Impact of Brand Image on Customer Buying Behaviour in the UK Retail Sector.
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An Investigation to Establish the Impact of Brand Image on Customer Buying Behaviour in the UK Retail Sector.
Brand image is one of the most important factors that determine success of a business organisation or it products. In the retail sector, the retailer’s brand image is crucial since the business strategies are near-similar and they sell similar products. It is postulated that the customers’ purchasing behaviour is influenced by the retailer’s brand image. Therefore, this study aimed to investigate the impact of brand image on customers’ purchasing behaviour in the UK retail sector. Cross-sectional quantitative method was used in the study and included 100 respondents from Tesco and M&S stores. The independent variable was retailer brand image and dependent variables were frequency of visiting the retail store, intention to make repeat purchase, and willingness to recommend others to visit the retailer. The results showed that majority (57.9%) of the customers were female and the largest age group was 36 to 45 years. It was found out that quality of the services and products diversity were the leading factors that motivated the respondents to shop at the retailers. The study found no relationship between brand image rating and purchase frequency and intention to make repeat purchase, but there was a relationship with willingness to recommend others to visit the retailers. The limitation of the study was the use of convenience sampling and small sample size involving only two stores. Recommendations for the retail sector and future research are given.
Brand image is how the customers view a brand in its current state. The current topic extends the customer behaviour literature with a special focus on brand image in the retail sector organisations.
It is the aim of every organization to have a strong image to fulfil their business objectives. A brand can be viewed disparately by customers and thus businesses have a task of consistently reassuring their brand image to the market. Furthermore, as the market continues being competitive than ever while customers perceptions, beliefs, and feelings about different companies and their products are as dynamic as ever, businesses are forced to reinvent their brand images with aim of attracting more customers to purchase and utilise their products and services. That notwithstanding, the aspect of the brand image it is challenging to quantify the impact of brand image on business performance.
Customer satisfaction is the main priority for every organization. Basically, customer satisfaction is achieved by providing products and services that meet their desires and needs. In other words, organizations try to meet the customers’ expectations or even exceeding their expectations. With all the effort companies still fail to attract customers as they would expect because their brand image does not resonate well with the customers. The worrying fact is that many managers and companies do not understand what brand image entails and what it means to the consumers hence engage in promotional activities that have no meaningful return on investment (Thimothy, 2016). Particularly, in the retail market where retailers sell a large portfolio of products from different brands players need to establish their organisation (retail) brand image that differentiates them from competitors (Sehgal and Khanna, 2017). Nevertheless, there are limited studies that have focused on the impact of organisations’ brand image on customer buying behaviour in the UK retail market. Therefore, this study seeks to further the literature on brand image and its influence on customer buying behaviour in the retail industry, specifically focusing on Tesco and Marks & Spencer.
This research project aims to investigate the impact of retailer’s brand image on customer buying behaviour.
- Main research question
What is the impact of brand image on customer buying behaviour in the retail sector?
- Specific research questions
- What are customer perceptions about retailer’s brand image?
- What are the customer buying behaviours in Tesco and Marks & Spencer retail sections?
- Which are the most influencing factors in customers’ buying behaviour towards specific retail stores?
- What is the relationship between brand image and customer buying behaviour in the UK retail sector?
In this chapter the overview of previous studies on the topic and related concepts is outlined. The goal of this study is to ascertain the influence of retailer’s brand image on customers’ buying behaviour. However, in order to achieve this is critical to understand what previous scholars postulate concerning brand image, customer behaviours, connection between brand image and customer behaviours particularly in the retail sector.
A brand is a type of name, symbol, design or any other characteristics that bring distinctions between companies (American Marketing Association). Brand image is the overall perceptions and awareness of a brand by customers (Chi, Zhu, and Yan, 2016). Brand image has also been given different but related descriptions by different scholars, for example, according to Kotler brand image is faith that consumers develop towards a brand in connection to all brand attributes. Brand image has also been described as the impression that is created in the customers’ minds and after their long-term evaluation of the brand (Chi, Zhu, and Yan, 2016). Brand image is a distinctive combination of associations in the customers’ minds concerning a brand and the promises that the brand implies to fulfil (Cuong and Khol, 2019). Brand image is created through promotional campaigns carrying a particular theme constantly for a long time and validation is done through customers’ direct experiences with the brand.
