January 15, 2010

A STUDY ON THE PREFERENCE OF MUSLIM CONSUMERS ON BRAND LABELING BETWEEN BRAND NAME AND BRAND LOGO

Introduction

            Name and logo are the two prominent visual elements of a brand name (Eilertson & Faust 1994).  They are prominent tools to increase brand recognition.  However, companies seemed to limit the features of effective brand labeling to the top management and advertising agencies (Kohli & Labahn 2002).  Another issue is the globalization of products wherein most of world customers rely in the Western countries for imports.  Would the Chevrolet brand logo being a cross has an impact to customers in other religions?  Would the Apple computer's apple symbol that has a bite on it would have different meaning for Christians, say; the apple is the representation of how Eve refused to follow God's order?

            Further, brand names that are both exposed to auditory and visual senses imply greater attention.  There is a study wherein consumers relate the pitch, sound and meaning of brand names to the products (Kohli & Labahn 2002).  This is especially crucial when a company launches a new product in the market wherein a peculiar sound or meaning of a newly heard brand name would fail to catch the interest of customers.  They may be seeking much to replace their current brand and the initial request is to create a connection between the name and the product in question. 

            There is little interest in brand logos of commodities that are consumed in a regular and continuous basis.  Brand names seemed to be enough.  On the other hand, brand logo is prominent in cars.  Embedding brand names seemed to be an exaggeration of the price of the particular luxury item.  Whatever the reason behind the companies' decision to indicate either brand name or logo in the commodity it is less significant in our study.

            The study is intended for Muslim and foreign companies to hear the opinion of Muslim customers.  Because some of the Muslim brand names are translated in American alphabet while difference in brand logos with other Western firms do not differ a lot, this study will investigate the Muslim consumers' view in selecting between brand name and logo of both Muslim and foreign companies.  It will explore and confirm issues pertinent for firms offering commodities and luxury goods. 

 

Statement of the Problem

            Arabic remains the official language in the United Arab Emirates (Wikipedia) and the government is determined to preserve the Islamic culture in the region.  This statement could have implications to trading firms, both Muslim and foreign companies, as the trend of globalization continue to also globalize brand names and logos in different countries with the objective to exploit economies of scale and reduce advertising and brand labeling costs.  Due to this, the study tends to answer the following questions from Muslim respondents:

1.       What are the factors that affect preference of brand name over brand logo to be embedded in a certain product?

2.       What are the factors that affect preference of brand logo over brand name to be embedded in a certain product?

3.       Is brand name compatible with commodities and consumer goods?

4.       Is brand logo compatible with luxury goods?         

 

Purpose of the Study

            The purpose of the study is to determine the pulse of the Muslim consumers regarding their preference between brand name and brand logo to be embedded in the product and what factors that affect such preference.  The research will study the awareness of consumers to brand labeling and its significance to them.  The situation wherein the brand name and logo are embedded in the product at the same time is not included in the study for concentration of the area of investigation.  It can be said that commodities should label brand name while luxury goods brand logo.  However, study to confirm this thought has not been done, or if ever, with little specificity. 

 

 

Review of Related Literature

 

A book coined brand name in one chapter as "the company's most powerful weapon" (LePla & Parker 1999).  A brand is the embodiment of information about a company, product or service that typically in the form of name and logo including other images, fonts and colors (Wikipedia).  However, this is more a general definition.  Branding can almost take activities of marketing and advertising.  In 1964, a mall branding concept tagged Westfield Shopping towns as "A Wonderful Town" to attract not only customers but also strengthens other business partners' ties.  Because of these advantages, the potential of branding was termed as "unlimited" by the owners (Williamson 1999).

Limitations of branding, on the other hand, should be dealt by the company seriously.  Not all sweet messages have absolute positive returns.  When a product did not meet the expectations of the customer, like the failure of voice fidelity branding of RCA products for instance as portrayed by a dog's recognition of His master's voice in a phonograph (LePla & Parker 1999), could reduce loyalty and devalue company strengths.  This is where integrated branding comes into the rescue.  It is a strategy where the promise of the company is keep or the situation where company strengths, which are highlighted through branding, satisfy the needs and expectations of the customer.  It let the company focus in its actions and messages to product strengths, thus, false or unmet branding is prevented.

