Based on the review of literature, the authors have developed 5 research questions which they focused on (see summary). In formulating research questions, the authors have mainly consulted literature published after the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. This is mainly because the development of the subject and the recognition of its complexity began during that era. The first question is based on the proposal of Bharadwaj (1993) who suggest a research concept of exploring the higher importance between the brand equity in service and in goods sector.This question is very broad in nature, and would require a through research and division into different categories of their own, irrespective of the subsequent research questions.
Furthermore, the authors have not specified or defined what is entailed by the term “important. ” Also there are no prior frameworks suggested other than that by Bharadwaj at this stage. The second research question (see summary) is well formulated, and makes a complex challenge to the researchers.Based on the categorisation of marketing experts, such as Darby and Karni (1973) and Nelson (1970), a successful empirical evidence in the placement of importance between different types of service would provide new and useful information in the area of brand equity. In questions 3 and 4, we encounter the same problem as with question 1 (see summary), which is in the use of the word “important.
” The concern is in the specific contextualisation of the term. It is unclear weather the authors are referring to the importance to the consumer, or that of any other stakeholder in the organisation.Lastly, question 5 proposes the research into the effects of consumer knowledge of a product on the brand equity. This too is a well formulated question which will add another dimension to this research.
Literature Review The authors have divided their literature review into three different categories, varying from general concepts of branding to importance of brand equity in different types of service. The review begins with basic conceptual backgrounds citing frameworks and definitions from the main pioneers of the field such as Aaker (1991), Keller (1993), Alba and Hutchinson (1987).There, the authors have made a clear introduction and demonstrated familiarity with pertinent literature on the concepts of branding and brand equity. Following the outlining of the concepts, the authors comment on the lack of research in branding of services, and demonstrate the current arguments between Berry (1988) who suggests that “service brands should have distinctiveness, relevance, memorability, and flexibility” and should therefore not be individualised, and Onkvisit and Shaw (1989) who recommend the branding of services on an individualized basis.The authors clearly demonstrate their awareness of the research done on the topic. In their final section of the literature review, it is clearly distinguished between the types of services this research will be based on, and references are drawn from Darby and Karni, (1973) and Nelson (1970) who have categorised different types of services into “search, experience and credence,” which is explained in sufficient detail.
Furthermore, the authors refer to the later works of German authors and practitioners of the field such as Gausseman (1981), Murray and Schlacter (1990).This provides the recipient with another dimension, and makes the research more informed. 2.
3 Methodology Due to the ambiguous and theoretical nature of the subject area, the researchers have decided to do a pre-test study, to test the level of knowledge amongst participants. This was to aid the validity of the results and ensure truthful and conscious answers from the participants. The method implements by the authors for this pre-test is through the use of questionnaires.
The use of questionnaires for the research question is the most appropriate method as questionnaires ‘tend to attempt to ‘control’ the aspect of human response being studied by creating ‘closed systems” (Smith, 1998). However a few problems faced by using a questionnaire for this study is that it breaks the assumption of phenominalism and nominalism. Nominalism because respondents will have different specific ideas of what is a “strong” and “week” brand and phenominalism because the questions are making respondents give their answers based on their beliefs, feelings and personal values.Respondents could perceive the brand value as more or less important based on their backgrounds.
This would reduce the internal validity of the study. This problem was however overcome by doing focus groups, and by marginalising the differences amongst the participants backgrounds. Although the research is seen to be valid it can be argued that the answers are not representative of the target population and are not descriptive of all college students.
Also the sample was very small with only 65 participants, therefore limiting the statistical power and all participants were voluntary recruits from “a major south-eastern university. ” Although this is convenient in the sense that it is less time consuming, easier and cheaper to recruit the participants, there is the possibility that all participants acquiring similar characteristics and abilities. However Krishnan and Hartline have acknowledged this problem in the discussion section and do state that for stronger results and greater reliability, a much larger and diverse sample would be needed.In order to simplify the data collection, the researchers have analysed previous methods of research which are known to be complex in nature, and have therefore decided to adopt an alternative approach, suggested by Agarwal and Rao (1996). This approach would ensure a greater co-operation by the population sample of 184 participants, due to the use of single item measures. Through this, the authors have demonstrated familiarity of pertinent methodological literature and techniques.The participants in this study were based on the sample of 184 students of “a major south-eastern university.
