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and University of Technology Nguyen Thi Mai Trang, Vietnam National University, HCM City Nguyen Dong Phong, University of Economics, HCM City Abstract This study examines the impact of brand personality impressions on brand relationship quality in a transition market, Vietnam. It also explores the role of consumer attitudes toward advertising and public relations in brand personality impressions and brand relationship quality. A test based on a sample of 477 consumers in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, reveals that brand personality impressions have a positive impact on brand relationship quality. In addition, attitude toward public relations has positive impacts on both brand personality impressions and brand relationship quality. Finally, attitude toward advertising has a positive impact on brand personality impressions but not on brand relationship quality. These findings suggest that brand personality impressions play an important role in building brand-customer relationships. Introduction Branding plays a central role in marketing and has been the focus of attention of both academics and practitioners in advanced economies for many years (eg., Aaker, 1991; Keller, 1993; Erdem and Swait, 1998). However, less attention has been paid to branding issues in the developing world, especially in countries which have recently transformed from centrally planned economies to market-oriented economies, such as Vietnam. The role of brands has only recently become of interest to Vietnamese practitioners. In the past, most Vietnamese firms have not recognized the importance of brands and branding. Unbranded practice or the use of a company’s name as a brand name to distinguish one product from others has been a common approach. After the introduction of the open-door policy of the Vietnamese government, the entry of multinational enterprises (MNEs) such as P&G and Unilever, together with the launching and promoting of international brands by MNEs have shifted Vietnamese consumers’ shopping habits from buying a product to buying a brand. Also, this development has encouraged Vietnamese firms to adopt branding practices resulting in the launching of several local brands such as MissSaigon (perfume), Yomilk (yogurt), Bitis’ (shoes), Thaituan (clothes), etc. (Nguyen et al., 2003). Academics and practitioners have focused on how to build a strong brand (e.g., Aaker, 1991; Woodside and Walser, 2006). Accordingly, a number of approaches have been developed which characterize the strength of a brand. Some stem from cognitive psychology, i.e., based on consumer cognitive processes, such as brand awareness, perceived quality, brand loyalty, and brand associations (e.g., Aaker, 1991; Keller, 1993). Others come from information economics, i.e., based on the signal of the brand to the consumer such as brand credibility and brand clarity (e.g., Erdem and Swait, 1998). Whilst based on different perspectives, their common focus is on what makes a brand become strong, i.e., building a high quality relationship between the brand and the consumer (Fournier, 1998; de Wulf et al., 2001). The relationship between brands and consumers has been studied by academics for several years (e.g., Aaker et al., 2004; Fournier, 1998; de Wulf et al., 2001). Marketers are increasingly trying
Reichheld and Sasser (1990) discovered that profits created by loyal customers in a financial service (credit card) includes profits from increased purchase and higher balance. from reduced operating costs. proposes six components of brand relationship quality. and customer training (e.e. commitment. Research has indicated that the cost of recruiting new customers is very high due to advertising. In addition. 1998. customer switching. establishing. The development and support of customer relationships is important to the long-term survival and enhanced profitability of firms.g. setting up new accounts. Therefore.e.. This model covers all aspects that contribute to a high quality relationship between the brand and the consumer. self-connection. 2001). For example. and nurturing high quality relationships between brands and customers. in which brand personality impressions are an antecedent of brand relationship quality. Mittal and Lassar. 2007). love and passion.to build the relationship between their brands and consumers. In this study. Accordingly.. intimacy. Literature review and hypotheses We propose a model. We also explore the role of consumer attitudes toward advertising and public relations in brand personality impressions and brand relationship quality. with an aim of decreasing the customer switching rate. Consumers with strong affection for the brand will feel that something is missing if the brand is not used (Fournier. from referrals. interdependence. Fournier (1998) offers a comprehensive model of brand-consumer relationships. we examine the impact of brand personality impressions on brand relationship quality in a transition market. Love and passion reflect strong affection for a specific brand. i. brand relationship quality refers to the strength and depth of the relationship between the individual consumer and the brand (Smit et al.. investments in long-term relationships with customers are of critical importance for the development of firms (de Wulf et al. Vietnam. Figure 1. 1998). i. based on her qualitative study. developing. personal selling. are among key tasks that marketers should always take into account when formulating their marketing strategies. depicted in Figure 1.. More importantly. Smit et 2 . In consumer markets.. Fournier (1998). attitudes toward advertising and public relations have impacts on both brand personality impressions and brand relationship quality. and from price premiums. Conceptual model Attitude toward Advertising H2 H3 H5 Brand Personality Impressions H1 Brand Relationship Quality Passion/Self -Connection/ Commitment/Interdependence Intimacy/Trust Attitude toward Public Relations H4 Brand relationship quality Firms have recognized the need to invest in relationships between their brands and customers. Success in building such relationships will lessen a major concern by every firm. profits generated by loyal customers increase significantly over time. and brand partner quality.