            One of the highest trademark registrations in America was recoded in 2004 at 248,000 which not only has good impact to its economy but also may illustrate how companies want to segregate their identities with one another, set limits to their capabilities and build strong customer relationships.  Although international businesses are the prominent concerned entities in securing trademarks, Florida had recorded active small players in the economy (Business Wire 2005).  Why is some enterprise willing to spend time, money and effort to register their trademarks?  A well-known home of one of the world's best runner of imitations, China, had recorded 58% increase in registration.  Other countries like India, Poland, Hungary and Russia also showed trademark filing boost which partly caused by large manufacturers' desire to create strong brand names (Business Wire 2005).

            Trademark is a distinctive mark of goods and services to identify the manufacturer or provider from other brands and indicate the performance and reputation of their offerings to the buyer.  Imitation and infringement of trademarks is protected by an international body World Intellectual Property Organization under the United Nation (Columbia Encyclopedia 2004).   

                Selecting a brand name is a concern that most managers put into their own discretions due to friction that would be created by employees' suggestions not being accepted in favor of one successful name and the cumbersome tasks of selecting from customers' responses (Kohli & Labahn 2002).  Companies opted to initiate concept testing, business analysis, product development and in-house testing to arrive at a specific brand name which lasted for 64 hours and an estimated cost of $7,600.  But is this enough?  Is excluding customer views about the naming rationale would save the company time, effort and money or would result to failure?

            Customers draw inferences from brand names and associate them to a specific product category.  In addition, they preferred brand names that are typical or more suited to the actual good or service.  As an example, "Mishu" was more preferred than "Pilot" in the product line of cameras (Kohli & Labahn 2002).  This simple connection created between the brand name and the actual product was cited as complimentary strategy for a company to succeed in the business.  Aside from the context of brand names, the sound and pitch of those are demonstrated a preconceived notion from consumers hastening familiarity and recognition more easily.  But what should be prioritized by the company, the meaning likeness or sound likeness?

            English companies placed their brand naming process under the veil of objectives (establishing a particular image, fostering brand loyalty, market segmentation) and criteria (compatibility with product image, memorability, trademark availability).  When generating brand names, companies emphasize that it should say something about the product, convey positioning and differentiate form other products.  On the average, 49 names are initially created by the top management that also seek help from advertising agencies, trademark attorneys, naming agencies and marketing research agencies in the following order (Nilson 2003).  As research agencies below the list, customer views are somewhat underestimated as a reliable suggestion source.

            Creating a brand in a mass-merchandise scale equates a firm to a subcontractor of customers (Nilson 2003).  Because of this, customization of the brand or "just for me" approach to customer is necessary for appeal and commitment purposes to a certain market.  The firm must be specific in building its brand to prevent to be piled-up in the enormous number of commodity-based products which in the process giving customers a huge option to satisfy its needs that can be detrimental to the company's long-term success.  To be able to customize the brand, however, the emphasis should be on the competition wherein customer factors are placed second.  Is this a customization or differentiation regime wherein "custom" in customer is undermined to be replaced by competitor?  

It is found that children's understanding of advertising has a positive relationship with their age partly because of factors like cognitive development, socio-economic status and adult interaction (Henke 1995).  The recognition of Joe Camel as a cigarette product indicated the relative inferiority of younger than eight year old children who accounted recognition rate as low as 54% that increased to 86% with age.  This undermines previous studies that suggested children who demonstrated skills with non-verbal figures wherein the scores were uniform in an experiment even for the youngest sample although differentiating the figure was a different story. 

A study of American and Korean consumers evidenced that they perceived globalization of products as related to quality and brand prestige although the former feature was greater emphasized (Alden, Batra & Steenkamp 2003).  Procter and Gamble disposed some of its products due to limited global acknowledgement while Frito Lay and Vodafone changed company name and attached the word "global" respectively.  This trend of firms to include international figure in their products is said to enhance competitiveness over local competitors.  However, limited studies are done to prove effectiveness of a globalized firm over local ones.  What are the impacts of brand name and brand logo alteration to the local customers?

