A Study on the Impact of Brand Design on Customer Purchasing Behaviour : A Case Study of Marks & Spencer, UK

Abstract

The study on evaluating the customers’ behaviour due to brand designing in retail sector of the UK has provided specific objectives. The objectives are related to performance of branding maintained by S&P. the main objective of this study was to derive brand designing as an important factor for evaluating the customers’ purchasing decisions. The research had the objectives of critically assess the factors influencing the branding process in retail business. The report has presented standard literature reviews by evaluating the peer- reviewed journals in related work. Additionally, the study has deduced hypothesis from the gap of past papers to test the degree of impact on purchasing behaviour in this country. The methodology of the study has followed positivist way with deductive approach to create the hypothesis. In this paper, the researcher has conducted the study with 70-sample size to evaluate the change in customers’ behaviour due to brand designing by using mixed method. The study has proved that brand designing has positive impact on the customer’s purchasing behaviour in retail sector. Further, this paper has contributed towards recommending some new implementation in the system of M&S to attract more customers with brand designing. 

Chapter 1

Introduction

1.0 Introduction

Branding is an essential part of any business. The previous research works conducted by scholars show that each successful business has its foundation laid on its unique brand (Aday and Yener, 2014). In the circumstance of the similar statement, Bunn and Ellis (2012) asserted that the purpose of branding is to make the overall concept easier for the customers to relate the brand to the particular product or service. Similarly, the companies’ names, logo and brand are not just mere symbols, but it presents a clear picture of the brand before the customers, which tend to drawn customers’ attention and attraction. In the similar instance, Outreville and Desrochers (2016) claimed that sermonizing brand logo exhorts the management to tap into its target market. Continuing the previous conversation, Keller (2013) asserted that brand design is the chief visual component of a company, which helps the customers to relate its product lines with the brand. For example, the logo is one of the brand components that appear on business cards, websites and advertising. As a result, a well-designed logo can contribute to business success; on the other hand, a substandard logo can involve amateurishness and turn off the potential customers from the brand. On the other side, Romaniuk and Wight (2014) determined that the brand design needs to cohere well with other aspects of an organisation’s visual presentation.  Nevertheless, a well-designed outlook can appear good when surrounded by conflicting graphical elements or inconsistent fonts.  Customers’ purchasing behaviours generally get influenced by the brand design. It highly depends how the marketers manage to design its brands, which is related to brand logo, choice of colour representing the brands, etc. The present study would highlight the how Marks & Spencer (M&S) has managed to create an impact on the purchasing behaviour of its customers through effective brand design in the retail market.

1.1 Background of the research

Customer satisfaction specifies to customers’ general assessment of the entire shopping experience of certain product and service. According to Singh (2012), the key indicators of customer satisfaction are customers’ performance-specific expectation and expectation disconfirmation. Generally, when the performance of a product exceeds expectation, customer satisfaction enhances. On the other hand, the moment expectations go beyond the product performance, and customer satisfaction reduces (Sung, 2013).  With respect to the similar subject, MarTech has conducted a survey of the customers to find out the influence a brand design create on consumers’ purchasing decisions. The result of the survey shows that 21% of the customers prefer to purchase products from the brands that managed to form goodwill in the market (MarTech, 2017). Moreover, 38% of the customers prefer purchasing the products from the brands recommended by parents. Inference can be drawn from the previous content that the parents have already managed to form trust and loyalty towards certain definite brands. 64% of the customers’ access to email only if the brand is found trustworthy and the brands that inspire greater emotional intensity have the probability of receiving three times word of mouth marketing (MarTech, 2017).

It has been identified that with the passing phase of time, customer’s preferences in the apparel industry is changing (Outreville and Desrochers, 2016). Therefore, most the retail brands operating under apparel segment are investing considerable efforts and capital in brand designing. The customers are getting choosy regarding personal fashion. Thus, the branding needs to be pliable to trend and appeal to contemporary styles to suite the ongoing fashion trends.  The present study elaborates how the customers’ purchasing behaviours are influenced by the brand design in the UK retail sector. Marks & Spencer is a British Multinational operating in the retail market, headquartered in City of Westminister in London (Corporate.marksandspencer.com, 2017).  The brand has been established in 1884 and listed on the London Stock Exchange and is a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index. Information could be gathered on the similar subject that M&S have total 852 stores throughout the UK market and international stores. Moreover, the brand has total 52 stores in India, 17 in Ireland, 48 stores in Turkey, 27 in Greece, 6 in Hungary, 37 in Russia, 14 in France, 11 in Poland and Finland and 5 in Spain (Corporate.marksandspencer.com, 2017).

1.2 Rationale of the study

1.2.1 What is the research issue?

Although M&S has incorporated effectively diversified approaches to improve its brand design its legal action against Interflora has hampered its brand image considerably. It has been inferred that M&S is one of the well-known retailers in the UK and managed to sell flowers on the online platform since 2000.  On the other hand, Interflora is the operator of popular flower delivery network. M&S advertises its flowers through the online platforms and uses the Google AdWords service. The management of M&S has planned to use Google AdWords so the when users enter ‘interflora’ in Google’s search engine as a search term, an advertisement appears which promotes M&S’s flower service, though the term ‘interflora’ does not appear in the advertisement itself.

1.2.2 Why is it an issue and why now?

. Thus, it could be inferred that although it is difficult, it is very essential to maintain the brand image by avoiding all common discrepancies.  Customers’ purchasing behaviors are unpredictable and change as per the brands’ offerings. Therefore, it is unfeasible to figure out the measures that can help a brand to protect its brand image to uphold customer reactions. Before the litigation, the market reaction towards the firms was considerably positive, which encouraged the management to undertake further brand designing strategies. However, just one allegation has changed the overall market reactions

1.2.3 How and when it is going to be investigated?

Therefore, Interflora has taken legal action against M&S for trademark infringement. The issue lies that the overall litigation has created an adverse impact on its brand image. The customers in the UK market have the tendency to get majorly influenced by the negative rumors that the positive activities of the brands. M&S has also been the victim of the similar issue. Further, the researcher would collect primary data in the form of quantitative and qualitative approach from the respondents to investigate the subject. Suitable secondary information would be taken to validate the data.

1.2.4 What could this research shed light on?

The current study will shed lights on the aspects influencing customer purchasing behaviour in the UK retail market. Moreover, the findings of the study would be beneficial for UK retail industry to advance its brand designs to improve customer experiences.

1.3 Significance of the research

Customers generally react as per the brand image. The present market scenario reflects that the companies that work well on its brand design able to reach wider target mass. Specifically, in case of fashion industry, the customers are purchasing the apparels that go along with the latest trends and styles. Therefore, it is very important for the fashion brands to work well on its promotional aspects and form a classy brand design. Therefore, the significance of the study is to find out how the brand design of M&S has impacted on its customers’ purchasing behaviour in the UK.

1.4 Problem statement

Collecting authentic secondary information regarding the impact brand design creates on customer’s purchasing intention has been the major issues for the researcher. Herein, the information received from the reliable sources is majorly back dated, which has failed to address the essence of the research subject. Moreover, the deadline for the project completion had been too short, which created severe pressure on the researcher. It has been difficult for the researcher to find updated information about the UK retail industry, thus, finding the same on a specific company operating in the UK fashion sector had been more difficult.

 1.5 Research aim

The aim of the research is to determine the impact of brand design on customer purchasing behaviour. The study intends to find out a direct correlation between brand design and customer purchasing behaviour in the UK apparel industry. To find out the relationship between brand designs and customer buying behaviour, the researcher has chosen Mark & Spencer operating in the UK market.

1.6 Research Objectives

  • To assess the significance of brand design process in current competitive scenario
  • To determine the various factors affecting customer purchasing behaviour
  • To assess the impact brand design creates on customer purchasing behaviour at M&S
  • To recognize the issues M&S confronts in association to the research variables and thereby provide suggestions to enhance its brand design relate the same with customers’ purchasing behaviour.

1.7 Research questions

  • What brand design initiatives are taken by retailers to influence customer purchase intention?
  • How far M&S’ legal issue affected its brand image?
  • Has M&S managed to retain its brand image through promotional policies?
  • How far the brand managed to retail its loyal customers?
  • What are the various strategies used by M&S for attaining effective brand design and are they effective in achieving improved customer purchasing behaviour?

1.8 Research hypothesis

H0: Brand design creates a positive impact on customer purchasing behaviour in the UK retail industry.

H1: Brand design creates a negative impact on customer purchasing behaviour in the UK retail industry.

1.9 Dissertation structure

Chapter 1: Introduction

The specific chapter introduces the topic chosen for the present study. The chapter includes the background of the research, where the past findings of the subject are evaluated.

Chapter 2: Literature Review

The literature of the past authors is evaluated in the present chapter. Herein, with the help of critical approach, the researcher would conduct gap analysis on the existing literatures.

Chapter 3: Research methodology

All the research paradigms are discussed in the present chapter. Herein, the researcher would discuss the research methods that can be undertaken to gather sufficient details about the research subject.