Despite the significant role that brand image plays in enhancing brand performance, driving loyalty and brand equity (Kariuki, 2015), relatively less research have been conducted on the relationship between brand image and brand equity. Brand equity is the general perception that the consumers have on a particular product and how it impacts their buying behaviour (Zhang, 2015). Although the brand image has been a focus of most academicians and various industry practitioners its application has been limited to the service industry, whether the application of the relationship between brand image and customer buying behaviour can be applied to other industries is still a subject of interest.
The potential importance of brand image on brand performance and customer satisfaction can be inferred by organisations by identifying the perceived value of a brand between the existing customers and the non-users of a particular brand (Keller, 2001). A notable brand image allow s customers to differentiate their requirements that are fulfilled by the brand and distinguishes a business organisation from others as well as enhancing the performance of the customer regarding the brand.
Brand image is linked with enhanced customer loyalty and on the other way company’s brand image is made strong by customer loyalty. Therefore, brand image companies’ performance is influenced by the extent at which its brand image creates strong customer loyalty. In the retail sector, it means that, the retail brand image influences customer loyalty and subsequently the company’s competitiveness. Agile organisations are recognized as the need for proper brand management strategies and their importance in acquiring a significant competitive advantage (Chovanová, Korshunov & Babčanová, 2015). A strong brand image can aid in customer acquisition, retention and customer loyalty in the long-run.
Brand image plays a significant role in contributing to customer satisfaction. Customer loyalty to the brand is also achieved through effective brand image construction. Customer loyalty is the purchasing behaviour that is repeated and it leads to an increase in sales revenue to the organization. Brand image is critical in formulating strategic balanced scorecard analysis (Zhang, 2015).
Establishing the aforementioned points provides the organization with a significant competitive advantage, increases customers satisfaction and promote product differentiation. Therefore, brand image is a vital tool for corporate increasing performance via profitability and long-term business sustainability.
Retailers are involved in sale of products and services to consumers for household or personal use. Since retailers sell wide range of products from different suppliers, how they are perceived by consumers is critical for their profitability in an already intensely competitive environment. In that line, brand image of a retailer is defined as “the overall conceptualisation of anticipated reinforcement that individuals associate with shopping at a specific store” (Iqbal, Min and Nan, 2012). The image of a retailer can be considered an intricate aspect since it includes a range of tangible and intangibles factors and can be interpreted by different persons differently. As it is cited in among the several descriptions of factors that influence retailers’ brand image, one by Lindquist (1974) is the most comprehensive as it outlines nine important factors from different studies. These factors include products diversity, convenience, service, clientele, store atmosphere, physical facilities, institutional features, promotion, and post-transaction fulfilment. In other words, the brand quality carried by stores is what determines how the retailer’s image is perceived. In the current study, the researcher did not breakdown the brand image into different dimensions but instead the customers are asked to rate the overall brand image of the retailers.
A study by Kariuki (2015) found out that the brand image of supermarkets enhances customers’ perceptions on desirable lifestyle and increases the frequency of visits. In addition, the study indicated that the brand image affects how the customers are viewed by others and well as making them better fit in their social class. However, the study did not indicate whether the supermarkets brand image resulted sales. Some of the factors that have been shown to enhance the brand image of retailers include timely and accurate information, loyalty programmes, availability of products, minimal time at cash register, quality of the product, and prices. According to Kremer and Viot (2012) these factors are associated with store image rather the retailer’s brand image, but they play an important role in boosting the brand image. That notwithstanding, there is a rarity of studies focusing on the impact of retailer’s brand image on customer buying behaviour.
Iwu et al (2017) conducted a study on brand image and customer behaviour in retail outlets in Botswana. The study was cross-sectional and used non-probability sampling technique. It was found out that consumer intensions to purchase was influenced by retail outlets branding characteristics – mall personality, quality of products and services, and shopping value. In one of their findings, authors argue that customers’ perception of an organisation physical environment influences their purchasing behaviour towards that company. It implies that retail outlets that have impressive physical qualities will be perceived positively by consumers and there is high probability of making purchase. Examples of physical environment factors that influence brand image include store space layout, quality of staff, and products arrangement in the outlet.
