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SUMMARY OF RETAIL CONCEPT AND BRAND PERSONALITY
In a contemporary market place, retail branding is considered paramount in the retailing industry to influence customer perceptions and drive store choice and loyalty. Ailawadi (2004).
Digital Marketing Group (2004) defines effective branding as the proprietary visual, emotional, rational, and cultural image associated with a company or a product. The purpose of having people remember the brand name and have positive associations with that brand is to make their product selection easier and enhance the value and satisfaction they get from the product.
The first store examined, being Worldwide Appliances at Glendale, would be categorized as a “premium home electrical and appliance store.” The store has a wide offering from luxury high end audio visual equipment to common need based items such as kettles, irons and ovens.
Worldwide Appliances branding consists of a long running slogan “Where the worlds best brands, compete for your prices!” This statement asserts the organizations desire to be considered as a provider of high quality products, whilst still remaining price competitive. This branding diversification allows Worldwide to compete for multiple niche markets.
Levy and Weitz (2004) classify the retail concept as “a management orientation which is aimed towards determining the needs of the retailer’s target market and directing the firm to satisfying those needs” When considering the retail concept that Worldwide Appliances have adopted, it has created a mixed or unique concept that has been well absorbed by consumers. Through the combination of high end products and the exploitation economies of scale utilized through its large size, it can offer warehouse style prices on its upper range of electrical products. This creates an immediate competitive advantage over smaller electrical stores.
A holistic brand image integrates entities such as values, colours, name, symbols, words and slogans (Chernatony: 2000) Worldwide can not be completely classified with a singular holistic brand image, in fact their strength lies in their ability to be related with two contrasting images. One of simplicity, discount prices and availability when common place electrical products are considered such as small electrical goods; and that of a high quality, knowledgeable, want –based supplier when products such as home theatres and imported boutique brands are considered (eg. Audioloop)
KEY DRIVERS OF RETAIL IMAGE
The second examined store was The Good Guys at Kotara. This store, through its branding, does an excellent job of defining itself to its potential consumers. The recent addition of
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Its open and honest branding, simple advertising, low prices and approachable staff create a retail concept aligned with a trusted product and immediate expectation of low prices. The generous money back guarantee offered also creates consumer trust in The Good Guys products, and further strengthens the organizations desired image.
When seeking to classify The Good Guys with a holistic brand image, it could be concluded that this retailer is perceived to offer a wide range of quality products at a low cost pricing. With no anchor brand, or preference, consumers expect truthful and unbiased advice; furthermore the relaxed atmosphere and approachability of salespeople enhance this brand image.
In relation to the retail mix of an organization, Lindquist (1974) and Mazursky and Jacoby (1986) categorized key drivers in establishing a successful retail mix; those being location, merchandise, service, and store atmosphere related dimensions.
Both Worldwide Appliances and The Good Guys have strengths and weaknesses in this regard. Levy et al (1995) places particular significance on the stores location. Both stores reviewed are in excellent locations. The Good Guys Kotara is centrally located in a large homemaker centre with high pedestrian activity and ample parking, furthermore the surrounding stores compliment its offerings. In slight contrast, Worldwide Appliances is located in a more general retail shopping centre, featuring less associated stores, but still being subjected to high traffic levels. The data collected proves this with both stores scoring above 4 on the Retail Image Study ( See appendices for raw data and Diagrams for collation and comparison) Merchandise variety is excellent in both regards with both scoring above 4, the offerings of both stores was exceptional with a wide range of quality, prices and hard to find items. The Good Guys seemed to have more stock on hand.
In regards to store atmosphere The Good Guys store seems partially cramped and less organized, showing its warehouse origins. Cluttered floor stock and hand drawn advertisements add to this feeling. In strict contrast Worldwide Appliances is a technology showcase, with large working displays of most of its products, organized sections and shelving and large illuminated signage distinctly marking out various store sections. The professionalism of the store layout gave Worldwide the edge here, outscoring its competitor. Store atmosphere mediates consumer perceptions of other dimensions of store image. Baker et al. (2002) find that store environment factors, particularly physical design perceptions, significantly affect consumers’ perceptions of merchandise price, merchandise quality, and employee service quality.
