Int. Journal of Business Science and Applied Management, Volume 9, Issue 1, 2014
Influence of brand differential on motivation to conform and
manufacturer versus store brand purchase intention
Ellie Tran
Dillard College of Business Administration
Midwestern State University, Wichita Falls, TX, U.S.A.
Telephone: +1 (940) 397-4248
Ayse N. Balas
College of Business and Economics
Longwood University, Farmville, VA, U.S.A.
Telephone: +1 (434) 395-2142
Chris Y. Shao
Dillard College of Business Administration
Midwestern State University, Wichita Falls, TX, U.S.A.
Telephone: +1 (940) 397-4248
Alan J. Dubinsky
Midwestern State University, Wichita Falls, TX, U.S.A. and
Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN, U.S.A.
Telephone: +1 (940) 397-4248
Larry Jackson
Dillard College of Business Administration
Midwestern State University, Wichita Falls, TX, U.S.A.
Telephone: +1 (940) 397-4248
Relationships and characteristics that influence consumers’ purchase decision between store brand and
manufacturer brand product offerings have emerged as an interesting and practical area of research. From a
management perspective, understanding the process by which consumers make purchase choices between these
brand offerings would lead to both theoretical and practical applications. Therefore, this study attempts to
enhance understanding about the factors that influence consumers’ manufacturer versus store brand purchase
decisions. A conceptual model is developed to integrate the manner by which a consumer’s motivation to
conform to the perceived social norm of purchasing manufacturer brand products influences this purchase
decision. The model is tested using survey data. Findings indicate the importance of the intensity of perceived
differences between store brand and manufacturer brand product offerings in affecting consumers’ purchase
intention of these products. The relationship is also mediated by consumers’ motivation to conform to
manufacturer brand products in their purchase decision.
Keywords: manufacturer brand, store brand, brand differential, motivation to conform
Acknowledgements: The authors gratefully acknowledge the reviewers and editor for invaluable input and
Int. Journal of Business Science and Applied Management /
According to Private Label Manufacturers’ Association (2013), private label brands garnered 17 percent
market share and a record-breaking $108 billion in 2012, and private labels have been outpacing national brands
by more than a 2:1 margin since 2009. Furthermore, the 2013 Private Label Yearbook averred that almost one-
quarter of all units sold in grocery stores in 2012 were private label options (Private Label Manufacturers’
Association 2013). Moreover, a study by Nielsen (2011) found that two-thirds of global consumers in developed
markets in Europe, the Pacific, and North America perceived private label brands to be a very viable alternative
to national brands. The foregoing highlights the seeming unabated success private label products have been
Stocking private label product lines gives a retailer more discretion over the products to be managed. Store
brand product lines also, among other things, allow retailers to take advantage of the effects of “umbrella
branding,” which occur when the same brand name is carried across multiple product categories, as is often the
case with store brand products (Chintagunta, 2002).
Notwithstanding the salutary impact that private labels can have for retailers, as well as the tremendous
growth in private label offerings, selling private label products can be a double-edge sword. Indeed, differences
in objective or perceived product attributes and marketing activities between manufacturer and store brands may
cause different perceptions and preferences among consumers (Baltas, 2004)both favourable and
unfavourable. Consequently, store brand products are not always preferred or purchased by consumers. In fact,
many consumers make a conscious effort to purchase manufacturer brands, even when they are priced higher
than store brand counterparts (Albayrak and Aslan, 2009; Dick, Jain, and Richardson, 1995; Govender and
Govender, 2013; Sethuraman and Cole, 1999; Sethuraman, 2000).
Research has found that store brands are viewed as more risky than manufacturer brands (Sheau-Fen,
Leong, and Yu-Ghee, 2012). Manzur, Olavarrieta, Hidalgo, Farías, and Uribe (2011) discerned that consumers’
manufacturer brand loyalty increases their favourable attitude toward the manufacturer’s brand and decreases it
toward the store brand. Martínez-Ruiz, Jiménez-Zarco, Barba-Sánchez, and Izquierdo-Yusta (2010) ascertained
that consumers’ level of satisfaction with store brands was partly a function of the quality image of the store.
