Measuring and building the South African weather service (SAWS) brand equity.
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The SAWS is interested in demonstrating the economic and social benefits of the products or services it provides to the public, industries and other organisations. It is also important for the organisation to carry out ongoing performance assessment of public and commercial weather services to ensure that these services are efficient and effectively meeting the public's and customer's needs and contribute to longer term commercial and societal objectives. Some other National Weather Services has developed "Service Charters" which detail their pledge of performance to the user communities, specifically, customers and the general public. These service charters provide a brief overview of the services provided, a commitment of performance against specific targets and a commitments to consult and identify a means by which the customers and the public may register their concern. As a result the service charters has become an important component of the Weather Services branding measurement strategy. The acceptance of the SAWS products or services by the public and other weather users depends on a number of factors. Scientific accuracy is just one of those factors. Also the health of the SAWS depends on the perceptions from full spectrum of weather users ranging from individual citizens, media, aviation, ... Ill marine, industry, government departments, construction companies, and insurance. These perceptions include those about requirements, accessibility, availability, accuracy, timelines, utility, comprehension, sufficient and packaging. The objective is to ultimately measure performance from the user perspective and identify user's needs. It is also to measure the acceptance of the services provided from such dimensions as expectations, understanding, importance, satisfaction, and utility. This study has been framed within the hypothesis that the SAWS brand associations are not strong, not favourable and not unique to create a positive brand. It has come critical to assess the level of customer awareness and familiarity with the SAWS brand so as to improve the dissemination mechanisms of the weather forecast information. Based on a literature review, two types of brand association are identified. One is product association including functional attribute association and non-functional attribute association. The other is organisational association including corporate ability association and corporate social responsibility association. It has been found that, the greater the number of the core brand association, the higher the brand equity. The feedback received on the questionnaire and interviews directed at awareness and familiarity with the SAWS brand indicated that, a need exists to educate the public and potential customers about the products and services of the SAWS. Of paramount important is the improvement of the SAWS dissemination mechanisms and partnerships with other scientific research organisations. This will enable the SAWS to reach a wide range of the public and weather users and to safeguard property and life of all South Africans.