Can modern approaches generate fresh insights into Māori brands? : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Business Studies in Marketing at Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand
Elements that typify Māori culture are increasingly used to add economic value and to sell New Zealand's uniqueness globally. Māori enterprises and the Māori economy have grown significantly over the last 100 years and are major contributors to the New Zealand economy, currently representing over $50 billion in assets. Despite the growing importance of Māori enterprise to the New Zealand economy, how Māori brands are perceived by consumers is unclear and there is little research as to whether using a Māori brand affects customer-based brand equity. Such knowledge is vital information for the marketers of Māori brands in order to compete in an already crowded global marketplace, and to the economic future of Māori enterprises. While non-Māori enterprises can also capitalise on this cultural distinctiveness, they need to be conscious of the risks of cultural appropriation. Consequently, Māori enterprises also need to be cognisant of the protective mechanisms for indigenous rights in New Zealand to protect their culture and intellectual property from being exploited. Despite advancements in the field of customer-based brand equity, previous research is problematic due to the methodologies employed. Previous research utilised simple rating scale methods (Lockshin & Hall, 2003), which are criticised for their inability to accurately predict customer behaviour (Cohen, 2009). Applying modern methodologies and techniques may shed new light on branding theory and insights into the new field of Māori branding. This research replicates the methodologies deployed by Wright, Teagle, and Feetham (2014), adapted from the 'mental market share' model developed by Romaniuk (2013) and successfully extends it to the field of Māori branding. It also advances previous work by applying Best Worst Scaling (BWS). These two modern methodologies are used to investigate whether consumer perceptions differ between Māori and non-Māori brands in the domestic market for wine and honey products. Romaniuk's (2013) proposed methodology is grounded in the theory of brand saliency, arguing that the strength of memory brand associations attributed to a brand is an indicator of the performance and future success of a brand. BWS is applied in this research to investigate the most salient product feature attributes to consumers when considering a wine or honey purchase, as well as the levels of utility and familiarity with Māori brands. BWS is derived from discrete choice method and founded on random utility theory (Louviere, Flynn, & Marley, 2015). BWS is thought to overcome many of the issues often associated with simple rating methods used in previous research (Adamsen, Rundle-Thiele, & Whitty, 2013). The results show that applying two modern techniques, mental market share and BWS, can provide fresh insights into the new field of Māori branding. The two techniques are complementary rather than contested when applied together, measuring different brand information at different stages of the consumer purchase decision process. To the researcher's best knowledge, no previous research has applied mental market share and BWS together, nor applied it to Māori branding. The results also show that perceptions of Māori and non-Māori branded wine and honey products among New Zealand consumers vary distinctively. The Māori brands skew positively towards the attribute 'Made in New Zealand'. In contrast, the non-Māori brands are almost diametrical opposites as they skew negatively from this attribute. These findings suggest using a Māori brand positively affects customer-based brand equity in certain categories, provided that 'Made in New Zealand' or 'New Zealand' itself has positive associations for the consumer. Furthermore, Māori branded wine and honey products were less familiar to respondents and have lower utility compared to non-Māori brands, suggesting that Māori brands may not be in consumers' consideration sets. This research contributes important findings to branding theory, by applying two modern techniques together and extending it to the new field of Māori branding. This also helps fill the gap in Māori and indigenous branding literature and has several managerial implications. A better understanding of Māori branding will foster Māori development and contribute to growing the Māori and New Zealand economy. This research can help Māori brands sustain a competitive advantage in the global marketplace while retaining and protecting Māori culture. Further research could further investigate the uses of the two techniques and expand into New Zealand export destinations in order to progress generalisability.