Another issue to examine, besides the advantages and disadvantages of online shopping versus high street shopping, is branding. This is a crucial issue to examine because branding might also influence if a person shops online or shops in the stores. Branding might cause a person to shop online because it is looking for specific brands that might not be available in stores. On the other hand, branding might encourage people to buy high street shops because these shops do a more effective job of branding than do online stores. It is also important to look at what branding is.
Branding began with the modern age. Current consumption is also driven by the choices offered in contemporary society; options that were not provided in earlier communities before mass production of goods became the norm (Gabriel & Yang, 1995). This mass production also had a side effect, one that would affect the fascination with labels and designers of the post-modern individual – branding became important, as there was so much many goods flooding the market, that companies needed to distinguish their products from the multitude of other assets that were coming into existence. This led to aggressive pricing, and eventually to the rise of designer brands such as Calvin Klein and Ralph Lauren (Klein, 2000), according to Naomi Klein (2000).
Because brands are mostly the same – Coke is not that much different from Pepsi, Reebok is not much different from Nike. Apples are not substantially different from PCs-businesses need to find a way to separate themselves from their rivals. Goldman & Papson (1996) argue that this has created a rather cluttered landscape for the advertising world, as each brand is trying to get a leg up on it its competitors by branding themselves as somehow different from the rest. Another approach is by targeting and counterattacking – such as when MCI called AT&T in their friends and family ads, thereby taking market share away from AT&T, AT&T went on to defensive, deriding MCI’s friends and family system as a “personal relationship manipulator” because the system involved giving MCI details to a person with no knowledge of that individual. Another way is by showing what a product is not – such as when Pringle’s potato chips transposed an image of their light disk with that of a guy eating greasy chips that dripped on his shirt (Goldman & Pappas, 1996).
Since brands have a hard time claiming that their product is better than the other guys, so they try to increase their symbolic identity value – the flannel shirts of LL Bean may be the same in quality as Wal-Mart’s, but the image of wearing an LL Bean’s shirt makes the value more than Wal-Mart. It is all about the image that has been carefully cultivated in the advertisements for these brands, where the product and the picture coming together are known as this is what is implied when someone says you ‘re “paying for the word” (Goldman & Pappas, 1996).
Identity became a construct of consumption; in that person, both men, and women, started using waste, not as a way to express one’s identity, but to construct it – “brands and we’re finding out who we are. “(Kacen, 2000). This reflects the fluidity of an individual’s identity and reveals that gender identity is also a fluid concept instead of a fixed attribute (Kacen, 2000). Part of this was made possible by the Nikes and Tommy Hilfigers of the world who are not just selling products but also the image that their brand connotes. Therefore, small manufacturing has been replaced by marketing (Klein, 2000).
Price discounting may differentiate one’s brand from other brands because of the problem of brand similarity. There is some evidence that price discounting may harm the reputation of a store and the identity of a brand, and that it may not generate sales (Grewal et al., 1998). Therefore, whether or not it works depends on other factors. One factor is known as the perceived discount. According to Gupta & Cooper (1992), retailers will commonly inflate the price of the item before “discounting” it, distorts the perception of the offered savings. This may lead to discounting price problems, as the public becomes aware that they are being deceived, which would ultimately backfire on the retailer. Gupta & Cooper states that a customer will perceive deception in this regard more if the retailer is less reputable than another retailer. So, a high-end store will be more successful in discounting items, as individuals will be less suspicious that they are being deceived, then would a low-end store (Gupta & Cooper, 1992, p. 402). So, a discount at Saks Fifth Avenue would carry more weight than a discount offered at JC Penney.
Price discounting is also more effective when used on a name brand than a store brand. Gupta & Cooper (1992) states that if a brand name has a high amount of equity, this brand is generally not harmed by discounting. In other words, a consumer will not think that a Kate Spade purse is of inferior quality because it happens to be on sale. On the other hand, a discounted store brand is more likely to be perceived as less credible than the discounted name brand. Therefore, consumers are more likely to be suspicious of a discounted store brand and believe that they are not getting a good deal when dealing with a discounted name brand (Gupta & Cooper, 1992, p. 403).
Other factors affect how a consumer perceives the value of the discount. According to Blattberg et al. (1995), several empirical generalizations can be applied to the act of price discounting. Among these is that, if a particular brand cuts its products frequently, then this backfires, as it lowers the consumer’s reference price for the brand. Correspondingly, if the brand discounts commonly, the height of the deal spike is lowered (Blattberg et al., 1995).
