Brand Heritage's Role in Increasing Competitiveness
Brand heritage is defined as "a dimension of brand's identity found in its track records, longevity, core values, use of symbols, and particularly in an organisational belief that its history is important" (Urde et al., 2007). Because consumers search for authentic brands with genuine history in an increasingly global and dynamic marketplace, brand heritage has gained growing interest in both marketing research and managerial practice over the past decade (Wiedmann et al., 2011b). As such, it is worthwhile to study the effect of brand heritage on purchase intention, perceived fair price, brand trust and self-brand connection.
As the marketing literature indicates, it is quite common for companies to enhance their competiveness by leveraging their heritage through their branding strategies (Beverland, 2004; Bruce & Kratz, 2007; Fionda & Moore, 2009). Successful heritage brands are able to position themselves based on their past history and to relate that history to current circumstances (Urde et al., 2007) in part because brand heritage represents a value proposition to consumers (Rose et al., 2015). Previous research highlighted the importance of heritage, consistency, and a sense of grounding in consumers' determinations of authenticity and brand positioning (Beverland, 2005a, 2005b, 2006). By invoking brand heritage, firms are able to convey a sense of stability (Hakala et al., 2011; Wiedmann et al., 2011a) and enhance brand equity by linking past performance and a brand's history to a brand's current potential to fulfill its promise (Beverland, 2006).
Brand heritage also serves as an antecedent to authenticity (Alexander, 2009; Atwal &Williams, 2009; Beverland, 2005a, 2005b, 2006; Beverland & Farrelly, 2010; Beverland & Luxton, 2005; Chevalier & Gutsatz, 2012; DeFanti et al., 2014; Fionda & Moore, 2009; Fritz et al., 2014; Kapferer & Bastien, 2009; Moulard et al., 2014; Tungate, 2008; Tynan et al., 2010; Vigneron & Johnson, 1999; Yeoman and McMahon-Beattie, 2006), credibility and reliability (Leigh et al., 2006), which in turn create value and leverage for a brand in a turbulent global market (Aaker, 1996; George, 2004; Wiedmann et al., 2011b).
Brands with strong equity can serve as an important economic resource to companies (Chandrashekhar, 2013). Using an associative network memory model including brand awareness and brand image (i.e., a set of brand associations) to conceptualize brand knowledge, Keller (1993) defines customer-based brand equity as "the differential effect of brand knowledge on consumer response to the marketing of the brand." This effect materializes when the consumer is familiar with the brand and holds some favorable, strong, and unique brand associations in memory. Brand heritage is one of those associations that might affect consumers' attitudes and intentions (Keller, 2001). Brand heritage has also been found to serve as a driver of brand identity that helps increase brand equity (Aaker, 1996; Liebrenz-Hines et al., 2007; Rindell, 2013) and it provides a foundation for trust-building interactions between the company and its stakeholders (Wiedmann et al., 2013). In so doing, brand heritage can favorably influence perceived value to consumers who find heritage to be meaningful and it can augment the firm's corporate reputation among those consumers (Rindell, 2013; Wiedmann et al., 2013).
Previous literature indicates that the multifaceted brand heritage can be comprised of a combination of the following elements (DeFanti et al., 2014):
- country of origin (Danziger, 2005; Kapferer, 2012; Keller, 2009; Okonkwo 2010)
- craftsmanship (Chadha & Husband, 2006; Chevalier & Gutsatz, 2012; Danziger, 2005; Kapferer & Bastien, 2009; Moore & Doherty, 2007; Nueno & Quelch, 1998; Okonkwo, 2010; Tungate, 2008); charismatic founder (Chevalier & Mazzalovo, 2008; Danziger, 2005; Troy, 2002)
- celebrity associations (Beverland, 2006; Bian & Forsythe, 2012; Carroll, 2009; Eng & Bogaert, 2010; Fionda & Moore, 2009; Horwell, 2011; Keller, 2009; Mandel et al., 2006; Reddy et al., 2009; Thomson, 2006; Tungate, 2008)
- history (Keller, 2009; Morley & McMahon 2011; Urde et al., 2007; Wiedmann et al., 2011a).
For example, some brands, like Burberry, have reduced their focus on heritage to expand their offerings (Moore & Birtwistle, 2004; Reddy et al., 2009), while others, like Gucci, have recognized the crucial role that heritage can play in creating a strong European image across the globe (DeFanti et al., 2014). In doing so, those brands may benefit from increased credibility and feelings of trust that are common among heritage brands (Urde et al., 2007).
