28 Rodolfo Vázquez, A. Belén del Río and Víctor Iglesias
emerged as to how brand equity should be conceptualised and measured.
Nevertheless, there seems to exist a certain consensus in that the study of
brand equity can be approached from different perspectives, which should
be viewed as complementary rather than competing (Irmscher 1993; Ambler
and Styles 1995; Czellar 1997; Erdem and Swait 1998). Thus, brand equity has
been interpreted by paying attention to four inter-related viewpoints: the
customer, the firm owning the brand, the channel distribution and the
In the field of business management, in order to identify the potential
sources of brand equity, the consumer-based analysis of brand equity proves
to be critical. The consumer conditions the value of the brand for the firm in
three ways: directly and also indirectly through the value for the distributors
and for the financial markets (Keller 1993, 1998; Park and Srinivasan 1994).
For this reason, based on the works of Kamakura and Russell (1991) and
Cobb-Walgren et al. (1995), in this study we propose developing a
measurement instrument for the utilities obtained by the consumer from the
brand following its purchase (ex-post utilities). In this way, we will focus on
the concept of consumer-based brand equity defined as follows:
Consumer-based brand equity: the overall utility that the consumer
associates to the use and consumption of the brand; including associations
expressing both functional and symbolic utilities.
The generic aim is to make a more in-depth study of the nature of the brand
dimensions capable of generating long-term sustainable commercial
advantages for the firm. Although this study focuses on the ex-post utilities,
it must be borne in mind that the brand can also contribute ex-ante utilities to
the consumer (utilities obtained prior to the purchase, e.g. simplifying the
choice, lowering the perceived risk and the costs of the information search).
Ex-ante utilities constitute a complementary research line that has been
undertaken in other studies (Erdem and Swait 1998).
With this aim in mind, this article is organised into four parts. The next
section reviews the main contributions regarding brand concept and the
utilities the brand provides to the consumer. We go on to propose a number
of dimensions for measuring the value of the brand for the consumer. Then,
we describe the process followed in order to develop the measurement scale
and analyse its psychometric properties applying the structural equation
models methodology. Finally, the managerial implications are discussed.
Consumer-based Brand Equity
The Traditional Approach versus the Holistic View
Before analysing the different ways in which the brand can contribute
Consumer-based Brand Equity 29
value to the consumer, it must be considered whether the consumer, in his
perception of the brand characteristics, makes a distinction between the
characteristics related to the product and those associated to the brand.
This distinction between the product and the brand is supported by those
authors who defend the classic definition of the brand as they conceive this
as an addition to the product, which enables its identification (Gardner and
Levy 1955; Aaker 1991; McCarthy and Perreault 1991). This is therefore a
restrictive definition of the brand that highlights three aspects. First, the
manager’s choice between selling his products with or without a brand.
Second, the essential function of the brand to incorporate a set of intangible
attributes to the product. Third, the academic and business interest of
separating the product’s own attributes from the attributes inherent in the
Alternatively, there exist three reasons justifying why some authors have
defined the brand in holistic terms. First, consumers tend to perceive the
products from an overall perspective, associating with the brand all the
attributes and satisfactions experienced by the purchase and use of the
product. Consequently, separating the product’s attributes from those of the
brand entails a great difficulty due to the strong inter-relation between the
two (Ambler and Styles 1995, 1997; Styles and Ambler 1995; Ambler 1996;
Crainer 1997). In this sense, Murphy (1990) indicates that the individual
consideration of the brand attributes and their later aggregation represents a
lower perception than that resulting from the overall evaluation of the brand.
Second, it must be understood that the creation of a brand is more than
developing communication strategies. In this way, it is interesting to adopt a
wider view of the brand embracing the set of attributes characteristic of the
firm’s offer (Achenbaum and Bodga 1996). Third, it is convenient to orient
brand extension decisions according to the degree in which the new product
contributes to strengthening the brand, instead of taking such decisions
based on the degree to which the brand favours the commercialisation of the
new product (Ambler and Styles 1997).
In conclusion, it is coherent to establish a conceptual distinction between
brand and product (Kim 1990; Young and Rubicam 1995). Nevertheless, just
as the followers of the holistic view uphold, since these notions are closely
related, it is feasible that the consumer perceives the product attributes as
integrally associated to the brand attributes. This argument, however
theoretically compelling, has not been tested in empirical research to date.
