Essay Writing Help on Role Of Branding In Consumer Behaviour In 4* And 5* Hotels In The Uk

ROLE OF BRANDING IN CONSUMER BEHAVIOUR IN 4* AND 5* HOTELS IN THE UK

Acknowledgment

I would like to express my sincere gratitude to my project supervisor [insert name of supervisor} who assisted me greatly, and gave me a lot of guidance and support while conducting this research project, which will enlighten interested readers in 4* and 5* hotels.

A word of appreciation also goes to all those respondents who helped me to get many valuable ideas for this study.

Finally, a word of appreciation to my family and friends for their unconditional support during this project period, especially my sister who was anxious to see this study completed.

Abstract

The survey of this study was conducted from {insert timeframe given your tutor to conduct the research}. The study sought to explore the role of branding in consumer behaviour in the 4* and 5* hotels in the United Kingdom (UK).

The specific objectives were:

  1. To find out whether a consumer’s positive attitude towards a certain brand will influence his/her choice of hotel to stay in.
  2. To find out how changes in prices affect the relationship between a consumer behaviour and branding activities
  3. To measure the number of  consumers who recommended certain brands to their friends
  4. To find out the number of consumers who made their purchasing choice based on a friend/relative recommendation.

Data was collected using questionnaires, which were distributed by use of post. Interviews and secondary sources were also used to supplement in the data collection process. The data collected was analyzed through descriptive analysis. The sampling used was stratified random.

During the study some limitation were encountered.

  1. Some of the questionnaires were not returned.
  2. Time constraints of the short research period within which in-depth analysis of the prevailing circumstances may not have been attained.
  3. Financial constraints

The research findings indicated that branding plays a very important role in influencing consumers’ behaviour by creating an image in the consumers’ mind. It was also established that those hotels that branded their services performed better during economic crisis than those that did not brand their services. The study also revealed that consumers’ lifestyles are affected by changes in the environmental factors that surround them. Therefore, it was recommended that the brand managers in hotel should invest more in branding in order to increase their sales volume. In addition, the brand managers should always update their brands according to the changes in environmental factors, such as technological changes, economic, social, and cultural changes. This updating of brands ensures extensive capturing of the consumers’ attention.

CHAPTER ONE

1.      Introduction

1.1.   Study Topic

The topic of study is the role of branding on consumer behaviour in the United Kingdom 4 and 5 star hotels. Lack of extensive branding in the service industry compelled me to choose this topic. Most service providers in the UK do not take branding as a means of marketing their services seriously. Contrary to the traditional belief that branding is most useful when selling goods and not services, some few businesses in the service industry have started using branding as a marketing strategy. Hence, I was interested in researching on the role that branding plays on consumers’ decision. To extensively study this, I chose a particular type of service industry, and that is the hotel industry. I went further to be more specific by narrowing down to Mayfair hotel in the UK.

1.2.   Background of the Study

The word brand has a Germanic origin meaning burn. Brand definition according to the American marketing Association is a symbol, name or term that distinctly identifies one company’s product or service from those of other sellers or companies. Branding of hotels in the UK was not a famous practise until the 19th century. This was after the Second World War. It was during this period that most hotel managers saw the need to brand their hotels in order to attract more customers.

Traditionally, the numbers of hotels in the UK were very limited. Most visitors in the country preferred to rent accommodation rather than stay in hotels, and hence putting up hotels was not a very good business venture. Most investors invested in coaching inns and guesthouses. The cost of living was also very low, and most visitors did not mind renting accommodation.

Today, UK is among the top countries in the world with most hotels. Research has shown that there were 1170 hotels in the country by the year 2000. The hotel sector started to grow in the mid-18th century when the railway transport started to grow. The railway transport brought more visitors into the country and hence the growth in the hotel industry. In addition, the cost of living in the UK, particularly London started rising and it became very expensive to live in the country. Hence, most visitors opted to stay in hotels rather than rent accommodation. The hotel business has since grown, especially due to the high number of tourists that the country receives annually. UK is also the home of many football leagues and with football funs all over the world, the need to market their hotels worldwide has led to the increased use of branding in their 4* and 5* hotels. Premier Inn hotel is well known worldwide due to its brand.

1.3.   Definitions of terms

Advertising: It is the process of making the consumers aware of certain qualities of a product.

Brand: It is a name, term or symbol that distinguishes one seller’s product/service from another seller.

Branding: This is the act of placing a name, term or symbol on a product/service in order to distinguish from products/services in the market

Brand attributes: These are the features embedded in a product/service that makes it different from other products/services in the market

Brand diversification: It is the process of creating/consuming different brand in order to reduce the risk associated with selling/consuming one single brand.

Brand switching: It is the act by consumers to stop consuming a certain brand and start consuming another brand.

Consumer: Is the individual that purchases a service/product from a seller.

Consumer behaviour:  This includes the stages that a consumer goes through before deciding to purchase a particular service/product

Product/service differentiation: This is the process of making product/services which are similar, or different according to the different consumer categories.

Public relations: It is the process of convincing the public about the benefits of a product by telling the public about the features in the products that will satisfy their needs

1.4.   Statement of problem

In spite of the important role that the 4* and 5* play in ensuring consumers get the best experience when in the hotels, their continuity is threatened by lack of successful branding that will ensure their growth in the future. Poor performances by 4* and 5* hotels started during the recent series of economic crisis. Most 4* and 5* hotels in the UK recorded very low sales during the recession. This is because during recession, the consumption level had reduced and hence the need to do more marketing in order to maintain high sales.

