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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Conflict of interest
On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.
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
- Brand equity
- Chinese culture
- Brand Mianzi
- Brand popularity
- Country of origin