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Research Report on Consumer Brand Preference in Australian Retail Sector

Question

Task
Write a research report on the factors governing consumer brand preference in supermarket or retailers in Australia.

Answer

Executive Summary
This research report will shed the light upon the factors that influence the consumer brand preference in the Australian retail sector and the current report has been organised in eight chapters so that the factors and their influence can be analysed in details. The introduction of this report describes the background of the research and the research question and also the problem statement. As the report goes on, in the literature review the topic of the research has been supported with literature findings. The methodology describes how the process of the findings and data analysis will take place and here the use of secondary data collection, linear equation, and thematic analysis has been done. In the discussion part, the key findings have been discussed in detail and at last, a conclusion and area of recommendations have been provided.

1.0 Introduction

1.1 Background of the research
The variety of brands make our life better and in the market, there are millions of brands available for the convenience of the customers as it allows them to choose from the range of products for making their life easier but there are factors that drive a person towards a particular brand or company. These factors can include many things like the quality of the product, the price of the product, the brand name, and so on and these are not the only factors that affect the brand preference of the consumers (Che et al., 2015). In Australia, there are various supermarkets and retail stores and people prefer going there for buying their regular products so, it can be seen that people are very much aware of the particularity of the product that they want and in the fashion retail sector it is seen more vividly. So, this research report will emphasise on what are the factors that make them choose a particular brand even though that product is available in some other brand or some other substitute product is available in the market. The research will find out what the dependent variables are in this particular context and how the dependent variable is affected by the independent variables. In this report, the dependent and the independent variables will be identified based on the research aim and topic so that the findings can be analyses in a proper way to reach to the conclusion.

1.2 Problem statement
The research will be focused on what are the major factors that affect the consumer brand preference and this report will also find out how the brand preference work in the retail sector of Australia and how the consumers are driven to a particular brand that they have on their mind even though some other brand is offering the same product.

1.3 Research question
Here the report will find an answer to this particular research question that has been mentioned below.

  • What are the factors governing customers to select brands items in an Australian supermarket?

2.0 Critical literature review
In this section, the literature shreds of evidence will be discussed that are associated with the consumer brand preference and have a major influence on how the consumer chooses the brands. According to Ebrahim et al. (2016), a brand refers to an identity of a product and it has various components like brand image, brand personality, brand logo, brand design, packaging, promotion, and so on and brands that belong to the fashion industry of Australia is known and prioritised by the consumers for the quality, design, colour, material quality and so on which are very important components for creating the brand equity and brand loyalty. If brand loyalty is there then the consumers will be buying the products again and that that is what the manufacturers seek. There is another factor which is known as brand involvement and brand involvement is referred to the interest of customers towards a brand and it shows how loyal they are to a specific brand. Some of the factors can be analysed from the literature study as they were mentioned to be affecting the customer brand preference and they have a high influence behind it.

2.1 Brand preference
As opined by Šugrová (2018), brand loyalty is the factor that makes sure that a customer chooses a brand even though there are millions of substitutes of that particular brand but that consumer refuses to select any of them and selects the only brand he or she has on his or her mind. As said by Al Abdulrazak & Gbadamosi (2017), Customers prefer the fashion or clothing brand most of the time depending on their income level and most of the times the image of the product plays a major role in brand preference and there is an awareness among the consumers that have been created based on the product image and also the information about the garments has a major role to play in this area. People who are belonging to the middle-level income chose clothing brands based upon that and the people who belong to the higher income level chose high-end brands like Zara and Forever 21 and so on (Shepherd, Chartrand & Fitzsimons, 2015).

2.2 Brand Involvement
Brand involvement is the factor that shows how informative the customers are about the brand and it also shows how much interest and concern they have about that particular brand. As per the discussion by Lieven et al (2015), this is one of the major and one of the core areas of explaining the behavior of the consumers and the preference they have about the brand. It also explains the feeling that the consumers have regarding the brand and the product and it also explains the relationship between the consumer and the brand so that the satisfactory level can be understood. The researchers have explained the level of brand involvement through three factors that are namely, personal, physical, and situational and it was also seen that the brand involvement can be increased through effective promotion and it can be done through the print media, radio, and television and so on (Chegini et al., 2016).

