Al- Meera Qatar: Attracting And Retaining Customers Through The Role Of Branding And Industry Image Research Papers Example
Al-Meera is a retail chain that operates over thirty three branches in Qatar. In the recent past, the retail operator has lost its market position because of dwindling customer loyalty. In this respect, it is necessary to determine the requisite factors in restoring customer satisfaction, a factor that is important in not only attracting, but also retaining its customers. This paper explores the role that branding plays in attracting and retaining customers at Al-Meera. This is done through the review of literature and a survey of selected customers from two branches. The study uses the quantitative approach, and more specifically the survey methods. A structured questionnaire with ten questions will be administered to a sample of a hundred respondents that are conveniently selected.
The purpose of this study is to analyze Al-Meera Qatar hypermarket and to discuss how to attract and retain its customers through branding. Branding plays an important role as it helps to make or break a successful business. For retail branding, it will help to create a better customer experience. Mathew-Lefebvre & Dubois (2013) describe retail branding as the ordered process that seeks to generate value that will ensure buyer experience. Al Meera hypermarket is part of the Al-Meera retail stores with more than 32 branches in Qatar. With its head office situated at Al-Matar Street, Najma Doha, Ad Dawhah, Qatar, the business has been managing for the past nine years in offering high quality products and services (Lefebvre & Dubois, 2013). These products and services are of reasonable prices to meet the customers’ needs. It provides a complete store that covers majority of customers’ needs and gives a great shopping experience. It provides food and beverages, household items, electrical, and electronics, and other goods. Al-Meera has five departments; accounting, finance, human resource, sales and marketing, purchase and warehousing. These departments ensure the maintenance of the business’ standards of quality of services. Coordinating duties between these departments ensures Al-Meera offers low prices on products in addition to being the favorite neighborhood destination as stated on their website.
Al-Meera hypermarket is at risk losing its customers if nothing is done to decrease constant lack of satisfaction. Therefore, it is necessary to undertake research on order to restore customer satisfaction. According to De Roeck, Maon, and Lejeune (2013), there is a need for an organization to model a brand that integrates its strategic vision and culture. This means that the brand plan should encourage change in the management and one that introduces confidence of its customers, all courtesy of an appropriate brand. If the internal culture is changed, this will also change how the customers view the firm. For instance, by adopting good brand name measures, this also alters how the customers viewed the firm, and a tendency to like the firm will be restored. This will also place the firm at a better position, in regards to its competitors.
The objective of retrieving and establishment of a good brand is to attract more customers, as well as retaining the current ones or preventing losing loyal customers. When conducting research on good retail branding, the firm may reveal innovative ideas on the same. The employees should receive training in customer relations, organize the products attractively, and the company should diversify its product and services offered. All these factors contribute to a better brand performance.
1) How can Al-Meera build a better brand identity to gain customer loyalty?Brand identity; name, appearance, communications, and trademark, of Al-Meera is important for attracting consumers’ attention while also differentiating the company from its competitors.2) In what ways can Al-Meera improve its brand performance to retain customers?Improving its brand performance, Al-Meera would spread awareness of its existence and, by that it can provide recognition to its brand, logo, and advertisements. Customers will not consider a brand if they do not recognize it.3) What changes can Al-Meera implement to improve its market position and retain customers?Al-Meera would establish a good relationship in the market by creating good customer experiences with its brand.
Problem Statement Al-Meera hypermarket is on the edge of losing customers due to its poor brand performance. The culture of ensuring customer satisfaction is lost. The customer’s contentment is low because of bad and monotonous products of low quality. The firm is only left with the option of formulating a brand plan that will see a rational change of the management as well as the customer’s view of its brand. This will include adoption of a model that incorporates all stakeholders of the perceived outcome, which range from the management, the employees, to the customers. This paper will not only define retailing problems, but also propose viable solutions. It will try to discuss issues of Al-Meera’s culture, identity, company image, brand performance, and productivity.
This part provides more information on how to improve brand performance to retain customers. The literature review will provide a platform for developing a base for the study. On the basis of research, the paper analysis will identify key topics of impact that would later seek a platform of questionnaires and interview questions.
