The influence of brand recognition on retail store image
Stephen S. Porter and Cindy Claycomb
A well-recognized and accepted brand image is one of the most valuable assets a firm possesses. Brand managers and manufacturers are concerned with managing brand equity and capitalizing on the value of a brand image (Aaker, 1991). A product or retail establishment has many associations which combine to form its total impression. Few would argue that consumers form impressions of brands, and that these impressions later exert a major influence on store choice decisions and shopping behaviors. Favorable images of brands positively influence patronage decisions and purchase behaviors, while unfavorable images adversely influence such decisions and behaviors. In other words, the images associated with the brands a store carries influence a store’s image, which in turn, influences consumers’ decision-making processes and behaviors. Consequently, brand image and retail image are inextricably linked to one another. Informational cues If buyers do not possess complete information about a store, they make inferences from available informational cues before forming perceptions of the store (Monroe and Krishnan, 1985). Recently it has been suggested that the inferences buyers make about the merchandise quality of a store directly influence retail image (Baker et al., 1994). Brand image often serves as an informational cue used by buyers to form inferences about a store’s merchandise quality (Olshavsky, 1985). Knowing that brand image helps form merchandise quality inferences that influence buyers’ perceptions of retail image, we propose that two informational cues help buyers form these inferences. First, the awareness level of brands carried by a store helps buyers form merchandise quality inferences that influence their perceptions of retail image. Second, the presence of a brand(s) having strong awareness, recognition, and quality perceptions – an “anchor brand” – influences buyers’ inference-making and impressions of retail image. This perspective suggests that brand and retail managers need to be concerned not only with the influence that specific anchor brands’ images have on a retail store’s image, but also the effect that the overall image of the brand mix carried by a store has on buyers’ perceptions of a retail store’s image. The purpose of the current research is to report on a study that examines how brand image directly influences retail image. Specifically, we investigate the influence of the presence of an anchor brand and the number of recognizable name brands carried by a store on buyers’ perceptions of retail image. A model is presented that depicts the proposed relationships. Results of an exploratory study to test the propositions of the model are discussed. Based on the findings, managerial implications and recommendations for brand managers and retailers are provided. JOURNAL OF PRODUCT & BRAND MANAGEMENT, VOL. 6 NO. 6, 1997 pp. 373-387 © MCB UNIVERSITY PRESS, 1061-0421 373
Model Figure 1 identifies the proposed relationships between merchandise quality inferences formed from brand image and the buyers’ associated perceptions of retail image. Retail store image The concept of retail store image first came of interest when Pierre Martineau (1958) described the “personality of the retail store.” Since that pronouncement, it has generally been acknowledged that, over time, consumers form thoughts and feelings associated with stores, and that these overall impressions strongly influence their shopping and patronage behaviors. Retail store image is an overall impression of a store as perceived by consumers (Keaveney and Hunt, 1992). One of the commonly accepted formal definitions of retail store image is an individual’s cognitions and emotions that are inferred from perceptions or memory inputs that are attached to a...