business world, many strategies have been devised to gain and retain customers. Phenomena such as globalization, market saturation, and better information technology have driven strategies such as customer awareness and long-term customer relationships to be favored above relatively short-term strategies to gain new customers, such as product price and quality (Kinuthai et al., 2012, p. 223). Indeed, creating brand loyalty in order to retain customers in the long-term has played a key role in long-term business success. To accomplish this, brands such as those operating within sportswear have emphasized strategies to appeal to consumers responding to products at the individual level. As such, customer loyalty is a significant determinant in the amount of product being bought and the frequency of repeat purchases.
On the basis of this, the dissertation will aim to examine brand loyalty among the youth of a developing country (Kenya) as compared to the same phenomenon in a developed country (the United States). To examine this, factors like brand development and strategies, consumer behavior, and advertising strategies will be examined. The objectives of the dissertation are to:
Determine the differences in consumer behavior among the youth of the two countries.
Determine how brand development and strategies influence this behavior.
Examine how advertising can influence brand loyalty
Brand Development and Strategies
According to Mante (2011, p. 2), one of the best ways for a company to achieve equity within its market is by means of branding. Branding and the loyalty created in this way involves various benefits for a business. This includes repeat business from loyal customers, an increase of sales and profits, investor attraction, and customer pride in terms of association with the brand. The author also mentions “branding flavor” in order to ensure the company’s survival, even within a dynamic and often stormy business environment. Branding flavor means that a company must constantly be involved in innovation and development of its products. Better products with sustainable improvements must be the result. Companies that want to create and maintain customer loyalty should predict the wants and needs of their customer base and provide for these. This is particularly important when the global environment is taken into account. Sportswear customers in Kenya, for example, may have different concepts of style and comfort than those in the United States. These need to be researched carefully in order to ensure that customer demands and product supply are adequately matched. Success within this requirement will create a highly competitive platform for the business, especially in terms of catering to specific tastes and individual requirements.
According to Haig (2004, p. 8), this is something the sports brand Adidas managed to do with great success. One of the success factors in the Adidas brand is its unifying logo, which is three stripes. This logo has come to be associated not only with the highly functional nature of the brand in different sports, but also with its image of being “cool.” This image has been created by the association of the brand with rap artists such as Run DMC and Missy Elliot, as well as sports stars such as David Beckham. The international appeal of these celebrities also creates international appeal for the brand in both the developed and developing world.
To appeal to a wider market, Adidas also includes a Sport Style line for those who are fashion conscious. This is particularly appealing to young people, many of whom are highly concerned with their appearance regardless of the kind of activity they are participating in. This is also a relatively universal concern, even in developing countries, where globalization has had a significant influence.
Branding and advertising go hand in hand to create customer loyalty. According to Shaefer, Parker, and Kent (2010, p. 31), celebrity endorsements are among the most popular strategies companies use to advertise their products. This is particularly so in the sports apparel industry, where world renowned celebrities like Tiger Woods and David Beckham are employed for their appeal to the mass market.
In the United States alone, more or less 25% of all advertising includes a celebrity to endorse the product. Indeed, millions of dollars are invested to secure the endorsing services of celebrities. Some of the benefits of this practice include enhanced ad recall, higher product desirability, and increased glamor associated with the product.
Celebrity endorsements are also used in developing countries such as Kenya. What is interesting in such cases is that these are often associated with purposes beyond enhancing product purchases. Ayuk and Nyaseda (2008, p. 2008) Olympic long-distance runner Paul Tergat as an example of this. His endorsement of products and companies, according to the authors, is “cosmetic,” since the companies in question already have significant market success. Nevertheless, Tergat’s association with these companies does create a certain image and value for the companies in question. Customer loyalty, in other words, does not only lead to retaining these customers, but can also enhance the company’s reputation and image in the public mind.
Brand Loyalty and Consumer Behavior
More specifically, Kinuthia et al. (2012, p. 230) consider brand loyalty in terms of swimwear among university students in Kenya. Factors that are found to influence brand loyalty include price and variety, perceived attractiveness, size and brand reputation. Interestingly, Speedo was found to be the most popular brand of swimwear among Kenyans. Since factors like attractiveness tends to depend upon individual taste, manufacturers who wish to create brand loyalty will have to provide a significant variety of styles and designs for students to choose from.
