Examining the role of branding in positioning in the service sector, and measuring people’s perceptions of an organisation in the service industry. Academic Essay – Write My School Essay

Dissertation Proposal

Introduction

Organisations are continuously trying to build more value into their brands through their products and services in different ways such as innovating, cutting costs, improving their processes and so on    (Knox, 2004). Knox (2004) argues that customers rely heavily on familiar and trusted brands due to the fear of product or service failure in doing its basic function. He stated that even at a consumer psychological level, a well-known trusted brand can significantly limits the risk of product or service failing thanks to the perceived value of the brand in the minds of consumers. Freling, Crosno and Henard (2010) explained that there are three kinds of brand personality appeal and they are; favourability, originality, and clarity. They argue that being a favourable and an original brand does not guarantee success unless it has a clear specific target consumers. They define brand clarity as ‘The extent to which a brand’s personality is apparent and recognisable to consumers’ (Freling et al. 2010: 394). Therefore, they propose that a strong brand clarity helps in appealing to the target consumers and possibly influencing their purchasing decisions.

Furthermore, Keller (1993) discussed the concept of brand knowledge and its importance for marketers. He stated that brand knowledge includes two main elements and they are brand awareness and brand image. Understanding the significance of brand knowledge is crucial to marketers because, it can be used to influence what comes to the mind of the consumer when recognising the brand in a marketing activity. Keller (1993) also asserted the major role brand awareness plays in the consumer decision making process. He argued that it is vital that customers think of the brand while thinking of a product or a service category. In order to then influence the consumer decision making process by forming and focusing on brand associations through marketing.

Moreover, in order to develop an effective marketing mix, companies must examine their markets sensibly, with the aim of determining the structure and nature of market segments. The positioning of the brand is not about what a firm does to their brand however, it is more about creating an image in the minds of the targeted consumers. That image might be about quality, price, characteristics and value (Debb and Simkin, 1993). They gave an example of positioning in the service sector and used Beefeater as an example of effective positioning. They stated that Beefeater are aware that success in this industry can be easily copied so, they rely on targeting specific consumers and meeting their needs with a unique image. All of that is carried out by well trained staff and decent customer care. Debb and Simkin (1993) discussed that market segmentation and brand positioning have various steps that businesses have to encounter, and it could be quite complicated if the company is deciding to launch multiple products or services at the same time. The main steps of determining a positioning plan as they argued are:

  • Identifying a market’s different segments.
  • Deciding on a specific segment to target.
  • Recognising and understanding the needs of the targeted consumers.
  • Developing a product or a service to meet those needs.
  • Evaluating consumer perceptions of the competing services in the selected markets.
  • Selecting an image of the product or service to match the aspirations of the target consumers.
  • Communicating that image to the targeted consumers through a marketing activity.

 

Services are dominating most economies in the world and are constantly growing. Lovelock and Wirtz (2011) stated that services account for more than 60% of GDP around the world and most new employment is being provided by the service sector. In addition, they argue that services represent the largest growth area for marketing. Therefore, it is extremely significant to understand how services marketing differs from traditional product manufacturing marketing, and also it is key to understand what strategies can be followed in this sector to gain a competitive advantage. In addition, the characteristics of services are considerably different of those in the manufacturing sector like intangibility. Thus, it is crucial to know the differences between the two sectors and apply the appropriate strategy. More importantly, since there is less work and literature discussing branding in services marketing than branding for tangible goods, it is essential to study this area as branding is considered central to all marketing activities (Debb and Simkin, 1993).

Furthermore, Johnson (2010) explained the concept of diversification by stating that it usually involves increasing the range of products or services offered by a company. Diversification is usually divided into two main types:

  • Related diversification which includes diversifying into products or services that have a direct connection to the existing established business.
  • Conglomerate diversification which involves the business to diversify into products or services that have no relationship with what the existing business is currently providing.

Johnson (2010) argues that companies usually diversify for various reasons like improving profitability, growth opportunities, spreading of risk and so on.

