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THE IMPACT OF BRANDING DESIGN IN RELATION TO BRAND EQUITY IN THE COSMETICS INDUSTRY IN JAPAN LUSH COSMETICS ABSTRACT

THE IMPACT OF BRAND DESIGN OF LUSH COSMETIC 29

THEIMPACT OF BRANDING DESIGN IN RELATION TO BRAND EQUITY IN THECOSMETICS INDUSTRY IN JAPAN: LUSH COSMETICS

ABSTRACT

Inthis study, the researcher sought to investigate the impact of LushCosmetics product design on the brand equity of Japanese consumers.More specifically, the study aimed to ascertain consumers’perceptions of brand, brand awareness, and brand image. A mixedresearch design method was applied in collecting both qualitative(interviews) and quantitative (survey) data from a sample of 150respondents. Findings suggested that consumers understood the meaningof brands and developed perceptions based on brand experiences andadvertisements. Emphasis on a specific brand design (fresh organicproducts) had significant influence on the brand equity dimensions aswell as brand awareness, loyalty, image, and perceived quality.

CONTENTS

ABSTRACT 2

1. INTRODUCTION 5

1.1 Background information 5

1.2 Statement of the problem 6

1.3 Research questions 7

1.4 Dissertation Structure 7

2. LITERATURE REVIEW 10

2.1 Overview 10

2.2 Brands Concept 10

2.2.1 Brand equity 13

2.2.2 Brand Awareness 16

2.2.3 Brand Association 16

2.2.4 Brand Loyalty 17

2.2.5 Brand Image 17

2.2.6 Perceived Quality 18

2.2.7 Brand Identity 18

2.3 Relationship between brand awareness, loyalty and equity 18

2.4 Measuring Brand Equity 21

2.4.1 Indirect Perspective 22

2.6 Lush Cosmetics Inc. 24

2.5.1 Overview and History 24

2.5.2 An overview of the company is branding strategies 25

2.6 The Cosmetics Industry 27

2.6.1 Situation per Category 29

2.7 Consumer Perceptions 31

2.7.1 The consumer perceptions Theory 32

2.7.2 Managing Consumer Perceptions 33

2.8 Demand Analysis 34

2.8.1 Consumer Behavior 35

2.5.2 Consumer buying Behavior 35

2.9 Conceptual Model (PCDL Model) 39

2.9.1 Positioning the brand 39

2.9.2 Communicating the brand message 41

2.9.3 Delivering the brand performance 43

2.9.4 Leveraging the brand equity 45

2.10 Summary of the Literature Review and Knowledge Gap 46

3. METHODOLOGY 47

3.1 Overview 47

3.2 Research Philosophy 50

3.3 Research design 52

3.4 Approach 53

3.5 Data Collection 55

3.5.1 Primary Data 55

3.5.2 Secondary Data 57

3.6 Sampling 57

3.6.1 Stratified Random Sampling 58

3.6.2 Convenient sampling 59

3.7 Data Analysis 59

3.8 Validity and reliability 59

3.9 Ethics 60

4. RESULTS 61

4.1 Overview 61

4.2 Outcome of survey 61

5. ANALYSIS AND DISCUSSIONS 70

5.1 Overview 70

5.2 Consumer understanding of the brands concept 70

5.3 Segmentation of Cosmetic product demand 72

5.4 Impact of Lush brand design on brand Equity 73

2.5 Chapter summary: Revisiting the Research Hypothesis 81

5. CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATION 83

Recommendations 85

REFERENCES 86

1.INTRODUCTION

1.1Background information

Constantchanges in the global market and stiff competition amongmanufacturers and suppliers of fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) callfor effective brand management strategies. In these saturated andhighly competitive markets for consumer goods, businesses oftenresorted to creating strong brands and enhancing brand equity in themarkets within which they operate. In marketing, the brand equityconcept is viewed as a way achieving competitive edge, increasingmarket share, and enlarging product lines in ways that are not onlycost effective but also acceptable among consumers (Kotler andKeller, 2006, p276).

Thevalue that a brand may gain from its name, logo, or symbol in themarket constitutes its brand equity (Lee and Fayrene, 2011, p36).According to Pride and Ferrell, the concept of brand equity describesthe marketing and accounting values that carry an unswerving effecton the success that the product may meet in the market and itincludes dimensions such as brandknowledge and awareness, apparent quality, brand association andloyalty. Brand equity is a strategically crucial element forbusinesses and their products. Ideally, strong brand equity is seenas an indication of positive perceptions and trust demonstrated byconsumers towards specific brands over other brands.

Theconsumer perceptions are informed by brand knowledge or awareness,which in turn affect their beliefs and attitudes towards brands. Inorder to boost brand performance or increase the levels of sales,marketers focus on enhancing brand awareness, offering memorableexperiences, and strengthening consumer trust through communicationand quality.

Theterm cosmetics refer to products that are used to clean human bodiesand to enhance beauty as well as make individuals smell nicer. Themarket is segmented into five categories including hair and skincare, cologne and perfumes, and man care (Erwan, 2015, p4). The widevariety of products available in each of these categorizereinvigorate the importance of branding and brand differentiation(Erwan, 2015, p5). Currently, the industry is ranked amongprofitable industries globally and has attracted severalmultinational businesses like Procter and Gamble, Avon, Nivea,L’Oreal, and Estee Lauder just to mention the few.

TheJapanese cosmetic industry is ranked second in the world with anestimated revenue base of over 20 billion Euros (Erwan, 2015, p2). Amixture of both local (75%) and foreign brands dominate the industrywhere Europe is considered one of the main foreign suppliers. As oneof the leading brands in the Japanese market for a long time, itremains to be seen whether the brand design of Lush impact on thebrand equity dimensions of the Japanese consumers.

1.2Statement of the problem

Researchas shown that modern consumers make their purchase decisionsdepending on brands as opposed to relying on the actual inspection ofthe products. Thus, the most successful products in the market tendto have strong brand, consumers are conscious of the existence of thebrand in the market, trust the brand, and are less likely to consumeproducts of competing brands. This area has attracted the interestsof researchers especially over the past decade. However, little hasbeen done on the population of consumers in Japan where cosmetics arewidely sold. The investigation seeks to fill this knowledge gap byanalyzing the impact of brand design of Lush Cosmetics on theJapanese consumer brand equity.

1.3Research questions

Thisresearch attempts to answer the questions that are outlined below:

  1. The first three-research questions are meant to address the brand awareness dimension of brand equity by examining consumer knowledge of brands. The question are:

  • Are consumers able to recall or recognize products or brands that they had consumed before?

  • Are consumers able to recall brands, which they have never consumed before?

  • Are visual aids necessary for the consumers’ ability to recall or recognize brands?

  1. What are the predominant customer perceptions of the brand?

  2. Is the brand effective in what it purposes to achieve (competence, trustworthiness, and likability)?

  3. How superior is the brand and what are the levels of brand considerations?

  4. What are the emotional responses to the brand and when do they experience these emotions? (i.e. during purchase, use, or through active engagement)

Hypotheses

Hypothesis1 -“The brand design of Lush has a positive effect on brand perceptionand consumer recognition”

Hypothesis2 -“The brand design of Lush has a positive effect on the performanceof the brand and the levels of consumer loyalty to the brand”

1.4Dissertation Structure

Thepaper has five parts. The first part is introduction, which isfollowed by literature review (second part). The third part ismethodology, which is followed by findings and discussion (the fourthpart). The last part of this paper is the conclusion andrecommendation. Each part attempts to build on the main ideas of thedissertation in the manner that will enable readers to understand thepurpose, methods, and findings and implications of the study. Toprovide a broader picture, each part is linked to the literature thathas been done in topic previously.

Introduction:The first chapter of the paper presents theoretical basis of theinvestigation by introducing the topic and outlining the problem, itssignificance as well as the research questions that the study seeksto answer.

Literaturereview:The second chapter of the paper attempts to situate the topic withinthe broad literature that has been done in the topic. The review ofliterature touches on key concepts including branding, consumerbehaviour and cosmetics, Lush cosmetics and consumer perceptions. Thesystematic review of literature is conducted in secondary sourcesincluding published reports, magazines, articles, journals andtextbooks. Additionally, the chapter describes the conceptual modelthat guided the primary research.

Methods:The third chapter describes the techniques that were used to conductthe primary research. The mixed research design method that comprisesof quantitative and qualitative aspects is presented in the methodschapter in a manner that justifies the choice of the method. Thephilosophical standpoint, study ethics, validity and reliability ofthis study are outlined in the third chapter.

Results:Thischapter presents the outcome of the qualitative and quantitativemethods. It includes the results from the interviews and thequestionnaire. The quantitative results include the summary of thedescriptive statistics and correlations between the variables.

Analysisand discussion: Thediscussion chapter investigates the outcome of the primary researchfindings and provides actual meaning and implications of thefindings. In addition, it confirms the study findings with referenceto previous research in the literature in an attempt to clarify thesignificance of the findings.

Conclusionand recommendation:This is the closing chapter of this paper. It summarizes the findingsand offers suggestions for further studies together with therecommendations for companies to implement in order to benefit fromthe findings of this study.

2.LITERATURE REVIEW

2.1Overview

Thischapter is meant to situate the topic of the present study within thebroad topic of branding. Over the past decade, marketers havedemonstrated keen interest in building brand equity as a sure way ofachieving success in the market, especially in the markets that arehighly competitive. Indeed, brand equity is a crucial aspect of theorganizations’ intangible assets. Similarly, researchers foundparticular interest in exploring the branding concepts like brandloyalty, brand awareness, and perceived quality thus yieldingnumerous publications in journals, reports, books, and articles. Theliterature review chapter aims to explore previous researchcontributions to the topic

Thechapter is organized into sub-topics each touching on the major studyconcepts. The first part introduces the brand concepts such asequity, awareness, association, image, loyalty-and the relationshipamong these brand concepts. The second part looks at the cosmeticsconcept and the different segments within the Japanese market.Finally, the conceptual (PCDL) model and description of Lushcosmetics are presented.

2.2Brands Concept

Abrand refers to the symbols or names that are used to identifyproducts belonging to a supplier or manufacturers together with thefeatures that distinguish them from products of other manufactures orsuppliers in order to attain a competitive edge over competitors.Symbols include things like logos, trademarks, or package designsthat are meant to signal the consumers about the source of theproduct. In instances where products appear identical, the consumerscan differentiate them by examine the brand symbol or name. Accordingto DeChernatony and McDonald (2012, p31-40), the increasingcomplexities associated with marketing together with increasingawareness among consumers have given rise to eight distinctivefunctions of the brand including (1) a show of ownership 2) a toolfor differentiation products 3) a messenger for the uniqueness ofthe products 4) a platform that allows customers to comment aboutthe products 5) a device for managing risks 6) a tool for legalfunctions and 7) a strategic device. In a recent systematic reviewof branding literature of over one hundred secondary data sources,DeChernatony and McDonald (2012) found numerous definitions for thebrand concept. More specifically, they identified twelve thematicelements that are evident in the definition of the brand concept.

Branddefinitions have these twelve aspects in common, which include: 1) alegal tool 2) business logo 3) the business 4) shorthand 5)mitigation of risk 6) identity system, 7) brand’s image 8) valuesystem 9) personality 10) relationship 11) value addition and 12)evolving entity. Although not entirely dependent on each other, theresearchers noted that the factors constitute the most crucialaspects of brands. More specifically, the twelve items listed aboveassume consumer, company, or the combination of company and itsclients in ascertaining the precursors and the effects of the brand.Therefore, the unique activities involved within the organizationtogether with the subjective perceptions of the individual consumersconstitute the two key dimensions of brand equity. Tuominen (2012,p12) opined that brands excel depending on the principles and beliefsincorporated within it, the values are established and implemented bythe firm but are interpreted and redefined by the consumers

Consumersrely on the concept of branding to acknowledge the availability ofproducts, which also presents them with the opportunity to developpositive brand image. In the eyes of a consumer, a brand describeshis/her experiences and perceptions developed through differentpoints of contact with the product (Jahlilvan, Samiei &ampMahadivinia 2011, p150). A brand is considered to be strong orsuccessful if it consumers can easily identify it and is augmented ina manner that users perceive to be both relevant and unique.Consumers are known to develop personal meaning about specificbrands, and rely on these perceptions in making their purchasedecisions. According to Kotler and Keller (2013), personal meaningsdeveloped by consumers and stored in their memories amount to theknowledge concerning brands. The consumer knowledge concerning abrand ranges from brand awareness, attributes, and benefitsassociated with the brand. Essentially, the brand acts as anincentive that a given product is easily identifiable and trusted bythe consumers. Strong brands are associated with stability and highpotential for growth, high profitability, and a higher asset valuesince they offer competitive advantage, price flexibility, and highlevels of sales, cost effectiveness, and economies of scale.