Similarly, there has been observed significant decline in terms of very low profits and slow growth and development in the 4* and 5* hotels. This poor performance has been of great concern and something has to be done to improve the situation. This is because the hotel business contributes towards the improvement of the UK’s economy and hence failure to correct the slow growth in these hotels will affect the country’s economy. Thus, this state of affairs may be attributed to unsuccessful branding strategies in most of these hotels as a result of low investment and putting less effort in designing branding strategies. This study analyzes the role branding plays in consumer’s behavior, which in return plays a role in ensuring high profits for the hotel. The main factors that the study will analyze include:

  • Customer loyalty
  • Source of information. That is how the customer learnt about the services a hotel is offering
  • Consumers perception on a brand key attributes
  • The extent of brand importance to a consumer
  • Brand switch between competing hotels
  • Level of consumers’ satisfaction

Therefore, there is need for the 4* and 5* hotel managements to review their marketing strategies in order to ensure that they attract more customers and improve the hotel customer relationship. This will lead to increased customer loyalty.

1.5.   The research question

  • What are the major clients of 4* and 5* hotels in the UK?
  • Do consumers consider brands important?
  • What is the consumer’s perception on the key attribute of a brand?
  • How satisfied are the consumers with their current brands of hotels?
  • What factors influences consumers’ choice to switch from one brand to another?

1.6.   The objectives of the study

General objective

The main aim of the study is to identify the role branding plays in consumer behaviour. It is to determine the relationship between branding activities and a consumer’s decision to purchase a certain item as well the value that branding brings into a hotel.

Specific objectives

Specifically the study aimed to find out

  1. Whether a consumer’s positive attitude towards a certain brand will influence the choice of hotel to stay in.
  2. How changes in prices affects the relationship between a consumer behaviour and branding activities
  3. How many consumers recommend certain brands to their friends
  4. How many consumers purchase a certain brand because their friend had recommended it.

CHAPTER TWO

5.      Literature Review

                    The term review refers to past studies. Critical evaluation of review gives the researcher a more comprehensive view of the various dimensions of the problem under study and determine what still requires more study to cover gaps that others have not covered?

a.      Historical Review

The great depression that was as a result of the first World War caused socio-economic problems, which resulted in people having less money for consumption. This meant that the consumption level of most individuals decreased (Ries 2004). This was the beginning of branding as companies started selling specific attributes in their products through marketing. This was in order to attract more consumers since the consumption level had reduced.

Branding is all about service or product characteristics that attract consumers to purchase that particular service or product (Funk & Levis 2009). According to Karl Marx, individuals usually make their own decisions concerning who to be, how to live, and what to consume subject to marketing and publicity. Hence, according to Marx, branding, which is a form of a marketing strategy has an influence in determining how people behave. Branding is able to influence the human behaviour because it exploits underlying buying behaviour of consumers. Branding influences individual emotions by the use of a storytelling approach (Harvey 2014). Most brands usually seems to tell a certain story and hence its ability to capture and influence consumers attitude towards a certain brand of service.

b.      Branding Today

Today, branding provides a platform for most consumers’ choices. In today’s market, there is always a new hotel in the market and hence consumers find it hard to decide which hotel to go to. Due to this complexity in the service provision by hotels, most consumers would rather consume that particular brand that they had consumed before and satisfied their needs (Hankinson 2011). This because they considered such brands tested and tried and therefore the level of dissatisfaction is minimal. This type of consumer behaviour was further supported by Assael’s concept in 1993, which stated that in a situation where there was minimal consumer involvement, the consumers were likely to rely solely on past experience with a certain brand (Mullins & Walker 2013). This means that consumers with limited buying areas would be targeted by most advertising campaigns (Griffins 2009).

However, the consumers’ lifestyles are also affected by changes in the environmental factors surrounding the consumers and hence the way a company markets its brands depends majorly on the environmental factors that affect the consumers. Human beings lifestyles changes with changes in social, cultural, economic and technological changes (Khan 2011). With such changes, the brand also needs to adapt to the changes. For example, technological changes have forced most service industries hotels included to start doing their marketing online. People’s lifestyles have changed due to the technological changes, and to capture the attention of consumers, businesses must adapt to the changes as they come. With the introduction of several social networks, most individuals meet a reasonable amount of time on social media (Almgren 2012). The social Medias have also become a very popular means of communication. Therefore, to efficiently capture the attention of the consumers, businesses today do a lot of marketing of their services and products through the different social Medias.

The different ways of branding can influence consumers’ behaviour by first capturing the consumer attention. According to Philip Kotler, there are six major dimensions through which a brand can capture consumers’ attention (Kotler 2006). The six dimensions include attributes, benefits, values, culture, personality and user. A brand is able to capture a consumer’s attention by communicating certain attributes that the consumer will enjoy if he/she purchases that particular service or product (Randall 2006). To reinforce on the attributes, a brand also communicates a list of benefits that individuals will enjoy if they are wise enough to consume that service or product. Moreover, a brand represents the values of a particular company. Branding can also capture a consumer’s attention by presenting personalities of targeted customers and behaviours of the product end user. By so doing, the targeted consumers are likely to purchase such a brand because there is a feeling of compatibility (Kotler 2010).

Like any other marketing strategy, branding has its advantages and disadvantages (Levy, 2011). The advantages include

  1. It enables companies who are already leaders in their respective markets to maintain that leadership role
  2. It stimulates consumers to purchase a certain product or service.
  3. It creates product/service awareness for consumers. Through branding consumers are made aware of the available products/services in the market plus their respective attributes. This means that consumers always a number of options to choose from.
  4. It also helps businesses in creating and maintaining customer loyalty. This is because most consumers will tend to stick to a particular brand that they have identified with.