Therefore, it can be argued from the above, and the existing literature that there are few challenges facing companies in terms of, recognising the level of their brand clarity, and how to measure the perception of their products and services or brands in the minds of consumers. However, it is vital to understand those perceptions to gain a competitive advantage (Keller, 1993). In addition, it can be difficult for companies to position their products or services appropriately if there are several ones at the same time (Debb and Simkin, 1993). Furthermore, the nature of services like intangibility, inseparability of the buyer and consumer, perishability etc. makes the process of branding and positioning even more difficult (Lovelock and Wirtz, 2011). Finally, a diversifying strategy can benefit a business greatly when applied accurately Johnson (2010).

From the above, the objectives of the dissertation will be to examine the role of branding in positioning in a service environment. The dissertation will look at Symphony and Town Halls and they are being managed by Performances Birmingham Ltd (PBL). Secondly, the dissertation will focus on understanding the clarity of Symphony Hall and Town Hall brands in Birmingham by determining the perception people have of those brands. Thirdly, the research will be examining and determining how flexible it is for PBL to follow a diversifying strategy to generate more revenue since the company are facing financial cut backs from their sources of income like the city council, and also because the two halls are mostly being used for similar things.

Methods

It has been noted that before any research exercise is undertaken, it is important that the paradigm of the program ought to ensure that the philosophical contributions are well appreciated. In the same context is imperative that a dependable and effective approach is elaborated early in the process before even addressing the case study of interest. Some of the options on the early stages of research program are inclusive of deciding on whether or not a positivist approach or be holistic to the same approach. In the event that the researcher is strongly considering on applying a positivist outlook to the research, the social entity of the program is perceived to have no significant influence on the output of the research. To this effect, majority of the researches that have been carried out over the last decade have applied a much more quantitative perspective in the gathering of information, which contextually, does not take into consideration the social entities of the correspondents at hand. An alternative is to do the exact opposite of a positivism approach where the research team finds a means of incorporating social attributes and entities that may be revealed during the research. Moreover, such an approach enables the research team to apply an information collection approach that accommodates all the major influences the correspondents have towards the relevant information. Theoretically, research programs are categorized into either epistemological or ontological methods. The appreciation for the philosophical contribution to any studies enables the researcher to understand the naturalistic occurrences involved with the case study. It should be noted though hat epistemology enables the understanding of how the inquirer and research program come together to meet the expectations of the researcher. As such, there are four critical examination theories that are primary to the interpretation of data in a manner that best suits the type of data and research context. These research rationales are inclusive of practicality, interpretivist, positivism and authenticity. When metaphysics has a dependability on a positivist mindset, the research approach as well as its results are not influenced by social characteristics. In addition to that, when a philosophy is used to justify results it is presumed that independent or personal information, perceptions or convictions have not been assimilated into the output of the program. Went comes to a cosmology mind set, the capacity of the researcher to logically interpreted dependable results with an appreciation for contributions of social amenities with9n the case study. It is an approach that needs a sober and clear perspective in order to see the different ways that the nature and reality of the information can be approached.  A sober mind, interpretivist, positivism as well as authenticity all have different functionality when approach from an epistemological perspective. When the epistemology is relying on the theory of positivism for relevance, the objectives and means of elaborating the data collected relies on the type of questions that are addressed by the correspondents regardless of the natural state of the situation at hand.

