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«of the AM’s Brand, Corporate Identity and Reputation SIG INSTRUCTIONS FOR THE SESSIONS Sessions chairs The main function of a session chair is to ...»

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Findings The findings of this study indicate the presence of significant differences in perceptions of employees assigning various degrees of importance to sustainability in relation to their evaluations of company’s sustainability performance and the key determinants of internal brand commitment. More specifically, the study shows that higher ratings on sustainability importance correspond to more positive evaluations of the company’s sustainability performance, and to higher scores on internal brand commitment and its determinants. Based on the importance of sustainability and internal brand commitment, we have identified three alternative clusters of employees: (1) uncommitted sustainability laggards, (2) committed sustainability followers, and (3) committed sustainability leaders. The findings of ANOVA show the significant differences between these clusters across the four dimensions of sustainability performance such as sustainability objectives, sustainability decision-making, sustainability disclosure, and sustainability policies, and the three determinants of brand commitment such as brand orientation, internal brand knowledge, and internal brand involvement. The profiles of the three alternative clusters provide relevant insights regarding individual and organizational characteristics of their members.

Theoretical implications The study makes a theoretical contribution to research on sustainability and internal branding by investigating the relationships between the perceived importance of sustainability and internal brand commitment of employees in industrial companies. Furthermore, the study advances the knowledge on internal marketing by examining the potential relevance of internal branding for influencing employees’ perceptions of the company’s sustainability performance, and exploring the potential links between these perceptions and the determinants of internal brand commitment.

Practical implications The study proposes practical recommendations for marketing managers and HR managers on how to utilize internal branding for enhancing awareness of employees about the importance of sustainability for their companies, and for facilitating their positive perceptions of sustainability performance of their respective companies.

Limitations The study was conducted in the context of a transition economy and involved employees of industrial companies operating in Belarus. Future studies are recommended to replicate this study in other countries, and to develop a cross-cultural comparison of potential links between perceptions of sustainability performance and different determinants of internal branding.

Originality/value The study integrates the streams of research on sustainability and internal marketing. The study presents empirical evidence regarding the relationships between the successful implementation of sustainability practices in industrial companies, and the implemented activities related to internal branding including the enhancement of internal brand commitment.

Keywords Internal marketing, internal branding, industrial marketing, sustainability References Aggerholm, H.K., Andersen, S.E., & Thomsen, C. 2011. Conceptualising employer branding in sustainable organisations. Corporate Communications: An International Journal 16(2), 105-123.

Baumgarth, C., & Schmidt, M. 2010. How strong is the business-to-business brand in the workforce? An empirically-tested model of ‘internal brand equity’in a business-to-business setting. Industrial Marketing Management 39(8), 1250-1260.

Chabowski, B.R., Mena, J.A., & Gonzalez-Padron, T.L. 2011. The structure of sustainability research in marketing, 1958–2008: A basis for future research opportunities. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science 39(1), 55-70.

Epstein, M.J., & Roy, M.J. 2001. Sustainability in action: Identifying and measuring the key performance drivers. Long Range Planning 34(5), 585-604.

Foster, C., Punjaisri, K., & Cheng, R. 2010. Exploring the relationship between corporate, internal and employer branding. Journal of Product & Brand Management 19(6), 401-409.

Gapp, R., & Merrilees, B. 2006. Important factors to consider when using internal branding as a management strategy: A healthcare case study. Journal of Brand Management 14(1), 162GRESB BV. (2014). 2014 GRESB Survey. www.gresb.com. (Last accessed: December 2, 2014).

Kiron, D., Kruschwitz, N., Haanaes, K., & von Streng Velken, I. 2012. Sustainability nears a tipping point. MIT Sloan Management Review 53(2), 69-74.

Knox, S., & Maklan, S. 2004. Corporate Social Responsibility: Moving beyond investment towards measuring outcomes. European Management Journal 22(5), 508-516.

Kotler, P. 2011. Reinventing marketing to manage the environmental imperative. Journal of Marketing 75(4), 132-135.

Kumar, V., & Christodoulopoulou, A. 2014. Sustainability and branding: An integrated perspective. Industrial Marketing Management 43(1), 6-15.

McDonagh, P., & Prothero, A. 2014. Sustainability marketing research: Past, present and future. Journal of Marketing Management 30(11-12), 1186-1219.