The disadvantages include:

  1. Starting a product or service requires a lot of money. It is therefore a very expensive investment.
  2. A brand that is not successful will lead to a company having a negative image.
  3. Whenever a product or service is branded, customers are expected to pay more but there are occasions when customers are not willing to pay more for a brand. In such situations, the business will make losses because their investment in brands will not produce any benefits (Bevan 2010).

c.       Components of Branding

Advertising

A company can create a very good brand that is most likely to be embraced by the public. However, if the brand is not made known to the public, then all the time, efforts and money spent on trying to come up with this brand will all go to waste (Hansen 2006). Here is where advertising comes in. Through advertising, the public are made aware of the brand existence and they can then decide to purchase that brand or not depending on whether the brand’s attributes will satisfy their wants. Through advertising, businesses are able to define the brand in the public’s mind (Riley 2010). For example Nike which is known for its legendary advertisements. It spends a lot of money on sports celebrity and this has made his logo to be recognized worldwide without saying even a single word in their advertisements. This is because they are able to create a brand image on the mind of consumers. A business should therefore ensure that it not create a good brand but also an effective advertising strategy to make the brand known and influential to the various consumers.

Marketing

Marketing of the brand helps in creation of brand entity (Wilson 2011). This is usually done through consultation or in- house. Through marketing, a company creates the brand personality and determines how this particular brand will be presented to the market in order to achieve maximum sales. Marketing therefore is not all about selling but also knowing what to sell and who to sell it to. Marketing first identifies the target market and then delivers services or products that are specific to that particular audience. A demographic area is first identified. This can be a certain age group or a certain class of individuals (Fanning 2006). Once identified, the, marketing professionals are put at task. They evaluate this particular group and establishes all their wants and seeing if their wants can be satisfied using the brand being marketed. If the attributes of the brand and the target market wants are compatible, then the marketers will advertise the strengths of this particular brand to its market (Ottman 2011). The strengths in this situation are usually very specific and they are usually in line with the consumers wants.

Public relations

Most individuals do not understand the difference between public relations and advertising. While advertising is the juggernaut of public attention, the stealth bomber of the public attention is public relations. Public relation is more about making the public endorse ones brand. It solidifies the image of a brand on the minds of the public (Elliot & Percy 2011). Through public relation, one is able to bring a brand to the public’s attention without the public having any precessions. Therefore, public relations strive to make the public choose and believe completely in one particular brand.

d.      Emerging Issues in Branding

The current economic crisis possesses a lot of challenges and opportunities for the brand marketers. Research has shown that those companies who invested more on branding during the last recession had a comparative advantage than those who cut down the investment cost on branding (Martinez 2012). Reducing the price of a service/product does not necessarily mean an increase in customer base. This is because consumers’ choice to purchase a certain brand is usually influenced by the value they get by consuming that brand. Hence, to ensure higher sales, businesses should do more than just reduce prices of their products or services (Gregory 2004). They should come up with ways that make the consumer feel that the collective benefits they enjoy from a brand outweigh the cost.

In order to ensure a balance between these benefits and cost, the marketers must broadly define the value of a brand and its cost. The value of a brand includes all the monetary benefit that one enjoys and the psychological benefits associated with a brand (Hanlon 2006). Similarly, costs include the monetary costs, opportunity cost, energy cost and psychological cost. In order to achieve maximum result during the recession period, top marketers in the economy will come up with ways of reframing these cost and benefits so that the consumers see them in the most positive way as possible (Shim 2012).

e.       Consumer Behaviour

A brand fundamental function is to identify and differentiate services and products. Hence, it will forever remain an important element in any market. A good brand usually makes the consumer life much easier because it will be easy to make decisions on which brand to choose. Consumers tend to be loyal to brands that constantly deliver their promises (Trappey & Woodside 2005).  In a world characterised by increasingly complexity in services and product, a brand’s ability to simplify a consumer’s buying decision is very key (Sonnenburg 2013). Hence, marketers must change their marketing strategies with changes in technology, social, cultural and economic life of consumers.

There are four types of consumer behaviours depending on the product differentiation and the degree of consumer involvement. These four include complex buying behaviour, habitual buying behaviour, Variety seeking buying behaviour and dissonance- reducing buying behaviour (Aloza 2013).

Complex buying behaviour consumers are those consumers who normally expand their belief on particular product gradually. This type of consumers takes time before deciding on a particular brand. They slowly develop liking and positive towards a product. Their first brand to like may not be the last brand they like. They compare and contrast a number of brands before deciding on which particular brand to choose (Davis 2012). Once they settle on one particular brand they do not change easily unless the brand has gone out of market.

The next types of consumers are those that display habitual buying behaviour. This buying pattern is mainly as a result of the consumer’s condition. Under this pattern, the consumer makes buying decision based on information acquired passively or the information that is embedded on their mind (Clements & Thompson 2011). This behaviour is very common where there is limited consumer involvement and hence consumers depend entirely on advertisements.

The third type is dissonance- reducing behaviour which is characterised by consumers who are highly active in the purchasing experience but are not able to compare and contrast different brands. Their choices are therefore mainly influenced by brand differentiation be it attributes, packaging or even price (Grove 2011). Under this pattern a consumer will decide to purchase a particular brand because the attributes of that brand best fits their needs than the other brand or be them because the price of a certain brand gives them value for money than that of another brand. However, there may be situation where product and service differentiation is not possible. In such situation, the consumers choices are determined by convince (Powell 2013). That is a consumer will buy a service or a product depending on how easy it is to purchase that particular brand (Evans 2008). For example where the 5* and 4* hotels cannot be compared and differentiated, a  Chelsea football fun from Netherlands who have travelled to watch a home match will decide to book a room in an hotel that is nearest to the Stratford bridge stadium for convince.

