Effect of a Brand Story Structure on Perceived Brand Image: The Mediating Role of Immersion in a Brand Story of a Luxury Hotel
Creating a more positive brand image in the competitive luxury hotel industry is an important goal for managers of such hotel brands. However, there are some skeptics as to the effectiveness of branding strategies of luxury hotels in developing a positive brand image for consumers. It has been suggested that consumers can be easily confused by the plethora of brand choices in the luxury hotel, making it difficult to remember a specific brand value differentiated from other choices. Based on psychographic research of luxury hotel consumers, these consumers have a tendency to prefer hedonic benefits stimulating emotional and symbolic benefits over functional benefits. However, current practices of luxury hotel branding are focused more on offering functional benefits, such as investments in upgrading facilities to compete with rivals. The present study explored previous research on branding based on a compelling brand story, which has the potential to stimulate emotional and symbolic benefits of consumers and empirically tested effects of brand story structure on the perceived brand image. Furthermore, this research measured the mediating effect of immersion in a brand story on the relationship between brand story structure and perceived brand image. To test the impact of the brand story on brand image effectively, this study invented a fictitious brand and corresponding story in order to limit consumers’ previous brand knowledge. After developing eight versions of stories manipulated with three elements of brand story structure (2x2x2), this study conducted a survey, with the help of a survey research firm, for targets who had experienced staying at one of five luxury hotels in the past year. Based on the significant results of brand story structure affecting the perceived brand image and narrative immersion, this study suggested that a compelling brand story with a good structure has the potential to enhance the positive perceived brand image, mediated by narrative immersion. This research contributes to the theoretical field of luxury hospitality in that it highlights the importance of brand storytelling and immersion into a brand story, as no previous research focused on this issue. Also, this research provides practical implications to develop and manage a compelling brand story, including ways for general managers to utilize brand story structure to convey their distinctive brand values and enhance consumers’ positive perceptions of the brand image.
Gordon, Purdue University.
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