” In respect of sampling choice following factors were to be considered: According to the Zikmund (2003), Sekaran (2000) and Smith (1991), in a sampling strategy, researchers must address five basic steps of clarity: Clear definition of population, sampling frame, sampling method, sample size included and sampling procedure. The population frame and size were clearly defined by the researchers and the actual population definition (demographics, country of origin) were not indicated.As such, no general assumption can be made on the basis of a sample of 184 students from the same origin.
For example, a population sample from the UK and USA will produce different results to the population sample of Vietnam, or another country based on country economic development, established brands, culture branding, etc. This raised questions about sampling methods and challenged the validity of the results. Since the actual population was not fully determined, the sample of the 184 students was difficult to assess as it did not meet the basic requirement for sampling as suggested by Roscoe (1975).Sampling must be representative (reflect true population), reliable (sufficient accuracy to give stable results) and efficient (Zikmund 2003). Even though the researchers tried to support the validity of their results by conducting a pre-test, and a secondary focus group, it must said that the technique used was convenient sampling, which is a limitation of the study. The analysis process as said by Zikmund (2003) must ensure that the data is accurate, consistent with other information, uniformly entered, complete and arranged to simplify coding and tabulation.
Authors offer very little explanation on how they intend to analyse their data, which is not supported by any formulae, resulting in the confusion of the recipient. No evidence was found how editing, coding and missing data were handled in the research. This information is important to establish appropriate statistic tests e. g. Zikmund (2003) said appropriate test depend on central tendency or total distribution, variables involved, measurement scale, etc. Further to that bivariate analysis was to be considered for comparisons.No indication was made by the authors on how the data were analyzed e. g.
SPSS, Microsoft excel, etc. As such, it is difficult to ascertain where appropriate data analysis techniques were used and whether the tests were appropriate to the research proposal and objectives. Lastly, the authors offer no explanation of their ethical consideration so far, towards the conduct of their research, and therefore, it must be concluded that there were no such addresses. 2. 5 Results and FindingsFrom this research, the authors have obtained clear results with not much ambiguity. When comparing search-dominant services with tangible goods and experience-dominant services with credence-dominant services, the results do not show according to the literature. However, the authors explain that since search-dominant services and tangible goods can be evaluated before consumption they have a higher brand equity index than experience and credence-dominant services, which cannot be evaluated prior to consumption.
Due to the severe clash with the literature, the authors make no policy recommendations; however, they do recognise that the literature is not yet developed due to the lack of research done in the field of service brand equity. Authors also acknowledge that their research supports the theory of Agarwal and Rao (1996) that brand equity can be measured using fewer items and simpler questions than in previous studies. 2. 6 Discussion and Recommendations Krishnan’s and Hartline’s study is very objective all the way through. They have used a lot of empirical evidence to back up the need for this research.Also they have tried to ensure validity throughout by using pre-tests, and supporting focus groups. Although the method they have used has maintained objectivity, it does not reflect their whole research. The claims stated in the abstract are not presented as objective facts but more as value laden subjective interpretations.
The abstract only claim the hypothesis has been supported, but fails to give any statistical evidence to back up the claims. The studies mentioned in the introduction are consistent with the theoretical perspective, positivism. The studies mentioned has all adopted objective methods of data collection.One of the strengths of the discussion section of the research is that Krishnan and Hartline have critically evaluated their own study and have tried to come up with improvements. One of the improvements mentioned is that a selected sample with no instructions given should be added. This would allow the researcher to see whether no instructions had an effect on the perceptions.
Overall the study has been effect in measuring what it aimed to measure and the main strengths of this research are that it has tried to achieve validity of the study through the use of objective methods and statistical testing.Also the way in which the researchers have presented the procedure is mainly clear and precise, making it easily repetitive. However the limitations of this study are that it is focused on a group far too general and undefined, due to the process of sample selection. One of the main questions that could arise from the study is that is it representative of the target population and does not necessarily represent the views of other people, places or times.REFFERENCESAaker, D. A (1991), Managing Brand Equity, The Free Press, New York, NY, . Agarwal, M.
K, Rao, V. R (1996), “An empirical comparison of consumer-based measures of brand equity”, Marketing Letters, Vol. 7 pp. 237-47.
Alba, J. W. , Hutchinson, J. W (1987), “Dimensions of consumer expertise”, Journal of Consumer Research, Vol. 13, pp. 411-53. Berry, L.
L, Lefkowith, E. F, Clark, T. (1988), “In services, what’s in a name? “, Harvard Business Review, Vol. 66 pp. 28-30.