Customer perception about brand reality

6 June 2016

1. Introduction:
The retail industry plays a significant role in the development and growth of overall economy of a nation. In countries such as UK, retailers have positioned themselves in such a way that they are able to cater all types of customers’ needs and wants. (Economic Survey, 2012). The major retailers of UK are Tesco, Sainsburys, Asda, John Lewis, Marks and Spencer etc. Even when the country faced severe economic crisis, retailers invested in infrastructure and technology with a vision to grow in the long run by understanding and satisfying the demand of all groups of customers. This research aims to focus on subject of customer reliability in retail sector based on case study of Tesco plc and will show how this reliability has been used as a marketing technique by Tesco. This case study should be considering the Luton, UK branch of Tesco Metro.

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The study will correlate the reliability perception of customers and marketing strategy. Marketing is all about understanding customers’ needs and wants and then designing and delivering products and services at a profit in such a way that those needs and wants can be satisfied. (Kotler and Keller, 2011). Marketing strategy is a strategy adopted by an organization which allows it to use its available resources for the maximum satisfaction of customers’ needs and wants.

There is a significant role of customers’ perception in relation to reliability in this marketing strategy. For the study, the researcher has selected the luton branch of Tesco Metro. The reason behind this chosen branch is the availability of data and information. The researcher has sound access to the manager of this Tesco branch and hence data is easily accessible. Marketing is very essential not only to retain existing customers but also to attract new and potential customers. Without effective marketing, it is not possible for any company to survive, prosper and grow in today’s complex and dynamic environment. Marketing continuously aims to improve the current market share of the company. (Boot, 2000).

It should be noted that the days of black-box marketing have gone where companies just focus on mass production and mass consumption with the help of mass advertisement. Today customers are quite clever and hence marketing strategy should be effective enough to establish reliability and trust for the company among the customers. (Gronroos, 1994). In addition, long term bond and relationship with customers is quite essential in order to sustain and grow and companies use this relationship so as to achieve customers’ perception of reliability. (Baker, 2000). The external environment also forces a company to design and maintain a customer- focused strategy which can work in conjunction with reliability. In order to address this significant issue, Tesco introduced ‘clubcard’ scheme which is a customer reliability program in 1995. Since Tesco was a leading food retailer in UK, it was necessary for this company to understand the underlying importance of brand reliability. Today this scheme has predominant impact on marketing function of Tesco and it influences its operations and procedures when it comes to customer loyalty. 1 (A). Research Aim and Objectives:

The overall aim of this study is to explain and analyze the relationship between customers’ perception about reliability and the marketing strategy of Tesco at Luton branch. The influence of reliability perception on marketing strategy of Tesco shall be investigated. In order to achieve this aim, the objectives of the research are as follows: To analyze and investigate various theories, models and literature so as to find out the correlation between marketing strategy and reliability perception of customers. To examine the factors that enhanced reliability perception of Tesco customers and how their influenced Tesco’s marketing strategy. To recommend further courses of action which can be taken by Tesco in order to increase the reliability element in its marketing strategy.

1 (B).Research Questions:

What are the key factors that influence customers’ perception about reliability in retail sector? How Tesco has responded to the reliability of customers in its marketing strategy?

2. Literature Review:

Literature review is a significant part of any research project because it gives a stand to the study. It shows what previous academic and professional study has been done on the subject area and how the present research can contribute to that domain. (Saunders, Lewis and Thornhill, 2009). A research topic should be selected in conjunction with the available literature on that subject because it will support the thesis statement and will provide a base to carry forward the research in the future. Literature review of this study shall start with an introduction to marketing; it will then explain the concept of reliability and explain the various ways in which the customers’ reliability can be measured. The reliability framework shall also be discussed via relationship marketing and explain the different components of relationship marketing which help in building reliability.

Literature review will further explain the issues related to reliability and relationship marketing. It is quite essential for a literature review to critically analyze the key components that have a direct impact on the research questions and objectives. In order to achieve this, literature review will explain trust, commitment, customer service, customer care, bond, sales offers etc. Bond can be developed on the basis of multidimensional attachments like psychological, economic, cultural, emotional or physical. (McCall, 2000). Modern marketing opines that effective bonding should be used by companies so as to bring buyers and sellers together. There could be social bonds, financial bonds, and structural bonds. (O’ Malley, 2003). It is important for an organization to form a bonding with customers and then turn this bonding into a reliable relationship.

