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Practical implications In light of the findings obtained through this study on Nokia’s online brand community on Facebook, the implications for companies are considerable. While companies and marketers today are focusing all their engagement strategies to be based on their Facebook pages (online brand communities) and other similar platforms, it seems they are not yet fully aware of the potential downsides the saturation of their consumers can cause on their brand relationship. Therefore, companies need to first understand the negative influence of
consumer saturation on their brand relationship through the following:
1. Companies must understand that consumers’ experience in their online brand communities is vital to their efforts to build and maintain successful brand relationship in these communities. Therefore, companies should understand that consumers’ experience can be directly affected by the presence of saturation.
2. Once saturation spreads, consumers’ experience will be negatively impacted leading to a reduction in the commitment to the community and to a lesser engagement with the brand.
3. Once consumers have high proneness levels to join other online brand communities, proneness may reduce consumers’ online community commitment and brand love which can lead to a reduction in consumers’ engagement with the brand that can be more serious for companies’ future competitiveness.
Limitations The limitations of this research are mainly derived from the location and industry/brand it focused on. The study was done in the Middle-East (mainly Lebanese respondents in the qualitative research stage and Lebanese and Jordanians in the quantitative stage), limiting the generalisability of the study.
Another limitation of the study was that it focused on the mobile phones industry, namely Nokia. By the time of the study, Nokia had only the Lebanese online community in the Middle-East on Facebook. By early 2013, Nokia had extended its Facebook online communities to Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Syria. The study was conducted when Nokia commended high market share and was leading the mobile phone industry.
Originality No study has been developed to integrate the online experience variables under a social networking site with brand relationship taking into consideration the direct and indirect effects of a saturation variable. This study confirmed that saturation in social networking sites negatively affects the brand-consumer relationship. The direct saturation effects were shown to be significantly affecting the overall model, proving that in social networks’ communities, brand-consumer relationship can be at significant risk which companies might not be fully aware of. In fact, these online communities are currently the focus of most companies that exploit them with the aim of having a better engagement with consumers that would enable them to further co-create values and build a stronger relationship with customers.
Nonetheless, the findings from Nokia’s online communities in the Middle East show that saturation poses serious challenges and can have implications on brand-consumer relationship.
Keywords: Saturation, Addiction, Online brand community, Social Network, Brand Relationship.
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Certification in the luxury and premium manufactured goods sectors – The impact of country of origin on UK brands Roberts, Vicky Fairburn, Jon Purpose The purpose of the paper is to explore the development of certification linked to luxury and premium goods which would be valued by stakeholders in the supply chain, from raw materials to final consumers. An inductive approach will be utilised.
The luxury sector is the focus of an EU initiative launched in December 2013 (European Commission 2015) to enable the sector to respond to challenges such as strengthening competitiveness in a global world, fighting against counterfeiting and the protection of intellectual property rights. It is believed that there are regional, national and international manufacturers, such as within the ceramics sector, which could benefit from a certification process to give credibility to genuine origin marked products and to counteract counterfeit goods.
The research addresses the prevailing attitudes and beliefs relating to COO/CoI/COM and COD along with the potential for a certification process in the luxury high-end industries, comparing sectors that may be receptive to the initiative.
Methodology/Approach Due to the exploratory nature of the study an inductive approach is used. In addition, information and data are collected through a series of one to one interviews with senior managers in the selected industry sectors. A research instrument had been designed to address the following areas;
• Heritage and branding
• Existing brand values
• Impact of counterfeiting
• Current practice re country of origin labelling
• Attitude towards country of origin labelling
• The importance of intellectual property and accreditations
• Explore the links between CSR and country of origin
• Made in Britain as a phenomena
• Impact of country of origin on branding.
The research instrument will be utilised to guide the semi-structured interview. Data received will be analysed using appropriate software such as Nvivo.
It is decided to focus the research on four distinct sectors in the UK – Sector 1 - Premium/Luxury Leather Sector (West Midlands) Sector 2 - Premium/ Luxury Ceramics Sector Sector 3 - Premium/Luxury Fashion - Menswear (UK) Sector 4 - Premium/ Luxury Fashion - Womenswear (UK) Secondary research was carried out on each sector to identify potential respondents and current certifications held.
