Degree Type

Dissertation

Date of Award

2012

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Apparel, Events and Hospitality Management

First Advisor

Linda S. Niehm

Abstract

Place branding is the practice of establishing a favorable, strong, and unique brand for a geographic entity. Despite its usefulness and increasing popularity, key issues related to place branding remain unexplored. An important role of the place brand is to uplift and support individual brands within the place. Yet, very little research has addressed the dynamics between place brands and individual brands within the place. The purpose of this study is to offer a systematic and theoretical account of the place brand's impact on individual brands within the place.

This study focused on the branding of industrial clusters and investigated the impact of the cluster brand (CB) on individual brands (IBs) of firms within the cluster. The study deciphered the impact of the CB on the IB as being an information inference process. That is, when cluster customers do not have sufficient information to evaluate the IB, they will infer relevant information from the CB to assist in their IB evaluation. Grounded in three theoretical frameworks of information inference theory, the accessibility-diagnosticity framework, and the reasoned action model, this study revealed that (a) the type of information inferred from the CB to IB, and (b) outcomes of the inference process from the CB to IB. Additionally, this research examined the moderating roles of CB familiarity and CB and IB similarity on the level of above information inferences.

This study employed an on-site survey combined with experimental research design techniques. The data were collected from 747 industrial buyers in a large textile manufacturing cluster in China. A structural equation modeling (SEM) technique was used to estimate the overall model and test the hypothesized relationships between the CB and the IB. The research was further enhanced by verifying causality from the CB to the IB, using ANOVA. The full model was tested using SEM procedures and employed hypothetical brands created for this study.

This study demonstrated that a favorable CB can enhance cluster customers' perception of the IB brand personality, trust level in the IB, and overall attitudes towards the IB. Two groups of information are directly inferred from the CB to the IB: brand personality attribute information and brand trustworthiness. The extent of these information inferences is moderated by the similarity level between the CB and IB. The results indicate a positive relationship between industrial buyers' brand attitudes and their (a) perceptions of brand personality and (b) trust in brand. Furthermore, when industrial buyers have stronger attitudes towards the IB, their intention to purchase or recommend the IB will be increased.

This study constitutes the first study that has theoretically and empirically investigated the impact of the place brand on individual brands within the place. The focus of a Chinese industrial cluster and Chinese industrial buyers enriches place branding research by adding cross-cultural evidence. As such, this study has made an important step towards understanding place brands and the place branding process, and aids in building a general theory of place branding. The research provides practical recommendations for both place organizers and managers of individual brands within the place.

Copyright Owner

Yao - Lu

Language

en

File Format

application/pdf

File Size

134 pages

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