Therefore, identifying variables that influence consumers’ store brand or manufacturer brand purchase intention
would enable brand managers to better understand and influence this decision.
To assist practitioners in the foregoing issue, the present study examined the relationship between variables
identified as influencing factors in the purchase of manufacturer versus store brand grocery products. Grocery
offerings were utilized as the focal point to be consistent with much extant work that has examined national
versus private label products in a grocery context (e.g., Boutsouki, Zoto, and Masouti, 2008; Huang and Voges,
2011; Kumar, Reddy, and Mahathi, 2014; Mandhachitara, Shannon, and Hadjicharalambous, 2007; Wyma et al.,
2012). In addition, because of astronomical growth private brand grocery products have experienced over the
past several years (Strom, 2013), focusing on national versus private label products in a grocery context seemed
especially pertinent from a marketing management perspective.
Study variables included brand differential, which could conceivably affect consumer’s store brand
purchase intention. In addition, the effect of social influence on the store brand purchase decision is
investigated. This is explored by examining a consumer’s motivation to conform to the intention to purchase a
manufacturer brand offering (purchase intention). Further, a consumer’s motivation to conform to buy
manufacturer brand products is purported to mediate the relationship between brand differential and a
consumer’s intention to purchase the manufacturer brand of a given product offering. For reader clarity and
consistency, the definition of private label or store brand used throughout this paper is a brand “created and
owned by a specific chain of stores” (Murphy, 1987, p. 7).
The three foregoing constructs were included in the present work for several reasons. First, all three have
been examined extensively in a national versus private brand context (as will become apparent below). They
have not, however, been considered collectively in extant published research. Exploring this concatenation has
merit to discern how the variables relate with one another. Second, purchase intention was included because
intention is considered the immediate precursor of an individual’s behaviour (Fishbein and Ajzen, 1975). As
such, it is regarded as an especially critical construct in the study of consumer behavior (e.g., Solomon, 2012).
Third, most empirical efforts focusing on the national-private brand dichotomy were conducted over ten years
ago. Only recently (as noted below) have scholars resumed reconnoitring it. Given the economic swoon that
enveloped much of the world beginning in 2008, empiricism pertaining to the foregoing issue seems apposite
owing to macro-environmental differences between the earlier studies and current conditions.
Ellie Tran, Ayse Balas, Chris Shao, Alan Dubinsky and Larry Jackson
The proposed conceptual model (Figure 1) incorporates three variables: brand differential, motivation to
conform to the norm of purchasing manufacturer brand products, and intention to purchase the manufacturer
brand of a given product offering. Brand differential is proposed to directly influence a consumer’s motivation
to conform to the norm of purchasing a manufacturer brand product, as well as intention to purchase the
manufacturer (rather than the store) brand of a given product offering. In addition, motivation to conform to the
norm of purchasing manufacturer brand products is purported to mediate the relationship between brand
differential and a consumer’s intention to purchase the manufacturer brand of a given product offering.
2.1 Brand Differential
For the purpose of this study, brand differential is defined as the perceived difference between the store
brand and the manufacturer brand offering of the same type of product (Dick, Jain, and Richardson, 1995;
Erdem, Zhao, and Valenzuela, 2004; Sethuraman and Cole, 1999). Such differences include both extrinsic cues
(i.e., indirect indicators)such as brand name, advertising, and packagingand intrinsic cues (i.e., direct
indicators)such as ingredients, taste, and product quality (Dick, Jain, and Richardson, 1996).
2.2 Motivation to Conform
Motivation to conform to purchase a manufacturer’s brand product is derived from the consumer’s level of
internal recognition and importance placed on his or her social influence driving conformity toward the
manufacturer’s brand when making a product purchase decision (Ailawadi et al., 2001; Bearden and Rose,
1990). It encompasses how an individual’s “significant others” feel about some topic (i.e., here it deals with
their affect toward the purchase of a manufacturer’s brand offerings) and the degree to which the individual
desires to comply with those feelings. This construct is a major component of the theory of reasoned action
developed and promulgated by Fishbein and Ajzen (Ajzen and Fishbein, 1980; Fishbein and Ajzen, 1975).
The theory propounds that the two major precursors of an individual’s behavioral intention are his/her
attitude toward the behavior and subjective norm (of which motivation to conform is a crucial variable).
