Friday, December 6, 2013

From: "Customer-Based Brand Equity: A literature review"

Fragment: Five Dimensions of Brand Equity: The Proposed Model
By Chieng Fayrene Y.L. and Goi Chai Lee

The consumer-based brand equity is an asset of four dimensions that are brand awareness, brand associations, perceived quality and brand loyalty.



Brand Awareness

Awareness is a key determinant identified in almost all brand equity models (Aaker 1991, Kapferer 1991, Keller 1992, Agarwal and Rao 1996, Krishnan 1996, Na, Marshall and Keller 1999, Mackay 2001). Keller (2003, p.76) defines awareness as “ the customers’ ability to recall and recognize the brand as reflected by their ability to identify the brand under different conditions and to link the brand name, logo, symbol, and so forth to certain associations in memory”. Aaker (1996) identifies other higher levels of awareness besides recognition and recall (Aaker 1991). He includes top-of-mind, brand dominance, brand knowledge and brand opinion. Brand knowledge is the full set of brand associations linked to the brand (Keller, 1993). According to Aaker (1996), for new or niche brands, recognition can be important. For well-known brands recall and top-of-mind are more sensitive and meaningful. Brand knowledge and brand opinion can be used in part to enhance the measurement of brand recall. Similar measures are used by the Y&R and Total Research efforts. Aaker conceptualizes brand awareness must precede brand associations. That is where a consumer must first beware of the brand in order to develop a set of associations (Washburn and Plank 2002).



Brand Associations 

A brand association is the most accepted aspect of brand equity (Aaker 1992). Associations represent the basis for purchase decision and for brand loyalty (Aaker 1991, p. 109). Brand associations consist of all brand-related thoughts, feelings, perceptions, images, experiences, beliefs, attitudes (Kotler and Keller 2006, p. 188) and is anything linked in memory to a brand. Other researchers (Farquhar & Herr 1993, Chen, 1996, Brown & Dacin1997, Biel 1992) identify different types of association that contribute to the brand equity. Chen (2001) categorized two types of brand associations - product associations and organizational associations.

Product Associations
Product associations include functional attribute associations and non-functional associations (Chen 2001). Functional attributes are the tangible features of a product (Keller 1993, Hankinson and Cowking 1993, de Chernatony and McWilliam, 1989). While evaluating a brand, consumers link the performance of the functional attributes to the brand (Pitta and Katsanis 1995, Lassar et al. 1995). If a brand does not perform the functions for which it is designed, the brand will has low level of brand equity. Performance is defined as a consumer’s judgment about a brand’s fault-free and long-lasting physical operation and flawlessness in the product’s physical construction (Lassar et al. 1995).

Non-functional attributes include symbolic attributes (Aaker 1991, Keller 1993, Farquhar & Herr 1993, Chen 1996, Park et al. 1986) which are the intangible features that meet consumers’ needs for social approval, personal expression or self-esteem (Keller 1993, Hankinson and Cowking 1993, de Chernatony and McWilliam 1989, Pitta & Katsanis 1995). Consumers linked social image of a brand, trustworthiness, perceived value, differentiation, and country of origin to a brand.

Social Image
Lassar et al. (1995) limit the reference of the image dimension to the social dimension, calling it social image as social image contributes more to brand equity. Social image is defined as the consumer’s perception of the esteem in which the consumer’s social group holds the brand. It includes the attributions a consumer makes and a consumer thinks that others make to the typical user of the brand.

Perceived Value
Value appeared in several brand equity models (Feldwick 1996, Martin and Brown 1991, Lassar et al. 1995). Lassar et al. (1995) define perceived value as the perceived brand utility relative to its costs, assessed by the consumer and based on simultaneous considerations of what is received and what is given up to receive it. Consumer choice of a brand depends on a perceived balance between the price of a product and all its utilities (Lassar et al. 1995). A consumer is willing to pay premium prices due to the higher brand equity.  

Brand equity models (Martin and Brown 1991, Lassar et al. 1995) regard trustworthiness of a product as an important attribute in assessing the strengths of a brand. Lassar et al. (1995) define trustworthiness as the confidence a consumer places in the firm and the firm’s communications and as to whether the firm’s actions would be in the consumer’s interest. Consumers place high value in the brands that they trust.  

The Marketing Science Institute (Leuthesser 1988) states that the underlying determinants of consumer-based brand equity are that brands provide benefits to consumers by differentiating products, as they facilitate the processing and retrieval of information (Hoyer and Brown 1990). Other marketing literatures (Ries and Trout 1985; Kapferer1991) also stress the importance of the distinctive character of brand positioning in contributing to the success of a brand. Distinctiveness is defined as the degree to which the consumer perceives that a brand is distinct from its competitors (Kapferer 1991). A brand can have a price premium if it is perceived as being different from its competitors.  

