Both of these brand equity models have been extended byresearchers to better capture specific features of brand equity,such as social image (Lassar et al., 1995), symbolic utility(Va?zquez et al., 2002) or willingness to pay a price premium(Netemeyer et al., 2004). However, as brand equity isinherently multidimensional, there is yet no consensus on themost important features to study.
Thus, the essentialdimensions developed by Aaker and Keller are still used inmost of the alternative models (Biedenbach, 2012). The research about brand equity has been mainly focusedon the B2C context. Indeed, very few studies have investigatedbrand equity in B2B markets. Of those papers examining theequity of professional brands, the majority are based onexploratory research and use the model developed by Aaker(1991) or Keller (1993). Gordon et al.
(1993) were the first toprovide evidence of the existence of brand equity in the B2Bsector. Investigating brand loyalty and positioning, they foundthat brand awareness has a positive effect on brandassociations with different image dimensions. In addition to brand loyalty, brand awareness has beenidentified as an important element in the equity of professionalbrands (Mitchell et al., 2001). van Riel et al.
(2005) identifiedbrand awareness as well as brand quality as the maindimensions of professional brand equity that have a directimpact on positive brand associations. Hutton (1997) showed that brand knowledge has a directinfluence on the “brand-equity behavior” of buyers, whichincludes the willingness to pay a significant price premium fortheir favorite brand, make referrals and extend their brandpreference to other products with the same brand name. Finally, all of the recent research on brand equity inindustrial markets has utilized Keller’s model, including forthe analysis of professional financial services (Taylor et al.,2007), logistics services (Davis et al., 2008) and electronictracking for waste management (Kuhn et al., 2008). Thiswidespread acceptance of Keller’s model is likely because of itbeing the most comprehensive model available in theliterature.
The first element of Keller’s model is customers’ awareness,reflecting the fact that a brand has no value or equity if clientsdo not know it. Keller considers two types of brand awareness:brand recognition and brand recall. The former is based onstimulus and is triggered at the moment when a customer seesthe branded product. The latter depends on memory recall,reflecting the moment at which customers remember thebrand because they need a product. Thus, brand recall is alsoreferred to as top-of-mind awareness (TOMA).
AlthoughTOMA is not an indicator of intention to purchase a brand, ahigh level of TOMA has been shown as an indicator of astrong preference for (Woodside and Wilson, 1985) andloyalty toward (Buil et al., 2008) a brand. Hence, TOMA is an important part of the equity of a brand.As such, the first objective of this exploratory research is todetermine whether CGBs with an existing high level ofawareness in consumer goods markets have a different degreeof brand awareness compared to EPBs dedicated solely toindustrial markets.