An executive summary for managers and executives can be found at the end of this article 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 particular store and which represent what that store signifies to an individual (Baker et al. , 1994; Mazursky and Jacoby, 1986). In addition to developing definitions of retail store image, researchers have also identified multiple dimensions of the concept. Retail image is generally described as a combination of a store’s functional qualities and the psychological attributes consumers link to these.
While the exact dimensions have varied over the years, the well-known categorizations of image attributes have consisted of some combination of functional and psychological attributes. For example, some of the more common dimensions identified by researchers have been associated with: fashion, selection, and quality of merchandise; customer services and sales personnel; and the physical conditions and atmosphere of the store (Lindquist, 1974-1975; Martineau, 1958; Zimmer and Golden, 1988). Brand image (merchandise quality inferences) Buyer perceptions
Personality of the retail store Presence of an anchor brand Retail store image Number of recognizable name brands Figure 1. Proposed relationships between brand image and store image 374 JOURNAL OF PRODUCT & BRAND MANAGEMENT, VOL. 6 NO. 6 1997 A signal to consumers Brand image A strong brand image offers an organization several important strategic advantages. A brand distinguishes the goods and services of one seller from those of competitors. A powerful brand identity creates a major competitive advantage; a well recognized brand encourages repeat purchases.
Thus, a brand acts as a signal to consumers regarding the source of the product and protects customers and manufacturers from “me-too” products that may appear identical. Brand image consists of consumer knowledge and beliefs, stored in memory as associations, about brand attributes and the consequences of brand use (Peter and Olson, 1994). These associations are usually organized in some meaningful manner (Aaker, 1991). Thus, Coke is not just a set of ten strong associations and 20 weaker ones.
Rather, the associations are grouped in such a manner that it has meaning. There may be a lifestyle cluster, a sponsorship cluster, and a variety of products cluster. There might also be one or more mental pictures that come to mind when Coke is mentioned, such as the Coca-Cola logo, the Olympic Torch Relay, or inevitably, a refreshing drink. Brand images are important because they create value for manufacturers in at least five ways (Aaker, 1991). First, brand images help consumers retrieve and process information. For example,
Pepsi’s development of the “Pepsi generation” created a brand image that helped consumers process additional information they received about Pepsi. Second, brand images provide a basis for differentiation and positioning of a product. For example, the combination of Gatorade and athletics has been a powerful association that competitors initially found hard to attack. Third, brand images involve product attributes and customer benefits that give consumers a reason to buy and use the brand. For example, Crest toothpaste became a dominant brand by positioning itself as a cavity fighter.
The benefit of cavity prevention, supported by a respected medical group, reinforces a consumer’s choice to purchase Crest. Fourth, brand images create associations that produce positive attitudes and feelings that are transferred to the brands. For example, Metropolitan Life Insurance used the Charlie Brown characters to create positive feelings toward an otherwise large and impersonal firm. Finally, brand images provide the basis for product extensions, by creating a sense of fit between the brand and the new product, or by giving consumers a reason to buy the new product.
For example, Sunkist’s association with healthy outdoor activities has provided a basis for extensions such as fruit bars, soft drinks, and vitamin C tablets. The value brand images create for manufacturers is also projected on to the image of retail stores that carry the brands. One way consumers describe retail stores is in terms of their assessments of the brands carried. Influence of brand image on retail store image In a recent study, Baker et al. (1994) discovered that inferences that consumers made about merchandise quality were direct determinants of retail image.
In other words, the merchandise inferences influenced consumers’ thoughts and feelings about a store. Therefore, merchandise quality can be viewed as a key variable that influences retail image; however, consumers do not always possess complete information about the merchandise quality of a store nor are they perfect information processors. Consequently, consumers with incomplete information use various 375 Value of manufacturers Determinants of retail image JOURNAL OF PRODUCT & BRAND MANAGEMENT, VOL. 6 NO. 1997 informational cues to make inferences about merchandise quality (Monroe and Krishnan, 1985). Merchandise evaluation Consumers most heavily access brand name as a store information cue when evaluating merchandise quality (Mazursky and Jacoby, 1986). Brand name communicates a great deal of information – an image – to the potential customer because it has become associated with a bundle of information generated by advertising, word-of-mouth communication, and previous usage of the brand (Stokes, 1985).