The Utilities of the Brand for the Consumer: Definition
The theoretical and empirical literature on customer-perceived brand
utilities suggests classifying the utilities according to two basic dimensions:
the functional value and the symbolic value. This dichotomic classification of
30 Rodolfo Vázquez, A. Belén del Río and Víctor Iglesias
the utility provided by the brand has also been revealed in other research
areas, including those related to the needs and motivations for consumption
behaviour, the individual’s attitudes and social psychology (de Chernatony
and McDonald 1996).
In general, the delimitation of what is understood as a functional and a
symbolic utility has been based on the nature of the needs satisfied by the
brand. Just as pointed out by Mittal et al.(1990), the functional value relates
to a person’s need to favourably manage one’s physical environment,
enabling the utilitarian motives to be satisfied. In turn, the symbolic value
relates to a person’s need to favourably manage one’s social and
psychological environment - esteem, social and self-fulfilment needs of
Maslow (1970) - allowing the consumer to experience positive emotions and
to help communicate to others his link to certain social groups, values and
In addition, the distinguishing character of these two utilities has been
explained in terms of the aspects of the brand they are derived from. Thus,
the rational approach or the economic model suggests that the functional
value corresponds to a cognitive evaluation - reflexive, rational - of the
utilitarian contributions of the brand, based on its objective characteristics
and the performance of its physical attributes. On the other hand, the
hedonic school holds that the symbolic value has its origin in the emotional
or experiential appraisal of the brand, which is based on more subjective and
expressive aspects, such as the convictions and sensations associated to the
brand, the usage situation, the personality and the life-styles associated with
the typical user of the brand.
Some research works have jointly used these two criteria - needs satisfied
and aspects considered in the evaluation of the brand - in order to define the
functional and the symbolic utility (de Chernatony and McWilliam 1989,
1990; Mittal et al. 1990). Nevertheless, from the work by Ambler (1997) it is
deduced that these criteria are not completely equivalent. This author
upholds that the brand simplifies the purchasing decision for the consumer
in the extent that the associations linked to the brand ‘demystify’ and
synthesise its functional characteristics. This means that such a utility is
derived from the brand image and satisfies the cognitive needs (physical or
not related to the individual’s psychological or social environment).
Following on from the above ideas, and in line with the approaches of
Keller (1993, 1998) and of Park and Srinivasan (1994), it can be said that the
product as well as the brand name are capable of contributing both types of
utilities to the consumer. However, it is reasonable that the functional utility
(satisfying the needs of the physical environment) basically proceeds from
the product whereas the symbolic utility (satisfying the needs of the
psychological and social environment) emanates essentially from the brand
Consumer-based Brand Equity 31
name. To date, these issues have not been examined in empirical research.
Dimensions of Brand Utilities for the Consumer
Despite the fact that from a theoretical viewpoint brand utilities have
received considerable attention, at the empirical level there exist very few
studies analysing their dimensionality. To this lack of attention in the
literature, it must be added that some authors describe the functions or
benefits that the brand gives the consumer without distinguishing what type
of utility - functional or symbolic - is provided.
In summary, the main contributions regarding the dimensions of brand
utilities are shown in Table 1.
Table 1. Dimensions of Brand Utility
Product Sheth et al. (1991); de Chernatony (1993); Múgica and
functional utility Yagüe (1993); Bhat and Reddy (1998); Long and
Choice utility Kapferer and Laurent (1991); Lambin (1991); de
Chernatony (1993); Múgica and Yagüe (1993); Ambler
(1997); Keller (1998)
Innovation utility de Chernatony (1993); Ambler (1997)
Trustworthiness Kapferer and Laurent (1991); Lambin (1991); de
utility Chernatony (1993); Ambler (1997); Keller (1998)
Emotional utility Sheth et al. (1991); de Chernatony (1993); Dubois and
Duquesne (1995); Ambler (1997). Bhat and Reddy (1998);
Long and Schiffman (2000)
Aesthetic utility Wind (1982); Schmitt and Simonson (1997)
Novelty utility Kapferer and Laurent (1991); Lambin (1991); Sheth et al.
