Revival of a Footwear Brand using Attitudinal Dimensions
Faculty Contributor : S. Ramesh Kumar, Professor
Student Contributors : Yogesh Gaur, Vikas Kumar and Saritha V
This article uses a consumer behavioural perspective to analyse how attitudes affect the buying behaviour of consumers in footwear category. The article focuses on a brand ‘North Star’ from Bata to understand the attitudinal issues related to footwear buying patterns. In the end, the article offers recommendations to revive ‘North Star’ using attitudinal concepts.
India is on the verge of a retail boom fuelled by fast evolving lifestyles and behavioural changes towards shopping. With changing retail landscape, Indian footwear industry is set for a phenomenal growth in future1. The Indian footwear market recorded total revenues of $4.10 billion in 2009, representing a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 9.3% for the period spanning 2005-20092. It is forecasted to grow with a CAGR of 9.4% in 2009-2014.
Nature of the Indian Footwear Market
Indian footwear market is ‘Brand driven’ and organised players dominate the sales. Category motivators identified are namely price, looks, brand name, style, variety and durability. The Indian Footwear market can be segmented as shown in Exhibit 1 below:
Exhibit 1 Indian Footwear Market Segments by Price
In terms of usage, Sport shoes are the largest selling sub-category. Attitude towards specific brands plays a very important role in customer decision making in this sub-category. Exhibit 2 shows the market segmentation based on product use.
Exhibit 2 Indian Footwear Market Segments by Usage
Bata, incorporated in 1931, is a household name in India though headquartered in Lausanne, Switzerland. Bata has a nation-wide presence and has strong attitudes associated with it. Bata enjoys a top-of-the-mind recall in formal wear shoes category that has been through intergenerational classical conditioning. Bata is a big player in footwear retail market housing numerous brands like Bata, Comfit, Marie Claire, Hush Puppies etc.
Issues faced by North Star
The following are the issues faced by the brand North Star in Indian footwear market.
Creation of a favourable attitude towards the brand in Low Involvement Category of Casual Shoes
Even though a consumer is wearing one brand of shoes for several years, if he doesn’t find any product which fits him comfortably the consumer easily shifts brands without any emotional switching costs and financial switching costs (since the brands are in similar price range).
Drolet and Aaker3 suggest that persuasion effects may hold only for predominantly affective attitudes and not cognitive attitudes. The effectiveness of congruent relative to incongruent persuasion appeals holds for brands with predominantly affective associations, but not those with predominantly cognitive associations because cognitive attitudes may be relatively impervious to persuasive appeals since the probability of targeting the specific attribute on which the cognitive attitude is based is smaller, limited to the conditions of low cognitive load. Harper, Ray and Strong4 discuss the nature of communication process particularly advertisement from an attitudinal perspective. They suggest that the force that influences strongly in the purchase decision should be acted upon and new characteristic that are salient for the category added to the product.It also changes the rating of salient characteristics, the perception of the company’s brand with respect to some salient characteristics and perception of competitive brands.
Inter-generational effects: Perception of parent brand “Bata” affecting buying behaviour for North Star
Bata, the mother brand of North Star ranks very high on the “value” perception of the consumers. Bata continues to retain the sturdy image of yesteryears even now, and this halo effect of the “Mother Brand” affects the image of North Star. However, the psychographics of the Target Group (TG) of North Star is at least one generation ahead of the value mind-set. This has happened due to an increase in the discretionary income of the youth, rising fashion consciousness, individualism, westernization and outlook. Apart from this, the current generation remembers Bata as a brand that they wore to school.
Derbaix and Leheut5 state the specific characteristics of adolescents and their socialization process. Adolescents dread being judged on the basis of their physical appearance, understand symbolism of consumptions, have abstract reasoning, capacity to select information using a cognitive approach, awareness of the social values of an object and simultaneous emphasis on functional, perceptual and interpersonal aspects of choice linked to hedonistic consumption and pleasure. The adolescent transitions from the family as a reference group to peers in the socialization process, resulting identity crisis has to be resolved by social interactions and material solutions using brands to form an identity.
Heckler, Childers and Arunachalam6 explore the influence of family over consumption pattern of adults, through inter-generational transfer of attitudes, behaviours and values and the impact of possible moderating factors in the process across a variety of choices. Children learn "rational" aspects of consumption from parents, "expressive" aspects from peers and mass media, and broader, "social role" aspects from schools or government. Intergenerational transmission of product preferences is likely to be greater and longer lasting for shopping goods and products of high perceived risk and weaker and of shorter duration for convenience and specialty goods, decreasing with age and increasing with education.
Impact of Online Media and Traditional Channels on Favourable attitude creation, Reduction of perceived risks and Consumer Decision Process
The TG spends considerable amount of time online and is involved in virtual interactions with people/brands through blogs, social networking sites. The TG has either no attitude or negative attitude towards North Star.