Last is the variety seeker behaviour. This type of consumer is one that changes brands often. These types of consumers do not consume a particular brand for a long time (Sloan & Legrand 2009). Under this pattern, there is low consumer involvement in the purchasing experience and the services and products are highly differentiated. The consumers therefore do a lot of brand switching in order to satisfy their need for brand diversification.

f.       Critical Review

Although many 4* and 5* hotels have been well established and most of them have loyal customers, there is need to consider branding as a contributing factor. Most service industries do not invest in branding because of the initial belief that branding mostly benefited companies that dealt with product provision and not services (Wang 2014). With an increasingly dynamic world, products as well as services are becoming more complex. This complexity in services and products makes it very difficult for consumers to choose. With the introduction of branding, the work of consumers has been made easier (Richardson 2013).

Hotel management therefore needs to pay more attention to the role of consumer branding in their hotels because:

  1. It will ensure customer loyalty
  2. Increase the number of guests the hotel receives annually. This is because those customers who had no idea what a particular hotel offered will be aware and they may decide to choose a particular hotel because of its branding.
  3. The overall benefits will be worth the investment (Sagar 2009).

However, the marketers of hotels must ensure that the development of brands for the hotels is allocated adequate time and resources. This is to ensure that they come up with a brand that will be successful and appealing to the consumers. The main reason for branding is to excite consumers and if consumers are not excited by a brand then all the resources and effort put in developing that brand would have been for nothing. Moreover, unsuccessful branding can bring bad image to the hotel (Noel 2009). With bad image comes lost in clients and as a result lost in sales.

g.      Summary

Branding is very fundamental to hotels particularly 4* and 5* hotels because the continuity of any business is determined by how well it can acquire and retain customers. Therefore, to ensure continuity of their businesses must start putting more effort in ways of acquiring and retaining customers and branding is one of the most effective ways if formulated properly (Pepper 2007). After careful analysis of the situation, it was concluded that branding as a way of influencing consumers behaviour must be updated often according to the socio-economic, cultural and technological changes. This is because these changes result into changes in consumers’ lifestyle. Since branding fundamental aim is to capture consumers’ attention, then it must be done according to the consumers’ present lifestyle.

CHAPTER THREE

6.      Research Methodology

This chapter presents a detailed description of the methodology used in the study. It includes theory of research, description of the methodologies used and a critical analysis of the methodologies used.

a.      Theory of research

When conducting a research, there are a number of instruments that a researcher can use to collect and analyse data. The main data collection instruments include questionnaires, observation, interviews and secondary sources (Samuels 2009). After data has been collected, it can be analysed using a number of methods. This includes statistical methods such as regression and correlation, frequency distribution tables, diagrams and charts.

Questionnaire

Questionnaires are very appropriate instrument when collecting raw data from a number of individuals because it saves time, cost and covers a wide area (Kumar 2005). Questionnaires should be simple, precise and with a good number of questions. The number of questions in a questionnaire should not be too many, as this will discourage the respondent. The questions should be simple and straight to the point to enable the respondent provide correct answers. However, the use of questionnaires cannot be applied when part of the respondents is illiterate. Moreover, some respondents usually fail to return their questionnaire making the analysis of data from the questionnaires challenging (Bellany 2012). In addition, failure to answer some questions in the questionnaires make analysing data collected by use of questionnaires difficult especially where the questions are sequential.

Observation

This is a data collection instruments that does not involve any respondents instead the researcher collects data by observing what the target population are doing. There are three main ways by which a researcher can observe a population (Welman 2005). The researcher can decide to disguise himself/herself. In this case, the population are not aware that they are being observed and hence are not likely to change their behaviours. Data collected through this process is usually very accurate (Jha 2005). The researcher can also decide to observe the population by living with the targeted population for a period of time. In this situation, the population are usually aware that their behaviours are being observed and may therefore change their behaviour. Data collected through this process is not very accurate. Last, the researcher can decide to observe a population’s characteristics from a distance (Jha 2005). Under this method of observation, the targeted population may or may not know that they are being observed and hence the data collected is accurate.

 Hence it is a very appropriate method where the researcher feels that respondents are not likely to be honest and he/she decides to observe the respondents behaviours. This is because it provides a direct access to the targeted population social characteristics (Scruggs 2005). Observation is also applicable in a wider range of context because it is very flexible and hence the approaches used to observe an individual could be changed easily.

However observation is a very costly method of data collection and therefore it is only applied when necessary. Observation of a population’s behaviour also takes a lot of time hence a very time consuming method (Scruggs 2005). If a lot of time is spent collecting data, the researcher may have inadequate time for data analysis. Since the conclusion and recommendations are made from the analysed data, then poor analysis of data will lead to unreliable conclusion. The presence of an observer can also interfere with the data collection process in that the respondents being observed may sometimes change their behaviours when the observer is around. This change in behaviour leads to collection of inaccurate data. The method is also affected by the observer biasness (Harrell & Bradley 2009). This is where an observer records what he/she wanted to see and not what he/she observed. This subjectivity on the observer part usually interferes with the validity and reliability of the data collected.