Attitude measures the degree to which the individual has a favourable or unfavourable evaluation toward the
behaviour. Subjective norm assesses the impact that peers have on one’s intention to act. Attitude and subjective
norm are posited to shape the individual’s behavioral intention, which directly influences one’s actual behavior.
The theory has obtained relatively strong empirical support (e.g., Albarracin et al., 2001; Hale, Householder,
and Greene, 2002; Randall and Wolff, 1994). The motivation to conform feature of the theory is particularly
apropos in the current context, as scholars have found that various aspects of social conformity are related to
one’s intention to purchase manufacturer brand products (as discussed below).
Admittedly, some scholars have found that consumers may attempt to “escape” the social influence placed
on them (e.g., Labrecque, Krishen, and Grzeskowiak, 2011). Nonetheless, a plethora of research has ascertained
that social influence has a strong impact on whether consumers purchase a national or store brand product.
Kavmark, Powers, and Sandahl (2012) promulgated that social risk—“pressures from consumers’ peers to act a
certain way, or behave a certain way”will likely affect what they buy. For instance, if one feels that his/her
counterparts regard a particular product inimically, then he/she will eschew that offering to avoid negative
repercussions that could ensue by deviating from the group “standard”. Zielke and Dobbelstein (2007) examined
social risk vis-à-vis grocery products. They observed that, when considering making a purchase in a high social
risk product class, the purchaser may opt for the national brand rather than its private label alternative. Indeed,
Kavmark, Powers, and Sandahl (2012, p. 7, 8) asserted, “Private label brand success is greater in product
categories where social factor is less influential…[P]rivate labels have failed…due to the high influence level of
social pressure.”
Mandhachitara, Shannon, and Hadjicharalambous (2007) found that a sense of belonging induces
consumers to be more inclined to purchase national rather than private label grocery brands. The researchers
rationale was that individuals identify themselvesat least partiallywith respect to their social groups, as well
as with those with whom they have direct and recurring contact. Accordingly, if consumers have strong social
commitment to their respective groups, the more they perceive the group as partially defining who they are.
They thus accommodate to group norms to maintain “…social harmony, interpersonal sensitivity, conformity,
and readiness to be influenced by other people” (p. 74).
2.3 Purchase Intention
Purchase intention is defined as a consumer’s intention to purchase the manufacturer versus store brand of
a given product offering. Ajzen and Fishbein (1980) and Fishbein and Ajzen (1975) averred that behavioral
intention is the immediate antecedent of an individual’s behavior. Accordingly, purchase intention is considered
to be an especially important construct in consumer behavior research (e.g., Solomon, 2012).
Int. Journal of Business Science and Applied Management /
Figure 1: Conceptual Model
3.1 Effects of Brand Differential on Motivation to Conform and Purchase Intention
Some individuals reluctant to opt for store brands regard these offerings as possessing lower quality, fewer
reliable ingredients, and decreased nutritional value (Dick, Jain, and Richardson, 1996); such perceptions are
redolent of a brand differential with national brands. Brand differential may influence the motivation to conform
in a consumer’s purchase decision. Conceptually, Lascu and Zinkhan (1999) proposed that the level of brand
differential is one of the brand characteristics that affect consumers’ tendencies to exhibit conformity in their
purchase decisions. As the differences between the store brand and manufacturer brand products become more
pronounced, brand differential increases. As brand differential augments, consumers affected by social influence
will be more likely to exhibit greater motivation to conform.
An increase in motivation to conform will increase the likelihood of a purchase intention aligned with the
subjective norm (e.g., Ajzen and Fishbein, 1970; Fishbein and Ajzen, 1975). Proclivity to purchase the
manufacturer brand is partially a function of the subjective norm, which has been supported empirically by
Ailawadi, Neslin, and Gedenk (2001) and Sethuraman (2000). Kavmark, Powers, and Sandahl (2012) indicated
that when social risk is high, consumers are inclined to opt for the manufacturer brand. Moreover, Wyma et al.
(2012) observed that consumers inclined to be “conformist” in their behaviour tend to be somewhat more likely
to opt for national brand grocery products.