The merchandise, whether perceived favorably or unfavorably, projects an image not only of the brand itself, but also of the store as a whole. Empirical findings imply that retail store image could be improved by linking it with brands that are evaluated favorably and damaged by association with brands that are evaluated less favorably (Jacoby and Mazursky, 1984). Conversely, brand images may not be as readily influenced by association with retail images.
Brand images can be negatively influenced by association with retailers having less favorable images; however, when brand images are associated with retailers having more favorable retail images, there is little change or influence to the brand’s image (Jacoby and Mazursky, 1984). This suggests that brand image plays a major role in the development of a consumer’s perception of retail image (Zimmer and Golden, 1988). Furthermore, this indicates that brand image, as a construct, is more stable than retail image across various situations.
This stability may be attributable to the fact that marketing specifically creates or positions a brand’s image using a rather limited number of congruent dimensions (e. g. quality, price, and sales communications activities). Thus, brand image may be able to stand on its own as it calls to mind a list of desired attributes and associations that provide value to a consumer in a variety of ways regardless of the retailer carrying the brand (Aaker, 1991; Ward et al. , 1992).
On the other hand, retail image appears to be a more complex construct, and is therefore less stable than brand image. While merchandise quality and brand image(s) are major predictors of retail image, they are not the only predictors (Baker et al. , 1994; Mazursky and Jacoby, 1986). This may help explain, for instance, the success of off-price retailers and manufacturers’ outlets. The value provided to the customer, in terms of the dimensions of low prices and favorable brand names, creates a retail image that is positive in the consumer’s mind.
Based on the premise that brand image, as an informational cue, is heavily accessed by consumers when evaluating stores, we suggest that merchandise quality inferences based on brand image will directly influence retail image. While a few studies have recognized the importance of brand image as an informational cue of merchandise quality, brand image has generally been studied by manipulating the presence or absence of brand names. As pointed out by Stokes (1985), this is a purely academic exercise because few products are marketed without brand names in today’s marketplace.
Consequently, few retail stores carry nonbranded merchandise. To remedy this methodological issue, we suggest that the presence of an anchor brand and the number of recognizable brands a store carries, rather than the mere presence or absence of brand names, directly influence customers’ perceptions of a store’s image. A study designed to test these ideas is explained in the next section. JOURNAL OF PRODUCT & BRAND MANAGEMENT, VOL. 6 NO. 6 1997 An anchor brand 376 Apparel industry The study A study was conducted using brands associated with the apparel industry to investigate the hypothesized paths in our model.
The first step of our research consisted of a pilot study to discover the awareness of specific brand names and a pretest of the descriptive scenarios that were to be used in the main study. Finally, the main study was conducted to test the hypothesized relationships (see Figure 1). In the pilot study, apparel brand names were generated from two sources. First, 50 marketing students at a large midwestern university in the USA were given a sheet of paper divided into three equal sections with the following headings: very high quality, high quality, quality.
The students were asked to list apparel brand names that they thought would fit into each of the three categories. Table I displays the frequency distributions of brand names that were generated. In addition, a second source was used to develop a more complete list of recognizable brands. Selected specialty stores, catering to the age group of our sample population (18 to 23 years old), were interviewed in two US cities in two midwestern states. The interviews yielded the following brand names: • • • • • • • • • Cole-Hann Eagle Eye Gant Izod Knautic Liz Claiborne Perry Ellis Polo Ruff Hewn
By combining the frequency distributions from the two sources, a final list of highly recognizable, high quality apparel brand names was generated. Brand Liz Claibornea Cole-Haan Polo Calvin Klein Reebok Guess Nike Levi a Total number of times listed 17 20 39 14 22 18 26 31 Percent reporting “Very high quality” “High quality” (%) (%) 88 85 77 57 50 22 31 0 12 15 23 36 41 67 69 39 “Quality” (%) 0 0 0 7 9 11 0 61 Note: Liz Claiborne was not used in the study because the brand represents a women’s clothing line only. It was felt that the male respondents would not recognize this brand
Table I. Pilot study: eight most recognizable brands listed by 18-23 year old sample JOURNAL OF PRODUCT & BRAND MANAGEMENT, VOL. 6 NO. 6 1997 377 Specifically, seven of the eight brands identified by the interviewed shoppers as “very high quality” or “high quality” were chosen, along with two additional brands that the interviewed retailers consistently identified as high quality, recognizable brands among the target market (i. e. males and females 18-23 years old). This list is as follows: • • • • • • • • • Calvin Klein Cole-Haan Gant Guess Izod Levi Nike Polo Reebok
A second list of imaginary or “created” brand names was used to test the propositions that brand names influence consumers’ perceptions of retail image. The group of “created” brands is: • • • • • Antigua Blue Shore Gentry Gulf Coast Peacocks The brand names were pretested with shoppers (18-23 years old); the brand names were generally rated very low or unrecognizable. The second phase of the pretest was conducted using 45 shoppers (marketing students at a university located in the southern USA) to assess the clarity of the research scenarios.