In addition. 2003).e. Self-connection reflects “the degree to which the brand delivers on important identity concerns. Smit et al. 1997). forming the relationship between brands and consumers (e.. 1998.. it is a means of brand distinction) (Aaker. i.e. 1989. They feel that the brand is irreplaceable and are willing to make sacrifices to own the brand (Fournier 1998.’s (2006) study. and satisfaction. Intimacy reflects customers’ knowledge about. intimacy. “the brand is part of the self” (Smit et al. Kressmann et al. 2006). brand partner quality relates to “the consumers’ evaluation of the brand’s performance in its partnership role” (Fournier 1998. Aaker et al. 2000). In addition. (2007) include trust in their brand relationship quality measures. 2007). Brands are no longer objects of economic exchange but help consumers identify themselves (Szmigin.. Finally. 628). Smit et al. This improves customers’ attitudes and perceptions about the brand (Kirmani and Zeithaml. intimacy. trust and partner quality were combined into one factor in Kressmann et al. 3 ...g. Therefore. 365).. thereby expressing a significant aspect of the self” (Fournier. 2007).e. Trust plays an important role in the business relationship literature. Kressmann et al. Brand personality will make a brand distinctive (i. Research on brand-consumer relationships has shown that consumer brand personality enables consumers to express their self. commitment. and the concepts of trust and partner quality are closely related. Consumers use a brand when its personality assists them in identifying themselves. or themes. and commitment is closely related to brand loyalty. Positive attitudes of consumers toward advertising programs of a brand will stimulate consumers to recognize the personality of the brand and to compare it with competing brands... tasks. (2006) use four dimensions... 2004). Brand personality impressions Brand personality has emerged as an important tool that generates consumer impressions (Johar et al. 2000). These researchers use brand partnership quality as an antecedent of brand relationship quality. Orth and Malkewitz.e.. 2006). Advertising is believed to be an effective tool to promote brands and their personality. Mehta. 1993. They argue that self-conception is similar to self-congruity. Aaker et al. i. Mehta. i. Their empirical investigation results in two factors. In this study.. (2004) utilize four dimensions of Fournier’s conceptualization to measure brand relationship quality. Interdependence refers to the mutual dependency between the brand and its customers (Fournier 1998. Commitment refers to the degree to which consumers are loyal to the brand. 2005.. the brand Kressmann et al. self-connection. MacKenzie and Lutz. 364) i. relationship partners are willing to fulfill their promises (Aaker et al. 2004). which can be defined as “a learned predisposition to respond in a consistently favorable manner toward advertising in general” (MacKenzie and Lutz.e. 53-54). Attitudes toward advertising and public relations The attitude of customers toward advertising. 2008). has received considerable attention from researchers and practitioners (Heath and Gaeth. 2007. interdependence and partnership quality. 2007).al. 1989. they intend to search for more information about the brand. when consumers prefer the brand’s advertising programs. The social identity theory indicates that individuals tend to classify themselves as belonging to a specific group. we use trust instead of partner quality as a component of brand relationship quality. we utilize Fournier’s (1998) conceptualization of brand relationship quality with a modification. distinguishing from other groups. 1994. based on the information about the brand they integrate over the time (Fennis and Pruyn. love and passion. and understanding of.