2.3 Brand Participation
Brand participation refers to activities that are done by the customers and it can only be applicable for the branded products that have the proper origin of the company. It helps in increasing the brand preference and it is done through promotional activities (Mehra & Singh, 2016). Some of the consumers do not get attracted or attached to any particular brand because they do not actively participate in any kind of promotional activities that are carried out by the brands. As said by Bell & Buchner (2018), Brand participation is an engagement tool that is used in a wide range by the brands so that they can increaser the brand engagement and customer activities for increasing the brand loyalty which will provide the customers who will choose that particular brand for a long time (Henninger, 2015).

3.0 Research methodology

3.1 Secondary data collection
For carrying out research two types of data collection are usually used by the researchers and the data collection methods are named primary data collection method and secondary data collection method (Müllensiefen et al., 2018). The primary data is usually collected by meeting the survey participants and it can be collected through the survey, questionnaire, field research, experiments, focus group, and so on however at the same time secondary data is collected by taking the help and information which is relevant with the research aim and topic from the research papers that has been written by another researcher, books, articles, journals and so on. Secondary data can be collected by taking help from the internet, company articles, and company annual reports as well. In this current context for finding out the factors that influence the brand preference of the Australian consumers in the retail sector, the secondary data was used as it was the most convenient way to gather the research data (Ebrahim et al., 2016).

3.2 Analysis of the collected data
The data was collected by gathering the articles and journals from the internet and some of the research data was collected from the company articles and company annual reports that are available on the official websites of the company. After collecting all the data, the data was sorted and then they were analysed using the thematic analysis method (Su & Chang, 2018). This method helps in organising the vast amount of secondary data that was collected and it also helps in analysing them by relating the key finding to the literature review which makes the work convenient for the researcher. In the findings and analysis part of this research, the themes have been identified as to be the independent variable and the themes are convenience, variety and assortments, product price, and product quality (Beneke et al., 2015). The dependent variable is identified to be the brand preference of the consumers and from the linear equation, these themes have been generated.

3.3 Limitations in data collection
There were a few limitations while gathering the research data by using the secondary data collection and that created some of the inconveniences in carrying out the research. First of all, as the data was collected from other author’s work and published articles it was not easy to find out that if those data are authentic or not. Second of all, there was a huge chance of misinterpretation of data so the researcher had to keep that in mind that none of the collected data are misinterpreted and the core meaning remains the same. Lastly, as there was a limitation of time, the data collection had to be done in a hurry which was another area of limitation that was faced by the researcher.

3.4 Ethical consideration
The research was carried out by keeping all the ethical considerations in mind by the researcher. The researcher made sure that none of the data is misinterpreted and every time a data was derived from a journal or article that is written by some other author, the researcher made sure to mention the name of the author by in texting and putting the details of the journal in the reference list. This research meets all the ethical criteria that are important in carrying out research.

4.0 Findings
Based upon the literature review conducted in the report, the following themes have been found that would have required a secondary data analysis approach to unveil the factors that influence the customer decision making in selecting brand items in the supermarket sector of Australia, and in particular Woolworth.

4.1 Theme 1: Convenience
It has been found that most of the retail consumers in Australia prefer a convenient shopping experience when it came to buying retail products from Australian supermarkets like Woolworth. This data has been found through the works of previous research works into this field, when a staggering 77% of the surveyed customers of Woolworth said that while selecting brand products for their daily grocery while being it in an online or offline mode, they preferred the ease of access to their needed products (Ramya & Ali, 2016). When further pursued with this line of the query, through personal interviews with the surveyed customers, they raised the point that many factors decide how they define convenience for their shopping experience with the Australian supermarket major Woolworth. Among these factors were parking facilities near the retail outlets of the brand, the manner products are assorted in the outlets, the friendliness, and assistance provided by the staff at the particular Woolworth outlet, and the discounted price on their daily needed goods (Bäckström & Johansson, 2017)). In this context, it has often been expressed by these shoppers that easy online shopping portals of the brand are also a critical factor that decides their loyalty to any particular retail supermarket brand in Australia (ur Rehman et al., 2017).