Marketing is another issue that should be examined to determine why somebody might prefer online shopping over High Street shopping. The Four Ps of marketing might be a factor in whether a person decides to shop online or shop in high street stores. The four Ps are product, price, promotion, and place (Vargo & Lusch, 2004, p. 1). These are factors that might influence a person to choose one product over another and one mode of shopping over another. As for the product part of the four Ps, one product needs to differentiate itself from another product, and this is where branding comes in. Price is self-explanatory, and if a consumer can get a better price on-line then in high street stores, or vice-versa, this would be an advantage for one of the other. Promotion is the third marketing P, and this would be another factor, in that the development that an on-line site uses might appeal to specific groups of people – such as promotions on social networking sites might reach younger people as opposed to senior citizens, or advertisements shown during certain older-skewing shows might appeal to older people, etc. The place is the fourth P, which refers to how the product is connected with the customer and how accessible it is. This is an essential factor, as people might choose brick and mortar stores because the product is readily available, as opposed to having to wait for products from online stores.
Thus, the research talks about branding and marketing and how price wars and price discounting can disrupt a brand. Therefore, it is essential to understand the mechanisms of branding and marketing, and how these two interact and how individuals react to each. According to the research, brands have to look at credibility as a significant issue when discounting their brands. If a customer suspects that the original price is inflated, the customer will put less likelihood on the discount. This is more pronounced with lesser-known brands and brands with lesser equity than with better-known brands with higher brand equity.
Moreover, it is clear from the research that a brand cannot do multiple discounts because that destroys brand equity. It destroys brand equity by lowering the brand’s value, as the customer gets used to the brand being discounted. Hence, the discount value of the brand essentially becomes the price point that the customer expects.
What the research does not talk about, however, is precisely how price discounting works when one compares on-line shopping to High Street shopping. In particular, there should be research investigating how much more likely an individual is to buy online versus buying in brick and mortar stores if one discounts products more than another. If the same brand is available on-line cut from High Street, will an individual buy the product online, or will they still buy the product from High Street, or vice-versa? What effect does price discounting have upon a person’s decision to buy one brand or another? When is the price lowering effective in motivating a person to buy one brand over another brand, and how does this interact with the tension between online and High Street? For instance, if a brand repeatedly offers an item online for a discount, does this harm the brand the same as if High Street offers this same item for a refund? The research indicates that repeatedly offering a discount on an article in the store will hurt the brand, is it the same with doing this on-line? The study shows that high-end brands will be harmed less by repeatedly discounting items in the store – is this true, and is it the same for the online discounts? And how does all of this interact with the marketing of the items – does marketing influence people buying one brand over another, regardless of whether or not there is a discount for this brand? In other words, how effective is marketing on-line – does it negate the need for price discounting for lesser-known brands? How effective is regular marketing for High Street stores?
- What effect does price discounting have on brand equity?
- If a product is available online, discounted from a brick and mortar store, are individuals more motivated to buy this product online?
- If a brand is repeatedly offered online for a discount, does this affect its brand equity, the same as if the High Street stores repeatedly offered it online?
- How does the quality of the brand affect the brand discounting with regards to on-line or High Street stores?
- To what extent does marketing affect the above questions?
Aims & Objectives
- Aims – to fill in the gaps in the literature regarding this question. To understand how brand discounting works with regards to on-line and High Street stores.
- Objectives – to provide retailers with information about discounts, and how brand discounting affects them regarding their online stores or their High Street stores. Also, to give the retailers marketing ideas to overcome any kind of problems that may be encountered with brand discounting and provide marketing ideas that may substitute for brand cutting, they may not have to cut their brands if they market their products correctly.
There are many types of research, and this submission will examine each kind of research, their flaws, and why they are right or not right for this particular project. The first type of research that will be examined will be primary research, which consists of qualitative and quantitative analysis. While these types of research have much in common, in that data must be collected by the researcher from individual participants, they are also different in many different ways. Where quantitative research consists of mere data collecting and marked by detachment from research participants and the viewing of study with a mechanical eye, qualitative research seeks to build a relationship with the participants of the studied phenomenon. (Langelett, 2003, p. 7). The researcher accomplishes this by making friends with their subjects by spending time with them and gaining their trust. The questions in qualitative research are open-ended and geared towards the focus of the inquiry set by the researcher. The raw data that is collected from the qualitative study is then analyzed for patterns. Once a design is discerned, more information is collected to flesh out these patterns while reconfirming the earlier themes and topics. (Langelett, 2003, p. 8).
There are various kinds of qualitative research. One is case study research, and this is a type of research in which one person, group, or event is analyzed. Other kinds of qualitative research include grounded theory, where the method develops during the data collection process, or is built by, and grounded in, the data, and is used to create new theories; phenomenology, in which “the researcher identifies the essence of human experiences concerning a phenomenon as described in a study” (Hossain, 2008, p. 10); ethnography, which is grounded in cultural anthropology, and describes a culture or way of life in the eyes of a native, and seeks to understand the cultural patterns and perspectives of that culture in a natural setting; and narrative, which is examined thoroughly in this paper. (Hossain, 2008, p. 10). Data collection in qualitative research may take the form of focus groups that bring together a small group to speak about an area observes the subjects in a natural setting by becoming a part of the environment, such as becoming the part of a staff who performs regular duties around the items; and in-depth interviews, in which subjects are interviewed individually, to produce broad-ranging, penetrating issues, without preset questions. (Hossain, 2008, p. 11).