When compared to the United States, Baker, Sterenberg, and Taylor (n.d., p. 10) note that Kenya’s consumers tend to operate from a collectivist perspective that is nonetheless open to global influence. This focus on global brands could also have influenced a tendency towards greater individualism among youthful customers of swimwear brands.
The United States, on the other hand, has a highly individual focus on its own cultural values and brands. This means that, whereas a Kenyan young person would be loyal to a global brand in a more or less collectivist way, an American would have a tendency to focus on local brands in a more individualist way.
In addition to various aspects related to consumer investment and brand loyalty, the literature review reveals that relatively little has been done, specifically, to investigate the differences regarding these aspects among young people in developed and developing countries. Nevertheless, authors have focused their efforts on several related factors of brand loyalty, which can be applied to inform the current study on brand loyalty among young sportswear customers in the United States and Kenya.
Hwan and Kandampully (2012) focus their work on the emotional aspects in the relationship between young consumers and branded products. The authors recognize that there is currently a gap in the literature regarding specific factors when it comes to young people and the factors that encourage their loyalty to brands. The three emotional factors investigated include self-concept, emotional attachment, and brand love. The market of investigation was luxury clothing.
The findings suggest that emotional attachment is the strongest influencing factor upon brand loyalty, followed by self-concept and brand love. The implication for marketers is that emotional attachment among young people should receive the most prominent attention when creating advertisements for their apparel advertisements within this market.
This study also has interesting implications for investigating young people in Kenya as compared to the United States. Young people experience emotion in a certain way, especially when it comes to clothing products. Various emotional aspects might influence their brand loyalty to sports apparel. This aspect could be variable among young people in the different regions.
The study by Javani et al. (2013) focuses on a developing region, which is Iran. Specifically the brand loyalty among professional football league fans is investigated. Products associated with the sport, rather than a single specific product, formed the center of the study. The central idea proposed around the concept of brand loyalty was that brand associations and loyalty to specific teams are essential elements in creating loyalty and associated success for any given product. To investigate this, the effects of attributes, benefits, and attitudes on brand loyalty among sports fans and their level of brand loyalty were investigated.
The findings confirmed a cause-and-effect relationship between the brand association dimensions investigated and brand loyalty among fans. Attitudes, benefits and attributes were good predictors of brand loyalty among Iranian fans of professional league football. The subscales of logo, success, management, and head coach were also found to correlate positively with attractive associations with brands in the minds of fans.
An important factor the study revealed was that specific cultural and sports association factors also exerted some influence on brand loyalty among football fans. This is something investigators need to be aware of when investigating and comparing cultures within the developed and developing worlds. Indeed, there may be variable factors associated even with similar influences on brand loyalty among Kenyan young people and those from the States.
Kunkel, Funk, and King (2009) investigate sport team brands, and specifically as these are associated with league brands. Brisbane and Sydney (developed locations) were the specific investigation locations.
The study found that brand association literature could be usefully applied to promote an understanding of sport league associations. Attributes, benefits, and attitudes were factors that linked strongly to professional football leagues. League identification and peer group acceptance, on the other hand, could not be proven as particularly important for league brands. Commitment showed the strongest correlation. Once again, the fact that this study was conducted for developed world participants provides a strong basis for application to the American market. Contrasting factors can then be identified for the Kenyan market as well, which makes this study useful as a starting point for such investigations.
Labrecque, Krishen, and Grezskowiak (2011) explore social factors as motivation for brand loyalty. Interestingly, the contrasting factors of conformity, as opposed to escapism, were investigated for different population samples.
The specific brand that formed the basis for this investigation was Apple computers. The tendency of this brand to encourage conformity on the one hand and escape from conformity on the other created a good platform for such an investigation. The same can be applied to sports brands, where the specific brand is set apart from others, while conformity occurs within the brand and among its loyal customers.
The tension level between conformity and escape among the youthful populations in Kenya and the United States can provide valuable information to marketers and brand product creators regarding how to angle messages to their target marketers.
Lee et al. (2010) focus on more external factors, such as team identification and customer satisfaction, to investigate driving factors for brand loyalty. Attitudinal brand loyalty variables investigated for this purpose include cognitive, affective, and conative components. Significantly, and relevant for the current investigation, the majority of participants were under 30 years, and youthful.