Introduction to Al-Meera Retail Business
Currently, Al-Meera operates over 33 convenient and supermarket stores. Its active workforce take high concern for customers needs and wants. While investing in stores, Al-Meera invests to ensure delivery of memorable shopping experiences for consumers. It has a strong culture and value that play an integral part to success (Lefebvre & Dubois, 2013). To further Al-Meera future growth, it acquired Qatar Markets Company or “Géant stores” and Al Oumara Bakery. This led to the expansion of more stores in different areas and their own bakery to help with supplying to other branches. By supplying freshly, baked products will help increase sales and profitability. In addition, Al-Meera looks to offer better quality of products and services to its customers. It signed an agreement with two international brands by the name WHSmith and Casino group. The agreement will help Al-Meera to widen its collections of toys and games, books, stationery items, drinks and sweets. Al-Meera’s first bookstores are at Ezdan and Nuaija mall.
Brand Performance: Ways through which Al-Meera can improve its brand performance to retain customers
The company seeks a brand promise towards having a welcoming shopping experience. It looks to bring high quality products in a friendly and local environment. Furthermore, the company not only cares for the ingredients, taste, and freshness of its products and services, but also looks at the safety appearance and nutritional value to give satisfaction. The retailer sector plays a significant role in people’s lives (El-Amir & Burt, 2010). It ensures shopping is easy and speedy. The company supplies to a market that includes a variety of traditions and cultures. It does so to maintain the “favorite neighborhood retailer” status. For an organization to have a better competitive advantage, it should provide high quality services to its customers. A service experience is an important factor in enhancing brand image. Na et al. (1999) argues that one cannot measure company image unless there is an establishment of customer perception on product image and brand. In addition, Yi, (1990) argues that experiences and expectations of quality products and service influence customer satisfaction (Lefebvre & Dubois, 2013). A better brand image plays an important factor in any business. It helps build a good and successful business. A brand image for any company develops with time through consistent advertisements and customer experiences with the products offered. At Al-Meera, they make constant efforts towards improvement. This will help meet customer’s expectation by providing great products at good prices (Roeck & Lejeune, 2013).
How to Meet and Maintain Al-Meera Growth and Expansion
Al-Meera seeks to cooperate with other stakeholders and apply a better strategy for its market. This will help Al-Meera achieve market leader status in retail sector in Qatar. Through its expansion of new branches at Nuaija and Legtaifiya will help benefit its customer’s satisfaction and meet their demands. The company opens other branches at Jeryan Nejaima, Murraikh, Al Azizia, Al Wakra, Al Thumama, and in the gulf mall. Al-Meera hypermarket chains consist of about 14 branches in Doha and others in Beverly Hills’, Géant hypermarket, Garafat Al Rayan, AL Murra, among others. It also has other branches outside Doha. Al-Meera seeks to establish and gain over customer loyalty, better service experience, supply, and a comprehensive shopping experience.
Branding Model in Other Retail Chains
There have been several many retail chains and malls. That stands as role models for Al-Meera in better understanding and engagement in the market. An examples of such a business is Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (Roeck & Lejeune, 2013). Wal-Mart is an American multinational business that operates a chain of stores in 27 countries. Growing from a small discount retailer, the business has opened more than 11,000 stores both locally and internationally. One of its factors for success has been adoption of the Customer-Based Brand Equity (CBBE) model that has caused the rapid expansion while offering goods and services of value to consumers around the globe.
The CBBE model provides four vital steps for establishment of a brand that enhances consumer support towards the Wal-Mart brand. The objective of the model are to establish a strong brand by defining consumers’ thoughts and feelings toward a brand, and to create good consumer experiences around the brand. (Keller, 2001)
Figure 1 Showing the CBBE Pyramid
Source: (Keller, 2001)
Brand salience is at the base of the pyramid. Brand salience entails the awareness of the brand. There are two aspects of awareness that are considered; the depth and breadth of awareness. This means that it is not just enough that the brand is known by a large number of people, it is also imperative customer are aware of the fine details of the brand. Identity is an important factor in brand salience, and ensures that the customers can identify and associate with the brand through recall and recognition. This is important in this research because it defines the expected outcomes of the branding efforts and Al Meera (Keller, 2001).
Brand performance entails establishing the identity and meaning of the branding in a manner that inspires the customer to link the brand with both intangible and tangible brand associations. Some of the many dimensions of brand performance include product reliability, service effectiveness, serviceability, service efficiency and design (Keller, 2001).