Animportant factor that guides consumers in selecting brands is theconsumer needs at any particular time. Many brands are design toprovide consumers with a combination of experimental, operational, aswell a symbolic benefits (Park, Jaworski &amp McLnnes, 2006, p136).By definition, functional needs describe the type of demand motivateconsumers to search for goods or services that address theirconsumption requirement. Therefore, a product that possesses thefunctional concept is meant to meet the demands that are generatedexternally. On the other hand, symbolic needs constitute those thataim to satisfy need that are generated internally such as the needfor self-development, character, need to identify with a particulargroup, or ego recognition. Additionally, the symbolic concept is thatwhich is meant to associate consumers with a certain group ofconsumers, role, and self-image. Lastly, the experiential needsconstitute individual consumers demand for goods or services thatpresent them with sensual satisfaction, diversity, and memorablecognitive experiences. A brand with the experiential concepts aims tosatisfy need that are fashioned internally (Elliot, Percy andPervans, 2011, p4)

Aself-expressive or emotional based brand essence is known togenerated a relatively high order relationship that is often lesssusceptible to changes associated with the product, are easilyapplicable to new context. According to Ghoddeswar (2013), functionalbenefits constitute a much viable dimension of the value proposition,created by the unique attributes of the brand that offer practicalvalue to the consumers and have direct link to the functionsperformed by the products to the products. On the other hand,emotional paybacks consist of the positive dispositions thatconsumers hold concerning a brand. Corresponding feeling refer tothose that accompanies the functional benefits. Essentially, benefitsthat are self-expressive relate to the individuals’ self-concept,aspiration and offer a means for the consumer to link with theself-image.

2.2.1Brand equity

Prideand Ferrell (2003) described brand equity as the marketing andfinancial gains acquired through the performance of a particularbrand of products in the market. More specifically, the scope ofbrand equity includes measures such as perceive quality, brandknowledge, brand image, brand loyalty and brand associations.Accordingto Brondoni (2011, p12), brand equity refers to the intangible assetbase resulting from consumer knowledge of the presence of its brands.Brand equity tends to change from time to time, it is crucial totrack the impact of brand equity by measuring brand equity. Today,researchers have not been able to design standardized mechanisms ofmeasuring brand equity mainly because of the differences that persistbetween the qualitative and quantitative equity values. The monetaryvalue of brand equity is derived from the levels of consumerawareness and the image, the aggregate of brand image and awarenessshape consumer perceptions, which in turn determines the extent ofcustomer loyalty and their approvals of the brand. Brand equity isshown in both financial terms and consumer perceptions of a brand.Kotler, Keller and Jha (2013, p8) described consumer-driven brandequity as the outcome of brand awareness campaigns on the responsesthat customers show following brand marketing initiatives.

Studiesthat sought to examine the brand equity concept alluded to thedifficulty that existed in trying to measure brand equity(Jahlilvand, Samiei &amp Mahadavia, 2011 p 27). The mismatch inbrand equity values in terms of whether the values are qualitative orquantitative and qualitative influence brand equity measures in onemajor aspect. The quantitative dimensions are not captured byqualitative brand equity measures including the brand potential andimage (Kapferer, 2012, P153). Nonetheless, researchers continue torely on the direct or indirect measures of brand equity. Later, theresearcher will explore the various approaches (direct and indirect)of measuring brand equity. These considerations will allow theresearcher to adopt an effective strategy for measuring brand equityduring the primary research.

Additionally,the literature concerning the brand equity measures indicates thattwo other considerations may be looked at when measuring brand equity(customer-basedperspective and financial perspective). The financial perspectiverelies on the money value that is derived from the intangible assets,which have an influence on the brand performance in the market(Severi and Ling, 2013, p127). In other words, the financialperspective is that which allows the firm to ascertain, in monetaryterms, the contributions of the brand to the total value of thecompany.

Onthe other hand, consumer-based perspective is concerned with thereactions of consumers to the company’s brand (Severi &amp Ling2013, p129). Thus, the consumer-based perspective looks at themarketing and other awareness campaigns on consumer knowledge andresponses to the brand. In other words, it focuses more on the singlecustomers, and consumer-driven brand equity is achieved whenever theconsumers deem the products to be of high quality and convenient. Inother words, the customers develop positive, unique and desirablebrand associations. More specifically, the Marketing ScienceInstitute (2002) identified five key factors that influence theconsumer-based perspective. (1) Brand equity must interpreted basedon consumer perception as opposed to other objective thresholds. (2)The value of the brand is the actual reflection of the global value.(3) the global value of the brand is the outcome of the brand name asopposed to the physical attributes of the brand . (4) The brandequity is derived by the current market variables includingcompetition. (5) Brand equity is positively related to the firms’performance (Kottler and Keller, 2012, p58)

Thecustomer-oriented measures of brand equity were developed as aresponse to the growing importance of consumer-based marketing andconsumer driven business models. More specifically, it was meant tomeasure consumer responses to the various marketing initiatives.Aaker (1997) argued that “negative brand equity is as a result ofunfavourable consumer reactions to one of the marketing mix variableof a specific brand when compared to their reactions to the samemarketing mix element when it is attributed to a fictitiously namedor unnamed version of the product or service&quot (Aaker, 1997, p.1). This implies that consumer emotions, resulting from brandassociations, contribute significantly to the brand equity.

Thedegree to which a brand excels in the market within which it operatesmay be ascertained from the reactions that consumers show to thebrand or the perceptions of the consumers. Ideally, perceptions aregenerated by consumer experiences with the brands, i,e what consumersfeel, benefit, or heard about a specific brand (Keller, 2013).However, since individual perceptions are subjective and varied,brand value changes depending on these perceptions (Kottler, 2012, pp25)

2.2.2Brand Awareness

Theinformation the consumers have concerning the brand constitutes theirlevels of brand awareness. Therefore, brand awareness is concernedwith the stability of the brand and depends on the consumers’knowledge of the existence of specific brands. Severi and Ling (2013,p129) argued that brand awareness is a critical aspect of marketingbut has always been neglected the marketing research. Moreimportantly, brand awareness is linked to the power of the strengthnode (stored information by links) or memory traces in the minds ofconsumers.

Furthermore,the idea of brand awareness is directly influenced by the availablyof the brand in places that are accessible by majority of theconsumers and the level of consumer familiarity with the brand(Kottler 2012). Moreover, consumer-decision making habits have asignificant impact on the level brand awareness particularly throughthe ability to create and enhanced brand association. In other words,the correlation is based on the idea that the brand awareness of theproduct may be short-lived in the minds of the consumer but the brandassociations are created and entrenched in the long-term memory ofthe consumers.

Accordingto Lee and Faryene (2011, p37), the level of awareness is crucialparticularly when competitors’ offers have direct comparability andare related to other factors of selection. The concept of consumerawareness has notable impact on the consumer choices since itdetermines the brands that consumers include in their initialconsideration set. More importantly, the levels of awareness play animportant role in terms of developing and strengthening barndassociation and ultimately brand image

2.2.3Brand Association

Brandassociations are the attributes that consumers hold deep in theirmind and may be triggered whenever the consumers hears (word ofmouth) or views (advertisement) the brand. According to Kottler andKeller (2012), brand associations are crucial in building positivememories of a brand in the minds of the buyers and enhancing thebrand equity. Marketers are able to build brand associations bycreating advertisements that appeal to the consumers feelings andemotions when giving information about the brand attributes (Severi &ampLing, 2013, p132). Moreover, brand association can be used as aninformation-gathering tool in qualitative studies that aim to explaina given phenomenon in marketing by relying on the feelings andexperiences of the consumer/respondents.

2.2.4Brand Loyalty

Matzler,Grabner Grauter and Bidmond (2012. p136) defined brand loyalty as thelikelihood that the consumers will continuously purchase a givenbrand and resist the possibilities of shifting to competing brandsespecially due to positive previous experiences. The level of loyaltythat consumers demonstrated towards a specific brand is important inenhancing the brand value (Marinova, Cui, Marinov &amp Shui 2011,p6). Marketers argue that repeat purchase habits are clearindications of brand loyalty, therefore, firms must seek to offerperfect initial experiences to enhance the likelihood that consumersof the consumer to engage in repeat purchases or show loyalty.

2.2.5Brand Image

Thereare different definitions of brand image in branding literature.However, the most widely used definition argues that it describesconsumer perceptions of the consumers depending on their brandassociations (Burmann et al., 2008 Hennandez and Kuster, 2012, 8).Hsich and Li (2008) suggested that the brand image portrays thethoughts that consumers have regarding a particular brand.Frequently, it integrates the associations that are consideredcrucial for the consumers. In terms of competitive advantage, thestrength of the firms brand image gives the firm a competitive edgeand additional superiority over other firms within the industry. (Wu,2007 Arslan and Oltuna, 2010, p155). Moreover, whatever consumerperceive of the brand or the brand image is linked to the quality ofthe brand and brand benefits.

2.2.6Perceived Quality

Brandquality dimension of brand equity is concerned with the brandbrilliance in terms of serving the purpose that it was designed toserve. Kottle and keller (2012) argued that the perceived brandquality may differ from the actual brand quality because consumerstend to base their assessment of quality on emotions. Measuringperceived product quality is a major challenge in research becauseconsumer perceptions are subjective and intangible. However,qualitative approaches have been applied in previous researchers tocollect feelings, emotions and opinions that consumers haveconcerning the quality of a product. More specifically, previousresearch findings suggest that the perceived quality of a brand isclearly linked to brand loyalty and brand equity.

2.2.7Brand Identity

Aeker(2009) described brand identity as the aggregate information thatfirms convey to the consumers via the brand name, logo or symbol.Moreover, a brand identity is considered as broader picture thatconsumers have about the business.

2.3Relationship between brand awareness, loyalty and equity

Consumersdevelop attitudes through complete evaluations of brands. Asconsumers enhance their knowledge of brands, learning occurs andsalience for the brands develops. In other words, consumers begin tothink that the brand has specific attributes and benefits. Over time,brand association is built and attitudes are formed through thefour-stage process below:

Brandloyalty measures the attachment that consumers develop towards brands(Aeker, 1991, 91). Subsequently, the notion of brand equity isdesignated as the likelihood that consumers will purchase and use acertain good or service on a continuous basis. Therefore, brandloyalty constitutes one of the most crucial facets of brand equitythat makes consumers develop some kind of sentimental attachments tospecific brands to the extent that makes them avoid products fromdirect competitors (Tong and Hawley, 2009, p32).

Furthermore,the brand loyalty dimension of brand equity is unique to the extentthat it is linked to the brand usage experience. According to ErenkolDuygun (2010, p11) brand loyalty presents businesses with a sustainedcompetitive advantage, as well, it enables firms to avoid unnecessarycosts of seeking new relational exchanges with other brands. Bydeveloping loyalty to a brand, consumers engage in routine buying ofa specific brand and develop high resistance to switching tocompeting brands. Moreover, brand loyalty has the ability to createand withstand a customer’s support for long, in that way increasingthe brand’s equity (Marshall, 2010, p17).

Withinthe functional realm, consumers face easy choices if they have trustin specific brands. There are no complications in emotions sincebrands reflect the actual state of consumers emotions. In otherwords, consumers view the brand through its name, logo, design, orcombination of all (brand knowledge), demonstrate perfect knowledgeof the brand, its benefits and are comfortable with the brand. Withinthe realm of emotions, a brand faces strict choices because of thebroad knowledge and assumption in the consumers inner memory, wherethe declarative memory is the part of memory that contains whatconsumers know the know and are conscious of, reflecting morecomplication in brand meaning.

Managersare often interested with the concept of brand equity because of theassociated brand loyalty and extensions. The idea of brand equity ishas direct positive relationship with brand loyalty and extensionsand are dimensions that are impacted on by the original equity of thebrand equity. According to Elliot (2011, p97), an existing brandextension has lower advertising costs and can achieve high saleslevels because consumers have perfect knowledge about the originalbrand. More importantly, slight changes in product lines havesignificant positive influence on brand extensions, more than, whenthe changes are large and easily noticeable

Relationshipbetween Brand Equity and Branding Design

Wheeler(2013, p30) opined that branding and design have been in existencesince the period of industrial revolution. However, the advancementin technology and progress in society led to complicated ideas inbranding and branding design as manufacturers made rampant attemptsto add value to their products and survive competition. However,empirical studies suggest that lack of understanding of the brandingconcepts can have a significant negative impact on the organizationsefforts to enhance performance. Ideally, misuse of the brand conceptsis seen whenever firms resort to using news branding ideas onproducts that have been in the market for a long time. For example, afirm may attempt to change the brand design or create a new brandpersonality without considering the prevailing consumer perceptionsand emotional attachment to the existing brand design or personality.

Brandingstrategists must first establish the brand needs in order to designa good brand design. Research indicates that brands that aresuccessful are usually closely connected to its brand needs. As well,the brand design reflects the evaluated brand needs of the firm,according to Mozota (2012, p164), sudden changes in the brand designwithout prior considerations of the impact of the changes on existingbrand image or associations may have negative influence on brandloyalty. Furthermore, brand design is significantly correlated to theidentity of the organization (Kottler, Keller, a&amp Jha, 2013,p64). More specifically, the product logo, visuals, brand name, brandidentity and product, are often developed with the target audience inmind. Unfortunately, firms ignore the power of emotions in arrivingat their brand design, they assume that the desired brand equity maybe achieved through the design alone although in reality, the messagematters significantly (Lee,Yao, Mizerski and Lamber 2015, p74-78).

