Academic journal article IUP Journal of Brand Management

The Influence of Brand Association on Customer Preference: A Study on Branded Carbonated Soft Drinks

Academic journal article IUP Journal of Brand Management

The Influence of Brand Association on Customer Preference: A Study on Branded Carbonated Soft Drinks

Article excerpt

Introduction

A successful brand is the most valuable resource a company has. Brands are used as external cues to taste, design, qualify, prestige, value and so forth. Brand is a distinguishing name and/or symbol, intended to identify the goods or services of either one seller or a group of sellers, and to differentiate those goods or services from those of competitors (Aaker, 1991; Stanton, 1994; and Kotler, 1996). Brand Association is the category of a brand's assets and liabilities that include anything 'linked' in memory to a brand (Aaker (1991). According to Keller (1998), brand associations are informational nodes, linked to the brand node in memory and contain the meaning of the brand for consumers.

The premier and ultimate objective of any marketer is to yield high profit by attracting customers, because customers are the most important people for any organization. They are the resource upon which the success of the business depends. Aaker (1991) stated that marketers mostly use brand association as a tool to differentiate their brands in the market and use it as one of the strategies to position their brands. Brand associations help consumers to process, organize, and retrieve information in memory and also help in making purchase decisions.

The consumers are aware of various carbonated soft drinks present in the market, and their purchase decisions are influenced by a number of factors, which lead them to select a particular brand in preference to others. Every brand faces tough competition globally and nationally. The quality of a product and its brand image, brand attitude and perceived quality are becoming important competitive issues in the global marketplace. The goal of every brand is to survive in the marketplace. In order to survive, it should retain its customers, and brand association plays a major role in retaining the customers. Every carbonated soft drink company aims at achieving a larger market share, however, without getting loyal customers through brand association, they cannot achieve it.

According to Nuruzzaman (1996), "Carbonated soft drink is an important product item in the modern society both in urban and rural areas. Consumers mainly purchase the product for their refreshment". Currently, many brands of carbonated soft drinks are being consumed in all countries, including Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka's top three cola companies- Coca-Cola, Pepsi and Elephant House-came together to launch the Beverage Association of Sri Lanka. Shaa Cola and My Cola are the other small beverage firms of the country.

The present study discusses the brand association of carbonated soft drinks in Sri Lankan carbonated soft drink industry, which is highly regulated and competitive with multinational and domestic brands. The study analyzes the factors that influence brand association for branded carbonated soft drinks.

Literature Review

Brand Equity

Keller (1993) indicates that brand equity is "the differential effect of brand knowledge on consumer response to the marketing of the brand". Aaker (1996) has pointed out the asset categories of brand equity such as brand loyalty, brand awareness, perceived quality and brand association.

Brand Loyalty

Aaker (1996) assumes that a loyal consumer base represents a barrier to entry, a basis for a price premium, time to respond to competitors, and a bulwark against deleterious price completion, and brand loyalty. It is a core dimension of brand equity. According to Aaker (1991), brand loyalty is the consumer attitude to brand preference based on the previous use and shopping experience of the product and it can be measured from the repurchase rate of the same brand.

Brand Awareness

According to Aaker (1996), brand awareness is the strength of a brand's presence in the consumers' mind. It is a measure of the percentage of the target market. Marketers can create awareness among their target audience through promotional activities like repetitive advertising and publicity. …

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