In his study in the Malaysian retail market, Hanaysha (2018) investigates the different factors that influencing purchase decisions of the consumers. It was established that purchase decision was significantly positively influenced organisation’s corporate social responsibility and the store environment. However, promotional factors such as sales promotion and social media marketing were shown not to influence the consumers’ purchasing decisions. It implies that in the retail market that is already competitive and where organisations are applying similar marketing strategies, an organisation’s CSR and physical environment becomes important differentiating its brand image from competitors.
According to Rani (2014), customer buying behaviour is the predictable pattern of the buying activities of the consumer. Customer buying behaviour is predominately influenced by the following aspects: cultural, psychological, social and personal. Since these factors influence the decision of the customers to develop products and brand preference. The need for advertising is to use different mediums of marketing to bridge the apparent gaps that exist between the brand image and the aforementioned factors.
Consumer behaviour is also assessed using purchasing intention. Purchase intention is situation where the customer attempt to purchase products in particular condition (Erdil, 2015). Purchase intention is influenced by the positive emotions and sense that a customer has towards a product or organisation providing the product or service. In the case of a retail store, external factors such physical layout, store location, brands of products being sold, and convenience have been shown to influence customer purchase intention (Erdil, 2015). In the same line inherent aspects such preference satisfaction, need fulfilment and being in a better placement also influence purchase intention. In one study, retail environment, emotional aspects, and experiential were identified as the main drivers in making retail purchase decisions (Granot et al., 2010). According to Granot and colleagues, the three factors should be applied by the retailers for the purpose of customer satisfaction and retention. Furthermore, the three factors (retail environment, emotional aspects, and experiential) enhance the brand image.
According to Bravo et al, (2012) conducted a study on the influence of brand image on customer behaviour in the banking sector. Bravo et al (2012) sample size was four hundred and fifty respondents and found that corporate brand image has a positive and significant impact on customer behaviour directly and indirectly in the banking sector. The presence of a positive correlation between brand image and customer satisfaction further enhances customer preference for the brand (Kariuki, 2015). The brand image can directly influence the customers’ perceived utility of a product, in turn, this enhances customer satisfaction, brand loyalty, and brand awareness. Customer satisfaction and loyalty are the variables that dictate the brand image. Moreover, a well-developed brand image not only enhances long-term express customer delight but also promotes the acquisition of sustainable profits for the organisations (Moroney, 2016).
Research conducted by Malik et al (2013) postulates that there is a positive correlation between brand image and customer buying behaviour. Therefore, brand image can be used strategically to shape the perceived utility of a product and in the long-run, impact consumer behaviour. In the same token, research done by Rindell et al (2011) applied quantitative analysis on studying the brand image and found out that brand image and purchasing behaviour have a direct relationship concerning the dimensions of time and context. A properly managed brand image will result in the customers’ comprehension such that they will be making an informed decision while making the purchase hence customer orientation to the particular product is enhanced. In fact, favourable brand image has been shown to positively influence customer purchase intention (Erdil, 2015). According to a study by Fall Diallo et al (2013) store brand purchase behaviour is significantly influenced by brand price-image, attitude towards store brand. However, the same study found out store familiarity did not have positive influence on purchase intention but is shown to affect brand choice.
Furthermore, a number of studies have investigated the relationship between consumer demographics and purchasing behaviour and how they connect with brand image. As noted in ROSZKOWSKA–HOŁYSZ (2013) age and sex of the consumer influences their behaviours towards brand images. However, a study by Fall Diallo et al (2013) found social-demographics to have no effect on store brand choice. The current study will try establish if the demographic factors have any relationship with brand image and customer purchasing behaviour.
In this chapter, brand image and its relationship with customer buying behaviour has been reviewed. Drawing from the previous studies it has been revealed that brand image is an invaluable aspect of any organisations. This is because in a competitive environment where organisations use near-similar business models, customers differentiate business with their brand image. It has been shown that one of the measures of customer buying behaviour is purchase intention, which is influenced by external factors such physical layout, store location, brands of products being sold, and convenience and intrinsic aspects such as preference satisfaction, need fulfilment and being in a better placement. It means that for a brand image to have a positive influence on customer buying behaviour it should satisfy the identified external and inherent factors. Additionally, different studies have made differing findings regarding the interrelationship between customers’ demographics and brand image and how it influence customer buying behaviours. Some studies have shown the demographics to have insignificant influence while others have shown the opposite. Therefore, the current study is going to ascertain that interrelationship. In addition, it will investigate the role of brand image in influencing customer purchasing behaviour in the UK retail sector, because, as it has been revealed from the literature, there is a rarity of such studies in the UK.
