Bench was founded in the Philippines by Ben Chan in 1987 originally selling men’s t-shirt in small retail stores. The brand is registered under the trademark of Suyen Corporation. The brand also grew on providing ladies’ line, underwear, fragrances, house wares, snacks, and a wide array of other lifestyle products, Kyle Marco P. de Vera, Justin Andrew Lawrence L. Rigor and Jolo Marco R. Tayag are junior students from the Department of Marketing and Corporate Communications in San Beda College AY: 2012-2013. The researchers have equally contributed to the fulfillment of the research with the help and advice of Dr.
Jennifer T. Ramos. with the distinction of being present in virtually every retail space in the Philippines, and with a worldwide network of stores and outlets, reaching as far as the United States, the Middle East, and China. It has also been a pioneer to the use of celebrity endorsers, television, and giant billboards to push for a fashion brand that offers premium quality products at affordable prices in the market. By multiple product line and brand extensions, Bench was able to go through demographic divisions such as age, gender, socioeconomic status having “Bench is forever” as the company’s article of faith.
Emerging as a global brand, Bench has 610 stores worldwide, 67 internationally & 543 locally. (Adapted from Bench’s Website) Growing globally resulted to creating new product lines and extensions of the Brand; known for being an apparel brand, Bench as a product-oriented company have evolved into being a market oriented brand not only selling clothes but also extending to the market’s needs in terms of lifestyle such as food and personal care. One of Bench’s promising extensions is Bench Fix, aside from the Fix salon, hair wax is also one of the commonly sought product today in their offerings.
Many companies or brand today have been adapting to the trends and needs of the society, by utilizing the brand that they have established in the market, they make their offerings relevant at the fast changing time. Product-line and brand extensions do not only create new markets but it is also one of the strategies in maximizing brand equity to survive in the competitive industry. The intention of the study is to know whether Bench is a strong Brand, by assessing its brand equity, brand positioning and competitiveness in the market and eventually make realizations for other pioneered and extending brand entities.
The researchers got interested with this particular study because they want to discover whether a local brand of apparel like Bench, can be a strong brand and if it can be as appealing as those of the foreign brands that Filipinos patronize. Operational Framework Input Process Output Figure 1. 1 showed the three variables that have been assessed to know whether Bench is a strong brand, it can be measured through the independent variables, and these are the brand equity, the brand positioning and how
Bench deals with the competition. The dependent variable is Bench being a strong brand because it has been the variable subject for result. The figure also displayed the process that the researchers have worked on. The research is a descriptive type of study. Survey was used to gather quantitative data which had been interpreted by its corresponding verbal interpretations. The person triangulation was intended to check and balance the consumers’ evaluation and be able to supplement qualitative data. Conceptual Framework
This concept was adapted from , which suggested that a strong brand is manifested through the following indicators; Strong Brand Equity, Strong and Clear Brand Positioning, and Competitiveness. The main problem of the study is to know whether Bench is a strong brand. It specifically seeks to answer these following questions: 1. What is the assessment of the consumers to Bench’s brand equity? a. Brand Awareness b. Perceived Quality c. Brand Loyalty d. Brand Association 2. What is the consumers’ assessment on Bench’s brand positioning level? a. Attribute b. Benefits c. Beliefs and Values
3. How does Bench deal with the competition? a. The relative strengths and weaknesses of competition. b. The marketing strategies of their competition. Assumptions were used in this study. The researchers assumed that the product line and brand extensions of Bench are only categorized into accessories, apparel, personal care, footwear and food that the consumers have assessed in the questionnaire. They also assumed the determinants used in assessing the brand positioning. The researchers presumed that the close competitors of Bench are Folded & Hung, Mint, Penshoppe, and People are
People. The researchers assumed that Bench is not a strong brand. The study will benefit local competitive company brands to push for a more valuable product and service to create stronger brands enabling them to prepare for product and brand extensions so that they can survive long in the competitive market, not only that they will focus on their current products and services but they can also focus on the other needs and interests of the market. This study will also be able to provide companies and researchers a basis for assessing whether a brand is strong or not.
The study will also benefit Bench, because the study will be able to provide an insight with regards to the brand’s current standing and be able to help them identify their existing constraints that inhibit their full brand development. To the researchers, the study will serve as ground for development, as future marketers. This research will be a good foundation for their career. In this study they will be able to assess, select, and apply carefully theories and concepts that they have learned and to the future researchers, the study will be a good source of information if ever it will relate to their topic well.