(1991); Long and Schiffman (2000)
Social Kapferer and Laurent (1991); Lambin (1991); Sheth et al.
identification (1991); de Chernatony (1993); Dubois and Duquesne
utility (1995); Ambler (1997); Keller (1998); Bhat and Reddy
(1998); Long and Schiffman (2000)
Personal Kapferer and Laurent (1991); Lambin (1991); de
identification Chernatony (1993); Múgica and Yagüe (1993); Dubois
utility and Duquesne (1995); Ambler (1997); Keller (1998)
Proposal of a Measurement Scale of the Brand Utilities for the
Faced with the multiplicity of variables revealing the value of the brand for
32 Rodolfo Vázquez, A. Belén del Río and Víctor Iglesias
the consumer, when researching this subject, it is essential to distinguish
between various levels of analysis. Following this approach, several authors
have emphasised the need to define the concept of brand equity specifying
the perspective and the area of study considered (Friedrich and Marion 1991;
Martin and Brown 1991; Srivastava and Shocker 1991; Irmscher 1993;
Feldwick 1996; Czellar 1997; Erdem and Swait 1998; Keller 1998). With this
consideration, the present research work focuses on analysing the value of
the brand for the consumer in accordance with the utilities perceived by the
consumer once the purchase has taken place (ex-post utilities of the brand).
In particular, the basic aim of this research is to construct a reliable and valid
measurement instrument for consumer-based brand equity that includes the
brand name utilities and the product utilities, and that also compiles the
functional and symbolic content of each of these utilities. An additional aim,
based on this scale, is to answer two questions. Are the brand name and the
product concepts adequately distinguished in consumers’ minds? Does the
consumer perceive from both components - brand name and product - the
functional and symbolic utilities?
Given the strong inter-relation between the different elements making up
the firm’s offer, we follow on from the idea that in order to measure
consumer-based brand equity it is necessary to gather information not only
on the attributes of the brand name but also of the product. We understand
by attributes of the product the tangible aspects of the offer, whereas we
consider that the attributes of the brand name represent the associations made
by the consumer with the product due to the fact of being marketed with a
certain brand name. According to this approach, and based on the literature
review, the following dimensions are proposed to create a measure of the ex-
post utilities of the brand:
1. Functional utility associated with the product. This refers to the
utilities directly linked to the tangible attributes of the offer that
satisfy the needs of the consumer’s physical environment, e.g.,
comfort, resistance and performance.
2. Symbolic utility associated with the product. We refer here to the
utilities obtained. These are also attained from the tangible
characteristics of the offer but respond to the needs of the
psychological and social environment, e.g., style, colour and artistic
3. Functional utility associated with the brand name. These utilities meet
the functional or practical needs of the individual, e.g., guarantee.
Although some of them could be linked to certain tangible attributes
(e.g. duration) the consumer appreciates such utilities thanks to the
identification of the product with a certain brand name.
Consumer-based Brand Equity 33
4. Symbolic utility associated with the brand name. Unlike the above,
these utilities meet the needs related to the psychological and social
environment, e.g. communicating to others desirable impressions
about oneself and helping the individual to live out his self-concept.
Selected Product Class and Brands
For the measurement of the brand utilities, non-specialised sports shoes
(suitable for sport and casual wear) were taken as a reference. This market
was chosen as it presents the following characteristics that enable us to
research brand utilities without overcomplicating the data collection:
1. This is a product that is usually used in public (conspicuous or visible
consumer product) and in which fashion together with the technical
aspects - for example, the materials used, the design of the soles or air
chambers - have considerable importance in the purchasing decision.
In line with the arguments of Jacoby and Olson (1985) and Hogg et al.
(1998), these characteristics facilitate the analysis of the brand utilities
related with the consumer’s social environment and with the
guarantee of making the right choice.
2. The consumer has, in general, sufficient knowledge of the main
brands of sports shoes, given the high figures of advertising and
sponsorship investment. Similarly, the existence of a high number of
consumers also facilitates the information collection.
3. The concentration of almost half the sales of sports goods in only
three brands (Adidas, Nike and Reebok).
Regarding the selection of the commercial brands studied, we followed the
recommendation of Leuthesser et al. (1995) of analysing brands that are
sufficiently well-known by the consumer in order to avoid halo effects (the
evaluations of individual product attributes are influenced by a person’s
overall attitude towards the product being rated) that are artificially induced.
