Exploring marketing activities to strengthen brand equity within an SME : a case study on the company PAUL och THOM
Sammanfattning: Small and Medium sized Enterprises (SMEs) are often researched through the perspectives and theories created from studies of large organizations. This constitutes the basis of a theoretical problem when studying SMEs. Specifically, SMEs and large organizations work differently with marketing for achieving competitive advantages, resulting in different requirements for theories and models. There is little literature on marketing in SMEs in particular regarding brand equity, even though SMEs account for the majority of businesses in most economies. Moreover, ways of conceptualizing brand equity in literature offers little guidance for SMEs to realize the full potential of what brand equity as a concept can create. To begin addressing this theoretical problem this case study has investigated a company that has been working to achieve a recognizable brand name, PAUL och THOM. Thus, the empirical problem addressed in this study is the perceived challenge of strengthening brand equity through marketing activities in an SME, such as catching the attention of consumers in grocery stores within the limited space and limited time to make them consider the products for purchase. Thereby, the study contributes by finding ways, presented in the case company’s activities to increase consumers’ recognition of the brand. The used method in this thesis is a qualitative approach combined with a case study design. The study has applied an inductive reasoning based on the generated knowledge from the data collected through semi-structured interviews. This study adopted the Consumer Based Brand Equity model (CBBE) for the understanding of brand equity in SMEs. The CBBE-model constitutes four brand attributes: brand identity, brand meaning, brand response and brand relationship with the brand building tools. These attributes create the basis of the conceptual framework, that shows the interconnection of the brand building attributes to the brand equity. Moreover, the conceptual framework presents the need for seeing the model as a process, where the attributes have to be maintained in the everyday activities in the company. The main findings of this study are the marketing activities, that are vital for this case company: the joint communication, the change of the brand name, the new type of exposures, the communication through radio and television and the company responsibility throughout the value chain. These marketing activities can add knowledge to SMEs that are interested in strengthening their brand equity. PAUL och THOM has a history of changing their brand in order to increase the awareness and create a more recognized brand on the market. The main conclusion of this study is related to the complex and developing market, including the behavior of the consumer: one way to succeed on the market was to participate with strategic hubs on the market. Strategic market hubs found in this study facilitated the communication of the brand through using hubs such as: grocery stores, radio, television channel, Facebook and Instagram. This is one way for the wholesaler of getting in contact with a bigger consumer base for SMEs. This study contributes specifically to knowledge in SMEs that are interested in building brand equity and researchers interested in understanding such processes. It offers in-depth insight on brand equity conceptualized as activities identified from case study research on PAUL och THOM. Moreover, these findings can also help to inform regional business policies, where the goal is to support SMEs to become more competitive in Sweden until 2020. Lastly, this study presents strategic choices and associated activities that can strengthen the brand equity in particular SMEs and identifies how to understand such processes.
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