The researchers are expecting that this will be available to the public since the current researchers also had a hard time finding local studies, this will be a good reference for them. Hopefully, the future researchers will be able to improve on this study and also be aspired to help other local researchers as well. It will also benefit the consumers, with the study conducted they will be able to learn and explore more of a brand’s offerings in the market. With more choices, variation in the brand, it will likely improve their buying behavior as to how they manage their lifestyle of selection and consumption.
The scope of this study was limited on the assessment of the indicators of a strong brand, which was adopted from Armstrong and Kotler, namely; brand equity, brand positioning, and how a brand deals with competition in the market. The researchers were only focused on Bench as subject. With regards to the quantitative data, there is an ideal number of one hundred (100) respondents composed of buyers and nonusers of the brand to avoid conditional sampling; For the qualitative data, one (1) of Bench’s brand manager and one (1) brand manager of Bench’s competitor has been
interviewed, particularly Folded & Hung. Because the study is only good for duration of five (5) months, it has to meet with the researchers’ convenience. The researchers are bounded by time financial difficulty, respondents and lack of expertise. Review of Related Literature Building a Brand, a Strong One Brands play an important role in the purchasing decision of the product or service . Companies establish a brand primarily because they want to be considered a reference for customers when purchasing or availing products and services.
Like what have said in their study, brands act as shorthand in the consumer’s minds so that they do not have to think much about their purchase decision. Being a reference provider, the brands are the interface between consumers and the company; on the other hand consumers are subject to commit to brands. Since brand is a cluster of functional and emotional values that promises a unique welcome experience (Chang & Liu, 2009) and are fundamentally about relationships, these should form the main source of any company’s connection to the customers so that a brand may be able to avoid negative perception and aim for positive feedbacks.
Brand’s influence is not imposed by the company or the business; rather their relevance depends on the needs and wants of the people because “the power of the brand lies in the minds of consumers” . “Brand name alone does not make a brand” one has to be strong enough to develop a market-leading brand capacity that is essential for long-term competitiveness. What is a strong brand anyway? In identifying a strong brand, we have to take in consideration some key indicators of such; high brand equity, brand positioning and competitiveness. The Brand’s Labor: Brand Equity
Aaker defines brand equity as a set of assets and liabilities inked to a brand’s name and symbol that adds to or subtracts from the value perceived by a product or service to a firm and or the firm’s customer however Keller defines brand equity as the differential effect of the brand knowledge on consumer response to the marketing of the brand . Aaker’s definition on brand equity is centered on the consumer’s negative or positive perception attached to the brand while Keller described it as the difference between the business’ projection of the brand on the consumer’s interpretation and perception of the brand.
Taking it from a study’s perspective, have suggested that brand equity is the outcome that accrues to a product with its brand name compared with those that would accrue if the same product did not have a brand name, simply put it is the outcome of the overall marketing effort of the brand. Since there is already an evaluation of the product and service, brand equity plays a role in how information is learned and then retrieved and used in making choice .
That is why brand equity has emerged as a key strategic asset that needs to be monitored and nurtured for maximum long-term performance . Not only that it serves as an important signal to reduce perceived risk but it is also why considers brand equity as the value of a brand to the firm. According to brands with higher equity have an established strength in the market for they are able to generate higher immediate returns from their marketing mix efforts and higher loyalty brands generate greater stockpiling from promotions.
Also have mentioned that buyers respond to branding by purchasing the same products or brands or by showing preference toward a particular brand, bringing firms higher in the market share, higher profits or share value. To sum it all up, brands which have higher equity can get the customer’s preference and tendencies and result in higher level of sale . The concept of brand equity has remained a complex phenomenon for many researchers because of the many associated concepts applicable under it.
To understand it fully, the researchers would have to identify its key components. Aaker approaches brand equity as a set of fundamental dimensions grouped into a complex system comprising mainly: brand awareness, brand perceived quality, brand loyalty and brand association. The Impression, Brand Awareness For a brand to sustain a presence in the marketplace, people must be aware of it. As such, at its most basic level, knowledge encompasses brand awareness and the extent to which customers recall and recognize the brand.
. To define brand awareness, it is the consumer’s ability to identify the brand and can be measured with the help of brand recall and brand recognition. Brand recall is the ability of consumers to retrieve the brand from memory, when the product category, the needs fulfilled by the category, or some other type of probe, is given as a cue. Brand recognition reflects the ability of consumers to confirm prior exposure to the brand . It is also the extent to which a person able to recognize a particular brand given a set of brands according to .
