Branding is an important element in business. Without a brand, customers have to explain to the sellers in detail about the products that they want, while sellers may be confused or give the wrong products to the customers. Therefore, it can be assumed that brand acts as a sign, name or symbol for the products and services. The main aim of the brand is to identify the products or services of a seller or groups of sellers and differentiate an offering of a seller from that of its rivals (Kotler, 2003).
In recent years, brand played a significant part in the market as the marketers added value to the brand to make it more preferable compared to other brands in the same market segment. This is particularly true in the fashion market. For example, when premium leather handbags are mentioned, most people will think of Louis Vuitton. When thinking of buying a scarf, most customers will think of Burberry, or when young women want to buy new cosmetics, they may think of Christian Dior. These examples are just one of the successful branding strategies.
1.1 Research Aims
The above examples show that some customers prefer one brand over another even though that brand is more expensive. Price may not be the most important factor here; the psychological factor may be greater, for instance. Therefore, this research aims to achieve the following: 1. To establish if any relationship exists between branding and consumers’ purchasing decision. 2. To establish the changes in the relationship between branding and consumers’ purchasing decision when other factors such as price are introduced. 3. To identify the major aspects of branding that influence the consumers’ purchasing decision. 4. To examine the consumers tendency to recommend brands and its effect on purchasing decisions of their friends and family.
2. Literature Review
2.1 The Importance of Brand
According to Phillip Kotler (2003), a brand is a complex sign and it can express up to six levels of definition. The levels of a brand include attributes, benefits, values, culture, personality and user. The American Marketing Association defines a brand as “a name, term, sign, symbol, or design, or a combination of them”. Unlike patents and copyright, brand does not have an expiry date. The main purpose of a brand is to identify the products or services of a seller or groups of sellers and differentiate an offering of a seller from that of its competitors (Kotler, 2003).
2.2 Perception toward Brand
Perception is a process in which an individual selects and interprets information to create a meaning of things around them. Perception depends on physical stimuli and stimuli’s relation to the surrounding field of an individual. People can have different perceptions of the same thing because of a few perceptual processes – selective attention, selective distortion and selective retention (Kotler, 2003). For example, a person may perceive a BMW car as premium, advance, cutting-edge and well-built; another may see it as expensive and non-economical use. Individuals will respond differently to BMW vehicles.
In marketing, perception is more important than the reality (Simms & Trott, 2006). This is because BMW automobile buyers may decide to purchase a BMW because of daily stimuli around them. For instance, media advertising of BMW cars in automobile magazine featuring a middle-class male with executive look in a suit may influence those who are working-class males in management positions to buy BMW cars (Simms & Trott, 2006).
2.3 Brand Attributes
Differentiation strategy can help firms to create positive images in consumers’ minds and draw positive perceptions toward products (Nandan, 2005). This strategy works effectively with advertising. In the case of consumer products which are very competitive, if the consumer goods are different from the same product category in the same...