4.2 Theme 2: Variety and Assortment
Regarding the findings that cropped up in the previous survey, it was also found that customers liked to continue their brand loyalty in their retail shopping activities when their destination outlets had a very diverse range of product variety and assortment. In explaining this reason, various reasons have been cited by this surveyed population and some of them can be listed as in the following. With the global reach of advertising, concerning retail products, the Australian retail customer population has shown their willingness to try international brands and substituting their daily usable goods when something better is in the offing (Jain, 2018). Based on this particular logical reasoning, most of the retail sector customers in Australia have displayed a liking for securing easy access to a diverse range of retail product lines, where they could find their preferred and customized version of any product that other retail outlets have not been able to cater to them (Martínez-Novoa & Hodges, 2015). One of the major reasons behind Woolworth's success in retaining its customers for selecting its collection retail brand items, consistently, is the fact that the company has always taken care to stock its inventory with a diverse set of retail products that could be used to attract customers, even if they are a first-time buyer.

4.3 Theme 3: Price
Competitive pricing is one of the other major features that have been found consistently when research works were carried out in finding the causes of retail brand selection and loyalty for the Australian population (Valaei & Nikhashemi, 2017). In a study on the effect of pricing on the customer decision making for the retail product brand selection in Australia, it was found that supermarket giants like Woolworth have been using a meticulous approach to market survey for assessing the right combination of competitive pricing and other discounts for promotion, and this has been one of the major influencers for goading a retail product buyer to buy into a certain brand product (Müllensiefen et al., 2017).

4.4 Theme 4: Product Quality
Product quality has been another predominant factor that has found to been influencing brand selection decision-making for the Australian retail sector consumers. In many of the previous studies, it has been found that retail majors like Woolworth have been pitching the sales of their product-based unique quality that is exclusively associated with the brand identity of these organizations (Hsiao et al., 2020). For instance, it has been discovered that Woolworth, over the years, has been developing homegrown retail products like foods and others, which have their exclusive appeal for their customers, and this has been one of the major success in retaining the targeted consumers to stick to these types of branded products (Pool et al., 2018).

5. 0 Discussion
From the thematic analysis of the secondary data in the previous section, it has been found that for the Australian retail consumers, in selecting their product brands, various factors are predominant and almost consistently found for any type of customer segment (Husnain & Akhtar, 2015). Among these factors, ease of access to the retail products, either through online or internet shopping platforms, convincing pricing and quality assurances, and variety of choices, as related to the purchase of these products, was the major determiners (Kaczorowska-Spychalska, 2018). In other words, it has been observed that notwithstanding the demographic or behavioral segmentation of these customers, the presence of product quality, variety, and competitive pricing is always a winning combination, when it came to influencing the decision making of the retail sector consumers in Australia. In congruence with the findings in the literature review section, it was also observed through the current research findings that product quality and marketing of the same, that combined appropriate price proposition and variety of choices offered the most significant amount of competitive advantage for companies like Woolworth, but on owing to the market penetration of other major e-retailers like Amazon, the same might be largely challenged. And as a consequence of that companies like Woolworth had to develop its unique online sales capabilities that could match with that of Amazon and others (Corral et al., 2017).

