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: INTRODUCTION

Given a much broader array of product choices offered in the current market and ubiquitous
marketing efforts, consumers often turn to a favorite brand to facilitate their purchase decisions.
A brand includes a name, symbol, design, or experience that help consumers identify products,
services, or differentiate offerings among competitors (Aaker, 1991; Keller, 2008; Neumeier,
2006). Brand identity, which is a group of associations developed by firms, communicates with
consumers what a brand provides (Aaker, 2007; Keller, 2008).

Academic literature clearly addressed the importance of building a strong emotional relationship
between consumers and brands (Carroll & Ahuvia, 2006; Keller, 2001, 2008; Taylor, Cluch, &
Godwin, 2004). According to Kellers (2001) more recent conceptual framework, consumers
positive brand feelings lead to favorable responses towards a brand, such as attitudinal
attachment and behavioral loyalty. Similarly, recent literature on branding has argued that an
emotional brand experience is important to foster brand loyalty and purchase intentions (Albert,
Merunka, & Valette-Florence, 2008; Carroll & Ahuvia, 2006; Chaudhuri & Holbrook, 2001;
Esch et al., 2006; Nowak, Thach, & Olsen, 2006; Pawle & Cooper, 2006; Taylor, Celuch, &
Goodwin, 2004; Thomson, MacInnis, & Park, 2005). Moreover, brand consulting and advertising
industry literature (Gob, 2001; Lindstrom, 2005; Neumeier, 2006; Riesenbeck & Perrey, 2007;
Roberts, 2004, 2006) has illustrated the importance of building deep emotional connections with
consumers to augment brand loyalty.
LITERATURE REVIEW

2.1.1. BRAND IMAGE AND BRAND LOYALTY

Kellers (1993, 2001) conceptual research suggested a strong connection between a


positive brand image and brand loyalty. Keller (1993) explained that consumers repeated
buying behavior represents brand loyalty, which reflects a favorable attitude towards a
brand. Esch et al.s (2006) empirical research supported Kellers proposition by showing
a statistically significant effect of positive brand image on current/future purchases. Thus,
the present research posits:

H1. Brand image will not be positively associated with brand loyalty.

Figure 1.1 The Brand Loyalty Pyramid (Aaker, 1991, p. 40)


2.1.2. BRAND IMAGE AND CONSUMER PERCEPTION

Past literature revealed that a successful brand image enables consumers to identify their
desired need which ultimately helps a company from its competitors Hsieh et al., (2004).
On the other hand Tarofder and Haque (2007) had given importance on supplier selection
based on their brand image. In fact the findings of Jiang et al. (2011) revealed that apart
from brand image price discount and complementary products may have positive impact
on customer loyalty. Furthermore, Linder and Seidenstricker (2010) agreed that brand
image is one of the companys core competencies. Mishra and Datta (2011) revealed that
brand name has strong influence on customer based brand equity. Kotler (2001) defined
brand image as a set of beliefs, ideas and impression that a person holds regarding an
object. On the other hand, Keller (1993) considered brand image as a set of perceptions
about a brand on consumers memory. Na et al. (1999) connected brand image with
customers perception as they mentioned that image cannot be measured by attribute
measurements alone but must include measurements of consumers' perceptions of the
value and benefits attainable from using the brand. Thus, it posits:

H2. Brand image will not be positively associated with consumer perception.

Figure Conceptual framework

2.1.3. CONSUMER PERCEPTION AND BRAND LOYALTY

Humans unlike machines can have the ability to Perceive. It is a feeling which is based
on the conclusion formed with the given information around and the mindset of the
consumer which is responsible of processing the information. Perception gives humans
the right to make important decisions or can reflect their important decisions. It all leads
to the most important decision of purchasing. Purchasing means to invest in a brand, for
making it a greater brand.

Underlying research will focus on concluding the fact that how much is the impact of
brand perception on brand awareness and brand loyalty of these brands. Several
conclusions can be drawn if consumer perception plays any role and there is a relation
among the consumer perception, brand awareness and brand loyalty of these brands. The
project is intended to fulfill the needs of marketing research which is quite important for
present marketing trend. Total sales turnover of the brand depends on the consumer
purchase decision. If the consumers perceive positive about the brand, it means he
carriers more loyalty and will remain potential customer, until he keeps on getting the
right value for his money. Thus, it posits:

H3. Consumer perception will not be positively associated with Brand loyalty.

2.1.4. GENDER AND LOYALTY INTENTIONS

Customer loyalty has been the object of intense interest in both the business and
academic worlds (Oliver 1999; Reichheld 2001). At the same time, academic research has
discovered important differences in cognitive processes and behavior of male and female
consumers (Fisher and Dub 2005; Meyers-Levy 1988, 1989; Meyers-Levy and
Maheswaran 1991; Meyers-Levy and Sternthal 1991). These differences are reflected in
the widespread use of gender as a segmentation variable in marketing practice. Despite
the importance of customer loyalty on the one hand, and gender differences on the other
hand, little is known about the existence and nature of gender differences in customer
loyalty. This is surprising because if male and female loyalties differ, men and women
might require a different selling approach, has different levels of customer value, and
may respond differently to loyalty programs and other actions aimed at enhancing
customer loyalty. Common stereotypes, perhaps based on widely publicized findings
showing that males exhibit lower levels of loyalty than females (e.g., Blumstein and
Schwartz 1983; Hansen 1987), suggest that females are more loyal customers than males.
Thus, it posits:
H4. Gender will not be positively associated with loyalty intentions.

