Explicating industrial brand equity. Integrating brand trust, brand performance and industrial brand image

AuthorSharifah Faridah Syed Alwi, Bang Nguyen, TC Melewar, Yeat Hui Loh, Martin Liu
Publication Date13 Jun 2016
Explicating industrial
brand equity
Integrating brand trust, brand performance
and industrial brand image
Sharifah Faridah Syed Alwi
Brunel Business School, Brunel University, Uxbridge, UK
Bang Nguyen
Department of Marketing, East China University of Science and Technology,
Shanghai, China
T.C. Melewar
Middlesex University, London, UK
Yeat Hui Loh
University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and
Martin Liu
Nottingham University Business School, University of Nottingham Ningbo,
Ningbo, China
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to explore brand equity from multiple perspectives (tangible
and intangible) and their joint consequences, namely, on industrial buyersbrand loyalty and their
long-term commitment. The aim is to provide a more comprehensive framework of the buyers
behavioral response in the business-to-business context by integrating both trust elements and
industrial brand attributes (brand performance and industrial brand image). In addition, the study
explores the mediation effects of trust and brand attributes on industrial buyersresponses such as
loyalty and long-term commitment.
Design/methodology/approach Using a survey approach, the study includes respondents
working in the heati ng, ventilating an d air-conditionin g (HVAC) industry in M alaysia, and
data are collected in the industrial air-conditioning segment. The research model was tested
with SEM.
Findings Findings show that brand performance and industrial brand image directly affect brand
trust but with different effects on buyerscommitment and loyalty. Interestingly, industrial brand
image only mediates the responses via brand trust, while brand performance has a direct effect. Thus,
both brand performance and industrial brand image build buyer trust. But in this context, it is brand
performance rather than industrial brand image that influences long-term commitment and loyalty.
The study concludes that in the HVAC industry, brand performance, industrial brand image, buyer
trust, industrial loyalty and commitment build brand equity.
Originality/value Significant research reveals that, in business-to-business contexts,
brand equity depends on the suppliers brand trust and attributes of the brand such as brand
image and brand perf ormance. While use ful in guiding a suppl iers or industrys brand strategy,
the study of both brand tr ust and brand attribu tes has led to only a partia l explanation of
the suppliers or industrys brand equity. The present research explores industrial brand
equity, focussing on tangible assets ( performance) and in tangible assets (br and image), and their
joint consequences.
Keywords Brand image, Commitment, Brand loyalty, Brand performance, Brand equity,
Corporate brand
Paper type Research paper
Industrial Management & Data
Vol. 116 No. 5, 2016
pp. 858-882
©Emerald Group Publishing Limited
DOI 10.1108/IMDS-09-2015-0364
Received 9 September 2015
Revised 15 November 2015
23 November 2015
Accepted 29 November 2015
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:
1. Introduction
Business-to-business markets are evolving and transforming worldwide due to global
economic and market changes (e.g. Beverland et al., 2007; Hur et al., 2014). Competitive
pressure has increased and firms face challenges from domestic and international firms
alike (Cretu and Brodie, 2007; Melewar and Nguyen, 2015). Technological advancements,
high-capacity information exchange and new supply chain management models all fuel the
changing competitive landscape (e.g. Davis et al., 2008). In addition, the differentiation of
business-to-business products is fading as firms return to compete merely on pricing
(Hinterhuber, 2004) and personal relationships (Han and Sung, 2008), consequently, eroding
profits (Keh and Xie, 2009). The various cost reduction measurements adopted by firms,
such as low-cost production and technology, exacerbate the problem and create generic
markets with little differentiation (e.g. Kotler and Pfoertsch, 2007).
Thus, as a result of stiff competition, these industrial manufacturers are turning to
industrial brand building activities by adopting differentiation strategies (e.g. via
company brand image and supplier reputation) in order to achieve a sustainable
competitive advantage (Bendixen et al., 2004). Managing brands is crucial for industrial
manufacturers as they increase the industrial brand equity through: first, providing
firms with cash flow benefits and increased network power (Beverland et al., 2007);
second, clarifying and strengthening the corporate or (industrial) brands identity
(Beverland et al., 2007); and third, building brand equity through corporate brand
image and corporate reputation (Chi-Shiun et al., 2010; Cretu and Brodie, 2007). Such
benefits have led to several scholarly research focussing on industrial brand equity and
covering more intangible attributes such as brand image and corporate reputation
(Davis et al., 2008; Van Riel et al., 2005).
Corporate (industrial) branding in the industrial branding/B2B context itself is still
largely a new area (Chi-Shiun et al., 2010; Leek and Christodoulides, 2011). While
research exists regarding most of the sources of industrial brand equity (such as brand
loyalty, perceived quality, brand awareness, brand associations and brand
satisfaction), trust with the company/brand,considered an important aspect of
brand equity and an emotional brand aspect (Ambler, 1997), is somehow, with
exception of Han and Sungs (2008) study, rather rarely explored (Ambler, 1997;
Chaudhuri and Holbrook, 2001). Indeed, there are conflicting views as to whether trust
should be studied as part of, or separate to the brand equity concept (Ambler, 1997).
There exists vast research regarding trust in other scholarship of literature, such as in
business relationships (seller-buyer), but somehow this stream of research is not
connected to branding. As such, the importance of understanding brand-related
attributes under which evaluations take place in the B2B context have also been under-
researched (Leek and Christodoulides, 2011).
Therefore, in the present study, we explore business customersperceptions toward
industrial brand attributes by combining multiple branding aspects (rational and
emotional) and their effects on the purchase decision making (repeat buying and
long-term commitment). We developa comprehensive model to examinethe relationships
between brand performance (tangible), industrial brand image (intangible) and trust
(intangible) inrelation to industrial buyersloyalty and their long-term commitment with
the brand. Using the industrial air-conditioning brands in Malaysia, with participants
involved in the purchase decision making of industrial air-conditioning systems from the
commercial building and industrial plant sub-segments (purchasers, engineers,
consultants, etc.), we explore their perceptions and feelings about industrial brand
attributes. The heating, ventilating and air-conditioning (HVAC) industry is particularly
brand equity

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