Chapter 4: Findings and analysis

The present chapter is divided into two parts. The first part illustrates the quantitative findings with the support of relevant tables and graphs. The qualitative data would be evaluated in the descriptive format, where the transcripts of the industry professionals would be further linked with secondary information for data authenticity purpose.

Chapter 5: Conclusion and recommendations

After triangulating the primary and secondary subject an effort would be made by the researcher to derive an authentic conclusion. Additionally, based on the identified gaps, suitable recommendations would be suggested that would serve a benefit to the chosen company to improve its customer purchasing behaviour with suitable brand designing strategies.

 

Chapter 2

Literature review

2.0 Introduction

The present chapter investigates different previous literature with regards to recognising the impact brand design creates on customers’ purchasing behaviours in the UK market. To authenticate the present context, a range of studies and researches of the previous authors have been evaluated. In the existing chapter, effacing details regarding t impact brand design creates on customers’ purchasing behaviours in the UK market would be determined. With the assistance of the critical evaluation method, frequent initiatives have been followed to identify how far the UK customers’ purchasing habits are influenced by the designs chosen by the brands. The researcher in the existing chapter would determine the research subject with indifferent opinions of several scholars. The critical analysis approach would support the researcher to identify the gaps related to the present subject analysis, based on which strategic alternatives would be recommended. Thus, relative initiatives have been taken to compare and contrast the indifferent opinions of the authors made over the present topic. Moreover, in the present chapter an argumentative approach has been followed to understand the initiatives taken by M&S towards its brands design to improve customers’ reactions. Further, the evaluation would be done with the help of suitable frameworks. With the support of previously mentioned approach, several theoretical platforms would be created depending on which several research activities would be performed.

2.1 Significance of brand design process in current competitive scenario

In the circumstance of the similar statement, Ahmad and Thyagaraj (2015) mentioned that branding often helps an organisation to differentiate its products in the market from its competitors. Effective branding uplifts the product lines of any organisation from being just one commodity amongst several identical commodities, to derive a unique value in the market (Alkilani et al. 2013). It has been identified that a brand design often tends to create an emotional resonance over the consumers who selects the products and services using both emotional and pragmatic judgements.

Against the previous content, Chao et al. (2015) asserted that customers purchasing decisions often get influenced by product quality besides brand designs. For example, different retails giants like Tesco, ASDA, etc. had experienced high customer switchover rate due to its degraded product and service quality. In the background of the previous context, Choi and Ahluwalia (2013) determined that customer’s judge the product quality offered by the organisations which has a strong brand presence in the market. Therefore, it is very important for the retail brands in the UK market to form a strong brand design to create an indifferent identity in the market.

Juntunen et al. (2011) mentioned that retail industry occupies a vital part of the UK economy. However for the UK customers, shopping has become a foremost leisure activity. Fashion has been identified as one of the primary component for retail industry in the present scenario. According to Ju-Pak (2013), the brands operating in the UK retail industry had to adjust to the frequently changing needs and buying habits of the customers. The evolving fashion trends have enforced different challenges towards the fashion brands.

Brand loyalty signifies to customer preferences towards the product of a particular brand. In the similar context, Lee et al. (2011) mentioned that customers believe that the popular brands offer the feasible features, images and standard quality at the right price. It has been inferred that the belief and faith of customers are leading to become a base for new purchasing habits. It has been assessed that majority of the fashion brands focus on its marketing strategies to catch the attention of a particular customer base that expects a differentiated strategy from the chosen brands. Luk et al. (2013) mentioned that in simple words brand design could be termed as the policies followed by an organisation to attract the target customers through diverse means of marketing techniques like advertisements and logos. With the support of the brand designs, the organisations intend to maintain a stronger relationship with the customers for a longer period.

In the context of the similar statement, Mulyanegara (2011) determined that presently the social media platforms are widely used to enrich the brand present in the UK market. The fashion brads like M&S, Zara, etc. are targeting the younger generation in the UK market. Therefore, the brands are designs are per the preferred trends and styles of the younger generation. Therefore, the social networking sites are presently embraced by the UK fashion retailers to wide cater its product and brand implications on the target segment.  On the other hand, MarTech (2017) asserted that there is high probability of negative word of mouth communication on the social networking platforms. This can substantially ruin the image of a brand. However,  Ju-Pak (2013) mentioned that the target segments consider the social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, etc to be the useful source of information, therefore, the brands are taking risks of creating a separated brand page in the specific platforms to increase its brand reach and influence the customers’ purchasing decisions.

2.2 Factors affecting customer purchasing behaviour

The factors affecting customers purchasing behaviours are as follow:

Marketing campaigns

Advertisement plays a considerable role in influencing the purchasing behaviours of the consumers in the UK market. In the frame work of the present statement, Olsen and Lanseng (2012) claimed that advertisements are determined to bring greater shifts in the market shares of the brands that manage to attract greater customers base towards its products. In the divergence of the previous statement, Rappaport (2008) asserted that the advertisement is an influencing factor that interests the customers regarding the products. However, the final decision depends on the quality of the chosen products. According to Richard and Bagozzi (2011), the Marketing campaigns are conducted on a regular basis often tends to influence not only consumers’ purchasing decisions but also loyalty for a longer duration. As per the statement of Richard et al. (2010), advertising campaigns if undertaken at persistent intervals always influence the customers to recall the brand when though of any related products.

Economic conditions

Customers’ spending behaviours are majorly affected by the economic situation prevailing in the UK market (Roy and Banerjee, 2007).  It has been identified that a positive economic condition often intends to make target audience more confident and excited to indulge in product purchases despite the personal financial liabilities. Diverging the latter context, Schneider et al. (2013) argued that the UK customers have become exclusively typical regarding product purchase, hence, despite improved economic situations, the customers initially researches to understand the values that can be derived from the products and based on which the purchasing decisions are made. Additionally, Shashikala and Suresh (2013) stated that today’s customers set a list of preferences, depending on which products are purchased.

Personal choices

In the circumstance of the present statement, Vazifehdoost (2014) asserted that at a personal level, customers’ purchasing behaviours in the UK market are influenced by several shades of likes, dislikes, value, moral and priorities.  In some of the sectors like fast food, FMCG (Fast Moving Consumer Goods) and fashion and apparels, the personal choices of the segments are about style and trends (Mulyanegara, 2011). Thus, it has been assessed that in the apparel industry the trend, style and fun are the prevailing factors that influence customers’ purchasing behaviours in the UK market.

Group influence

Chao et al. (2015) suggested that group influence considerable influences the decision making behaviours of the customers in the UK market. In the specific context, Lee et al. (2011) advised that UK population are highly influenced by word of mouth actions. Therefore, group influence is relatively greater in the UK market than the other regions. Therefore, the UK customers get influenced by the chief groups like classmates, friends, family members, relative and neighbours.  Progressing with the previous content, Luk et al. (2013) determined that the specific purchasing attitude of the UK customers turn in support of the older brands that had already created brand loyalty over the older generations.

Purchasing power

The consumers determine the individual purchasing capacity before forming any purchasing decision. Shashikala and Suresh (2013) discussed that products lines of a might be excellent, but in case it fail to mitigate the customers’ purchasing ability; it might hold back the sales growth of the brand. It has been understood that customers’ purchasing behaviours are directly affected by individual earnings (Roy and Banerjee, 2007).  Hence it has been observed that despite having a fascination towards the premium brands, certain customers stick back to the local brands due to insufficient purchasing power. Therefore, it is explicitly important for the retail enterprises in the UK market to segment its product lines as per the affordability of the target market.

2.3 Impact brand design creates on customer purchasing behaviour at M&S

The impact of M&S’ brand design is discussed below:

Branding through individual online platform

In 2013, M&S introduced its individual online flagship, M&S.com to brand its products lines before greater target audience. In the frame work of the present statement, Luk et al. (2013) mentioned that before launching the flagship, M&S used to display its products in Amazon’s portals. However, to create a flexible and powerful platform, the management of the b rand has planned to create individual flagship to accomplish continuous improvement by getting the support of right skills and innovation (Richard and Bagozzi, 2011). It has been observed that due to convenience and flexibility, the online sales of the brand has risen by 23% (corporate.marksandspencer.com, 2017). In the similar context, Vazifehdoost (2014) stated that customers seem to have enjoyed the shopping from mobiles, laptops and tablets, which encouraged the brand to increase its sales on a random basis. On the other hand, Chao et al. (2015) examined the negative perspectives of the online flagship, where various customers have complained about receiving products of degraded quality and over sized. The discrepancy of M&S is providing an indirect opportunity to its rivals to remould its potential customers and convert straight away.