Qualitative research seeks to build a relationship with the participants of the studied phenomenon. (Langelett, 2003, p. 7). The ultimate goal of qualitative research is to provide depth to a given subject, as opposed to breadth. This is accomplished by acquiring in-depth and intimate information from a small group of participants. An equally important goal is to explain how people think, behave, and make meaning, as opposed to the simple observation about these same factors. (Ambert et al., 1995, p. 880).
One of the advantages of qualitative research is its function in discovering phenomena that are in opposition to merely confirming an already existing event. The qualitative researcher gathers new information that may reflect new behaviors and practices, new ways of structuring or organizing socially, and new ways of thinking. Thus, existing ideas may be modified, redirected, or added to, and, in the process, new ideas are found. (Ambert et al., 1995, p. 880). It also provides investigative depth to a particular problem or phenomenon by delving below the surface of current awareness to find matters and issues that only are revealed by scrutiny. (Shank & Villella, 2004, p. 48).
Because qualitative research is good at discovering a new phenomenon, it is the most appropriate type of research for this project. This is because the literature about this topic does not explicitly address the effect of price discounting of brands on online versus High Street. Therefore, qualitative research must be used to explain how individuals are affected by brand lowering online versus brand cutting with High Street. There might be alternative reasons why specific groups of people have preferences, and previous researchers have not yet discovered these reasons.
The data collection that will be used will be surveyed, with some open-ended questions. These are appropriate because it allows individuals to respond to open issues with their ideas. The human participants will be two different focus groups of 10 individuals. The first focus group will be five women and five men ages 65-75. The second focus group will be five women and five men, ages 15-25. The groups will be found by issuing random questionnaires at malls to request that the person fills them out. The participants will not be paid or get any kind of compensation, so it is hoped that there will be enough individuals who will want to participate in this study because they are opinionated and like to have their voices heard, and this is the kind of participant that this study will seek out.
I will analyze the data using coded utterances. This will be helpful, as it will allow me to categorize the different statements that the participants give, which will help ascertain patterns of the responses. For instance, responses that are geared towards security issues can be categorized as such, responses geared towards reliability issues the same, etc.
Proposed Project Plan Including Research Ethics
The timeline for this project is two months. This timeline is two months because there needs to be time to hand out the initial questionnaires, which will not be used in the data results, but, instead, will be used to identify individuals interested in this focus group. The problems that might be encountered is
On the ethical considerations reading human subjects, the study is guided by the inherent respect inherent in dealing with human participants. Of primordial importance is the continued recognition and respect for the dignity, autonomy, freedom, and humanity of the participants (Golafshani, 2003, p. 599). This is manifested through (a) asking permission from the participants (b) respecting the privacy and individuality of the participants via allowing them to lead the discourse and not drawing from the experiences and stories that they are not comfortable in sharing (c) by showing them the notes of the interview so that they can check the validity of the data (Probert, 2007, p. 66; Golafshani, 2003, p. 597). Moreover, the participants were guaranteed that their anonymity would be respected throughout the research. The reason behind this was due to the sensitivity of the topic discussed.
As such, before the interviews’ actual conduct, the participants’ consent was first secured, and the time and date of the meeting were set at the convenience of the participants. Furthermore, all the participants were briefed regarding the purpose of the research, how it is to be conducted and they were told that if they were not comfortable with the procedures they were free to inform the researcher and if necessary they could withdraw from the research anytime (Creswell, 2007, p. 245).
Voluntary Informed Consent
All participants will be involved in the informed consent process which is made up of three dimensions: 1) all information was disclosed to the participants; 2) I will be sure to ascertain that they understand what has been revealed to them, and 3) ensuring that they are voluntarily and that they do not have to agree to participate in the research if they would prefer not to. The disclosure of information will, however, be sufficient ‘such that persons can decide whether they wish to participate in the furthering of knowledge’ (National Commission 1979, 11).
Anonymity and Confidentiality
This plays a central role in gaining willing participants to take part in this piece of research. As a result of this my research design follows that of the “Belmont Report of Respect for Persons,” which asserts that the participants should be treated autonomously to allow them to “make the deliberate decisions about whether to participate in the research” (Cozby, 2004 p. 39).
Right to Withdraw
In response to the Belmont report’s findings, the participants signed an informed consent form that provided them with information. They allowed them to withdraw from participating in the study at any time. Furthermore, information that was included on the consent form stated that they were giving me permission to record the focus group and interview audibly which had to meet section 8.03 of the Ethical Principles of Psychologist and Code of Conduct, better known as the Ethics Code requirement to record (Cozby, 2004) audibly.