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Relating Company Efforts to Consumer Perceptions: A Contingency Framework

Periodic Report Summary - GLOBRAND (Relating company efforts to consumer perceptions: a contingency framework)

Summary description of the project objectives

The objectives of this project are to investigate how corporate image building efforts of companies are related to consumer perceptions of these corporations. How corporate image affects marketing performance and the relationships between organisations and various stakeholders has attracted interests of many researchers across a variety of disciplines including marketing, organisational behaviour, communications, public relations, sociology, organisational strategy, etc. Previous studies have shown that what a consumer knows about a company affects his/her beliefs about the company's offerings (Dacin and Brown, 2006 ). Still, how company actions are related to consumer perceptions has not been identified by extant research.

Specifically, this project studies four related research questions (RQs):

RQ #1: Is there a consistent 'communications channels-image type' match used by companies? Which channels (e.g. advertising, PR, endorsements, etc.) do corporations use in order to build which type of a corporate brand image (e.g. functional, emotional)?
RQ #2: Which channels are more effective and efficient to build which types of images in the minds of consumers?
RQ #3: Are there certain corporate associations that are perceived as being more favourable and that have a greater positive impact on consumer attitude towards the company?
RQ #4: How do these relationships vary across different countries?

Description of the work performed since the beginning of the project

In order to find out the answers to these questions, first an extensive review of the literature has been conducted. Papers in the European Journal of Marketing, Journal of Consumer Research, Journal of International Business Studies, Journal of Marketing Research, Journal of Retailing, Marketing Science, Journal of Academy of Marketing Science, and Journal of Marketing were reviewed. The conceptual, analytical, and empirical models on corporate image and corporate reputation were scrutinised. After that, a presentation document which introduces the project and summarises the project objectives was prepared. A confidentiality agreement was also prepared and attached to the project presentation document. Then, an interview protocol which provides the general framework for the interviews was designed. Global companies with significant presence in Europe were identified and, based on convenience sampling, initial interviews with senior managers who are responsible for corporate image building were conducted. Companies included in the research are:
1) a content protection technology company, which currently employs over 900 people in 25 offices across the globe, including the dual corporate headquarters in Amsterdam and Beijing;
2) an IT service provider, with about 400 000 employees working in over 170 countries, and
3) a fast moving consumer goods company which consists of over 138 000 employees working in over 80 countries worldwide.