Measuring and modelling brand equity in the Hong Kong continuing education industry
thesisposted on 29.03.2022, 00:07 by Anna Nga Yee Lee
The concept of "brand equity" has received widespread recognition and research attention among marketing scholars and practitioners in recent years. Strong brand equity can confer a number of important competitive advantages to a business. Brand equity is a complex, broad and multidimensional concept, but there is still a lack of consensus on how brand equity should be measured. Furthermore, the causal interrelationships among dimensions of the brand equity construct remain unclear, and few studies have empirically examined the interrelationships among the dimensions of brand equity and their impacts on consumers' responses. There is, however, general agreement that the broad construct of brand equity can be broadly viewed from two perspectives: consumer-based brand equity or financial-based brand equity. Despite the significance of brand equity to businesses, no model is currently publicly available which has widespread acceptance and which can examine the interrelationships among the dimensions of brand equity, and predict their impacts on consumers’ responses as well enable the calculation of the value of a brand, particularly in the continuing education (CE) sector. Branding is increasingly recognised as one of the important sources of sustainable competitive advantage in higher education. Thus, the study proposed, firstly, a financial brand equity model, adapted from the Moran (1993, 1994) model which was used to measure the financial brand equity of the Hong Kong CE industry and of the major CE institutions (the final outcome of customer-based brand equity) (Keller and Lehmann 2003). Secondly, adapted from Aaker (1991) and Keller’s (1993, 2003) consumer-based brand equity models, a customer-based brand equity model of the Hong Kong CE industry was proposed to test and measure the causal interrelationships among the “antecedents” or “sources” of customer-based brand equity and predict the “consequences” or “outcomes" of customer-based brand equity in terms of customers’ behavioural intentions (the first outcome of customer-based brand equity) (Keller and Lehmann 2003). This study represents the first published attempt to adapt and operationalise two models: firstly, the Moran (1993, 1994) model of brand equity valuation in the Hong Kong continuing education industry. Secondly, Aaker (1991) and Keller’s (1993, 2003) customer-based brand equity models were adapted to test the causal interrelationships among the four dimensions of consumer-based brand equity and their relationships to customers’ willingness to enrol in a CE programme, to recommend a CE institution to others and pay a higher fee. The financial brand equity model of the study provided brand equity calculations of the Hong Kong CE industry and of its major institutions, and the calculations were further validated by cross-referencing with available secondary data researched and drawn from different local publications to ensure the broad accuracy of the brand equity valuation of individual institutions and of Hong Kong CE industry. The results of customer-based brand equity model of the study indicated the model exhibited good fit and predictive performance in examining the causal interrelationships among the dimensions of brand equity and identifying which dimensions of customer-based brand equity have significant impacts on consumers’ behavioural intentions and customers’ willingness to pay a higher fee. The results support the conclusion that brand equity exists, and is important, in the Hong Kong CE industry. Some dimensions, including brand loyalty, brand associations and perceived quality were proven to exhibit causal ordering and interrelationships and to significantly influence customers’ behavioural intentions and willingness to pay a premium price. The models can be used by marketers to understand the brand values of their institutions’ brands, the causal interrelationships among the four dimensions of customer-based brand equity and how the different dimensions of brand equity help to predict customers’ behaviour. These measures can help practitioners analyse the value of their brands as well as their competitors’, develop their marketing strategies and marketing communications plans, and in building and managing their brands more effectively. The measures can also be used for longitudinal brand health checks and to evaluate the effectiveness of advertising and branding campaigns and events.