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has 96% Muslim population with the official language is Arabic but Farsi and English are widely used (Wikipedia and Columbia Encyclopedia 2004).  Although most of inhabitants are foreigners, most of them are also Muslims.  Oil is the primary industry while imports like food, manufactured gods, machinery and chemicals are sourced out from trading partners like South Korea, India, Japan, United States and United Kingdom.  The country is rooted to Islamic culture and the government is committed to preserve the tradition of its art and culture which is emanated from the establishment of the Abu Dhabi Cultural Foundation.

Emotional branding can trigger the opportunity to keep customers in a long-term relationship.  As observed, adaptation to customer needs through branding is required if a company aspires to keep customers, that according to Drucker, costlier to attract.  On the flip side, technology allows firm to imitate the inherent features and design of the existing product that basically make branding promises temporary, at least on the original firm's part. Further, fifty percent of the world markets are customers of United States, products and services are not globalized but "Americanized".  Are these facts relevant to the purchasing systems of the Muslim population?      

 

Theoretical Framework  

            The study will determine the factors that affect the preference between brand name and brand logo within the Islamic community.  Hypothesized dependent variable is preference between brand name and brand logo while hypothesized independent variables are attributes of the respondents like age, sex, educational attainment, family income (for students), salary (for working students) and Muslim denomination.  These are rather personal and given without relation to the product in question.  As a result, there should be the existence of intervening variables like familiarity to the product/ company, Muslim or non-Muslim category of the product/ company, regularity of consumption or the intense of advertisement of the product in question, market structure of the industry, among others.  The diagram should look like this.

Ø      Age

Ø      Sex

Ø      Educational Attainment Family Income (for students)

Ø      Salary (for working students)

Ø      Muslim Denomination

Ø      Familiarity to the Product/ Company

Ø      Muslim or Non-Muslim Category of the Product/ Company

Ø      Regularity of Consumption

Ø      Intense of Advertisement

Ø      Market Structure of the Industry

Preference between Brand Name and Brand Logo

Methodology

Research Design

            This study will identify factors that affect the Muslim consumers' preference of brand name and brand logo as product label.  Thus, causal-comparative method will be applied to test the cause and effect relationship of the attributes of Muslim consumers and the intervening variables to their preference of brand label.  Analysis of co-variance will be used to evaluate the results of the study.  The study calls for non-probability approach of sample selection for convenience to the researcher.  One hundred fifty Muslim students, in varying ages, will serve as sample for the study.  These will include secondary, tertiary and graduate level students.  The more disperse the characteristics of samples, the more attributes and intervening variables could be analyzed. 

            Primary and secondary data will be used in the study.  Primary data will be consisted the answers to the questionnaires of the samples while secondary data will be consisted the research done by the researcher including interviews held to compile pertinent information about the problem of the study.  Quantitative and qualitative data will be analyzed.  Quantitative will be sourced to the primary data gathered and will be undergone into compilation, frequencies, percentages and determination of relationships under the SPSS program.  Qualitative data will come from the open-ended questions in the questionnaire that will reflect the personal opinions of respondents not included in the selection.  This data will be significant when quantitative data is discovered to have deviations from the hypothesized variables.

Participants

            For convenience, students will be the sample of the study.  The data gathering will be conducted in the classroom.  A total of 150 student in different school levels will participate in answering the questionnaire.  It is also important to include working students, probably those in the graduate studies, in order to obtain responses from a group who has a regular experience in buying not only commodities but also luxury goods.   

Instruments

            The survey questionnaire will be used as the primary instrument in the study.  The researcher will include initial questions as to determine the attributes of the samples.  The questionnaire will also include questions pertaining to the factors that affect the preference of the Muslim respondents in brand labeling.  Intervening variables will also be indicated in the questions in order to prevent misapplication of the relationship of dependent and independent variables.  For example, a 17 year old respondent may answer that she prefers brand logo to be indicated in the purchased product that the 26 year old who prefer to see a brand name instead.  In such situation, intervening variables like the product being a commodity or a luxury good and the fact that the respondent is not familiar to the product should be dealt with proper controls.  Likert scale will be used in the study to determine the strength of the responses especially the degree of agreeableness of disagreeableness of the selection of answers.  The unit of measurement will indicate the importance of the attribute in question and its relation to the preference of brand name or logo. 

