Brands and Consumer Behavior

Article excerpt

Intensely competitive markets are filled with numerous commodities with high homogeneity. The critical issue faced by most companies operating in these markets is how to maintain long-term competitive advantage. Price-down composition may bring in short-term profits for companies. However, for long-term business development, this is never a sound policy. The only solution to survive in markets with high-speed turnover of product is to produce differentiated products for the market. Brand management is the differentiation strategy with the most promise. Kotler (1999) contends that brands can accelerate consumers' information transmission. For users, brands have intensified social and emotional value. Additionally, brands have been found to exert positive and negative effects on the perception of effectiveness of products (Kotler, 1999). Consumers assign a lesser product value to commodities without brands or with weaker brand reputations and a higher value to commodities perceived as highly collectable or socially valuable.

The focus of brand research has been on brand image and brand equity (Faircloth, Capella, & Alford, 2001; Keller, 1993; Ouwersloot & Tudorica, 2001) and on brand equity and purchase intention (Aaker, 1991; Cobb-Walgren, Ruble, & Donthu, 1995). However, there has been little research in which the focus has been on brand image, brand equity, and purchase intention simultaneously. Furthermore, consumers' involvement with products affects their purchase behaviors. Involvement starts from the personal basic perspectives of goals, values, and self-awareness. Depending on the relevance of these to individuals, they are reflected in decision-making behaviors (Zaichkowsky, 1985). Different product attributes cause different degrees of involvement in consumer minds. These differences of involvement result in differences when consumers make purchase decisions. Therefore, when consumers perform consuming behaviors, the extent of their involvement affects purchase intention.

In this research we explored the correlation of brand image and brand equity with purchase intention in consumers' minds. Involvement was treated as a moderator in exploring its effect on purchase intention.

Literature Review

Brand Image

Meenaghan (1995) defines brand image as product knowledge that enables consumers to identify a specific brand. Blackwell, Miniard, and Engel (2005) describe how brand image has both tangible and intangible associations for consumers. Bhat and Reddy (1998) define brand image as an information prompt. It is available for consumers to determine product quality and to trigger their consuming behaviors. Based on various consumer interests, Whan Park, Jaworski, and MacInnis (1986) developed several brand concept images (BCM) divided into functional, symbolic, and experiential. In this research, brand image classification of products was based on the perspective of Whan Park and colleagues.

Brand Equity

Keller (1993) contended that brand equity must start from the perspectives of consumers. From that perspective, brand equity means the differences in brand knowledge among consumers about the marketing stimulus effect given by a certain brand. Aaker (1992) argued that brand equity had five contexts, of which the last four are conducive to establishing brand loyalty while awareness, perceived quality, and brand association relate to customer perceptions of, and response to, brands. In that framework, loyalty means customer-based loyalty.

Aaker (1996) argued that a strong brand image helps consumers develop positive attitudes and feelings and also transfers such feelings to enhancement of the said brand value to increase the perceived value of consumers. Therefore, brand image would be conducive to establishing brand association and would further affect brand equity. Faircloth et al. (2001) explored the influence exerted on brand equity by brand attitude and brand image, and showed that different brand associations (brand attitudes) can result in a positive brand image. …