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Changing realty: altering paths of brand discovery for real estate websites in India

Smitha Vasudevan (Karunya School of Management, Karunya University, Coimbatore, India)
F.J. Peter Kumar (Karunya School of Management, Karunya University, Coimbatore, India)

Property Management

ISSN: 0263-7472

Article publication date: 4 January 2019

Issue publication date: 6 June 2019

Abstract

Purpose

Brand awareness is a key cognitive metric and a vital component of consumer-based brand equity. Generating and maintaining brand awareness has been an important metric for brands and a significant outcome of advertising and promotional activities. Brand awareness has been studied over the years in the context of market share and mind share and is considered to be the fundamental starting point of a brand relationship. Most branding variables are challenged in their linear definitions by the multi-dimensionality of the connected online world. Consumers may start their brand journey with brand awareness and then proceed to explore higher options in a non-linear fashion. This challenges traditional advertising and brand salience models. In the web context, brand awareness could even happen with little prior cognitive processing. The purpose of this paper is to explore the little researched area of brand awareness in the context of Indian websites.

Design/methodology/approach

The study leveraged technology to study the brand discovery behaviour of real estate website users in India. The authors looked at essentially modified processes such as the brand experience journey, specifically, the sources and antecedents of brand awareness for real estate websites. Considering the fact that direct and indirect traffic to a website is indicative of the brand awareness metrics, the authors analyse the metric as a basis of the comparison.

Findings

Brand awareness in the digital world can be attributed as firm generated, user generated and, as the authors also discover, experience initiated. The altered dimensions have a profound impact on the brand advertising spends of not just digital brands, but all marketers who will find digital technology increasingly central to their brand communication efforts.

Research limitations/implications

Burgeoning websites and media proliferation have increased the source set for website discovery. Customers do not rely solely on advertising or chance encounter to discover a new brand. Usage of search engines remains the key point of discovery for brand awareness. Some of the respondents recognised websites from prior advertising exposure and selected the brand from the consideration set offered in the search results for their keyword search. In other cases, brand awareness followed brand experience as the users did not process the brand information or, in most cases, were not aware of the brand name prior to website visit. The quality of brand experience created brand awareness and had further implications, including brand visit intent.

Practical implications

While mass media television advertising and ubiquitous online advertising can build brand awareness, the impact of search engine advertising and search engine optimisation is equally significant, if not more important. Brand managers can additionally focus on branding on the search channel in the light of increasing search intensity. Beyond traditional keyword planning, this can be an enhanced branding platform for reaching out to specific behavioural or character traits of the target audience. Brand experience can mature from task completion to brand awareness and higher level values if the website includes key brand messages and goals.

Originality/value

This paper offers insight into the little known field of online brand management. Information intermediary websites are unique in their value proposition, and brand building is challenging. Real estate websites have grown in popularity, but have not merited researcher attention. This paper offers a unique perspective on branding websites, specifically in the context of emerging markets like India.

Keywords

Citation

Vasudevan, S. and Peter Kumar, F.J. (2019), "Changing realty: altering paths of brand discovery for real estate websites in India", Property Management, Vol. 37 No. 3, pp. 346-366. https://doi.org/10.1108/PM-03-2018-0020

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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