Determination of Brand Loyalty Factors Age Group-18-24
Srivastava, R. K., Academy of Marketing Studies Journal
This paper reports the results of a study of factors determining brand loyalty within the 18-24 age groups. This paper reports the results of a study of brand selection and loyalty within in 150 members of the 18-24 age groups. The study explores brand loyalty behavior across different product categories, and investigates the dimensions that drive loyalty behavior within this age group. First, the construct of brand loyalty is defined, followed by an overview of key research in the area. Finally, the study itself is detailed. The study concludes that there is a significant difference in the degree of brand loyalty exhibited by the 18-24-year-old respondents across product categories. The dimensions of brand selection also vary by product type.
Brand Loyalty in terms of quality, novelty and reputation influence was evident in coffee and toothpaste purchase, with brand as a reflection of self-image being something that is important to mobile handset brands.
The topic of Brand Loyalty holds great interest for market researchers, marketing managers and marketing academics. Brand Loyalty is a key issue for many marketing managers, and companies spend millions each year tracking brand loyalty levels through market research organizations. This interest in brand loyalty is also reflected in the academic literature, where loyalty has also been referred to a commitment and retention. Loyalty is an important concept in strategic marketing.
A base of loyal customers allows marketers to charge a premium price and to reduce the cost of doing business through decreasing acquisition and promotion costs, thus increasing shareholders value and hence profitability (Bennett & Rundle-Thiele, 2005). It has been suggested that it takes a lot less money to increase the retention if current customers than to find new ones (Wood, 2001). Fred Reichheld, formerly with Bain Consulting, defined loyalty in the Harvard Business review, as "the willingness of someone - a customer, an employee, a friend - to make an investment or a personal sacrifice in order to strengthen relationship". Loyalty, therefore, is a big deal - taking lots of thought, planning and consideration on the part of the marketers.
From a firm's perspective, a successful brand enables it to maintain a high level of consumer acceptance, often in the face of considerable competition. In addition, brand loyalty can:
* Provide a solid foundation for new product launch and for licensing
* Offset a decline in market share during price and promotional wars
* Help provide resistance to competitive attacks (Kamakura & Russell, 1991)
Aaker, 1991) wrote, "The brand loyalty of the customer base is often the core of a brand's equity. If customers are indifferent to the brand and, in fact, buy with respect to features, price, there is likely little equity
From the customer's perspective, a brand provides a visible representation of difference between products. Brands allow consumers to shop with confidence in an increasingly complex world. A brand can signify product quality as well as aid consumers in differentiating the product from competitive offerings.
A brand that consumers trust will also serve to reduce perceived risk and post-purchase cognitive dissonance.Modeling of price elasticity effects also demonstrate the importance of loyalty (Guadagni & Little, 1983; Starr & Rubinson, 1978). More loyal consumers, as measured by probability of purchase or "share of requirements" from past purchase panel data, are less likely to switch due to a given price inducement; as a corollary a loyal buyer usually needs a bigger discount to switch than would a less loyal buyer (Baldinger & Rubinson, 1996)
Marketers must understand what brand loyalty is, bearing in mind that brand loyalty will be different for each brand managed. Research suggests that customers can demonstrate loyalty by purchasing, by being willing to recommend, and by providing advice to the company, and finally, customers could demonstrate brand loyalty through an intention to repurchase.
Thus, brand loyalty is a complex construct and it should not be assumed that behavioral loyalty involves feelings or positive cognitive processes as antecedents, brand attitude may be one possible determinant of loyal behavior, but there are others such as distribution, market concentration and promotional activity supporting a brand. A loyal buyer usually needs a bigger discount to switch than would a less loyal buyer (Baldinger & Rubinson, 1996). Clearly, it is important for brand owners to understand the variables that underpin the construct of loyalty and, in particular, loyalty behavior for their brands.
PROBLEMS AND ISSUES
Customer loyalty presents a paradox. Many see it as primarily an attitude-based phenomenon that can be influenced significantly by customer relationship management initiatives such as the increasingly popular loyalty and affinity programmes. However, studies show that loyalty in competitive repeat-purchase markets is shaped more by the passive acceptance of brands than by strongly held attitudes about them.