Imagery entails user profiles, usage situations history, purchase heritage, personality and experiences. Imagery is usually formed by the intangible items. It can be formed directly through personal experiences or indirectly through advertising and external marketing communications. Judgment refers to the personal opinions of a customer regarding a brand. Some of the dimensions of judgment include credibility, superiority, quality and consideration. These dimensions are vital for this study as they highlight the focus of the branding efforts at AL-Meera. Feelings are the intangible such as excitement, self-respect, warmth, security, excitement, social approval and fun. Resonance entails the conversion of brand response in order to create brand loyalty, attachment and engagement (Keller, 2001).
Customers: Importance of Customers’ Needs and Wants
Customer’s needs and wants is the most important thing that sellers look at. By meeting those needs Al-Meera will improve their branding performance and achieve a better market position.
Conceptual Framework for Al-Meera Qatar
Branding theory and practices associate well with consumer goods and services (Lefebvre & Dubois, 2013). If Al-Meera controls its overall branding strategies, it will need less control on its image as a retail leader in Qatar. The following diagram is a framework that would enhance effective branding by Al-Meera for maximized growth potential.
Figure 2 showing the Conceptual Framework for Al-Meera Qatar
Brand identity includes the name of the business, its trademark, communication to potential consumers, and how it visually appears to the general public (Lefebvre & Dubois, 2013). Management should decide on characteristics to place on products based on information gathered about consumers’ preferences. Further, the characteristics should create differentiation between Al-Meera’s products and those of its competitors. This may include specific colors, fonts, and graphic elements (Lefebvre & Dubois, 2013). Effective brand identity involves three important aspects; brand trust, cultural branding, and brand equality (Roeck & Lejeune, 2013).
Brand trust involves good actions by Al-Meera; good communication, attitude, and behavior while directly winning with stakeholders of the business (Roeck & Lejeune, 2013). These will ensure that Al-Meera establishes in the market as a business of good practice, behavior and performance in marketing its products. Consequently, Al-Meera’s brand loyalty would be improved and, thus, improving sales and productivity of the business
Cultural branding means creation of attributes that relate to consumers’ cultural expression and/or personal identity (Roeck & Lejeune, 2013). For example, Al-Meera may copy matching French logos create attraction of its products in French-speaking nations. This would make Al-Meera a unique brand and, thus, create a strong identity for the business. The result would be improved sales of the business and diverse customers.
Brand equality refers to consumers’ perceptions that some brands are equal (Roeck & Lejeune, 2013). Al-Meera should ensure its products have same quality as those of its competitors. Consequently, consumers may perceive quality differences with others’ to be less and, therefore, choose to purchase Al-Meera’s products. As a result, Al-Meera would maintain a good company image and, consequently, create basis for increasing its sales and productivity.
In summary, Al-Meera would create a strong brand through continuous customer interaction. The interactions would determine the dynamics with which Al-Meera would create and promote its brand. Through interrelationships among management and staff, communications, and consumer experiences, Al-Meera would enhance awareness of its brand in the market. Furthermore, since the business deals with products, this is the main brand. Therefore, enhancing brand identity through the conceptual framework, alongside the branding models, would enhance innovative branding to help build a better future Al-Meera.
