According to Mitchell (2006, p. 75), brand history ‘tells us how people used brand as a symbol of identification’. In the past, customers used brand name to differentiate products from different manufacturers. Today, customers not only use brand name to differentiate manufacturers, but also make purchasing decisions. A brand is made up of design, symbol, and name. It signifies consumer insights and views about the quality of a product.
Mitchell (2006) maintains that a superior brand remains in the consumer’s mind for a long time. Brands that are known by many customers have high chances of doing well in the market. In most cases, customers purchase particular brands to boost their self-esteem. Manufacturers are concerned with how consumers perceive their brands. Consequently, they endeavour to build brand names that are appealing to customers. Mitchell (2006) alleges that customers consider numerous factors before they purchase a product. For instance, they consider the aesthetic appeal of the brand as well as quality. This paper will discuss how and why brand influences customer purchasing decision.
How Brand Influences Consumer Buying Decisions
Mitchell (2006) alleges that consumers associate with certain brands because they meet their needs. Most brands provide a mixture of functional, symbolic, and experiential benefits to consumers. The reason customers purchase particular brands is the desire to satisfy a consumption-related gap. Snoj, Korda and Mumel (2004) argue that companies design their brands in such a way that they meet the functional needs of target consumers.
They define functional needs as, ‘those that motivate the search for products that solve consumption-related problems such as an existing problem’ (Snoj, Korda & Mumel 2004, p. 158). Organisations capitalise on external stimuli to influence consumer buying decisions. For instance, whenever consumers come across the Microsoft Office brand, they think about office work. Snoj, Korda and Mumel (2004) allege that the Microsoft Office brand triggers the desire to enhance office duties.
On the other hand, some brands are designed to gratify consumers’ traits. Ahmed and Fatawu (2014, p. 4) argue, ‘Brands have a symbolic value that enables consumers to chose the best product according to their needs’.
On average, customers buy brands to satisfy two primary objectives, which are personal needs and self-esteem. According to Ahmed and Fatawu (2014), some customers opt to buy certain brands not because of their value or usefulness but because they enable them to associate with certain groups. Brand names enable customers to develop a mental picture of a product. In addition, popular brands make customers have confidence in all products that are associated with the brands. For instance, whenever customers come across a product that bears the Samsung trademark, they believe that the product is of high quality. Most customers value Samsung electronics.
Therefore, they are loyal to the brand and cannot purchase rival products. According to Ahmed and Fatawu (2014), some brands influence consumer buying decisions by focusing on intangible benefits. Besides, companies develop and position their brands to tackle internally engendered needs like group association, self-enhancement and ego identification. Ahmed and Fatawu (2014) believe that people associate with Rolex and Mercedes brands due to their intangible benefits.
Some brands are designed to help customers satisfy experiential needs. Yoo, Donthu and Lee (2009, p. 197) define experiential needs as, ‘desires for products that provide sensory pleasure, variety, and/or cognitive stimulation’. Organisations use brand names and brand marketing strategies that stir positive emotions of the customers. It makes customers to associate the emotions with a brand, therefore opting to purchase the brand.
An example of a brand that influences consumer buying decision by satisfying experiential needs is The Sanctuary. The Sanctuary is a first-class, ladies only spa that offers superior wellness cleansing, yoga, spa, and natural healing therapies exclusively to women. The Sanctuary has skilled personnel who provide customised services. As a result, they make ladies get emotionally attached to the brand.
Brands generate customer loyalty, patronage, and interest that influence customer buying decision. Yoo, Donthu and Lee (2009) maintain that some brands are developed to create a sense of relief. Most consumers yearn for extravagant and comfort life. Therefore, there are brands that have been designed to help consumers satisfy the desire for a luxurious life. For instance, luxurious cars and costly bracelets are meant to help consumers quench their thirst for extravagant life.
Yoo, Donthu and Lee (2009) claim that lavish brands contain appealing features that transcend their functions. They aver that a brand can serve as a communication instrument. Customers use brands to express their desire to associate or detach themselves from certain groups. Thus, brands influence consumer buying decision through their social identification function. For instance, whenever customers want to demonstrate the desire to join a certain group, they start using a brand that is popular among the members of the group.
Why Brand Influences Consumer Buying Decisions
Consumers consider several factors before they opt to purchase a product. They apply a systematic decision-making process for every purchase they make. However, at times, they may be in a hurry to buy a product, therefore being forced to use mental shortcuts or heuristics. Consumers decide to buy a particular brand because of its perceived customer value (Asker & Keller 2004). Asker and Keller (2004) claim that customers prefer associating with brands that give value for their money.
The perceived customer value offers an essential ground for buying a brand. Customers appraise a brand based on its ability to ‘solve a problem, provide an opportunity to the consumer, or make a consumer’s life easier, full of fun, enjoyable, or meaningful’ (Asker & Keller 2004, p. 28). In other words, customers are likely to buy a brand that has multiple functions since they believe that it is worth purchasing. Moreover, some consumers buy brands due to their sensorial values such as smell, appearance, texture, and taste. The Coca Cola brand is famous due to its exceptional taste. Coca Cola drinks have a common flavour worldwide. Moreover, they are readily available in most countries. Therefore, whenever people travel to foreign countries, they opt to use Coca Cola brands due to their popularity and unique flavour.
Asker and Keller (2004) argue that the reason customers purchase Microsoft products is the perception that they offer quality experiences. Customers prefer computer applications that execute office or personal tasks efficiently. Since Microsoft brand is renowned for superior computer software, most customers prefer buying software that has the Microsoft trademark. Asker and Keller (2004) allege that popular brand names are renowned for reliable products and superior services, which influence customer buying decisions. In most cases, customers rely on experience or recommendations from friends when choosing brands. Therefore, they are likely to purchase products that are associated with a famous brand provided their friends endorse them.