A research approach is critical to the dependability of the methodology applied by the researcher. In context, a researcher needs to first identify the whether the research is deductive or inductive. Starting with the prior, deductive types of researches find their basis on a predefined premise that is known to the research team with the objective being to come to a dependable conclusion on the relevance of the same. To put it into perspective, a deductive type of research involves the drafting of theories and Turing these theories into facts conclusively. Majority of the facts in most deductive approaches are the theoretical perceptions that structure the context of the research, with the output being the underpinning that prove the reliability of the theory applied. A deductive approach evolves step by step, from the selection of the theory of interest, to the drafting of a hypothesis on which the objectives of the research will be based on, the collection of data from a selected target sample, to the analysis of the collected information and concluding with the confirmation or disregarding of the predefined theories. The output in such researches are unanimously known in the survey world as inference. To be more elaborate, if a given case study has been scrutinized a couple of times, reasoning inductively forwards the suggestions that the hypothesis is possible given a criteria of conditions. The means through which inferences are made is not conventionally bolstered by matching theories not facts but is much more aimed at contributing to the existing knowledge on the subject of interest. Is usually the generic means of developing theories before their confirmation through further analysis. The next critical step in the research methodology drafting process is the establishing of whether the research is secondary or primary. In the past, primary researches have been considered as the type that assimilates the collection of new data in order to apply it in a manner that meets the elaborations needed to answer the research questions that have been drafted.  In a normal research context, it is applied in a manner that directly provides answers to the queries at the center of the objective of the research.  It is aa type of research that comes with its share of positives. The first advantage forms the get go is its effectiveness, especially when applied in a proper and effective manner. The type of data collected in primary researches more often than not, provide the answers that are heavily sought after. Another significant advantage is capacity to collet new information, effectively contributing to the existing literature in the field of study. It should be noted that, like any other type of approached of research it comes with its own share of disadvantages. Chief among them is that ty tend to be expensive. The cost of running a primary research is high due to the fact that the type of information being collected is raw and completely new. As such the resources that are needed here tend to be costlier in comparison to alternate types of researches. To this effect is another disadvantage. Since the information being collected is new to the researcher and has not been analyzed, these type of researches tend to consume a lot of time. in cases where the researcher is struggling with the proper management of primary research and data, errors tend to be high in number. Primary researchers are so delicate, in that the questionnaires ought to guarantee that the information they collect need to be practicable and dependable. In the event that it is not, it may even result to the call for the cancellation of the entire research program.  Another critical disadvantage, is the need for the research to encompass data collection and elaboration skills that will enable them to actually start and finish the primary research. In the event that the surveyor is not equipped with the resources and expertise of a primary type of approach to the research program an alternative can be found in secondary researchers. These type of researches involve the critical review of the available information on the topic of interest namely, past researches and elaborating the output of these old research programs to the relevance of the survey at hand. Some of the sources of such type of secondary information is inclusive of research articles, governmental publications, scholarly articles and publications. These type of studies also come with their share of advantages and disadvantages. A key attribute is that is a much cheaper approach to research studies. To the availability and readability of the information of interest from past research programs that are similar to the one at hand, the average time take to complete the program is much less compared to that of primary type of surveys. Secondly, the information is easily accessible provided that all the relevant ramifications of using another individual’s work are met.  It is also a type of research that is best suited for inquisitions that need further clarification with regards to the topic of interest. Due to the fact that the information sourced has already been interpreted, it makes is easier to understand, quicker to incorporate and guarantees development of the research. After all, the detriments or shortcomings of the research have already been discussed by the authors of the documents, cutting the work short for the present researcher.  Due to the already elaborated context of the output of secondary soures of data, the researcher does not need to have the research expertise or knowledge with regards to type of methodologies to apply. Its disadvantages start with the lack of coherence between the information sourced and that of the research objectives.  Primary type of researches are best suited to use a questionnaire while secondary researches try to adapt to the output of past researches. It provides the risk of error. If the research form which information is being sourced from was poorly executed, then the data from is not reliable. Another disadvantage is the age of the information from secondary sources. A researcher, may indeed find the correct information, but end up discarding it due to is outdatedness. It is imperative that the sources of information used are recent enough to encompass information that may be still in use to present. Another disadvantage of secondary type of researches is that is impractical for fields that have a frequently developing entities.  The next crucial decision to make in the methodology of the research is the type of data to be collected. When it comes to primary data, there are several type of data that can be used, beginning with quantitative. It is the type of information that is easily interpretable in numerical contexts. It enables the researcher to statistically measure the relevance of the information collected, making it easier to understand. An alternate type of data is qualitative. It is the collection of information through observation and interviews with the researchers of interest. This type of information is well detailed, enabling the researcher to avidly understand the context of the subject at hand.

The project will use two main methods of collecting data and they are questionnaires and focus groups. After a thorough examine to the literature, the writer will focus on what the research is offering by looking at the connections, similarities and contradictions of the literature. The writer then, will briefly check what the market is offering and focus on the most successful companies that offer similar services in the market. Furthermore, existing data sets will be provided by PBL to assist the author in the research. Subsequently, a questionnaire will be formulated and distributed to the customers of the two venues, students, and people from the general public. After getting the results, the data will be analysed using statistical software programs such as Excel and SPSS by formulating graphs and charts to understand the data and turn it to useful information. Consequently, the main issues raised by the results of the distributed questionnaires and the existing data set will then be used to identify patterns, connections and inconsistencies with the literature.