The pretest subjects were given the following scenario: A new clothing store will be locating in town next spring. The store will be a progressive retailer of young adults’ clothing and apparel. The owners have indicated that the retail outlet will stock the following name brands. Recognizable brands One-third of the subjects was given a list of seven of the recognizable brands from the pilot study; another third was given a list of three recognizable brands and four created brands; the final third was given a list of two recognizable brands and five created brands.
All the shoppers were then asked questions about brand image and retail image. The findings of the pretest resulted in two changes before the main study was conducted. First, the word “progressive” was removed from the scenario because it influenced the respondents’ perceptions of retail image. Second, the lists of brands presented to the shoppers were modified. It was found that there were no significant differences in shoppers’ perceptions of image when evaluating conditions with two versus three recognizable brands.
Specifically, the list of three recognizable brands and four created brands was eliminated because there was no significant difference between this list and the list of two recognizable and five created brands. JOURNAL OF PRODUCT & BRAND MANAGEMENT, VOL. 6 NO. 6 1997 378 Manipulation checks during the pretest indicated that the brands chosen to be “recognizable” were in fact recognized and perceived to be high quality brands by the pretest shoppers. We chose the “Polo” brand as the anchor brand (i. e. brand having strong awareness, recognition, and quality perceptions among the target group of shoppers) to be used in the main study. This decision was based on post-interviews with pretest shoppers that revealed Polo had high brand and quality awareness. (Interviews with the specialty retailers during the pilot study also supported this decision. ) In addition, the post-interviews revealed an interesting finding; the pretest shoppers assumed that if Polo was to be carried by the store, all the brands carried by the retailer would be of high quality.
This finding allowed us to test our propositions about the effect of the presence/absence of an anchor brand on retail image, as well as, the effect of the number (high versus low) and the recognition of brands (high recognition versus low recognition). We divided our experimental treatments into the following four levels: (1) anchor brand present/high number of recognizable brands; (2) anchor brand present/low number of recognizable brands; (3) anchor brand not present/high number of recognizable brands; (4) anchor brand not present/low number of recognizable brands.
A multidimensional concept The final instrument consisted of a self-administered questionnaire containing two sections. The first section presented the scenario of the retail clothing store and asked specific questions concerning retail store image. The second half of the questionnaire contained the brand image manipulation checks. The modified scenario is presented below. The four lists of brands, in the order presented to the subjects in each treatment, are presented in Table II: A new clothing store will be locating in town next spring.
The store will be an outlet for young adults’ clothing and apparel. The owners have indicated that the retail outlet will stock the following name brands. Scenario High brands (seven recognizable brands) Polo Cole-Haan Guess Nike Levi Reebok Calvin Klein 42 Izod Gant Guess Nike Levi Reebok Calvin Klein 29 Low brands (two recognizable brands and five created brands) Polo Guess Gentry Blue Shore Antigua Peacocks Gulf Coast 38 Izod Guess Gentry Blue Shore Antigua Peacocks Gulf Coast 27 Brand list Anchor brand present Number of subjects Anchor brand not present
Number of subjects Table II. Brands used in main study JOURNAL OF PRODUCT & BRAND MANAGEMENT, VOL. 6 NO. 6 1997 379 Measures There is not a widely accepted measure of retail store image. Consequently, we conducted a systematic review of the retail image and perceived quality literatures as a basis for developing scale items for the retail store image construct. Work by Zimmer and Golden (1988) indicated that retail image is a multi-dimensional construct. Using the summary of image descriptors (Zimmer and Golden, 1988, p. 85), 15 statements were developed to measure dimensions of retail image that were hypothesized to relate to our target population (18 to 23 year old shoppers). The scale items focussed on the following dimensions of retail image: merchandise, service, and physical facilities/atmosphere. Following the generation of the image questions, a panel of experts (students the age of the sample population and academic researchers) were asked to evaluate the questions for their wording and appropriateness.