6.0 Conclusion and recommendations

6.1 Conclusion
As a conclusion, it can be said that the research found out how the independent variables like convenience, variety, and assortments, product price, and product quality affects the dependent variable which was identified to be the consumer brand preference and it can be said that these factors have a major influence in driving the customer towards a particular brand. From the thematic analysis that was done in this report, it was found that the customers continue with their brand loyalty when they get the quality product within a proper price that suits their income level and when there is the availability of the product and variety in the range as well. In the Australian fashion retail industry, these factors work as the major determinant that was found from the annual report of Woolworth’s group as well. This research is based on the secondary source of data and there were some limitations in data collection and in sorting the data as well. The limitations include finding the proper article and company report or annual data and as they were needed to sort for a linear equation to execute the thematic analysis, it was time consuming and not an easy work to execute. As a result of this research it can be said by maintaining all those factors the companies maintain their brand loyalty and that is the key factor to make the customers repurchase a product and also they will be choosing the brand over any other brand so this is how the customer brand preference can be managed and in the fashion retail sector of the Australian market, this is one of the key areas to maintain the brand loyalty among the customers so that they keep on repurchasing the product they prefer.

6.2 Recommendations
A few recommendations can be started from this research report and the recommendations are stated below.

  • The fashion clothing or accessories brands of Australia should focus on brand engagement so that customer participation can be built and that will help them in increasing customer loyalty and that will create the brand preference among the customers.
  • Bringing up various offers and discounts for the customers can also help build up the brand preference that will lead up to the consumer brand preference. As some of the clothing brands might not follow this as it does not go with their brand image, so in that case, bringing up new collections from time to time will help them to increase customer loyalty.

7.0 Reference list
Al Abdulrazak, R. M., & Gbadamosi, A. (2017). Trust, religiosity, and relationship marketing: A conceptual overview of consumer brand loyalty. Society and Business Review, 12(3), 320-339. https://doi.org/10.1108/sbr-03-2017-0014

Bäckström, K., & Johansson, U. (2017). An exploration of consumers’ experiences in physical stores: Comparing consumers’ and retailers’ perspectives in past and present time. The International Review of Retail, Distribution and Consumer Research, 27(3), 241-259. https://doi.org/10.1080/09593969.2017.1314865

Bell, R., & Buchner, A. (2018). Positive effects of disruptive advertising on consumer preferences. Journal of Interactive Marketing, 41, 1-13. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.intmar.2017.09.002

Beneke, J., De Sousa, S., Mbuyu, M., & Wickham, B. (2015). The effect of negative online customer reviews on brand equity and purchase intention of consumer electronics in South Africa. The International Review of Retail, Distribution and Consumer Research, 26(2), 171-201. https://doi.org/10.1080/09593969.2015.1068828

Che, H., Erdem, T., & Öncü, T. S. (2015). Consumer learning and evolution of consumer brand preferences. Quantitative Marketing and Economics, 13(3), 173-202. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11129-015-9158-x

Chegini, F., Molan, S. B., & Kashanifar, S. S. (2016). An examination of the impact of cultural values on brand preferences in Tehran's fashion market. Procedia Economics and Finance, 36, 189-200. https://doi.org/10.1016/s2212-5671(16)30030-2

Corral, L. C., Walker, K. J., Hubert, S. K., Smith, K. R., & Cheramie, L. M. (2017). undefined. https://doi.org/10.31274/itaa_proceedings-180814-1924

Ebrahim, R., Ghoneim, A., Irani, Z., & Fan, Y. (2016). A brand preference and repurchase intention model: The role of consumer experience. Journal of Marketing Management, 32(13-14), 1230-1259. https://doi.org/10.1080/0267257x.2016.1150322

Ebrahim, R., Ghoneim, A., Irani, Z., & Fan, Y. (2016). A brand preference and repurchase intention model: The role of consumer experience. Journal of Marketing Management, 32(13-14), 1230-1259. https://doi.org/10.1080/0267257x.2016.1150322

Šugrová, M. (2018). undefined. International Scientific Days 2018. Towards Productive, Sustainable and Resilient Global Agriculture and Food Systems: Proceedings. https://doi.org/10.15414/isd2018.s2-3.12

Henninger, C. (2015). Traceability the new eco-label in the slow-fashion industry?—Consumer perceptions and micro-organisations responses. Sustainability, 7(5), 6011-6032. https://doi.org/10.3390/su7056011