The findings identified three stages of building attitudinal brand loyalty: The cognitive brand loyal stage, followed by the affective brand loyal stage, and finally the conative brand loyal stage. Repurchase intention was not found to be relative to positive brand experience. Strong team attachment was positively correlated with commitment to the brand.
Validity and Generalizability
In the investigation of the above-mentioned components, qualitative research presents certain challenges in terms of establishing validity criteria. Unlike quantitative research, qualitative research does not succumb to tests regarding the statistic testability of the results. Ethics and integrity similarly pose challenges to qualitative research, since, more often than not, the researcher will be working with participants rather than with numbers or research in hard copy. Hence, some specific positions need to be taken on both the validity, ethical principles, and integrity to be upheld during the research. Specifically, the proposed research will examine similarities and differences among the youth of the United States and those in Kenya regarding their perception of branded sports apparel.
To collect information about these viewpoints, the researcher will conduct a number of interviews with various interest groups. In addition to the youth in both countries, the researcher will also approach sports apparel manufacturers and marketing managers in order to gather information about the sale of certain brands and sales strategies that are used.
For qualitative research, generalizability is one of the most common criteria to establish validity. In other words, the applicability of findings to further or similar research will determine the validity level. In the case of the study proposed here, validity is ensured by the applicability of the research to other areas. Different countries, for example, can be examined for sportswear popularity among the youth using the same or similar methods to the current researchers. Other products can be substituted in the same way, with the basic elements of the study methods basically remaining the same. Other age groups can also be examined for their perceptions of various products or services across countries.
The findings can therefore be generalized not only to different products, but to different population groups as well. In this way, the study is generalizable to other populations and locations and validity can be ensured.
In terms of ethical principles, a generally accepted set of ethics will be followed during the research. When interviews are conducted, all participants will sign a consent form, for example. The consent form will ensure the privacy of individuals or companies, but obtain permission to use the results of interviews and questionnaires for the purpose of the research. Participants will be provided with the consent forms and receive a full explanation of the particular requirements upon which consent depends. Participants will also be given permission to withdraw from the study if, at any point, they feel that they need to do so, without having to explain their reasons. In the case of companies or marketing entities, participants will be assured that no confidential information will be divulged to the public. They will be free to withhold any information they consider to be too private to share with the public.
In terms of integrity, the researcher will maintain integrity in the research by being forthright with study participants. When recruited, participants will be made aware of the premise of the study, its purpose, and its expected outcomes. Each participant will be thoroughly briefed on the data gathering procedures and the purpose of the data to be collected. They will also be allowed to ask questions regarding this procedure, which will be answered in a forthright and open manner. Once the research has been published, participants will have access to the information via libraries, the Internet, and other information channels.
The researcher must also be aware of sensitive areas that might arise in interviews, such as cultural barriers to obtaining popular products, levels of wealth, and so on. The researcher will demonstrate sufficient sensitivity to such issues to minimize any compromise to the study or to the participants’ feelings of well-being.
In addition to validity, it is essential to maintain the ethical principles and integrity required of qualitative researchers today, which will be an ongoing element of the research.
Acknowledging ethical challenges is an important component of research, most particularly where there is a significant amount of participants. All participants need to be approached in a respectful and open way in order to obtain research results that are both authentic and etchical. Since the proposed research will consider a developing and developed country, it is possible that many ethical issues would relate to culture. Hence, I need routes of access mainly to the sports youth of the United States and those in Kenya. To obtain such access, my first approach would be to contact high schools and Universities. I expect to talk to lecturers and sports administrators in order to obtain the necessary permissions to conduct the study.
Hence, access will be gained by contacting University personnel and administrative staff. Informed consent will be gained by working with the students themselves. Each young person will receive a consent form explaining the purpose of the research, what will be done with the data, and the aims and goals upon completion of the research. Students’ privacy will be protected by ensuring that no real names are used, and that only responses are used to make interpretations. For each new interview or questionnaire process, the consent will be renegotiated and ensured.
Regarding the relative power of university personnel over potential participants, the researcher can personally visit lecture venues and sports fields to provide students with the assurance that participation in the study is entirely voluntary. Lecturers and coaches must not be allowed to blackmail or scare people into becoming research participants. Instead, the researcher will encourage participation by emphasizing the good that can result from the data that is obtained.