The scale items, displayed in Table III, were measured using five-point Likert type scales, ranging from “1 = strongly disagree” to “5 = strongly agree. ” Means for each of the items are presented. Sample and manipulation checks The questionnaire was administered to 136 shoppers (18-23 year old college students attending a university located in the midwest USA). The number of subjects per treatment is shown in Table II. The respondents were asked to evaluate the fictional clothing store based on the presence or absence of an anchor brand and differing numbers of recognizable brand names carried by the retail store.
Prior to testing the model, manipulation checks were conducted. We tested the name brands used in the treatments to ensure that they were recognizable and considered high quality brands by the shoppers, compared to the created brands. In addition, Polo, the chosen anchor brand, was tested for its recognizability and perceived quality among the shoppers, as compared to all other brands used in the study. The checks indicated that the study’s manipulations were successful. Manipulation checks Item 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15.
Mean* (%) This looks like the type of store where I would like to shop I would like more information about this store My wardrobe would be stylish and neat if I shopped at this store I would tell my friends about this store This store will carry the latest fashions and styles The physical facilities of the store should be visually appealing The interior furnishings in the store should give the shopper the appearance and feeling of a quality retail outlet The employees should be appropriately dressed and neat The store should have a pleasant shopping environment The employees should be able to give me fashion tips and advice The store should offer a full line of services (tailor, credit, gift-wrapping) The employees should be knowledgeable about fashion trends The employees should be helpful and courteous The sales help will be mature and helpful If I had a question about clothing styles or fashions, I could get the answer at this store 3. 62 3. 97 3. 69 3. 76 3. 83 4. 33 4. 20 4. 32 4. 33 4. 00 3. 93 4. 16 4. 45 4. 19 3. 84 Note: *Items ere measured using 5-point scale, with 1= strongly disagree and 5 = strongly agree Table III. Retail store image scale item means 380 JOURNAL OF PRODUCT & BRAND MANAGEMENT, VOL. 6 NO. 6 1997 Purification of scale The first step in our analysis was to conduct an exploratory analysis to identify the dimensions of retail store image. The responses to the scale were subjected to a principal components factor analysis with an orthogonal rotation. The latent root criterion (i. e. only eigenvalues greater than 1. 0 are considered) indicated a three factor structure. In addition, to minimize the cross-loadings in the factor matrix, items with loadings of 0. 30 or higher on two or more factors were eliminated (Hair et al. , 1992).
This resulted in six items being eliminated from the scale. A reliability analysis (i. e. an examination of the coefficient alphas) indicated an additional item should be dropped from the scale. The final factor structure consisted of eight items retained across three dimensions (see Table IV). These dimensions followed previous categorizations of retail store image. The three dimensions were labeled fashion, service, and atmosphere. Discussion of results A one-way ANOVA was performed to determine the treatment effects on retail store image. Findings indicated that brand image did significantly influence overall retail store image (F3,135 = 2. 79; p < 0. 0432).
Thus, the combined effect of the presence of an anchor brand and a relatively large number of recognizable brands carried by a store positively related to customers’ perceptions of retail store image. When investigating these effects on retail store image (using LSD multiple comparison post hoc tests), some interesting findings surfaced. First, the treatment containing the seven recognizable brands (high number of recognizable brands), including the – anchor brand, had the highest retail store image scores ( X1 = 4. 14). Likewise, the treatment containing the two recognizable brands and the five created brands (low number of recognizable brands), excluding the anchor – brand, had the lowest retail store image scores ( X4 = 3. 82).
The difference – – between these scores ( X1 and X4) was statistically significant at the 0. 05 level. Second, in the high number of recognizable brands treatment, the – influence of the presence of the anchor brand was significant ( X1 = 4. 14 – (anchor brand present); X3 = 3. 85 (anchor brand not present)). A summary of the overall retail image scores for each of the treatments is displayed in Table V. The next step in the analysis was to collapse across the experimental factors to identify the individual and combined effects. In other words, the intent Dimension Factor 1: fashion Items 1. My wardrobe would be stylish and neat if I shopped at this store 2.