For this reason, as a preliminary step to the study, four hundred individuals
were personally interviewed, being requested to indicate on a list of twenty-
eight brands of sports shoes those they had used and of which they had
sufficient knowledge of their different features. In line with the percentages
attained for the different brands, we decided to focus our research on six
brands: Adidas (64%), Fila (17%), Kelme (27%), J’hayber (16%), Nike (57%)
and Reebok (65%) .
The information necessary to carry out the empirical study was collected
34 Rodolfo Vázquez, A. Belén del Río and Víctor Iglesias
through face-to face interviews accompanied by survey questionnaire
administration. The study subjects were confined to individuals who had
bought sports shoes in the last two years and who, in addition, were users of
the brands being studied.
In order to avoid differences with respect to the population we carried out
a proportionate stratification in terms of age and sex. The subjects were
selected from three cities in North of Spain. A total of 1,054 personal
interviews were conducted, which resulted in 1,000 valid surveys and 1,726
brand assessments (each individual was requested to evaluate a maximum of
Scale Development: Research Process
The basic steps employed in constructing the scale closely parallel
procedures recommended in Churchill (1979) and Deng and Dart (1994).
Figure 1 provides an overview of the steps. This methodology consists of
three basic tasks. First, the ratification of content validity. Second, the
collection of information by means of a sample. Third, the testing of the
psychometric properties concerning reliability, concept validity (convergent
and discriminant) and nomological validity.
STEP 1: Literature review and
specifying domain of customer-
based brand equity construct STEP 5: Refine the Sample
questionnaire and data data
STEP 2: Identification of 4 critical
factors making up the construct STEP 6: Assess reliability
STEP 3: Generation of items STEP 7: Assess content
representing the 4 factors: validity: Psychometric
− Convergent validity assessment
− Revision of proposed scales
− Focus groups with users − Discriminant validity
− Interviews with distributors
− Specialized journals and STEP 8: Assess nomological
studies on the sector validity
STEP 4: Scale refinement through
expert opinions and a pretest
Figure 1. Steps Employed in Developing the Consumer-Based Brand
Firstly, following the literature review, we proceeded to specify the domain
and the key factors associated to brand utilities (steps 1 and 2 of the process).
Consumer-based Brand Equity 35
Using these factors as a starting point, a pool of items was generated to tap
the utilities that the brand provides the consumer with following the
purchase. Then, we went on to list a series of items that, as a whole, compile
all the basic aspects that the proposed dimensions refer to. For this, we
resorted to four information sources: 1) examination and adaptation of the
main scales published for the measurement of brand utilities; 2) two focus
group with sports shoes users; 3) in-depth interviews with various
distributors in the sector; 4) consulting specialised journals and studies
available on the market analysed.
Table 2. Measurement Scale of the Brand Utilities for the Consumer
(P1.1) Flexibility (P1.1.1)
(P1) Comfort Weight (P1.1.2)
Product Size (P1.1.3)
Product functional Foot Protection-Care (P1.2.1)
Utility utility (P1.2) Sensation when walking (P1.2.2)
Safety Sole Absorption /perspiration (P1.2.3)
(P1.3) Duration (P1.3.1)
(P2) Product (P2.1) Design/aesthetic line (P2.1.1)
symbolic Aesthetics Colours (P2.1.2)
(B1) Brand that continuously (B1.1.1)
Brand name (B1.1) improves features
functional Guarantee Brand that is trustworthy (B1.1.2)
utility Brand that offers good value-for- (B1.1.3)
Name Brand of excellent quality (B1.1.4)
Utility Brand in fashion (B2.1.1)
(B2) (B2.1) Brand used by friends (B2.1.2)
Brand name Social Reputed brand (B2.1.3)
symbolic identification Leading brand (B2.1.4)
utility (B2.2) The use of the brand is a prestige (B2.2.1)
Brand recommended by famous (B2.2.2)
(B2.3) Brand you particularly like/find (B2.3.1)
identification Brand in keeping with your life- (B2.3.2)
Note: * The result obtained in the confirmatory factor analysis recommended
dropping this variable from the scale.
36 Rodolfo Vázquez, A. Belén del Río and Víctor Iglesias
This list of items was submitted to the opinion of a group of experts in
subjects related to the performance qualities of sports shoes and/or to the
design of measurement scales studying the consumer. Similarly, a pre-test
was carried out in order to detect any necessary changes in the wording of
the items and the range to be used in order to evaluate these. As a result of
this process, aimed at attaining content validity for the scale, a total of 22
items were obtained and can be seen in Table 2. The items were measured on
an eleven-point Likert scale (ranging from 0 to 10).
