and Boad, 1999).Moreover, co-branding helps in achieving greater brand awareness, higher sales revenue through reinforced brand reputation & could also act as motivation for the employees & customers to prefer the new venture.(Chang, 2008). Therefore, co branding can act as a tool for gaining shot term strategic advantages as well as long term deliberate intensions. (Doshi, 2006). Co branding, is a marketing strategy that brings benefits like “ better brand exposure, higher sales, entrance in foreign markets, revenue from royalty payments & market priming, reduced investments, access to cutting-edge technology, avoid barriers for entry & exit, reduced risk, communication of product quality, quicker returns, ability to benefit from premium pricing, better relations between trade & customer, effective communications, better consumer interest.” (Blackett and Boad, 1999, p. 22;Bhat and Reddy, 2001;).

Visa & MasterCard applied this concept in 1980s in bankcard industry & are known to be the pioneers of co-branding (Arend, 1992). Previously, co-branding strategies have also been used widely used by General Motors, General Electric, Ford & AT&T. (Raphel, 1994). In recent years, this concept has been practiced in service industries such as hotels, airlines etc. (Young et al., 2001) here the co-branding partners share their infrastructure which enables them in serving customer with lower operational costs (Boone, 1997). The alliance of Holiday Inn with TGIF with has caused in a boost in the sales for both the companies (Casper, 1995). Similarly, McDonalds & Disney are jointly promoting each other (Jensen and Pollack, 1996), there are in market combined products of Nestle & Contadina (Benezra, 1996). The airline industry is no exception to this practice, there are co-branded cards in the industry that facilitates customer by discounts on tickets, frequent flyer points, ticket upgrades, insurance, airport lounge usage, and free companion tickets (Lee, 2001). Experts had proposed several guidelines & research agendas as the practice of co-branding spread (e.g., Carpenter, 1994). Despite this growing practice of co-branding, very little empirical research is conducted on this subject; specially in the Indian automobile industry where Maruti-Suzuki, Hero Honda etc. like co-branded alliances outshine every global brand in terms of sales volume, market share. Almost, every literature on the topic had defined this concept (e.g., Hahm and Khan, 2001) or described the advantages (e.g., Rao and Ruckert, 1994) and disadvantages of the strategy. This research will help us in developing fresh insight in the phenomena of co branding practiced by automobiles giants in Indian automobile industry; moreover, focusing the research on the youths will also help in understanding the future of co-branding in Indian context.

Concusion

Therefore, consumer’s self-image is strongly related to the brand’s image & vice versa is also true
Therefore, it could be proposed that brand awareness has significant influence on the consumer’s brand preference.
The focus of this research will be the brand equity from the brand alliance perspective.

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