The assessment of effective factors on brand equity from customer's perspectives (a case study in Boof chain restaurants).
One critical factor in the success of chain restaurants and other service firms is the development of a strong brand . Service firms with strong brands or high brand equity enjoy lower price elasticity, lower advertising-to-sales ratios, and greater trade leverage than weaker brands, enabling these companies to achieve higher profits . Other things equal, a strong brand also promotes brand loyalty and permits charging premium prices [21,27]. Brand equity, defined as "a set of brand assets and liabilities linked to a brand, its name, and symbol that add to or subtract from the value provided by a product or service to a firm and to that firm's consumers"  is considered an indisputably important source of capital in the restaurant industry .
A variety of strategies are employed to build chain restaurants' brand equity, and the chains' expenditures to Develop brand equity should not be underestimated. For example, the Applebee's chain invested $126 million in advertising in one year, the highest advertising amount among casual dining restaurants , and T.G.I. Friday's spent $71 million in a year in advertising to enhance its brand awareness and brand equity. Despite the importance of brand equity to chain restaurants, we have seen little empirical research that examines ways restaurant chains might enhance brand equity. Although food remains the undisputed essential factor in customers' assessment of a restaurant  we know that people choose restaurants not solely based on food, but also due to their desirability as a site for parties, celebrations, and business meetings . Moreover, the brand image of a restaurant and the mood it evokes in patrons are critical to the development of brand loyalty. Since customers rely on the brand's promise of food presented safely and in an appropriate atmosphere, restaurant brands must emphasize their trustworthiness . While numerous studies have considered brand equity as it relates to the firm itself (e.g., the relationships between brand equity and a firm's cash flows, revenue, and marketing effectiveness, as investigated by [49,37,5], our study examines the sources of brand equity that derive from customers' attitudes. According to Keller [25,26] customer-based brand equity stems from brand knowledge that is, what customers believe or remember about a brand. Keller further suggests that brand knowledge is created and modified by numerous factors, including customers' experience with a given brand's products; their feelings toward the brand; and other indirect sources, such as advertising and word of mouth. This study aims at showing what effectives do factors Aaker (brand awareness, brand image, perceived quality, and brand loyalty) and brand equity have on the perspectives of boof Chain restaurants' customers and finally shows that there is significant relationship between Aaker factors and boof brand.
Customer-Based Brand Equity:
Keller  defined customer-based BE as "the differential effect that brand knowledge has on consumer response to the marketing of that brand". Compared to a fictitiously named or unnamed brand, a brand with equity generates differences in consumer responses. BE in this sense could be positive or negative; the positive equity leads the customer to more accepting a new brand extension, being less price-sensitive, and more advocating the brand when facing alternative offers, while the negative equity causes the customer to respond less favorably to marketing activities for the brand. Consequently, the key to measuring customer based BE is to understand the sources of brand knowledge and the differential advantages they create for the brand. Keller  also stressed a process aspect of building BE in four steps. First, marketers need to understand how the customer identifies the brand that satisfies her needs, which is often operational zed as awareness or salience. Once a brand is identified, the customer tends to proffer a meaning to the brand based on its performance and the customer's personal characteristics, giving rise to image associations. Developed in the third stage are the cognitive and emotional responses that form judgments of brand quality and perceptions of brand personality. The customer finally becomes attached, engaged, committed, and loyal to the brand when the first three steps repeat. Although this process perspective makes sense particularly when BE is tracked longitudinally, in reality the first three components of brand knowledge awareness, imagery, and quality perceptions often do not occur sequentially one at a time. They tend to feed back to each other, especially when the customer is relatively unfamiliar with the brand, and eventually develop into the fourth stage brand loyalty through repeated positive reinforcements. Aaker  also viewed brand awareness, brand associations, perceived quality, and brand loyalty as four common sources of BE .
Aaker  defines brand awareness as the strength of a brand's presence in the customer's mind. Keller  has postulated that brand awareness plays three important roles in marketing:
1. As brand awareness increases, consumers tend to feel familiarity with the brand.
2. As brand awareness increases, consumers tend to consider the brand when they purchase a product or service.
3. Consumers tend to trust a high-awareness brand's products or services more than those of low-awareness brands.
Brand awareness therefore is recognized as a prerequisite for brand loyalty . Consumers remember, buy, and repeatedly purchase a well-known brand's product, creating a process that develops brand loyalty . In addition, customers who are familiar with a specific brand or logo tend to evaluate the perceived quality of the brand's product highly and willingly pay a price premium for the product . For this reason, it is widely accepted that brand awareness positively influences customers' perceptions of a brand's quality [36,22,9].
