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to represent unbiased perceptions of brands. The method is a likelihood-based model that simultaneously disentangles a major class of psychological bias affecting attribute based perceptions, and represent the common structure across multiple variable batteries, reducing the dimensionality of the problem. Our results indicate that it is feasible to deepen brand equity’s sources through a cognitive representation that depicts the actual brand performance on attributes. KEYWORDS: Brand ratings, perceptual mapping, dimensionality reduction, brand equity. EMAC TRACK: Marketing Research and Research Methodology
coming from an empirical study of competitive brand positioning. More specifically we propose a new MDS procedure to jointly represent genuine attribute-based and attribute-free perceptions. 2005). or brand-specific associations (i. our procedure implements a decompositional model that isolates brand-specific associations from other effects (Dillon et al. 1994) and it is especially suited for the analysis of brand equity’s sources. Perceptual mapping has been historically regarded as one of the most important analytical tools in marketing research (Green et al.. 11). 1988. 1993. uniqueness and strength – for instance . disentangling sources of bias in brand ratings can provide managerial and theoretical insights for brand equity. brand associations are captured by attribute ratings whereas brand awareness. namely functional and image. The former refers to the development of a new technique that deals with the collection of multiple batteries of measurements from the same set of respondents (DeSarbo and Wu. “Brand positioning sets the direction of marketing activities and programs – what the brand should and should not do with its marketing. It involves establishing key brand associations in the minds of customers and other important constituents to differentiate the brand and establish competitive superiority” (p.e. as models of brand equity usually give emphasis to brand knowledge and brand associations (Aaker..could be assessed through the analysis of what’s actually in brand ratings. 2001). some benefits. Keller.. On the other hand brand ratings capture not just specific attribute information. 2001). a specific usage situation. 1998). and features or characteristics (Roedder-John et al. Shocker and Srinivasan. is mainly used in the process of brand building and brand positioning. but they may also contain non-attribute information like the overall brand image (i. In Keller (1993) and in Aaker (1991) views of brand equity. attributes or benefits).. 1979.INTRODUCTION In this study we propose a new method to represent unbiased perceptions of brands. The model offers a parsimonious representation of multiple batteries of brand related data. The latter is related to the contribution to the brand equity literature. Besides that. According to Keller and Lehmann (2005). in fact. which are based on a more holistic view of the brand (Dillon et al. a logo. 1991. 2 . implementing suggestions coming from psychological and classification literature. Any attempt to analyze and to map brand ratings is connected to the measurement of the equity associated to a brand: in this way we hope to shed further light on the understanding of equity’s sources. The aim of the study is twofold. As behavioural processes underlying the formation of consumers’ brand ratings indicate they may contain biases. An application is given using Aaker’s (1997) brand personality scale. the general brand impressions).e. Consumers usually associate a brand name with a particular attribute. simultaneously decomposing brand rating into its main components. BACKGROUND Understanding how consumers’ ratings are formed relies on cognitive processes aimed to capture brand associations that are stored in consumers’ memory (Keller. At the same time the procedure uses proximity judgements between brands to obtain a dimensionality reduction of the problem. Perceptual mapping. it being rooted both in methodological and conceptual domains. the knowledge of brand features. 1993). Steenkamp et al. in order to represent perceptions on a two-dimensional space. 2001). The analysis of brand associations represents the basis of brand equity measurement.
