According to American Marketing Association (AMA) (Lake, 2011, para. 1), brand refers to a sign, symbol, name, term or a combination of all of them that are aimed at differentiating the products of one firm from those of the competitor.
To attain a high competitive advantage, organizations management teams have to ensure that their brands are well positioned. One of the ways through which business organizations can achieve this is by ensuring effective brand positioning. Gelder (2005, p.30) is of the opinion that brand positioning entails the extent to which a particular brand is better when compared to those of the competitors. The resultant effect is that a consumer-brand relationship is developed. Heding, Knudtzen and Bjerre (2009, p.154) assert that the consumer-brand relationship is dyadic in nature which means that it is based on an equal exchange between the consumer and the brand. In her 1998 study, Susan Fournier asserts that consumers have relationship with brands.
Relationship concept has increasingly gained importance over the past few decades. This trend has arisen from the economic advantages associated with strong consumer brand-relationships. Some of these advantages include improving the rate of customer retention and attaining brand equity. Additionally, Fournier (1998, p.344) asserts that brand relationship improves a firm’s competitive position by increasing its cash flow, improving entry barriers and its market share. The resultant effect is that organizations are able to attain their profit maximization objective. The objective of this paper is to explain the meaning of ‘having a relationship’ with a brand.
There is a certain degree of truth that consumers have relationship with brands. In their consumption patterns, consumers purchase products in order to improve their personal experience. Fournier (1998, p.343) asserts that consumers establish relationships with brands in a similar manner like they do with individuals. The nature of this relationship varies across consumers. Additionally, Fournier (1998) further asserts that consumers develop relationship with the products that they consume on a daily basis.
By asserting that consumers have relationship with brand, Fournier intends to show that brands enables consumers to achieve their goals and desires by consuming them. Fournier (1998, p.344) is of the opinion that consumer-brand relationship entails a reciprocal exchange between the consumer and the brand. The relationship is purposive in that they give meaning to the consumers’ life. Some of the brand relationships formed is long term since they depict the consumers’ core values and ideas. As a result, the consumers develop an emotional attachment with the brand. They consider the brand to mean a lot to them. Therefore, a type of a bond is established between the consumer and the brand which results into creation of brand loyalty with certain products. Fournier (1998, p. 345) asserts that consumer-brand can be defined on the basis of seven attributes as outlined below.
- Love and passion
- Self-concept connection
- Partner quality
- Consumers also develop a nostalgic attachment with certain brands.
According to Cooper (2010, para. 2), consumers show a high level of support to brands that they consider as their favorite. A study conducted on more than 1300 consumers revealed that consumers support their favorite brands through continuous consumption, positive word of mouth and encouraging their friends and partners to purchase the products. However, the consumption of these products changes in the consumers’ course of life (Heding, Knudtzen & Bjerre, 2009, p. 160).
In order to establish a strong relationship with customers, brands have to listen to the customers. This means that they must offer what the customers desire. Findings of a study conducted by Cooper (2010, para. 5) on consumer-brand relationship revealed that 41% of consumers are concerned with whether brands listen and act in accordance with their opinion. In an effort to attain their goals, firms in different economic sector are concerned with the relationship that they establish with the customers. The relationship between consumers and brands is dependent on the nature of product perception developed.
With regard to the jewelry industry, consumers have developed different perception regarding jewels. This means that the nature of brand relationship varies amongst the consumers. For example, some consumers consider gold jewelry to be a symbol of status and wealth. Over the past few decades, there has been a significant change of perception amongst the consumers with regard to jewels.
Currently, consumers consider jewels as a means of security and a method of enhancing an individual’s beauty. Additionally, consumers are increasingly considering jewels as a method of manifesting an individual’s personality, attitude and lifestyle. Firms within the jewelry industry have appreciated the relationship between consumers and jewel products. As a result, they are investing more in designing of jewels.
An example of a firm that illustrates the fact that consumers have a relationship with brands is Gordon’s Jewelers’ which deals with a wide range of jewel products. The firm established its 1st store in Houston, Texas in 1905. Currently, the firm has established over 300 stores in the US.