In short, the proposed scale assumes that:
1. The utilities that the brand can contribute to the consumer following
its purchase are composed of four basic dimensions (product
functional utility, product symbolic utility, brand name functional
utility, brand name symbolic utility);
2. In the sports shoes market, the functional utility of the product is
measured through eight variables structured into three factors
(comfort, safety and duration) and the product symbolic utility is
compiled by two variables;
3. The functional utility of the brand name can be evaluated in terms of
four indicators and the brand name symbolic utility by eight items
with three underlying dimensions (personal identification, social
identification and status).
Table 3. Analysis of Competing Measurement Models
S-Bχ2 (d.f) (p) NFI NNFI GFI AGFI CFI RMSEA AIC
One- 3249.38 0.699 0.675 0.730 0.669 0.716 0.116 3333.385
Factor (189) (p<0.01)
Eight- 847.91 0.923 0.913 0.939 0.912 0.933 0.060 985.914
Factor (162) (p<0.01)
Confirmatory factor analysis was used to test the validity and reliability of
the scale items (Anderson and Gerbing 1988). The EQS program was
employed. First, a one-factor model was performed with all the measurement
variables. The results achieved with this model were compared with those
obtained for the eight-factor model (comfort, safety, duration, aesthetics,
guarantee, personal identification, social identification and status). As shown
in Table 3, the one-factor model presents clearly unsatisfactory goodness of
fit indexes: the indicators NNFI, NFI, GFI, AGFI, CFI are far below the
minimum required level of 0.9 and the RMSEA is over 0.1. On the other
hand, the eight-factor model presents values for all these indexes reflecting a
good fit. Furthermore, in the eight-factor model the AIC indicator reaches a
much lower value than the one-factor model.
Consumer-based Brand Equity 37
Table 4. Reliability and Validity of the Eight-Factor Measurement
Std. Composite Discriminant validity
Dimensions Items values Confidence
loadings coefficient Items Correlation
(P1.1.1) 0.685 24.679 0.714 P11-P12 0.897 0.861 0.933
(P1.1) (P1.1.2) 0.639 24.631 P11-P13 0.351 0.281 0.421
Comfort (P1.1.3) 0.694 24.731 P11-P21 0.519 0.449 0.589
(P1.2.1) 0.756 32.031 0.777 P11-B11 0.674 0.618 0.730
(P1.2) (P1.2.2) 0.677 25.939 P11-B21 0.583 0.578 0.710
Safety (P1.2.3) 0.657 24.783 P11-B22 0.313 0.527 0.639
(P1.2.4) 0.641 23.914 P11-B23 0.644 0.243 0.383
(P1.3) (P1.3.1) 0.952 - 0.906 P12-P13 0.477 0.416 0.537
(P2.1) (P2.1.1) 0.954 26.328 P12-P21 0.399 0.333 0.465
(P2.1.2) 0.605 22.015 P12-B11 0.653 0.601 0.705
(B1.1.1) 0.650 24.793 P12-B21 0.466 0.490 0.618
(B1.1) (B1.1.2) 0.795 33.478 0.793 P12-B22 0.279 0.412 0.520
Guarantee (B1.1.4) 0.797 30.832 P12-B23 0.554 0.211 0.347
(B2.1.1) 0.771 33.046 0.837 P13-P21 0.189 0.125 0.253
(B2.1) (B2.1.2) 0.600 28.212 P13-B11 0.463 0.398 0.529
Social (B2.1.3) 0.797 30.740 P13-B21 0.184 0.261 0.399
Identification (B2.1.4) 0.821 35.659 P13-B22 0.057 0.127 0.241
(B2.2.1) 0.717 28.519 0.633 P13-B23 0.330 - 0.119
(B2.2) Status 0.005
(B2.2.2) 0.643 26.332 P21-B11 0.481 0.417 0.545
(B2.3) (B2.3.1) 0.711 28.247 P21-B21 0.519 0.465 0.601
Personal (B2.3.2) 0.652 27.608 0.635 P21-B22 0.296 0.463 0.575
P21-B23 0.533 0.232 0.360
B11-B21 0.800 0.858 0.954
B11-B22 0.517 0.764 0.836
B11-B23 0.906 0.459 0.575
B21-B22 0.675 0.030 0.770
B21-B23 0.718 0.652 0.784
B22-B23 0.675 0.625 0.725
After testing for a reasonable fit between the proposed eight-factor model
and the data, we went on to estimate the reliability and validity of the scales
used. Following the recommendations of Anderson and Gerbing (1988), in
order to determine the reliability in the measurement of latent variables, for
each of these factors the composite reliability coefficients (ρ) were calculated.