I would tell my friends about this store 3. This store will carry the latest fashions and styles 4. The employees should be knowledgeable about fashion trends 5. The store should offer a full line of services (tailor, credit, gift-wrapping) 6. The sales help will be mature and helpful 7. The interior furnishings in the store should give the shopper the appearance and feeling of a quality retail outlet 8. The employees should be appropriately dressed and neat Retail store image scores Factor 2: service Factor 3: atmosphere Table IV. Factor analysis results of retail store image measure JOURNAL OF PRODUCT & BRAND MANAGEMENT, VOL. 6 NO. 6 1997 381
Description Anchor brand present/high number of recognizable brands Anchor brand present/low number of recognizable brands Anchor brand not present/high number of recognizable brands Anchor brand present/low number of recognizable brands Treatment 1 2 3 4 Mean*(%) 4. 14a 4. 03a,b 3. 85b 3. 82b Note: *Statistically significant differences ( p ? 0. 05) in scores are indicated by different letters Table V. Mean scores for overall retail store image was to investigate if the presence of the anchor brand, the number of recognizable brands, or the interaction between the two factors influenced retail store image. It was discovered that, when controlling for the presence of the anchor brand, the number of recognizable brands carried by a retail store did not influence the store’s image.
In contrast, when controlling for the number of recognizable brands, the presence of the anchor brand did influence the retail store’s image. Consequently, it appears that, in terms of brand image, the presence of an anchor brand has a positive effect on the retail store’s image, while the number of recognizable brands does not influence perceptions of a retail store’s image. Perceptions of fashion Finally, the effect of brand image on each of the retail store image dimensions was tested. These tests indicated that brand image was related to perceptions of fashion (F3,135 = 5. 53; p < 0. 0013), but not to perceptions of service (F3,135 = 0. 65; p < 0. 5871) and atmosphere (F3,135 = 0. 83; p < 0. 4803).
Furthermore, the effects of brand image on fashion perceptions mirrored the pattern of effects found for overall retail store image, with one exception. In the low number of recognizable brands treatment, when the anchor brand – was present, the retail image fashion score ( X2 = 3. 83) was significantly – different than when the anchor brand was not present ( X4 = 3. 47). Scores for the fashion dimension of retail store image are displayed in Table VI. In summary, this study found that brand image influences perceptions of retail store image. In particular, brand image influences customers’ perceptions of fashion, but not of service and atmosphere.
Thus, there is strong evidence to suggest that a tactic for ensuring a favorable retail image is a merchandise mix composed of a relatively high number of recognizable brands, one of which should have strong brand awareness – an anchor brand. Of the two brand strategies – high image versus number – it is more important to feature an anchor brand than it is to carry a large number of recognizable brands when trying to enhance retail store image. Description Anchor brand present/high number of recognizable brands Anchor brand present/low number of recognizable brands Anchor brand not present/high number of recognizable brands Anchor brand present/low number of recognizable brands Treatment 1 2 3 4 Mean*(%) 4. 06a 3. 83a,b 3. 51b,c 3. 47b Note: *Statistically significant differences ( p ? 0. 05) in scores are indicated by different letters Table VI.
Mean scores for fashion dimension of retail store image 382 JOURNAL OF PRODUCT & BRAND MANAGEMENT, VOL. 6 NO. 6 1997 Interdependencies Managerial implications and recommendations The data analysis in the current study confirms that there is a relationship between brand image and retail image. From previous research (Jacoby and Mazursky, 1984), it is known that brand image can substantially improve or damage a retail store image, depending on how the brand is evaluated. Furthermore, brand image tends to be more powerful than retail image, as brand image is not substantially improved by being linked with a more favorable retail image (but can be damaged by a less favorable retail image).
Therefore, retailers and brand managers must be concerned with the interdependencies between retail store image and brand image. The most favorable retail image perceptions were found when the retail store carried both an anchor brand and a relatively large number of recognizable brands (i. e. seven brands compared to two). This is not a particularly surprising finding; however, the findings regarding the separate effects on retail image of an anchor brand and the number of recognizable brands carried by a retail store have implications for brand managers and retailers. Marketing mix strategies First, the influence of a strong anchor brand on customers’ perceptions of retail store image was confirmed.
