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Title: The link between consumer memory and brand choice: a comparison across two markets
Authors: Fuller, Rachel
Issue Date: 2017
Publisher: © Rachel Fuller
Abstract: The aim of this thesis is to clarify the link between consumer memory and brand choice, which is a seminal assumption of prominent marketing theories and brand management practises, such as Customer Based Brand Equity (CBBE; Keller, 1993, 2003). The aim is important for two reasons: (i) recent evidence has questioned the precise nature of the link (e.g., Stocchi et al., 2015), thus potentially challenging a long-standing body of CBBE research; and (ii) up-to-date efforts in CBBE research have shifted towards linking the two aspects (memory and choice) to conceptualise CBBE as a process (e.g., Christodoulides et al., 2015; Grohs et al., 2016), but how exactly this can happen is still in its infancy (Stocchi and Fuller, 2017). The aim is addressed with two objectives. The first objective is to develop a new framework that conceptualises and operationalises the link between consumer memory and brand choice. This is reinforced with the second objective, which uses the framework to examine the link in, and across, two different markets ( repertoire and subscription markets; see Sharp et al., 2002). Importantly, the second objective addresses an additional problem of theoretical and practical relevance, which is a bias of CBBE research in goods markets (Christodoulides and de Chernatony, 2009) and an absence of comparative research across markets. This problem is worth addressing given the growing prevalence of non-goods offerings (Ostrom et al., 2014). The development of the new framework derives from the clarification and integration of two established research streams: brand retrieval research, which offers insight into the cognitive processes involved in the link between consumer memory and brand choice, and hierarchical models of brand choice, which detail the stages that brands move through in memory before choice. Specifically, the new framework provides a theoretically robust and multi-level examination of how consumers narrow down brands for choice in memory, which includes: (i) brand retrieval propensity (i.e., the likelihood to think of a brand(s) in purchase occasions; Romaniuk, 2013); (ii) the stages involved in the brand choice process, including the extent to which consumers narrow down brands between the stages; (iii) the relationship between brand retrieval and brand choice; and (iv) a feedback loop controlling for the impact of prior brand usage. The operationalization of the new framework is based on existing and new measures, thereby delivering some methodological advancements. The data used to examine the link between consumer memory and brand choice in and across markets derives from a large-scale UK consumer survey (N=771) capturing brand usage, brand awareness and brand image data for soft drinks (a proxy for repertoire markets) and banking (a proxy for subscription markets), from the same consumers, over three time periods. These tightly controlled variables support a robust comparison of the link across markets, which is facilitated further with the employment of a suite of empirical tools, including mean absolute deviations (MADs), correlations, ANOVAs and multiple linear regression. The thesis offers several theoretical contributions. Firstly, by clarifying the link between consumer memory and brand choice, the new framework addresses concerns over the validity of the link (Stocchi et al., 2015) and clarifies how CBBE can be conceptualized and measured as a process (Christodoulides et al., 2015). Moreover, the results of the thesis showed that the link between consumer memory and brand choice differs across markets, specifically: (i) consumers find it easier to think of subscription market brands in purchase occasions; (ii) subscription market brands face fiercer competition at the early stages of the brand choice process vs. the later stages for repertoire market brands; and (iii) consumers draw on memorized brand information to a greater extent when purchasing in subscription markets. These insights contribute to brand loyalty literature, where they offer a first simultaneous examination of the cognitive origins of loyalty (i.e., across multiple stages); and challenge Service Dominant Logic (SDL), where they reinforce the need to recognize differences between markets. Furthermore, the results offer novel insights for brand retrieval research by illustrating that such differences may originate, at least in part, from the prevalence of different pathways to brand retrieval, most notably recollection (the retrieval of experiential brand information). Managerially, the framework provides an advanced brand management tool that features key performance metrics related to brand choice, and advice for managers of how to build them. For instance, from the results in this thesis, the advice to managers in subscription markets is to build and reinforce attribute-to-brand cues in memory, and links from the brand to the category; whilst managers in repertoire markets should focus on building and reinforcing reasons to buy.
Description: A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.
URI: https://dspace.lboro.ac.uk/2134/27343
Appears in Collections:PhD Theses (Business School)

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