These results appear in column 5 of Table 4. Taking into account that values
38 Rodolfo Vázquez, A. Belén del Río and Víctor Iglesias
over 0.6 are considered acceptable (Bagozzi and Yi 1988), the reliability of the
scale is verified. That is to say, it can be said that the items proposed to
evaluate the brand utilities provide consistent measurements.
For the validity of the scales, for each measurement variable the lambda
standardised parameter that relates this variable to the corresponding
specified factor was measured. In columns 3 and 4 of Table 4, it can be
observed that all the parameters are substantial - that is to say, they are
significant and reach values over 0.5 - thus guaranteeing the convergent
validity (Steenkamp and Trijp 1991).
As for the discriminant validity, the confidence interval of all the possible
correlations between the eight factors was analysed. Just as can be seen in the
last column of Table 4, in no case did the estimated confidence interval
contain the value 1. This demonstrates that the correlations between the
latent variables significantly diverge from the unit and, consequently, the
discriminant validity is confirmed.
In conclusion, it can be affirmed that the proposed scale of brand utilities
is reliable and valid. In the following step, individual item scores were
subsequently averaged under each of the eight first-order latent constructs.
Then, scores were used as indicators to derive the four second-order
dimensions previously proposed: product functional utility, product
symbolic utility, brand name functional utility and brand name symbolic
utility (see Figure 2).
Safety 0.82 FUNBRAND Guarantee
0.438 0.711 Social
1 0.95 Personal
Aesthetics SYMPROD SYMBRAND
(P2) (B2) Identification
Notes: The standard parameters are presented.
All the parameters are significant at a confidence level of 95% (t-Robust > 1.96)
Overall Fit Indices
S-Bχ2 (d.f) (p) NFI NNFI GFI AGFI CFI RMSEA
136.62 (p < 0. 01) 0.961 0.921 0.971 0.919 0.968 0.093
Composite reliability coefficient for multi-item factors (ρ):
FUNPROD: 0.737 SYMBRAND: 0.846
Figure 2. Confirmatory Factor Analysis: Four-Factor Model.
Consumer-based Brand Equity 39
The initial results obtained with this model recommended, in the light of the
information provided by the Lagrange Multiplier Test, the release of the
error covariances among the variables ‘personal identification’ and ‘social
identification’. The results obtained, following this change appear in Figure
2. First, it was observed that all indexes indicated a satisfactory global fit
except the S-Bχ2 (due to the large sample size): a value lower than 0.1 for the
RMSEA and values over 0.9 in the remaining indexes.
The composite reliability coefficients can be observed at the bottom of
Figure 2. These coefficients are clearly over the recommended minimum limit
of 0.6, thus suggesting the reliability of the dimensions. We have also been
able to confirm the convergent validity, since all the items associated to the
dimensions are shown to be significant. The discriminant validity was also
confirmed, upon checking that the correlations between the factors proposed
significantly diverge from the unit, as the confidence intervals of these
correlations do not include the value 1 (see Table 5).
Table 5. Discriminant Validity of the Factors
Dimensions Correlation Confidence interval
FUNPROD- SYMPROD 0.438 0.375 0.500
FUNPROD- FUNBRAND 0.631 0.580 0.683
FUNPROD- SYMBRAND 0.543 0.499 0.587
SYMPROD- FUNBRAND 0.395 0.336 0.454
SYMPROD- SYMBRAND 0.461 0.412 0.511
FUNBRAND-SYMBRAND 0.711 0.658 0.763
Once the reliability and validity of these four dimensions had been checked,
we went on to analyse the causal relationship existing between these
dimensions and two observable variables: price premium (the amount a
customer will pay more for the brand in comparison with another apparently
similar product of an unknown brand) and the consumer’s tendency to
recommend the brand to others. The aim is to study the nomological validity
and thus contribute additional data that demonstrate the construct validity of
the scale (Peter and Churchill 1986).