From this perspective, the demand-enhancing potential on loyalty is more limited than might be hoped. Generally, we say a person is brand loyal when he or she buys the same brand over and over, in spite of there being reasonably substitutable choices.But some argue this isn't necessarily brand loyalty. Although it is tempting to define loyalty as simply repurchase, marketers often have little power over the variables and constraints directly controlling how customers pass through the purchase environment (Hess & Story, 2005).
It may be that the product brand is the only one available to the consumer, such as in a monopoly market place situation or, it may be simply consumer inertia: repetitive consumer behavior and the path of least resistance or, it may be that brand loyalty is more the result of indifference than choice: if all brand have the same basic ingredients, cost about the same, and perform at the same level, it really doesn't matter which brand the consumer buy - they get the same benefits.
Today most critical issue faced by the marketing managers is of declining brand loyalty. Research has shown that, today, solely loyal customers rarely make up more than 20% of the total customers buying. More importantly, research has shown that solely loyal customers buy less when compared to customers who are multi-brand loyal, and the number to solely loyal customers diminishes over time. Today, most customers include several brands in their preferred brand set. Research has cited that Brand loyalty doesn't exist for many products and services, and is declining for those who have a modicum of it, because the marketing organization and the brands are not loyal to the customers.
Marketers want customers to be brand loyal - but marketers commonly fail to be loyal to their customers (Schultz, 2005). Brand Loyalty has declined for three main reasons:
1. Increasingly, people seek variety and like to try new brands and products; boredom thresholds have fallen and consumer like to break out of same old routines - and this has had a negative impact on loyalty.
2. Quality levels of products have risen to a standard where they no longer clearly differentiate the competing brands within the category. Consumer risk in switching brands is considerably lower today as the quality of substitute brands is no longer a concern.
3. Many brands still position themselves on the basis of quality and risk reduction, which does not resonate with modern consumers. Brands have different meanings for modern consumers compared with consumers of bygone eras. (Bennett & Rundle-Thiele, 2005).
OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY
Each of the studies in the following section seeks to identify consumer characteristics, purchasing attitudes and/or behavior that go some way to explaining brand loyalty. The study that is the focus of this paper seeks to identify the factors that determine brand loyalty across threeproduct category (Toothpaste, Coffee, and Mobile handsets). It explores brand loyalty and brand purchasing behavior in the 18-24 age groups. The rationale for this and the specific research objectives that the work addresses are outlined in detail below.
The broad basis for the investigation is that, while the 18-24 age group is widely identified as low loyal when compared with other age groups, it should not be assumed that the group is low loyal per se. Additionally research has shown that loyalty may vary depending on product category. The issue of loyalty in younger consumers and the degree to which this is dependent on product category led to the first objective of the study presented in this paper:
Objective 1: To measure brand loyalty among 18-24 year olds across six products categories.
The aim was to see how brand loyal 18-24 year olds (the group previously identified as low loyal) are, and whether or not there was a difference in loyalty by product type. Past research has also shown that brand loyalty is complex and probably multi-dimensional.
As such, an additional contribution may be achieved by investigating a specific group in more depth. In this study (the methodology of which is outlined below), it was considered that if loyalty can vary by age group then the drivers of purchasing behavior also may be very specific. This led to the second objective of the study:
Objective 2 : To identify the factors that determines brand selection in the 18-24 age groups.
Published work has indicated various contributors to brand purchasing behavior. The study explores the influence of situational factors such as price and promotions in buying behavior. It also addresses factors like novelty, emotional attachment as well as reputation of brand. Other additional drivers of purchasing behavior were highlighted by the survey piloting process and included in the investigation.
The sample was selected from students in higher education within the age group of 18-24 years. However, it is not suggested that this group is entirely representative of all 18-24 year-old consumers, although they may share many common characteristics. The sample was selected from various fields like management courses, chartered accountancy courses, etc. Statistical tests were conducted using all respondents, except where there are missing cases.
The following details the methodology and results for objective 1 and 2.A total of 150 graduate degree students within the 18-24-age band completed the study, which was analyzed using SPSS for Windows. Brand loyalties for toothpaste, coffee and mobile handsets were measured using proportion of first preferred brand out of last 5 purchases.
This approach treats brand loyalty as the degree to which the usual or favorite brand within a product category is purchased, e.g. 3 out of last 5 purchases is going to first preferred brand. The products were selected to reflect broadly those chosen by other studies looking at product-specific loyalty. Additionally, the product categories were distinct enough to identify differing degrees of brand attachment, e.g. students may be more concerned about their coffee brand than their toothpaste brand. Respondents who did not buy the product were counted as missing values.