Click and collect-in-store

In 2015, M&S planned to incorporate the click and collect-in-store strategy, where the customers can already select a product online and collect it from physical outlets after verifying the size and quality (Econsultancy, 2017). It has been identified that a survey conducted by Econsultancy reflects that 63% of customers in that particular year had bought a product online and collected in-store. In the context of the present statement, Vazifehdoost (2014) mentioned that reserve-and-collect services have become essentially important for e-commerce as well physical retailers as consumers increasingly expect to be able to pick up the purchases just after selection. The similar survey further details that the ratio for click and collect-in-store preference is greater amongst the US customers than that of UK, but the retailers are imposing various innovation to evolve the strategy further (Econsultancy, 2017). The survey result also claims that in 2013, 40% of UK customers have adopted the collect-in-store options. However, the ratio has increased by 20% in the next year (Econsultancy, 2017). Therefore, the specific policy has also helped the UK customers to select the product from M&S.com and verify the products from the physical outlets.

Browse and order hubs in store

M&S allows its users to browse the catalogue or scan barcodes and explore product based information (Econsultancy, 2017). Customers are permitted with the authority of choosing the order on the device and collect at a later date or have the product delivered. As per the statement of Luk et al. (2013), the specific strategy is taken to familiarise the offline customers with the M&S online catalogue, which is considered to be a smart move as M&S has 6 million customers that have never used its website before. Thus, it has been inferred that the customers have found the process interesting enough to visit even its online platform and to purchase selected products through collect-in-store policy. Thus, Vazifehdoost (2014) examined that M&S’ branding strategies are all interlined, which even promotes the other strategies.

2.4 Issues faced by M&S regarding customer purchasing behaviour

Website shutdown

Marks & Spencer’s customers had preferred purchasing apparels from other online portals since after logging into the personal online accounts the customers had to find other users’ personal details (Mail Online, 2017). The London-based retailer, which has more than 1,300 stores globally had been bound to temporarily suspended its website while the ‘technical issue’ was investigated. However, the management had strongly of been hacked. Ahmad and Thyagaraj (2015) mentioned that M&S’ customers found it unsafe to continue purchasing products through its online portals. The customers claimed to find the details and confidential information like name, banking details, address, etc. of other customers while logging into individual accounts. It has been observed that M&S’ technical issue had affected 800 customers and claimed of imposing quick measures to resolve the problem (Wood and Farrell, 2017). In the circumstance of the similar statement, Vazifehdoost (2014) denoted that the management of the brand had provided written confirmation to every affected customer and ensured of having the financial details safe. In the similar statement, Ahmad and Thyagaraj (2015) mentioned that the customers claimed that the management has ensured of the account being safe after the being affected. Therefore, the customers are not considerably convinced by the apology of the management.  M&S customers posted messages on the high street chain’s Facebook page to alert it to the data breach (Llopis, 2014).

Decline in clothing sales

It has been identified that Marks & Spencer has suffered its relative fall in clothing sales since the year 2008 (Wood and Farrell, 2017). The brand has experienced a decline by 8.9% in the clothing and home product sales in the last Christmas. In the circumstance of the similar statement, Ahmad and Thyagaraj (2015) claimed that M&S’s clothing prices ranges have been excessive high and promotional with the shoppers prompt to wait for special offers before purchasing. It has been identified that last year more than 40% of its apparels were sold on promotion. However, the customers complained that the brand had focused more on a promotion that the product quality (Lieu, 2011). Therefore, the majority of its products were sold of degraded quality, which enforces the customers to purchase relative products of the same price from different brands. In the similar instance, Ahmad and Thyagaraj (2015) determined that M&S’ revenue figures were compounded by embarrassment when M&S had been forced to issue a second stock exchange announcement of getting some of its sales figures wrong. Rather than increasing the figure by 1.3%, group sales were decreased by 0.4% (Wood and Farrell, 2017). It has been determined that the sales number, which has been adjusted for currency fluctuations, also went wrong.

Challenges in the clothing section

As per the statement of Olsen and Lanseng (2012), Marks and Spencer have become the brand of contrasts. The food and drink division of the brand has been performing resolutely while its fashions segment is facing relative problems. The customers have claimed to trust the food section of the brand but not the fashion division (Luk et al. 2013). The customers also provided feedbacks of less availability f products in the fashion segment. It has been identified that the supermarket section of M&S is comprised of +48 stocks as compared to +41 for fashion segment. Inference can be drawn from the previous content that the product department of fashion units somehow failed to understand the recent trends. Against the latter statement, Olsen and Lanseng (2012) claimed that that the customers are relatively satisfied with the trends of the apparels. However, the brand has failed to maintain the quality of the products. Since greater complaints were registered against its degraded product quality.

2.5 Recommendations to improve brand design for M&S

Improving fashion section

In the framework of the present statement, Ahmad and Thyagaraj (2015) stated that it is very important for the management of the brand to improve the fashion segment. As discussed before, the fashion segment of the brand is falling with the passing phase of time. However, the growth in the food division is increasing comparatively. Therefore, it is very important of M&S to improve the purchase and the control unit. Vazifehdoost (2014) determined that various past researcher has examined that the raw materials and the final products are not examined effectively and realised in the market. Therefore, the majority of the complaints were registered against the degraded quality of the apparels (Lieu, 2011). Therefore, the control units required checking on the finished goods before releasing in the market. This can help the brand to increase the customers experienced and thereby, increasing the retention ratio.

Product availability

Ahmad and Thyagaraj (2015) asserted that he products availability had been another issue, which the customers of M&S faced in the UK market. It has been identified that the customers initially received a wrong product when ordered from the online portals. Even when the customers preferred altering the defective products with a better version, there lies issue with the product availability (Wood and Farrell, 2017). Thus, the customers seem to switch into other brands offering better service at the similar range. Hence, besides improving product quality, M&S also require increasing its stock in the fashion segment to create a positive customer experience in the UK market.

Advanced technology

The customers also gained a negative impression of the brand due to a technical issue on the website, where the customers were able to watch the personal account details of the other customers (Luk et al. 2013). Therefore, it is very important for the brand to imply an advanced ERP (Enterprise resource planning) system to resolve the technical issues and ensure a safety system to the customers (Wood and Farrell, 2017). Moreover, the brand also requires improving the communication medium, which signifies that M&S’ CRM (Customer Relationship Management) unit needs to be trained. Since, the customers claimed to receive communication regarding he technical issues after a longer period of registering complaints (Fiorella, 2012). This reflects the laidback attitude of its CRM unit. Thus, even after receiving confirmation of safety, the brand failed to reduce its customer switchover rate due to late response. Ahmad and Thyagaraj (2015) mentioned that the customers had not found safe to maintain an online account with the brand, which fails response to the customers’ queries even during a severe issue.

2.6 Conceptual framework

Figure 3: Conceptual Framework

The marketing campaign, economic conditions, personal choices, group influence and purchasing power are the independents variable. The above factors create a brand influence on the customers based on which the purchasing decisions are made. Therefore, customers preferences and purchasing behaviour are the dependent variables.

2.7 Summary

The chapter discusses the significance of the brand design in the UK retail market to convince the customers to maintain brand loyalty. It has been identified in the chapter that effective branding uplifts the product lines of any organisation from being just one commodity amongst several identical commodities, to derive a unique value in the market. The further chapter claims that design often tends to create an emotional resonance over the consumers who selects the products and services using both emotional and pragmatic judgements. Latter, effective factors have been explored that encouraged the UK retails brands to convince the customers through effective branding policies. Moreover, the impact of M&S’ brand design on its customer purchasing design has been figure out herein. Additionally, in the latter half of the chapter, the issues M&S has faced related to customers’ purchasing behaviour has been figured out effectively. On the basis of the identified shortcoming, strategic initiatives have been recommended to improve the brand design and customer experience. The dependent and independent factor have been identified and discussed in the form of the conceptual framework in the current chapter.


Chapter 3

Research methodology

3.0 Introduction

The present chapter introduces the research paradigms chosen by the researchers to conduct the data collection process with regards to the impact of brand design on customer purchasing behaviours in the UK retail market. The validations behind the chosen paradigms are explained in the specific chapters. The researchers would initially provide a glimpse of the research methods, and latter would explain the utility of the methods in detail. The project elaborates a background behind the selection of positivism, deductive and descriptive parameters.

3.1 Research Proposition

The research proposition would explain the chosen set of research parameters. In the present project, the researcher has chosen positivism philosophy, deductive research approach and descriptive research design to justify the essence of the research subject. The consideration of the selected parameters will facilitate the researcher in detailing the subject thoroughly. To conduct a free and fair data collection process, the researcher has chosen to conduct a simple random sampling process, where 70 customers of M&S have been surveyed to gather the quantitative data. On the other hand, to gather effective qualitative details, the researcher planned to interview five brand managers of M&S. However, the study includes both the primary and the secondary subjects. The secondary information is gathered from the relevant sources like books, journals, etc. Further, for the data authenticity purpose, the primary and secondary information is triangulated. For the sake of data security, certain ethical considerations are followed.

3.2 Research Philosophy

The popular forms of research philosophy are positivism, realism and interpretive. In the background of the similar statement, Lim and Ting (2013) determined that realism depends on the subjects that are derived from the human senses. On the other hand, interpretive philosophy is reliable more on human believes actions, attitudes, perceptions and point of view. Therefore, the chances of data validation are less with the above aspects. Therefore, the majority of the researchers prefer choosing the positivism philosophy due to its scientific nature (Hirsh, 2008).