According to Keller (1993) brand image is defined by the consumers’ attitude on the brand, the attributes of the product (in this case attributes of the organisation) and the perceived benefits. The customer buying behaviour is expected to be influenced by these dimensions of brand image. Hence, the brand image is the independent variable while customer buying behaviour is the dependent variable. Thus,
However for this study, since the respondents are asked to rate the overall brand image, the following framework is adopted
Independent variable dependent variables
Brand image intention to make repeat purchase
Willingness to recommend others
Research is described as an organised, systemic method of seeking answers to research questions. In involves a layout of procedure and process on how the research questions are going to be answered. Therefore, this chapter presents methods which are specifically planned to guide data collection eventually answering the research questions. In short, this chapter includes the research design, research approach, the target population, sampling, data collection procedures, and how data was analysed and presented.
This study used quantitative research approach. Quantitative research focuses on numerical data and statistical analysis. The data is collected through surveys or questionnaires. Quantitative research aims to gather numerical data and generalise it across population groups or give an explanation of a particular phenomenon (Gorard, 2004). The purpose is to establish the relationship between two variables. In this research, the focus is on the relationship between brand image and customer buying behaviour.
A descriptive cross-sectional research design was utilised in this research. Descriptive research entails explaining the situation as it is at the time of data collection as the researcher has no control over the variables (McBurney and White, 2013). In other words, the descriptive study aims to uncover a current problem or issue through a data a collection process, which allows for a more in-depth and complete description of the situation than it could have been done if the method was not applied (Gorard, 2004). Being descriptive research, this research was trying to answer the question “what is the impact of brand image on customer buying behaviour?”
The main advantage of descriptive research is that it enables the observation of phenomena in their natural and unchanged situations (McBurney and White, 2013). Furthermore, a descriptive cross-sectional design is less time-consuming as it involves collecting observational data at the current moment and there is no need for follow-up. However, its main drawback is that it does establish the causative relationship between the variables (McBurney and White, 2013). Therefore, in this research, it was possible to establish the influence of brand image on customer buying behaviour, but it is would not conclusively ascertain if the observed customer buying behaviour is actually caused by the brand image.
The independent variable in this research was the brand image while customer buying behaviour will be the dependent variable. The brand image is based on consumers’ perceptions of the brand’s quality, functionality, appeal, fame, and value for money, attitudes towards brand organisations, and brand attributes (Keller, 2003). However, the overall brand image rating was the independent variable that was used in this study. On the other hand, the customer buying behaviour included frequency of purchasing at the retailer per week, intention to make future purchases and readiness to recommend some else to purchase from the stated retailer.
It is noted that there would be confounding variables such as demographic data, which can affect the buying behaviour of the customers. However, the research included those factor in the analysis to establish if they have any significant impact on buying behaviour compared to brand image.
The target population for this research was persons aged 18 to 55 years old customers. The research setting was Tesco and Marks & Spencer retail stores, both of which are notable retail brands in the British market. Tesco is the leading retailer in the United Kingdom while Marks & Spencer is one of the oldest retail stores in the country.
Two stores were selected (one Tesco and one Marks and Spencer). The research utilised a sample size of 100 respondents, 50 from each of the two stores. The respondents were split over gender and age.
Convenience sampling technique was employed. Convenience sampling technique is a type of non-probability method of sampling where the samples are selected from the population primarily because the data is conveniently available to the researcher (Taherdoost, 2016). In this case, the non-probability sampling technique is important to select the appropriate participants that provide significant findings to the research. Furthermore, the technique is necessary for the study since the study respondents are not static as they are found in their shopping or store visit activities making other techniques such as systematic technique impracticable. Also, it is difficult to make a list of respondents since the number of customers is large, dynamic and unpredictable.