Powell, S.M. 2011. The nexus between ethical corporate marketing, ethical corporate identity and corporate social responsibility: An internal organisational perspective. European Journal of Marketing 45(9/10), 1365-1379.

Sharma, A., Iyer, G.R., Mehrotra, A., & Krishnan, R. 2010. Sustainability and business-tobusiness marketing: A framework and implications. Industrial Marketing Management 39(2), 330-341.





Szekely, F., & Knirsch, M. 2005. Responsible leadership and corporate social responsibility:

Metrics for sustainable performance. European Management Journal 23(6), 628-647.

Consumer reactions towards different brand self-presentation styles of country of origin-cues for food products Carrasco Mejuto, Maria Brunner, Christian Boris Ullrich, Sebastian Purpose Consumers have to process a high amount of product information during product decisions, among others country of origin (COO)-cues, defined as the country where the product has been produced (Bilkey & Nes, 1982; Al-Sulaiti & Baker 1998). While some findings see COO as relevant information cue (e.g. Liu & Johnson, 2005), others discuss its insignificance in purchase decisions (e.g. Samiee, 2010; Usunier, 2006, 2011). As there are several ways to communicate external cues we aim to analyse the effects of different self-presentation styles (SPS) to communicate COO.

Brand Self-Presentation Styles in Advertising Humans try to manage the impressions others make about them by adjusting their behaviour to portray their self to the audience positively (Goffman, 1959; Baumeister, 1982;

Schniederjans, Cao & Schniederjans, 2013). According to Schuetz (1998), among other possibilities, they can enhance themselves in a positive way by presenting a favourable image of themselves (assertive SPS (ASPS), Jones & Pittman, 1982) or by “making others look bad” (offensive SPS (OSPS); Cialdini & Richardson, 1980; Buss & Dedden, 1990). While in the former case they present themselves in a desired way, in the latter one they use domination or derogation of others in hope to be perceived better (Schuetz, 1998). Applying the idea of SPS on COO communication, a brand can enhance consumer responses positively by emphasizing the COO positively or alternatively use an OSPS by derogating other countries.

Development of hypotheses Following the research stream emphasizing the relevance of COO (e.g. Liu & Johnson, 2005), we expect that a product advertisement with a high fit to a country of origin will be perceived more favourable compared to advertising without any COO-information. If consumers have a more favourable product attitude this might increase product purchase intentions (e.g.

Ajzen, 1991; Tangari & Smith, 2012). Further, we expect a higher willingness to pay, because a high fit COO-cue might increase the perceived product value.

H1: A product which is advertised with a high fit COO-cue is perceived more favourable compared to a product without any link to the country of origin in terms of consumers (a) product attitude, (b) product purchase intentions and (c) willingness to pay.

Generally we assume that consumers prefer a brand that communicates its products’ benefits rather than offensively focussing on competitors’ weaknesses. A comparison to competitors might cause less credibility and less persuasive influence (Levine, 1976; Swinyard, 1981).

Hence, if a COO-cue is perceived as beneficial for the product, consumers should prefer an assertive SPS.

However, if consumers perceive a low fit between product and COO, consumers do not see the benefit for the product. But they might be positively influenced by a more aggressive communication style, since research has shown that an offensive style such as comparative advertising is elaborated more intensively (Muehling, Stoltman & Grossbart, 1990; Grewal et al., 1997). They may feel that the brand is self-conscious about expressing the product’s quality.

H2a (b): In case of a high (low) fit COO-cue, consumers’ product attitude is more favourable towards an assertive (offensive) SPS than towards an offensive (assertive) SPS.

Similarly as discussed above, we expect that consumers with a more favourable product attitude might have higher product purchase intentions (Ajzen, 1991; Tangari & Smith, 2012).

H3a (b): In case of a high (low) fit COO-cue, consumers’ product purchase intentions are higher in case of an assertive (offensive) SPS compared to an offensive (assertive ) SPS.

Finally, we assume that the willingness to pay for a product is higher in case of a high fit, because the information of COO adds an additional value to the consumer. As the benefit is obvious, the impact of an ASPS might be perceived as appropriate. However, in case of a low fit, the COO information does not necessarily lead to an obviously higher benefit. The persuasive attempt must be higher. Therefore we assume that in case of a low fit, the willingness to pay is higher in case of an OSPS.

