The role of brand trust within related and unrelated brand extension activities : a consumer perspective
The research examines the structure of consumer-brand `trust', and the concept's role within brand extension evaluation decisions, an association largely neglected within existing consumer brand extension literature. A review of the literature, which covered the interpersonal relations, psychology, sales management, source credibility, and relationship marketing areas, served to develop a list of thirty `trust-related' variables, which were hypothesised to split into a number of dimensions of trust. The variables and dimensions were screened and tested, initially, within four qualitative focus groups and a pilot quantitative survey of 108 respondents. The final research study, which utilised 411 respondentconsumers within the Tea, Coffee, Grocery Shops, Pens, and Internet Retail product/service categories, tested four research hypotheses. Findings related to Hypothesis 1, which postulated a six dimensional model of brand trust, found, instead, strong support for a four dimensional model of brand trust, based around the dimensions of Probity, Equity, Reliability and Satisfaction, reflecting and supporting both `affective' and `cognitive' elements of trust previously identified within the literature. The finding extends the work on consumer trust within the Relationship Marketing literature, where a definitive definition and conceptualisation of trust are yet to emerge. Findings related to Hypothesis 2, which postulated that brands with differing mean ratings on brand trust would correlate positively at statistically significant levels with differing mean ratings for brand extensions measurement responses, `likely to try' and `trust brand to provide', found clear support for the hypothesis. Findings related to Hypothesis 3, which postulated a positive correlation between brand trust, the dimensions of brand trust, and brand extension measurement responses, `likely to try' and `trust brand to provide', found statistically significant, though weaker, levels of association between `brand trust', `dimensions of brand trust' and brand extension measurement responses. The findings for Hypothesis 2 and 3, are felt to add a further dimension to the brand extension literature, where consumer-brand trust has largely been overlooked. Findings related to Hypothesis 4, which postulated that females, lesser educated, and older respondents would exhibit higher `brand trust', `brand trust dimension', and brand extension response variable measurements, found: strong support for gender type mediating the evaluation of brand trust and brand extensions; support for differences in age playing a role within brand trust; and limited support for educational level playing a role within brand trust and brand extension evaluation. These demographic findings, particularly relating to gender and age, extend both the literatures on consumer-brand trust and brand extension, neither of which had previously related to demography as a mediator.