This paper offers a review on the methodology of 6 marketing research articles of consumer-brand relationship that concentrate on brand loyalty since it is a heart of business marketing plan. There are brand loyalty researchers that interest in generating marketing model (Jeuland, 1979; McAlexander, Kim, and Roberts, 2003) and in finding meanings and dimensions of consumer expression (Albert, Merunka, and Valette-Florence, 2008; Berg, 2008; Fournier and Yao, 1997; Slater, 2000). In this paper, each article is reviewed separately on their methodology, objective and result.
Firstly, Jeuland's (1979) positivistic article offers a new model of the multinomial stochastic brand choice as one aspect of the notion of brand loyalty by using the quantitative research approach. The empirical data were collected from the repeated purchase consumers of cooking oil in France (1979, p.671). In his introduction, he claimed that most of brand loyalty marketing models do not include descriptive factors such as product attributes, their ability to apply in the global marketing is limited (1979, p.671-2). He later proved his claim and explained it in detail by derived the both of Morrison's Brand Loyalty model and Last Purchase Loyal model (1979, p.672-6). In his methodology, he derived his new multi-brand model of individual choice behaviour. The new empirical results table were reproduced and compared with the result from the old model (1979, p.677-9). Two hypotheses were tested and applications of model are offered.
Similar to Jeuland's (1979) research, McAlexander, Kim, and Roberts' (2003) research offers the new marketing theory by building the marketing model and analysis the result from it. Their empirical research is highly positivism with their 4 hypotheses. The relative contribution of brand community concept is explored through both qualitative and quantitative approaches (2003, p.1). Their research consists of 3 days participant observation and unstructured interviews with 12 American players in a casino conducted by two disguised research teams (2003, p.4). The Likert-type scale survey questionnaire was constructed based on the observation and interviews. Questionnaires were sent to 1000 selected player from the same casino with a casino dinner offers for two in which I consider it is an extremely excellent idea to persuade casino players to participant. There were 415 responses and 372 fully completed responses were used for analysis (2003, p.5). The hypotheses were examined through model analysis and 3 of 4 are supported. The marketing theory was built from the results and the implications for marketing practice are provided in the discussion (2003, p.6-7). However, in my opinion, the empirical data for building a theory should not be collected from one casino.
Dissimilar to the first two research, Fournier and Yao's (1997) paper is more interpretive. Their research explores customer and brand relationship, the character and concept of brand loyalty from the perspective of consumer experience to construct an understanding of brand loyalty (1997, p.454). This qualitative research was conducted through the 2-3.5 hours semi-structured interview. Six or more probed images were chosen by intentionally selected 8 interviewees to represent their story of coffee brands (1997, p.455). The interview were separately analysed by Fournier and Yao within three areas which are: (1) major sociological details; (2) interactions with brands; and (3) behaviours and attitudes. They later combined and shared their interpretation of each interview and their understanding of the interviewees' brand relationship (1997, p.457). Part of each interview were briefly illustrated and grouped in three categories: (1) the different type of consumer and brand loyal relationship; (2) the unknown significance of non-loyal relationship; and (3) the misleading meaning of present brand loyalty definitions (1997, p.457-67). The result offered the clearer understanding of brand loyalty and relationship of consumer and brand. It also led to the development of new brand loyalty theory in the perspective of consumer's experience (1997, p.467-70).
Albert, Merunka and Valette-Florence's (2008) research conceptually and empirically explored the main feeling and its dimensions of French customers for their brands by using both qualitative and quantitative approaches (2008, p.1062). They offer a clear step-by-step explanation of their methods. This study used the internet survey method which is built on the semi-structured interviews. The structure of their survey is not a typical uninteresting survey questionnaire. There are 19 selected images symbolising feeling of customers toward brands (2008, p.1064). Each image represents more than one word to describe for instance Love, Loyalty, Passion and Relationship (2008, p.1072-3). The method of selecting picture is also described in their article. There were 880 participants and 834 entirely completed questionnaires were selected to analysis (2008, p.1065). However, the results from the internet survey cannot be completely reliable. Some participants who do not have feeling for any brand, might nevertheless choose one of the images. Albert, Merunka and Valette-Florence employed the Correspondence analysis and Cluster analysis in which 9 dimensions of love for brands are uncovered in this stage. Then they compared these dimensions to the dimensions from Ahuvia's study in 1993 with American consumers (2008, p.1069-74).