FORMULATION OF HYPOTHESIS:
Based on the objective 1 the following Null and Alternative Hypothesis were formed
H^sub 0^: There is no significant difference in the degree of brand loyalty exhibited across three product categories. (M1=M2=M3)
Ha: There is significant difference in the degree of brand loyalty exhibited across three product categories. (M1[congruent with]M2[congruent with]M3)
The mean proportion of number of times first preferred brand was purchased out of last 5 purchases (in percentage) for each product category shown in Table 1. Analysis of variance (ANOVA) was conducted in order to identify whether or not there was any significant statistical difference, p<0.05, between the mean responses across three product categories. The F ratio indicated a significant difference in first brand loyalty.
Hence we reject the null hypothesis. We can conclude that there is significant difference in the degree of brand loyalty exhibited across three product categories. The research findings suggest that there is significant difference in the degree of brand loyalty exhibited across three product categories. This is given in table 2
It can be seen from Table 2 that coffee has the highest degree of first brand loyalty and mobile handsets have the lowest. These results indicate that first brand loyalty among the 18-24 age groups does differ by product type. The decision as to whether a mean figure constitutes high or low loyalty is largely arbitrary
In order to get a richer picture of brand loyalty among the 18-24 age groups, a slightly different measure was taken. Respondents were asked to rate the statement ? make my purchase of (toothpaste, coffee, etc) according to my favorite brand regardless of price' on an interval scale anchored at each end with 'strongly agree' (valued at 5) and 'strongly disagree' (valued at 1).
A similar study conducted for GMA by the polling company(TM) showed that 76 percent of Americans in all demographic groups consider a product's brand before making a final product selection.(Grocery Manufacturers of America press release 2002)
The rank order of price insensitive brand loyalty by product type is shown in Table 3.
Taking any means above 2.5 as high agreement and any below as low agreement, it can be seen that respondents showed price insensitive brand loyalty to all products. As no means were towards the upper end of the scale, however, it should be considered that no category brands had a very high degree of price insensitivity.
The F ratio indicates a significant difference at the p<0.05 levels in the degree of price insensitive brand loyalty cross three categories.
Respondents showed a significantly higher degree of price insensitive brand loyalty to coffee than mobile handsets. From both Table 1 and 2 it is evident that there is a significant statistical difference in the degree of brand loyalty exhibited across product categories.
Objective 2 : To identify the factors that determines brand selection in the 18-24 age groups.
Having identified that brand loyalty and price sensitivity differ significantly by product category, it was important to explore the factors that determines brand-purchasing behavior within the age group under study. This was achieved using a two-step process; the first applying ANOVA and the second applying factor analysis.
Six statements (derived from the brand literatures and piloting process, Kim-Shyan Fam, David S. Waller (2004), Hsiu-Yuan Tsao, Li-Wei Chen,(2005) Jenni Romaniuk, Svetlana bogomolova,(2005), Gordon Fullerton,(2005),) regarding brand selection were rated by respondents according to the interval scale outlined above. Summarized (with abbreviations for further discussion), the statements were:
1. I make my purchase according to my favorite brand, regardless of price (loyalty)
2. I like to change brands for the sake of novelty and variety (novelty)
3. My choice of brand says something about me as a person (image)
4. My choice of brand is influenced by promotions (promotion)
5. I choose my brand because it has a good reputation (reputation)
6. Quality is my primary concern when buying a brand (quality)
ANOVA was conducted in order to assess whether or not there was any statistically significant difference between the levels of agreement with these statements, which represent variables that influence purchase. The F ratios indicated that there was a significant statistical difference in the responses to the statements with which respondents agreed for toothpaste brand purchase.
The means generated by ANOVA indicated the order of strongest agreement by statement for each product category. Table 6, 8 and 10 summarize the rank order of agreement with these statements across three products.
It is immediately apparent that there is a distinct break between the 'agrees' (above 2.50) and the 'disagrees' (below 2.50). This indicates a statistically significant difference between the statements with which respondents agreed and those with which they disagree. It can be seen that respondents most strongly disagreed with brand choice for the sake of 'novelty' and 'promotion' being an influence on purchase.