The study included both secondary data and primary research. Secondary data was obtained from previous studies, companies’ annual reports and official websites. Primary data was collected using a questionnaire. The questionnaires were self-administered, where the consenting respondents were required to fill the information on their own (Lavrakas, 2008). Questionnaire was selected as a suitable tool as it is a reliable tool to obtain the opinions and attitudes of the participants in a way that is economical. The questionnaire apart from having an introduction of the research and description of the target brands (i.e., Tesco and Marks & Spencer) had other three sections. The first section included quantitative questions and demographic information of the respondents, which include age and gender. Demographic information serve in establishing the general background of respondents who buy products from the study retailers (i.e., Tesco and Marks & Spencer). The other questions were about the frequency of the respondents in purchasing products at particular retailers. Section two will include quantitative questions, for example, what factors influence you to shop at a particular retailer? Other questions based based on a Linkert scale (1. Strongly agree, 2. Agree, 3. Not sure, 4. Disagree, and 5. Strongly disagree). The third section included the perceptions of the respondents towards Tesco and Marks & Spencer where they were asked to rate brand images of the retailers in a Likert scale of 1 to 5 (1- very weak, 2-weak, 3-somehow strong, 4- strong, 5- very strong).
The secondary data were analysed based on preliminary literature and judgement exploration. On the other hand, primary data was analysed using statistical tools. Data was entered and analyzed using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS 25). Results were reported as numbers and percentages for categorical variables and as means and standard deviation (SD) for continuous variables. Results were presented in tables and bar graphs, and narrative text which eventually formed the basis for data interpolation and discussion and recommendations. Since the data was categorical, Chi-Square analysis was used to examine the relationship between brand image and purchase frequency; future purchase intention; and willingness to recommend others to visit the retailers.
This research was based on primary data that will then be compared with secondary information from the previous studies. The secondary information did not require any permission to obtain because it can be accessed through the online and library databases, and reports. On the other hand, the primary data was obtained from the respondents (customers) in the selected retail stores, thus, permission for data collection was required.
The researcher sought permission from the stores’ management to conduct the study within their organisations. Moreover, according to Gorard, (2004), a research project that involves human participants, it is imperative to seek consent both written and orally. Therefore, in this study the respondents were asked to participate willingly without coercion or enticements, then they signed a written consent. Confidentiality of the respondents’ information was upheld.
The research had several limitations including not being generalisable because it was be based on two organisations (Tesco and M&S), and data collected from only two of their stores. Furthermore, application of the convenience sampling technique was prone to bias (Taherdoost, 2016), but the research tried as much as possible not to be biased in selecting the respondents. In addition, the study used overall brand image rating to measure the retailers’ brand image according to the respondents, which may not reflect their perceptions on different brand image dimensions.
The data was collected using self-administered questionnaires that were presented to the consenting to participate in the study. 95 questionnaires made were include for analysis while 5 were excluded due to incompleteness. Out of the 95, 46 was from M&S customers while 49 were from Tesco. The raw data was coded, entered into and analysed using SPSS v. 22. The results are presented in this chapter using tables, charts, and narrative text. In addition, secondary data was obtained from the retailers’ websites, reports, and other credible sources.
The demographic information that was included in this study was the participants’ age and sex.
4.2.1 Age of the respondents
As shown in table 4.1 below majority of the participants were age 36-45 (30.5%, n=29), followed by ages 26-35 at 22.1% (n=21) while the least group was above 55 years at 11.6% (n=11).
Table 4.1: Age of the respondents
As shown in table 4.1b below it can be seen that there was no significant difference on the ages of Tesco and M&S shoppers.
Table 4.1b: Age of the customers at the retailers
4.2.2 Sex of the respondents
As shown in table 4.2 below 57.9% (n=55) were female and 41.1% (n=39) male. The remaining one was categorised as others.
Table 4.2: Sex of the respondents
In this study, two variables were included in the brand image section: these are the most motivating factor to buy in a particular retailer and the respondents’ rating of the brand image of the retailers.
As shown in the table below quality of services (17.9%) and products diversity (17.9%) were the most motivating factors for the respondents to purchase from a particular retailer over the others. However, as shown in table 4.3b there are “other” factors were stated to be the most motivating by 34.7% of the respondents, among these
|Valid||quality of their service||17||17.9|
|minimal time at cash register||9||9.5|
Table 4.3: Most motivating factor to purchase at the retailer
Likert scale of 1 to 5 was used by the participants to rate the brand image of the retailers. Most of the participants rated the retailer’s brand 4/5 (n=53, 53.7%) indicating that they felt the brand is strong while only 3.2% (n=3) rated the retailer brand image as weak (rating 2/5).
