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Introduction

Brands are the main concepts that companies strive to acquire because they illuminate the image of the company. Strong brands sell the company’s reputation and places the companies on a good marketing position. Brands play a huge role in terms of marketing because a single brand can market the entire products of a company (Kiyani, 492). Brands are the main elements in marketing that affect the consumers’ perceptions and preferences, whereby a certain product becomes the favorite brand due to various aspects that they possess. Though marketing strategies may affect the relationship between customers and brands, companies should always put more weight on consumer perception towards the products they produce in order to qualify them as brands.

The debate on whether or not consumers have relationships with brands

This topic is debatable due to the complexity involved in digging out supportive facts of each side of the debate. The topic has invited the interest of many marketing scholars and analysts, who still differ on the subject. A prime example of the debate is depicted by Susan Fournier through her journal “Consumers and their brands: Developing relationship theory in consumer research, and her opposing counterparts Vargo Stephen and Lusch Robert through their marketing journal “evolving to a new dominant logic for marketing”. Fournier argues that customers posses a bond with particular brands, while Vargo and Robert differ greatly. These two scholars argue that consumers do not have any bond with brands because they do not understand the value of these brands. Consumers act as the operand resources where marketers segment them, penetrate them and eventually distribute to them products and services (Vargo & Lusch, 7). This means that it is the manufacturer of the brand that understands the quality of the product. They base their argument on modernization and globalization where the claim that in the past, an individual would visit manufacturers likes masons and define the type and quality of product they want the mason to mold for them. However, those old days are in the past and the current world is driven by technology, where manufacturers invent products that fit the preferences of their consumers. In this regard, these authors claim that it is the manufacturers or the innovators who know the in-depth quality of a product and not the consumer who buys ready products

Susan Fournier deeply disagrees with the reasoning perspective of these authors because she claims that customers posses a relationship with brands. This arises because consumers buy the end products and they know what type of product they need, which is why manufactures produce vast varieties of products to fulfill their trends and tastes (Fournier, 343). This clarifies the fact that consumers have different preferences that are fulfilled by specific types of products. Therefore, since these products meet consumer preferences means that consumers build their bond with these products; hence, proving that there exists a relationship between consumers and brands (Fournier, 346). For this reason, Fournier’s explanation of how customers relate to brands posses candid facts that outlay how certain brands while other do not. These facts are exhibited by various companies that include KFC Restaurant and the Toyota Company.

Case studies that depict consumer relationships with brands

Brand 1- KFC Restaurant

KFC restaurant is an American based fried chicken restaurant, whose full names are Kentucky Fried Chicken. The restaurant changed from offering fried chicken towards other healthier alternatives like grilled chicken due to the rise of heath conscious consumers. Prior to chicken, the company also offers family meals like fixed variety of chicken wings and drumsticks (Platt & Duronio, 1). Despite various variety of food, the chain of restaurants is renowned for its spicy and delicious fried chicken. The exceptionality of the restaurant’s fried chicken meals helped KFC to become an outstanding brand, which is why it rated as the leading chicken restaurant in 2000. Currently, the restaurant has 19,000 outlets in 120 nations, which explains the strength of KFC’s brand (Platt & Duronio, 1).

Brand 2- Toyota Car Company

Toyota is a Japan based motor company that is currently the world’s third largest manufacturer, assembler, and distributor of automobiles. The company has manufacturing plants in 25 countries and sells its vehicles in 160 nations globally (Toyota, 1). Toyota company have a wide range of cars that are classified as follows; passenger cars that include Yaris, Corolla, Prius and many others. More so, there are luxury cars like Avalon. The other category of Toyota vehicles is classified as SUVs or crossovers and it include the highlander, RAV4 among others (Toyota,1). Toyota is a strong brand that has lived to beat the odds of times, and according to the OICA report, Toyota ranks as the world’s largest carmaker. This means that Toyota motor company has attained an outstanding reputation of being one of the most effective and efficient manufacturers globally. Ideally, Toyota’s reputation and competitiveness is brought by its ability to meet customers’ needs by manufacturing high quality and save vehicles than those of its rivals.

Analysis

The two prime examples presented by Toyota and KFC brands depict that consumer perception towards particular products is still dominant irrespective of the advancements mentioned by Vargo Stephen and Lusch Robert. This is the case because though manufacturers understand the value and quality of the products, the consumers are the determiners of the type of product they prefer. This act of consumer behavior is usually driven by quality, which means that companies that produce high quality products build strong customer relationship. For instance, consumer in need of a chicken meal will shun McDonalds and other restaurants until he finds a KFC restaurant. This is due to the positive perception of spiced up boneless chicken offered by KFC that pushes the customer build his loyalty towards the restaurant (Platt & Duronio, 1). The same case applies to individuals or organizations who want to purchase vehicles. These consumers will search for Toyota cars as their favorite brand because Toyota cars are efficient, comfortable and safe (Toyota, 1). This further depicts that Toyota’s customers who have built their loyalty on Toyota, will go back for more not because Toyota built cars that fit their trends, but because these customers have tasted the quality and efficiency of the company cars. Therefore, customers have a strong bond with brands, which is why consumers keep going back to specific companies for particular products.

Conclusion

            As much as the producers of products understand the quality of the products they produce, the end user of these products is the most crucial determinant in branding (Kiyani, 492). This pose a challenge to companies because they are obliged to foster products and services that perfectly satisfy consumers’ needs. This step is crucial because satisfying products build strong consumer loyalty that end up rating their products as brands.

 

 

 

 

Work Cited

Fournier, Susan. Consumers and Their Brands: Developing Relationship Theory in Consumer research. Journal of Consumer Research. 1998, 24(4), 343-370.

Kiyani, Talat, M. The Relationship between Brand Trust, Customer Satisfaction and Customer Loyalty. (Evidence from Automobile Sector of Pakistan). Interdisciplinary Journal of Contemporary Research in Business. 2012, 4 (1), 489-543).

Platt, Eric, & Duronio, B. How KFC Became The Biggest Fried Chicken Joint On The Planet. Business Insider. 2012. Web.

Toyota. All 3 Toyota Brands Top Consumer Reports’ 2012 Reliability Survey. Toyota.com. 2012. Web.

Vargo, Stephen & Lusch, Robert. Evolving to a New Dominant Logic for Marketing. Journal of Marketing. 2004. 68, 1-17.

 

 

 

 

 

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