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Murat ERDOĞDU 1 Murat KOÇYİĞİT 1 MARKA BAĞLILIĞI OLUŞTURMADA MARKA İMAJININ ETKİSİNİN YAPISAL EŞİTLİK MODELİ İLE ANALİZİ: SPOR MALZEMESİ MARKASI KULLANICILARI ÜZERİNDE BİR ARAŞTIRMA 112 ÖZET Markaların, müşterileri ile uzun dönemli ilişkiler kurabilme ve bu ilişkileri sürdürebilme kapsamında en önemli ilişkisel pazarlama öğeleri arasında, marka imajı ve marka bağlılığı yer almaktadır. Markalar, tüketicilerin zihninde yer alan olumlu algıları ile marka imajlarını geliştirmektedirler. Ayrıca, uzun dönemli ilişkiler kurabilmek amacıyla da hem duygusal yönden hem de davranışsal yönden sadık müşteriler elde etmeye çalışmaktadırlar. Bu doğrultuda çalışmanın amacı; ilişkisel pazarlama unsurları içerisinde çok önemli bir yere sahip olan marka imajının, algılanan değer, markaya güven ve marka tatmini değişkenleri aracılığıyla, marka bağlılığı üzerindeki etkilerini incelemektir. Bu bağlamda, Yapısal Eşitlik Modeli (YEM) aracılığıyla marka imajının marka bağlılığı üzerindeki etkisini tespit etmek amacıyla kavramsal bir model oluşturulmuştur. Bu amaç ve model doğrultusunda araştırma, kolayda örnekleme yöntemiyle anket aracılığıyla Konya ilinde toplanan veriler kapsamında gerçekleştirilmiştir. Araştırma neticesinde; marka imajının, algılanan değer ve markaya güven üzerinde; markaya güvenin de marka tatmini üzerinde, tatminin de marka bağlılığı üzerinde pozitif yönde anlamlı etkileri olduğu tespit edilmiştir. Bu doğrultuda, marka imajının, algılanan değer ve markaya güven üzerinde; güvenin de marka tatmini üzerinde; tatminin de marka bağlılığı üzerinde doğrudan etkileri bulunmaktadır hipotezleri desteklenmiştir. Ayrıca, algılanan değerin marka tatmini üzerinde anlamlı bir etkiye sahip olmadığı yönünde bulgulara da ulaşılmıştır. Anahtar Kelimeler: Marka İmajı, Algılanan Değer, Güven, Tatmin, Marka Bağlılığı THE ANALYSİS OF THE EFFECT OF BRAND IMAGE ON CREATİNG BRAND LOYALTY WİTH THE STRUCTURAL EQUATİON MODEL: A RESEARCH STUDY ON THE SPORTS EQUİPMENT BRAND USERS ABSTRACT Brand image and brand loyalty are among the most important relational marketing elements for brand owners to be able to set up long term relationships with their customers and to maintain these relationships. Brand owners improve their brand images with the positive perceptions remaining in the consumers minds. In addition, they try to find the customers that are both emotionally and behaviourally faithful to themselves in order to set up long term relationships. Therefore, the aim of this study is to analyse the effects of the brand image that has a very important role among relational marketing elements on the brand loyalty in terms of the variables such as the perceived value, the trust in brand and the brand satisfaction. In this context, a theoretical model was created to determine the effect of the brand image on the brand loyalty thanks to the Structural Equation Model (SEM). According to this aim and this model, the study was carried out in the scope of the data collected through the questionnaires in Konya with the method of convenience sampling. The results of the research showed that the brand image has positive significant effects on the perceived value and the trust in brand and that the trust in brand has positive significant effects on the brand satisfaction, and that the brand satisfaction has positive significant effects on the brand loyalty. Thus, the hypotheses that the brand image has direct effects on the perceived value and the trust in brand and that the trust in brand has direct effects on the brand satisfaction and that the brand satisfaction has direct effects on the brand loyalty were supported. In addition, the findings about whether the perceived value has a significant effect on the brand satisfaction were also acquired. Keywords: Brand Image, Perceived Value, Trust, Satisfaction, Brand Loyalty 1 Necmettin Erbakan Universty Faculty of Tourism This study was presented at the 17th International Conference on Sport Science to be held in Prague, Czech Republic during October, 5-6, INTRODUCTION Brand is the focus for marketing and advertising activities as it affects and shapes the consumers and their decisionmaking process and especially differentiates tangible products from one another. Due to their properties, brands build a partnership relationship with their users and serve as a bridge in the development of a social loyalty. Being a significant factor in the consumer buying behavior, the concept brand is now increasing in importance. In order to strengthen the brand image and ensure the brand loyalty, it is strategically important for the enterprises to make the brand remain in the consumer s mind for a substantial period of time and get the target message across appropriately and also properly address the target audience. The brands that once intended to expand their market share by gaining new customers have now started to focus on protecting