H4a (b): In case of a high (low) fit COO-cue, consumers’ willingness to pay for the brand’s product is higher in case of an assertive (offensive) brand SPS compared to an offensive (assertive) brand SPS.

Empirical study

The main study consists of a 2 (fit between product and COO: high/low) x 2 (SPS:

assertive/offensive) between-subject factorial design with two control groups (see Appendix 1).

For the manipulation of the fit and the SPS in a preliminary study two focus groups (N=4 and N=3) explored twelve different product categories in the food sector (e.g. wine, beer and cheese) and ten headlines (either aSPS or oSPS) in detail. Germany was perceived as typical country to produce beer, whereas Greece was very atypical. The selected headlines are shown in Appendix 2. The brand names “Riedenburger” (Germany) “Piraiky” (Greece) sounded typical for the countries selected and were chosen out of 40 unknown brands (N=20).

Data collection and measurement The experiment was conducted online via social network sites. 179 out of 201 respondents were considered (57.5% female, age: between 19-50, median: 26), the rest excluded due to incompletion, not living in Spain or knowing the brand well. Each respondent was randomly assigned to one of the groups. Each respondent was confronted with an advertisement (Appendix 1, depending on treatment) and then answered several questions. All measurements were taken from previous research. In case of multi-item constructs Cronbach’s Alpha was above 0.8 (detailed in Appendix 3).

Results A manipulation check confirmed that respondents in experimental groups perceived the fit

between product and COO significantly different (High Fit: M=5.53 (SD=0.97); Low Fit:

2.83 (1.26), T116.710=-13.022, p0.001). The descriptives for the three dependent variables are shown in table 1.

In regards to hypotheses 1a, running an ANCOVA with the independent variable fit (high, low, without) and product category involvement (PCI) as covariate showed no significant different product attitudes between high fit condition (M=3.80; SD=1.28) and control group (M=3.70; SD=1.13) (F1.118=0.025, p0.05, influence of PCI: F1.178=20.450, p0.001; adjusted R2=0.137). Therefore, we reject H1a.

In addition, product attitude in the low fit condition (M=3.18; SD=1.03) was rated

significantly less favourable than in the control group (F1.119=9.208, p0.01, PCI:

F1.178=5.475, p0.05; adjusted R2=0.082).

Further, consumers in the high fit condition responded significantly more favourable than those in the low fit condition (F1.118=4.904, p0.05, PCI: F1.118=8.233, p0.01; familiarity towards the country: F1.118=1.346, p0.05; attitude towards the country: F1.118=12.534, p0.001; adjusted R2=0.200).

In regards to consumers’ product purchase intentions findings show no significant differences between the high fit condition (M=2.76, SD=1.71) and the control group (M=2.91; SD=1.63) (F1.118=0.904, p0.05; PCI. F1.118=10.720, p0.01, adjusted R2=0.071), rejecting hypotheses 1b. However, participants in the low fit condition (M=2.32, SD=1.40) had significantly lower purchase intentions than those in the control group (F1.119=5.837, p0.05, PCI: F1.119=2.852, p0.1; adjusted R2=0.044). Findings between low fit and high fit were not significantly different (F1.118=1.318, p0.05, PCI: F1.118=2.825, p0.1 adjusted R2=0.042).

Respondents in the high fit conditions were willing to pay about 1.66 € (SD=0.82) for a 0.33l beer, significantly more than those in the control group (1.30 €, SD=0.57) (F1.118=5.590, p0.05; PCI: F1.118=10.934, p0.01, adjusted R2=0.126). This supports hypotheses 1c.

Consumers in the low fit condition would pay 1.18 € (SD=0.53), not significantly less than those in the control group (F1.119=1.840, p0.05; PCI: F1.119=0.590, p0.05 adjusted R2=0.001). Respondents in the high fit condition were not willing to pay significantly more than those in the low fit condition (F1.119=0.844, p0.05; PCI: F1.119=3.621, p0.1; adjusted R2=0.110).

Concerning H2a, further ANCOVAs between experimental groups indicated a significant interaction effect between independent variables (F1.118=6.095, p0.05; adjusted R2=0.233).



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