 

Data Analysis and Presentation

            The data gathered will be tallied by the researcher and will be encoded in the computer.  Hard copy will be printed to ensure that files are kept including the questionnaire responses of the sample.  Frequencies will be computed into percentages and will be presented through graphs, tables and textual arrangements.  The latter will clarify the graphs and tables.  Data will also undergo to the SPSS program to determine the causal relationships of the predetermined independent and dependent variables.  Such data will form the heart of the findings of the study and will indicate the applicability of the research.

  
Ethical Considerations

            The survey will be explained to the participants as to nothing to do with the Muslim religion to prevent conflicts.  The researcher will provide ample discussions to them, including presentation of sample trademark of Muslim and foreign companies that are used as brand labeling, to be able for them to have a grasp of the questionnaire.  In that manner with emphasis to the purely academic purpose of the study, untoward arguments will be controlled.

 

Timescale                           

Activity

Month                                                                                

 

 

 

 

May

June

July

Aug

Search for Related Literature

 

 

 

 

Selection of the  Topic

 

 

 

 

Definition of the Problem

 

 

 

 

Development of the Objectives

 

 

 

 

Selection of Methodology

 

 

 

 

Check the availability of resources

 

 

 

 

Verify the accessibility of the resources

 

 

 

 

Write the draft of the proposal

 

 

 

 

Prepare interview schedule

 

 

 

 

Secure adviser's approval

 

 

 

 

Do the needed revisions

 

 

 

 

Test research tool validity

 

 

 

 

Select the study sample

 

 

 

 

Conduct research proper

 

 

 

 

Administer research tools

 

 

 

 

Do the assessment techniques

 

 

 

 

Gather and analyze results

 

 

 

 

Do the necessary data presentation

 

 

 

 

Interpret findings

 

 

 

 

Preparation of the final report

 

 

 

 

Formulation of conclusions and recommendations

 

 

 

 

Preparation of the table of content, appendices

 

 

 

 

Editing and Final Formatting

 

 

 

 

Printing

 

 

 

 


Bibliography           

Book

LePla, F & Parker, L 1999, Integrated Branding: Becoming Brand-Driven through Companywide Action, Quorum Books, Westport, CT.

Nilson, T 2003, Customize the Brand: Make It More Desirable and Profitable, Wiley, Chichester, England.

 

Journal

Alden, D, Batra, R & Steenkamp 2003, 'How Perceived Brand Globalness Creates Brand Value', Journal of International Business Studies, vol. 34, no. 1.

Eilertson, A & Faust, W 1994, 'You've Got a Logo, You Need a Brand', ABA Banking Journal, vol. 86, no. 10.

Henke, L 1995, 'Young Children's Perceptions of Cigarette Brand Advertising Symbols: Awareness, Affect, and Target Market Identification', Journal of Advertising, vol. 24, no. 4.

Kohli, C & Labahn, D 2002, 'Creating Effective Brand Names: A Study of the Naming Process', Journal of Advertising Research, vol. 37, no 1.

Magazine

 

'Annual Study of New Trademark Applications Reveals Hot Marketing Trends' 2005, Business Wire, 18 July.

'NEW TRADEMARK APPLICATIONS SHOW MARKETING TRENDS; DECHERT RELEASES ANNUAL STUDY ON POPULAR BRAND NAMES' 1995, PR Newswire, 31 May.

Williamson, R 1999, 'MALLS: BRANDING MEANS BUSINESS', WWD, 28 April.

 

Encyclopedia

 

"The Columbia Encyclopedia' 2004, 6th edn, Columbia University Press, New York.

 

 

Electronic Sources

 

Internet (2006). Google. Retrieved March 9, 2006, from www.google.com.

 

Internet (2006). Highbeam. Retrieved March 9, 2006, from www.highbeam.com.

 

Internet (2006) Questia Online Library. Retrieved March 9, 2006, from www.questia.com.

 

Internet (2006) Research Design and Methodological Types. Retrieved March 11, 2006 from http://www.cplusr.com/RDM/causal-comp.htm.

 

Internet (2006). The Elements of the Proposal by Frank Pajares. Retrieved March 10, 2006 from http://www.des.emory.edu/mfp/proposal.html.

 

Internet (2006). Theoretical Framework. Retrieved March 10, 2006 from http://www.analytictech.com/mb313/elements.htm.

 

Internet (2006). Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved March 9, 2006, from www.wikipedia.org. 


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