One of the factors that have made the firm to be successful is its commitment with regard to designing. A large number of consumers in the US have developed a strong attachment with the firm due to its commitment towards customer preferences. As a result, the firm has become a well-known brand. The firm offers a wide range of jewel products ranging from engagement rings and gift items. The firm has successfully created a unique shopping experience for the consumers (Simon Malls, 2011, para.1- 2).
The concept of brand relationship is also evidenced in the marketing of tomatoes. Currently, consumers are increasingly becoming health conscious in their consumption patterns. One of the ways through which this is being depicted is by the rate at which consumers are incorporating safety as one of the factors in their purchasing patterns. Additionally, consumers are considering leading a healthy lifestyle. As a result, consumers are shifting towards consumptions of health products. With regard to tomatoes, consumers are increasingly shifting towards consumption of tinned tomatoes. For example, Del Monte Company has experienced significant growth over the recent past. One of the factors that have contributed to the growth is its shift towards offering tinned tomatoes. Considering the increased need for convenience, consumers are increasingly considering consumption of tinned tomatoes (Del Monte Foods, 2011, para. 1-3). The analysis of these two product categories makes it evident that consumers have a relationship with brands.
Despite the assertion by Fournier that consumers have relationship with brands, the nature of consumer-brand relationship she asserts in her paper is highly contentious. In her paper, Fournier assumes that consumers have relationship with various products brands just because they describe such brands on the basis of various human characteristics. This arises from the fact that it is not possible to have relationship with things (Bengtsson, 2003, p.154).
The concept of relationship that Fournier asserts is not possible between individuals and inanimate objects for example brands. This arises from the fact that brands cannot display certain characteristics that are necessary for a relationship to exist. For example, brands cannot interact with individuals such as by responding to the consumers comment (Bengtsson, 2003, p.154). However, relationships are only possible amongst individuals.
In their consumption patterns, consumers may describe their feelings and opinion regarding products. It is not possible for brands to demonstrate the various characteristics which make a relationship possible. Some of these characteristics include sensitivity, mutuality, and intimacy.
Additionally, the consumer-brand relationship that Fournier asserts in her paper is not mutually beneficial. However, the consumer- brand relationship that firms intend to establish with their customers is aimed at benefiting the firm more than the consumers. Relationships are only possible between businesses but not between businesses and individual consumers.
In order to develop a high competitive advantage, firms have to ensure that they integrate an effective distribution strategy. Distribution ensures that products are easily accessible by the final consumer. In their distribution strategy, firms have to ensure that their products are accessed by the end consumer at the right time and place. Greene (2011, p.154) asserts that effective distribution is necessary if a firm is to attain all its marketing objectives. Failure to consider the distribution strategy in its marketing mix can affect a firm’s profitability.
To be effective in their distribution strategy, firms must consider the best channel of distribution to adopt. One of the ways through which they can achieve this is by integrating both direct and indirect distribution channels. Direct channel entails moving a firm’s products directly to the consumer while indirect channel entails distributing products through intermediaries such as wholesalers, agents and retailers.
In their distribution strategy, firms within the jewelry and food industry such as Gordon Jewelers’ and Del Monte should adopt direct and indirect distribution channel. With regard to direct distribution, the two firms should establish outlets in different parts of their market. Additionally, the firms can also integrate internet marketing in their distribution strategy. Use of the internet would enable the firms to expand their market coverage. The resultant effect is that the firms will be able to attain their profitability potential. Additionally, establishment of outlets and internet marketing would enable the firms to be effective in their operation. This arises from the fact that the firms would be able to have a direct interaction with the customers. As a result, the firms would be able to develop a comprehensive understanding of the consumers’ opinion regarding their products. With regard to indirect distribution, the two firms can also adopt use of agents, wholesalers and retailers. This would enable the firms to venture a wider market. The resultant effect is that the firms will attain a high market share.
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Fournier, S. (1998). Consuming and their brands: Developing relationship theory in consumer research. Journal of Consumer Research. Vol. 24, issue 4, pp. 343-373.
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Lake, L. (2011). What is branding and how important is it to your marketing strategy? Web.
Simon Malls. (2011). Gordon’s Jewelers’. Web.