Exploring student perceptions of smart-phone brand equity at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Westville Campus.
Notshweleka, Vuyisa Sakhile Phambili.
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Brief statement of the problem: Students often have a purchasing power but they form a large portion of the smart phone consumer market. There was therefore a need to explore student’s perceptions of smart phone brands on the basis of brand equity in order to determine which brands carry equity based on the perceptions of students. The research considered what criteria students use to assess brand equity and whether that translates into the purchasing of the brand. Theoretical/conceptual framework: The brand equity theoretical framework utilised by the study is taken from David Aaker. Aaker’s (2009) theoretical framework of brand equity includes dimensions of brand equity. The study seeks to explore student’s perceptions of smart phone brand equity and to determine whether they: differ from that of Aaker and whether students due to budget constraints compromise on phone of choice when purchasing. The theory of brand equity is justifiable because it provides the basis from which student’s perception could resonate. Methodology: A qualitative approach was undertaken in order to describe data at a level that is in depth with the use of in-depth interviews as an adopted research tool. Data was collected via the undertaking of 15 in-depth interviews and analysed via the process of thematic analysis. The study has found that brands are an important element of a product as they are valued by students and contribute to the overall achievement of student satisfaction. Findings show that top brands survive or succeed due to their marketing campaigns and support which provide brand credibility and equity. Findings show students lack technical awareness and rely on what they know about brands. Students find strong brands more attractive and valuable which leads to increased attachment and reduced chances of students purchasing other brands. It was recommended that smart phone firms develop brand equity as it plays significant role with connection to the judgement of smart phone quality by students who find it difficult to separate a brand from a product. It was recommended that smart phone brands undertake integrated marketing for exposure in marketing channels occupied by students. It was recommended that smart phone brands clearly communicate meaningful messages regarding not only their products but also their brand and thereafter appropriately follow in order to develop brand equity.