The approach used in a study affects the results acquired, not just the quality of the results, but also the reliability of such results. As such, it is important that the approach chosen to spearhead this study is suitable based on the problem statement and the objectives of the study. In this respect, the most suitable approach is the quantitative approach. The quantitative approach will allow the researcher to gather information from diverse and large number of respondents in order to adequately describe the phenomena encapsulated in the research questions and the problem statement. Given that Al-Meera has thirty three branches in different areas, it is important that the researcher consults a considerable number of respondents in order to gather information that can reliably inform the importance of the industry image and branding efforts towards not only attracting customers, but also retaining them (Hair, Celsi, Money, Samouel & Page, 2011). Due to the large number of respondents envisioned, it is expected that the responses given will be varied. The quantitative approach uses statistical methods in data analysis. /the tools available for data analysis using the quantitative approach allow the researcher to summarize the characteristics of the responses. Additionally, the researcher is able to draw relationships between these responses, in order to classify them. When coining the research questions, the researcher formulated hypothesis as possible answers to these questions. The quantitative approach allows the researcher to test these hypotheses and either approve or disprove them based on the responses from the participants (Hair et al., 2011). Given the approach chosen, the most suitable research design is the descriptive research design. It is not the desire of the researcher to manipulate the environment in order to measure the effect of one variable on another. Thus, the research design allows the researcher to describe the attitudes and the behavior of the consumers, information that is important for Al-Meera in their branding efforts and improving their image in order to attract and retain customers. In keeping with the arguments made for the quantitative approach, the descriptive research design will allow the researcher to demonstrate the relationship and associations between industry image and branding and the retention of customers (Gravetter & Gorzano, 2015). Given the research design and approach, the researcher will use a structured question in a survey to gather the required information from the respondents. The structured questionnaire is appropriate because it allows the researcher to collect information within a short period of time. The questionnaires will feature questions that require short terse answers, preferably yes or no. Given that these questions will be developed with regards to the variables of study and the research questions. This will also help remove the bias that renders the findings of the study unreliable (Sreejesh, Mohapatra, & Anusree, 2014).
The research questions are as follows:1) How can Al-Meera build a better brand identity to gain customer loyalty?Al-Meera can build a better brand identity, the name, appearance, communications, and trademark, of Al-Meera should be designed for attracting the consumers’ attention while also differentiating the company from its competitors.2) In what Ways can Al-Meera improve its brand performance to retain customers?In order to improve its brand performance, Al-Meera would have to spread awareness of its existence. By that, that it can provide recognition to its brand, logo, and advertisements. Customers will not consider a brand if they do not recognize it.3) What changes can Al-Meera implement to better its market position and retain customers?Al-Meera would have to establish a good relationship in the market by creating good customer experiences with its brand. The design of the survey will be so that it adequately answers the research questions outlined above. The structure questionnaire to be used in the survey will consist of ten questions. The questions will explore the perspectives of the respondents regarding industry image and the role that branding plays in attracting and retaining customers. The questions will be mostly closed ended type in order to eliminate any bias that may occur. Besides, the researcher is only looking to describe the phenomena, and not understand why the phenomenon is like it is described. In this regard, in-depth information that would be collected through open-ended questions is not required.
The target population is the customers who shop at the various branches of Al-Meera. For an organization seeking to attract and retain more customers, it is important to understand the perspectives of the customer, hence the need for this study. By understanding the perspectives of the customers, the management can incorporate recommendations derived from the responses in order to achieve increase customer loyalty. In this regard, the study targets the entire customer base of Al-Meera Qatar. However, it is unexpected that the research will access the entire population. In this regards, the accessible population in this study is the customers who shop from the branches that will be selected to participate in the study (Bajpai, 2011).
The Al-Meera hypermarkets and supermarkets operate thirty three branches in different locations. For the purposes of this study, respondents will only be sampled from four branches. The selection of these branches will be done through random sampling. Two pieces of paper will be picked from a bowl containing thirty three names corresponding to each of the branches. These four pieces of paper will represent the four branches from which the respondents will be drawn. Given that there are ten questions in the questionnaire, and the desire to gather information that is representative, a total sample of one hundred respondents for every branch will be used in the study. In totality, the sample size for the study will be four hundred respondents. To attain this study sample, the researcher will use the convenience sampling technique (McCormack & Hill, 1997). The research assistant will visit the branch identified and administer the questionnaires to the customers as they come to shop. Convenience sampling is suitable for this study because it entails non-probability sampling. Additionally, the study respondents are also conveniently located to the researcher. As such, the researcher has the proximity and accessibility to the target population. In addition to this, the convenience sampling technique allows the researcher to gather important information without bothering the customers of the operations of the selected supermarkets. The sampling technique is also relatively cheap compared to other sampling techniques (McCormack & Hill, 1997).