2.4Measuring Brand Equity

Thecurrent research seeks to investigate theimpact of brand design of Lush Cosmetics on the Japanese consumerbrand equity. Thus, the research had to come up with an effectivemechanism for measuring brand equity. Researchers find extremelydifficult to measure brand equity because the measure is subject toconstant changes. Nonetheless, in managing brands, the building,strengthening and enhancement of brand equity result in morecontribution of a company’s market value. Measuring brand equitydepends on the knowledge structure that is reflected in theconsumers’ and the actions that a company can take to benefit fromthe possibilities presented by these knowledge. Two perspectives ofmeasuring brand equity exist – indirect perspective and directperspectives.

Theindirect perspective measures rely on the perspective of the consumerby gauging the consumers’ awareness and perceptions knowledge aswell as the linkages among brand associations. On the hand, thedirect perspective measures consumer brand equity by ascertaining howbrand knowledge influence consumer response to different elements ofthe company is marketing programs. However, the interactions betweenthe direct and indirect perspectives of gauging brand equity arecomplementary in nature, whereas the indirect approach is importantwhen it comes to determining the varied responses to brand knowledge,the direct approach is crucial in ascertaining the nature of thevaried responses.

Thedirect perspective in experimental in nature that requirescategorizing consumers into control and experimental groups andobserving the effects of marketing strategies on both groups. Thus,this approach is more complicated, time consuming and costly. In thispaper, the researcher adopts the indirect approach.

2.4.1Indirect Perspective

Theindirect perspective measures brand knowledge via brand awareness,the characteristic as well as associations among brands. According toAlba and Hutchinson (1997), brand awareness may be measured throughbrand recognition strategies using either aided or unaidedtechniques. Brand recognition tests an include consumer knowledgeabout the actual brand name, sign, symbol, design or combination ofthese variables. Moreover, brand recall measures rely on differentsets of prompts indicating the category of products, product labelsthat present a general picture of memory performance with respect tothe brand.

Kottlerand Keller (2012) argue that the real strength of a product isderived from the subjective feelings, emotions, and experiences thatconsumers develop as they interact with the brands in the market.Indirect measure of brand equity relate to the consumers’association with product category through their memories. Inmeasuring the characteristics of brand association, researchers usequalitative techniques. The qualitative approach aims to evaluate therelationship among brand associations (type, strengths, favorability,and uniqueness). For instance, the researcher can ask the consumersto provide critical data, which may be relied upon in analyzing thephenomenon. According to Keller, congruence describes the extent towhich brand associations are shared, it can be determined byascertaining the patterns of associations across the consumers inorder to determine the type of associations that are common ordistinct. In conducting qualitative studies of this nature, Keller(2012, p12) argues that the interviewer must adopt techniques eitherfree associations or projective technique ethnography. Freeassociation techniques are particularly relevant in either situationswhere consumers are required to describe their motivation, i.e. thereal meaning of a brand to them, in a structured group individuallyor small groups. More precisely, the consumers researchers use termslike “who, what, when, where, and how” in framing interviewquestions.

Projectiontechniques are useful in situations where individuals or groups ofindividuals are unwilling to engage in discussions that involvepersonal matters or in situation where the objectives are not wellstated. Projective methods include completing sentences, pictureelucidation and brand personality. Lastly, ethnographic studies canbe used to gain insights into consumer behavior and measure brandequity. According to Elliot and others (2011, p153) this technique ofgathering data is informal and involves a series of unstructuredquestions, which the researcher asks the respondents.

2.6Lush Cosmetics Inc.

2.5.1Overview and History

LushCosmetics Ltd. is a company that deals with the manufacture anddistribution of a variety of cosmetic products. It has itsheadquarters in Poole, Dorset, in the UK. According to data from ICRM(2007), Lush was founded in 1994 and originally engaged in theproduction and supply of fresh ethical beauty and handmademerchandises. The goods are made out of organic products includingvegetables and fruits like rosemary oil, vanilla beans, avocado oil,papaya, coconut, grapefruit, oranges, and lemons among others.Initially, the company produced only soap products but laterdiversified into other product categories like creams, shower gels,shampoos, scrubs, lotions, and moisturizers. Increasing demand forcosmetic products led the company to introducing various makeupproducts including liquid eyeliner, lipstick, and cream shadow.

Thefounders of lush were two beauty therapists, Liz Weir and MarkConstantine. The two met at a hair salon where they worked on acontract basis, they decided to venture into private business. Theoriginal name was “Herbal Hair and Beauty Clinic.” Although theearly stages of the business proved to be highly turbulent andunprofitable, especially due to the high levels of competition, thebusiness was able to accommodate the market shocks by opening up aretail shop, the Body Shop, where they could store their productstemporarily. Effective management practices and good understandingamong the founders contributed immensely in terms of moving thebusiness forward even in the midst of the early challenges. Some ofthe successful products in terms of market demand included PeppermintFoot Lotion, Body Butters, Honey Beeswax cleanser and Herbal hairColor.

Growthin business also required increasing the number of workface. Theopening up of the herbal farm in Cambridge was pivotal to thecompany’s long term objectives as the company reached new marketsand expanded its consumer base by selling products in fitness centersand gyms. Later, the partnership came to an abrupt end as thebusiness was sold out and acquired the name Cosmetics to Go (CTG), abusiness that promised to reach greater success, but was eventuallysold because it did not meet the expectations. The two found itparticularly difficult getting employment or venturing into differentlines of business for that had passion in cosmetics and beauty.Eventually, they started buying garden-fresh food merchandises suchas lemons, juices, cinnamon, and oranges from the market. They usedthe organic products to manufacture soaps, which they named Lush, toimply green, fresh, and luxuriant. Following years of concertedeffort, determination and effective management that was based on amutually beneficial relationship, the company started expandingglobally and opened new branches in Australia, Canada, and Croatia.

2.5.2An overview of the company is branding strategies

Lushcosmetics has managed to remain unique in the cosmetics industry byembracing its green behavior of opposing animal testing (Kumar, 2016,p1), environmental friendly packaging, as well as its reliance onorganic material to make their products. Moreover, the company hasbeen able to maintain a strong image with variety of quality productsand customer oriented approaches (Sun, 2013, p15)

Lushhas a huge command of the cosmetics market because of it providesproducts in ways that are both cheap and environmentally friendly.According to Kumar (2016, p2), social responsibility is one of thecompany’s main point of difference (POD) from its competitors.Ramaniuk and others (2012) opined that a company’s ability toidentify and utilize its point if difference is crucial for itsperformance and long-term survival in the industry, POD enhances acompany’s brand equity in a unique and effective manner.Additionally, the company is able to provide consumers with moreunique choices thereby commanding premium prices (Alex, 2012, p2).According to Keller and others (2012), well-understood points ofdifference promote customer loyalty because customers are ofteninclined to develop positive association of the uniqueness of a brandand are able to engage in repetitive buying.

Themain target audience of the company includes working women betweenthe ages of 18 and 45 years, especially those can afford luxuries(Casey, 2014, p6). Major industry players like Body Shop and AubreyOrganics have a wider market target that includes both male andfemale consumers. The focus on female consumers significantly narrowsthe company’s market share, which translate to low levels of salesand a lack of competitive edge over its competitors. Among competingbrands, Kennedy and Ehrenberg (2010) observed that there are minimalbrand segmentations and products do not differ significantly in termsof attributes.

Inaddition to the successful framing of the company’s externalbranding strategies and approaches towards brand equity among itsconsumers, the company has equally implemented its internal brandposition by developing brand mantra. As a tool for internalcommunication, the brand mantra is important when it comes to guidingthe staff to understand brand’s core value and reflect theseelements in their job role. The company uses the “fresh handmadecosmetics” as their brand mantra to guide their marketing efforts.Marketing experts interpret this mantra but splitting the statementinto three words “cosmetics” describes the brand function and thenature of the product, “handmade” that acts as a descriptivemodifier to emphasize the scope of the company’s operations and theword “fresh” that appeals to consumer emotions or emotionalmodify that highlights the benefits of the company’s brand.

Additionally,the company places major emphasize on developing brand equity throughelaborating the different aspects of brand identity using differentbrand elements. To the firm, the identity of its brand is crucialbecause it creates a visual image that portrays the uniqueness of thebrand and helps to develop links of the brand in the minds ofconsumers (Romaniuk and Nenycz, 2014, p3). The name “Lush” wascoined from a famous contest among the companies target audience andwas adopted because it suits the organizations core value. Accordingto Kumar (2016), the brand name acts as a metaphor, that portrays theproduct attributes.

2.6The Cosmetics Industry

Cosmeticsrefer to products that are used to clean human bodies and to enhancebeauty. Human beings use cosmetic products to maintain bodies in goodconditions, protect the body from harsh environmental conditions aswell as minimize the effects of the aging process, and to makeindividuals smell nicer use them. In this section, we shall examinethe various categories of cosmetic products with particular focus onthe Japanese market. The cosmetics market in Japan was estimated at2.331 trillion JPY and ranked second in the world (2014). Accordingto Erwan (2015, p1), the country’s cosmetic market is propelled bythe ever increasing demand for skin care cosmetics products and isamong the most stable markets in the world. The market has five majorsegments based on the five categories of cosmetic products includingperfumes and cologne, men’s care, skin care, hair care, and makeup.

Althoughthe beauty industry is assumed cater only for specific group ofindividuals such as celebrities, the rich, and those who seek betterlooks, Beerling (2009 pp. 4) observed that the market for cosmeticsis large and consists of product categories the meet the demand foralmost every individual in society. Today, there is an increasingfocus on socially responsible activities and ethical consumption(Beerling, 2009, p5). Moreover, Beerling opined that the basis of thecosmetic business is to enhance consumers beauty. Apart from the fivecategories of products mentioned earlier, the market includesconventional products like toothpaste, massage parlors, hairclippers, barbershops, the salons, and tanning beds and so on. Morespecifically, each segment consists of product categories that servespecific purposes such skin softening, different skin color, thosethat don’t react to certain allergies, different air types, andthose that are used during particular seasons or time of the day.Initially, the nature of product differentiation was seen to beproblematic but consumer experiences and diverse demands lead toproduct knowledge and loyalty as consumers are able to identifyproducts that suit their unique needs.

Marketingliterature suggests that producers and suppliers differentiate theirgoods or services by pinpointing their primary market or targetconsumers, through pricing as well as using different manufacturingprocesses. For example, some consumers demonstrate loyalty tomanufactures whom they share certain values like those that consideranimal testing of cosmetic products as a vice. Similarly,service-oriented firms often differentiate their services throughdifferent pricing strategies, location, and identification of theirtarget markets. Productivity of the firm is significantly dependenton the type or inputs used in the production process. MoreSpecifically, a research that was done by the Yano Research Institutefound that approximately 15% of the income generated in the beautyprovision industry is obtained from the merchandise sales (YanoResearch Institute 2015, p 4-7).

Furthermore,the research by Yano Research Institute (2015 pp. 3-6) indicates thatthe cosmetic business is negatively correlated to economicdepressions. For instance, it was observed that the great depressionthat occurred in 2008 had minimal impact on the profitability of thebeauty industry. Although consumers are known to be highly cautiousabout their general expenditure during harsh economic time, there isno significant change in their spending habits in beauty products.

2.6.1Situation per Category

Skincare

Theskin care market takes up nearly half of the cosmetic market and ismainly dominated by facial products. According to Erwan (2015), thetotal value of the skin care market amounted to approximately 1.07trillion JPY in 2014. Fluctuations in this market have significantinfluence on the general market trend for cosmetics

Manufacturesobtain relatively higher margins in the skin care products this isdespite high prices associated with skin care products. According toa research by the Japan Center for Industrial Cooperation (2015), themarket commands a large market share because it is consumed by allcategories of consumers.

Makeup

Makeupproducts consist of foundation creams, lipsticks, and eye makeup.According to the market share, foundation creams accounted for 45% ofmakeup cosmetics. The market is particularly dominated by youth andthe young population of consumers. The use of fashion magazines isconsidered a major avenue for advertising products in this market.

Haircare

Thehair care market commands nearly 20% of the cosmetic market and isworth approximately 3 billion euros (Erwan, 2015, p10). Initially,the market was heavily dominated by coloring products, the entranceof shampoo, hair dye, and treatments significantly changed thedynamics of the market in terms of market share. Today, the threecommodities lead the market in terms of demand and accounted toapproximately 70% of all hair care products in Japan.

Perfumesand Cologne

Accordingto a survey conducted by the Japanese Center for IndustrialCooperation (2015), the use perfumes is relatively rare in Japan, andthe market for perfume and cologne represent just over 1% of theoverall market for cosmetics. In addition, imported brands ofperfumes dominate the market with a huge market share ofapproximately 82% in share value the share is seen to progress atthe expense of the domestic manufactures.