The strength of this disagreement may be regarded as a lack of importance of these criteria as a basis for toothpaste brand selection. There was strongest agreement that 'quality' was the basis of toothpaste brand selection (Table 6). This was significantly greater than for any other selection criterion except 'loyalty'. It should be noted that all statements with means on the 'agree' half of the scale could be regarded as having some influence on toothpaste purchase.
The factor analysis outlined later shows the relationship between these statements/variables. It is clear from the ANOVA that no single variable drives toothpaste brand selection and this is the case for all product categories.
Table 7 shows the ANOVA for coffee purchase in order to assess whether or not there was any statistically significant difference between the levels of agreement with six variable statements. The F ratios indicated that there was a significant statistical difference in the responses to the statements with which respondents agreed for coffee brand purchase.
Table 8 shows the rank order of agreement with variable statements for coffee brand purchase. The statement with which respondents most strongly agreed with respect to their coffee purchase was 'quality' and agreement with this statement was significantly (p<0.05) greater than with any other.
Additionally, the ANOVA indicates that the variables of 'reputation' and image could be regarded as having some influence on coffee purchase. Influence of promotions may be considered unimportant as drivers of coffee purchase. 'Novelty' as an influence was the statement with which respondents most strongly disagreed, so may be considered the least important driver of coffee purchase among this group. It should be noted that although 'quality' was the statement with which respondents most strongly agreed, it does not mean that on its own quality is the strongest driver of coffee brand selection. It is possible that other variables collectively may be more important, or quality, together with other variables, provides the best explanation of brand selection, as shown in the factor analysis later in this paper
Table 9 shows ANOVA for mobile handset to assess whether or not there was any statistically significant difference between the levels of agreement with variable statements.
The F ratios indicated that there was a significant statistical difference in the responses to the statements with which respondents agreed for mobile handset brand purchase.
Table 10 shows the rank order of agreement with variable statements for mobile hand set brand purchase.
Respondents most strongly agreed with brand 'quality' and 'reputation' as being the basis of their mobile handset purchases. These statements had significantly (p<0.05) higher levels of agreement than any other. The influence of 'promotion' and 'novelty' may be considered unimportant as drivers of mobile handset purchase.
In all product areas there is a distinct statistical break between the statements with which respondents agreed and those with which they disagreed. Where there is no statistically significant difference in the levels of agreement between statements, there may be some underlying relationship(s). This was explored using factor analysis. It can be seen from the ANOVA that even when one variable is shown as highly influential in a product category, it does not mean that it is the sole driver of brand selection. Factor analysis groups the influences (variables) showing which collectively best explains purchase behavior.
In order to discover the main underlying factors of brand loyalty across the three product categories, factor analysis was applied. Following a principal component analysis the factors were rotated using the varimax rotation. The Eigenvalue used applied Kaiser's criterion of 1.
The factors representing the underlying factors of brand loyalty for the three product categories are shown in Table 11, 12 and 13. All product categories have more than one 'factor', indicating that there is more than one group of influences on brand selection. It can be seen from Table 11 that there two opposing factors of coffee brand purchase, collectively explaining 58.2 percent of the variance.
Component 1 represents the factor 'outer directed brand loyalty'. It is characterized by a price insensitive brand preference associated with the quality and reputation of the brand. The term 'outer directed' is based on loyalty being connected to product and brand evaluation rather than purchase being related to brand as a reflection of self-image. Component 2 represents the factors characterized by novelty and promotion.
Table 12 indicates that there are two factors of toothpaste brand loyalty that collectively explain 58.5 per cent of the variance.
Component 1 is characterized by image, reputation and quality being the influence in toothpaste brand purchase. Component 2 is characterized by novelty being the factor in brand selection. It is negatively associated with price insensitive brand loyalty. This may indicate that respondents are brand loyal to lower priced toothpaste brands so do not consider that their purchases are made 'regardless of price'.
There are three factors of mobile handset brand purchase (Table 13) that collectively explain 69.3 per cent of variance. Component 1 is characterized by a price insensitive brand preference. It is negatively associated with novelty being an influence for brand loyalty.
Although not dominant, component 1 is clearly the major factor for mobile handset. The second factor, component 2, represents image and promotion sensitivity. This component is not associated with either brand preference regardless of price (not unexpectedly) or Novelty as an influence in brand purchase. It is very clearly an image and promotion orientation. Component 3 accounts for the lowest percentage of variance explained and represent the factor 'outer directed brand loyalty' and are characterized by quality and reputation of the brand.