Positivism often assists a researcher to understand the social aspects of customer demands, behaviour, motivation and decision making approach. Therefore, it has been assessed that the present study is a social aspect, which has been easily satisfied with the effective scientific approach. Thus, positivism philosophy is perfect to understand how the purchasing behaviours of UK customers get influenced by brand design. According to Maistrenko (2015), the conclusion derived from realism philosophy is incorrect in nature as it is based human perceptions. Hence, the selection of positivism has supported the researcher in a systematic data collection process. This has effectively helped the researcher to understand how far M&S has managed to create a positive impact on the customers’ purchasing behaviour through its brand design. The positivism philosophy has directed the researcher to triangulate both the primary and secondary data and to derive a logical conclusion. Therefore, the researcher in this present study has adopted effective scientific techniques to understand how M&S managed to convince its UK customers to have positive purchasing decision towards its brand.

3.3 Research Approach

The research approach has identified two paradigms, namely inductive and deductive. In the framework of the present statement, Maistrenko (2015) asserted that the inductive research approach is required when a researcher has the intention of establishing new theories. Since inductive research approach deals with developing fresh theories. On the other hand, Thomas (2015) stated that the deductive approach is considered by the majority of the researchers, since, it is used to test the existing theories. In the similar instance, Lim and Ting (2013) stated that due to the specific nature of the deductive approach, it is considered as a waterfall model. In the present study, the subject demands an approach that helps to understand the feasibility of the past literature and theories. Therefore, the researcher has considered the deductive approach over inductive. It has been inferred that the selection of the specific approach has been effective for the researcher to find out and test the suitable theory that mitigates the present context of the research.

As per the consideration of Maistrenko (2015), the inductive approach is inappropriate methods as it developed new theories without conducting any proper observation. On the other hand, the deductive approach tends to observe the framed objectives and questions, based on which the secondary analysis is performed. Therefore, the chosen approach leads to test the research objectives and questions based on which effective information are gathered to figure out how the brand design in UK retail market manage to influenced customers’ purchasing behaviour. The brand design policies adopted by M&S to drawn the attention level of its customers have been evaluated with the help of present approach.

3.4 Research Design

The research design involves two key aspects, which are descriptive, exploratory and explanatory. In the similar subject, Sekaran and Bougie (2013) determined that each of the designs carry individual importance, which serve to be useful for different purposes. In the similar circumstance, Thomas (2015) mentioned that both the explanatory and exploratory are used to collect background information to describe the theoretical terms, developing research objectives, examining the problems and hypothesis testing. As per Lim and Ting (2013), the above characteristics of the designs are effective to derive research findings but are not sufficient to conduct the critical analysis. On the other hand, the descriptive research design derives findings after determining the aspects like who, what, when, how, why and where (Hirsh, 2008). To include the above characteristics in the present study, the researcher has selected the descriptive design to understand the concept how brands design in the UK market has created a positive or negative impact on the customers’ purchasing behaviours.

The consideration of the descriptive research design has supported the researcher to collect background information related to the research. This information include designing process of UK retails brands, characteristics followed while designing the brand, customers persuasion strategies through brand designs and ease for the UK retails brands to retain its potential prospects through effective brand identity and designs. The overall background information has helped the researcher to examine the policies undertaken by Marks and Spencer in the UK market to derive better customers’ experiences. This evaluation has automatically helped the researcher to derive an understanding that the customers are attracted towards the brand designs and its recognition. This specific attitude has also facilitated M&S to retain its customer’s trust and loyalty. Thus, with the help of descriptive research design, the researcher has identified the techniques used by M&S to design its brand to retain its customers’ purchasing designs in the UK market.

3.5 Research Strategy

Experiment, survey and case study are the primary components of research strategy (Sekaran and Bougie, 2013). Considering the nature of the present topic, the researcher has chosen the survey methods to justify the essence of the topic. Herein, M&S’ customer base have been considered under the quantitative sample size. Therefore, the researcher has demeanour survey session with the respondent to gather a precise set of primary data by forwarding a set of the questionnaire in the personal mail ids. The gathered findings have assisted the researcher in gathering primary data in the figurative format, which resulted in timely data collection process. The survey strategy has helped the researcher to find out the reactions of M&S’ potential customers with respect to its service and brand design. The research strategy even partially follows the case study approach, since, the findings are also derived through secondary analysis besides primary. The corporate information is gathered and evaluated to justify the case study approach and the research essence.

3.6 Data Type

Waite (2011) asserted that data types are of two different types, primary and secondary. The primary data in this present study is collected via two formats, quantitative and qualitative. In the context of the present statement, Sekaran and Bougie (2013) mentioned that the primary data are raw in nature, as it is collected from direct sources. Therefore, the researchers often take the help of primary data in order to gather information through the figurative format. The data collected through quantitative method can be illustrated through tables and graphs. This helps the researcher to derive some partial findings. On the other hand, the researcher also follows the qualitative data to find out detail industry scenario. According to Lim and Ting (2013), the industry experts are often included in the methods to gather detail corporate information. Therefore, the researcher in this study has strategized to collect the qualitative details from the brand managers of Marks and Spencer of UK branch. In the similar instance, Sekaran and Bougie (2013) determined that primary subject are not proven facts. Therefore, the findings derived explicitly from primary data are inapt in nature.

Thus, for the purpose of data feasibility, the researcher has also conducted the secondary data collection techniques in order to understand the past proven literature. In the opinion of Lim and Ting (2013), the secondary information is past proven literature that are theoretically and academically proved by the experts. The information is frequently gathered from reliable sources like journals, books, magazines, corporate sites, etc. The combination of both the primary and the secondary data has helped the researcher to find out the impact of the brand design of UK retailers on its customers’ purchasing behaviours.

3.7 Data Collection

Based on the ease of data accessibility, the researcher has conducted the data collection method. Waite (2011) denoted that data collection method shall be undertaken as per the time frame. In the present study, the data has been collected in both primary and secondary format.

The primary data are collected in the form of quantitative and qualitative format. To collect the quantitative data, the researcher has framed a set of the questionnaire as per the research objectives and forwarded the questionnaire to the personal mail ids of the quantitative respondents. The respondents have been provided with a specific period to fill the questionnaire as per individual perceptions and return it in time. On the other hand, the qualitative data are collected via interview format. The researcher has set an appointment with the brand managers of M&S to find out the brand design techniques followed by the brand to create positive purchasing behaviour in the UK market. The managers are convinced to find out a convenient time for a personal interview session. This has helped the researcher to find out the essence of the study through detail corporate information.

The secondary information is gathered through various secondary sources like books, journals, magazines, e-library, internet articles and corporate websites. Considering the statement of Waite (2011), the journal has been considered to be the dependable sources, as several other scholars review its content. However, in the present study, the researcher has not derived much utility from the past journals, as the information is considerably backdated, which failed to justify the subject of the present research title. The similar has been with the case of books and magazines. However, matter received from e-library are latest but failed to highlight the strategies used by the UK retail brands in its brand design purposes. Finally, the internet served to be a potent source, which helped the researcher to receive update information relating to the brand design policies followed by M&S and the other retail marketers to influence better customer purchasing decision in the market.

 3.8 Data analysis plan

The data analysis method has been planned by considering the nature of data type. In the framework of the existing subject, Waite (2011) stated that it is comparatively easier to measure the quantitative subjects than the qualitative detail. As he qualitative details are descriptive in nature, therefore, the subjects cannot be quantified. The feedbacks gathered from the customers for the quantitative analysis has been maintained in the MS Excel and calculated in the similar sheet. Each of the respondents has been allotted with percentage based on which the tables and graphs have been framed. The illustration has helped the researcher to derive partial findings. Thus, te researcher has also included the qualitative data collection method to strengthen the foundation of the research work.  Since the qualitative details are descriptive in format; hence, it has been kept in an elaborative manner. The qualitative detailed has been analysed following the descriptive format, and for data authentication, the findings are interlinked with the past literature. For the data accuracy, the researcher has followed a data triangulation effort, where the primary data have been linked with the secondary information of literature review.

3.9 Type of investigation

The investigation method has been followed by considering both the quantitative and qualitative subjects. The existing project is a social research, therefore, the findings can be easily derived with the support of the quantitative evaluation techniques. In the context of the present statement, Sekaran and Bougie (2013) asserted that quantitative method is feasible to justify any of the social contexts. Therefore, the researcher in the present study has considered the quantitative data analysis format to justify the subject matter of the research context.  Moreover, the researcher has managed to include the survey process, where the questionnaire would be distributed amongst wider ranges of respondents. The intention behind the above purpose was to collect indifferent opinions of the wider population in order to judge both the positive and negative side of the research context. Aligned to the research objectives, the researcher has formulated a set of questionnaire and forwarded the questionnaire in the personal mail ids of the respondents. The respondents have been provided with a specific period to fill the questionnaire and return with proper answers. In the present project, the use of quantified data has supported the researcher to gather substantial response that signifies how far the brand design in UK retail market influence the purchasing decision of the customers. The questions set in the questionnaire were restricted to M&S. Thus, the answers of the respondents were limited to M&S. This helped the researcher to explicitly focus on how far M&S has managed to influence its customers’ purchasing decisions with its brand design policies.