THE STUDY The design of the study reflects our need to control for brands relevance for the target group as well as for intellectual and emotional situations. we built a questionnaire using the scale developed in the literature on the FCB matrix (McWilliam. the brand personality dimensions can be seen as a key way to differentiate a brand in a product category (Halliday. 2002). This procedure is aimed to obtain internal validity for the study. The process through which consumers obtain information likely depends on several factors. Marketing literature on brand equity (Aaker. The general tenet of this literature is that the greater the correspondence between human characteristics and those that describe a brand. Rossi et al. context effects that may affect information salience. researchers often deal with the necessity to collect multiple batteries of measurements from the same set of respondents (DeSarbo and Wu. 1997). the level of brand awareness. classical perceptual mapping may be not informative and difficult to interpret in situations in which interattributes correlations are considerably high. i. We decided to assess brand ratings in high involvement conditions. Dillon et al. cellular phone (high 1 This information was collected through a questionnaire in which we asked to rate. 1919. a promising research stream is the one that jointly represents different types of data in a common dimensional space. Following DeSarbo and Wu (2001). the greater the preference for the brand (Malhotra. such as brand-by-brand proximities (dissimilarities) and brand-byattribute ratings (attribute ratings). earlier attribute ratings that affect later attribute ratings. 1997) to determine products’ positioning in the FCB matrix’s quadrants. such as a specific brand related experience. play a crucial role. b (Appendix B) for a clear depiction of this effect within the two categories considered in our study. (2001) discuss. In terms of brand rating variation this effect could be not due to an attribute specific evaluation of the brand. since consumers often fill brands with human personality traits (e. See figures 1a. 1997).. 1997).In brand positioning literature. 1988. The general brand impressions bias is relevant when information on a particular attribute are unavailable for a brand. Relatedly. 3 . Lambin. and so on. 2001). In this study we do not account for response style biases (Clemans. 1996) and therefore to compare brands. our study proposes a MDS procedure that endeavours to analyze jointly various different variable batteries. 2000) while we drive our attention to the possibility to disentangle brand holistic preference from the joint set of brand ratings on specific attributes. as previously pointed out in related literature. 1982). or not. 1989. Previous research on this topic was mainly focused .g. We chose the 2 product categories resulted as polarities among the factors generated as outcome of the factor analysis. In this line. The scale we chose is the brand personality measure.on the symbolic use of brands. This fact makes it impossible to evaluate the effect of a given attribute on the purchasing behaviour for each brand. 1998. on a 7 point Likert scale. the level of familiarity and relevance for each of 12 product categories we found in the literature on the FCB matrix (Weinberger and Spotts. Sirgy.. intellectual learning). sorting out at the same time sources of bias in ratings. 1956.: notebook computer (high involvement. controlling for emotional and intellectual situations in which the overall brand impressions (that is non-attribute information) may. where the analytic valuation of the brand performance on one or more attributes is supposed to be high.e. Aaker. that is a single geometric representation (Carroll and Green. As Dillon et al. Gilmore. Keller. 1991. which has been developed in the context of consumer behaviour research (Aaker. 2001) recognizes that a brand rating contains something more than a mere performance on specific attributes. A specific contribution to the study is given by psychological literature that identifies different classes of bias affecting consumers’ evaluation of brands along attributes. After identifying the product categories to be used1.
the model implemented in the study decomposes the holistic dimension. Sony.k m m i = ∑ ∑ x ij . 1997) which is composed of 15 items and measured with 7-point Likert scales... The aim of the paper is to develop a statistical procedure to simultaneously reduce the original dimensionality of the problem. Then we assigned brand names to each product category using subjects’ evoked set2. defined as general brand impressions. Afterwards. exceeding human capabilities to remain concentrated (e. as we will describe in detail in the next section. outputs a T -dimensional (usually for perceptual mapping purposes) representation T =2 m m X j A = ∑ xk . Apple. Let x j .. The questionnaires were distributed to university students. This measure is then projected on T-dimensional space (where T = 2) using a joint representation of both attribute-free and attribute-based perceptions. which represents the brand specific associations. Namely distances in the projected spaces are defined by Euclidean norm: d i j . Asus. ∑ x k .1 .t t =1 m =1 m =1 T 2 (1) 2 The notebook category is composed by the followings 6 competing brands: Acer. We gathered 130 questionnaires for each product category. and disentangle brand preference effects and attribute specific evaluations. j between projected brands in the final T space. For each couple of brands let δj . The cellular phone category is composed by the following 6 competing brands: LG. Sony-Ericsson.t − ∑ xk . k be the perceived dissimilarity between brand j and brand k rated by individual i . The matrix A will be the projection that ensures m =1 m =1 the best correspondence between empirical non attribute-based judgments δ . we wanted to avoid any possible biases that may arise in responding to such a complex and large battery of questions. however a total of 211 questionnaires were completed and considered usable (109 cellular phone questionnaires. Along these lines. mαm .. m be the evaluation given by i individual i of brand j along attribute m . 102 notebook questionnaires). Brown and Melamed. 4 .1 ..T . given the M -dimensions representation of brand j (namely the vector ( x j . mα m . I along the attributes m =1. J be the brands within a given product category. M . As already mentioned in the above section. 1990). m ) of judgments along attributes).. mα m . one for the notebook category and the other for the cellular category.. and the unbiased perception of a brand on attributes. Siemens. Motorola. we collected data from two samples of subjects... Nokia. Brands evaluated by I i consumers i =1. Toshiba. the measure we selected to map brand perceptions is the brand personality scale (Aaker. Appendix A shows the questionnaire structure.. x j . THE MODEL Starting with subjects’ perceived brand ratings. To reduce the dimensionality of the problem we use an approach that finds a projection matrix A = (αm. 1 Let j= . Samsung. To this scale an attribute-free section was added in which subjects were asked to express dissimilarity judgments among brands on a 7-point Likert scale.t ) that.g.. emotional learning).involvement.. we develop a method which allows to ascertain the homogeneity of perceptions through the two groups. j and distances k d k . mαm . Acknowledging the cognitive effort required of respondents to make multiple brand-by-attribute ratings. HewlettPackard.
