Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Article Type: Editorial From: British Food Journal, Volume 117, Issue 2.
Themed section: brands under the spotlight – global perspectives on food buying behaviour
Global food consumption patterns are shifting as a result of consumers becoming increasingly sophisticated in their food choice decisions. Emerging markets, in particular, are beginning to exhibit a greater impact on global food demands as consumers become increasingly affluent. Food choice complexity and purchasing decisions, in both developed and developing markets, are influenced by a multitude of variables, including biological, economic, social and psychological factors. This Special Issue of the British Food Journal considers various aspects of food choice in a cross spectrum of markets, including Austria, Greece, India, Spain and South Africa, and spanning a variety of product categories. More specifically, this Special Issue considers research pertaining to consumers’ perceived quality of food products, consumer loyalty to specific brands, strategies influencing the brand equity of food brands, brand authenticity and its influence on a variety of behaviours, as well as whether the origin of a product influences brand value.
There are seven papers in this themed section of Volume 117 Issue 2 of the British Food Journal. The first paper is entitled “The might of the brand: a comparative analysis of brand prevalence in an emerging market setting” by Justin Beneke and Emma Trappler. This paper examines the previously established positive relationship between a brand name and the perceived quality of a product. This research tests the hypothesised relationship in an emerging market context, with particular reference to private label branded orange juices. The results reveal that the hypothesised relationship held true in this research context. In a sighted environment, respondents exposed to a high-end private label brand rated the quality of the product significantly better than that of a lower-end substitute. This was in stark contrast to parity ratings in an unsighted environment.
The second paper also considers the use of private labels and is titled, “Private labels: the role of manufacturer identification, brand loyalty and image on purchase intention” by Cristina Calvo Porral and Mark F. Lang. This contribution analyses various product, retailer and individual factors from the private label brand that influence a consumer’s loyalty and subsequent purchase intention. The paper further examines the influence of the manufacturer identification on product packaging on the respondent’s purchase intention. The results reflect that the influence of private label image and perceived quality on purchase intention is partially mediated by a consumer’s loyalty and moderated by the manufacturer identification that appears on the product packaging.
The third paper, entitled “Investigating the effects of product innovation and ingredient branding strategies on brand equity of food products”, by Abhilash Ponnam et al., examines two distinct relationships. The first being the relationship between the role of incremental product innovation (IPI) and ingredient branding (IB) in developing brand equity, with the second examining how consumer involvement and the strength of the parent brand affect the consumer’s evaluation of the IPI and IB strategies in food brand evaluation. The results indicate that, as might have been predicted, both IPI and IB enhance brand equity. Moreover, it was found that when customer involvement is low, the IB strategy results in a greater increase in host brand equity. With regards to the parent brand strength, it was found that when the parent brand strength is high, the IPI strategy is, correspondingly, associated with significantly higher levels of host brand equity.
The fourth paper, titled “The impact of brand authenticity on brand attachment in the food industry”, was contributed by Ioannis Assiouras et al. The paper initially examines the positive relationship between brand authenticity and brand attachment, following which the positive impacts that brand attachment had on three behavioural intentions were measured. The three behavioural intentions that were assessed included purchase intention, a willingness to pay more and a willingness to promote the brand. This study makes use of two authentic Greek products, one being a chewing gum and the other being a local alcoholic beverage – ouzo. The findings indicate that the positive relationship between brand authenticity and brand attachment was observed to be true. Moreover, the remaining three hypotheses, each considering the relationship between brand attachment and one of the behavioural intentions dimensions, proved to be substantiated. The results suggest that consumers who develop an attachment towards a brand exhibit positive purchase intentions, are willing to pay more and are willing to promote the brand.
The fifth paper, entitled “Effect of food service-brand equity on consumer-perceived food value, physical risk, and brand preference”, by Edward S.-T. Wang, examines whether food service-brand equity affects consumer-perceived food value, food physical risk and brand preference. For the purposes of this research, brand equity is conceptualised to consist of two distinct components, being brand awareness and brand image. The results advocate that service-brand awareness is positively related to perceived food value. Furthermore, the results indicate that service-brand image is negatively related to the perceived physical risk of food and positively influence service-brand preference. Lastly, the perceived physical risk of food was found to be negatively related to perceived food value.
The sixth paper entitled “Global brands or local heroes?: Evidence from the Spanish beer market”, authored by Cristina Calvo Porral and Jean-Pierre Levy-Mangin, seeks to investigate how consumers perceive and evaluate local and global brands in a developed, mature European market. The paper first considers whether a difference exists in the evaluation process, and preference for local or global beer brands. Second, whether differences exist in the dimensions affecting brand value between local and global beer brands and third, which dimensions contribute the most to a consumer’s brand value. In order to develop a holistic view of brand equity, the paper conceptualises it using four dimensions. The results indicate that the respondents’ brand value evaluations are significantly higher for local beer brands than for global beer brands. As predicted, brand loyalty, one of the dimensions of brand equity, contributes the most to customer-based brand equity.
The seventh and final paper, entitled “Integrating price promotions into the switch of brands model for approximating variety-seeking behaviour”, by Oliver Meixner and Viktoria Knoll, expands on a previous publication in the British Food Journal pertaining to the Switch of Brands Model. This particular study includes promotions in the model as a marketing variable, making use of consumer panel tracking data. The model was found to provide valid approximations regarding how consumers behave.
The papers, although examining different aspects of branding and consumer choice of food products, point to a number of noteworthy conclusions. First, in the realm of private label brands, entrenched loyalty towards these brands flavours the perceived quality and purchase intention of the merchandise, with brand name, packaging, etc. being used as extrinsic cues in this process. This was found to be consistent across both emerging and developed markets (South Africa and Spain, respectively). The power of the food brand was also brought to the fore in the third and fifth papers, examining brand equity. Here, elements of brand equity were found to be prominent drivers of consumer-perceived value and perceived risk reducing agents. More specifically, it was confirmed that IPI and IB can be used to bolster brand equity, particularly in instances where consumer involvement is low. The fourth and sixth papers, considering attachment/loyalty towards local brands, revealed that brand authenticity and the recognition of “home grown” products go some way to increasing their marketability, leading to increased revenue potential for manufacturers. Lastly, brand switching was placed under the spotlight. Here, it was reiterated that consumers’ response to promotional activities is highly influenced by the perceived gains in comparison to costs arising from consumers’ information search. Hence, not all price discounts lead to brand switches, and not all brand switches are due to price promotions. This appears to emphasise the assertions raised in the earlier papers. Creating a genuine desire for the brand, and providing a solid value proposition that truly resonates with customers, are key factors for success in an increasingly competitive food sector. Marketers beware, no amount of flamboyance is likely to win over the customer in the long to medium term – substance over seduction is what really matters.
In summation, I would like to extend my gratitude to all the authors who participated in this Issue of the Journal, as well as the reviewers who contributed their valuable time to help the authors improve upon their research. Finally, I would like to thank the Editor, Professor Chris Griffith and all members of the British Food Journal team for their ongoing efforts throughout the publication process.
European Food Information Council (2005), “The determinants of food choice”, available at: www.eufic.org/article/en/expid/review-food-choice
Southern African Confederation of Agricultural Unions (2014), “Changing consumption patterns”, available at: www.sacau.org/changing-consumption-patterns