Accordingto Erwan (2015, p13), the market for perfume cosmetics in Japan isrelatively small because Japanese believe that perfumes are fashionaccessories that are associated with Perfumes and Cologne relativelysmall because Japanese believe that perfumes are fashion accessoriesthat are associated with the Western luxury and prestige. What ismore, the market is split between high-end perfumes and mass productsinfluencing an increasing number of youth in Japan. The reportfurther suggests that Japanese women are more sensitive attractivepackaging while men look for refreshing and light flavors that can beused in the office.

Men’scare

Men’scares constitute a whole range of cosmetics including skin care, haircare, and makeup that is meant specifically for men. According toConference Cosme Tech (2014), the men’s care market in Japan isamong the leading segments in terms of growth. In addition to theconventional hair care products, skin care has witnessed growingdemand not only emerging from young adults but also men of 50 yearsand above.

Thefigure below shows the evolution of the cosmetics market

Source:Yano research Institute

2.7Consumer Perceptions

Consumerperceptions are the impressions that consumers hold in their mindsregarding the brand. They are formed from experiences and may beswayed by product promotion campaigns including advertisement. Aswell, past experiences are known to have significant influence on theconsumer perceptions (Kotler, Keller and Jha, 2013 p72). Theexperiences that consumers gain by consuming a give brands creates alasting impression in their minds as they are likely to associate thebrand with their perception. More specifically, the perceptions aredeveloped through word of mouth, marketing, and experience (Theconsumer Brand Perception Survey, 2014),.

Furthermore,perceptions play a fundamental role in the consumer-decision makingprocess. Consumers are likely to purchase brands that they perceiveto be trustworthy, effective and reliable. Severi and Ling (2013)argue that the consumer decision-making process occurs in a circularmanner with three main – initial consideration, active evaluation,and closure and post purchase experiences.

2.7.1The consumer perceptions Theory

Businessoften aims to boost their businesses by focusing on aspects thatmotivate their consumers purchasing decisions (Samih, 2012, p1). Thetheory of consumer perceptions presents crucial informationconcerning the decision-making process and behavior of consumers byexploring their motivation to buy or not buy a specific item in themarket. More precisely, the theory looks at three fundamental aspectsof the consumer – price perception, self-perception, and theperception of the benefits relating to superior life.

Thetheory relies heavily on the ideas of sensory perception in marketingand advertising. By definition, sensory perception is concerned withthe mechanism through which human beings perceive and analyze sensorystimuli through their five senses. In the same breadth, consumerperception relate to the mechanism through which consumers developopinions about companies and their brand of products, which consumerspurchase. Marketing experts apply the consumer perceptions theory todesign effective marketing and advertising strategies that are meantto attract new customers while also maintaining the existingconsumers. The three main concepts in the consumer perception theoryare discussed in the following paragraphs.

Self-perception

Thesecriteria attempt to describe how individual consumers develop theunderstanding of their own motivations to purchase or not to purchasea give product. In other words, self-perception is the understandingof needs, values, and desires that shape the consumers’ behavior.Empirical studies suggest that consumer self-perception hassignificant influence on the consumer decision making and theconsumer behavior. The modern consumer is socially conscious andtends to evaluate products based on critical issues such as theirimpact on the environment, or corporate social responsibilitiesdemonstrated by the manufacturer.

Price-perceptions

Althoughsome business focus on low pricing to attract and keep customers,certain merchants believe that quality and value for money should bethe main area of focus. The consumer perception theory suggests thatprice perception has significant influence on consumer decisions toengage in a transaction. More importantly, price perception is seento be influenced by the perceived quality of the product or serviceas well as price comparisons with similar products from othermanufactures’ within the same industry. Using other words, theconsumer is concerned with the value for money as well as relativeprice among suppliers.

Benefitperception

Byusing certain products consumers are able to ascertain the benefitsof the product or service depending on the experiences and level ofsatisfaction. According to Blank (2015), the benefits can also becommunicated by way of mouth between friends and family members. Afriend’s narration of their experience on consuming a certainproduct has the ability to stimulate or discourage the consumptiondepending on the experience. Generally, consumers tend to avoidunsupported claims about enhanced nutrition, especially when theclaims are made by untrusted sources like street gossips. In mostinstances, consumers conduct strict evaluation of products toascertain their benefits.

2.7.2Managing Consumer Perceptions

Consumerperceptions are formed and shaped by several factors including:advertising campaigns, packaging, and actual usage experiences.According to Keller and others, (2012) positive consumer perceptionsmust be maintained by associating the brand within a goal and usagesituation or through promoting substitution of categories. Moreover,the researchers opined that brand must be able to generate newinformation that consumers can access and interpret with ease.Empirical evidence offer proof that it is mush easy to re-activateexisting association as opposed to creating new associations.

Desirableand refreshing brand perceptions are conveyed and propagated througheffective packaging and through positive word-of-mouth advertising.In addition, the use of “real people” in promotion campaignsrepresents a new approach to managing consumer perceptions especiallyin first moving consumer goods category. Another approach to managingconsumer perception involves associating the brand with “goodcause.” Today, company’s use the cause related marketing (CRM) toenhance and sustain brand perception among consumers and to conductsales promotion.

Theresult of long-term marketing is brand equity, any marketing actionhas significant effects customer purchasing decisions. According toKeller (2008), a brand is considered to have positive customer basedequity if the consumers react in a positive way promotion campaignsthan when they react to similar marketing mix elements whenfictitious names or unnamed versions of the products are used.

2.8Demand Analysis

Demandanalysis is fundamental for any analysis concerning the performanceof a product or brand. In this section, the researcher focuses onanalyzing the demand for cosmetics products especially within theJapanese cosmetics market. The analysis targets four main constructs–consumer behavior, actual purchase, seasonality and (Erwan, 2015,p29).

2.8.1Consumer Behavior

Thepresent study explores the impact of brand design through brandequity. Marketing experts argue that each decision that a companyundertakes elicits some form of response from its customers. Morespecifically, policies that are considered unfavourable to theconsumers attract criticism while those that are desirable in theeyes of the consumers are praised and encouraged. Consumers takecentre stage in every transaction and the understanding of consumerhabits and their responses to certain organizational policies iscrucial for every organization(Leon &amp Schiffman, 2007).

Accordingto Kotler and Keller (2012), consumer behaviour refers to theprocesses that consumers encounter in the purchasing and consumingproducts from the market including the pre-purchase, actual purchaseand post purchase experiences. The consumer behaviour varies from oneclass of consumers to another and is determined not just in terms ofincome, but age and gender groups.

2.5.2Consumer buying Behavior

Thepresent study seeks to explore the impact of the branding design ofLush’s Cosmetics on the equity of Japan’s consumer brand. Brandequity can be interpreted to mean the valuation that the public haveon a given brand. Understanding consumer behavior is paramount inunderstanding the impact of brand equity. In the marketing research,the five-stage model has been used extensively to explainconsumer-buying behavior. The five stages spans the following phases:problem recognition, information search, and evaluation ofalternatives, actual purchase and post purchase response.Essentially, the perceptions are formed through experience within theconsumer decision-making process outlined below.

Consumerbuying decision process (5-stage model)

Scholarsdeveloped the five-stage model to explain the consumerdecision-making process. More specifically, the model explains howconsumers arrive at the decision to partake s certain transactionincluding how they dispose the good or services (Kottler, Keller &ampJha, 2013, p69). More importantly, the consumers’ decision toengage in a given transaction is born out of their needs or ratherthe recognition that certain goods or services are essential at givenpoint in time. The model is important because the manner in whichconsumers make decisions has a direct influence on the brands thatthey include in their initial consideration set, and out of whichthey select their most preferred brand. Therefore, an understandingof the consumer decision-making process is has crucial implication inmarketing as it gives marketers the opportunity to establish touchpoints with consumers and create brand awareness. The five-stagemodel consumer buying behaviour is discussed in detail below:

StageOne: Identification of the problem

Beforeconsumers engage in a transaction, they must first establish theimportant needs or want that requires to be satisfied. According toKotler, Keller and Jha (2013) the problem identification stage isenvisioned in the mind of the consumer and is dependent on theirexperiences, finances, and what they deem important at that time.More specifically, the need is determined by the individualsinterpretation of absolute necessities given the situations. Forinstance, an umbrella becomes a necessity during rainy seasons thusthe consumer will only consider buying one during rainy seasons.Kottler, keller and Jha (2013) argue that both internal and externalstimuli influence the consumers’ needs internal stimuli arepersonal and emanate from the consumers brain while external needsare propagated by the environment.

Informationsearch

Afterthe need has been created in the consumers mind and established to bean absolute necessity at that time, the consumer begins to scanaround for information about the specific brand of good or servicesthat can satisfy his/her needs. Marketers refer to theinformation-seeking process as the stage of creating awareness, whereconsumers search for the available goods or services, the suppliersand the relative prices. Importantly, the emergence of the internetand social media platforms has made the consumer information seekingprocess much easier and convenient. Today, consumers have becomeaccustomed to visiting suppliers website to get information, seekingrecommendation from friends and family through the social mediaplatforms. According to Kottler, Keller and Jha (2013), informationis needed to process the stimuli that was generated either internallyor externally during the initial stage (problem recognition stage).Other sources of information include advertisements or commercials,newspapers and magazines as well as exhibitions and show rooms.

Evaluationof alternatives

Often,the search for information may lead to many alternatives. Moreover,competition in most industries has given rise to products that servesimilar purposes either as direct substitutes or complementary.Normally, manufactures and suppliers attempt to differentiatecompeting goods through bradding (names, logos, packaging). In theirinitial consideration set, list of suppliers or products, consumersforces the consumers to delve deeper into assessing the variousalternatives with the view of coming up with the most preferredalternative. According to Kotler, Keller and Jha (2013) the processof assessing alternatives in the market is guided by the consumers’own ability to judge, effects of the advertisements, instinct, pastexperienes with products as well as the rational capabilities of theconsumer.

Inaddition, the consumers’ base their assessment on their evaluationof needs vis a vis the benefits associated with each of the availablealternatives in their initial consideration set. Here, the individualtries to take into consideration the entire set of features that eachalternative presents (Keller and Sood, 2008, p 62)

Purchasedecision

Theoutcome of the assessment of the products in the initialconsideration set is a single choice, which the consumer deemsappropriate for the fulfilment of their individual needs to theinternally generated stimuli. At this stage, the consumer is said tohave made an informed decision regarding the product, the supplier,how to transact. As well the consumer is aware of the prices. Morespecifically, the consumer is fully aware of the product featuressuch as the name of the brand, location where they are available,prices and the quantity that they require.

Postpurchase

Lastly,after partaking the chosen good or service, the consumer is able toevaluate the consumption experience based on the earlierexpectations. At this stage, the consumer developes perceptions,image, knowledge of the brand. More importantly, the post purchase orpost consumption evaluation plays a key role in the brand equity ofthe brands that the consumer chooses to take. A desirable postpurchase evaluation may encourage repeated future purchases andconsequently develop brand loyalty. Additionally, the consumer hasinformed perceptions that is derived from actual experiences and isable to recommend or discourage friends and family from consuming theproducts through word of mouth conversations. TheJapanese consumers of cosmetics are extremely attentive to the valueof products offered to them and have particular high demand inquality matters. In reality, Japanese consumers demonstrate twodistinct purchasing behaviors: buying cosmetics whose prices exceed100 euros on one side and opting for the most economical value forother types of products especially shampoos and soaps.

InJapan, packaging is a crucial factor that bears significant influenceon the consumer purchasing behavior. According to Erwan (2015),sloppy packaging might result in credibility loss for both theproducts and the brand. A survey that was conducted by The JapaneseCenter for Industrial Cooperation (2015), in Japan found thatJapanese consumers are sensitive to novelty and often search for newproducts that can influence consumer loyalty. Accordingly, theproduct life cycle is cut short significantly and manufacturesconstantly attempt to develop new products to meet the demand fornovelty.

2.9Conceptual Model (PCDL Model)

Thepresent study is based on the PCDL model. The model has fourcomponents -positioning the brand, communicating the brand message,delivering the brand performance, and leveraging the brand equity.The components are discussed below:

2.9.1Positioning the brand

Brandpositioning refers to the process of developing desirable image andperception of the brand within the consumers’ minds in a mannerthat enables the consumers to distinguish the brand from those ofcompetitors. Marketers strive to position their brands by ensuringthat they create desirable perceptions in the minds of consumers.According to Ghodeswar (2008, p5), a brand position is related to itsidentity together with the value proposition, which is oftencommunicated to the active audience and that demonstrates acompetitive edge over competing brands.

Abrand that is well positioned has a strategic position that isboosted by the brand associations including high ratings on desirableattributes like customer friendliness, or effective after saleservices. In todays saturated markets, markets find it crucial tounderstand the consumer behavior effects of linking products to othermarketing variables like people, place, and prices. Thus, marketersmust be in position to know how various marketing variables must becombined from a consumer brand-knowledge point, to create desirablepositioning in the minds of consumers.

