The impact of brand equity drivers on consumer-based brand resonance in multiple product settings
The importance of brand equity to a firm has been well-documented by previous literature. Brands with high equity allow a firm to charge a premium price as well as garner a larger market share in relation to competitors (Simon & Sullivan, 1993). From the consumer's perspective, previous research has failed to explain precisely how consumers perceive and become loyal to specific brands. Most of the scholarly work in this area has been conceptual in nature. Therefore, this study established a consumer-based brand equity model based on Keller's (2003) brand equity pyramid that explains how consumer perceptions influence brand resonance. The consumer-based brand equity scale was comprised of five constructs related to brand equity: brand awareness, brand associations, brand superiority, brand affect, and brand resonance. This dissertation represents one of the first attempts to operationalize Keller's pyramid. The measurement items were established based upon an extensive review of the literature and in the case of brand associations, by examining data collected from consumers by means of a qualitative elicitation.
A pilot test in both the goods and services context (n = 288; n = 231) provided initial validation of the measurement items constructed in the item generation stage. More specifically, results from an exploratory factor analysis showed that brand associations was comprised of two dimensions in the goods context (attributes and benefits) and three dimensions in the services context (attributes, benefits, and service personnel). In both contexts, brand resonance was found to be comprised of two dimensions: sense of community and active engagement. Furthermore, minor item modifications were made to the other constructs of interest (brand awareness, brand superiority, brand affect) to ensure the reliability and validity of the measures.
The main study included data collected from a general consumer sample (n = 787) in a mid-sized southeastern community in order to validate the consumer-based brand equity model. A two-step confirmatory factor analysis approach confirmed the adequate fit of the measurement model to the observed data in both the goods and services context. Furthermore, the results from an examination of the structural model via structural equation modeling confirmed a significant relationship between brand awareness and brand associations as posited by previous research. Brand associations were found to have a significant impact on a consumer's cognitive evaluation (brand superiority) and affective response (brand affect) to focal brands in both the goods and services context. Interestingly, brand associations were found to have an indirect relationship with consumers' behavioral intentions (brand resonance) via brand superiority and brand affect. This finding revealed that two attitudinal constructs (brand superiority and brand affect) played a crucial role in the brand association-brand resonance relationship.
The results of the current study represent one of the initial steps in operationalizing Keller's (2003) consumer-based brand equity model. Managers can utilize the consumer-based brand equity model as a “measuring stick” to track the progress of their brand-building efforts. It illustrates the importance of not only brand associations but also accounting for consumers' cognitive evaluations and affective responses to the thoughts they hold on behalf of the brand. Ultimately, these two attitudinal constructs play an important role in influencing consumers' behavioral intentions toward a brand. Future research needs to test the consumer-based brand equity model with different brands in different settings to further advance our knowledge of how brands resonate with consumers.
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