Table 4.4: Brand image rating
From the results it is indicated that M&S customers rated the retailer highly compared to Tesco. However, this may not reflect the true picture since convenience sampling was used which is prone to bias.
Table 4.4b: Brand Image rating of the two retailers
In table 4.4C below it is shown that although there is a difference in the brand rating of the two retailers, the difference is not significant.
Table 4.4c: Mean brand rating of the two retailers
41.1% of the respondents indicated that they visited the retailer 2-3days in a week, 30.9% indicated they visited only once, while only 7.4% (n= 7) indicated that they visited daily.
Figure 4.1: Participants shopping frequency
Relationship between age of the respondents and shopping frequency
In the table below it is shown that age somehow influences customers’ buying behaviour as middle-aged respondents (36-45%) reported visiting the retailers more frequent than other groups.
|daily||4-6 days||2-3days||one day||it is my first time|
Table 4.5: Relationship (crosstabulation) between age of the respondents and shopping frequency
Most of the responded indicated they would continue shopping at the retailer (65.3%, n= 62), 17.9% indicated they had no intention of continuing while 16.8% were not sure.
Figure 4.2: Intention to continue purchasing at the retailer
Half (51.6%) respondents said they would recommend other people to shop at the retailer, 43.2% (n=41) said they were not sure while 5.3% (n=5) said they would not recommend.
Figure 4.3: Willing to recommend other people to visit the retailer
Relationship between brand image and purchasing frequency
|Value||df||Asymptotic Significance (2-sided)|
|N of Valid Cases||95|
|a. 13 cells (65.0%) have expected count less than 5. The minimum expected count is .22.|
From the analysis, there is no significant relationship between brand image and purchasing frequency since, p = 0.348, which is >0.005
Relationship between brand image (rating) and intention to continue buying at the retailer.
|Value||df||Asymptotic Significance (2-sided)|
|N of Valid Cases||95|
|a. 7 cells (58.3%) have expected count less than 5. The minimum expected count is .51.|
From the Chi-Square table above p = .802 which is > 0.05 hence indicating no relationship between brand image and intention to purchase.
Relationship between brand image (rating) and willingness to recommend other people to visit the retailer.
|Value||df||Asymptotic Significance (2-sided)|
|N of Valid Cases||95|
|a. 6 cells (50.0%) have expected count less than 5. The minimum expected count is .16.|
There is a significant relationship between brand image and willingness to recommend other people since p= .044 which is <0.05
Secondary data was obtained from the retailers’ websites, reports and other credible sources. First, the retailers’ general information was evaluated. It was found out that Tesco is the leading grocery and general merchandise store in the UK with about 3500 stores in the country and with 25% market share. Besides, it is the leading online store in the UK. It uses pricing strategy by providing quality products and competitive prices. It has wide variety of products from diverse brands. On the other hand, M&S is one of the oldest retailers in the UK and it is known for its clothing line. Most of its products are own brands.
The target customer for Tesco is mostly the middle class. It has no specific target age group but according to a report in yougov.co.uk (2019) it is the most preferred by millennials. The retailer target customers are upper middle and upper class who are not conscious about the prices. Traditionally, the target market for M&S have been “mature” women, particularly those over 30 years of age.
According to a report by Sabanoglu (2019) in statistica the Marks & Spencer brand image rating has been on a faltering trend with 2015 reporting a rating of 7.5 and in 2017 rising slightly to 10.2.
According to Smith (2019) Tesco is the most preferred primary and secondary retailer by most customers in the UK. According to Tesco’s 2018 annual report, it customer recommendation and return customers increased by 5 points. The retailer tracks its return customers using clubcard.
Figure 4.4 perception of M&S retail brand in the UK (source: statistica.com)
After the analysis, it has been found out that most of the respondents were 35 years old and below, but the majority age group was 36-45 years. It shows that the shoppers in the UK retail market are mostly young people. It was also found out that there is not much difference in the ages of Tesco customers and M&S customers. It is also shown that most customers are female at 57.9% while men were 41.1%. Quality of the services and product diversity were the leading motivating factors for shopping at a particular retailer at 17.9% each. Majority of the participants (57%) rated the retailers’ brand image as strong (4/5), while 21.1% rated them as very strong (5/5). No one rated the brand images as very weak (1/5) but there was 22% who felt the brand image was somehow strong (3/5) and weak (3.2%). There were disparities in the ratings of the two retailers as Tesco had a mean of 3.85/5 and M&S a mean of 4/5. However, this difference in ratings could have been influenced by the convenience sampling technique that was used which is susceptible to bias or due to the small sample size and short duration of data collection which can fail to reflect the true views of the majority of the customers.