Theaim of branding should be to add philological value to products,services, and companies in the form of intangible benefits such asemotional associations, beliefs, values, as well as feelings thatpeople develop towards brands. If a firm manages to strategicallyposition its brand in the minds of consumers, the firms is able tobuild a strong identity and personality for the brand. The ability toprovide a product, service, or corporation with emotional advantageover and above its functional value is a critical source ofgenerating value for the brand. According to Sherrington (2003), theprospects of value must be significant enough for the people orbusinesses, which the company wishes to have as its main customers.

Inorder to achieve success, the brand must be designed to build highquality relationships where customers develop senses of belonging andcommitment and subsequent brand loyalty. Brand preference is theresult of consumers’ emotional needs. According to Ghodeswar,emotional associations can strongly distinguish the brand in theminds of customers relative to competitors’ offerings. Brandingenable the process of transforming functional assets intorelationship assets. Strong brands tend to demonstrate strongpositive relationship between brand equity and both the brand’sactual quality of the product or service and to various intangiblefactors.

Accordingto Kotler and Keller (2013, p69), the intangible factors include userimagery (the type of brand users) usage imagery the type ofpersonality that the brand portrays –sincere, competent, or rugged– the feeling which the customers develop on consuming the brandand the type of relationship, which the brand seeks to develop withits consumers. According to Keller, the strongest brands tend to stayin the leading edge within the product arena while also flexing theirintangibles to fit the times. Companies have at their disposal eightcrucial tools for achieving strong brand positioning including:feature-based prompts, problem/solution prompts, target-drivenpositioning, emotional/psychological positioning, competition-basedpositioning, and value positioning. Brands that are well positionedare known to fill specific gaps within the consumers’ minds.

2.9.2Communicating the brand message

Abrand must be designed with a clear vision of how consumers willperceive the brand in their minds. Essentially, brand positioningaims to prioritize the focus of the brand identity and resultantcommunicating themes that make it possible for the firm to establishthe communicating objectives including the type of message, thedegree of product differentiation to be attained, and the productsaspects that appeal to the actual consumer. According to Ghodeswar(2008, p12), an advertising campaign that is well designed andexecuted has the ability to enable the brand to break the clutter andbuild strong impact within its target market

Themain objectives that companies must focus on include creatingawareness, to stick in the minds of consumers, to have desirableperceptions, to facilitate strong positive attitudes, and to developdeep customer relationships. Thus, a brand that is highlydifferentiated and has a strong brand image can build an emotionaland rational bridge from customers to the firm, its products, orservices. The intangible aspects for developing strong brand equityinclude use imagery, user imagery, the type of personality conveyedby the brand, the feelings that the brand attempts to elicit incustomers, and the type of relationships that it tries to build withits customers. The major communication channels that are used inmarketing to position the brand in the minds of its consumers includeadvertising, direct marketing, sales promotion, sponsorships,endorsements, public relations, the World Wide Web, as well asintegrated brand communication strategies. According to Ghodeswar(2008), successful brands are developed through creative repetitionof key themes in different types of media outlets. Moreover, theappeal to consumer emotions in advertising that appeals to the heartsand minds of the people result in emotional associating withcustomers.

Paramesweran(2001) opined that a brand is the aggregate of the physical productas well as the notional images that accompany the brand. In addition,brand awareness is the ability of a potential buyer to recognize arerecall that a brand is a member of a certain product category.Precisely, a connection between product brand and product class. Thebrand image is the product of the people’s perceptions, in otherwords, it refers to the manner in which people think about or evenimagine something to be. Old brands serve to bind consumers to theirpast and to communities that shared those brands. Personal andcommunal nostalgia are closely related therefore evoking both pastepochs and former selves

Effectiveadvertising strategies are designed out of clear understanding ofoverall variables that bear significant influence on the brandsincluding new consumer trends, new competition, or advancement intechnology (Ghodeswar, 2008, p7).

Brandidentity is significantly dependent on the type of consumers, theenvironment in which they live, and their perceptions about thebrand. Accordingly, the most successful brands embrace competitionand compete favorably with competitors by generating points of parityin key areas where competitors struggle to find an advantage while atthe same time creating points of difference to defeat theircompetitors in other crucial areas (Kotler and Keller, 2013).Development and implementation of long-term integrated communicationstrategies is critical in demonstrating brand value to consumers.According to Ghodeswar (2008, p7) the message must be designed in amanner that is consistent with the brand value, brand personality andother brand identity dimensions. A strong brand facilitates brandpositioning and is able to allow the company to extend its brand andhave a greater influence on the customer purchase processes.

2.9.3Delivering the brand performance

Inhighly saturated and competitive market, firms find it crucial totrack their brands and maintain a clear picture of the effects ofcompetition. By tracking, the company is able to know its progress interms of the performance of its brand in the market, and the impactof specific market interventions on its brand equity. Often, progresscan be tracked by looking at sales levels, consumption, and level ofbrand recognition, brand recall, and advertising awareness. This way,brand marketers as well as managers are able to assess the impact ofmarketing campaigns on the target consumers, which in turn can beused to gauge the strength of the brand.

Theanalysis of transaction is beneficial to the company since it enableit to allocate members of the brand’s team the undertaking of goingthrough every step that a customer could possibly need to go throughto examine the manner in which the system is perceived by theconsumers. A rather consumer convenient way of bringing consumerstogether is through word of mouth stories about bad service whetherit is about a mobile phone that is cut off, a television that is onthe blink, or a washing machine that failed, getting the situationrectified is no doubt, every consumers nightmare.

Incompanies that are largely product-oriented, service is a crucialcomponent of the brand experience since the majority of thesecompanies consider brands based on the kind of relationship theydevelop with their customers. According to Ghodeswar (2008), aprogressive company is one that develops its brand philosophy acrossfunctional lines throughout the organization, evaluates all contactpoints with customers, and streamlines its daily operations toaddress the needs of its customers while also delivering a reliablebrand experience. Often, prevailing brands play a secondary role toprosperous innovative brands from rivals, brands in terms of marketshare. Thus, manufactures are required to maintain the relativefunctional excellence of their brands by focusing on continuousimprovement of the brand performance. The most widely used approachto maintaining and enhancing brand performance is through regularblind product tests of the manufactures brand against itscompetitors. Through this approach, the company is able to shield itsbrand from the negative effects of new successful brands in themarket.

Brandloyalty can be described as a link in the chains of effects thatindirectly links brand trust and brand effects with the marketperformance of brand equity. In other words, brand loyalty can beviewed as a measure of the attachment that a customer demonstratestowards a brand and is an indicator of the likeliness that thecustomer will switch to competing brands, especially in situationsinvolving price or quality changes. Brand loyalty promotes repeatbuying behavior and boosts customer attributes. It also shows thecommitment by the consumers to engage in future transactionsinvolving the brand. Ghodeswar (2008) opined that fostering premiumloyalty is a sure way of ensuring customer retention because itallows the company to establish both emotional and normativeattachments between brand and consumers. Moreover, sustained loyaltycan have further positive effects by encouraging positiveword-of-mouth communication between consumers and potentialconsumers.

Klausand Ludlow (2002), opined that firms must set “operationalstandards” in all areas affecting day-to-day brand-relatedactivities, which can be applied to behaviors, management practices,service provision, customer relationship management, performanceachievement, and so on. Ghodeswar (2013) group the marketing effectsof brand into two broad categories, the consumer level influencessuch as attitudes, awareness, image, and knowledge, ororganizational-level influences including price, market share,revenue, or cash flow. In addition, the operational ideals emphasizeon the enhancing the believe of consumers about delivery of the brandpromises.

2.9.4Leveraging the brand equity

Acompany is able to link its brand to other entities that create newsets of relations between the brand and the entities in addition toinfluence prevailing associations through the leveraging process(Kotler, Keller &amp Jha, 2013, p19). In marketing, companies canadopt in leveraging their brands such as through line extensions,brand extensions, ingredient branding, and co-branding throughvarious ways.

Ingredientbranding refers to the branding technique where key attributes of asuccessful brand are incorporated into another brand as ingredientsin gaining increased consumer awareness and popularity in the market.In order to differentiate between the host brand and other competingbrands, ingredient-branding marketers characterize the ingredientattributes in the host brand in a precise manner. Thus, companies areable to come up with brand alliances with other companies by linkingtheir services or products or marketing events.

Brandextensions describe situation where brand experiences appear to bearlittle influence on continuing recurrent procuring of an extensionwithin a series of instances where supposed resemblance between theextension categories and the parent and vary considerably. In caseswhere brand extensions fail, the parent company’s brand equityfaces huge risks that are propagated by negative reciprocal effects.According to Swaninathan and others (2011), the parent brandexperience has significant influence on extension trial but not onrepeat purchase.

Thediagram below presents a summary of the PCDL conceptual model.

Delivering the Brand performance

  • Product performance

  • Customer care

  • Service performance

  • Customer satisfaction and

Leveraging the brand equity

  • Line extension

  • Brand extension

  • Co-branding

  • Branding alliance

Communicating brand message

  • Advertising

  • Themes

  • Events

  • Celebrities

  • Consumers

  • Shows

Positioning the Brand

  • Features

  • Tangible attributes

  • Benefits

  • Intangible attributes

  • Operations

  • Product functions

Figure1: PCDL Model

2.10Summary of the Literature Review and Knowledge Gap

Thegoal of the present study was to find out the impact of brandingdesign of Lush Cosmetics’ on the equity of Japan’s consumerbrand. The literature review chapter described the various conceptswithin the broad topic of branding, consumer behavior, cosmetics, anda description of the case study company. More precisely, thesystematic review of literature emphasized on the importance of branddesign to companies and the contributions of brand equity to theoverall success of a company in terms of creating consumer awareness,positive associations and positioning of the company. Additionally,research in the cosmetic industry showed that the cosmetic is large,second only to the automotive industry and is second largest inJapan.

Thereview also discussed the techniques of measuring brand equity, animportant consideration for the scope of this study. Both the directand indirect approaches are discussed in terms of the approaches,requirements and benefits. Accordingly, the researcher opted for theindirect perspective of measuring brand equity that relies on aqualitative methodology. Finally, the researcher adopted the PCDLmodel as a conceptual model for the study.

3.METHODOLOGY

3.1Overview

Theresearcher wanted to investigate the impact of branding design onconsumer brand equity using the example of Lush cosmetics. Thischapter outlines the methods that guided the research in collectingdata for empirical evaluation. The researcher focused on the indirectperspective of measuring consumer brand equity especially through aqualitative approach involving interviews. In addition, quantitativedata was collected through surveys to ensure more credible andreliable findings and to support the results of the qualitativeresearch. In addition, secondary research approaches are explained inthis chapter.

Aresearch methodology refers to the procedural way of inquiry into thenature of phenomena under study (diversity in leadership). It is morescientific in its approach to grinding the research process. Morespecifically, the techniques through which researchers approach theirstudies of either providing a description, explanation or predictingan occurrence constitutes a research method. It is also defined as“the study of methods by which knowledge is gained. Its aim is togive the work plan of research”. According to Lueng (2015, p254),the choice of a methodology impacts on the validity of the study,researchers must pay great attention on the choice of any particularmethodology.

Thischapter outlines the study methodology and justifications for thechoice. The methods chapter attempts to outline the processes thatwere involved in the primary research and to integrate the processeswith the research objectives. Theresearcher was interested in collecting broad range of data onparticipant characteristics, opinions, feelings, needs, dispositions. Accordingly, the methodology chapter is presented under thesubheadings – research philosophy, research design, approach, datacollection, sampling, study credibility and ethics.

Thediagram below represents the structure of the methodology chapter.

Figure3.1: ChapterOutline

3.2Research Philosophy

Differentperspectives exist in research the aim of this section is to explorethe philosophical areas of social science research in order to choosea suitable philosophical stance for this investigation. Bydefinition, a research philosophy refers to the belief regarding thetechniques of collecting data or how empirical data should begathered during research together with the methods of analysing thedata. Essentially, the research philosophy is concerned with theorigin, scope, and construction of knowledge. In research, thedistinction between what is known to be true (epistemology) and thatwhich is believed to be true (doxology) result in three majorphilosophical stances – pragmatism, positivism, and interpretivism.

Thepragmatism paradigm isbased on the premise that the most essential element of the researchphilosophy adopted is the research question. The proponents of thisresearch philosophy believe that we can combine interpretivist andpositivist paradigms within a single research. Thus, pragmatismparadigm is considered as a post-positivist research philosophybecause it combines qualitative and quantitative aspects of researchthrough the positivistic and interpretivist research paradigms.

Proponentsof the positivism approach believe in the widely held assumption thatall research undertakings are scientific in nature and thatinvestigators must follow scientific producers when conductingresearch as well as remaining objective. According to Sounders(2011), positivists use purely scientific methods to gather empiricalevidences to test specific objectives and to formulate scientifictheories. Often, the positivism approach to research employscientifically designed surveys to gather data from relatively largesamples. However, commentators refute this assumption, arguing thatscience and positivism are not in any way synonymous in nature. Creswell (2007) opined that there are certain special circumstancesthat the inductivist paradigm is necessary within positivismresearch.

