This study examined the influence of supermarket brand name on the perceived quality of its private label merchandise. The purpose of this paper is to determine whether the fascia brand of a retail chain has the power to positively or negatively skew prevailing opinions concerning the quality of its own merchandise range, beyond the set of product-specific intrinsic benefits.
A within-subject two-phase research design was adopted, intially using an experimental approach and thereafter modeling the cognitive effect with the inclusion of a moderator variable (brand interaction). Paired sample t-tests were used to assess differences in mean ratings and partial least squares analysis was implemented in order to test the hypothesized relationships.
In the experiment phase, both products were rated equally at the outset in unsighted conditions, however, ratings diverged when brand name was introduced. Here, the high-end private label brand was scored considerably better than in its unsighted condition, while the low-end brand suffered a marginal decline in rating. In the modeling phase, two iterations of the conceptual model were run, considering the high-end and low-end brands seperately. The results were mutually reinforcing. A strong relationship, significant at the one percent level, was found to exist between brand name and perceived quality for both the lower- and higher-end brands, whereas no moderation effect was found to exist. This suggests that entrenched views of the brand strongly determine the perceived quality thereof, with operational and day-to-day fluctuations having little bearing on this.
This study focusses solely on South Africa, an emerging market within the BRICS consortium. To this end, the results are not transferable to other markets. The context of the study pitted a top tier retail brand against a mid tier retail brand. In accordance with this eventuality, lower income consumers, and retail chains catering to this market segment, do not constitute components of this particular study.
While the relationship between store image and perceived quality of private label merchandise is well documented, this study considers the effect through an experimental design. Here, perceived quality was measured both with and without brand cues evident. Thus, the results are likely to be more accurate than those acquired through strictly survey research. As a defining feature, the study points to the brand name as being a supremely powerful extrinsic cue, and hinting at the fact that it is long term influences that create a distinct brand aura, with these being largely undisturbed by short term fluctuations.
Beneke, J. and Trappler, E. (2015), "The might of the brand: A comparative analysis of brand prevalence in an emerging market setting", British Food Journal, Vol. 117 No. 2, pp. 485-505. https://doi.org/10.1108/BFJ-06-2014-0192
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