This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

College Consumers' Apparel Brand Knowledge: An Exploratory Study of Brand Awareness and Perceived Brand Category Structures




Dew, Leah

Type of Degree



Consumer Affairs


Consumers’ brand knowledge is composed of two constructs - brand awareness and brand image. Brand awareness can be demonstrated in the forms of brand recall and brand recognition. If a consumer is able to recall a brand outside a store when given the product category as a cue, then the consumer surely can recognize the brand when exposed to it in a store. However, it is unclear whether this relationship remains at the market level. In other words, the question of whether the brands recalled by more consumers are also recognized by more consumers has not been addressed in the literature. Brand image is reflected by the brand associations in a consumers’ memory. In order to develop a set of associations about a brand, a consumer must first be aware of the brand. However, there has been little research about the relationship between brand awareness on the favorability of brand associations. The amount of time spent by a consumer to process information about a brand is known to positively influence the consumer’s response to the brand. Given that consumers’ brand awareness is achieved when they become familiar with the brand through repeated direct or indirect experiences with it, there may be a relationship between brand awareness and favorability of brand associations. The categorization theory explains that people use classifications to help distinguish similarities and differences among unique objects. Researchers have proposed three psychological models to explain the mechanisms people use to categorize objects - the prototype model, exemplar model, and classical model. Marketing researchers have often assumed one of the three models of categorization in their research without examining how they may differently influence brand-category structures in their participants’ responses. Four phases of research were conducted. Phase 1 used a survey with a convenience sample to explore the relationship between the two brand awareness constructs, recall and recognition. Phase 2 used a survey incorporating a brand sorting task with a convenience sample, and identified four major apparel brand categories commonly perceived by these consumers. In Phase 3, using the brand association scale developed from verbal descriptions of brand categories provided by Phase 2 participants, an online survey was conducted with a random sample of students from a Southeastern university. Finally, in Phase 4, an online experiment with three groups was conducted, with each group induced to use one of the three psychological models of categorization. This study provided insight to researchers in that models of categorization used in a sorting task has an effect on a participant’s response. It also addressed a gap in the literature by providing insight into the relationship between the brand awareness constructs and that between brand awareness and brand association favorability.