Building Stronger Brands: How Brand Perceptions Preference and Relationships Drive Brand Choice

Sara Sousa & Louise Philipsen

Student thesis: Master thesis


Building strong brands is one of the most important goals in brand management, as strong brands are a source of firms’ competitive advantage and generate higher financial value in the short and long-run. Consumer-based brand equity (CBBE) aids and guides managers in measuring and untapping the value of their brands. Inspired by CBBE theories of Aaker and Keller, this paper casts doubt on some of their foundations, for instance, questioning the prerequisite of brand awareness for brand equity and strength, and the disregard for other dimensions of branding such as brand relationships. To cope with these limitations, this thesis combines two streams of brand management literature, the consumer-based and the relational approach. The purpose is to investigate how knowledge-based and brand relationship perspectives drive consumers’ brand choice/purchase intent and subsequently uncover what drives strong brands. This paper uses correlation and regression analysis to test if and how much consumers’ brand perceptions such as perceived value and differentiation, preferences and brand relationships such as actual and ideal self-congruence, brand satisfaction and attachment, drive brand strength in a low involvement category for both high and low awareness brands. The two adopted streams of literature are founded in contrasting traditions. Still, the paper’s analysis and development of results follow the methods used within CBBE theory. Therefore, this paper is embedded in a quantitative and a neopositivistic perspective, whereby the thesis’ main limitation lays in not exploring the deep meaning and nature of consumer-brand relationships. Findings show that brand strength depend more on brand consumption than on brand awareness, thus undermining Keller’s premise that brand awareness is necessary for brand strength and proposing that consumers might follows the decision-making process of cognition-affection-action. Brand choice is strongly driven by the brand’s ability to satisfy consumers’ needs at a functional level regardless of awareness level, and at an emotional level. Furthermore, consumer-brand relationships impact brand choice but in different ways depending on the awareness level: in the low awareness brand, consumers actual self-congruence drives brand strength more, whereas in the high awareness brand, brand satisfaction overtakes consumers’ self-verification process. Lastly, as this paper is one of the first to combine two different approaches to branding, it sets a precedence and proposes future research directions within the topic, with different methods of investigating the combined role of brand awareness and trial on purchase intent as well as test the proposed model in other brands, industries and involvement-level categories

EducationsMSc in International Marketing and Management, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2019
Number of pages167