m −( γ j . MacKay et al. m where θi . σ ε | X . m − β k α m . mξ m + β j )) 2 e (3) 2 2σ ϑ D Maximization of L = ∏ Li gives the best choice of matrix Γ = (γ j .t t =1 m =1 m =1 Consequently the complete likelihood of the problem is: i j. ∆i . Therefore brand ratings don’t indicate why some brands are most liked. 1995) allows to consider (θi . k . j is obtained modifying equation (1) and gives: m m i d = ∑ ∑ x ij . m ≈ N (0. This allows us to solve the problem of finding A maximizing the P associated likelihood L = ∏ Li where: i =1 I (2) 2 2π σ ε is the individual likelihood for the projection problem. k . k . The new definition of d k . as the first dimension provides only a connotative meaning. The second problem requires a different approach. m − β j α m . j .k T ( ) ( ) 2 (4) i i i where X = ( x j . it holds x j . j with εi . j . σ ϑ | X i ) ⋅ LP ( A. j +εi . B j . j between projected brands must discount the i i i holistic terms. m ) is the i th L( A. ∆i ) = ∏ i J 1 (δ ij . m ) store the I × J ×( J −1) / 2 dissimilarities judgements. X = ( x j . Ξ m . (2001) even with a different measurement of perceptions. 1980. These results are consistent with Dillon et al. m . m ) is the I × J × M matrix of attribute based data. We can suppose that for each observed i individual i .k − d ij . with individual likelihood given by: j ≠k LP ( A. σε ) . m = γ j . Conversely. The two situations are non informative in terms of attribute specific performance for each brand. m .. B) i i i =1 I (5) ∆i = (δ ij . The first PCA component accounts for about 90% of variance in the case of cellular phones and for more than 95% in the case of notebooks. j ) independent and to evaluate a joint likelihood LC . J ×M i block pertaining individual i . m ) of genuine attribute i =1 based representation of brands. As the maps show the attributes arrows have all the same orientation. ∆) = ∏ LD (Γ. Figure 2a and 5 .k ) 2 e 2 2σ ε LD (Γj . The individual likelihood LC is formally the product i LP = LP ⋅ LD but the definition of distances d k . j = δk . σ ε | X i . Note that LP and LD are defined by different psychological underlying processes. σ ε | X i .i i As in DeSarbo and Wu (2003) we can suppose that d k . m + β j +θi . B. This allows us a likelihood representation of the problem. and vector B = ( β j ) of holistic evaluation of brands. 2001) that attribute specific judgements x j .t − ∑ xk . We suppose (see Dillon et al.. and with the same notation ∆ = (δ j . Γ. m for brand j can be decomposed into a brand preference effect βj and an attribute specific evaluation γ j . σε ) . m ) and (εi . This i i (Ramsay. m ) and RESULTS Figure 1a and Figure 1b (Appendix B) are the PCA maps obtained from attribute-based ratings respectively in the cellular phone and notebook product categories. B. σ ϑ | X i ) = ∏∏ i j =1 m =1 I J M 1 2π σ2 ϑ ( x ij . j . σ ϑ . j ≈ N (0.
By showing the actual brand ratings. table 2a fails to show the highest holistic rating for this brand. as compared to other similar models in literature. In the same line. however the PCA map (Figure 1b) fails to assign a set of favourable brand associations. m + β j +θi . The cognitive representation offered by the map helps us to reach a better comprehension of both the specific impact of each attribute on the brands. Acer is a leader in the national notebook market used in this study. m ⋅ξm + β j +θi . However. A major bias to take into account is given by the idiosyncratic perceived importance of attributes assigned by consumers. Figure 2b explains the origin of this lack of brand personality. as the map is obtained through the joint representation of two batteries of variables (dissimilarities and attribute ratings). in which distances between objects reflect the observed dissimilarities. This might be a strategic issue to i classify heterogeneity. Our study focuses only Aaker’s brand personality. 2001). brand image) the configuration of brands and attributes spreads out to explain the specific impact of attributes on each brand. m = γ j . m = γ j . this study focuses on high-involvement product categories while could be of interest to consider routine or impulse products. Other sources of biases can be analyzed and their effect could be disentangled as well. and the role played by the semantic structure underlying the measurement scale used in this study. operatively changing the expression x j . Another direction suggested by the study is the use of other measurement scales. This formulation could be convenient but the estimation problem could be difficult to address. but some other theoretical frameworks of brand equity measurement should be taken into account. our method provides a means to assess the uniqueness and strength of brand associations (Dillon et al.. as remarked by the holistic rating calculated in Table 2b. LIMITATIONS AND FUTURE DIRECTIONS The model presented in this paper focuses on the purification of perceptions with respect to general brand impressions bias. Nokia seems to be the favourite cellular phone brand in the PCA map (Figure 1a). and map 2a fails to show a well defined positioning on most attributes.2b (Appendix B) show a clear and informative configuration of brand positions along attributes. In fact. j . CONCLUSIONS The objective of the study was to offer a perceptual mapping approach that depicts the “real” perceived brand positioning along a set of attributes.e. The model is a likelihood-based procedure which uses a parsimonious set of parameters. m into the i i expression x j . and the projection of the unbiased rating in a twodimensional space. The following two examples may clarify the implications of our result. 6 . perceived brand performance on one or more attributes may lack revealing diagnostic power given the spurious intertwinement among the actual brand-specific associations and the overall global brand impressions. j . The main contribution of the study is the simultaneous decomposition of a brand rating into its two main components. The implemented model has important implications for the analysis of brand equity. Finally. m . In fact disentangling general brand impressions (i.