Sicilia, Ruiz and Reynolds7 discuss about how attitude towards the website influences the attitude towards the brand and purchase intention, replacing advertisement with websites in the traditional models of attitude formation like Elaboration Likelihood Model, dual mediation hypothesis and affect transfer hypothesis to the internet. It also suggests that the traditional models are not dominant online if the consumer does not show a tendency to think, effort to look for and process information.
Haenlein and Kaplan8 discuss the extent of real life attitude towards the brand and purchase intent induced through corporate presence in the virtual world. It recognizes the moderating effect of purchase experience and use of gratification on the attitude towards the brand in the virtual and real environments as in Exhibit 3 below.
Exhibit 3 How attitude affects buying
The beliefs held with Bata are strong and incongruent with the beliefs associated with the category of casual (fashion) shoes
Bata is known as a brand for durability and formal wear within budget but not in vogue/style. Should North Star be promoted as a sub-brand of Bata banking on the familiarity of Bata or be promoted on the lines of its international origin as a Canadian brand?
Gardner9 examines the effects of advertising on the features recalled about brands and on the criteria used to evaluate brands. Data acquired is processed to form attitudes by involving two components: (1) an overall affective reaction to the stimulus itself, and (2) a set of beliefs and evaluations regarding the information contained in the stimulus. The brand attitude involves: (1) overall affective reactions to the brand advertisement, and (2) brand attribute beliefs and evaluations.
Samiee, Shimp, Sharma and Terrence10 observe that consumers are knowledgeable about brand origins, and that this knowledge is a significant influence that drives judgments of product quality, brand attitudes, and choice behaviour in the marketplace. Brand origin is non-product attribute that plays a major role in determining the brand’s image in absence of comprehensive knowledge about the brand.
The following are the recommendations in order to improve brand recognition for North Star and overcoming the effect due to perception of parent brand Bata.
Use of Advertisements to Create Positive Brand Attitude
North Star lacks brand recognition. The consumer of a casual wear does not check on the Brand name while buying in the affordable range. To launch North Star in the premium range and attract the consumer, it should build a positive attitude towards the brand by persuasive appeals in the advertisements.
Targeting a belief less related to the attitude object is more effective for changing negative attitude. Beliefs less related to the category (casual wear) like slip-free grip, good quality and long lasting should be used to change the negative attitudes. Congruent persuasive appeals through advertisements high on the affective component can invoke adventurism, individualism, athleticism etc.
The complete advertising campaign should touch the user at various points where the TG is likely to pay attention: cool hangouts in the city, Cinema Halls, malls, newspaper sections that cater to TG etc. Fashion conscious youth take a great risk when they switch a brand. The brand must assure TG that the brand that they are using enhances their image within their reference groups. The youth adopts symbolic value of a successful brand if it is congruent with their idea of ideal self-identity.
It is also very important to encourage word of mouth publicity by sponsoring reality shows, musical concerts, marathons, greening initiatives and a culture against slack.
Use of Social Networking to Overcome Inter-generation effects
Bata stores are the primary channel for North Star shoes currently. To build a favourable image the brand must use the internet to combine multiple messages targeted at multiple stakeholders through two-way communication and thus increase the involvement levels. Social Networking Websites and blogs on sports websites, promotion of online gaming, advertisements on sports news aggregator websites etc. will enhance the image of the brand and create a favourable attitude towards the ad and brand leading to purchase decision. Flagship shops in the virtual world will have a spill over effect in the real world. This experience through retail strategies like “Shop within a Shop11” to create a sense of exclusivity from the other products available in the Bata Store, can lead to actual purchase.
Consumers have forgotten that Bata is a foreign brand due to the long history of the brand in India and its proliferation across the length and breadth of the country. Consumers in the Asia Pacific region continue to hold foreign brands in high esteem12. Consumers in higher socio-economic strata reflect higher levels of Brand Origin Recognition Accuracy (BORA). Also, age and ethnocentric tendency is inversely related to BORA. In this scenario, the Country of Origin (CO) clearly affects TG.
Attitudes and perception lead to creation of a brand image and it greatly affects the buying criterion of the customer. It is interesting to note how popularity and brand associations of Bata in one generation became detrimental to another brand under its umbrella. Issues relating to the conflicting beliefs of the parent categories as well as other issues can be resolved through appropriate message creation and category associations. Through the article, we look at the ways in which a low involvement footwear brand can use attitudinal dimensions to enhance brand recognition and overcome the inter-generation effects of parent brand.
Marketing, Consumer Goods, Consumer Behaviour, Attitude, Footwear, Shoes, Perception
S. Ramesh Kumar is a Professor in the Marketing Area at IIM Bangalore. He can be reached
Yogesh Gaur (PGP 2010-12) holds a B.Tech from National Institute of Technology, Calicut. He can be reached at
Vikas Kumar ((PGP 2010-12) holds a B. Tech from SASTRA University, Thanjavur. He can be reached at
Saritha V. (PGP 2010-12) holds a B. Tech from Osmania University, Hyderabad. Shecan be reached at
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