Country of Origin
The impact and role of country of origin in shaping consumers' attitudes and intentions has been studied at great length over the past decades. Numerous studies relating to the meaning of country of origin have differentiated between what country of origin is and is not (Papadopoulos, 1993); addressed the important dimensions, aspects and relations of the country of origin phenomenon (Heslop & Papadopoulos, 1993); and described the strategic opportunity missed when managers deny the country of origin effects of their products (Johansson, 1993). The research on country of origin has been reviewed extensively by multiple authors (Bilkey & Nes, 1983). Papadopoulos (1993) provided a historical overview and Liefeld (1993) and Verlegh and Steenkamp (1999) provided meta-analyses of experimental works. Moreover, some scholars view a product's country of origin as the country in which it was assembled, while others view it as the country in which it was designed (Chao, 1993). Consumers' perceptions of a brand's quality have been found to be strongest when the country of assembly and design are the same (Gabarino & Edell, 1999; Yu et al., 2013). On the other hand, the dominance of the U.S., European and Japanese brands in many industries has been challenged (Sledge, 2005) as evidenced by firms like Levi-Strauss (Kitchen & Schultz, 2003).
In this study, to investigate the impact of country of origin, the authors compare the effects of Made in USA to the well-established country-of-origin effects of Made in Italy. As a distinct phenomenon, favorable perception of Made in Italy may be traced back to the 1950s and '60s, when la dolce vita was seen as an international symbol of glamor and sophistication. This sweet life was seen as embodying all things Italian including places, products, ideas and images (Steele, 2003) including special commodities like wine (Zhang et al., 2013). The charm of a playful, sexy and effervescent life leads consumers to perceive the Made in Italy ideal to possess high quality and "hedonistic" beauty (Steele, 2003).
The Impact of Brand Heritage on Purchase Intention and Perceived Fair Price
Branded products that have consistently performed at high level and have been delivering value to consumers, should invoke an increased propensity among current and new consumers to purchase that brand (Rose et al., 2015). Wuestefeld et al. (2012) determined that brand heritage has a positive effect on the perceived economic value (Ahtola, 1984; Chapman, 1986; Mazumdar, 1986; Monroe & Krishnan, 1985), functional value (Sheth et al., 1991), affective value (Hirschman &Holbrook, 1982; Sheth et al., 1991; Westbrook & Oliver, 1991), and social value (Vigneron & Johnson, 2004; Hirschman & Holbrook, 1982) of a branded product. Rose et al. (2015) also quantitatively demonstrated the impact of brand heritage on consumers' purchase intentions. As such, brand heritage should positively impact consumers' purchase intentions and perceived fair price for a product. For this study, we chose formal shoes as the focal product because most adult consumers would have faced a purchase of shoes for formal events such as weddings, funerals, job interviews, etc. Even if consumers have not purchased formal shoes in the past, they are likely to be able to imagine this kind of purchase situation in the future when a need for a purchase of a pair of formal footwear arises. Based on the studies mentioned above, we predict that brand heritage will also influence consumers' intentions in the context of a formal footwear purchase.
H1: Brand heritage will have a positive impact on the intention to purchase formal shoes.
H2. Brand heritage will have a positive impact on the perceived fair price for formal shoes.
The Impact of Brand Heritage on Brand Trust and Self-Brand Connection
Brand heritage has been empirically related to affective and cognitive consequences including positive emotions, trust, brand attachment, and commitment (Rose et al., 2015). Heritage helps a brand to become more authentic, credible, and trustworthy and to have a positive influence on the perception of the brand in general (e.g., brand image or brand trust) (Wiedmann et al., 2011a). In addition, a brand with heritage creates and confirms stakeholder groups' expectations about the brand's future behavior and it makes a promise that the brand will continue to deliver on these commitments (Aaker, 1996; Ewing, Fowles, & Shepherd, 1995; George, 2004; Wiedmann et al., 2011a). For this reason, brand heritage can add to consumer-perceived value and can lessen consumers' buying risk (e.g., Muehling & Sprott, 2004; Stewart-Allen, 2002) and thus, increase brand trust.
Leveraging a brand's heritage can contribute to and create brand meaning. Invoking the past can convey a sense of stability and create positive emotions, enhance brand bonds (Merchant et al., 2013; Rose et al., 2015), and provide a meaningful tool for promoting a product (Hakala et al., 2011; Rose et al., 2015).
Brand heritage creates trust by imparting a sense of grounding and safety. Stability and continuity are crucial, especially during times of financial, economic, or political crises (Merchant & Rose, 2013) and can engender trust...