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The findings suggest that mall branding is essentially experiential branding. That is, customer satisfaction is the key driver of customer mall brand-attitudes, with satisfaction an indicator of the mall experience. Appropriately, mall atmosphere (ambience) is the underlying dominating statistical influence on customer mall satisfaction.
Theoretical implications Experiential branding occurs through the trail from mall atmosphere through to mall customer satisfaction and in turn through to mall brand-attitudes. Interestingly, there is a strong literature on mall excitement (Wakefield & Baker, 1998), mall atmosphere (Massicotte, Michon, Chebat, Sirgy & Borges, 2011) and enjoyment of the mall shopping experience (Hart, Farrell, Stachow, Reed & Cadogan, 2007). Notwithstanding, this cognate literature did not previously connect to explaining customer mall brand-attitudes, so the paper makes a major contribution in this way. Similarly, related mall image studies (Chebat, Sirgy & Grzeskowiak, 2010) have likewise fallen short of explaining customer mall brandattitudes.
Merchandise assortment (tenant mix) is recognized in the literature as a contributor to mall image, but such studies have not connected merchandise to the mall brand. Thus, the current study advances our knowledge in this respect, by demonstrating that merchandise is the number two influence on consumer mall brand-attitudes.
Practical implications The findings offer guidance to mall managers in suggesting priorities in shaping the mall brand. An emphasis on mall atmosphere might provide a rationale for so many malls spending millions of dollars on a major refit or makeover. Our study reaffirms the logic of future mall rebranding efforts emphasising mall atmosphere.
The tenant mix is an important secondary consideration for both ongoing mall management and any potential future mall rebranding. Previous studies (Roberts, Merrilees, Herington and Miller, 2010) have indicated a possible role for better tenant-mall management relationships and better tenant mix as internal branding contributors. The current study endorses these internal branding measures with evidence from external branding influences from customers.
Limitations and future research The main limitation is that the study is conducted in one mall in one country. Although the large sample size is comforting, additional confidence in the results would come from extending to other malls and especially in other countries.
Originality/value The paper presents original research, which contributes to the sparse branding and shopping mall literature. First, the paper estimates a structural model with two key dependent variables, namely customer mall satisfaction and customer mall brand-attitudes. Second, the paper makes an original contribution by being the first to identify two critical consumer mall brandassociations: mall atmosphere and mall merchandise. An experiential mall branding interpretation is given to the findings. The paper also contributes to practitioner guidance because future mall makeovers can use these findings to improve the effectiveness of their mall rebranding.
Keywords : Corporate brand, shopping centre, mall, customer, branding, retail
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Measuring brand image: Personification versus non-personification Mete, Melisa Davies, Gary Whelan, Susan Purpose Our main purpose is to test whether there is a difference between using personification approach or non-personification approach in the measurement of brand imagery.
Corporate brand imagery can be measured in various ways (Keller, 1998). One approach is to ask respondents direct questions such as, “Do you trust this brand?” Alternatively, researchers can use personification approach to measure both product image (e.g.Aaker 1997; Bosnjak and Hufschmidt 2007; Geuens et al. 2009; Plummer 1985) and corporate brand/reputation (Davies et al. 2001; Slaughter et al. 2004; Whelan et al. 2010). The personification approach typically asks respondents to imagine that the company/product has come to life as a human being, then they are asked to rate the company/product in question, for instance, ‘If Brand X came to life as a human being would you trust him/her?’ Using personification metaphor could be considered as unscientific and potentially misleading (Davies et al., 2001). Conversely, some researchers claim that metaphors guide our perceptions and interpretations of reality (Ashton et al, 2004). Furthermore respondents might be willing to reveal attitudes that they are reluctant to admit to under direct questioning (Boddy 2005).
Methodology We hypothesised that the personification approach could lead respondents to answer questions less reluctantly. Moreover, personification approach would be superior at explaining useful outcomes in terms of reputation, satisfaction, and purchase, since it is often justified as capable of providing richer information than that from direct questioning (Davies et al. 2001).
Hypothesis 1 (H1): The Personification approach provides a better explanation than nonpersonification approach for the dependent variables such as reputation, satisfaction and purchase.
Secondly, we might expect personification to be superior to direct questioning when a brand has more obvious humanistic associations due to the nature of the product or service that they provide. The imagery of corporate brands (for instance service brands where consumer contact with them is via other human beings), rather than product brands, should be more easily accessible using personification.
Hypothesis 2 (H2): The Personification approach provides a better explanation of dependent variables such as reputation, satisfaction and purchase for corporate brands than for product brands.
For the preliminary study, in order to test these hypotheses, we used an online survey and a 2(a corporate brand vs. a product brand) x 2(personification method vs. non-personification method) factorial, between-subjects design. Half of the sample assessed brand imagery by responding to direct questioning (non-personification method), half to personified questions (personification method); half would assess a product brand, half a corporate brand.
We wanted respondents to assess easily the brands that they were asked to rate and so we opted for widely known brands. The corporate brand example was the retailer Marks and Spencer, which is one of the leading retailers in the British market where we undertook our research. The product brand was chosen as Pantene (Procter and Gamble’s shampoo brand which is the number one in its category in the UK).
Our preliminary study aimed to test whether there is a difference in predictive ability between using personification or non-personification methods in asking similar questions about brand image. Specifically we wanted to know whether “direct questioning” (e.g. Hsieh 2002) is adequate enough, so that personification approach does not necessarily give different results.
We used a consumer panel and a convenience sample of 400 people randomly assigned to each of the four groups (100 for each). Two filter questions were included to ensure that respondents were responsible for their own shopping.
Then three satisfaction questions were asked taken from Davies et al., 2001: whether they would recommend the company/brand, whether they would be pleased to be associated with the company/brand, and whether they would feel an affinity with the company/brand.
Consequently, involvement questions (whether they choose carefully where they shop, what brand to buy; whether they are interested in shopping; whether they are told they are good at shopping; whether they are asked to help for shopping) adapted from the literature (Laurent and Kapferer 1985; Krugman 1977; Zaichkowsky 1985; Hupfer and Gardner 1971), were asked to control for any effects on response.
Then we included two questions to measure the respondent’s expertise (Mitchell and Dacin, 1996; Alba and Hutchinson 1987). All questions used the same response scale from 1 to 7 with points 1, 3 and 7 labelled strongly disagree, neither agree nor disagree and strongly agree.
For the assessment of image, we selected items for each of three dimensions (warmth, competence and status) from published measures that we felt would be equally valid in both questioning formats, direct and via personification, which reflect dimensions in a number of published scales and which have theoretical support from stereotype content (e.g. Fiske et al.
2002; Caprariello et al 2009; Cuddy, Fiske and Glick 2008) and signalling theories (e.g. Han et al. 2010; Nelissen and Meijers 2011).
A five point Likert type scale was used to assess each item in this part of the survey with each point labelled from strongly agree to strongly disagree to reduce any Common methods variance (CMV) issues.