This implies that one strategy for retailers to enhance their images is to include a brand with strong brand image – an anchor brand – in their merchandise mix. For brand managers who want to be associated with retail stores that have favorable images, this implies that they should take one of two actions. First, brand managers can, through their marketing mix strategies, attempt to position their brand as an anchor brand to offer retailers. Or second, brand managers can choose to distribute their products through retail stores that possess a strong image and that carry at least one strong anchor brand. Either of these tactics will ensure the brand manager’s product is associated with an image – retail store and product mix – that is favorable.
While the influence of an anchor brand on retail image was the main finding of the study, other findings related to the combined effect of an anchor brand and the number of recognizable brands carried by a retail store also have implications for brand managers and retailers. One such finding was that if a retailer carries a relatively high number of recognizable brands, adding an anchor brand should increase customers’ perceptions of overall retail image; however, if a retailer carries a relatively low number of recognizable brands, the mere presence of an anchor brand will not enhance customers’ overall perceptions of the retail image (compared to another store carrying a relatively low number of recognizable brands, without an anchor brand).
This implies that if a retailer carries a relatively large number of recognizable brand names, to enhance the customers’ perceptions of the store’s image, one of the brands should possess strong brand recognition and quality awareness among the retailer’s target market. In other words, the retailer needs to carry an anchor brand. On the other hand, for retailers that do not carry many highly recognizable brand names, the inclusion of an anchor brand will not necessarily enhance retail image. Rather, retail store image can be improved or clarified by positioning the store using attributes other than brand recognition. For instance, a store may decide that it wants to create an image of low price-cost leadership.
The product mix strategy might focus on stocking brands that are low price leaders in their product class. Moreover, the retailer may decide that stocking generic or private label brands may be the best positioning strategy available. 383 Number of recognizable brands JOURNAL OF PRODUCT & BRAND MANAGEMENT, VOL. 6 NO. 6 1997 Variety and assortment A related finding of the study was that if a specialty retailer does not carry an anchor brand, simply adding more recognizable brands that do not have strong brand awareness will not improve customers’ perceptions of retail image. In other words, it is more important for a specialty retailer to feature an anchor brand than it is to simply carry a large number of recognizable brands.
The implications of this may be different for different retail formats. For example, because specialty retailers typically carry a relatively narrow variety and deep assortment they must allocate their limited resources to securing one brand with strong awareness – an anchor brand. This may limit the inclusion of other lesser known brands in their merchandise mix. In contrast, department stores have more flexibility in selecting brands to be carried because of their wide merchandise variety and deep assortment. While they must still concentrate on securing an anchor brand, they have the flexibility and resources to also carry recognizable brands that may not necessarily be anchor brands.
From a strategic perspective, this finding suggests that retailers (especially specialty retailers) may need to emphasize other image attributes – such as customer service and personnel or the physical condition and atmosphere of the store – to enhance the retail image. In addition, brand managers who can offer an anchor brand to retailers have a competitive advantage, as they can provide evidence that adding the anchor brand should enhance the image of the store. Brand image and dimensions of retail store image In concert with earlier research, the results of the study indicated that retail store image is a multi-dimensional construct. The findings suggested that retail store image is composed of fashion, service, and atmosphere dimensions.
Of particular interest to brand managers is the finding that brand image influences customers’ perceptions of fashion, but not of service and atmosphere. This allows brand managers to focus their efforts with retailers on the enhancement of customers’ perceptions of the retailer’s fashion image. In other words, brand managers should emphasize the positive influence their brands can have on customers’ perceptions of the retailer’s fashion image, particularly if the brand manager has an anchor brand to offer. This is a significant finding for retailers also, because they need to recognize that while brand image serves as an informational cue to their retail stores’ images, brand image may influence the fashion image of their stores.
They need to understand other factors that provide informational cues related to customers’ perceptions of service and atmosphere, the other two elements of retail image. For example, Baker et al. , (1994) found that ambient factors, such as music and lighting, design factors, such as color, layout, and organization of merchandise, and social factors, such as the number of salespeople, also influence retail store image. These factors, in particular, may influence the service and atmosphere dimensions of retail store image. Conclusion Brand image influences retail image; however, this study revealed several additional aspects of this association of which brand managers and retailers should be aware.
