According to Aaker (1991) there are many different ways that brand associations can bring value to the firm and its customer. The different ways are: • Differentiating the brand - Associations can play a big role in separating your brand from your competitors. • Process/retrieve information - An association can help summarize information so it is easier for the consumer to cope. • Generating reasons to buy - It can characterize a basis for buying decisions or brand loyalty. It can provide credible confidence in the brand that will help the purchase decision.
Consumers make purchase decisions based on a product’s symbolic meanings and images, which can be used to create and enhance self-image. According to Graeff, (1997) brands associated images let consumers express who they are, what they are, where they are and how they want to be viewed. A person expects positive reactions from his significant referents, and brand image becomes a symbolic tool for goal accomplishment (Grubb and Hupp, 1968; Grubb and Stern, 1971). A person attempts to communicate to his significant references certain things about himself by using symbolic products. Consumers’ purchase decisions are significantly influenced by social value in that consumers perceive various brand images as either congruent or incongruent with the norms of the reference groups to which they belong or aspire (Grubb and Stern, 1971; Solomon, 1983).
Moreover, perceptual and cognitive models assume that brand knowledge (i.e. brand awareness and image) affects consumer response to the brand, defined as perceptions, preferences and, most important, behavior arising from marketing mix activity. To assess this brand impact, we propose to distinguish two dimensions of consumer behavior: current behavior and intended future behavior. Current behavior can refer to the purchase of the brand as well as its usage; future behavior refers to intentions to purchase the brand in the future. Following the customer-based brand equity model, we predict that brand knowledge (awareness and image) affects current purchase and usage of brands.
2.2.2. Value expression function The value expression function is defined as the tendency to buy and use brands to connect individual identities (beliefs, attitudes, and values) with others (Expression and Forresti, 2012; Wilcox, 2009). Acording to Wilcox et al. (2009), consumers who have earned the value expression function for a brand, trend to use it as a form of self-expression. Hence, this function is related to people trying to transfer their identity to others, even if they are not in line with the expectations of their peer group (Goral et al., 2004; Shawit, 1990; Wilcox et al., 2009).
Brand credibility positively affects consumers ' affective commitment. Relationship marketing theory suggests that affectively committed consumers believe they are connected to the company (Bolton et al., 2004; Morgan and Hunt, 1994). Such consumers want to continue their relationship because they like the company and enjoy the partnership (Verhoef et al., 2002), and are unlikely to buy from other companies (Evanschitzky et al., 2006; Verhoef,2003). Therefore, this paper proposes that affectively committed consumers are likely to purchase from the SMEs. H4.
He suggests comparing a product with a brand name to an unnamed product what can explain the consumer’s buying habits and preferences (Jara & Cliquet, 2008). Keller applies brand awareness and brand image as two major components of his model. Thus, brand awareness relates to brand spontaneous recognition in consumer’s mind, and brand image is defined as brand associations erased in consumer’s memory. In regards to brand associations, three categories emerge, namely, attributes, benefits, and brand attitudes. Attitudes correspond to descriptive characteristics of the product; benefits relate to the personal value attached to the product; and brand attitudes are used for customers’ evaluation of a product.
The main focus from this study is to understand the relations between customers and brand loyalty. This study can help managers or organizations to understand why customers choose one product more than the others. This understanding of consumer behavior to a product will help they know what is important about the product and what to focus on in the next market decisions. Brand loyalty: According to Gilani and Mosavian (2010), the brand loyalty is about the possitive perspective of a product , service or brand. The amount of customer that stick to a particular brand.
Arrived at this stage, consumers will make an evaluation of the different alternatives offered to them and will have to choose one in the next stage. To evaluate the different alternatives, consumers are seeking to compare products, services or brand together to make the choices that suit their needs the most. Forums appear as a good place to get valuable information and allow discussion with current of former customers. Brown and Hayes (2008, p139-146) said that messages delivered by trusted friends who tell about their own experience are highly influent. Parker (2011, p273) talked about the notion of ‘unbiased advice’ that consumers are more likely to trust.
Whereas for status oriented consumers, they have high self esteem and purchase products or services to show off their success. Lastly, action oriented consumers seek for adventures and follow fads. They are influenced by the needs of social and physical activity. Under this concept, it is understand that every individual purchase products and services based on their lifestyle. Consumers under the same demographic sub-group can demonstrate different psychographic profile (Lin 2002).
Brand awareness is the way consumers connect the brand with the specific product that they intend to possess. As per Aaker (1991), brand awareness is the capacity of potential buyer to recognize that a brand is a member of a certain product category. Aaker (1991) suggested a few levels of brand awareness, going from mere recognition of the brand to dominance, which alludes to the condition where the brand included is the main brand recalled by a consumer. Brand awareness is identified as people’s perception regarding a brand and incorporates all prescriptive and descriptive elements pertaining to a brand (Li, 2004). In fact, Aaker (1992) concludes that brand awareness is the source of value creation for consumers.