A long-time construct in marketing research  brand image is defined as "perceptions about a brand as reflected by the brand associations held in consumer memory" . Researchers have supported the idea that customers who possess a positive image of a brand tend to have a favorable attitude toward the brand's products and, consequently, toward the brand's product quality [6,10,12]. Beyond that, a favorable brand image is thought to promote customer loyalty and positive word of mouth . Tepeci  has stated that brand image is one of the first steps in building brand loyalty. In many cases, customers' brand preference and loyalty are solely linked to brand image . Brand awareness and brand image are connected. Several studies have supported the assertion by Keller that when customers remember a brand clearly, they are better able to create an image for the brand [18,46]. It is therefore proposed that brand awareness positively influences brand image and that brand image, in turn, influences brand loyalty and perceived quality.
With regard to perceived quality, Zeithaml  defines this as "the consumer's judgment about a product's overall excellence or superiority." Note that this is the customer's subjective assessment of product quality, which means that each customer's perception of the same product or service's quality may differ. For this reason, Olshavsky  has postulated that perceived quality reflects consumers' attitudes. When customers receive a product or service, they evaluate its quality and develop attitudes towards it simultaneously. In the restaurant industry, patrons' perceived quality is the primary driver of a restaurant's success  and bears a significant positive impact on patrons' satisfaction, repeat-visit intention, and word of mouth , thus creating brand loyalty . Studies have supported the concept that perceived quality, which is the subjective evaluation of a brand, is a key antecedent of brand loyalty [23,38,56].
Oliver defines brand loyalty as "a deeply held commitment to buy or patronize a preferred product or service consistently in the future, thereby causing repetitive same-brand or same-brand-set purchasing, despite situational influences and marketing efforts having the potential to cause switching behavior." Brand loyalty has become an increasingly important marketing concept as firms have begun to view customers as part of a firm's assets . Furthermore, empirical studies have verified that brand loyalty bears a strong positive impact on a company's profitability, and both researchers and brand marketers believe that brand loyalty formation is critical to a company's success and have investigated key antecedents of brand loyalty.
Proposed hypothesis and models:
[H.sub.1]: Perceived quality is as an effective factor on Brand Equity
[H.sub.2]: Brand Loyalty is as an effective factor on Brand Equity.
[H.sub.3]: Brand Awareness is as an effective factor on Brand Equity.
H4: Brand Image is as an effective factor on Brand Equity.
[H.sub.5]: There is a significant relationship between brand awareness and brand loyalty.
[H.sub.6]: There is a significant relationship between brand awareness and perceived quality.
[H.sub.7]: There is a significant relationship between brand image and perceived quality.
[H.sub.8]: There is a significant relationship between brand image and brand loyalty.
[H.sub.9]: There is a significant relationship between brand loyalty and perceived quality.
[H.sub.10]: There is a significant relationship between brand image and perceived quality.
The present study is regarded practical, based on its purposes, and qualitative, based on its data collection. Boof chain restaurants' customers were used to collect the required data of this field research. The instrument of data collection was a questionnaire based on the Likert Scale. Regarding the table of determining the sample size from a given population presented by Morgan's table in 1970 (Table for determining sample size), the sample size was considered to include 150 people. The questionnaire was then distributed among them. The reliability was first investigated by selection a sample of 30 people and Cronbach alpha came out to be .78.
RESULTS AND DISCUSSION
The present study is a descriptive and Practical type research. The study was conducted in Boof chain restaurants' customers were used to collect the required data of this field research. The Statistical Analysis is presented as tables.
The above table shows the qualitative indices (number, mean, standard deviation, and standard error of mean) which are four effective factors on brand equity, according to "Oker" model. The effectiveness amount of each one on their mean scores has been specified in the table. It can be seen that the highest mean score refers to brand awareness and the lowest one refers to brand loyalty.
The above table shows the results of T-test to determine the effectiveness of influential factors on brand equity from Boof chain restaurants' customers' perspectives. The highest score refers to brand awareness (the difference between the mean score of brand awareness in the average range of five-option Likert Scale) and the lowest score refers to brand loyalty. From the customers' perspectives, the effectiveness of all four factors as the main influential variables is confirmed.
The above table shows the relationships between the components of brand equity based on Pearson Correlation Coefficient. The highest correlation is seen between the perceived quality and brand image, while the lowest correlation is seen between brand loyalty and brand awareness. All correlations between the variables are meaningful at >.050, thus the hypothesis of not having any relationships between the variables id rejected.
A positive relationship was found between restaurant brand awareness and brand image. From the perspective of marketers, the greater a customer's awareness of a brand, the easier it is to create the brand's positive image, consequently allowing the company to expect more efficient marketing .