anchored by 1: strongly disagree and 7: strongly agree.g. The results indicate that the CFA model of brand relationship quality received 4 .7%) female consumers and 235 (49. Attitude toward adverting was measured by three items. Therefore. the maximum likelihood estimation method was used (Muthen and Kaplan.3%) male consumers. It can be defined as a marketing function that focuses on long-term patterns of interaction between an organization or its brands and publics. and goodwill and support. and 174 (36. H3: Attitude toward advertising and brand personality impressions are positively related. self-connection. Method Measurement Brand relationship quality was a second-order construct consisting of six components: interdependence.5%) consumers who were aged 30 years or younger. they form positive impressions toward the brand. Compared to advertising.2%) consumers had a monthly income lower than or equal to US$ 400. and low involvement brands such as detergents. H2: Attitude toward advertising and brand relationship quality are positively related. and 166 (34. a sample of 477 consumers of a variety of brands (including high involvement brands such as cars. all univariate kurtoses and skewnesses were within the range of [-1. (2004) and Smit et al. 1].5%) consumers who were older than 30 years. with the aim of establishing their mutual understanding. 311 (65. Therefore. intimacy. there were 303 (63. public relations is more authentic and credible to customers (e. however. as well as local and international brands). Brand personality impressions were measured by four items. Sample To test the model. 2005). thus enhancing their relationships (Smith. 2003).8%) consumers had a monthly income higher than US$ 400. Consumers were located in Ho Chi Minh City. H1: Brand personality impressions and brand relationship quality are positively related. when customers have a favorable attitude toward the public relations programs of a brand. The data exhibited slight deviations from normal distribution. The sample included 242 (50. Kotler. All were seven-point Likert scales. In terms of age. was surveyed by means of face-to-face interviews.Together with advertising.. Finally. Each of these components was measured by three items. H5: Attitude toward public relations and brand personality impressions are positively related. In terms of income. These items were based on Aaker et al. and trust. attitude toward public relations was also measured by three items. Data analysis and results Measurement validation Confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) was used to assess the measures. the major business center of Vietnam. (2007). passion. public relations plays a pivotal role in building brand images. H4: Attitude toward public relations and brand relationship quality are positively related. commitment. (see Appendix for the scale items). 1985).
957.65 (p = .61 Brand Relationship Quality .74 Summary and conclusion The purpose of this study is to examine the role of brand personality impressions on brand relationship quality in Vietnam.16 a . It also explores the role of consumer attitudes toward advertising and public relations in brand personality impressions and brand relationship quality.916.866.48 a . and.86 .82 Attitude toward Advertising .075. 1981).57) and significant (p < .90 .921 RMSEA = . The standardized structural coefficients are presented in Figure 2.866 CFI = .48 a .001).71 (p = .86 . All factor loadings were substantial (≥ .71 . and. all measures satisfied the requirement for composite reliability (Steenkamp and van Trijp. These findings supported the convergent and with-construct discriminant validity between the components of brand relationship quality constructs (Steenkamp and van Trijp.82 . Figure 2: Structural results (standardized estimates) .87 .57) and significant (p < .71 (p = .91 .71 (p = .000).001).91 . We found 5 .000). All factor correlations were significantly below unity (p < .000). 1991). Structural results Structural equation modeling was used to test the hypotheses.86 !2 (263) = 972.075.071.71 .an acceptable fit: χ2(120) = 407. Further. CFI = .07 NS Love and Passion . RMSEA = .075 (a) p < .05 NS: non -significant (*) squared multiple coefficients Trust Intimacy .001 (b) p < .62* .78 . 1991) and variance extracted (Fornell and Larcker.921.72 . RMSEA = .84 .11 b Attitude toward Public Relations .96 . CFI = . All factor loadings were substantial (≥ .83 .66 .001).85 Brand Personality Impressions . All construct correlations were significantly below unity (p < . It is noted that the measurement model and the structural model had the same degrees of freedom. These findings supported the convergent and acrossconstruct discriminant validity.921. GFI = .87 . GFI = . RMSEA = . The CFA results of the final measurement model also received an acceptable fit: χ2(263) = 972. GFI = .67 a . and. The results also indicate that hypothesis H2 (Attitude toward advertising → Brand relationship quality) was not significant.86 .95 .57 .92 .89 Commitment Self Connection .001).93 Inter Dependence .82 .94 . All other hypotheses were significant (Figure 2).866. The results indicate that the model received an acceptable fit: χ2(263) = 972. CFI = .000) GFI = .89 .30* .90 .
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X is very impressive Attitude toward advertising The ad of X is very attractive I like the ad of X Attitudes toward public relations The public relations programs of X are very valuable for society I highly value the public relations programs of X 8 .Appendix: Scale items Brand relationship quality Love and passion I feel very lovely when talking about X I feel great affection for X I feel very peaceful when mentioning about X Self-connection X helps me to express myself X reflect my personality X enhances myself Commitment I always stick with X To me. X is very attractive Compared to other brands. X is an irreplaceable brand I am very loyal to X Interdependence The success of X is my success I feel embarrassed when someone criticizes X When some one criticizes X I feels insulted Intimacy I have a deep understanding of I deeply sympathize with X I become very knowledgeable about X Trust X is capable of delivering what it promises I always receive what X promises to provide My experiences with X show that X never promises what it doesn’t have Brand personality impressions Compared to other brands. X is very distinctive Overall.
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