.. Cheerful…………………………… Daring ……………………………...…………. Wholesome……………………….. Honest………………………….…..……. Sony-Ericsson and Samsung …….... 3. 2. Successful………………………. Charming……….……………………..... ATTRIBUTE-FREE QUESTIONNAIRES a.. CELLULAR PHONES Very dissimilar Very similar 1..APPENDIX A QUESTIONNAIRES STRUCTURE BRAND PERSONALITY QUESTIONNAIRE Strongly disagree Strongly agree “X” is a brand: Down-to-earth…………………….…. ………………………….……..... Reliable……………………..……….. Nokia and Motorola .... Imaginative………………………..…………… Intelligent……………….…………… Outdoorsy……………. 7 ..... Siemens and Nokia ………………. Spirited... Up-to-date..………… Tough………………. Upper class……….
26........ NOTEBOOK COMPUTERS Very dissimilar Very similar 16.... 15..... Hewlett-Packard and Apple ……........ Motorola and Siemens ………….. 20...... 7.. 5.. 13... Acer and Sony . Sony-Ericsson and Motorola ……. Apple and Sony …………………. 29..... Samsung and LG …………………..... Sony and Asus ………….............. 19......... 12.. Siemens and Sony-Ericsson ……… 6..... 30.. Asus and Acer ………………… ...... Apple and Acer…….... Toshiba and Hewlett-Packard …................... 10.. 11.. 9... Acer and Toshiba . Asus and Toshiba ……………. Apple and Asus …………………..……..... Acer and Hewlett-Packard …....... b... 8 ..... 8. Hewlett-Packard and Sony ……… 27. 24......... LG and Motorola……………….... Nokia and LG. 23.... Nokia and Sony-Ericsson …. Asus and Hewlett-Packard ……… 21......... Samsung and Asus ………………..............4......…..... 25.... 22. Apple and Toshiba ………………....... Samsung and Motorola …………… 14........... Toshiba and Sony………………. 28... Siemens and LG …………….. 18. Toshiba and Sony-Ericsson …..... Apple and Nokia……... 17...
14189 PC6 8.14513 PC5 0.34e-16 9 .APPENDIX B THE MAPS Figure 1a (cellular phones): Principal Component Analysis Table 1a: Importance of components: Standard deviation PC1 2.6893 PC3 0.3416 PC4 0.414 PC2 0.
00000 0.00e+00 10 .902 0.902 0.00312 1.00e+00 1.Proportion of Variance Cumulative Proportion 0.99688 0.00326 0.9756 0.0181 0.0735 0.9936 0.
324714 Sony-Ericsson 4.Figure 2a (cellular phones): Model map (joint unbiased perception map) Table 2a: Brand image (holistic) ratings Nokia 4.552316 Motorola 3.485089 Samsung 5.182024 Siemens 2.749445 11 .929133 LG 5.
00000 PC6 8.00379 0.99438 PC4 0.954 0.14834 0.451 3 0.035 0 0.99817 PC5 0.00e+00 1.00183 1.00e+00 12 .15e-16 0.00562 0.954 PC2 0.10317 0.988 8 PC3 0.Figure 1b (computer notebook): Principal Component Analysis Table 1b: Importance of components Standard deviation Proportion of Variance Cumulative Proportion PC1 2.355 0.18073 0.
377646 13 .749849 Asus 3.487614 Sony 4.Figure 2b (computer notebook): Model map (joint unbiased perception map) Table 2b: Brand image (holistic) ratings Acer 3.908848 HewlettPackard 4.100208 Toshiba 3.678156 Apple 5.
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