Customer service can only be described as excellent in both cases, albeit using different approaches. The Good Guys salespeople were upfront, knowledgeable and very approachable, if in fact they did not approach the consumer first, the main criticism would be that the staff did not seem to have specific store sectors. Worldwide staff performed creditably at specific product knowledge and employees operated in specific store sectors such as Hi-Fi or white goods. The staff of the Glendale store were less approachable and focused on the “up-sell” tactic in regards to purchasing aswell, this can be off putting to potential consumers.
Kerin (1992) asserts that beyond all other factors of the retail mix, price is still paramount. The pricing structure that The Good Guys have adopted is certainly a unique one, utilizing the “Pay less! Pay cash!” slogan. Consumer perception of The Good Guys extends to low fuss, knowledgeable sales people, quality products and importantly low prices. The price guarantee is affirmation of this perception. Worldwide appliances are less negotiable on their prices but still offer low prices on everyday items
DEFINING THE ORGANISATIONS RETAIL BRAND
As previously mentioned, both stores have been very effective in defining their retainlbrand. In a marketplace with so many competitors, both organisations stand alone and create distinguishable competitive advantages.
The Good Guys use definitive low price branding mixing with exceptional customer service to add value to their product line, creating a positive and trusting consumer perception.
Worldwide similarly have a positive aura surrounding their mix and branding, promoting a highly technological, wide product scope and price competitive organisation.
COLLATION OF DATA RESULTS
See attached appendices for Comparative shake diagrams
Whilst both stores have achieved a distinctive retail image in their own rights, they must realise that they are operating in a dynamic environment and change, albeit subtle, must be made. These changes must be evolutionary rather than drastic, as both stores have taken time to develop and forge distinguishing auras surrounding their products.
Clustered floor stock and narrow isles is partially detrimental to the atmosphere of The Good Guys Store. It can make the consumer feel cramped and create difficulty in examining products, barring this the consumer is expecting “warehouse prices” so most aspects of the stores physical atmosphere as correct, the simplicity and the genuineness of the salespeople as one of The Good Guys strongest attributes in creating a competitive advantage through retail branding.
Worldwide Appliances professionalism and organised store layout is exceptional, some aspects of the staffs consumer approach and product knowledge could be addressed. The diversified retail image cleverly places them in multiple consumer niche markets. The ability to remain active in both markets, being high end goods and everyday electrical needs, creates increased custom. Finally the ability to split branding and utilise a unique retail mix to create an individual competitive advantage for the organisation.
Ailawadi, Kusum L., Norm Borin, and Paul Farris (1995), Market Power and Performance: A Cross-Industry Analysis of Manufacturers and Retailers, Journal of Retailing, Vol. 71 (3), 211-248.
Baker, Julie, A. Parsuraman, Dhruv Grewal, and Glenn B. Voss (2002), The Influence of Multiple Store Environment Cues on Perceived Merchandise Value and Patronage Intentions, Journal of Marketing, Vo. 66 (April), 120-141.
Chernatony, (2000) The Criteria for Successful Branding Services. European Journal Of Marketing, November 2000
Kerin, R.A., Howard, D.J. and Jain, A., (1992). Store shopping experience and consumer price-quality-value perceptions. Journal of Retailing 68 (4), 376-397.
Levy, M. and Barton A. Weitz (1995), Retail Management, 2nd ed., Chicago: Irwin
Lindquist, Jay D. (1974), “Meaning of Image,” Journal of Retailing, Vol. 50 (Winter), 29-38.
Sayman, Serdar, Stephen Hoch, and Jagmohan Raju (2002), Positioning of Store Brands, Marketing Science, Vol. 21, Issue 4, 129-141.
Appendix 1. – Snake Diagram – RETAIL IMAGE
Appendix 2. Snake Diagram – Store Personality
Appendix 3. The Good Guys Distinctive Marketing