Stake(2002) argued that the positivistic paradigm is more of deductivetheorizing, where the research comes up with a number of propositionsfor empirical justification. According to Sounders and others (2009),positivism is concerned with the investigation of a social realitywhere the findings of the investigation can be adopted as standardsor laws and are significantly similar to the findings in physical ornatural science.

Theinterpretivists consider the natural world as containing variedattributes that demand different approaches when attempting to studyand explain them. Creswell (2007) opined that “the interpretivismresearch paradigm is more of social science than natural science thatrequires different logic of research procedures” (Creswell, 2007).This implies that interpretivism allows the researcher to developtheories or models through a inductive thinking process that involvesreversing the deductive process and relying on factual data to comeup with a theory. Stake (2002), observed that the interpretivismparadigm allows the investigator to view diverse phenomena in thesocial world and discover patterns to explain wider principles.

Interpretivismplaces more emphasize on the direct observations of individuals andtheir behaviours as well as preferences. Often, this approach relieson the tools of collecting qualitative data including interviews andfocused groups. Additionally, the interpretivism approach focuses onsubjective experience, smaller samples, and detailed examinationsthat enable the researchers to identify issues of thematic concerns.

Becauseof these considerations, this study was based on the intepretivismphilosophy. This approach has been applied in much researchundertaking particularly seeking to investigate specific phenomena inbusiness (Sounders et al., 2011, p12). The interpretivist approachaims to investigate and analyse the phenomena that is thought of tobe of major interest and worthy of investigation. However, theresearcher incorporates the post-positivism methodology. The mainreason for incorporating the post-positivism paradigm within aninterpretivist framework was to allow the researcher is to examineactual realities through numerical evidences found in the cosmeticindustry in Japan. This approach presents the researcher with adouble opportunity: by benefiting on the advantages of inductiveresearch and its effectiveness in discerning hidden connectionsbetween states of things and reasons behind them, while at the sametime still funding the basic steps of the process on data andconcrete experiences allowing logically derived considerations(Ritchie &amp Lewis, 2003)

3.3Research design

Thisresearch undertaking was based on a mixed-method research design. Themixed method paradigm is a combination of qualitative andquantitative research methods. According to Terrell (2012, 2), themixed method technique has emerged as a result of paradigm warsqualitative and quantitative research approaches to become one of themost reliable technique for scientific inquiry. The researchercollected qualitative views through face-to-face interviews and focusgroups. Quantitative data was collected through an online survey.

Proponentsof Qualitative methods support a constructivist or interpretivistparadigm and “contend that, multiple-constructed realities abound,that time- and context free generalizations are neither desirable norpossible and research is value bound and researchers cannotdifferentiate known causes from unknown causes because the subjectiveknower is the only source of reality” (Johnson &amp Onwuegbuzie,2004, p. 14). In this researcher, the researcher used the factobtained through the quantitative techniques to support the findingsof the qualitative analysis.

Moreover,qualitative research followed the discussions of the quantitativefindings by providing deeper evidences presented by experts andconsumers through their direct experiences with the variables, whichthe study sought to investigate. According to Zohrabi (2013, p255),the quantitative techniques act as a bridge to individuate crucialrespondent’s insights that can only be analyzed through qualitativetechniques.

3.4Approach

Qualitativeand quantitative data was relied upon to explain the present studyresearch phenomenon – how brand design influenced brand equity.Secondary research methodology was used to investigate Lush cosmeticsin terms of how its brand exceled in the market for cosmetics. Bydefinition, a secondary study relies on data from secondary data orinformation from previous studies. An important source of secondarydata or information is the internet, journals, textbooks, articlesearlier researches. Additionally, obtainable data from customerdatabases, stock lists, and information gathered from agencies forinstance government agencies, local councils, industry bodies, andlibraries.

Togather primary data, the researcher used online surveying techniquethat involved inviting respondents to fill an online questionnaire.Essentially, cosmetics are considered to be personal products,therefore, a survey was deemed appropriate since questions can bedesigned to elicit certain personal responses. The survey invited allrespondents, including those who did not use cosmetics this was inorder to ascertain the general use of the products in the market interms of popularity and level of consumption. As well, it provided anunderstanding of brand loyalty and recognition of and by the public.Using surveys as a means of data collection was suitable for gaugingthe brand equity for the reason of the large participants’ sample.

Theelectronic survey was designed to invite respondents through anopt-in opt out approach. This approach has been used more effectivelyin majority of the online surveys particularly concerning consumers.By opting-in, the consumers are given the freedom to decide whetherto participate in the survey or not. Accordingly, the topic,objectives, and benefits of the study were clearly stated in theintroductory section of the survey. In addition, the researcheremphasized that privacy and confidentiality of the respondents was apriority in the survey. Finally, the researcher encouragedrespondents to participate in the study, which would take only 15minutes of the participants’ time.

Inorder to reach a wider population of consumers and to encourage manyconsumers to participate in the study, the researcher usedsnowballing technique, where a respondent was given an option toinvite a friend, or relative to participate in the study especiallyin situations where the respondent believed that the person referredto was best suited to participate in the study.

Inaddition, the researcher used online and in-person surveys. TheIn-person surveys were used in the Lush outlets situated in Aichiprefecture found in Japan. The four stores from where candidates wererandomly selected include the shopping mall, outlets, and thedepartment store. Since shoppers are generally have limited time,there were only being a few open questions enquired. During the shortinterviews, a second researcher noted key points in the responsesthe interviews were recorded for the purposes of further qualitativeanalysis. Confidentiality and protection of the audio records wasemphasized and the researcher stored copies of the recordedinterviews in a safe.

3.5Data Collection

Twocategories of data –primary and secondary data – were collectedto help in answering the research questions in this study. Primarydata refers to data that originates directly from the source whilesecondary data is obtained from records including books, journals,and articles. The two main categories of data are explained below.

3.5.1Primary Data

Theonline survey used and online questionnaire method of data collectionwas used for collecting data primary data. In addition, qualitativedata was collected through discussion with experts in the field, andby visiting major Lush cosmetics stores in Japan and requestingconsumers to respond to few open-ended questions.

Interviews

Theresearcher conducted interviews with the responds with the view ofcollecting data consisting of individual experiences and opinionsregarding key variables in the study. The target population ofrespondents for the in-person survey was in the Lush outlets locatedin Aichi prefecture. In particular, four stores were targeted andcandidates were designated indiscriminately at capriciousdistribution settings (shopping malls, outlet, and department store).“Interviews are designed to understand the world from the point ofview of the interviewee while also unfolding the meaning of peoples”(Cresswel, 2007, p249). King (2004), opined that interviewing is animportant technique for data collection especially in studies wherethe investigator seeks to incorporates an analysis of peoples’motivation and opinions, as was the case in our present study.

Duringthe interviews, effective interviewing methods, such as creatingconnection, ensuing leads, and signifying interest, are significantto get quality data throughout interviews. A number of of theprecincts of interviewing exist. The interviewee`s replies areconditional on individual bias, inexact articulation, and the biasassociated with the ability to remember (Yin, 2009, p54). And so, Yin(2009) commends validating interview data with the particular dataobtained from various sources. In this study, semi-structureddiscrete interviews were employed to deliver indication ofexemplified, subjective perceptions of Lush brand equity. During theinterviews, a second investigator was available to record field notesto enable the coded and transliterated interviews to be compared forcorrectness. The interviews were scheduled to ensure convenience bothfor the researcher and the interviewee.

Online-Survey

Thisstudy was based on an online survey methodology that sought tocollect data from respondents from Cosmetic products consumers inJapan. In situation where a large population or sample is involved,McPeake et al., (2012) recommended that researchers use surveybecause they are most suitable to collect large volumes of data. Twotechniques are used during electronic surveys – web-based survey andemail surveys- the email survey involves attaching survey questionsin electronic mails. More specifically, this type of survey isdesigned to attract participants to answer survey questions via awebsite.

Robson(2011, p7) identified three main benefits of using electronic surveytechnique for data collection. First, he argued that electronicsurveys are relatively inexpensive than all the other types ofsurveys. Scott and others (2011, p2) argued that using online surveysdecreases expenses by roughly 38 per cent. Secondly, survey data canbe analyzed in an easy and convenient way because data is obtained ina form that is ready for analysis using statistical software,moreover, data often contain embedded simple descriptive statistic(Jones et al., 2008), as well, additional analysis using statisticalsoftware may be done through importing the quantitative data from thesurvey. Essentially, this features present electronic survey with twoimportant advantages over other forms of surveys. I.e. cost reductionand time saving especially when large data sets are involved.

However,this technique of gathering data faces certain challenges, which theresearcher must address in order to obtain more reliable data. Ahern,(2005) was of the view that online surveys may be constrained byparticipant bias. Additionally, electronic surveys have poorerresponse rates when compared to other forms of surveys. The referralsampling techniques was used in the present study to ensure that allparticipants were willing and able to answer take part in the survey.

3.5.2Secondary Data

Secondarydata was obtained from records, journals, magazines, and books. Inaddition, secondary data was be collected from Lush cosmeticswebsite, marketing journals

3.6Sampling

Asample design is an unambiguous plan launched prior to the datacollection phase for achieving a sample. The sample is retrieved fromthe study population. This study`s population included marketingexperts as well as consumers of Lush cosmetics. In research,sampling refers to the process of selecting a subset of a largerpopulation to participate in the survey (Fricker, 2012, 1) the studyinvolved 250 respondents constituting of the cosmetics productconsumers. A sample is achieved through a specific sampling method.

Theresearcher sought to collect both qualitative and quantitative data,the quantitative data was achieved through the online survey thatused an opt-in opt out strategy and snowballing. The qualitative datawas achieved through in-person survey that involved the respondentvisiting major Lush stores and interviewing buyers, here, theresearcher relied on stratified random sampling, the approaches isexplained below.

3.6.1Stratified Random Sampling

Stratifiedrandom sampling technique was applied in the qualitative aspect ofthis study. In this method, a particular groups or strata is selectedwithin the population of interest (Creswell 2003). EachLush cosmetics store was considered as a stratum. Consumers weredrawn from each of the four major Lush cosmetics. Therandom sampling technique sought to constrict the possible samples ofinterest, which are less intense through making certain allpopulation parts are embodied in the population sample.

Theprocess is meant to augment the effectiveness and reduce theestimation error. In the method, the P units of population (10respondents) will initially be divided into sub-groups of, P1 Ph, PLand P2, units consecutively (Creswell, 2003). These subgroups arereferred to as strata and they make up the entire population of thestudy, so that to each stratum, there is a pre-specified size that isindependently assigned (Creswell, 2007).

Theprocess of stratification helps the study to achieve approximates ofrecognised precision for particular population subdivisions throughtreating each stratum individually. The process also offersadministrative convenience where each stratum ensures fieldworkdistribution among the study’s regional participants (Creswell,2007). Therefore, the method entails isolating the researchpopulation into the number of groups appropriate for the study(Creswell, 2007). Random stratified sampling eliminates probableresearcher bias in choosing the participants of the study.

3.6.2Convenient sampling

Convenientsampling using snowballing was used to select respondents for theonline survey that was conducted in this study. Convenient samplingis a type of non-probability sampling where participants chose toparticipate “opt in” or not to participate “opt out” in thesurvey. For the purpose of this research, a website was designed toinvite participants from Japan.

Whenused together with convenient sampling, snowballing may reach a morereliable sample of respondents (Fricker, 2012, 2). More specifically,this technique of sampling is based on the concept of referral, whereparticipants suggest other participants whom they consider to be moresuitable to answer the survey questions. Often, quantitative studiesespecially concerning technical topics and concepts may pose achallenge since suitable respondents may not be accessible, thussnowballing and convenient sampling become useful in thesesituations.

3.7Data Analysis

Thematicand content analysis was done on the qualitative data. The researcherreviewed the interview transcripts with the view of identifying majorthemes relating to brand equity (brand image, brand awareness, brandloyalty, and brand association) and perceptions. Thematic and contentanalysis was hugely guided by the research objectives and researchquestion. In addition, quantitative online survey data were exportedinto the SPSS (version 20) analysis software. The research sought tofind the descriptive statistics, correlations, and frequencies fromthe quantitative data.

3.8Validity and reliability

Inresearch, validity refers to the dependability that the researcherplaces on the piece of research. More precisely, it means thetrustworthiness ofthe findings together with appropriateness of the methods,instruments, and data. It is based on the tenet that reality isholistic, multifaceted, and dynamic. Zohrabi (2013, 258) opined thatit is upon the investigators to inculcate validity within differentphases of the research spanning the entire research project from datacollection to analysis. In bid to remain true to the objectives andapproach to this investigation, the researcher attempted to ensurevalidity both in terms of its content as well as internal validity.

Contentvalidity was achieved using proper methods and approaches toresearch. The mixed method design ensured that both the qualitativeand quantitative findings were well supported with empiricalevidences. According to Lueng (2015), the adopted methodology mustenable the researcher to arrive at credible findings within theappropriate context for it to be valid. In sampling, the processesand techniques must be appropriate for the research paradigm and drawclear distinctions between systematic, purposeful, or theoreticalsampling. The researcher in this conducted an extensive review of themethodologies, research philosophies and strategies before choosingthe interpretivism, post-pragmatic and mixed method research for thisstudy.