Interviews

Interviews can be carried through telephone or face by face. Interviews are very appropriate where the researcher questions needs further clarification from the respondents. During face-to-face interviews, the researcher can observe the respondent nonverbal behaviours and as a result adjust the question to make the respondent feel more comfortable. The use of this method ensures adequate data collection (Axinn & Pearce 2006). However, this method is very costly and poor reception can interfere with telephone interviews. The face-to-face interviews require the researcher to meet with the respondent. This can be very expensive especially where the study is being done nationally. Travelling from one place to another also consumes a lot of time meaning interviews are only applicable where the area being studied is not wide and is sparsely populated (Vogt 2010).

Secondary sources

This is instrument is used to data that already exist. It is the cheapest method of data collection. Using other people, work allows the researcher to have a broader meaning of his/her research topic. In addition, the researcher is able to identify any gap in the past studies. However, this method is likely subjective and hence the researcher cannot rely on it alone (Philips & Stawarski 2008).

After a thorough analysis of the different methods of data collection, the researcher settled on questionnaires, secondary sources and minimal use of interviews. Questionnaires were chosen because the area that needed to be covered was wide and the time allocated to the study was limited. Interview was chosen to help the researcher collect more information from hotel managers. The secondary sources used were documentary reviews. This enabled the researcher to understand the research topic better and to do both local and international comparison.

The data analysis instruments used were frequency distribution tables and pie charts. Frequency distribution table was chosen because it is easy to construct and read. Pie charts on the other hand present data in percentage form making understanding of the analysis easier. The researcher did not use correlation and regression analysis because most of the data that was collected were coded data. Analysing coded data produces inaccurate and unreliable data.

b.      Methodologies and design.

Study Design

         The study will adopt descriptive design due to the nature of the study. This will involve problem identification, definition and formulation of the research objectives from which the research instruments will be drawn.

         The descriptive method was found suitable because the data collected was used to identify research problems proposed in the study and reinforcing on the objectives of the study by focusing on a large population and selecting a representative for observation and analysis.

The analysis of data from the sample was then used to make interpretation of the overall target population. The following steps were followed:-

  • estimating population size
  • selecting a representative sample
  • defining suitable data collection instruments
  • collecting and analysing data
  • formulating conclusions and results

Study area

         The research was done in the United Kingdom, which is a developed country. This is because implied goal of the study is to find out the role branding plays in shaping consumers behaviour in a developed country. Samples were used to act as representatives of the entire country.

Target population

         The study targeted all genders and all categories of individuals. Both men and women were interviewed. Celebrities and common citizens were both interviewed to see if there is a difference in the level of influence, branding does to the two categories of individuals. The rich as well as the poor were also interviewed to compare and contrast the influence of branding on the two contrasting individuals. The study also targeted the young adults in the country. However, the target was narrowed to those who had visited Mayfair hotel over the last five years.

Sampling Techniques and Sample Size

         For convenience, the target population was clustered into groups of similar characteristics. The population was grouped according to age, wealth status and occupation. The groups were young adults, adults, celebrities, high-income earners, middle-income earners and low-income earners. The sampling technique used was volunteer sampling that enabled cooperative participation from the consumers who were surveyed. The sample size was obtained from the targeted consumers who had visited Mayfair hotel for the last five years. A stratified random sampling technique was used to come up with a sample consisting of 150 individuals. It was found reasonable that a sample size of 4% would be used. That is out of each category of individuals a sample size of 4% was taken to represent the group in the overall sample. The table below shows the number of individuals that represented each group in the sample.

GroupSample size
Young adults15
Adults30
Celebrities40
High income earners35
Middle income earners25
Low income earners5
Total150

 Data Type and Sources

         Both quantitative and qualitative data was used. Primary data was collected by use of questionnaires and interviews. Secondary data was mainly obtained from the Mayfair hotel reports and from some of its competitors for comparison reasons. Several journals on hotel management in the United Kingdom also provided many relevant data that was used in the study. In addition, several websites with articles on branding and consumer behaviour were also reviewed in order to have a broader and clearer understanding of the study variables. Other international sources such as the American marketers Association were also reviewed in order to allow for international comparison.

 Research Instruments

         The instruments used in data collection were questionnaires. The questionnaires included both open-ended and close-ended questionnaires. The open-ended questions were used to get an insight of the background information, motivation, and aspirations of Mayfair hotel consumers in the UK. The questions in the questionnaires were simple and precise. Part one of the questionnaire had the easy questions while those that may have been difficult to answer were towards the end of the questionnaire. Questionnaires were used to enable coverage of a wide area to save on time and because they are easy to analyze.

 Data Collection

         Data for this study was collected through the following methods:

  1. Questionnaires: In this research, questionnaires were used to draw information from respondents. Questionnaires were used to collect information from different consumers who visited the Mayfair hotel in the last five years. They were also used to guide dialogue with the Mayfair hotel stakeholders from the different location in the country.
  2. Interviews: They were used to obtain required information by the use of telephone interview and through face-to-face interviews. The key informants interviewed included; Mayfair hotel management, advertising agencies and different categories of consumers.
  3. Documentary reviews: this involved collecting information and data from hotels records, existing survey reports on hotels and branding, printed forms and academic works such as books and journals that talked about hotels particularly 4* and 5* hotels, hotel branding and consumer behaviour.