Berg's (2008) research is slightly positivistic approach with her three unstated questions in which I came across them in her discussion when she thoroughly explained her answers in details. The qualitative research started in 2003 by conducting a one and a half structured interview on two focus groups of nine participants per group. The Norwegian retail bank general customer were purposefully selected to participate according to their relationship to their bank (2008, p.223). The result of qualitative part became quite confusing to me, Berg claimed that 'the qualitative approach does not say anything about the prevalence of each of the different bank customer types, and we cannot claim that the participants in the two focus groups are representative of bank customers in general' (Berg, 2008, p.225-6) in the research methodology part of the article, which is why she started the quantitative analysis in 2007. The quantitative analysis is partly built on a result of the qualitative focus group interviews in 2003 (2008, p.222). The data were collected from the 15 minutes questionnaire interview of 1000 randomly selected Norwegian bank customer with wide-ranged age with the intention of being nationally representative by using telephone surveying technique called Computer-assisted telephone interviewing (2008, p.226-7). The data were quantitatively analysis resulting in Berg's answers to her three questions consist of Loyalty, Reflective and unreflective trust and Incentives. Berg also discovered from the result of the analysis that there is a widespread lack of interest in banking among the Norwegian customer (2008, p.231) in which in my opinion it can cause error in the research result.
Unlike the other researches which data were collected from regular consumers, Slater's (2000) research data were collected from the brand collectors in which they extremely loyal to their brand. As she stated that collectors are dissimilar from consumers, their purchase behaviours are often involved with emotion rather than logic (2000, p.202). This research is focused on the loyal relationship between a collector and a brand which is the world's top soft drink, Coca-Cola (2000, p.202-3). When I was reading this article, I was amazed by how much the collectors love their brand. I believe there is no other brand has this kind of loyalty. This research is the interpretive approach. It is done without any hypothesis and drew on two main qualitative research methods which are Ethnography and Qualitative interviewing. Participant observation and semi-structured interviews are employed as the qualitative data collection techniques. First step of this collecting data is through the observation by attending Coca-Cola Collectors' annual convention and events. Being in the environment gave a clearer understanding of the collector's behaviour. This led to constructing the interviews and selecting the interviewees (2000, p.203). Twenty interviews took place in the collectors' homes with the intention to view the collections from September, 1996 to May, 1997. Slater uncovered the collector's relationship and perceptions of the brand by interviewing the collectors (2000, p.203). In my opinion, Slater is a highly interpretive researcher. She is truly fascinated by the story and how they expressed their feeling for their brand based on her 21 thoroughly selected quotes (2000, p.203-7). In her conclusion, she gave an advantage and disadvantage of having these truthfully loyal collectors that they are highly focus by the media which can promote the brand as well as damage it (2000, p.207).
Jeuland's (1979), McAlexander, Kim, and Roberts' (2003) researches are positivistic. They generated the new marketing model and theory from empirical data. McAlexander, Kim, and Roberts's (2003) Albert, Merunka and Valette-Florence's (2008) and Berg's (2008) research used both qualitative and quantitative approaches. They employed the qualitative data as a background to build their quantitative methods. Whereas Fournier and Yao's (1997) and Slater's (2000) interpretive researches are done without any hypotheses and using only the semi-structured interviews which were partly given as examples in their articles.
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- Berg, L. (2008). 'Loyalty, Naively, and Powerlessness among Norwegian Retail Bank Customer'. International Journal of Consumer Studies, 32, 222-232.
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- Fournier, S. and Yao, J.L. (1997). 'Reviving Brand Loyalty: A Reconceptualization within the Framework of Comsumer-Brand Relationship'. International Journal of Research in Marketing, 14, 451-472.
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- McAlexander, J.H., Kim, S.K. and Roberts, S.D. (2003). 'Loyalty: the Influences of Satisfaction and Brand Community Integration'. Journal of Marketing Theory and Practice, Fall 2003, 1-8.
- Slater, J.S. (2000). 'Collecting the Real Thing: A Case Study Exploration of Brand Loyalty Enhancement Among Coca-Cola Brand Collectors'. Advances in Consumer Research, 27, 202-207.