Regarding buying behaviours, the results have indicated that majority of the participants (41%) visit their respective retailers for 2 to 3 days per week. It is also shown that majority of the customers (65%) had intention to continue buying from the retailers, but there was 17.9% who had no intention and 16% who were not sure. Then 51.6% were willing to recommend other people to visit the retailers, 43.2% were not sure while 5.3% were not willing. Finally, after the analysis it has been found out that there is no significant relationship between brand image rating and intention to purchase and found a significant relationship with readiness to recommend other people to shop at the retailers.
In this section an analysis of the primary research results and findings is done by comparing with previous literature on the topic and secondary data. The discussion is based on the study objectives. The discussion include the demographic characteristics of the participants and their relationship with brand image characteristics and buying behaviours. The next section is about the factors that influence customers to purchase at the particular retailer, which are also discussed alongside the findings of other studies. The last section is about the relationship between brand image and the customers’ buying behaviours at Tesco and M&S and in retail sector in general.
In this study, the demographic information that was used was age and sex of the customers. It was found out that most of the customers were below 45 years of age with the largest group being 36-45 years at 30.5%. It was also found out that there was no significant difference between the ages of the customers of the two retailers which is contrary to the secondary data results that indicated that most of the Tesco customers are millennials (yougov.co.uk, 2019) and price sensitive while those of Marks & Spencer tend to be older and not price-conscious (Vasquez-Nicholson, 2016) .
Concerning sex of the customers, in the current study, it was found out that there were more female (57.9%) than men (41.1%). This is in agreement with other studies that have shown women constituting the higher proportion of retail stores customers. For example, in their study Wel et al (2012) women were 58.8% while men were 39.9%. Similarly, in another study by Prasad (2012) out of 239 shoppers included in the study 132 were females while males were only 46. The observation that the studies have been conducted in different regions but all show women to outnumber men in shopping at retail store, shows that, as Brennan (2013) puts it, women have a basic responsibility of care-giving and thus they when they are shopping they represent several other persons.
In this study it was found out that quality of services (17.9%) and products diversity (17.9%) were the most motivating factors. This findings are in line with those of Iwu et al (2017) in Botswana who established that quality of products and services were among the most influencing factors for buyers’ visiting retail outlets. Similar findings had been made by Kremer and Viot (2012), but also included other factors such as timely and accurate information, loyalty programmes, availability of products, minimal time at cash register, quality of the product, and prices. In the same line, the current study found minimal time at the cash register and products prices were other top factors that encouraged customers to shop at Tesco and M&S. However, from Tesco’s reports it is indicated that loyalty programme such as the clubcard play an important role in attracting and retaining customers at the retailer; in concurrence, Kremer and Viot (2012) had indicated that customer loyalty programmes are some of the leading factors that drive people to purchase at a particular retailer.
In addition, this study findings are near-similar to those of Angvikar and Katole (2012) in their study on consumer purchase behaviours that indicated that the three most influencing factors for customer to visit a given retailer outlet were discounted prices, products diversity, and convenience. The only difference is that in the current study quality of the services was among the top factors but for Angvikar and Katole (2012) that is replaced by convenience.
The most influencing factors for customers to purchase at a particular retailer is critical as they indicate the customers’ perceptions about the retailers.
In the current study customer behaviour was measured by the frequency of visiting the retailer, intention to continue purchasing at the retailer, and willingness to recommend other people to shop at the retailer. It was found out that most customers purchased at the retailers for 2 to 3 days per week.
In the current study, it is also shown that majority of the customers (65%) had intention to continue buying from the retailers, but there was 17.9% who had no intention and 16% who were not sure. The implication is that the two retailers already have loyal customers who are ready to make repeat purchases at the outlets. Concerning willingness to recommend other people to visit the retailer, it has been shown that 51.6% were willing to recommend other people to visit the retailers, 43.2% were not sure while 5.3% were not willing.