 Data Coding, Cleaning and Refining

         Field data was subjected to data processing before analysis commenced as outlined in the steps below;

  • Serialization of questionnaires for traceability
  • Data quality and integrity was checked through verification to ensure that outliers were identified and corrected.
  • Data entry of both survey and geospatial data.
  • Data cleaning through frequency test.
  • Reduction of qualitative data through classification and decoding.
  • Select variable for frequency runs for descriptive analysis of data

3.10 Data Analysis

         The researcher organized data, described the data, made object interpretation of the data and developed conclusion and communicated results in a meaningful and clear manner by statistical method of analysing numerical data. Description statistical tools like frequency distribution tables and charts were used in data presentation. Table helped to avoid unnecessary repetition of data when interpreting while charts presented data in percentage.

         Analysis in this study was also done through comparison between Mayfair hotel services and those of its competitors that also do branding of their services and those that do not. The comparison took place on outcome variables such as loyal customers, branding costs and general growth and performance of these hotels as a result of branding of their services.

 ETHICAL ISSUES

         Ethical issues will be adhered to in the course of the research through ensuring objectivity and that data collected from participants is used only for the research and nothing else. Researcher needs to be cautious enough not to misinterpret the data collected for selfish gain. Permission should also be formally sought from relevant authorities.

c.       Critical Analysis of methodologies used

The methods used for data collection were questionnaires, interviews and documentary reviews. The decision to use these methods was reached after analysing all the methods of data collection. These three were found to be the most effective. In spite of the many advantages these methods delivered, there were also a number of disadvantages.

Most of the questionnaires were posted to the respondents. This help to save time and resources because the researcher did not have to travel anywhere. Posting of questionnaires also ensured that a wide area was covered leading to more reliable results. The questions in the questionnaires were not many to ensure that the respondent did not get bored and that he/she answered all the questions in the questionnaire adequately. Moreover, the questions were simple and precise. This was to avoid ambiguity. Since the researcher was not there to interpreted the questions further there was need to make the questions simple and precise to ensure the respondent do not find a hard time when answering the questions.

Use of the questionnaires had a number of disadvantages which included the fact that 30% of the questionnaires were not returned. This reduced the sample size hence interfering with the analysis process. Out of the questionnaires returned, some respondents around 10% did answer all the questions in the questionnaires. This made analysing date from the questionnaires very challenging since the questions were intertwined and failure to answer one affected the consequent questions.

The second method used to collect data was interviews. Interviews were done both orally and through telephone. Both oral and telephone interviews enabled the researcher to elaborate more on the question leading to better responses. With the oral interviews, the researcher was able to gauge the body language of the respondent and hence he/she was able to probe more where necessary.

The use of interviews was a very expensive method, as the interviewer had to travel to the respondent location. In the case of telephone interview, the telephone bills were very costly. This meant that this method of data collection was only limited to a number of respondents hence limiting the area covered. Poor reception also interfered with the interviewing process.

The other method used was the use of documentaries. This was a secondary source, which enabled the researcher to have a broader meaning of the study. It also enabled the researcher to do comparison both internationally and locally. However, this source like all the other sources also had its limitation. The information in these sources was not raw data but other people’s work. This meant that the sources were not very reliable because of the high degree of subjectivity in these sources.

In order to avoid the problems encountered during this study in the future, the researcher should ensure that the numbers of questions in the questionnaires are as minimal as possible to avoid the possibility of some questions being left unanswered. It was also realized that the most questions left unanswered were open-headed question and therefore in the future the number of questions that need explanation will be minimised. To avoid the possibility of questionnaires not being returned, the researcher will incur the postage charges for the questionnaires returned in order to encourage more respondents to return their questionnaires. In addition, the researcher will seek assurance from the respondents that they will answer and return their questionnaires before distributing the questionnaires to the respondents. This will ensure that only those who assured the researcher will be given questionnaires to answer.

CHAPTER FOUR

7.      Analysis and Discussion of findings

a.      Analysis of results

The purpose of analyzing data was to organize raw data obtained from the field, described the results, make objective interpretation and develop logical inferences by relating to research questions. Data used for analysis was obtained from consumers that were interviewed and from the returned questionnaires. The response rate was average. 30% of the respondents did not return their questionnaires and out of the questionnaires returned, 10% of them were not fully answered.

Questionnaire analysis

Demographic characteristics of consumers

 Table 4.1 distribution of consumers by age

CodeAge bracketNo of consumerPercentage %
118 – 2355
224 – 291615
330 –343735
435 and above4745
                               Total105100

         Data on the distribution of consumers by age as per table 4.1 above provide some clues regarding how consumers of the Mayfair hotel in the UK comprises of different age brackets.

The important of collecting data as per age distribution may be seen in the light that this type of hotel is mostly visited by those who are above the age of 35years.

It is evident from table 4.1 above that older individuals from age dominate the other age group. It accounts for 45% of the sample, which is a representative of the study area. The number of consumers that visit the Mayfair hotel reduces with a decrease in age group. That is in the age bracket 30 – 34 years, there only 37 consumers out of the 105 returned questionnaires. In the age bracket 23-29 years the number continues to decline with only 16 consumers representing that age group. The number further declines to five consumers in the age group 18-23 years.

Table 4.2 Distribution of consumers by Gender

CodeGenderNo of consumersPercentage %
1Male5552
2Female5048
Total105100

         Data distribution on the distribution of consumers by gender as per table 4.2 above provides source clues regarding dominance of consumers in the Mayfair hotel. The importance of collecting data as by gender distribution may be seen in the light that men are the common clients for Mayfair hotel. Although men are the most, the gap is not very large. This shows that both men and women visit these hotels at almost equal rates. It is evident from table 4.2 above those 55 males out of the 105 questionnaires returned consumes services provided by the Mayfair hotel in the UK. This accounts for 52% of the population. The table also shows that 50 consumers from a sample of 105which represent a percentage of 48% are female.