their current market share on account of increased competition and rapid technological developments in today s marketing conditions. Today, the brands intending to maintain their continuity have come to understanding that it is really important to create the brand image which often takes a long-term effort to form in the consumer s mind. It matters a lot to the brands how their target audience perceives them and how this audience approaches to their products and brands. In this sense, it is important that brands with a broader target audience need to know their target audience very well, be aware of what their current and potential target audience look for in a brand and ensure that their brand is adopted by consumers. Reichheld (1993; 1996) observed in his study that retaining existing customers is less costly than acquiring new customers and this notion has been generally accepted in the marketing arena. Similar studies have evidenced that brands that have consumers with brand loyalty get more competitive advantage (Reichheld, 2003). Using data from the study conducted on the users of a major brand of sportswear and sports equipment, Nike, this study examined the relationship between brand image and brand loyalty through the relational concepts of brand trust, perceived value and brand satisfaction, and a model was proposed suggesting hypotheses based on the associations between the concepts. Theoretical Framework and Literature Review Brand Image Brand image is a set of subjective and perceptual facts in the mind of consumers concerning the brand. These include symbolic and functional perceptions of the brand. In other words, consumers create an image of the brand by using what they already know about the brand and all the associations they recall relating to that brand (Keller, 1993). Concerning the commonly-held approach about the formation of the brand image in the consumer s mind, previous studies showed that consumers do not have to buy or use a product or service provided by that brand for formation of a brand image. Brand image emerges as a result of the brand-related impressions that consumers get from various sources, without having any experience with the brand or without using it (Salinas and Perez, 2009). Mass media, advertisements, brand positioning strategies, general public impressions and the perceptions from all existing sources all play a role in the creation of a brand image in the consumer s mind (Hung, 2008; Van Reijmersdal et al., 2007). A brand image well-positioned in the mind of the consumer both differentiates the brand from that of competitors and helps consumers gain a better understanding of the service provided by the brand (Salinas and Perez, 2009). Each passing day, the number of new factors is increasing due to the rapid developments in today s communication 132 technology. The traditional mass media has been replaced by the social media tools. Brands today continue their image development activities on the social media platforms which are particularly influential in the formation of brand image. To create the intended brand image in the consumer s mind, a lot of brands follow various marketing strategies via social media channels which have turned out to be the most effective strategic communication platforms today. These are the conscious attempts made and the strategies implemented by the brands for the sake of brand image. Brands make positive contributions to the brand image by developing product and service-based tactics in these strategies Moreover, brands emphasize their positive sides and strengths in the strategies and campaigns and try to strengthen their weaknesses or change the ideas of consumers (Hung, 2008; Salinas and Perez, 2009). Brand Trust Brand is a quality promise made to consumers. Consumers believe that the brand will always give them a feeling of satisfaction to the same degree or more and therefore they trust in the brand. Brand trust is a sense of security that consumers believe in. They trust the brand in that it will fulfill their expectations of consumption. Consumers build loyalty when they feel more confidence in the brand that shows the desired potential (Lau and Lee, 1999). Consumer s trust in a company or brand is of great importance. The level of the relationship between a brand and its consumers has an impact on the trust placed in that brand. Since trust creates a very valuable exchange relationship between a brand and consumers and maintains this relationship, it is considered one of the major determinants of brand loyalty. Trust also increases the tolerance for price among customers. Consumers who trust in the brand keep purchasing without showing much reaction against even higher prices. In this regard, trust becomes more important to most consumers than economy (Morgan and Hunt, 1994; Chaudhuri and Holbrook, 2001). Also, consumer trust in a brand arises from the experiences with that brand. Therefore, trust