Theapplicability of these research findings in the real world isachieved through the qualitative study that sought to view thesubject through the eyes of the consumers and experts who havefirst-hand experience of the Lush cosmetics brand. In addition, theresearcher used triangulation approach of ensuring validity.

3.9Ethics

Researchethics is concerned with the use and benefits of the researchfindings, confidentiality of the participants, respect of humandignity and justice. The level of adherence to research ethics booststhe credibility of the findings of the research. With thisconsideration, the researcher followed standard ethical principlesby: ensuring that participants were not children of less than 18years, ensuring participant confidentiality by replacing theparticipants personal information with unique identifies, andmaintaining the interview records in locked cabinets. In addition,the research informed the participants that the findings of the studywould be made available to them.

4.RESULTS

4.1Overview

Thepresent study sought to investigate the influence of Lush cosmeticsbrand design on the brand equity of Japanese consumers. In theprevious section, the approaches and techniques of data collectionwere outlined. The results chapter presents the outcome of thesurvey, the results are linked to the study questions and objectivesin order to provide a systematic manner for answering the researchquestions. Graphs and frequency tables will be used to provide aclear representation of the survey and interview outcome.

4.2Outcome of survey

Theprimary research involved an online survey and face-to-faceinterviews. The results presented in this section reflects theoutcome, albeit no exact, of both methods. However, for purposes oftriangulation and validity inspection, major differences will beindicated

DemographicData

Table1: Participant Demographics

Online Survey

Face-to-face Interviews

Gender

No.

Male

43%

11%

Female

57%

91%

Intotal, xx participants took part in the online survey, consisting of57% female and 43% male. Additionally, xx respondents participatedin the interviews 91% of whom were female and 11% were male. In termsof the participants age, majority of the respondents were between theages of 10-34. The graph below shows the distribution of therespondents in terms of age.

Graph1: Graph showing age of participants

Categoriesof cosmetics

Themajor categories of cosmetics products included hair-care, skin-care,make-up products, men’s care, and cologne and perfumes. Respondentswere asked to reveal the category of cosmetic products that theyconsumed more frequently. The outcome for this question is shown ingraph two below:

Graphtwo: Consumption per category

Interms of consumption of the cosmetics per categories the results ofthe survey, shown above, indicate that the majority of therespondents used skin-care products (37%), followed by men’s’care (26%), then make-up (22%), hair care (14%) and perfumes andcologne (1%) respectively. The was a slight difference in the resultsobtained from the interviews. In particular, make-up recorded moreresponses that men’s care products. Nonetheless, the overallresults were consistent in both the interviews and the online Survey.

Consumerperceptions of the brand concept

Theresearcher was interested in knowing whether the respondentsunderstood what branding and brands meant. Responses included name, asymbol or logo, unique products and other (not among the listedresponses). The summary of responses are shown in the graph below

Graphthree: Participants understanding of the brand concept

Theresults above show that, out of the 150 respondent who participatedin the survey, majority understood brands to represent a name, uniqueproduct, a symbol, or logo in the product. Only 3% of respondent haddifferent understanding of the brand concept. More specifically,these group of respondents understood brands to mean either the valueof a commodity or product quality.

LushCosmetics Brand Equity (awareness, loyalty, brand image, andPerceived quality)

BrandAwareness

Thethree items that constituted brand awareness measures included theability to remember brand symbols and characterizes, knowledge ofbrand existence, and visual aids for reminding consumers about theproduct. The outcome for brand awareness measures are shown in thegraph blow:

Graphfour: Brand awareness of Lush cosmetics

Theoutcome of the survey indicates that majority of the respondents lackawareness about the existence of lush products in the market.Majority of the respondents could not recall specific features oflush cosmetics. However, the finding from the face to face interviewsharply contrasted the findings from the face-to-face interview,which found that respondents were aware of lush products.

OverallBrand awareness (face-to-face interviews)

Graphsfive: brand awareness based on face-to-face interviews

Theface-to-face interview indicated different outcome regarding Lushcosmetics brand awareness. More specifically, majority of therespondents (92%) were aware of the existence of lush cosmeticsproducts in the market. 6% were not sure about their knowledge ofexistence of large cosmetics products while none of the respondentscould respond with certainty regarding lack of awareness about lushcosmetic brands.

Needfor Visual aid to recall brand

Graphsix: Need for Advertisement to enhance recognition/awareness

Tomeasure lush brand recognition, the respondents were asked whetherthey required visual aid (advertisement) to recall the lush brand.The results above show that majority of the consumers (36%) requiredvisual aid to recall the brand. However, 20% of revealed that theydid not need visual aid to recall the brand.

LushCosmetics Brand Loyalty

Brandloyalty included five variables – choices offered by the brand,level of consumer satisfaction, willingness to switch brands, productrank among competing products, and readiness to recommend the brandto other consumers. Overall, majority of the respondent were notloyal to lush cosmetic brands (160%) although more than (100%) showedloyalty to lush cosmetic products. In terms of individual items formeasuring brand loyalty, majority of the respondents were satisfiedwith the lush cosmetics products and showed willingness to recommendthe products to others.

LushCosmetics Brand Image

Uniquefeatures of Lush Cosmetics brand were relied upon in gauging thecompany’s image among its consumers. The features included –consumer experiences, management stand against animal testing andpreference of green behavior as well as the use of fresh organicproducts. The results suggest that the majority of respondents hadpositive perception of the company’s brands because of the threefeatures. In particular, majority of the respondents had positiveconsumer experience

5.ANALYSIS AND DISCUSSIONS

5.1Overview

Thepresent study sought to investigate the impact of lush cosmeticsbrand design on the Japanese consumers brand equity. The qualitativeand quantitative research allowed the researcher to determine brandequity measures –brand loyalty, brand awareness, brand image, andperceived brand quality- of lush products among its consumers. Thischapter provides explanations and discussions of the findings thatwere presented in the previous chapter. In particular, the PCDL modelfor explaining brand equity, presented in the literature reviewchapter, will be referred to in interpreting the findings of theprimary research. The analysis and discussion chapter also links thestudy findings to the existing literature in the topic.

5.2Consumer understanding of the brands concept

Theresults show that the contemporary consumers are well conscious ofthe real meaning of brands consumers understand brands as names,symbols or logos, or unique products. Therespondents understanding of the branding concept is consistent withthe widely used definition of brands. Tuominen (2012, p65) defined abrand as a name, sign, symbol, or sign, or the aggregate of all,which is meant to differentiate products from other competitorsproducts. Within the Japanese market for cosmetics, manufacturesconstitute the primary supplier of the various cosmetic brands.Branding literature suggests that two main categories of brandsexist: Manufacturer brands and private labels (distributor,retailers, or dealers). Where the manufactures brands carry the nameof the manufacturer, according to Tuominen (2012) manufacturer brandsoften tend to be more appealing for individuals who seek productsthat are good in quality and carry low risks in terms of poor productperformance. This view is reflected by the choice of manufacturingfirms in the industry to use names instead of symbols.

Anunderstanding of brands is crucial in the consumption decision-makingprocesses. Deng (2009) argued that consumers often make a list ofproducts in their initial consideration set, from which they makeinformed decisions of the exact products to purchase. Indeed, themarket for cosmetics products in Japan consist of several firms, bothlocal and international. Among the competitors, three groups arepresent: Major Japanese firms (Shiseido, Kanebo, Kao, Polacosmetics), Western firms (Chanel, L’Oreal, Max Factor) andorganic/ natural cosmetic companies (Avene, Easthederm Lush,Biotherm) (Yano institute, 2014, p8).

Huanget al (2013, 10) argued that the market for cosmetics in Japan ishuge, with significantly large profit margins and robust growth. Themarket has more than hundred thousand brands globally, competing withinnovative products and huge marketing investments. As such, brandingis crucial for all cosmetic manufacturing firms, most of whom havespent large resources in attempt to enhance their brands by creatingincluding household brands such as Olay, Nivea, Pond’s, and premiumbrands like Shiseido, L’Oreal Paris, Estee Lauder, and Lancome.According to Huang et al (2013), The L’Oreal company investsapproximately 40% of its total revenue on marketing,24 whileindividual brands such as SKII invests 67% in marketing and SG&ampAin Japan.

Researchershave attempted to explore the reasons behind increasing profitabilityin the industry. According to McCurry (2015), opined that therelatively inexpensive and readily available raw materials (organicproducts) obtained in an environmentally sustainable mannercontributes significantly to the growth. The sheer number of firms inthe industry presents consumers with a wide variety of brands toinclude in the initial consideration set. More importantly, the easewith which information is available through the internet makes itmuch easier for consumers to obtain critical information aboutsuppliers and the products. Deng (2009) contended that firms mustestablish presence in the internet or social media platforms in orderto reach more consumers.

5.3Segmentation of Cosmetic product demand

Theoutcome of the survey indicates that the youth between 14 and 24years constitute the highest majority of cosmetic products consumers.This finding is consistent with the findings of Yano institute, whichargued that the youth, being more inclined to innovation, spent mostof their time and resources in consuming beauty enhancing items likecloths and cosmetics. More specifically, Erwan (2015) found that highschool students below 18 years were highly compulsive and sensitiveto fashion trends despite having low income. Similarly, the findingsfrom the survey suggest that the female population constituted thehighest number of consumers of cosmetics, according to the Survey bythe Yano Institute, women between the ages of 20 and 65 constitutedthe highest percentage of cosmetics consumers.

Moreover,hair-care products and make-up were the most consumed products, thusoffers credibility to the finding that female consumers dominated themarket for cosmetics products since they are the main target for hairand make-up products. Huang et al (2013) argued that the highconsumption rates among Japanese women and their demand for premiumskin-care and make-up cosmetics has resulted in stiff competition asmanufactures seek to take up the cluster of women consumers.Statistics by Yano Institute (2015) showed that hair care takes thelarger percentage of revenue in the industry, with approximately 86,000 locations, while skin care takes a close second positionestimated to produce approximately $11 billion by 2018. The YanoInstitute attributed this to the remarkable growth in awarenessregarding the need to care for the skin together with the rise thenumber of male using men’s care products.

Thereport by Nakane et al (2012) compared the consumption of skin-careproducts among women consumers in Japan, UK and the US. The researchestablished that Japanese women spend more time on skin careproducts (4.5 minutes) while women from the West spent about 1.7minutes on skin-care products on average. Moreover, the usage ratefor facial lotion was highest in Japan 95%, against 45% in Americaand 37% in the UK. Huang et al (2013) noted that the Japanese skincare market value ‘natural’ beauty and most of the whitening andanti-aging products are centered on the natural look.

5.4Impact of Lush brand design on brand Equity

Thequalitative and quantitative investigation sought to determine theimpact of Lush Cosmetics’ branding design on Japan’s consumerbrand equity. The results indicate that the company’s brand designespecially through its emphasize on organic and environmentallyfriendly products has far reaching effects on the brand equity (brandawareness, brand loyalty, brand image, and the perceived quality).The positive relationship between brand design and brand equitymeasures reinvigorates the company’s increased focus on its branddesign.

Accordingto Andy Russell, the Company’s managing director, the design oflush cosmetics products must be streamlined with its strategies. Thisargument is well reflected in the Company’s recent changes in thecosmetics market. Lush products were initially associated with bathbombs and smelly soaps, however the company has made tremendousprogress in terms of adapting its strategies to meet the dynamics ofthe market. More importantly, the Lush cosmetics brand design is seento play a crucial role in terms of allowing the company to positionthe lush cosmetic brand while also leveraging on the brand equity ofthe lush cosmetics products. As argued in the PCDL model (Ghodeswar,2008) brand position, communicating brand message, delivering brandperformance and leveraging on the brand equity are crucial elementsof branding design.

Brandpositioning

Brandpositioning feature in the PCDL model aims to create a desirableperception of the brand in the minds of the consumers. Based on thefindings of the survey, it was evident that majority of the consumersperceived the lush brand of cosmetics to be both environmentallyfriendly and affordable.Moreover,consumers were able to easily differentiate lush cosmetics brandsfrom those of other competing companies. Majority of the respondents(66%) argued that they were able to differentiate the Lush Cosmeticsproducts as indicated in the graph below.

Theperceptions that consumers develop depend on the quality of theproducts and the relative cost of acquiring the brand. In most cases,firms measure consumer perceptions using different aspects of thebrand image attributes as a way of understanding consumer perceptionsand to focus on the key areas of differentiation. This is based onthe idea that the perceptions that consumers develop regarding thebrand incorporates various measures of value including brand qualityand price value.

Accordingto Vizard (2014), Lush has made remarkable progress in terms ofpositioning the brand as more than just a soap. In particular, thecompany’s stand against animal testing together with the creationof the “Lush Kitchen”, a site that is intended to provide Lushcosmetic brand customers with the exclusive opportunity to findinformation regarding Lush products, play a significant role ingiving Lush products the desired positioning in the market. Ghodeswar(2008, p5) argued brand position is related to its identity togetherwith the value proposition, which is often communicated to the activeaudience and that demonstrates a competitive edge over competingbrands.

