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Businesses try to use terms, labels, and designs that are distinct from other products produced by their competitors. Branding is an intangible asset for companies. Most of them now realise that a business venture requires branding to succeed.
Numerous researches have gone into branding including its effectiveness on consumer choice, effective ways of doing it, and the various outcomes it has. However, there exists a knowledge gap in the consumer effects of branding for the various manufactured products.
There has been the suspicion that branding has an influence on the consumer choice. This aspect has always been assumed as a positive relationship. This knowledge raises the question of how branding affects consumer choice. This paper looks at the concept of branding, the methods involved, and its exact effect on consumer purchasing choices.
Branding and consumer choice
Branding influences the decision of consumers in the selection of products made by different organisations or businesses. In a study done on the purchase decisions of about 20,000 consumers in five different industries, the results showed that consumers used four stages in their decision-making before choosing a product (Court, et al., 2009, p.8).
These stages included consideration, evaluation, and buying with the rest being enjoying, advocating, and bonding (Court, et al., 2009, p.8). In the first one, a consumer makes a consideration of products based on the mindset gained via advertisements, friends, or other avenues of product marketing.
In the second step, consumers evaluate products by seeking advice from friends, peers, retailers, competitors on the product, and reviewers among other sources. This aspect means that consumers add more brands to their selections with some of the originally considered brands being discarded as consumers learn more.
Branding finds an effect here with most consumers choosing brands deemed as appropriate. In buying, consumers can be convinced by the brand with those brands deemed familiar being preferred.
After purchasing the product, consumers often do an online research on the product. If it pleases them, they continue with the verbal advertisement to their friends and colleagues. This topology is however consistent with positive relationships with only a few negative relationships.
Consumer response to branding
Another research done on the effects of branding on consumer decision-making evaluated the relationship between customers and a specific brand (Fournier, 1998, p.360).
The researcher compared the customer’s brand relationship by the use of metaphors such as “arranged marriages, marriage of convenience, best friends, compartmentalised friendship, casual friends, kinship, courtship, enmities, childhood friendships, flings, and secret affairs” (Fournier, 1998, p.365).
Aaker et al (2004, p.23) did a study on the relationship between consumers and their preferred brand. He concluded that the choice made by consumers on the purchase of a product is dependent on the branding.
In the current market environment, consumers have a large variety of products on which to make choices. In making up decisions on which products to purchase, they therefore have to use various criteria to arrive at the best product.
Branding in previous studies has been defined as one of the most important mental shortcuts for consumers. It allows consumers to establish the products they desire to aid in decision-making. Consumers do accomplish this task by invoking parts of their memory. Thus, products that do not capture their attention are not selected.
Research found that consumers do not pay attention to half of the brands available during purchasing (Russo, et al., 1994, p. 280). A quick glance is enough for most products to be ignored with only those that are well branded receiving most of the attention.
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Research also proves that a product is more likely to be chosen if it receives more attention during shopping (Chandon, et al., 2002, p.34). With these conclusions in mind, it is therefore crucial to look at the effect of attention on trade marking.
Aspects of Branding
According to Leighton and Bird, eye tracking has been used to measure the attention given to products during shopping (2012, p.23). The attention given to a product involves an involuntary visual recognition pattern with the more common brands to consumers being more likely to be chosen according to the mental cue that is not under conscious control (Leighton & Bird, 2012, p.6).
Branding therefore works to create a signal in consumers to enable them select products quickly when given a variety of choices. It therefore serves as a memory cue where the memory used is on the brand’s perception, past experience, and the brand associations (Leighton & Bird, 2012, p.8). Apparently, customers regularly choose and easily like quickly recognised brands as compared to other brands (Winkielman, et al., 2000, p.57).
Leighton and Bird suggested in their study that altering the quantity of non-branded information on the package has little effect on its consumer recognition (2012 p.12).
They suggested that increasing the font of labels in brands increases the consumer attention to the contents of the brand while in effect reducing their ability to recognise the brand at an instance (Leighton and Bird 2012 p.12). Copycat brands affect the recognition of competitive brands with most of the people choosing particular brands just because they resemble others.
Brand characteristics and consumer choice
Logos on brands and the colouring of the packaging material are some of the important aspects of a brand that enable its quick recognition. With these findings, it is therefore important that companies consider retaining their brands’ logos for easier recognition. Changing brands’ logo or any font on the packaging may also affect the consumers’ selection.
With the constantly changing pricing of products, it is important to consider consumers’ selection of a brand after price changes. There is little demonstrated change to brand selection after a change in its price especially if a brand is common and preferred by many people.
Brand superiority is thus affected little by the pricing. A change in the content of brands has also little effect on the consumer selection. Brands that have established themselves over time get little change in consumers’ choice after such changes.
Branding is the designation of terms, labels, and designs that are unique to a product. Each company and organisation tries to establish a brand that is unique from those of its competitors to influence consumers’ selection. As demonstrated above, branding affects the choice of consumers during selection.
A brand that is more conspicuous and attractive to consumers always has an edge over its competitors in the market. Copycat brands confuse consumers by misleading them in brand selection. Despite the changes in price, quantity, and quality, there is little demonstrated change in consumer selection for brands perceived as poplar. This therefore proves that there is a relationship between consumer selection and branding.
Aaker, J., Fournier, S., & Brasel, A. (2004). When good brands do bad. J. Consumer Res., 31, 1-16.
Chandon, P., Hutchinson, W., & Young, S. (2002). Unseen is unsold: Assessing visual equity with commercial eye-tracking data. Web.
Court, D., Elzinga, D., Mulder, S., & JørgenVetvik, O. (2009). Consumer decision journey. McKinsey Quarterly 23, 234-256.
Fournier, S. M. (1998). Consumers and their brands: Developing relationship theory in consumer research. J. Consumer Res., 24, 343-373.
Leighton, J., & Geoff, B. (2012). The Effect of Branding on Consumer Choice. Web.
Russo, J., Edwards, J., & Leclerc, F. (1994). An eye-fixation analysis of choice processes for consumer nondurables. Journal of Consumer Research, 21, 274-290.
Winkielman, P., Schwarz, N., Rolf, R., Tedra, F., & Linda, S. (2000). Affective and Cognitive Consequences of Visual Fluency: When seeing is Easy on the Persuasive imagery: A consumer response perspective (pp.75-89). New Jersey, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Publishers.