In this way, we then estimated the causal model that considers
‘recommendation of the brand’ as a dependent variable of the four
dimensions, and ‘price premium’ as the dependent variable of the brand
functional and symbolic utilities. The question on the price premium
measures the amount that the consumer would be willing to pay more for
the brand, compared to another unknown brand name but with apparently
similar physical characteristics (product). For this reason, the relation
between the price premium and the product utilities is not considered. On
40 Rodolfo Vázquez, A. Belén del Río and Víctor Iglesias
the other hand, in the brand equity literature, it is widely recognised that in
the extent that the consumer associates value to a brand he will be more
willing to pay a higher price for the brand and to recommend it to others
(Aaker 1991; Huttom 1997; Keller 1998; Yoo et al. 2000). As for the product
utilities, since we are not aware of studies that specifically research these
relations in the sports shoes market, we propose estimating the effect of both
types of utilities on the willingness to recommend the brand to others,
assuming that both utilities have a significant and positive effect.
The results of the causal model are presented in Figure 3. It has been
observed that the brand name functional and symbolic utilities have a
positive influence on the variable ‘price premium’. The variable
‘recommendation of the brand’ is significantly and positively related to the
product functional utility and the brand name functional and symbolic
utilities. However, the significant incidence of the product symbolic utility
has not been corroborated. This could be explained by the fact that the
product symbolic utility is measured by items (design and colour) whose
evaluation is totally subjective and directly observable by the consumer. In
this way, it is feasible that the individuals do not take into account such
aspects when recommending the brand.
FUNPROD 0.10* Price premium
B1.1 FUNBRAND Recommendation
Notes: (*) the parameter is significant at a confidence level of 95 % (t-Robust > 1.96).
Although for purposes of clarity, we have not included in the graph the covariances
between the independent latent variables, these are released in the model (and are all
Figure 3. Nomological Validity: Relation of the Scale with Other
We have developed and empirically examined a measurement instrument of
brand equity based on the utilities perceived by the consumer once the brand
Consumer-based Brand Equity 41
has been purchased. The results suggest that the proposed scale exhibits
strong internal consistency and a reasonable degree of validity.
In accordance with these results, it can be concluded that in the study of
brand utilities, the separation of the product utilities from those utilities
associated to the brand name is reliable and valid. At the same time, it is
found that the consumer perceives functional and symbolic utilities of both
the product and the brand name. This implies that the associations held by
the consumer of the brand can be structured into four main dimensions:
product functional utility, product symbolic utility, brand name functional
utility and brand name symbolic utility.
The reliability and validity analyses also reveal that for the category of
product analysed - sports shoes - the product functional utility is a
multidimensional concept. In particular, this may comprise three
subdimensions labelled ‘comfort’, ‘safety’ and ‘duration’. Similarly, the
symbolic utility of the brand name is a multidimensional concept embracing
the subdimensions of ‘social identification’, ‘status’ and ‘personal
identification’. This result is consistent with the study of Bhat and Reddy
(1998). On the other hand, the product symbolic utility and the brand name
functional utility are uni-dimensional concepts.
In this way, customer-perceived value of the brand represents a
multidimensional concept. Nevertheless, this affirmation does not invalidate
the holistic conception of the brand, since it has been confirmed that the
different dimensions show a strong inter-relation. The correlations between
the dimensions are highly significant, although they maintain discriminant
validity. In short, the consumer’s perceptions about the different attributes of
a brand are highly related, but can be ordered in independent dimensions.
These observations suggest to the firms that measure consumer-based
brand equity, that they should adopt an intermediate posture between the
holistic and classic conceptions of the brand. The consumer does not see the
product as a reality identical to that of the brand name (holistic conception in
its strictest sense). However, nor should the brand managers consider the
product and brand name as two totally independent realities (classic
conception in its strictest sense).
In line with these results, firms should simultaneously strengthen the
associations related to the product as well as those linked to the brand name.