When investigating the drivers of brand loyalty, cultural differences will need to be taken into account. American brands that wish to enter the Kenyan market, for example, will need to take into account that there may be an already existing basis of brand loyalty in the country. To compete effectively with this, the specific reasons for existing brand loyalty need to be taken into account. Furthermore, the company will need to take into account the needs and wants of the local population, along with collective cultural values that can potentially be included in the product. A company might even use local or international celebrities to enhance its image and enhance its image in the mind of its potential market.
The youth in the United States and Kenya have several differences in terms of culture and economic power. However, globalization has ensured a greater connection between these groups, which can be used as a basis for building brand loyalty.
Aspara, J. (2009). Stock ownership as a motivation of brand-loyal and brand-supportive behaviors. Journal of Consumer Marketing. 26(6). Pp. 427-436. Retrieved from: http://www.yconomie.com/aspara/articles/aspara-2009_stock_ownership_brand_loyal_behaviors.pdf
Ayuk, A. And Nyaseda, C. (2008, Spring). CFC Model. The Appropriateness of Celebrity Endorsement in Developing African Nations: A study of Cameroon and Kenya. IBA 8010. Retrieved from: iba8010kelly.alliant.wikispaces.net
Baker, M., Sterenberg, G., and Taylor, E. (n.d.) Managing Global Brands to Meet Consumer Expectations. Retrieved from: http://www.brsgroup.com/PDFs/Managing_Global_Brands.pdf
Haig, M. (2004). Brand Royalty: How the World’s Top 100 Brands Thrive and Survive. London and Sterling VA: Kogan Page Ltd. Retrieved from: http://www.untag-smd.ac.id/files/Perpustakaan_Digital_1/BRAND%20NAME%20PRODUCTS%20Brand%20royalty%20%20how%20the%20world%92s%20top%20100%20brands%20thrive%20and%20survive.pdf
Hwang, J. And Kandampully, J. (2012). The role of emotional aspects in younger consumer-brand relationships. Journal of Product & Brand Management, 21(2), pp. 98 — 108. Retrieved from: http://www.euhofa.org
Javani, V., Ehsani, M., Amiry, M., and Kozechiyan, H. (2013). The Study of Fans’ Brand Loyalty in Iranian Professional Football League. International Journal of Research in Business and Social Science, 2(2), pp. 38-46. Retrieved from: http://www.ssbfnet.com/
Kinuthia, L.N., Mburugu, K.G., Muthomi, H.N., and Mwihaki, M. (2012, Nov.). Factors Influencing Brand Loyalty in Sportswear Among Kenyan University Students: the Case of Swimmers. Leena and Luna International, Vol. 1, No.4. Retrieved from: http://www.ajssh.leena-luna.co.jp/AJSSHPDFs/Vol.1(4)/AJSSH2012(1.4-28).pdf
Kunkel, T., Funk, D., and King, C. (2009). Consumer-Based Brand Associations for Professional Football Leagues. Australian and New Zealand Marketing, pp. 1-8. Retrieved from: http://s3.amazonaws.com/
Labrecque, L.I., Krishen, A.S., and Grezskowiak, S. (2011, Jan. 20). Exploring social motivations for brand loyalty: Conformity vs. escapism. Journal of Business Management, pp. 1-16. Retrieved from: www.palgrave-journals.com/bm/
Lee, S., Shin, H., Park, J-J, and Kwon, O-R. (2010). A Brand Loyalty Model Utilizing Team Identification and Customer Satisfaction in the Licensed Sports Product Industry. Journal of Research 5(1), pp. 60-67. Retrieved from: http://naturalspublishing.com
Mante, G.D.K. (2011, Summer). Branding Flavour a key factor in business sustainability. Marketing Canada, Vol. 7, No. 4. Retrieved from: http://www.professionalmarketer.ca/Portals/0/Marketing%20Canada/2011/Summer%202011,%20Vol%207,%20Issue%203%20Sept%2011.pdf
Schaefer, A.D., Parker, R.S., and Kent, J.L. (2010, Apr.). A Comparison of American and Chinese Consumers’ Attitudes Toward Athlete Celebrity Endorsers. Journal of Sport Administration and Supervision, Vol. 2, No. 1. Retrieved from: http://www.jsasonline.org/home/v2n2/articles/JSASVolume2/v2_i1_breakouts/v2_i1_Schaefer-et-al.pdf
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