Brand loyalty and membership retention rates in voluntary professional institutes and associations
Müller, Johan Frederik
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This dissertation explores both the concepts of brand loyalty and relationship marketing, specifically in a voluntary professional institutes and associations environment, with the assumption that both constructs can influence and improve the membership retention and membership renewal rates of these institutes and associations. The measuring instrument used is similar to the one used by Moolla in his brand loyalty study in a FMCG environment, but in this case focussing on the services sector, specifically a South African voluntary professional institute, the Institute of Municipal Administration for Southern Africa (IMASA). The 12 brand loyalty influences identified by Moolla was electronically administered to members of IMASA, with 58 members eventually responding (response rate of 31%). The conceptual research with regard to this study starts off by explaining the tendency of people to assemble in groups due to societal and other reasons, defining group cohesiveness and how this leads to the formation of people on a professional level – the birth of a professional institute and association (PIA). Then the concepts of relationship marketing and brand loyalty are defined, its relevance in a PIA environment discussed, and the 12 influences on brand loyalty also defined. The empirical analysis and results confirm that, with the exception of Culture and to a lesser extent Switching Costs, the constructs impact directly on the brand loyalty and indirectly on the renewal rates of the members of a PIA. The value and uniqueness of this study are founded firstly in the identification of influences that affects brand loyalty and secondly in the importance of relationship marketing in a PIA environment. The recommendations guide the management of PIAs to ensure that membership levies defaulters are minimized and renewal rates maximised and sustained over time.