According to the role of brand awareness in building brand equity depends on the strength of the brand’s presence in the consumers’ mind and with that brand awareness had become a vital factor to influence the buying decisions and purchase intentions . It also enhances the prospects of being considered in the future purchase situations. . But awareness alone is not enough according to for the initial work was found that awareness alone was not adequate to build brand understanding.
It will also need help of the other brand equity’s dimensions. Perceived Quality: The Judgment To sustain one’s presence in the market, awareness had been the founding principle to perform such but is the image just right to deliver positive quality perception that may even push more knowledgeable consumers to buy or purchase products. Perceived Quality is defined as the customer’s judgment of performance of a performance excellence of a product or service relative to the expectations of quality (Balaji, 2011).
In other words perceived brand quality represents consumers’ view of how well a brand meets their requirement and expectations . According to , he stated that “perceived quality also represent consumers’ judgments regarding a brand’s overall superiority”. To add on Huang’s study, said that consumers’ apparel purchase decisions may be more likely to be influenced by their perceptions of apparel attributes such as price, quality, and style than by their concerns about the ethnical conditions under which apparel is or was produced.
Perceived quality is a consumer’s subjective judgment about products or services . It is personal and irrational, quality may only equate to a certain features and benefits that are unique or different from others and these qualities may not be of standard or preference of one prospect, meaning a brand may only be able to be successful if they impress the right people or the target market per se. Brand Association: The Synapse Associations represent what the brand stands for and imply a promise to customers from the organization members.
This means that brand association is something that provides meaning to a brand . In other words, brand association are ideas or descriptions consumers can relate with the product or service offered by the brand. Other definition of brand association stated by and is that it is anything linked in the memory of the consumers to the brand and the thoughts that come up to mind after brand or offering is recalled. Brand associations help consumers retrieve and process information and evoke a positive effect and cognitive considerations of the benefits .
By convenience, brand association can actually make the product information more accessible that it can influence faster purchase decisions of consumers. Brand Loyalty: The Corner Stone Another dimension of brand equity is brand loyalty. To define brand loyalty on understanding, it is “a deeply commitment to rebuy or repatronize a preferred product or service consistently in the future, causing repetitive same brand or same brand set purchasing, despite situational influences and marketing efforts having the potential to cause switching behavior”.
In relation to the study, mentioned that loyalty is understood to be a long term attachment to a firm and it is considered to be intimately linked to consumer based brand equity. Now how can brand loyalty be of use, brand loyalty is of strategic importance for companies to obtain a sustainable competitive advantage because it is considered as one of the most important factors affecting consumer choice according to and. In identifying loyalty, satisfaction strength is a vital determinant because it plays a crucial role in the
translation of stated satisfaction into customer loyalty and research of indicates that though satisfaction is link to some aspects of loyalty, its impact may depend on facets of the prior relational experience. In addition, the authors anticipate that satisfaction strength will influence both loyalty and the translation of satisfaction into loyalty, also suggested that the willingness of individual consumers, employees, friends the investor personal sacrifices in order to strengthen the relationship may help.
One of brand loyalty’s substance is, Brand self-connection wherein according to is the idea that attachment involves a bond with the brand included as part of the self; it suggests that a critical aspect of attachment involves the cognitive and emotional connection between the brand and the self. That’s why trust in a brand is important and is a key factor in the development of brand loyalty according to because it can result to customer retention. In metaphor, brand loyalty is the cornerstone of brand equity and brand itself.
Brand Positioning According to marketers need to position their brands clearly to target costumer’s minds at the lowest level; they can position the brand on product attributes. However attributes are the least desirable level for brand positioning. A brand can be better positioned by associating its name with a desirable benefit. The strongest brands go beyond attribute or benefit positioning. They are positioned on a strong beliefs and values. They explained the concept of brand positioning in terms of its three levels.
The brand must be aligned to its goals and prospect consumers in order to be positioned well in the market. Like what have mentioned in their study, consistency in value delivered helps brand providers understand the value targets and helps customers understand the brand positioning. In the study of , they stated that it is important for businesses to create attraction in their brand to be better positioned than their competitors. In return, when a brand has a relative advantage in consumers’ mind, its market share should increase or at least not decrease .
The study of mentioned that positioning is a very left brained phenomenon, where brands are narrowly defined by either personality or benefits. When one defines brands so rigidly, the advertising gets predictable, and there’s no margin for creativity or expansion. Fluid nature and flexibility is one of the ways for brands to survive. Brand belief works by tracking a particular brand also by trying to see it in the context of other brands of the same category, the comparison creates a distinct positioning. Advantages to Competition