Since the qualitative details could not be measured; therefore, the researcher has focused effectively on its quality. The researcher has fixed an appointment with the brand managers of M&S to conduct a personal interview session to derive effective knowledge relating the research subject. It had been relatively tough for the researcher find out quality time from the managers. However, persistent follow-ups have finally helped the researcher to find out some free times. The feedbacks of the managers were descriptive but elaborative in nature. According to Thomas (2015), the brand managers are the industry experts. Thus, the nature of information would be much in-depth. Therefore, feedbacks of the managers have helped the researcher to gain some internal information, which automatically uplifted the quality of research work. Thus, the researcher has enabled to derive genuine findings regarding the how the brand design policies of M&S has influenced its customers’ purchasing behaviours.

3.10 Sample Size

The sample size is considered keeping in mind the time frame. As per the statement of Thomas (2015), substantial sample size consumes excessive time. However, sample size below 35 can raise an ethical issue. Therefore, the researcher has wanted to consider the entire customer base of M&S under the population size; however, only 85 customers have been interested in participating in the survey session.  Out of which, only 70 customers were convinced to fill the questionnaire and return in time. Therefore, the quantitative sample size for the project is 70.

Total seven brand managers were approached for the interview process. Conversely, the managers were too busy with the professional schedules, therefore, only five managers had managed to find out some free times for the face to face interview session. Moreover, the detail opinions of 5 managers were sufficient to satisfy the research subject. Therefore, the qualitative sample for the study was 5.

3.11 Sampling Technique

Probability and non-probability are the primary types of the sampling technique. According to Popping (2012), probability sampling provides equal chances to all respondents. However, the non-probability sampling considers few. In the present study, both the probability and non-probability sampling techniques are selected. The simple random sampling process is selected for the quantitative data collection purpose. It has not been possible for the researcher to individually interview all 70 respondents. Thus, the customers were selected randomly. Parajuli (2008) stated that random selection is a bias free process, as the customers are chosen randomly, hence, there is a high possibility that the gathered data are valid and genuine.

On the other hand, M&S’ managers were selected purposefully, thus, the non-probability technique is followed in this process. The managers had detailed knowledge of the organisation, therefore, discussion with few had helped the researcher to gain detail insight of the context.

3.12 Accessibility Issues:

The accessibility issue often enhances the complexities for the researcher in the data collection process (McGee, 2007).  It has been substantially difficult for the researcher to convince the managers to find out some free time for the personal interview session. The brand managers were explicitly busy with the hectic schedules; therefore, the researcher has to wait for a considerable period to find out time from the managers. The deadline for the project was too short, thus, in the qualitative data collection process; the researcher has wasted considerable time, which has hampered the followed remaining process. Moreover, it was difficult to interview each of the M&S’ customers, therefore, the researcher has chosen the survey method to manage the time wasted in the interview process. However, the customers found the questionnaire to be too lengthy to return it within time. However, present follow-ups have somewhat helped the researcher to receive the answered questionnaire and managed the accessibility issue.

3.13 Ethical Considerations:

In the background of the present context, McGee (2007) mentioned that ethical consideration often limits the likelihood of data manipulation and misinterpretations. Henceforth, the overall quality of the research work can be maintained effectively. The ethical policy creates a distinction between the acceptable and unacceptable behaviour, which helps the researchers to understand the principles to be followed while conducting the research work. Therefore, in the present work, the researcher has not manipulated any of the gathered data. The internal information received from the managers is not disclosed to any of the third parties. Moreover, the corporate details have been maintained with all confidential measures, thus, not leaked in any public forum. Moreover, the questionnaire has been set as per the sentiment of the society. The personal details of the customers were kept confidential. Both the qualitative and quantitative details are collected exclusively for the research purpose and have been destroyed soon after its completion. Finally, every customer has been provided with a common platform to share the individual views in a free manner.

3.14 Limitations:

The collection of latest secondary details has been the major limitation of the project. The information received from reliable sources was all backdates, therefore, the secondary data collection process was relatively time to consume. Furthermore, the research title centres on the impact of M&S’ brand on its customers’ purchasing behaviours. However, it was much difficult to find precise and updated information related to M&S’ brand design and its customers’ reaction towards its effort. However, finally, the internet articles have helped the researcher to receive some updated information to justify the subject matter. Moreover, the responses of the managers were based on biases, since, the managers have not spoken any negative side of the brand. Thus, data triangulation has been effective to overcome the limitation.

3.15 Timeframe

Refer to appendix for the table:

Every activity has been assigned to a single week for completion. In the 1st, the title has been selected. The researcher has framed research objectives in the 2nd weed, based on which secondary details are gathered in the similar week. Research parameters were set in the 3rd week. Depending on which, the quantitative and qualitative responses are collected in the 4th and 5th weeks. In the final week, the conclusion is derived, and suitable alternatives are recommended based on the identified gaps.


Chapter 4

Findings and analysis

4.0 Introduction

The data accumulation from the selected samples has been illustrated in the existing section. Conversely, the data illustration is done explicitly for the quantitative data as qualitative details have been collected in a descriptive format.  The previous feedbacks are illustrated through tables and graphs, and consequently the findings are derived from the same. The findings will further assist the reader to be conscious of the probable conclusion of the project.

On the other hand, the qualitative information would be elaborated in the same manner as it has been collected from the experts. Since, the details are descriptive in format, thus, cannot be measured.

Quantitative questions:

  1. Are you brand conscious?

Table 1: Customers ‘opinion on brand consciousness

Options Frequency Total Respondents % Response
Yes 34 70 49%
No 26 70 37%
Neutral 10 70 14%

Figure: Customers ‘opinion on brand consciousness

Findings and analysis

The responses received from the chosen samples were indifferent in nature. However, the majority of the respondents were in the favour of the present subject. 49% of the samples have agreed of being brand conscious in the present period. On the other hand, 37% of the respondents have stated of not being brand conscious and purchase products based on its quality. Lastly, 14% of the respondents have preferred being neutral.

The total feedbacks states that majority of the customers in the present period are brand conscious. Therefore, the customers have already generated loyalty towards the existing brands, therefore, prefer purchasing the products from the preferred brands. To justify the previous context, Choi and Ahluwalia (2013) determined that customer’s judge the product quality offered by the organisations which has a strong brand presence in the market (refer to section 2.1). Therefore, it is very important for the retail brands in the UK market to form a strong brand design to create an indifferent identity in the market.  Against the latter statement, Chao et al. (2015) besides brand identity customers often judge products by its qualities (refer to section 2.1). Various popular retailers like Tesco, ASDA, etc has already experienced high customer switchover rate for its degraded product and service quality. Conversely, since the survey report indicates that majority of the customers are brand conscious, therefore, it can be inferred that customers purchasing decisions are little biased towards brand identity.

  1. Do you have any specific brand preference from your apparels?

Table 2: Customers’ preference towards brand for apparels

Options Frequency Total Respondents % Response
Yes 30 70 43%
No 24 70 34%
Neutral 16 70 23%

Figure: Customers’ preference towards brand for apparels

 

Findings and analysis

In the context of the present subject, the respondents have provided mixed responses. Majority feedbacks of the samples have supported the present context. 43% of the samples have agreed to have preference towards a specific brand for apparels. 34% of samples have claimed of not having any specific brand preference for apparels. On the other hand, 23% of respondents have preferred being neutral on the specific subject.

The gathered opinions indicates that the majority of the respondents have definite preference towards brands for the apparel products. In the circumstance of the similar statement, Ju-Pak (2013), the brands operating in the UK retail industry had to adjust to the frequently changing needs and buying habits of the customers (refer to section 2.1). The evolving fashion trends have enforced different challenges towards the fashion brands. Moreover, Lee et al. (2011) mentioned that customers believe that the popular brands offer the feasible features, images and standard quality at the right price (refer to section 2.1). Hence, it could be inferred from the previous statements that in the UK fashion industry, customers generate trust and faith based on the brand identity and design. Moreover, customers are getting more typical with the fashion products and prefer purchasing products from organized retail stores to maintain its proclaim society status. Therefore, majority of the purchasing decision of the UK customers for the fashion apparels are inclined towards brand name rather on product quality.

  1. Do your purchasing intention vary with brand design?

Table 3: Influence of brand design on customers’ purchasing intention

Options Frequency Total Respondents % Response
Highly agree 22 70 31%
Agree 15 70 21%
Neutral 9 70 13%
Disagree 13 70 19%
Highly disagree 11 70 16%

Figure: Influence of brand design on customers’ purchasing intention

 

Findings and analysis

31% of the respondents are of the opinion that the purchasing decision considerably vary as per brand design. 21% of the samples have just agreed to the fact. On the other hand, 19% of the samples have disagreed to existing subject and claimed of not getting influence by the brand design.

