Academic journal article Journal of Electronic Commerce Research

The Roles of Customer-Brand Relationships and Brand Equity in Brand Extension Acceptance

Academic journal article Journal of Electronic Commerce Research

The Roles of Customer-Brand Relationships and Brand Equity in Brand Extension Acceptance

Article excerpt

(ProQuest: ... denotes formulae omitted.)

1.Introduction

The global e-commerce market continues to expand annually. According to market research firm eMarketer, worldwide consumers spent approximately $1.7 trillion (USD) online in 2015, and online purchases are expected to more than double to $3.6 trillion by 2019. Given this trend, some brick-and-mortar firms have started their own online ventures to take advantage of the e-commerce boom. Mobile devices, especially smartphones, are rapidly becoming the dominant means of communication worldwide and are increasingly being used for e-commerce. Since mobile commerce (m-commerce) includes all commercial transactions conducted online via a mobile phone or other handheld device, it can be viewed as a subset of e-commerce. Mobile devices account for an ever-increasing share of e-commerce sales. Mobile messaging service brands such as LINE and WeChat have started to launch extension products or services (i.e., m-commerce platforms) to capitalize on their brand's large and active user base. However, if a brand extension fails, it may harm consumer attitude toward other products carrying the same brand name [Armstrong et al 2017]. Therefore to understand the factors affecting the brand extension's success is a crucial issue for the mobile messaging service providers. In order to determine whether a brand extension will succeed, it is crucial to understand how well the extensions are accepted by consumers [Evangeline and Ragel 2016]. In this study, we use LINE as the target mobile messaging service brand and LINE Mart as the target extension service.

Brand attachment plays an important role in successful brand extension, as this concept represents efforts aimed at maintaining the relationship between the brand and the customer [Bahri-Ammari et al 2016]. Brand attachment refers to the strength of the bond connecting the brand with the self [Park et al 2010]. It reflects the perceived distance between a brand and the self and the perceived memory accessibility of a brand to an individual [Park et al 2013]. Consumers with a stronger attachment are likely to be committed to a brand and stay in a long-term relationship with the firm [So et al 2013] In addition, positive beliefs and/or affect from the parent brand can be transferred to its extensions [Pina et al 2010]. Facilitating strong attachment to a parent brand is thus an important means of fostering consumers' acceptance and use of its extension products or services. Dennis et al [2016] have found that brand attachment affects brand commitment in the context of higher education institutions. However, the relationships between consumers' emotional attachment to the mobile messaging service brand, brand equity, their commitment to its extension service (i.e., m-commerce platform), and their intention to accept the extension service has received little research attention thus far.

The functions, concepts and characteristics of a brand can be perceived as brand assets (liabilities) when the brand helps (hinders) consumers achieve their goals [Park et al 2013]. Consumers develop an emotional bond with a brand that helps them achieve their goals. Park et al [2013] proposed three different types of assets a brand may possess: enticing-the-self, enriching-the-self, and enabling-the-self. Enticing-the-self refers to the sensory (hedonic) pleasures or aesthetic pleasures experienced from a brand. Enriching-the-self refers to pleasing the spiritual self by symbolically representing one's past, present, or ideal future self internally and/or externally. Enabling-the-self refers to the extent to which a brand creates a sense of an efficacious and capable self. Although prior research has examined the impact of such brand assets on emotional attachment [e.g., Vlachos et al 2010], we are aware of no study that has tested the underlying causal mechanism or empirically confirmed the impact of brand assets on brand attachment in the online or mobile shopping context. …

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