Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

Qualitative Explorations into Customer Based Brand Equity (CBBE) for Medical Tourism in India

Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

Qualitative Explorations into Customer Based Brand Equity (CBBE) for Medical Tourism in India

Article excerpt

Introduction

Carrera and Bridges (2006) defined medical tourism (MT) as, "The organized travel outside one's local environment for the maintenance, enhancement or restoration of an individual's well-being in mind and body" (p. 447). Medical tourism is shaped by the interactions of political, medical, legal, and social forces inside a destination (Smith & Forgione, 2007). According to De Arellano (2007), prospering in the medical industry paves the way to the increased gross domestic product (GDP), improved service sectors, foreign exchange, and trade balance, and elevates the tourism portfolio. Therefore, it is a priority to evaluate the Customer Based Brand Equity (CBBE) in a specific industry domain such as medical tourism.

Customer-based brand equity (CBBE) has been defined as, "A differential effect of brand knowledge on consumer response to the marketing of the brand" (Keller, 1993, p. 17). In short, CBBE is a way to evaluate the brand equity from customers' perspectives. CBBE is also described as, "The difference in consumer choice between the focal branded product and an unbranded product given the same level of product features" (Yoo, Donthu, & Lee., 2000, p. 196) and as, "A set of characteristics that make a brand unique in the marketplace" (Clow & Baack, 2005, p. 17).

Medical tourism in India does have acute potential and not many types of research pertaining to this area have been conducted that study relevant contextual dimensions in order to assess the worth of brand equity through CBBE. The CBBE is measured by dimensions called scale constructs which include the selection of a hospital, destination choice, choice of physician, country infrastructure, and advertisement (Heung, Kucukusta, & Song, 2011) making the CBBE dynamic in nature. This research opens a gate to a comparative glance across various medical tourism destinations at the global level and can be a foundation to analyze why people from Europe and the USA prefer Argentina or the Middle East over India, and why affluent people from neighboring countries travel to the Middle East when many doctors there are of Indian origin. Given that culture (language, religion, staff quality) and infrastructure (hospital, medical, and country infrastructure) are manifestations of the socio-economic indexes, this scale can be useful in comparing the brand equity of hospitals (unity of measurement of CBBE) across places such as the USA, Europe, Australia, Korea, India, and the Middle East.

Customer Based Brand Equity provides quantification for a brand's popularity and success. Yet there is no specific relevant available scale for measuring CBBE for medical tourism in India or anywhere else. CBBE is measured by various dimensions (brand awareness, brand association, loyalty, and perceived quality), and the dimensions change contextually with the need and characteristics of specific industries. Wang and Finn (2013), Yoo and Donthu (2001), Netemeyer et al. (2004), and Jarvis, MacKenzie, and Podsakoff (2003) demonstrated that the CBBE has different dimensions across different industry domains. As medical tourism is a blend of healthcare, tourism, and other service industries such as hospitality and transportation, the brand equity scale of medical tourism may deviate from any of the mentioned individual industries. With time, CBBE scales are modified and refined for service verticals such as retail, healthcare, hospitality, and tourism. Therefore, the literature for a medical tourism CBBE scale has a gap that is yet to be explored. It is, therefore justified to explore CBBE scale dimensions for the medical tourism industry, to incorporate recent findings pertaining to the related industries.

Any model for sustainable tourism not only depends on the physical environment but depends on the social and cultural environment of destinations (Andereck et al., 2005). Cutter (1985) explained that consumer perceptions of the objective conditions include economic activity, social/cultural institutional presence, and environmental conditions. …

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