Family Business Firms' Branding: Managing Strategic Attributes That Influence Millennial Consumer Behavior

Family Business Firms' Branding: Managing Strategic Attributes That Influence Millennial Consumer Behavior

Connie Atristain-Suárez
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-2269-1.ch015
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Company decision making tends to center on Millennials, particularly because they represent a significantly large market with many behavioral characteristics and patterns that elude organizational leaders. Family business scholars have not yet delved into this contemporary phenomenon, which is relevant due to shared similarities between millennials and family businesses' values/beliefs. That said, are family business firm (FBF) branding efforts influencing Millennial consumers' behavior? If so, what FBF branding attributes drive Millennial purchase decision-making? This chapter provides insights on FBF branding, with a global presence, and the attributes driving millennials to patronize these firms, and includes quantitative and qualitative analysis and discussion on a conceptual model.
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Branding is one of the most important elements of business strategy as it provides greater competitiveness to family business firms (FBFs) by allowing them to differentiate their products and services from those of their competitors. Extant literature on branding highlights not only the differentiating aspect but also its importance to create added value to the product beyond its functionality (Knox, 2004; Keller, 2003). Therefore, products’ added values differentiate them in the marketplace and stimulate customers to have a preference for or have loyalty toward one brand and not to another. FBFs, similar to non-family businesses, develop brands to attract and maintain customers, and through the brand, promote their values, image, a certain prestige, and a lifestyle (Presas, Muñoz, Guía, 2011; Da Silva & Alwi, 2008). A brand comprises a name, symbol, and design (O’ Malley, 1991) that identifies the products or services of an organization and differentiates it in the market (Kotler & Armstrong, 2011). A firm’s brand is one of its most critical organizational assets and plays a key role in improving the financial equity of the firm (Kotler & Keller, 2006).

In the case of FBFs, branding offers them the opportunity to commercialize their products and services using their name, identity, values, history, vision, and culture as unique elements of its organization (De Chernatony, 1999, Harris & de Chernatony, 2001; Wanhill, 1997). Why should a FBF communicate its history, values, and identity through corporate and product branding? In recent years, some scholars on family business have pointed the benefits of leveraging on the family brand (Astrachan & Astrachan, 2015) to foster customers’ positive perceptions of the family firm (Blombäck, 2009; Frost, 2008), achieve success in the market, improve sales growth (Bruce, Peters, & Naik, 2012), or to add symbolic attributes to the firm’s products or services beyond their physical characteristics (Aaker, 1991).

Regarding the value of a firm, which consists of both tangible and intangible assets, Habbershon and Williams (1999) considered that the strength of FBFs lies in their intangible resources. This set of intangible resources that makes FBFs unique is called “familiness” (Habbershon, Williams, & McMillan, 2003). Therefore, the family business brand becomes a manifestation of the principal family and business values, with a specific product or service that will attract a public with whom it shares similar values. Millennial consumers are family-oriented (Hershatter & Epstein, 2010); that is, this Generation is well aligned with the core of FBFs and their identity as family businesses, or familiness (Habbershon & Williams, 2000).

Millennials, also known as Generation Y, have been the focus of many business dynamics debates because, for one, they represent the largest market since the Baby Boomers (Belleau, Summers, Xu, & Pinel, 2007). There are conflicting opinions on the birth-years the Millennial Generation embraces, with some researchers stating it includes those born between 1977 and 1994 (Noble, Haytko, & Phillips, 2009), 1979 and 1994 (Myers & Sadaghiani, 2010), 1981 and 1994 (Jayson, 2010), 1982 and 2003 (Sandeen, 2008), and after 1982 (Oblinger, 2003) among others. Nevertheless, they are commonly characterized as being highly creative, proactive, tech-savvy, open-minded, and environmentally and socially conscientious consumer activists.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Price: This is a cue that ought to be balanced with product quality and satisfaction with business dynamics.

Perception: Is shaped by a series and combination of brand and product and service attributes.

Brand Engagement: A relationship between a brand and its consumers driven by interactions.

Consumer Behavior: It depends on their perception of a brand as well as the product and service offered by a firm.

Millennials: Also known as Generation Y, represent the largest market since the Baby Boomers, born between 1977 and 1994.

Loyalty: This occurs when consumers' growing responsiveness toward the brand is reflected in repurchase behavior.

Branding: Implies the process of quantifying the value and authenticity of products and services that create a solid brand.

Presence: It determines the degree to which branding efforts are executed as well as consumer recognition and awareness.

Quality: The standard of a brand measured against another brand of a similar kind.

Purchase Preference: A considerable inclination from the customer towards a brand.

Family Business Firm: Are mainly characterized by being those in which management remains in the family´s hands.

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