First, the effects of an anchor brand on retail image were highlighted by this study. Retailers and brand managers should be aware of the implications of this finding. The measures of retail store image used in this study show promise and potential in isolating the dimensions of retail image. This is important because, as the study pointed out, determinants of retail image may influence one dimension of image but not others. Brand JOURNAL OF PRODUCT & BRAND MANAGEMENT, VOL. 6 NO. 6 1997 Additional aspects 384 managers and retailers should realize that the influence of brand image relates to the fashion dimension of retail image, but not to the service and atmosphere dimensions.
Although there is considerable room for improvement in these measures of retail store image, the identification of the fashion, service, and atmosphere dimensions allows future research to determine what additional factors influence the separate dimensions of retail image. The creation of consumer perceptions concerning a brand is a crucial strategic decision facing brand managers. It must be remembered that brand managers and retailers are not merely promoting a physical good or service, rather they promote an image. A brand’s image is a combination of a consumer’s subjective perceptions of the product’s innate characteristics, and the environment that surrounds a brand – the retail setting.
Ultimate success of a brand and a retailer is determined by how closely the image of the selling organization and the product meet the expectations of the consumer. References Aaker, D. A. (1991), Managing Brand Equity: Capitalizing on the Value of a Brand Name, The Free Press, New York, NY. Baker, J. , Grewal, D. and Parasuraman, A. (1994), “The influence of store environment on quality inferences and store image,” Journal of Academy of Marketing Science, Vol. 22 No. 4, pp. 328-39. Hair, J. F. Jr, Anderson, R. E. , Tatham, R. L. and Black, W. C. (1992), Multivariate Data Analyses with Readings, 3rd ed. , Macmillan Publishing Company, New York, NY. Jacoby, J. and Mazursky, D. 1984), “Linking brand and retailer images – do the potential risks outweigh the potential benefits? ,” Journal of Retailing, Vol. 60 No. 2, pp. 105-22. Keaveney, S. M. and Hunt, K. A. (1992), “Conceptualization and operationalization of retail store image: a case of rival middle-level theories,” Journal of Academy of Marketing Science, Vol. 20 No. 2, pp. 165-75. Lindquist, J. D. (1974-1975), “Meaning of image: a survey of empirical and hypothetical evidence,” Journal of Retailing, Vol. 50 No. 4, pp. 29-37. Martineau, P. (1958), “The personality of the retail store,” Harvard Business Review, Vol. 36, January-February, pp. 47-55. Mazursky, D. and Jacoby, J. 1986), “Exploring the development of store images,” Journal of Retailing, Vol. 62, Summer, pp. 145-65. Monroe, K. B. and Krishnan, R. (1985), “The effect of price on subjective product evaluations,” in Jacoby, J. and Olson, J. C. (Eds), Perceived Quality: How Consumers View Stores and Merchandise, Lexington Books, Lexington, MA, pp. 209-32. Olshavsky, R. (1985), “Perceived quality in consumer decision making: an integrated theoretical perspective,” in Jacoby, J. and Olson, J. C. (Eds), Perceived Quality: How Consumers View Stores and Merchandise, Lexington Books, Lexington, MA, pp. 3-29. Peter, J. P. and Olson, J. C. (1994), Understanding Consumer Behavior, Irwin, Boston, MA. Stokes, R. 1985), “The effect of price, package design, and brand familiarity on perceived quality,” in Jacoby, J. and Olson, J. C. (Eds), Perceived Quality: How Consumers View Stores and Merchandise, Lexington Books, Lexington, MA, pp. 233-46. Ward, J. C. , Bitner, M. J. and Barnes, J. (1992), “Measuring the prototypicality and meaning of retail environments,” Journal of Retailing, Vol. 68, Summer, pp. 194-220. Zimmer, M. R. and Golden, L. L. (1988), “Impressions of retail stores: a content analyses of consumer images,” Journal of Retailing, Vol. 54 No. 3, pp. 265-91. (Stephen S. Porter and Cindy Claycomb are both Assistant Professors in Marketing and Entreneurship at the W. Frank Barton School of Business, Wichita State University, Kansas, USA. ) s
JOURNAL OF PRODUCT & BRAND MANAGEMENT, VOL. 6 NO. 6 1997 385 This summary has been provided to allow managers and executives a rapid appreciation of the content of this article. Those with a particular interest in the topic covered may then read the article in toto to take advantage of the more comprehensive description of the research undertaken and its results to get the full benefit of the material present Executive summary and implications for managers and executives Brands and the retailer: an uneasy alliance To what extent do manufacturer brands influence your image of a retailer? This question, I suspect, will receive the answer “it depends” from most people.