Table 4.3 Consumers perception on a brand’s key attributes

CodeAttributesNumber of consumersPercentage %
1Quality4038
2Price2019
3Personality3029
4Status1514
TOTAL105100

Source: Author (2015)

         The above table shows that the majority of consumers representing 38% perceive quality as the key attribute in a brand. 29% consider personality as a key attribute in a brand, 19% consider price as the key attribute and only 14% perceives status as the key attribute in any brand. The aim of collecting data and analyzing it as per what consumers perceived as the most important attribute in a brand was to find out the attribute that dominates in the service industry particularly in the 4* and 5* hotels..

         In the above finding, quality and personality can be seen the major attributes considered to be key in a brand by most consumers.

Table 4.4 Importance of brands to consumers

CodeImportanceNo of consumersPercentage
1Very important3533
2Important5048
3      Neither important nor unimportant      1211
4      Not important      88
Total    105     100

Source: Author (2012)

         Table 4.4 above shows that only 8% of the consumers do not consider branding of services important. Majority of consumers, which is represented by 48%, consider branding important and only 11% do not care at all about branding of services.

The objective of collecting data and analyzing as per the extent of brand importance to consumers was to find out whether branding was a contributing factor in influencing consumers decision when it came to choosing an hotel. In the above findings, it can be that most consumers consider branding as either important or very important.

Table 4.5 Level of time consumers have been using a particular brand

CodeYearsNo of consumersPercentage
10-21514
22-47067
34-62019
                      Total105100

Source: Author (2012)

         Data on the distribution of consumers by the number of years one has been using a particular brand as per table 4.5 above shows customer loyalty.

It is evident from table 4.5 above that  majority of consumers spend a maximum of 2-4 years consuming the services of a particular hotel before they change hotels with a percentage of 67 of the population sample. It is also evident that extremely loyal customers represent a percentage of 19 of the population. These individuals spend about 4-6 years consuming the services of a particular hotel.

 Level of satisfaction

         Satisfaction can be classified as either monetary or psychological benefits that a consumer gets from consuming a certain brand. Level of satisfaction will determine whether customers will come back or not.

Below is a table showing consumers level of satisfaction

Table 4.6 Level of satisfaction by consumers

CodeSatisfaction levelNo of consumersPercentage %
1Extremely satisfied2524
2Satisfied4038
3Fairly satisfied3029
4Not satisfied at all109
                            Total105100

Source: Author 2012 

   
   

From the above table, derived from the sample it is revealed that most of the consumers’ level of satisfaction is average. This represents 38% of the population. 25 respondents out of the 105 questionnaires returned feels extremely satisfied with the Mayfair hotel services and only 9% of the population do not feel satisfied at all.

10%  
10%  
35%  
45%  

Table 4.7 how consumers came to know about the hotel

CodeSourceNo of consumersPercentage
1Advertising9590
2Other means1010
TOTAL105    100

Source: Author (2012)

From the above table, it is observed that only 10% of the consumers had about the Mayfair hotel from other sources other than through advertising and majority came to know about this hotel through advertising. The pie chart below demonstrate the above information

Text Box: Advertising
   

Qualitative analysis

Competitors’ services

Respondents said that they at some point consumed brands from different hotels that were competitors of Mayfair hotel in order to find out which one offered better services. They also said they did this in order to find a hotel that satisfied all their wants. Other consumers said the main reason for choosing a certain hotel was because of the closest to town Centre, where they were doing their business or closeness to the airport. Consumers also said that they found themselves visiting different competing hotels because of the high level of service differentiation.

Hotel records

According to the different hotel records reviewed, for most of the hotels including Mayfair hotel, the number of customers increased after branding of their services. More people visited the hotels based the hotels brands as seen through advertising and as a result of referral from friends and relatives.

b.      Discussion of the results of analysis

Consumer distribution by age

From the result analysis above, it is evident that most individuals who visit the 4* and 5* hotels are those who are above the age of 35 years. The main reason behind this observation is that the cost of consuming services from these hotels are usually very high and hence their popular clients are adults who have already made enough money.

Consumer distribution by gender

From the result analysis above, it is evident that the rate at which both men and women visit the hotels is almost equal. This is mainly because the hotel cost is same for whatever gender. However, there is slight difference, which could be because of the fact that most of the returned questionnaires were from men. That is more women did not return their questionnaires.

Brand attributes

Most respondents considered quality of the service as the key attribute of a brand. This indicates that most consumers will look at the quality of the services offered by a hotel when deciding which hotel to live in. Price and personality also followed close after quality mainly because most individuals associate price with quality. Personality also received a higher percentage because most consumers will want to consume brands that are compatible with their characteristics.

Source of information

It is evident from the pie chart above that majority of consumers first heard about the hotels through advertising. This means that advertisement is the most popular means of making a service known to consumers. This is mainly because through advertising a business is able to reach a wide area of customers.

Brand importance

According to the analysis done above, most consumers consider branding important. A few individuals do not care about the brand and very few individuals do not care about the brand. The small percentage of people who do not care about the brand is as a result of low levels of consumer involvement.

Duration of use

From the analysis above it is evident that most consumers consume a certain brand for a period of 2-4 years before abandoning it. This is mainly because after such a period, there is always better services which have been introduced into the market and hence the shifting. The shifting could also be as result of environmental changes. If a service provider fails to change its brands with changes in the environment surrounding the consumer, then the consumer will shift to another brand that best satisfy his/her current wants.