A judgement sampling method will be utilised with a maximum of eight interviews from each sector.
Findings An outline of secondary research findings are as follows;
Sector 1 - Premium/Luxury Leather Sector (West Midlands) The roots of the leather and saddle manufacturing industry in the UK are concentrated in Walsall in the West Midlands. Saddlery, as well as other types of leather manufacturing, is heavily reliant on hand-produced and bespoke manufacture and there has traditionally been limited innovation in the industry (GPrix Report 2010).
Sector 2 - Premium/ Luxury Ceramics Sector The UK Ceramics sector’s annual gross added value contribution to the UK economy is around £650 million, with 32% of the sector based in North Staffordshire (Staffordshire University 2013). The area has over 350 ceramics-based businesses. Variation in labelling is evident intra-brand portfolio, demonstrating different positioning of brands to appeal to specific segments.
Sector 3 - Premium/Luxury Fashion - Menswear (UK) As British men become increasingly fashion aware, retailers are turning their attention to the menswear category (Mintel 2014). The market has increased by 18% between 2008 and 2013 with the strongest segment currently in the demographic 25-34 years of age. Men are also twice as likely as women to prefer branded clothes (19% versus 8%). (Mintel 2014). There is a strong focus either on heritage or “Made in Britain/UK”, in the product ranges offered.
Some have royal warrants, in line with the leather sector. There is a lack of formal certification.
Sector 4 - Premium/ Luxury Fashion - Womenswear (UK) Young women in the UK continue to drive fashion sales, as they place such high importance on the latest trends, but future growth opportunities will come from older women (Mintel, 2014). The womenswear market has grown by 4.6% in 2013 to reach £24.9 billion, as women continue to prioritize buying new clothes over other areas of spend. While women’s clothing sales have risen 19% over the last five years, growth in 2013 has been impacted by high levels of discounting. A review of the organisations selected demonstrates a mix of approaches, weaker emphasis on the COO re manufacture for global designer brands, embryonic brands positioned as “Made in London/England”: there are none who truly emphasise “Made in Britain”. It would therefore appear that the geographic locations of London or England are more important in the womenswear sector than in menswear.
Table 1. Summary of Certification within the 4 sectors.
“Made in MIL “MIL” Royal Country Image, Label” (MIL) country regional Warrant certification country Unsupported unsupported and Supported lacking MIL.
with certification Leather L H H* H M Ceramics **H LM **H LL H (B2B) (B2B)
Notes * Leather : Made in prevalence specifies “Walsall” ** Refers to B2B where Made in Britain/Made in Staffordshire is dominant.
*** Womenswear favours Made in London or Made in England *** Theoretical implications The debate over the impact of COO, and related measures have oscillated over the years (Usunier 2011, Al-Sulaiti, K.I., Baker, M. J. 1998). Zeugner-Roth & Diamantopoulos (2010) summarized COO as representing a subset of supporting and differing influences. Examples include country of manufacture (COM) country of brand (COB) and country of design (COD) thereby accentuating the growing complexity in the field. However the transient nature of this area of study has questioned whether COM is still relevant to today’s consumers as “Made in Labels” have diminished in importance (Pharr, 2005; Usunier, 2006;
Phau and Chao, 2008, Samiee, 2010). As a result of this evolution it is suggested consumer’s perception of brand origin (COB) is now dominant to COO (Usunier 2011). Therefore the emergence of CoI (Country of Origin Image), sometimes used interchangeably with the broader CI ( Country image ), (Souiden, Pons and Mayrand 2011), has allowed more in depth analysis of the phenomenon, addressing the “why” rather than just the “if” of consumer buying intentions (Roth and Diamantopoulos 2009). The concept can be classified into three themes (Roth and Diamantopoulos 2009), namely the more generalist approach to CoI image (Martin and Eroglu 1993, Verlegh and Steenkamp 1999) the product country image or PCI (Jaffe and Nebenzahl 2001) and the product image (country related) or (PI).