RESULTS AND CONCLUSION:
Brand Loyalty is defined using the concept of habit formation, in which past consumption influences present consumption.(Faria, 2003) A base of loyal customers allows marketers to charge premium price and reduce the cost of operation Dalls'Olmo et. al (1997)Research Suggest that customer can demonstrate brand loyalty in variety ways.
Customer can demonstrate by purchasing (Nijssen, Sirdeshmukh & Holzmueller, 2003) or willing to recommend or provide advice(Gruen, 1995). More importantly, price cuts or sales promotion by themselves do not seem to have done much for brands in terms of sustaining brand loyalty. They may attract consumers in the short run: consumers may stock the brands and consumers new to the brand may try it. But over a period of time, a brand's value may get diluted in consumers' psyche, and will eventually lose a strong base of consumers (Kumar & Sharma, 2005)
From both Tables 1-4 above it is evident that there is a significant statistical difference in the degree of brand loyalty exhibited by 18-24-year-old students across product categories. This is the first such study conducted in the said age group. The implication of this finding is that when studies explore loyalty differences between age groups, the results would be strongly influenced by the product categories chosen. Any conclusions drawn should be constrained to the product under study as not to do so would provide simplistic generalizations.
The factors of brand loyalty shown in Table 11, 12 and 13 also vary by product type. Although the differences in the dimensions across product categories are in some cases subtle ones, they are nonetheless important because they show the complexity of purchase behavior in this target group. All the product categories have loyalty behavior (whether it is price insensitive brand loyalty or loyalty based on outer-directed criteria such as the reputation of the brand) as their primary factor.
All the products had 'quality' as the statement with which respondents most strongly agreed in the ANOVA. This does not suggest that this is the single most important driver of brand purchase, but that quality is a highly important variable in brand selection of these products. It is either the primary or secondary factor for all product categories.
Product categories like coffee and toothpaste exhibited a similar profile in the factor analyses. It is clear that in the purchase of coffee and toothpaste brands, respondents indicated the underlying importance of quality and brand reputation to their loyalty. In case of mobile handsets, image was associated with price insensitive brand loyalty, quality and reputation of the brand. The importance of both branding and brand as a reflection of self-image were very specific to mobile handset in this study.
It can be seen that to suggest that younger consumers have low loyalty would be to miss the richness of their complexity. Opportunities in marketing also may be overlooked. The brand heritage that is evident in coffee and toothpaste purchase could be something that manufacturers might reflect in their positioning. For example, taste, as a reminder of home, might be a successful message in coffee promotion targeting this demographic group. Brand as a reflection of self-image is something that is clearly important and specific (among the products investigated) to mobile handset brands.
Again, this could be reflected in promotional activity; however, the advertising of mobile handsets might differ from that of toothpaste. With mobile handsets, creating the brand reputation as a reflection of self-image, and quality positioning, would be key to success. Although these are also important in toothpaste selection and should not be overlooked, product performance is also critical. The marketing of mobile handsets needs to reflect their relative price insensitivity compared with toothpaste. Value and variety are important attributes of coffee brand and so sales promotion will be successful in this product category. In the longer term, however, marketers may wish to consider which brand-switching promotions will best protect their margins, so they can continue to invest in product innovation.
In spite of these study marketers need to continue to conduct qualitative research to understand in what ways customers are or could be loyal in their industry. It will not be adequate just to ask customers how they define themselves as being loyal. Rather qualitative research needs to ask customers how and why they are or are not loyal to the brand of interest. This line of questioning will assist marketers to both identify the loyal quality or states that are relevant in their industry, and to identify the drivers of the loyal qualities.
LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
While students increasingly may be a good representation of the 18-24 age group, further work need to be conducted on the non-student population to identify any differences. The study was confined to Mumbai city only. The study was conducted on a small sample size and further work needs to be done on a large sample size covering varied courses. The study was conducted on only three product categories. Research may be conducted covering variety of products showing brand purchasing behavior.
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R.K. Srivastava, University of Mumbai…
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Publication information: Article title: Determination of Brand Loyalty Factors Age Group-18-24. Contributors: Srivastava, R. K. - Author. Journal title: Academy of Marketing Studies Journal. Volume: 11. Issue: 1 Publication date: January 1, 2007. Page number: 1+. © 2008 The DreamCatchers Group, LLC. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.
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