Analysis of Data
The analysis of the data collected from the survey will be done using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences. This software is the most appropriate for this study because it gives the researcher numerous options regarding data analysis. One of the aims of this study is to describe the influence of the variables on the attraction and retention of customers. In this respect, descriptive statistics such as frequencies, cross tabulation and descriptive ration statistics are vital to the analysis of the data gathered. Part of the analysis will involved describing the data. In this regard, the researcher will analyze the data for mean, skeweness, kurtosis, standard deviation and mode. Additionally, the researcher will have to establish association and relationship between the dependent and independent variables. The Statistical Package for Social Sciences offers options for bivariate statistics such as nonparametric tests, analysis of variables, and correlations. In this research, correlations and analysis of variables (ANOVA) will be used as part of the data analysis.
After the data is analysis, the data will be presented using tables, pie charts, histograms and bar graphs. The use of these graphics is aimed at ensuring that the data is presented in a manner that is easily comprehensible. The presentation of data will also be done using frequencies and percentages. The use of percentages is important because it gives proportions. It would be important for Al-Meera Qatar to understand the percentage of shoppers who are loyal owing to its branding and industry image.
In order to create a robust brand identity capable of inspiring customer loyalty, Al-Meera should redesign its communications, customer relations, and branding strategies so that they are geared towards attracting the consumers’ attention while also differentiating the company from its competitors. This will enable Al-Meera to gain competitive advantage, an element that is vital to customer retention. In order to improve its brand performance, Al-Meera would have to spread awareness of its existence. By that, that it can provide recognition to its brand, logo, and advertisements. Customers will not consider a brand if they do not recognize it. This is also related to communications of the supermarket chain. It is important Al-Meera promote itself using diverse means such as its image and its brand. Consumers will associate its increased presence with good service. In order to improve its market position and retain more customers, the organization needs to improve the customer experience. Satisfied customers not only with the quality of the products sold, but also the services offered will generally tend to shop at the same place. This leads to customer loyalty.
Based in the exploration of literature and an evaluation of the research questions, the following are the recommendations for Al-Meera- The creation of a customer relations department in order to oversee that the customers are satisfied with both the products sold at Al-Meera and the services offered.- Increase its branding efforts to enhance the differentiation of the establishment from other competitors in the industry.- Seek vertical integration by acquiring other competitors in the industry. This will consolidate its market position.
Bajpai, N. (2011). Business research methods. Delhi: Pearson.
El-Amir, & Burt. (2010). Modelling in Branding: A critical ethnography approach. Qualitative Markwt Research , 13(2), 189-209.
Gravetter, F. and Gorzano, L. (2015). Research Methods for the Behavioral Sciences. Boston. Cengage Learning.
Hair, J., Celsi, M., Money, A., Samouel, P. and Page, M. (2011). Essentials of Business Research Methods. New York. M.E. Sharpe
Keller, K. (2001, January 1). Building Customer-Based Brand Equity: A Blue Print for Creating Strong Brands. Retrieved March 13, 2015, from http://www.effentiicorp.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/CBBE.pdf
Lefebvre, M., & Dubois. (2013). Retail Branding as a value creation process: Managerial and research priorities. Journal of product & brand management, 22(6), 384-392.
McCormack, B., & Hill, E. (1997). Conducting a survey: The SPSS workbook. London: International Thomson Business Press.
Roeck, D., & Lejeune, M. F. (2013). Taking up the Challenge of Corporate Branding: an intergrative framework. European Management Review, 10(3), 137-151.
Sreejesh, S., Mohapatra, S., & Anusree, M. R. (2014). Business research methods: An applied orientation. Cham : Springer.
Welcome to Almeera, WHSmith and Géant Hypermarket | Almeera Group. (n.d.). Retrieved March 1, 2015, from http://almeera.com
Appendix I: Sample questionnaire
Describe what you understand by the term ‘brand” ______________
Do you only purchase branded purchases?
Only when I need quality products
Do you have customer loyalty based on the products you purchase?
Yes, I always buy the same products
No, I try different products from time to time
Only when quality is important.’
Are you sensitive to changes in the price of a commodity?
If you are a loyal customer f a given product, will you still purchase the product if its price is increased?
Yes, but only to certain level of increase
Always, the increase in price notwithstanding.
No, I will consider other products
Rank the following based on their contribution to a strong brand image
Good value added services
Discounts and free samples
Is the use of ambassadors, such as celebrities good for branding?
How well do you know Al Meera?
Not at all
When you think of Al Meera, what comes to mind?
Would you recommend Al Meera to someone else? Why?
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