Differences and Similarities: Brand Trust Offline and Online

Differences and Similarities: Brand Trust Offline and Online

Gordon Bowen (Regent's University London, London, UK) and Richard Bowen (Facebook Inc., London, UK)
Copyright: © 2016 |Pages: 29
DOI: 10.4018/IJOM.2016010104
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Abstract

Social media is a pervasive platform, and consumers increasingly want to connect with it. The growth of mobile devices has increased connectivity to social media, but accessing social media platforms has uncovered interesting results with gender differences between males and females. Trust models have evolved to take account of website interactivity, website environment design, and brand effect on brand trust. Themes on ability, benevolence, integrity, and predictability are also influencers on brand trust. Increasing access to social media is changing attitudes and behaviour to challenge established social and behavioural norms. Brands in the online and offline environments are exposed to risks, but the sheer level of interactivity and connectedness of social media increases the consequence of negative responses. However, the use of brand communities could be a way forward to negate the risk of brand contamination.
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Introduction

When environmental conditions are uncertain the impact on the brand is unpredictable. This is even more important for strong brands, however, they are also used as a defence mechanism in challenging environments to reduce the competitive threat and maintain profitability. Brands embody the consumers’ identity due to the cultural nature of modern-day consumers (Da Silva & Alwi, 2008; Elliot & Wattanasuwan, 1998). To overcome uncertainty in brand activities (offline and online) including brand strategies organisations need to approach branding strategically. Consequently, organisations need to understand the uniqueness of the brand and how it distinguishes from the competitors. When products are similar consumers are more interested in the brand and simply defining and telling is not sufficient and the organisation must consider the environmental dimension and increasing competition (Carbonara & Caiazza, 2010; Gray, 1995). Product closeness intrigues the consumers about the organisations’ brands and is a power opportunity for the organisations to develop a compelling story (leading to a competitive advantage) now that consumers’ interest is aroused. Understanding the nature of the environment and the competitive threat are approaches to deal with challenging markets, but do online brands behave in a similar manner? Brands reflect the organisations and are culturally embedded in the values and beliefs of the organisation. Suggesting that brand orientation is part of the organisational management (Clatworthy, 2012; Simoes & Dibb, 2001). Are online brands embedded in the organisation or is a different approach required for them? This paper applies established brand trust models and concepts for the offline and online environments to social media. Morgan and Hunt (1994) developed a brand trust model for the offline environment, Mukherjee and Nath (2007) adapted the model for the online environment. However, they did not examine the social media environment. The gap identified is the focus of this paper, which is an area of growing importance.

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