In this case (fashion clothing) the chances are that the brands stocked are essential to image. In other retail sectors the impact of manufacturer brands is less. Porter and Claycomb show support for the relevance of brands to clothing retailing but we must treat any transfer to other sectors with caution. Even in the apparel sector there are successful outlets (Marks & Spencer for example) that do not stock named brands but rely on their own powerful brand. Assuming the importance of the brands we stock in our shop, we need to consider the balance between creating our own image independent of those brands and securing the right impression by reference to those brands.
Relying on the fickle nature of fashion brands could prove a risky strategy over the long term. Three aspects to retail image management need attention: (1) Getting the right brand mix. (2) Creating your own image independent of stock branding. (3) Developing customer loyalty. It’s not all designer labels, is it? The brand name provides reassurance to the consumer. In the case of fashion this assurance extends beyond issues of product quality to issues of personal image and style. For many people the brands worn are used as a vehicle for impressing friends, displaying wealth and signaling style. The man who buys a Rolex watch doesn’t just buy the watch because it’s of top quality.
He wants to demonstrate a certain image plus his ability to afford such an expensive item. The same goes for other fashion and luxury products. The shop that stocks the top designer brands wants to pass across the image that those products demonstrate. And in using these brands to create that classy image, the shop hopes that this sense of class transfers to other less well-known brands in the shop. However, as Porter and Claycomb demonstrate, this effect depends on the balance between the top brands and other brands. You cannot use just one or two “anchor” brands to create the right image, you have to have a range of top brands alongside the “anchor. A reminder that, as ever, consumers are not nearly so easily fooled as many like to think. Fashion retailers should consider: • • • • Creating a core stock of top brands – ideally those with proven longevity. Using this core in advertising, direct mail and PR activity. Researching changes in consumer brand preference so as to manage “secondary” brands. Cooperation with brand owners in advertising and promotion. JOURNAL OF PRODUCT & BRAND MANAGEMENT, VOL. 6 NO. 6 1997 386 You need your own image too While the right brand mix provides the core for retail image in the fashion sector we must not ignore efforts to create a brand for the store itself.
We know that, over time, consumers relate to the store brand as much as they do to the brands stocked by the shop. The retailer who relies on the big brands for creating image runs the risk of losing out as fashion changes and other, competing retailers establish their own independent brand franchise: • • • • • • Deliver on quality and support – remember top brands need top service to go with them. Make sure staff understand and appreciate the brands you stock – including the lesser names. Don’t let manufacturer brands dominate your advertising and promotions. Develop your shop’s image through PR activity. Focus on your local target audience rather than general advertising.
Make sure you add value to the brands by helping people create the right style. Make them your customers not the designer labels’ Anyone (well, almost anyone) can stock top labels in their shop. But not everyone can produce the service, attention and care that goes to creating a successful retailer. Your task is to make customers come to you out of preference rather than to another store. This loyalty follows from hard work at your image and service and cannot be taken for granted: • • • Go out of your way for customers – and make sure your staff do likewise. Involve your customers – ask them about what to stock, get feedback about service and, above all, speak to them regularly.
Open to match your customers’ needs not your convenience. Just because you sell posh clobber doesn’t mean making it hard to buy is justified. Find out about your customers; keep good records and use them for stock planning and communications. • Remember, you’re a service business Stocking the right brands may be important but it’s not the be all and end all of good retailing. Sticking the brands on your racks won’t make you successful in the long run. You have to be the customers’ friend, assistant and guide through the frightening world of style and fashion. You are, to most customers, the “expert” and they want you to help them make the right choice.
Too often fashion retailers seem to think that they can employ any old dimwit and, so long as the brand mix is right, make loads of money. It might work with some but most customers want more from their shopkeeper. If you don’t offer that extra added value then someone else will and your shop will decline and close. The days of piling it high and selling at obscene prices are long gone (if they ever existed). If that’s your attitude to fashion retailing, go find something else to do. (A precis of “The influence of brand recognition on retail store image. ” Provided by Marketing Consultants for MCB University Press. ) JOURNAL OF PRODUCT & BRAND MANAGEMENT, VOL. 6 NO. 6 1997 387