is a matter of experience. Perceived Value Brand is an image of a product or service which is committed to the memory or mind of a consumer or of another reference group of the brand and is so firmly placed that it cannot be confused with another one. The product or service associated with the brand should be available to the broadest market possible over a long term preserving or improving its appearance and quality (Kotler and Keller, 2009). Brands come to the forefront as long as they can add value to the life of the consumers, offer benefits to the customers and differentiate themselves from other brands. Today, perceived value of brands are becoming more and more important because people now access, share and use any kind of information in the quickest way, all products are effortlessly copied and all brands introduce similar products very easily (Knapp, 1999). In cases when consumers care more about a product or service provided by the brand with a higher perceived value, they mostly follow the problem solving path in purchase decision and if they are satisfied after trying the product they keep buying it repeatedly and this will result in brand loyalty over time. In cases when the perceived value is low, brand loyalty does not occur unless brand awareness is built. Brand loyalty is stronger when the personal perceived value of the brand is higher for the consumer. This happens especially when the consumer regards the brand as a source to identify himself with (Kotler and Keller, 2009). Satisfaction and Brand Loyalty Satisfaction judgments that customers make in their relationships with brands play a key 133 role in explaining their brand loyalty. Besides, consumers satisfaction with the performance provided by the brand will enhance the brand loyalty in terms of retaining them as a customer and the repurchase of product. Here performance of the brand has a central role and consumers mostly like and prefer brands that satisfy their needs and desires. If the experience with the brand is positive, this then will lead to the development of brand loyalty in consumers (Fullerton, 2005). Brand loyalty starts with customer satisfaction and trust. Brands that satisfy their customers or in other words give a sense of satisfaction and trust to the customers are more likely to maintain their existence. Customer satisfaction is a must for brand loyalty. Customers who are pleased with the brand take a positive attitude towards that brand. It is really hard to talk about brand loyalty unless customers feel satisfied and take an optimistic view. Customer satisfaction is one of the major factors that lead to the formation and maintenance of customer satisfaction. Accordingly, as the customers feel satisfied with the brand, their loyalty to the brand will remain permanent (Fornell, 1992; Darsono ve Junaedi, 2005; Hung, 2008). Brand loyalty has become one of the top issues in the customer surveys due to the recent fact that brand loyalty is the core of brand s equity and the customer satisfaction derived from the purchased product or service is perhaps the most important condition for the formation of customer satisfaction. Brand satisfaction is the comparison between expectations of customers about the brand and their experiences with that brand. In this sense, brand satisfaction comes from the comparison between customer expectations and experiences and the approval of these expectations (Bloemer and Kasper 1995). Several studies investigating the relationship between satisfaction and brand loyalty found a positive relationship between brand satisfaction and loyalty (Darsono and Junaedi, 2005; Bloemer and Lemmink, 1992; Bloemer and Kasper 1995). It was reported that customers satisfied with their brand had higher brand loyalty than the dissatisfied ones. Hypotheses and Theoretical Model In the light of the literature data, a theoretical model was developed with the intention of determining the role of brand image in the formation of brand loyalty using the variables of brand trust, perceived value and satisfaction. In addition, the possible effects of brand image on brand loyalty were investigated based on the latent variables of brand trust, perceived value and satisfaction. In this regard, the theoretical model and the hypotheses of the study are as follow: Figure 1. The Theoretical Model Trust H3 H1 Brand Image Perceived Value Satisfaction H5 Brand Loyalty H2 H4 H 1 Brand image has a direct, positive and significant effect on brand trust. H 2 Brand image has a direct, positive and significant effect on perceived value. H 3 Brand trust has a direct, positive and significant effect on brand satisfaction. H 4 Perceived value has a direct, positive and significant effect on brand satisfaction. H 5 Brand satisfaction has a direct, positive and significant effect on brand loyalty. 