It is also evident that there are a small percentage of individuals who do not use a certain service for a long time. The main reason behind this shifting was found to be the high level of service differentiation meaning consumers were unable to choose a particular service and hence they switch from one brand to another.

c.       Relationship between literature review and findings

               The previous studies done on impact of branding on consumer behaviour showed that branding is vital in the success of any business whether it is a service business or product business. The studies also looked at components of branding separately. The studies also looked at the different categories of consumers’ behaviour based on product and service differentiation and product differentiation. It can be seen that currently the role that branding plays is being recognized by most businesses especially those businesses offering goods. However, fewer studies have been done on the impact of branding on service industries particularly hotels.

               The comments, which were made in the previous studies, are the same as the ones, which are being presented this time. These comments are discussed below.

Brand switch

According to the studies done previously consumers usually do a lot of brand switching in order to satisfy their need for diversification. This practise is very common where there is high level of service/product differentiation. The same conclusion has been in this research based on the amount of time consumers uses a certain hotel. Although the percentage of consumers that participate in brand-switching activities are less compared to loyal customers.

Consumer behaviour

As per past studies, branding influences a consumer’s purchasing decision by capturing their attention and creating an image in their mind. The same conclusion has been reached in this research. Most of the respondents said that their decision to consume services of hotels was as a result of branding. According to the hotel records studied, the sales of the hotels increased after investing in branding. Therefore branding in 4* and 5* hotels captures consumer’s attentions and hence plays a very important role on their behaviour.

CHAPTER FIVE

8.      Conclusion

a.      Summary of findings

The study revealed that consumers consider branding important and hence it influences their choice on what service to purchase. The key attribute that consumers look for in a brand is quality. Hence, the better the quality of services offered, the higher the sales. The study also revealed that those hotels that participated in successful branding indicated an increase in sales compared to the other hotels that did not do any branding of their services.

In addition, hotels that invested adequate time, money and effort did much better during recession as compared to hotels that did not invest in branding. The study showed that even with decrease in prices, hotels that did minimal or no branding at all of their services performed poorly during recession. It was therefore found out that in order to survive the recessions, hotels should invest a lot in successful branding. This is because branding captures the consumers, attention thereby influencing their purchasing behaviour

b.      Answers to research questions

After collection and analysis of data, the study found answers to most questions advanced in the study as follows:-

  1. What are the major clients of 4* and 5* hotels in the UK?

               It was found out that the major clients of 4* and 5* hotels are those individuals aged above 35years of age. The reason behind this conclusion was that people within this age group are financially capable of consuming services from these hotels.

  • Do consumers consider brands important?

               The study found out that most consumers consider brand important and a few consumers do not care about a brand of the services that these hotels offered

  • What is the consumers’ perception on the key attribute of a brand?

               Most consumers according to this study consider quality of the services offered as the key attribute of any brand. Some consumers also perceived price as a key attribute mainly because most individuals associate price with quality.

  • How satisfied are the consumers with their current brands of hotels?

               The average level of satisfaction is fair for most consumers. This means that there is stillroom for improvement and any introduction of better brands by competitors will cause the consumer to abandon their current brands.

  • What factors influences consumers’ choice to switch from one brand to another?

               The study found out that consumers’ choice to switch brands is influenced by environmental changes surrounding the consumers. These changes include socio-economic changes, cultural and technological changes. These changes influence the consumers’ lifestyle and hence consumers are always looking for better brands to satisfy their current wants.

c.       Recommendation

To 4* and 5* hotel management

The hotel management should allocate more time and resources to branding of the service. Adequate time and resources will enable the hotel marketers to come up with practical and better strategies for developing a brand. This will lead to successful branding and as a result the hotel will be able acquire and maintain high number of customers.

To the brand Managers

The brand managers in the hotels should update their brands according to changes in the environmental factors surrounding the consumers. This will enable their brands to reach a large number of consumers. Moreover, it will avoid brand switch. Secondly, the brand managers should ensure that they deliver on their brand promises. Deliverance of brand promises will create good brand consumer relationship and a result customer loyalty.

d.      Total word count

The total word count is 9453 words

Appendix

Questionnaire to consumers

Instructions

  • Answer each question by filing in the provided space or ticking the boxes as appropriate.
  • Your response will be treated in confidence.
  •  Age of the respondent
   

            18-23                

   

                               24 – 29

   
   

                      30 – 34                                                 35 and above

   

Gender of the respondent

   

                            Female                           Male

  • What attribute do you consider key in services brands offered by the Mayfair hotel?
   
   

Price                     Personality

   
   

    Quality                    Status  

  • To what extent do you consider branding of hotel services important?
   
   

Very important

Important 

   
   

Neither important or non-important

Not important

   

For how long having you been using a particular brand of Mayfair hotel services?

0-2 years

   
   

2-4 years

4-6 years

  • How satisfied are you with your current brand of hotel services?
   

Extremely satisfied

   

Satisfied

   
   

Fairly satisfied

Not satisfied at all

   

How did you first come to know about Mayfair hotel brands of services?

Advertising

   

Other

  • Have consumed services of Mayfair competitors?

Yes

No

If yes, what was your reason for the brand switch?

Interview questions to Mayfair hotel management

  1. Do use branding as a means of marketing your product?

Yes

No

If yes, for how long have your hotel been using this method?

  • Has there been any increase since you started branding your services?

Yes

No

If yes, by how much?

  • What percentage of customers visit the hotel based on referral?
  • What percentage of your customers visit the hotel based on the hotel advertisements?

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