Brands influence consumer buying decision due to their connection to personal image. Research suggests that there is a relationship between consumers’ self-image, behaviour, and brand image. It holds that consumers enhance personal image by capitalising on images of the brands that they consume. According to Laroche, Kim and Matsui (2003), consumers prefer buying certain brands because they augment the professional or personal image. Revolutionary or tech-savvy customers prefer purchasing popular brands of technological equipments. For instance, accomplished computer programmers prefer using Apple brand because it coincides with their professional image.
Laroche, Kim and Matsui (2003) assert that Apple products make individuals to appear sophisticated. On the other hand, some brands help customers to boost their personal image. For example, customers purchase Armani suits because they make them appear to belong to a prominent social class. Luxurious brands are difficult to find. Consequently, consumers who use luxurious brands look unique and are readily conspicuous. Luxurious brands influence customer buying decision due to the capacity to meet consumers’ desire to look unique. Consumers purchase lavish brands as a way to show their enthusiasm for exceptionality (Laroche, Kim & Matsui 2003).
Today, customers buy lavish vehicles as a way of self-identification and realisation. Customers are gradually moving away from sheer consumption to brand utility. They are buying brands due to their symbolic value.
According to Keller (2003), consumers purchase certain brands with the hope that they will help them fit in a particular social circle. Another reason customers opt to purchase a brand is its capacity to associate them with a certain social circle. It applies mostly to the fashion industry. There are various fashion brands for different social circles. If an individual wants to be associated with one social circle, s/he has to purchase the brand associated with the respective social class. Keller (2003, p. 27) argues, ‘keeping up with the Joneses mentality epitomises this brand buying motive’. Every peer group has its distinct fashion. For instance, youths prefer buying brands that make them appear trendy and stylish. It underlines the reason teenagers opt to purchase fashionable jeans and T-shirts. They gratify their desire to look smart.
Another explanation why brand influences customer buying decision is brand salience. Keller (2003) alleges that brand salience refers to how much customers know about a particular brand. Some brands are readily evoked under varied circumstances. Moreover, brands like Apple and Samsung are easily recognised or recalled. Besides, they use cues that are easy to remember. Keller (2003) claims that brands like Coca Cola, Apple, and Samsung are highly insidious.
That is why they influence customer buying decision. Apart from their perceived quality, customers can remember them easily. Whenever a customer thinks of purchasing an iPhone, the first brand that comes to his/her mind is Apple. Therefore, Apple brand acts as the first choice that the customer can take. Brand salience enables customers to understand the benefits of a product as well as how to use it (Keller 2003). Besides, it gives customers an opportunity to compare various brands, therefore enabling them to select the superior brand. There is a common belief that prominent brands have superior quality. Hence, brand salience influences customer purchasing decision since once a customer hears about the brand the first impression that comes to his/her mind is quality.
Stephens and Townsend (2007) claim that brand influences customer purchasing decision due to its meaning. Brand meaning constitutes the features of a brand and how customers perceive it. Stephens and Townsend (2007, p. 816) argue, ‘Although a myriad of different types of brand associations are possible, brand meaning can be distinguished in terms of functional and performance-related considerations’. The ability of a brand to satisfy the functional needs of a consumer leads to a customer purchasing the brand. Consumers appraise a brand to establish if it can sufficiently meet their artistic, utilitarian, and fiscal needs. Hence, customers are likely to purchase a brand that meets the three essential needs.
Consumers use brand name to differentiate companies and make decisions on whether to buy a product. Hence, brand affects customers’ purchasing decisions. Brands are designed to satisfy functional needs of consumers. They influence customer buying decision by eliciting external stimuli. In addition, some brands influence consumer buying decision due their symbolic value. Brands with symbolic value assist customers to gratify their egos.
Some brands meet emotional needs of customers. The brands focus on experiential needs of customers such as cognitive stimulation and sensory pleasure. The primary reason why brands influence consumer purchasing decision is their perceived value. Customers buy products that they believe will give value for their money. Some customers buy luxurious brands due to their capability to enhance personal image. In addition, customers purchase brands due to their popularity. Popular brands are easy to remember. Hence, consumers are likely to buy the brands that they recall quickly.
Ahmed, S & Fatawu, A 2014, ‘An assessment of how branding influences the purchase behavior of female cosmetic consumers: a case of career women in the Wa Municipality, Ghana’, International Journal of Economics, Commerce and Management, vol. 11, no. 10, pp. 1-14. Web.
Asker, D & Keller, L 2004, ‘Consume evaluation of brand extensions’, Journal of Marketing, vol. 54, no. 1, pp. 27-41. Web.
Keller, K 2003, ‘Brand synthesis: the multidimensionality of brand knowledge’, Journal of Consumer Research, vol. 29, no. 1, pp. 25-33. Web.
Laroche, M, Kim, C & Matsui, T 2003, ‘Which decision heuristics are used in consideration set formation’, Journal of Consumer Marketing, vol. 20, no. 2, pp. 192-209. Web.
Mitchell, V 2006, ‘Understanding consumers’ behaviour: can perceived risk theory help?’, Journal of Management Decision, vol. 30, no.3, pp. 74-83. Web.
Snoj, B, Korda, A & Mumel, D 2004, ‘The relationships among perceived quality, perceived risk and perceived product value’, Journal of Product & Brand Management, vol. 13, no. 3, pp.156-167. Web.
Stephens, S & Townsend, S 2007, ‘Choice as an act of meaning: the case of social class’, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, vol. 93, no. 5, pp. 814-823. Web.
Yoo, B, Donthu, N & Lee, S 2009, ‘An examination of selected marketing mix elements and brand equity’, Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, vol. 28, no. 2, pp. 195-212. Web.