134 METHOD Population and Sample The present study was designed as a cross-sectional study. Population of the study was comprised of the users of Nike products a worldwide manufacturer of sportswear and sports equipment. The reason why the population was limited to the users of Nike sports equipment is that its sports products are the top selling ones in the market ( However, it was not possible to include all the users of Nike products because of time and cost constraints and difficulty in accessing the sample, so the study was carried out between the given dates using convenience sampling, a non-probability sampling technique. Of the 412 questionnaire forms administered to the participants, 375 forms were used for the data analysis as 37 questionnaire forms included missing or erroneous data. Data Collection Method and Tool One of the most commonly used methods - questionnaire technique and face to face interview - was used for the collection of primary research data. Initially a pretest, pilot study was conducted on 64 participants using the first questionnaire which included 21 attitude items. The pilot study indicated that binary variables grouped under the latent variables and all the statements were comprehensible, so the study was continued using the questionnaire consisting of a total of 27 items together with the ones included in the demographics section. The questionnaire form used in the study consists of two parts. The first part includes the following scales; brand image scale which was compiled from the studies conducted by Salinas and Perez (2009), Hung (2008), Johnson et al., (2001) and Andreassen and Lindestad (1993); brand loyalty scale which was compiled from the studies undertaken by Hellier et al., (2003), Severi and Ling (2013), Ballester and Aleman (2001) and Pappu et al., (2005); brand trust scale which was compiled from the studies by Chaudhuri and Holbrook (2001), Lau and Lee (1999), Shergill and Li (2005) and Ballester and Aleman (2001); brand satisfaction scale compiled from the studies carried out by the researchers Darsono and Junaedi (2005) and Bloemer and Lemmink (1992); perceived value scale which was developed compiling the studies by Cronin et al., (2000) and Hellier et al., (2003). The second part is composed of the questions about the demographic characteristics of the participants. The questionnaire form was prepared in Turkish. There was a total 27 questions consisting of two sections. The first 21 questions were designed in the form of statements based on Likert-type scale. A detailed literature review was performed and the scales employed in the above-mentioned studies published in the international literature were used to write the questionnaire items. Also, the items of the scale in the present study were designed based on the Nike brand. All the items in the scales which were developed to assess in terms of brand loyalty the effects of brand imagerelated perceptions and opinions of the users of Nike brand on the perceived value, brand satisfaction and brand trust were measured on the basis of 5- point-likert Type scale. The Likert scale items ranged as follows: (1) represented Strongly Disagree, (2) Disagree, (3) Undecided, (4) Agree and (5) Strongly Agree. SPSS 20.0 and AMOS 19.0 statistical software programs were used for the analysis of data. These two programs were used in 135 coordination as they complemented each other s features. Limitations of the Study Research data was collected from the users of Nike products living in Konya province using convenience sampling due to the time constraint and difficulty in accessing the sample population. In this regard, external validity and thus the generalizability of the results is limited. Another limitation was that the study dealt only with the components of a certain brand and relational marketing elements yet other variables that might have an impact on the brand loyalty were not involved. The study was conducted based on the Nike brand and the items in the scale were designed correspondingly. Also, results of the study are limited to the period between April 2015 and July 2015, during which the research data was collected. RESULTS Table 1 presents the demographics of the participants based on their gender, age, educational level, job, income and marital status. Table 1. Demographics of Participants Demographic Value Frequency Percent Demographic Value Frequency Percent variables variables Gender Female ,9 Job Public prac. 36 9,6 Male ,1 Officer 89 23,7 Total ,0 Worker 42 7,5 Private sect 70 18,7 Age ,3 Student , ,7 Other 22 5, ,3 Total , , ,8 income Less than 70 18, Total , , ,3 Educational Level Primary 8 2, ,4 (Elem.sch.) Secondary 73 19,5 More than 41 10,9 (High sch.) 2501 Junior university 92 24,5 Total ,0 degree Bachelor s degree ,9 marital married ,8 post-graduate 41 10,9 status single ,2 Total ,0 Total ,0 As seen in Table 1, 54,1% of the participants are male and 45,9% are female. 36,8% of the participants are married while 63,2
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