The collective opinions of the customers signify that the purchasing intention of maximum customers varies with its brand design. Lee et al. (2011) asserted that majority of the UK retails brands are following the different marketing policies in order to differentiate its brand name and designs to attract the potential prospects in the UK market (refer to section 2.1).  In the similar context, Luk et al. (2013) mentioned that in simple words brand design could be termed as the policies followed by an organisation to attract the target customers through diverse means of marketing techniques like advertisements and logos (refer to section 2.1). Therefore, it can be understood that with the support of the brand designs, the organisations intend to maintain a stronger relationship with the customers for a longer period. Furthermore, it could be identified that the companies are designing its brands as per the preferences of the present customers. As a result, different UK retail enterprises promote its brand design on the social networking sites. Mulyanegara (2011) determined that presently the social media platforms are widely used to enrich the brand present in the UK market (refer to section 2.1).

  1. Tick on the following factors that affect your purchase for apparels

Table 4: Factors that affect your purchase for apparels

Options Frequency Total Respondents % Response
Marketing campaigns 14 70 20%
Economic conditions 16 70 23%
Personal choices 13 70 19%
Group influence 18 70 26%
Purchasing power 9 70 13%

Figure: Factors that affect your purchase for apparels

 

Findings and analysis

In the context of the present subject, the chosen samples have provided diversified feedbacks. 26% of the respondents denoted group influence to be the major factor that affects customers’ purchasing decisions for apparels. Moreover, 23% of the respondents have reported for economic conditions and 20% of the sample believes marketing campaigns to be the major facts that affect purchasing decisions for the fashion products.

Inference can be drawn from the customers’ responses that group influence is the primary factor that creates a direct impact on customers’ purchasing intensions. When it comes to fashion products, the customers are considerably influenced by the work of mouth communication. The customers have the tendency to believe the feedbacks of the other customers with respect to a brand or any product. In the similar context, Chao et al. (2015) suggested that the UK customers get influenced by the chief groups like classmates, friends, family members, relative and neighbours (refer to section 2.2). It has been identified the group influence habits of the UK customers turns in favour of the older brands that has already managed to create a better identity in the UK market. Against the latter statement, Olsen and Lanseng (2012) claimed that advertisements are determined to bring greater shifts in the customers’ purchasing attitudes in the present days (refer to section 2.2). The advertisement generally interests the customers regarding the products. However, the final decision depends on the quality of the chosen products.

  1. Do you purchase M&S’ products for its brand name or for its quality?

Table 5: Reasons behind customers purchasing M&S’ products

Options Frequency Total Respondents % Response
Brand name 40 70 57%
Quality 30 70 43%

Figure: Reasons behind customers purchasing M&S’ products

 

Findings and analysis

The respondents have provided diversified respondents with regards to the present subject. 57% of the samples denoted brand name to be major reasons that drivers customers to prefer M&S over other brands in the UK market. On the other hand, 43% of samples claimed of purchasing products of M&s due to its product quality.

It could be inferred from the responses that majority of M&S’ customers prefer purchasing products due to its brand names. This means that M&S has considerably has managed to create a good brand reputation in the markets, which influenced greater customers loyalty than its competitors. Luk et al. (2013) mentioned that M&S allows its users to browse the catalogue or scan barcodes and explore product based information (refer to section 2.3). Customers are permitted with the authority of choosing the order on the device and collect at a later date or have the product delivered. It has been identified  that the M&S in the present time has managed to introduce various brand design initiatives, which made easier for the customers to even shop though its online portals. Vazifehdoost (2014) stated that customers seem to have enjoyed the shopping from mobiles, laptops and tablets, which encouraged the brand to increase its sales on a random basis (refer to section 2.3). However, Schneider et al. (2013) argued that the UK customers have become serious regarding apparel purchases, hence, despite brand reputations, UK customers initially researches to understand the values that can be derived from the products. Based on which the purchasing decisions are made. Thus, even the well reputed brands like M&S requires to have explicit focus on its product and service quality to retain its customers loyalty and goodwill.

  1. Are you satisfied with M&S’ products?

Table 6: Customers’ perceptions on M&S’ products

Options Frequency Total Respondents % Response
Highly satisfied 29 70 41%
Satisfied 13 70 19%
Neutral 8 70 11%
Dissatisfied 11 70 16%
Highly dissatisfied 9 70 13%

Figure: Customers’ perceptions on M&S’ products

Findings and analysis

The responses received from the chosen samples were different from one another. However, the feedbacks of majority of the samples were in support of the present subject. 41% of samples claimed of being highly satisfied with M&S’ products. 19% respondents were just satisfied with the product lines of M&S. Conversely, 16% of the respondents have contradicted the subject and reported of not being satisfies with its product offerings.

The overall responses of the respondents shows that majority of M&S’ customers are satisfied with its products. As per the feedbacks, besides the branding and marketing activities, M&S firmly looks over its product qualities and customer perceptions. For its potential customers, the brand has introduced browse and order hubs in store, where the customers are selects a product online and collect it from stores as per convenience. Luk et al. (2013) determined that browse and order hubs in store strategy is taken to familiarise the offline customers with the M&S online catalogue, which is considered to be a smart move as M&S has 6 million customers that have never used its website before (refer to section 2.3). Thus, it has been inferred that the customers have found the process interesting enough to visit even its online platform and to purchase selected products through collect-in-store policy.

7. What are the frequent issue you faced with M&S’ services?

Table 7: Issues customers faced in M&S’ services

Options Frequency Total Respondents % Response
Website shutdown 20 70 29%
Challenges in the clothing section 50 70 71%

Figure: Issues customers faced in M&S’ services

Findings and analysis

71% of the respondents have reported that challenges in the clothing section has been the frequent issue the customers face in M&S’ services. On the other hand, 29% have claimed that website shutdown is major issue the customers face in M & S’ services.

The responses of the customers signifies that majority of the customers believe that that challenges in the clothing section has been the major issue in M&S’ services. It has been identified that M&S has been considered as the brand of contrast. The food and beverage section of the brands has been performing relatively well, however, the customers are facing issue with its fashion segments. Luk et al. (2013) stated the customers also provided feedbacks of less availability f products in the fashion segment (section 2.4). It has been identified that the supermarket section of M&S is comprised of +48 stocks as compared to +41 for fashion segment. Inference can be drawn from the previous content that the product department of fashion units somehow failed to understand the recent trends. It has been observed that customers of M&S’ are not satisfied with its product lines and its designs. The design of the apparels is outdated, which failed to mitigate the recent trends. Therefore, M&S customers have claimed to trust the food section of the brand but not the fashion division (Luk et al. 2013, refer to section 2.4)

  1. Do you find M&S’ fashion segment getting stagnant with time?

Table 8: Customers’ opinion for M&S’ fashion segment

Options Frequency Total Respondents % Response
Highly agree 28 70 40%
Agree 14 70 20%
Neutral 8 70 11%
Disagree 11 70 16%
Highly disagree 9 70 13%

Figure: Customers’ opinion for M&S’ fashion segment

Findings and analysis

40% of the respondents highly agrees to the fact that M&S’ fashion segment getting stagnant with time. 20% of the respondents of the have just agreed to the fact that M&S’ fashion division is getting saturated with time and lagging in latest collection. However, 16% of samples have disagreed to the subject and claimed of being satisfied with M&S’ fashion collections.

The collective feedbacks of the respondents shows that the maximum percentages of M&S’ customers believes that its fashion segment is getting stagnant with time. Ahmad and Thyagaraj (2015) claimed that M&S’s clothing prices ranges have been excessive high and promotional with the shoppers prompt to wait for special offers before purchasing (refer to section 2.4). However, the customers complained that the brand had focused more on a promotion that the product quality. It has been identified that the majority of its customers believe the product benefits highlighted in the promotions are not true in reality. The quality standards are declining with times, therefore, the brands is continuously losing its customers base. Olsen and Lanseng (2012) claimed that that the customers are relatively satisfied with the trends of the apparels (refer to section 2.4). However, the brand has failed to maintain the quality of the products. Since greater complaints were registered against its degraded product quality.

  1. Are you a frequent user of M&S’ Click and collect-in-store service?

Table 9: Frequent user of M&S’ Click and collect-in-store service

Options Frequency Total Respondents % Response
Yes 32 70 46%
No 22 70 31%
Neutral 16 70 23%

Figure: Frequent user of M&S’ Click and collect-in-store service

Findings and analysis

The responses of the samples were of diversified in nature. Conversely, the majority of the feedbacks were in support of the existing context. 46% of the samples have denoted of being the frequent user of M&S’ Click and collect-in-store service. On the other hand, 31% of the respondents have contradicted the present subject. 23% of the respondents have preferred being neutral to the present subject.