Based on that, questions will be formulated and given in focus groups after the supervisor agrees with those questions. Both a deductive and an inductive approach will be used in analysing the qualitative data. In other words, the deductive approach will allow the researcher to use existing theory as a way to formulate a framework that helps in organising and directing data analysis. Additionally, the inductive approach will allow the researcher to look for topics or themes that were concentrated on by the participants and then link those themes with the literature. Saunders, Lewis and Thornhill (2012) believe that a deductive approach will help in linking the research into the current literature in the subject area used. In addition, they also claim that using just one approach is proved to be difficult and researches often combine both. Saunders et al. (2012) also advise that interviews and focus groups should be audio-recorded and then transcribed to written words. However, they argue that the process of transcribing the interviews can be time-consuming therefore, they suggested several ways of getting the data transcribed with ease and they are; paying a touch-typist to transcribe audio recordings, and using voice recognition software to type the audio-recordings.

The combination between a quantitative and a qualitative approach is used because it is difficult especially for business studies to separate the both approaches for a variety of reasons like; the necessity to use open questions in the questionnaire, ‘or it may be necessary to conduct follow-up interviews to seek to explain findings from the questionnaire’ (Saunders et al. 2012: 161) which is the case in this project. Furthermore, Grebennikov and Shah’s (2013) believe that using a mixed method approach of collecting data can be richer in terms of covering the important themes in the research. In addition, they state that qualitative and quantitative data complement each other.

Conclusion

This proposal discussed briefly the topic of the dissertation with short references to key papers in the subjects of branding, positioning, services marketing and diversification. The proposal also discussed the methods that the researcher will use to gather data, the intended analysis tools to analyse the gathered data, and the theoretical justification of those methods and tools. The author will next read more key papers and books in the topics mentioned above in order to get deeper understanding on the role of branding in positioning, how flexible it is for a multi-branded company to diversify and attract more consumers. The key aspect of the project will be to understand the perceptions people have of Symphony Hall and Town Hall in order to recommend several strategies to Performances Birmingham Ltd to apply. There are several concerns with the sample size for the questionnaire as people generally dislike being stopped and asked about topics they are not interested in. Therefore, the researcher will try to get the maximum numbers of participants by using both online and face to face ways to distribute the questionnaires. In addition, a thorough examination of the literature will give the author the ability to accurately decide the research questions and the optimal ways of collecting data to answer those questions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Timetable

Month Topic
February Write Initial literature Review
March Write Final Literature Review
April Forming questionnaire and interview questions.

Start collecting data.

May Collecting data, Analysing collected data
June Write Results and Discussion
July Finishing the dissertation other parts
August Handing-in the first draft

Handing-in the final draft

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

References

Debb, S. Simkin, S. (1993). The Strength of Branding and Positioning in Services: International Journal of Service Industry Management: Vol 4, No 1. [Online] pp.25-35. Available at: http://www.emeraldinsight.com/doi/pdfplus/10.1108/09564239310024967 [Accessed 3 Feb. 2016].

Freling, T. Crosno, J. and Henard, D. (2010). Brand personality appeal: conceptualization and empirical validation. J. of the Acad. Mark. Sci. Vol. 39, No 3. Pp.392-406.

Grebennikov, L. and Shah, M. (2013) Student voice: using qualitative feedback from students to enhance their University experience. Teaching in Higher Education, Vol. 18 No. 6. Pp 606-618.

Johnson, G. (2010). Exploring strategy. 9th edition. Harlow: Financial Times Prentice Hall.

Keller, K. (1993). Conceptualizing, Measuring, and Managing Customer-Based Brand Equity. Journal of Marketing, Vol. 57 No. 1. Pp.1-22.

Knox, S. (2004). Positioning and Branding your Organization: Journal of Product & Brand Management: Vol 13, No 2. [Online] pp.105-115. Available at: http://www.emeraldinsight.com/doi/pdfplus/10.1108/10610420410529735 [Accessed 3 Feb. 2016].

Lovelock, C. and Wirtz, J. (2011). Services Marketing; People, Technology, Strategy. 7th ed. Harlow: Pearson Educational Limited.

Saunders, M., Lewis, P. and Thornhill, A. (2012). Research Methods for Business Students. 6th ed. Harlow: Pearson Hall.

 

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