2.1.5. GENDER AND CONSUMER PERCEPTION

Self-congruency theorists suggest that consumers tend to purchase products and brands
consistent with their self-images (Rosenburg, 1979; Ross, 1971; Sirgy, 1982/1986).
Perhaps the most important and central part of self-image is ones gender identity (Kates,
2002; Palan, 2001), and this gender-self generates strong congruency effects with regard
to ones brand perceptions and choices (Sirgy, 1982/1986). The gender-self is solicited
across a wide variety of marketing practices. Marketers not only use sex as an important
segmentation variable but also develop implicit meanings by factoring gender-related
cues into a brand. Furthermore, consumers gender identity and sexual orientation have
been used to target consumers in emerging gender-market segmentations such as
Metrosexual: males who are heterosexual, hip, concerned with their appearance, and in
touch with their feminine side. However, the marketing literature is replete with studies
that only report biological sex and treat this as the sole determinant of gender-related
behavior. Gender is often used interchangeably with sex because such a dichotomous
variable provides a comfort zone for researchers when measuring and interpreting the
consumerist implications of gender. This approach overlooks the important differences
between sex and gender and leads to biased research and distorted representations of
complex gender-related marketing phenomena (Hirchman, 1993; Palan, 2001). Since the
1960s some researchers have begun to investigate how gender identity (which includes a
combination of sex, psychological gender, and gender attitudes) would contribute to a
consumers product- and brand-consumption (Gould and Stern, 1989; Fischer and
Arnold, 1990/1994; Palan, 2001). However, research results have been mixed. For
example, individuals with a higher masculine-gender identity exhibit stronger
information processing (Kempf, Palan, and Laczniak, 1997; Palan, 2001), while
individuals with a higher feminine-gender identity develop more positive attitudes toward
and get more personally engaged with products and brands (Gainer, 1993; Jaffe and
Berger, 1988; Worth, Smith, and Mackie, 1992). As such, a critical question becomes
whether or not gender identity can consistently predict any of the many facets of
consumer-based brand equity. It has been suggested that consumer involvement may be
an important link between gender and consumer perception (Fischer and Arnold, 1994;
McCabe, 2001; Sirgy, 1982), so this study addresses the research gap between gender
identity and brand loyalty through the lens of a consumers level of product involvement.
Thus, it posits:

H5. Gender will not be positively associated with consumer perception.

2.1.6. GENDER AND BRAND IMAGE

The perception of consumers towards a certain brand can cover a variety of measures,
including attitude towards a brand (Monga & John, 2007; Shen & Chen, 2007); attitude
towards an advertisement or communication of the brand ( Shen & Chen, 2006; Lee &
Labroo, 2004); perceived quality of the brand (Keller & Lehmann,2006; Essoussi &
Merunka, 2007); memorability (Volckner & Sattler, 2007); brand value or equity
(Buchanan et. al. 1999); brand image (Lee & Labroo, 2004; Essoussi & Merunka, 2007);
brand personality (Aaker, 1997); purchase intentions (Lee & Labroo, 2004) and choice
(Shiv et. al., 1997). Brand image is the first word or image that comes to mind when a
certain brand is mentioned. It is fragile and can be altered by new information or
damaged by media commentators (OShaughnessy, 2003). Brand image is the
representation of the brand in the mind of the consumer. In western cultures, brand image
can be like a human being with unique characteristics. In collectivistic culture like
Malaysia, it can be quality and the representation of trust in a firm. Consumers will
attribute to the brand characteristics that fit their own mental maps and from there
develop a brand image (De Mooij, 2005). Thus, it posits:

H6. Gender will not be positively associated with brand image.

2.1.7. BRAND IMAGE, CONSUMER PERCEPTION AND LOYALTY


INTENTIONS

The ever changing marketing scenario and competition over the globe has amplified the
role of brand at unparalleled level. Every person is a consumer of different brands at the
same time. The choice and usage of a particular brand by the consumer over the time is
affected by the quality benefits offered by the brand especially when it comes to brand of
eatables and cosmetics. Consumer satisfaction is derived when he compares the actual
performance of the product with the performance he expected out of the usage. Philip
Kotler (2008) observed that satisfaction is a person's feelings of pressure or
disappointment resulting from product's perceived performance (outcome) in relation to
his or her expectations. If the perceived benefits turned out to be almost same as
expected, customer is highly satisfied and that is how the company achieves loyalty of
the customer towards the products. Thus, it posits:

H7. There will not be positive relationship between brand image, consumer perception
and loyalty intentions.