The relationship between brand awareness and perceived quality is also significant. Brand awareness provides credibility to customers  thereby enhancing customers' perceived quality of a product [1,9,29,55]. For these reasons, improving customers' awareness of a restaurant brand is a keystone in improving their quality perceptions. According to the results, restaurant patrons evaluate well-known restaurant brands' food quality and service quality highly, because such brand awareness provides credibility (e.g., food quality, food safety), reliability (e.g., cleanliness, prompt service), and comfort (e.g., interior design, facilities) to patrons.
We also found that a brand image's impact on perceived quality is also significant. Patrons perceive a Restaurant's distinctive image , which in turn influences their perceptions of quality and their purchase behavior [12,15]. This finding supports studies that have postulated that improving brand image is critical to the success of restaurants .
Last, perceived quality and brand image were identified as key determinants of brand loyalty, with a strong positive relationship between perceived quality and brand loyalty. Furthermore, the positive relationship between brand image and brand loyalty was significant. Our data also confirmed the long-standing idea that perceived quality is the major driver in restaurants' success [7,11,14,16, 33,34,35,50,53]. Our proposed model shows that a restaurant brand's image significantly affects brand loyalty. We know that a brand's image stems from subjective evaluations of that brand  such that a positive brand image positively influences consumer behavior and loyalty . The implication is that chain restaurant brands should build favorable brand images. Our survey questions related favorable brand image to cleanliness, atmosphere, and provision of exciting events and social activities. Restaurant patrons' decisions to prefer or return to a restaurant are not based on brand awareness alone but, rather, that favorable quality perceptions must be combined with awareness. Thus, for a restaurant brand to build loyalty, food and service quality are essential, as we all know, and efforts to build awareness must rest on that quality. In conclusion, the results confirmed that the four dimensions of brand equity tested here are interrelated for restaurant brands. Brand awareness influences the formation of brand loyalty, and that impact is mediated by brand image and perceptions of quality. Brand image and perceived quality are prerequisites of brand loyalty; the development of a positive image and the provision of good food and service should occur together to ensure the chain restaurant's success. Most important, our results showed that perception of quality on brand loyalty is
Stronger than any other effect. We conclude that because perceived quality is the most important factor in building brand loyalty, quality plays a key role in enhancing restaurant brand equity. Food and service are paramount, but Perceptions of quality are strongly influenced by brand image and brand awareness, which means that customers' Awareness and their attitudes toward a brand are also important success factors.
Received 25 April 2014
Received in revised form 20 May 2014
Accepted 25 May 2014
Available online 22 June 2014
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(1) Elham Fazeli Veisari, (2) Mahmoud Samadi Largani, (3) Amir Farhang Ahmadian, (4) Mohammad Taleghani, (5) Sedigheh Eekani
(1) Department of Management, Tonekabon Branch, Islamic Azad University, Tonekabon, Iran.
(2) Department 0f Accounting, Tonekabon Branch, Islamic Azad University, Tonekabon, Iran.
(3) Department of Management, Firoozkoh Branch, Islamic Azad University, Firoozkoh, Iran.
(4) Department of Management, Rasht Branch, Islamic Azad University, Rasht, Iran.
(5) Department of Management, Chalous Branch, Islamic Azad University, Chalous, Iran.
Corresponding Author: Elham Fazeli Veisari, Department of Management, Tonekabon Branch, Islamic Azad University, Tonekabon, Iran.
Table 1: Descriptive Statistics. St. St.error Variable N Mean Deviation of mean perceived quality 149 3.6107 .63394 .05193 brand loyalty 149 3.1790 .908560 .07443 brand awareness 149 3.8792 .6942 .005684 brand image 149 3.4295 .59972 .04913 Table 2: Statistical T-Test. Variable T-Statistic df SIG mean- difference perceived quality 11.760 148 .00001 .6157 brand loyalty 2.404 148 .00001 .178970 brand awareness 15.549 148 .00001 .87919 brand image 8.242 148 .00001 .42953 Tabla 3: Pearson Correlation Coefficient . VARIABLE Brand awareness brand image Brand awareness 1 0.314 brand image 0.314 1 Perceived quality 0.33 0.591 Brand loyalty 0.184 0.411 VARIABLE Perceived quality Brand loyalty Brand awareness 0.33 0.184 brand image 0.591 0.411 Perceived quality 1 0.264 Brand loyalty 0.264 1
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|Author:||Veisari, Elham Fazeli; Largani, Mahmoud Samadi; Ahmadian, Amir Farhang; Taleghani, Mohammad; Eekani,|
|Publication:||Advances in Environmental Biology|
|Article Type:||Case study|
|Date:||Jun 1, 2014|
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