A cultural approach to brand equity: the role of brand mianzi and brand popularity in China

Abstract

International marketers face a challenge in applying Western-derived theory in emerging markets such as China where there has been rapid economic growth and sociocultural transition. This study develops “culturally contextualized” determinants of brand equity in China. A qualitative approach consisting of 30 interviews revealed two new factors linking to brand equity: brand popularity and brand mianzi. A quantitative questionnaire survey with a sample of 321 Chinese smartphone users was conducted to test the hypotheses. The quantitative study’s findings further revealed that brand popularity and country of origin image affect brand loyalty, brand awareness, perceived quality, and brand mianzi. Additionally, the effects of brand popularity and country of origin image on brand equity were mediated by the four determinants. Finally, brand mianzi was found to be the second most important determinant of brand equity after brand loyalty, highlighting the importance of cultural factors in branding activities in emerging markets.

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Appendix 1: Construct measures

Appendix 1: Construct measures

  Item description and sources
  Brand awareness (Yoo and Donthu 2001)
BA1  I can recognize smartphone brand X among other competing brands
BA2  I am aware of smartphone brand X
BA3  Some characteristics of smartphone brand X come to my mind quickly
BA4  I can quickly recall the symbol or logo of smartphone brand X
  Brand mianzi (new scale)
MZ1 Smartphone brand X enabled me to gain mianzi
MZ2 Smartphone brand X increased my face in front of others
MZ3 Smartphone brand X fulfilled my needs of vanity and pride
MZ4 Smartphone brand X enabled me to get easily accepted in social groups
MZ5 Smartphone brand X can help me to show to others that I am special
MZ6 I can feel proud of myself if I owned smartphone brand X
  If I’m the only one in my group of friends who is not using this smartphone brand I will not be able to join them (this item was not included in the data analysis)
  Smartphone brand X is capable of conferring dignity and pride to myself and my family (this item was not included in the data analysis)
  Country of origin (Yasin et al. 2007)
COO1 The country from which brand X originates is a country that is innovative in manufacturing
COO2 The country from which brand X originates is a country that has high level of technological advance
COO3 The country from which brand X originates is a country that is good in designing
COO4 The country from which brand X originates is a country that is creative in its workmanship
COO5 The country from which brand X originates is a country that has high quality in its workmanship
COO6 The country from which brand X originates is a country that is prestigious
  Brand loyalty (Yoo and Donthu 2001)
LOY1 I consider myself to be loyal to the smartphone brand X
LOY2 Smartphone brand X would be my first choice
LOY3 I will not buy another brand if smartphone brand X is available at the store
  Brand equity (Yoo and Donthu 2001)
BE1  It makes sense to buy X instead of any other brand, even if they are the same
BE2  Even if another brand has the same features as X, I would prefer to buy X
BE3  If there is another brand as good as X, I prefer to buy X
BE4  If another brand is not different from X in any way, it seems smarter to purchase X
  Purchase intention (Dodds et al. (1991))
PI1 If I were going to purchase a smartphone, I would consider buying this brand
PI2 If I were shopping for a smartphone brand, the likelihood I would purchase this brand is high
PI3 My willingness to buy this smartphone brand would be high if I were shopping for a smartphone
PI4 The probability I would consider buying this smartphone brand is high
  Brand popularity (new scale)
POP1 This smartphone brand is a popular one in my country
POP2 This smartphone brand name is famous
POP3 Many people in China buy this smartphone brand
POP4 Most of my friends own this smartphone brand
  Perceived quality (Dodds et al. 1991; Yoo and Donthu 2001)
QUA1  The likely quality of smartphone brand X is extremely high
QUA2  The likelihood that smartphone brand X would be functional is very high
QUA3  The likelihood that smartphone brand X is reliable is very high
QUA4  The workmanship of smartphone brand X would be very high
QUA5  Smartphone brand X would seem to be durable
QUA6  The likelihood that smartphone brand X is dependable would be very high

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Filieri, R., Lin, Z., D’Antone, S. et al. A cultural approach to brand equity: the role of brand mianzi and brand popularity in China. J Brand Manag 26, 376–394 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1057/s41262-018-0137-x

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Keywords

  • Brand equity
  • Chinese culture
  • Brand Mianzi
  • Brand popularity
  • Country of origin