Trust is important to generate regular and repeat business and it goes on to build commitment. Customers can trust any brand or company only when it is able to satisfy their needs and demands on a regular basis. (Morgan and Symon, 2004). The mutual confidence can be increased by trust and so the reliability factor. At the same time, trust motivates customers to come to the business again and become loyal customers. It should be noted that sometimes when customers lose the trust in the business, they discontinue dealing with business and this adversely affects not only the current market share of business but its future growth as well. Commitment is having a direct impact on the marketing strategy of an organization because it prospers the reliability factor. (Morgan and Symon, 2004).

When a company fulfills all its commitments in terms of product quality, support, post sale services etc, a strong feeling of reliability develops among the consumers which prospers the growth and expansion of the company. Internal commitment within an organization is also quite important because it improves the overall performance and productivity level of the establishment. It also improves internal and external communication channels and builds goodwill of the organization. In retail, commitment matters a lot. Unless and until a retail organization fulfills all its commitments, it cannot grow in the long run and at the same time, its marketing strategy will not succeed. Customer service is the heart and soul of any business at the moment. No wonder customer service is able to provide exchange or refund of items even without the proof of purchase in retail organizations such as John Lewis, Debenhams, Tesco, Sainsburys etc.

Customer service have a direct impact on marketing channel and strategy because when a company provides sound customer service, this practice acts as a marketing tool and hence, adds to developing the credibility of the company among the customers and public in general. Customer service is responsible for generating customer satisfaction and this helps in building reliability. Customer care is associated with customer relationship management and has a direct impact on the reliability factor. Customer care involves giving attention to all the business processes, tasks, and internal operations etc. which have impact on the customer. For example, if care has been given on packaging of goods, it will add to the health and safety and hygiene standards and hence ultimately benefit the customer.

Care also shapes and determines the reliability of customers. Various sales offers are being promoted and practiced not only to attract buyers and sell goods at a fast speed, but also to build strong relationship with customers. Sales offers are formulated and designed by giving due consideration to the specific needs of all groups of loyal buyers. Sometimes sales offers help organizations to get rid of stock which is not getting sold whilst maintaining a sound image in the eyes of customers. Loyalty programs act as a marketing strategy and generate regular business.

They also help in maintaining reliability and trust with the customers because they start to think that the company cares for them and provide them the required products and services at a discounted price. Hence, in order words, customers think that their loyalty is being acknowledged and rewarded. 3. Research Methodology:

This part shall cover the various research methods deployed in conducting the research. The feasibility of all selected methods shall also be described along with the reason that why a particular approach has been selected. A brief description is as under: Nature of study: Descriptive, Bit explanatory, Bit prescriptive. Research philosophy: Interpretive

Research approach: Inductive
Research Strategy: Case study based strategy
Primary data collection methods: Semi-structured interview and Questionnaire Secondary data collection methods: Books, Internet websites, Journals etc. Sampling: Judgmental Sampling  Ethical Considerations: This research shall take place only after approval from the concerned authorities of Swansea Metropolitan University. The data gathered shall remain confidential and the privacy of respondents will not be invaded.

Respondents shall be free to leave the research at any time they want to. In addition, this research does not involve any animals. The research project developed shall not be shared by any third party and will be used only for academic and university purposes. 4. Data Findings and Analysis:

The collected data shall be presented in a proper systematic way so that it will be easily understandable by the readers. Detailed explanation of the response generated will be presented in form of tables, pie-charts etc. The researcher will make sure that any personal bias or opinion should not influence the analysis and discussion. In addition, SPSS analysis could also be implemented as a tool to compare the obtained data. This will follow by a detailed conclusion which shall highlight the key components of the chapter. 5. Conclusion and Recommendations:

This chapter will present the overall summary of the research project. It will give individual conclusion on all the objectives set for the research. Strong reasoning and backup from primary and secondary data will be provided in order to support the stated conclusions. Moreover, this chapter will also give a recommendation to the selected company which will help it to improve its future operations and processes and will also provide a base for further research and discussion.

Certain limitations which have been faced by the research in conducting the research project will also be discussed in brief in this chapter after the recommendations. The research project shall end here. Furthermore, References, Bibliography, and Appendices will be presented in a formal and acceptable manner. All the sources used directly in the construction of the project shall be included in the References section. The Bibliography section will show any background reading which have any influence on the project. Appendices will show the questionnaire and interview.

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