Hsiao, S., Wang, Y., Wang, T., & Kao, T. (2020). How social media shapes the fashion industry: The spillover effects between private labels and national brands. Industrial Marketing Management, 86, 40-51. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.indmarman.2019.02.022

Husnain, M., & Akhtar, M. W. (2015). Impact of lifestyle on brand preferences (Genuine versus counterfeits smartphones). Journal of Business Administration Research, 4(2). https://doi.org/10.5430/jbar.v4n2p30

Jain, S. (2018). Factors affecting sustainable luxury purchase behavior: A conceptual framework. Journal of International Consumer Marketing, 31(2), 130-146. https://doi.org/10.1080/08961530.2018.1498758

Kaczorowska-Spychalska, D. (2018). Shaping consumer behavior in fashion industry by the interactive communication forms. Fibres and Textiles in Eastern Europe, 26(4(130)), 13-19. https://doi.org/10.5604/01.3001.0012.1307

Lieven, T., Grohmann, B., Herrmann, A., Landwehr, J. R., & Van Tilburg, M. (2015). The effect of brand design on brand gender perceptions and brand preference. European Journal of Marketing, 49(1/2), 146-169. https://doi.org/10.1108/ejm-08-2012-0456

Martínez-Novoa, L. M., & Hodges, N. N. (2015). Identity and apparel consumption among Puerto Rican consumers. Fashion, Style & Popular Culture, 3(1), 87-104. https://doi.org/10.1386/fspc.3.1.87_1

Mehra, P., & Singh, R. (2016). Consumer preferences and purchase decision-making for micro-packs— an empirical study. Vision: The Journal of Business Perspective, 20(3), 224-236. https://doi.org/10.1177/0972262916652806

Müllensiefen, D., Hennig, C., & Howells, H. (2017). Using clustering of rankings to explain brand preferences with personality and socio-demographic variables. Journal of Applied Statistics, 45(6), 1009-1029. https://doi.org/10.1080/02664763.2017.1339025

Pool, J. K., Asian, S., Abareshi, A., & Mahyari, H. K. (2018). An examination of the interplay between country-of-origin, brand equity, brand preference and purchase intention toward global fashion brands. International Journal of Business Forecasting and Marketing Intelligence, 4(1), 43. https://doi.org/10.1504/ijbfmi.2018.088628

Rehman, F. U., Bin Md Yusoff, R., Bin Mohamed Zabri, S., & Binti Ismail, F. (2017). undefined. Young Consumers, 18(4), 408-424. https://doi.org/10.1108/yc-06-2017-00705

Shepherd, S., Chartrand, T. L., & Fitzsimons, G. J. (2015). When brands reflect our ideal world: The values and brand preferences of consumers who support versus reject society’s dominant ideology. Journal of Consumer Research, 42(1), 76-92. https://doi.org/10.1093/jcr/ucv005

Siddiqui, I., & Mishra, U. M. (2017). undefined. iJARS International Journal of Humanities and Social Studies, 3(3). https://doi.org/10.20908/ijarsijhss.v3i3.8162

Su, J., & Chang, A. (2015). Factors affecting Taiwanese college students' brand loyalty towards fast fashion. https://doi.org/10.31274/itaa_proceedings-180814-24

Valaei, N., & Nikhashemi, S. (2017). Generation Y consumers’ buying behaviour in fashion apparel industry: A moderation analysis. Journal of Fashion Marketing and Management: An International Journal, 21(4), 523-543. https://doi.org/10.1108/jfmm-01-2017-0002

Woolworths Group: Quality Brands and Trusted Retailing. https://www.woolworthsgroup.com.au/icms_docs/195794_annual-report-2020.pdf

8.0 Appendix

consumer-brand-preference-1

(Source: Woolworthsgroup.com)

consumer-brand-preference-2

(Source: Woolworthsgroup.com)

consumer-brand-preference-3

(Source: Woolworthsgroup.com)

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