Inference can be drawn from the gathered feedbacks that majority of the customers are the frequent users of M&S’ Click and collect-in-store service. It has been inferred that the customers likes the concept of selecting the products online and collecting the apparel from the store after judging its quality and sizes. M&S planned to incorporate the click and collect-in-store strategy, where the customers can already select a product online and collect it from physical outlets after verifying the size and quality (Econsultancy, 2017, refer to section 2.3). The specific service has interested the customers who generally avoid purchasing products online due to product discrepancies and wrong sizes. The survey result also claims that in 2013, 40% of UK customers have adopted the collect-in-store options. However, the ratio has increased by 20% in the next year (Econsultancy, 2017, refer to section 2.3). Therefore, the specific policy has also helped the UK customers to select the product from M&S.com and verify the products from the physical outlets.

  1. Does M&S’ branding through individual online platform influenced your purchasing behaviours?

Table 10: Impact of M&S’ branding through individual online platform on customers’ purchasing behaviours

Options Frequency Total Respondents % Response
Highly agree 30 70 43%
Agree 14 70 20%
Neutral 7 70 10%
Disagree 10 70 14%
Highly disagree 9 70 13%

 

Figure: Impact of M&S’ branding through individual online platform on customers’ purchasing behaviours

Findings and analysis

In the context of the present subject, the respondents have provided indifferent opinions.  Conversely, majority of the responses were inclined towards the support of the present subject.  43% of the samples have highly agreed to have increase purchase from M&S from its individual online platform. Moreover, 20% of the respondents have just agreed to subject. On the other hand, 14% of the have disagreed to the context and stated of not purchasing products from M&S’ individual online platform.

The gathered data infers that majority of M&S’ customers has increasing the purchase after the brands has introduced in online platform. It has been observed that the customers in the present days are highly inclined towards the ecommerce sites, therefore, M&S has also inditoduced its online platforms from where the customers can easily select the products and receive through online delivery system. The customers are of the opinion that the products available in the websites were far better that the physical outlets. Therefore, majority of the customers have shown interest in purchasing M&S’ apparels explicitly from its online platforms.  Luk et al. (2013) mentioned that before launching the flagship, M&S used to display its products in Amazon’s portals (refer to section 2.3). However, to create a flexible and powerful platform, the management of the brand has planned to create individual flagship to accomplish continuous improvement by getting the support of right skills and innovation. It has also been observed that online offerings has further helped the brand to increase its online sales by 23% (corporate.marksandspencer.com, 2017, refer to section 2.3).

  1. Tick on the following alternative which you want M&S to include for better services?

Table 11: Suitable alternatives for M&S to improve its service lines

Options Frequency Total Respondents % Response
Improving fashion section 14 70 20%
Product availability 26 70 37%
Advanced technology 30 70 43%

Figure: Suitable alternatives for M&S to improve its service lines

Findings and analysis

In the context of the existing subject, 43% of the respondents have denoted advanced technology to be the best recommended strategy M&S shall incorporate within its operation to improve its present service lines. On the other hand, 37% of the samples are of the opinion that product availability would be the best possible strategy that can help M&S to improve its service lines. Moreover, 20% of the respondents believe improving the fashion section would be the best effective effort by the brand to amplify its present service offerings and increase customers base in the UK market.

The feedbacks of  the respondents denote that majority of the customers have faced issues due to its ineffective technical services, therefore, the customers prefer the brand to improve its technical measures to provide better service offerings to the potential customers. In the circumstance of the similar context, Luk et al. (2013) mentioned the customers also gained a negative impression of the brand due to a technical issue on the website, where the customers were able to watch the personal account details of the other customers (refer to section 2.5).  The customers generally felt the online portal of the brand to be unsafe, where the confidential details of the other customers could be easily accessed. Moreover, the CRM department of the brand was relatively inefficient to resolve the issue. As per the statement of Fiorella (2012), the customers claimed to receive communication regarding he technical issues after a longer period of registering complaints (refer to section 2.5). This has caused M&S to expertise a high customers switchover rate in the UK market. Therefore, as per the opinions of the customers, the brand needs to work on its technical issues to retain the customers’ trusts.

  1. Will you prefer visiting M&S’ stores if the brand increases its collections?

Table 12: Customer’ frequency of visits with M&S’ increasing collections

Options Frequency Total Respondents % Response
Yes 39 70 56%
No 21 70 30%
Neutral 10 70 14%

 

Figure: Customer’ frequency of visits with M&S’ increasing collections

Findings and analysis

The reactions of the samples were different from one another. However, the opinions were in favour of the brand. 56% of the samples have respondent to increase its store visit if the fashion collections are increased. On the other hand, 30% of the samples have contradicted the subject. Finally, 14% of the respondents have preferred being neutral on the present context.

The reactions of the respondents reflect that M&S has still managed to retain the loyalty of its potential customers. Therefore, majority of the customers have agreed to purchase the fashion apparels if M&S manage to increase its collections. It has been observed that brand has been able to retain its customers for the supermarket segment, thus, it could be inferred that the similar sets of customers have already formed loyalty towards its supermarket sections. Moreover, the survey also highlighted another significant points that majority of M&S’ customers for supermarket division is female, which could be a potential lead for M&S for its fashion section.   Female customers easily get influenced by the clothes and apparel sections, hence, the similar customers can be easily converted for its fashion products once the collections are increased. Considering the statement of Olsen and Lanseng (2012) mentioned that the food and drink division of the brand has been performing resolutely while its fashions segment is facing relative problems (refer to section 2.4). On the other hand, the customers have shown a better loyalty towards M&S food and beverage sections but not on its fashion products due to its old collections (Luk et al. 2013, refer to section 2.4). Thus, the probability of getting better customers response with increasing fashion collection is high.


Qualitative questions:

  1. Do you consider brand design as an influential factor to derive customer purchasing intention?

All of the managers have agreed an influence of brand design towards purchasing intentions of the customers. However, all the managers have different viewpoint regarding degree of influence over the purchasing behaviour of the consumers. One manager has denied much influence of brand design of clothing and fashion accessories as customers’ purchasing decision is mainly influenced by purchasing power. According to this manager, the design of branded clothing does not yield higher intention of buying instead of high purchasing capacity of a customer can influence buying decision (section 2.2). However, three other managers have expressed positively for brand factor. Al of these managers believes that purchasing intention can be derived through design of a brand. This statement is justified in this context as Lee et al. (2011) has supported the concept by discussing influencing power of brand image for creating purchasing preference (in section 2.1). These managers have explained that customers’ preference to buy fashion products is inclined with brand image of a particular brand. Such type of preferences also creates brand loyalty among customers for high-end fashion. The last manager has stated that design of a brand has to change dynamically due to change in taste of the customers. Therefore, purchasing intention can influence brand design often due to change in taste and preferences. The statement is align with the researched conclusion of Ju-Pak (2013) where researcher clearly concluded about influence of changing customers’ habits in fashion industry on adjustment of brand designing.

  1. What according to you are major factors affecting customer purchasing intention in your brand?

In the context of the similar statement, 2 of the managers of M&S believe that purchasing power of the customers has been the major factor that majorly affecting purchasing intention for the products of the brand. It has been observed that customers’ purchasing behaviour is directly influenced by its income statement. To justify the previous statement, Shashikala and Suresh (2013) discussed that products lines of a might be excellent, but in case it fail to mitigate the customers’ purchasing ability; it might hold back the sales growth of the brand (refer to section 2.2). The managers further explained that majority of the customers rejects the fashion garments after looking at the price tags. It means that the customers’ incomes are not definite to afford the high price range of the products. The second manager of the brand believes personal choices to be the primary factor behind customers’ purchase intentions for apparels. In the similar context, Mulyanegara (2011) specified that that in the apparel industry the trend, style and fun are the prevailing factors that influence customers’ purchasing behaviours in the UK market (refer to section 2.2). It has been identified that every customer has individual dress code preference, which likely matches to the preferences of few of the customers. Therefore, the fashion brands like M&S some manage to identify the fashion trends and put effort to keep collections of the preferred dress codes. In the circumstance of the present statement, Vazifehdoost (2014) asserted that at a personal level, customers’ purchasing behaviours in the UK market are influenced by several shades of likes, dislikes, value, moral and priorities (refer to section 2.2). The opinion of 3rd managers is inclined towards marketing campaigns. The manager stated customers’ reactions changes with every promotions, therefore, marketing campaign is the major factor influencing customers’ demand for fashion products. It has been observed that aadvertisement plays a considerable role in influencing the purchasing behaviours of the consumers in the UK retail market., Olsen and Lanseng (2012) claimed that advertisements are determined to bring greater shifts in the market shares of the brands that manage to attract greater customers base towards its products (refer to section 2.2). The managers further started that if marketing can be done on persistent internals, the customers purchasing decisions for M&S products can be relatively influenced. Lastly, the 5th managers’ denoted group influences to be responsible behind customers’ purchase intentions. The manager explained that customers’ purchasing intention for almost all FMCG products are influenced on either word of mouth communication or group interactions.

