AN APPROACH TO DEVELOPING BRAND ASSOCIATION NETWORKS USING PARITY/DIFFERENCE MAPS: IMPLICATIONS FOR BRAND MANAGEMENT STRATEGIES
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This dissertation illustrates a method to create brand association networks using parity difference maps. Brand Equity literature emphasizes the importance of identifying how consumer associates with a brand. Brand association is any thought, perception, feeling or attitude toward a brand. Understanding these associations help managers understand overall consumer-based brand equity. In order to gain a better understanding of how these brand associations are networked in consumers’ minds and which specific associations are driving the other associations, researchers have developed concept maps. A concept map is a visual tool that represents the network of brand associations. However, previous research has only focused on developing holistic maps, which represent total associations related to a brand. Holistic maps provide an overview of how consumers associate with a brand, but they are not enough to provide a comparative relation between two brands. Several brands exist in the marketplace with similar offerings and at the same time focusing on strategies that would make them stand out in comparison to their competitors. Therefore, it is important to understand the unique and common associations between two brands and how these associations are networked in consumers’ mind. To address this question, I create brand association networks using points of parity (common associations) and points of difference (unique associations). Parity maps would help us understand to what extent a brand possesses features associated with a particular category, whereas difference maps would enhance our understanding of the different unique features that a brand possesses in consumer’s minds and relative importance of each of these associations in contributing to the overall brand equity. This dissertation makes an important contribution in consumer-based brand equity by separating out points of parity and points of differences between a brand and its close competitors.