Communicatingbrand message

Advertisementwas used by Lush to communicate the company’s brand message.According to Ghodeswar (2008), brand identity may be achieved througheffective communication of the brand message. Based on the outcome ofthe survey, it was evident that the majority of respondentsattributed the knowledge of Lush cosmetics brand to theadvertisements involving the product.

Kottlerand Keller (2011) argue that advertisements must be tailored in a waythat portrays the true brand personality, brand value and other brandidentity dimensions. Lush cosmetics aims to communicate theuniqueness on its products by focusing on the “fresh” message,which aims to identify its brands as environmentally friendly andcheap.

Murray(2014) opined advertisement and other product promotion campaignsplay a fundamental role in shaping the perceptions of consumers. Aswell, previous experiences with products provide a basis for formingperceptions about certain brands. According to Kottler, Keller andJha, (2013) consumer experiences and impressions are critical sincethey influence the perceptions of consumers and the brand image ofthe firms’. Based on the findings of the Consumer Brand perceptionSurvey (2014), consumer perception may be shaped through word ofmouth, marketing, and experience. Severi and Ling (2013), observedthat consumer experiences may be viewed in two distinct ways, throughemotion and experience. They argued that despite being rationalpeople, consumers may be guided by emotions in making their purchasedecisions. According to Kotler Keller and Jha (2013) past consumerexperiences have a greater influence on the perceptions andconsumption decisions.

Furthermore,research in consumer psychology presents a clear explanation of howconsumer perceptions play out in the consumption behaviors byconsumers. One way to explain the emotional aspect of consumption isthrough the FMRI neuro-imagery, which shows that consumers evaluatebrands on the basis of emotions rather than using objectiveinformation. Often, decisions that are guided by emotions ratherthat facts tend to be faulty and impulsive. Advertisements andcommercials tend to appeal to the emotions of the consumer becausemajority of the consumers areguided by their subjective evaluationrather than by reason.

Perceptionshave a positive correlation with brand preferences, consumers arelikely to purchase products for which they perceive to be quality andeffective in addressing their unique demands. Studies suggest thatthree in every five consumers purchase make purchase decisions thatare based on emotions. Marinova, Cui, Marinov and Shui (2011) arguedthat consumers have a mental picture of the brand and its essentialqualities and are more likely to purchase those products that appealto their inner emotions. Therefore, brands that convey emotionalmessage or design are most likely to attract the interests ofconsumers, especially the ethical consumers.

DeliveringBrand Performance

Brandperformance of Lush cosmetic products was measured using the consumersatisfaction variable. The graph below shows the outcome:

Althoughconsumers recognized the presence of Lush cosmetic products in themarket, majority of them were not satisfied with the products. Kotlerand Keller (2008) argued that consumer satisfaction is derived fromtheir experiences with the product at any stage of the consumptionprocess. Ghodeswar (2008) contended that firms that areproduct-oriented, must focus on customer services to enhance brandexperiences since the majority of these companies consider brandsbased on the kind of relationship they develop with their customers.

Animportant value of the business is the ethical buying initiative.This initiative is considered pivotal to the company’s brandpositioning and has been incorporated fully within the supply chainas a policy. More importantly for the company, the products are madeout of natural products that are both inexpensive and friendly to theenvironment. To promote the ethical buying policy, the managementestablished a team of suppliers and marketing experts to foresee theimplementation of the ethical buying strategy. Consequently,consumers especially those who are preoccupied by product safety andthe impact of manufacturing on their environment have become loyal tothe company (Japan Visitors, 2015)

Furthermore,the company has been able to sustain its competitive advantage in thehighly competitive market for cosmetics in Japan through itsconcerted efforts in building a audacious, current and log cabincutesiness, together with a products design that showcases thecompany’s efforts to become the leading beauty maker in thecountry. In addition, emphasis is made on the handmade initiativeespecially through the handwritten signings that appear on theproduct logo design (Japanvisitor.blogspot.co.ke). This is meant toreinforce the company’s deeply held values regarding naturally madeproducts and to give the manufacturer a unique added value as well asloyal customers.

Leveragingon brand equity

Kotlerand Keller (2013, p9) described the leveraging process as that whichallows the company to link its brand to other entities that createnew sets of associations between the brand and the entities as wellas influence existing associations. Lush cosmetics emphasize onorganic products and the focus on producing environmentally friendlyproducts played significant role in the growth of organic basedmanufacturing companies in japan including Avene, Easthederm, andBiotherm. The increase in local companies using organic products tomanufacture various cosmetic products created increasing demand fororganic-based products, which gives the Japanese consumers a uniquebrand identity.

Morespecifically, the research by Yano Institute (2015) suggests thatJapanese consumers are increasingly engaging in ethical consumption.Consequently, there is an even greater increase of businesses thatare both socially responsible and customer –oriented. This followsthe realization that ethical consumption and ethical buying is aglobal trend that serves to benefit both the consumers and the firm.More importantly, the new crop of manufactures focus on leveraging onthe brand equity by producing natural and environmentally productstargeting the ethical consumers.

Recenttrends in the industry make it possible for manufactures to takeadvantage of the new Japanese consumer brand equity. In particular,Yeomans (2015) noted that life expectancy in Japan has been on anupward trend but the countries retirement age has not be adjusted fora long time. Consequently, the country is populated by a significantnumber of retied individuals who have huge amounts of pension thataccords them the freedom to invest more in anti-aging cosmetics tomake them young and vibrant. According to Yeomans, (2015) the elderlyin Japan spend a significant part of their resources in purchasingbeauty product, in the process, they contribute significantly to theindustry growth. Additionally, parents are becoming increasinglycautious about the safety of their children, this include the typesof products that they apply on their children’s bodies. To put itplainly, millennial parents prefer to use safe organic body productsto protect their children against harmful effects of chemicals. Moreover, statistics by the Yano Research Institute (2015) indicatethat parents are willing to pay more when it comes to implementingsafety measures for their children.

Furthermore,the mens’ care category is beginning to experience gradual growthas the services and products begin to gain fame among the malepopulation. Although this market segment is relatively unpopular,analysts predict that the market will grow significantly over thenext decade as more male consumers begin to invest more in haircutsand hair products including visiting hair salons. The trend amongmale millennial has seen more men visit hair specialists wit aim ofreceiving additional services including body massage, pedicure andfacial treatment. Beerling (2014) observed that cosmetics, which aredesigned to meet the need of men millennial are beginning toexperience growth and continues to attract the interest ofmanufacture’s and suppliers.

    1. Chapter summary: Revisiting the Research Hypothesis

Theanalysis chapter attempted to make meaning of the results bydiscussing the actual meaning of the survey results and linking thisto the literature in the topic. From the analysis, the followingconclusions are evident. First, the Japanese consumers understand themeaning of brands and are aware of the existence of various cosmeticbrands in the market, although most the respondents lacked knowledgeof the existence of Lush products, significant number of therespondents knew about Lush products. Secondly, that female consumerscontributed the highest proportion of cosmetic consumers where hairproducts and make-up made up the largest clusters. Third,advertisement and other product promotion strategies played afundamental role in enhancing brand recognition and awareness amongconsumers. Lastly, the Lush brand design based on fresh handmadeorganic products resonated well among consumers who made it clearthat they were willing to recommend the products to friends andfamily members. In terms of accepting or rejecting the study researchhypotheses, the following conclusions are evident.

Thestudy sought to confirm the following research hypothesis:

Hypothesis1 -“The brand design of Lush has a positive effect on brand perceptionand consumer recognition”

TheLush brand design, that was explained in detail in the literaturereview chapter, focusedon portraying the Image of the Company based on pure trust. Theorganization has always strived, since it was started, to manufactureproducts that are both harmless to the consumers and friendly to theenvironment. This is achieved through the use of naturally occurringorganic products such as fruit and vegetables. More specifically, theobjectives and virtues of the company are well illustrated in itslogo “LUSH: FRESH HANDMADE COSMETICS” , which has beeninstrumental in creating brand awareness, fostering customer loyaltyand the development of brand equity among its consumers. Inparticular, the incorporation of the “fresh and handmade” messagewithin the company’s Logo was established to be critical indeveloping brand loyalty and in giving the brand positive perceptionamong consumers. The company is extremely passionate about offeringthe freshest ingredients straight from the factory or kitchen. Thereare no sales or outlets for their products as the ingredients arefair trade and selling products that will almost expire will lowertheir ethos of freshness and value for money.

Theanalysis of consumer perception and recognition suggest that majorityof Lush consumers recognize the brand and have positive perceptionsof the brand, as enhancing environmental preservation through use oforganic products. Thus, we can conclude that the brand design play acrucial role in terms of enhancing perceptions and recognition amongconsumers.

Hypothesis2 -“The brand design of Lush has a positive effect on the performanceof the brand and the levels of consumer loyalty to the brand”

LushCosmetics has a unique brand design that is based on ethics andenvironmental protection. The findings of the survey suggested thatconsumers appreciate the company’s initiatives, through its branddesign and are not willing to trade consumption of the Lush brandsfor other competing brands. Moreover, majority of the respondentswere ready to recommend Lush brand to friends and family members.

  1. CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATION

Inthis study, the researcher wanted to investigate the impact of Lushcosmetics brand design on the brand equity of Japanese consumers.Precisely, the research sought to answer the following researchquestions: (1), Are Japanese consumers aware of the cosmetic brand(2) what are the predominant customer perceptions of the brand? (3)Is the brand effective in what it purposes to achieve? (4) What isthe level of brand consideration and superiority of the product,compared to other products? (5) What are the emotional responses tothe brand and when do they experience these emotions?

Thereview of literature provided a broader understanding of key researchterms including brand equity, brand design and consumerdecision-making process. Brand equity is a critical aspect ofmarketing and is considered as an intangible asset in theorganization, which is important in determining the overall successof a company in terms of creating consumer awareness, positiveassociations and positioning of the company. Additionally, researchin the cosmetic industry showed that the cosmetic industry is large,second only to the automotive industry and is second largest inJapan. Brand equity is measured either through the direct or indirectperspective. Following the considerations made in each process, theresearcher settled on the indirect approach, using qualitative andquantitative tools to collect data for primary investigation.Importantly, the researcher adopted the PCDL (communicating brandmessage, delivering brand performance, and leveraging on the brandequity) model as a conceptual model for the study.

Thecosmetic industry in Japan is huge and is populated by both localand international companies. According to the statistics that werepresented by Yano Institute (2015), the had a total revenue of $56.2billion in the US alone in 2015. Moreover, stiff competition in theindustry makes branding and brand differentiation important aspectsof individual firms marketing strategies. More importantly, the studyestablished that most consumers are fully aware of the brandingconcept and, by implication, the various cosmetic brands in theindustry. The youth between 14 and 18 years were the highestconsumers of cosmetic products. Additionally, female consumersdominated the market for cosmetics, where hair-care and make-upproducts made up the highest number of consumers.

Inbid to create brand knowledge and awareness among the consumers,manufactures rely on advertisement and other product promotionstrategies. The survey indicated that majority of the respondentswere able to recall Lush cosmetics products by viewing advertisementmessages. Brand awareness dimension of brand equity was measured interms of the consumers/respondents ability to recall the brand, brandsymbols or unique attributes, and the need for visual aid to recallspecific brand attribute. Consumer decisions to purchase specificproducts have a close relationship with their emotions. Thus,advertising campaigns must attempt to appeal on consumers emotionswhile preserving accuracy and reliability of the message.

Inaddition, the findings suggested that majority of the respondents,especially those who participated in the survey were not aware of theLush cosmetics products. However, those who were aware of Lushproducts showed brand loyalty and were willing to recommend Lushproducts to friends and family members. Brand design strategies aimedat enhancing brand equity by emphasizing on the desirable attributesof the Lush products. The fresh handmade message, coupled with theuse of organic products gave Lush, together with other manufacturersof organic cosmetics, a unique identity among consumers. Moreimportantly, the identity enabled the firm to position its brand inthe market of organic-based cosmetics, communicate brand messagethrough advertisements while also leveraging on the brand equity.

Recommendations

Overall,the Japanese market for cosmetics is highly competitive. Morespecifically, the cluster for skin care products has sophisticateddemand conditions and is dominated by female consumers. The studyresultshave broader and far-reaching implications especially in marketing.The following are key recommendations:

  • The findings in this study, suggest that consumer perceptions may be influenced by emotionally appealing message, therefore, marketers must strive to create personal and emotional adverts. However, the messages must be accurate and reliable so as not to have negative influence of consumers trust.

  • Additionally, the positive association between the organizations brand design and brand equity requires firms to focus on developing appealing brand designs as a way of enhancing brand equity.

  • The present study used a single case study to study the brand equity concept, generalization of single case study findings may give an inaccurate representation of the brand equity concept since the case study firm may have attributes that are unique in the market. Therefore, future studies may offer findings that are more accurate by using multiple case studies.

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