  1. How far your brand designs has impacted on your customers’ purchasing behaviours?

In this context, the first manager has depicted that branding through official online platform, which is dedicated to the business, can grow revenue. It depicts the truth that individual framework of online promotion of products can eventually enhance customers’ preference towards a particular company (Richard and Bagozzi, 2011). The second manager has said the same point with a precaution in voice regarding the maintenance and creation of online branding path with right skills. In the current context, M&S has started to brand its products in its own online channel instead of building online brand in Amazon (section 2.3). Thereby, it has ensured higher profitability in this model of brand designing of the business (Luk et al. 2013). The third and fourth managers have appraised for click and collect-in-store strategy of M&S more than other online promotion of brand design. Both of the managers have witnessed high level of application in this branding segment by the customers to select the products by online mode whereas collecting the same in a physical store. The statement is in line with the past research where Vazifehdoost (2014) said to witnessing huge customer base is present to collect products in fashion category after reserving the rights in online mode. In this way, customer can attain the highest level of satisfaction regarding selection of the products. Further, studies have concluded that 40% of the UK customers have sought to collect the selected products on own instead of delivered by a courier company. This method of branding has helped the company to attend the highest level of satisfaction regarding verification and specification of the selected products (Econsultancy, 2017). The last manager has voted for online browsing of products in website by the customers as an important tool for influencing behaviour of the customers. Browsing online about several products has ensured selection as well as brand building for the customers in clothing segment (section 2.3). Previous studies on this have validated the reliability of this statement (Vazifehdoost, 2014; Luk et al. 2013). Further, researchers have investigated in this issue finding that customers think the way of browsing and collecting products are interesting for buying clothing. M&S has ensured individual web page to be fast while the customers browse the pages.

  1. What suitable initiatives would you suggest for your M&S to improve its brand designs?

M&S must ensure the speed of online branding of its clothing and fashion accessories – as two of the five managers think as the best way to designing the online brand of the company. Further, these two managers have supported the initiation of selection and order booking of products in online mode. Such type of branding has initiated to draw attention of young customers in the UK. The third manager has voted for brand designing to win over the competitors in the UK market in clothing and fashion segments. This manager has recommended maintaining products’ availability and quality to continue branding as psychological tool in business. According to this manager, psychological branding might ensure sustainability of the business as well as brand loyalty in future. However, the last two managers have recommended using online platform as promotional tool instead of campaigning path for the products. These managers are pessimistic about appropriate supply chain for online order booking as well as availability of supply in physical stores. The usage of stores and showrooms of M&S must obtain different treatment for getting customers. Further, store can ensure to influence customers’ behaviour to try on new designs whereas online market cannot promote a new design as customers might not will to try the new clothe in website.

 

Chapter 5

Conclusion and recommendations

The study can conclude regarding the impact of brand design on purchasing intention of the customers. The study has intended to analyse influence on the purchasing intention at M&S clothing and fashion accessories mainly. In this context, it can conclude that majority of the respondents are brand conscious in the UK. However, this conclusion does not provide the needs to meet the objectives of the paper. Further, the responses have clearly expressed that majority of the people have specific preference regarding fashion apparels. So, it can be concluded that branding is important the UK retail market for clothing and fashion products. The test of hypothesis clearly shows that brand design can create positive impact on customer purchasing behaviour for M&S. Therefore, test of hypothesis has provided acceptable level of result for this model of investigation. All the objectives are linked with conclusion to achieve the outcome of this project.

Linking with objectives:

Linking with objective 1: To assess the significance of brand design process in current competitive scenario

The brand designing holds an important place in competitive scenario of retail segment in the UK. The surveyed result has shown that retail industry is dependent on the branding for creating its image to the customers. The brand image of the business is essential for the business to create value as well as position its business separately. Further, brand designing is connected with some other marketing factors such as group influence, economic growth, marketing campaigning and purchasing power. However, these factors cannot control the effect of branding as all of these factors are associated with the success of branding process. People are more prone to brand image of M&S instead of quality of the clothing products in the stores. So, surveyed result has expressed that brand value of the company is higher than that of quality of the product. The objective of significance of brand value of M&S is clearly explained in the survey by this result where branding can create more sales instead of other factors. The brand designing is more effective due to influencing a specific group as well as word of mouth among the customers. the trustworthiness of brand can be enhanced by word of mouth among the cstomers. It also enhances the brand loyalty among the customers due to high level of satisfaction regarding M&S. it helps to ensure positioning new products in competitive retail market.

Linking with objective 2: To determine the various factors affecting customer purchasing behaviour

There are several factors, which play crucial role in retail business. These factors are essential as well as are influential to set up the purchasing behaviour of the customers in the UK. The factor like satisfaction of the customers is essential to influence the purchasing decision of the customers. Further, satisfaction can shift the buying behaviour of the customers towards negative side and customers can shift its tastes in other brands. Therefore, purchasing behaviour of customers can be influenced by attribute like satisfaction that is inherent to a customer internally. Additionally, supply chain of the products is a critical issue for evaluating the purchasing behaviour of the customers. M&S has faced severe challenge in supply chain of clothing segment due to unavailability of products mainly. Customers have grievances regarding frequent unavailability of same brands in clothing in M&S stores. In addition to this, customers of M&S have expressed their views regarding current fashion statement. The responders have found that fashion statement has become stagnant recently in the UK due to lack of innovation. Such issues indicate that purchasing behaviour is influenced by innovation as well as availability of inventories. Purchasing behaviour can be shifted due to unavailability of products in the stores as customers might be addicted towards the substitute products after long-haul wait. Other factors regarding purchasing behaviour are not necessary for M&S as its stores have started operating via online mode to sell products to its customers.

Linking with objective 3: To assess the impact brand design creates on customer purchasing behaviour at M&S

Brand design by using online presence in M&S has clearly incorporated an influence on the purchasing behaviour of the customers. M&S has started to position its brand in online mode to its customers. Customers can select its products in individual webpage of the company. In this way, the selection of the products ensures to book the orders for the customers before finishing of the inventories. However, the customers can collect the clothing products from the physical stores after scrutinising the same for best fittings and satisfaction. Therefore, brand positioning of the stores has influenced purchasing intention of the young customers mainly as these people have found this concept as interesting for buying clothing. The new brand design by separate website dedicated towards M&S products has helped the company to ensure the customers to search their tastes easily. In addition to this, the customers are able to select their finding and book the items in online market before the entire stock out if that particular clothing. The individual online marketing channel of M&S has created special brand image among the young customers in the country. However, it can be concluded that customers are more interested to collect and verify their booked orders physically from M&S stores. The purchasing behaviour of forty percentages of customers has shifted towards click and collect-in-store service influencing customers’ behaviour significantly.

Linking with objective 4: To recognize the issues M&S confronts in association to the research variables and thereby provide suggestions to enhance its brand design relate the same with customers’ purchasing behaviour

The study has found several issues of M&S in designing brand. The main issue is unavailability of products in clothing segment. Further, the study has found that local couriers are not much reliable to the customers as well as the logistics of online supply in clothing section. The branding issue of the company is to position its fashion accessories to all types of customers by retaining huge number of collections. However, the issue of purchasing behavior of the customers is mainly driven by brad designing as well as designing the supply chain of M&S. In this context, the management has tried to change the inventories as well as branding to capture the attention of the customers. Further, customers’ behavior related to verifying the online booking in physical store is a typical issue for M&S. the issue has grown due to fraudulent courier service as well as poor logistics supply of retail companies. The purchasing behavior of the customers is influenced mainly by individual platform in online market by M&S. The change in online branding strategy has become costlier proposition for the company. However, it can be concluded that individual website of the company for online marketing has become an attractive branding strategy for changing the purchasing intention of the customers. The separate website has provided a dedicated service towards the loyal customers of M&S for better purchasing experience of the buyers. Thus, the customers can change the behavior of buying products from online portal of M&S currently as it can match with their intention of finding the best possible cloth.

Recommendations

T is recommended to employ flexible buying option for the customers in M&S so that young people become attracted towards the brand. The brand designing must incorporate flexible online logistics for supplying orders to the customers. The studied information recommends that the management must include special discount to click and collect from stores by the customers. It would encourage the customers to visit the stores with booked orders and store representatives can demonstrate other clothing linen to those people. Further, the management must employ special route to maintain availability of clothing in the store. It is important for maintaining brand image of the company. Additionally, the management must consider to achieve psychological advantage due to new brand design of its existing customers to retain these people in future.

Scope

The study has conducted the primary research among 70 customers of M&S. However, it could be conducted among more people. So, it is recommended to conduct the research by extending sample size as it is very small comparing with population size of customers of the company. In addition to this, the research has future scope to induce different customer’s behaviour models to evaluate the purchasing intention as well as buying behaviour of the customers in retail segment. The study is bounded within M&S only whereas it does not represent the entire retail sector of the UK. Thereby, researcher can conduct further research to assess the trend in other companies. This paper can investigate change in customer behaviour due to branding with different demography for different group of people by employing clustered sample.

 

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Appendix:

  1. Time frame
Topics Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4 Week 5 Week 6
Introduction            
Illustrate the aim and objectives of the study            
Collection of the secondary data            
Determination of the research Methodology            
Accomplish quantitative and qualitative responses            
Objective linking and recommendation            

 

Table: Gantt chart

(Source: Created by author)

 

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