Role of brand trust in creating brand equity in the mobile phone industry amongst black Generation Y students
Roets, Christiaan Rudolf Quintus
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In the highly competitive business landscape of the twenty-first century, intangible assets such as brand equity are deemed as increasingly vital to the long-term success of organisations. Brand loyalty, which is the primary driver of brand equity, germinates from consumers‟ brand identification, trust in the superiority of the brand, and their perceptions of the social esteem that use of the brand signals. The mobile phone industry is one of the most dynamic and competitive industries of this century, with new smartphones boasting breakthrough features appearing on the market in rapid succession. In South Africa, black Africans make up the majority of the Generation Y cohort (hereinafter referred to as black Generation Y). As the first generation brought up in this era of mobile telephony, the Generation Y cohort (individuals born between 1986 and 2005) represents an important current and future segment for the manufacturers and marketers of mobile devices, including smartphones. Furthermore, because of the number of members possessing a tertiary qualification, their potential earning power, together with the sheer size of this segment, it was important to determine and model the role of brand trust in creating brand equity in the mobile phone industry amongst these individuals. The study hypothesised that social image directly influences black Generation Y students perception towards brand trust, brand trust directly influences brand loyalty, which in turn directly influences brand equity. The results indicate that social image has a significant positive influence on brand trust, which in turn has a significant positive influence on the development of brand loyalty and consequent brand equity. A descriptive research design using a single cross-sectional sample was followed, using a self-administered questionnaire. The self-administered questionnaire was distributed to a convenience sample of 600 students enrolled at three public South African higher education institutions (HEIs) situated in the Gauteng province. Permission from the lecturers at the three HEIs was obtained to administer the questionnaire during class times. Of the questionnaires completed, 460 questionnaires were usable. The captured data were analysed using descriptive statistics, correlation analysis, bivariate regression and independent T-tests. In order to confirm the hypothesised construct paths, a measurement model was created based on the correlation analysis. The correlation analysis results indicated that social image has a significant relationship with brand trust, which in turn has a significant relationship on the development of brand loyalty and consequent brand equity. Five latent variables were identified in the measurement model. The structural model hypothesised that social image influences brand trust, brand trust influences brand loyalty, which in turn influences brand equity. The hypothesised model fit the data. This study contributes to the body of knowledge pertaining to brand equity by developing a model to illustrate the role of social image and brand trust in creating brand equity in the mobile phone industry amongst black Generation Y students, and determining which factors act as antecedents to successful brand equity. The role of brand trust in creating brand equity is suggested to be a five-factor structure comprised of social image, brand reliability, brand intentions, brand loyalty and brand equity. The study also offers recommendations and guidance for marketers and organisations that seek to improve their brand equity. This study will contribute by profiling the black Generation Y student in South Africa concerning their perception towards brand trust in creating brand equity in the mobile phone industry. The findings of this study will add value to South African marketers, as well as international marketers seeking to target the Generation Y cohort.
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