Country of origin
Thakor and Kohli (1996) argue that brand country of origin mustalso be considered. He defines brand origin as “the place, region or country to which the brand is perceived to belong by its customers” (p. 27). Country of origin is known to lead to as consumers’ perceptions. 

Country of origin refers to the country of origin of afirm or a product (Johansson et al. 1985, Ozsomer and Cavusgil 1991), or the country where the product is manufactured or assembled (Bilkey and Nes 1982, Han and Terpstra 1988). Thakor and Kohli (2003) state that less concern should be given to the place where brands manufacture their products, and more to the place where people perceive the brand’s country of origin to be. Therefore, country of origin in the proposed framework referred to the brand’s country of origin.  

Organizational Associations 
Organizational associations include corporate ability associations, which are those associations related to the company’s expertise in producing and delivering its outputs and corporate social responsibility associations, which include organization’s activities with respect to its perceived societal obligations (Chen 2001). According to Aaker (1996), consumers consider the organization that is the people, values, and programs that lies behind the brand. Brand-as-organization can be particularly helpful when brands are similar with respect to attributes, when the organization is visible (as in a durable goods or service business), or when a corporate brand is involved. 

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) must be mentioned as another concept that is influencing the development of brands nowadays, especially corporate brands as the public wants to know what, where, and how much brands are giving back to society. Both branding and CSR have become crucially important now that the organizations have recognized how these strategies can add or detract from their value (Blumenthal and Bergstrom 2003). CSR can be defined in terms of legitimate ethics or from an instrumentalist perspective where corporate image is the prime concern (McAdam and Leonard 2003).


Perceived Quality

Perceived quality is viewed as a dimension of brand equity (Aaker 1991; Kapferer 1991; Kamakura and Russell 1991; Martin and Brown 1991; Feldwick 1996) rather than as a part of the overall brand association (Keller 1992; Gordon, di Benedetto and Calantone 1994). Perceived quality is the customer’s judgment about a product’s overall excellence or superiority that is different from objective quality (Zeithaml 1988, pp. 3 and 4). Objective quality refers to the technical, measurable and verifiable nature of products/services, processes and quality controls. High objective quality does not necessarily contribute to brand equity (Anselmsson et al. 2007). Since it’s impossible for consumers to make complete and correct judgments of the objective quality, they use quality attributes that they associate with quality (Olson and Jacoby 1972, Zeithaml 1988, Ophuis and Van Trijp 1995, Richardson et al. 1994; Acebro ́n and Dopico 2000). 

Perceived quality is hence formed to judge the overall quality of a product/service. Boulding and other researchers (1993) argued that quality is directly influenced by perceptions. Consumers use the quality attributes to ‘infer’ quality of an unfamiliar product. It is therefore important to understand the relevant quality attributes are with regard to brand equity Zeithaml (1988) and Steenkamp (1997) classify the concept of perceived quality in two groups of factors that are intrinsic attributes and extrinsic attributes. The intrinsic attributes are related to the physical aspects of a product (e.g. colour, flavour, form and appearance); on the other hand, extrinsic attributes are related to the product, but not in the physical part of this one (e.g. brand name, stamp of quality, price, store, packaging and production information (Bernue ́s et al.2003). It’s difficult to generalize attributes as they are specific to product categories (Olson and Jacoby 1972, Anselmsson et al. 2007)


Brand Loyalty

Loyalty is a core dimension of brand equity. Aaker (1991, p.39) defines brand loyalty as the attachment that a customer has to a brand. Grembler and Brown (1996) describe different levels of loyalty. Behavioral loyalty is linked to consumer Behavior in the marketplace that can be indicated by number of repeated purchases (Keller 1998) or commitment to rebuy the brand as a primary choice (Oliver 1997, 1999). Cognitive loyalty which means that a brand comes up first in a consumers’ mind, when the need to make a purchase decision arises, that is the consumers’ first choice. The cognitive loyalty is closely linked to the highest level of awareness (top-of-mind), where the matter of interest also is the brand, in a given category, which the consumers recall first. Thus, a brand should be able to become the respondents’ first choices (cognitive loyalty) and is therefore purchased repeatedly (Behavioral loyalty) (Keller 1998). 

Chaudhuri & Holbrook (2001) mention that brand loyalty is directly related to brand price. Aaker (1996) identify price premium as the basic indicator of loyalty. Price premium is defined as the amount a customer will pay for the brand in comparison with another brand offering similar benefits and it may be high or low and positive or negative depending on the two brands involved in the comparison.

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