Branding is a promise of satisfaction which creates a relationship between consumer and producer. A branding’s success depends on how the product has been perceived by its audience. The method and mode of delivery also plays a crucial role in reaching its audience. Branding has established itself to become an important instrument in ensuring the successful growth of a product. The continuous fierce competition among brands has seen a progress in Branding concepts over the decades has made it a relevant part of any product. Numerous studies focused on branding activities and their impact on retention, attainment and loyalty of customers across industries within western countries already exist. (Michael, 2009) It is therefore relevant to research the impact Branding has on customers’ loyalty in a specific industry in Singapore. This study focuses ultimately on the fast food industry in Singapore. The benefits of applying Branding in the fast food industry are customer loyalty, Consumer trust and perceived risk to its reputation in-times of crisis (Ko, 2006). This study recommends that fast food outlets in Singapore should concentrate in their branding strategies and rejuvenate their branding activities in order to retain and keep their customers loyal towards a fast food brand, as well as attract new ones. Via an in-depth research of literature and analyzing the perception customers have towards Branding; this paper aims to study the impact of Branding on customers’ loyalty within the fast food industry in Singapore. Deductive approach and a quantitative methodology of analysis will be used. A set of research questions and objectives were established. The primary sources of data were collected through a physical questionnaire performed in person and online. By evaluating the results, one can understand customers’ perception towards Branding of a Fast Food name. A total of 200 individuals were approached to participate in the survey, out of which a total of 100 customers responded. After the collection of data the SPSS software was used to evaluate the results of the survey. The dimensions that are considered for this study are: 4Ps of Marketing Mix (Product, Place, Pricing and Promotion), customers’ expectation towards a brand of a fast food outlet which would lead to the customer’s loyalty towards the fast food outlet. The world has evolved so much that both men and women are equally competing in all fields. This is due to the development of technology and globalisation. This does not just apply to technology but also the food industry. Everything is fast moving and demand has populated almost every industry to have products instantly. The food industry is also a victim of such demand that ‘Fast Food’ has taken over the world by storm back in early 90s in Singapore and has been a ever growing industry in Singapore. Such fast food is sought after in a country where 78% is working population. (Ministry of Manpower, Singapore Workforce, 2011)The younger generation of Singapore has also fallen prey to the fast food culture in Singapore. There are over 376 household fast food franchises operating successfully in Singapore (Economies Survey Series, 2011). This also brings about the fierce competition between the fast food giants in gaining market shares. Brands of such fast food outlets have become popular and competing against each other to be the No. 1 brand for fast food in Singapore. Fast food industry is dominated by foreign brands (Local Fast Food in Singapore, 2012) It requires the fast food giants to look for strategies to better compete with their competitors and attract customers on a consistent basis. Maintaining and upholding their brand image to retain customers are the main challenges the industry is facing. One of the only ways to differentiate one another is to brand themselves uniquely to attract and retain customers. Branding has influence and have a perceived value towards customers. Timeline has also created such Branding image on products. (Tanja, 2008) Authenticity and tradition of a Brand is also considered when timeline comes in. If a fast food brand is able to survive the period with new brands popping day in, day out; then the brand is looked upon as sustainable on its own as it has already built upon its original grounds and managed to communicate it to the customers. (Michael, 2009) Branding has created a competitive atmosphere among fast food names in the world. All names trying to gain recognition has turned their attention to Branding strategies in order to improve sales. (Steve, 2003) Typically, consistent promotion and updating customers of their latest product via mass media has been the way fast food industry has been embarking on and in attracting its customers. This has been one of their strategies in pulling customers towards them. However the industry’s players have realized that not only keeping the customers updated about their products is important but winning customers’ loyalty is equally important. Mark and Glynn (2010) have claimed that brand quality and reputation influences customer value and customer loyalty. Businesses should deliver a brand image that customers want as a tool to differentiate their products. Laurence (2012) has mentioned that repetition and consistency are the ingredients of brands that win the memory game. Those who ignore these rules will end up being ignored by customers as well. Therefore branding has been a vital factor that has determine a company doing successful business in the food industry, Thus many of Singapore’s fast food franchises has turned their attentions to branding which has impact on customer loyalty. Branding effects spread out positively aiding organisations in terms of donations. Fast food outlets have adopted certain societies which run on voluntary funding. Recognition is also gained through this manner where customers identify the respective fast food brand to be society conscious. (Giep and Moriarty, 2008) Supporting environmental friendly campaigns has also made audience have a second look at such fast food brands. To think that fast food names are usually unhealthy but franchisers have made a point by embedding that health factors are also being looked into while their products are being produced with less harm done to surroundings. Such efforts are made known to the customers via their Branding strategies. (Eric, 2012) The marketing mix which consists of Product, Place, Price and Promotion has a very crucial role in what is perceived by customers. Being the product it is supposed to satisfy the customer needs. But the product should be beyond satisfaction which should create trust and loyalty develops. Subsequently the place where items are acquired should be reachable to its audience making it friendly. Any item which is beyond reach is considered unfriendly. (Evert, 2002) In Singapore Fast Food outlets have their own strategies in reaching out to its targeted audience. Although the mentioned fast food outlets has already well established in their country of origin, they are circumstances it is not necessary to be the same in Singapore. Asian countries had realised the power of branding rather late and country such as Singapore which depends on foreign investments have also jumped onto the bandwagon to support Branding. For example, A & W restaurant which was introduced in Singapore in 1991 ceased from operations in 2003. It was indicated that it was unable to sustain and keep up competition with its rivals within Singapore. (Andrew, 2007) Fierce competition in terms of branding strategies has swallowed its victim in Singapore. The other players were able to create the loyalty in their brand was the factor which A & W restaurant was unable to replicate. Other fast food names such as Wendy’s and Dominos Pizza has re-entered the competition realising the marketing strategies of successful fast food outlets in Singapore. This means that there is space for competitors and the competition is gaining rivalry among the fast food chains. The strategies concerned concentrated on retaining customers and developing a bond between the brand and the customer. At the same time consistent communication with its audience via promotion lets the customers know that the brand keeps in touch with its customers. The bond is deemed as service quality towards its customers. As a result, this type of branding strategies directly influences the perception of customers towards service quality which in turn ensures loyalty. However, just knowing only branding as a crucial factor for doing successful business is not going to be enough for the fast food industry. Before building a successful brand image and increasing the advantages, it is important for fast food businesses to know and understand how the customer evaluates their brand as a base for improving their sales, encouraging people to buy frequency and gaining customer loyalty.
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