Due to the inter-relation of these associations, important synergies can be
generated and a clearer, more credible and consistent image can be
communicated to the consumer. In these cases, it is possible that the
consumer perceives greater utilities of the brand, compared to the situations
in which only product associations or brand name associations are
A further implication to be partially derived from the above one is that the
42 Rodolfo Vázquez, A. Belén del Río and Víctor Iglesias
consideration of each of the dimensions and sub-dimensions of the brand
utilities enables firms to better orient their differentiation strategy in terms of
consumer needs. For example, for consumers who place greater emphasis on
social needs, an effective strategy is a marketing mix that shows how the
brand can be used to express the consumer’s personality or the affinity
between certain social groups and the consumer.
On the other hand, it has been observed that the price premium that the
consumer is willing to pay for the brand depends positively on the functional
and symbolic utilities of the brand name. Similarly, it has been observed that
these utilities, together with the product functional utility have a positive
effect on the consumer’s willingness to recommend the brand to others. In
addition, it is noted that the utilities that have a greater incidence on these
variables are the symbolic utilities of the brand name. Therefore, all these
results indicate that the use of commercial brands is a vital strategy for firms
to improve the competitiveness of their products. In this way, it is revealed
that the value of the brand for the consumer has a significant impact on
brand equity for the firm.
The advantage of the developed scale is its the ability to identify the
sources of brand equity for the firm using four basic dimensions. The
application of this scale enables us to ascertain the strengths and weaknesses
of a brand compared to its main competitors. In this way, firms can orient
their marketing programs in terms of the brand utilities they wish to
improve. In particular, for the sports shoes market, it is noted that the
development of brand name symbolic utilities are particularly important.
Regarding the research limitations, it is fitting to question to what extent
the above results will be similar in other sectors. It is foreseeable that the
functional and symbolic utilities have a strong impact on all products related
to sport: the purchase of these products can be determined not only by their
physical attributes but also by the attributes that enable the consumer to
enrich his self-image and communicate certain values to the people in his
environment (these are products usually used in public). On the other hand,
it seems reasonable that symbolic utilities take on great importance in
products for which the purchasing decision mainly depends on fashion
trends (for example, clothes, watches, bags, and other accessories). Similarly,
a strong presence of functional utilities should be expected in cleaning and
hygiene products (for example, detergents) as these are products that are
basically used in private.
As for future research, the scale developed here can be used to measure
consumer-based brand equity in other sectors, introducing the necessary
adaptations, in line with the specific characteristics of the products, the usage
situations or the type of customer. Finally, it must be said that this work has
focused on the ex-post utilities of the brand. However, it would also be
Consumer-based Brand Equity 43
interesting to evaluate the ex-ante utilities and test the relation that they
could maintain with the ex-post utilities. Similarly, a further possible
research line consists in assessing the relationship between consumer-based
brand equity and dependent variables that express firm-based brand equity,
such as for example, the consumer’s brand loyalty and the firm’s subsequent
bargaining power in the distribution channel.
The authors thank the two anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments
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48 Rodolfo Vázquez, A. Belén del Río and Víctor Iglesias
P1.1 P1.2 P1.3 P2.1 B1.1 B2.1 B2.2 B2.3 V1 V2
P1.2 .669 1.000
P1.3 .273 .397 1.000
P2.1 .392 .327 .181 1.000
B1.1 .504 .502 .374 .395 1.000
B2.1 .442 .370 .149 .443 .670 1.000
B2.2 .218 .199 .042 .231 .386 .509 1.000
B2.3 .437 .388 .251 .400 .636 .521 .461 1.000
V1 .158 .119 .054 .183 .220 .240 .175 .191 1.000
V2 .400 .359 .246 .321 .586 .445 .328 .616 .138 1.000
STD 1.38 1.28 1.77 1.66 1.64 1.96 2.64 2.86 2688 2.68
N 1726 1726 1726 1726 1726 1726 1726 1726 1726 1726
Note: Variables are defined in Table 2 and Figure 3.
About the Authors
Rodolfo Vázquez (Ph.D., University of Oviedo, Spain) is a Professor of
Marketing at Oviedo University (Spain). His areas of research interest
include brand management, relationship marketing and distribution
A. Belén del Río (Ph. D., University of Oviedo, Spain) is an Assistant
Professor of Marketing at Oviedo University (Spain). Her areas of research
interest include brand equity and brand evaluation processes.
Víctor Iglesias (Ph.D., University of Oviedo, Spain) is an Assistant Professor
of Marketing at Oviedo University (Spain). His areas of research interest
include consumer behaviour, restraints and contractual agreements in