Perceptions about Brand image
The brand image of the two retailers was evaluated by asking the respondents to rate them in a Likert-type scale of 1 to 5. It emerged that the overall mean for brand image rating was 3.9/5, which indicates that the retailers have a strong brand image. In addition, it was noted that majority of the respondents perceived the retailers’ brand image as either strong ((57%) or very strong (21.1%). There was no substantial difference on the ratings of Tesco compared to M&S as the former had a mean of 3.85 and the later 4.0. The implication is that the two retailers are considered as the leading retail store brands in the UK.
Brand image and frequency of buying
The current study did not find any significant relationship between the brand image rating and the frequency of buying. It means that the perception of the customers towards retailers does not influence the rate at which they visit the retailer stores. However, according to Neupane (2015) positive brand image is associated with repeat customers and customer loyalty.
The relationship between brand image and intention to purchase
Previous studies have shown a significant relationship between the brand image and intention to purchase. For example, Wang and Tsai (2014) found significant relationship between mutual funds brand image and purchase intention. However, in the current study there was no significant relationship between brand image and intention to continue purchase. The indication is that how customers perceive a retailer currently does not have significant influence on their future intentions to purchase at the retailers. This is demonstrated by the findings that show that there was high rate of intention to continue purchasing at retailer regardless of their rating of the brand. That notwithstanding, according to Chi, Zhu, and Yan (2016) corporate image is positively related to customers’ purchase intention.
The relationship between brand image and willingness to recommend
In the current study it found out that there is a significant relationship between brand image and readiness to recommend other people to purchase at the retailers as evidenced by Chi-Square analysis (p= 0.044, < .05). This finding is in line with the results of the studies such as Da Silva and Alwi (2006) and Neupane (2015) that showed a positive relationship between customer satisfaction and intention to remain loyal. By the same token, Bennett, and Rundle-Thiele (2004) asserted that customers are more willing to recommend others the retailers if there are satisfied with the products and service offered by the retailers.
Recommendations are based on the study findings and their implications on the retailers and future research on the topic. First, it has been shown that quality of services and products diversity are leading factors that motivate customers to shop at a particular retailer. It is, therefore, recommended that retailers should focus on offering the best quality of services and a diverse range of products to remain attractive to customers.
Retailers should focus on building their brand image to attract more customer traffic as it has been shown that brand image is associated with customers’ willingness to recommend others to visit the retailers.
Future research should use large sample and include more retailers for the study results to be generalised to the whole retail sector. This is because the current study included only 95 customers from two retail stores whose perceptions may not reflect those of the wider customer population.
Brand image is an important determinant of customer buying behaviours. Furthermore, brand image has different dimensions which influence different customers differently. In this study, quality of services and diversity of products are the most influencing factors towards retailers. It has been established that there is no relationship between brand image and purchase frequency. However, since the study used brand image rating by the customers as the measure of brand image instead of specific dimensions of brand image could have affected the results. In addition, the study has shown no relationship between brand image and purchase intention. Again, it cannot be conclusively said that brand image does not affect the customers’ purchase behaviour since the current study did not take into consideration all the dimensions of brand image, and, furthermore, many previous studies that have been reviewed have shown a positive relationship. Nevertheless, it has been shown that brand image is associated with the customers’ willingness to recommend others to visit a particular retailer. The recommendation is that the UK retailers should focus on offering the best quality of services and wide range of products since they are the most motivating factors for shopping at specific retailers. However, further studies involving larger samples from different stores are required to understand the true picture brand image and customers’ purchasing behaviour in the whole UK retail sector.
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Participant Self-administered questionnaire
- Demographic information
- Age of the respondent (years)
- 18 to 25
- 26- 35
- 36- 45
- Above 55
- Brand image
- What motivates most you to buy in this retail store and not the others?
- Timely and accurate information
- Loyalty programmes
- Availability of products
- Minimal time at cash register
- Quality of their products
- Others (specify)
- How would you rate the brand image of this retailer
|1Very weak||2weak||3Somehow strong||4Strong||5 very strong|
- Customer buying behaviour 4
- How many days do you shop at this store in a week?
- 4-6 days
- 2-3 days
- One day
- It is my first time
- Do you plan to continue shopping here?
- Not sure
- Would you recommend people to shop at this retailer? (indicate either Tesco or M&S)
- Not sure