H1: As the perceived brand differential between a manufacturer’s brand product and a store brand product
increases, consumers’ motivation to conform to the norm of purchasing a manufacturer’s brand product will
Neslin and Gedenk (2001) observed that motivation to conform, as a psychographic variable, directly
influences purchase intention. Furthermore, Dick, Jain, and Richardson (1996) empirically supported a direct
relationship between store brand purchase behaviours and types of cues used when consumers evaluate product
quality. Moreover, they discerned that consumers more reluctant to select store brands considered such products
to have reduced quality, fewer reliable ingredients, and less nutritional value (thus brand differential).
Sethuraman and Cole (1999) reported that, as the perceived quality differential between manufacturer and store
brand products increases, consumers are willing to pay a higher price premium for the manufacturer brand
product. Also, Huang and Voges (2011) discovered that consumers have a lower propensity to purchase private
label products when they perceived a larger quality difference between the two types of products (the difference
being in favour of the manufacturer’s brand).
H2: The stronger the perceived brand differential between a manufacturer’s brand products and store
brand products, the weaker consumers’ intention to purchase a store brand product.
3.2 Effects of Motivation to Conform on Purchase Intention
Purchase intention is conceptualized on a scale from the intention to purchase store brands to the opposite
dimension, the intention to purchase manufacturer brands. Because the manufacturer’s brand has been the
traditional product choice, it is proposed that the relationship between motivation to conform and purchase
intention will operate in such a manner that as motivation to conform increases, consumer purchase intention
will shift toward an intention to purchase the manufacturer brand product offering (Ailawadi, Neslin, and
Gedenk, 2001). In fact, Sethuraman and Cole (1999) discerned that motivation to comply is unrelated to
consumer usage of store brands. Also, El Din and El Sahn (2013) found that conformity influences consumers’
intention to purchase global luxury brands. And, as noted earlier, other scholars have found a positive
association between various measures of social conformity and propensity to purchase national brands (e.g.,
Kavmark, Powers, and Sandahl, 2012; Mandhachitara, Shannon, and Hadjicharalambous, 2007; Zielke and
Dobbelstein, 2007).
Ellie Tran, Ayse Balas, Chris Shao, Alan Dubinsky and Larry Jackson
H3: The stronger consumers’ motivation to conform to purchasing a manufacturer’s brand product, the
weaker their intention to purchase a store brand product.
3.3 Mediating Influence of Motivation to Conform between Brand Differential and Purchase
Prior work has examined the direct relationship between the foregoing constructs. No published research,
though, could be found that captured the mediating impact of motivation to conform on the association between
brand differential between manufacturer brand products and store brand products and purchase intention of store
brand products. The exclusion of this mediating variable could weaken the relationship between variables of
interest, thus leading to an inaccurate picture of their true effect. Therefore, reconnoitring this situation seems
Previous research suggests that the relationship between brand differential and purchase intention may be
mediated by motivation to conform. Conceptually, Lascu and Zinkhan (1999) suggested that brand differential
directly influence motivation to conform. In a separate empirical study, motivation to conform has been found to
directly influence purchase intent (e.g., Ailawadi, Neslin, and Gedenk, 2001). In addition, Sethuraman and Cole
(1999) supported the direct relationship between brand differential and purchase intention. Based on the
foregoing research, conceivably the relationship between brand differential and purchase intention is mediated
by motivation to conform.
H4: Consumers’ motivation to conform to purchase a manufacturer’s brand product mediates the
relationship between brand differential between a manufacturer’s brand product and a store brand product and
purchase intention of a store brand product.
4.1 Survey Design and Administration
This study was limited to products in the grocery industry. (Although store brands have proliferated
beyond the grocery industry, the scope of this research was limited to the grocery industry partly to reduce
empirical complexity.) A survey instrument was administered to a sample. Attempts were made to ensure that
participants completed the questionnaire under similar conditions. This was done by including an introductory
paragraph containing a description of a typical shopping experience in hope of eliciting respondents’ customary
behaviour. Subjects were asked to imagine the scenario as though they were actually completing the activity
described. The aim of this contextual setup was to replicate the decision environment in which grocery purchase
decisions are normally made. Hence, the scenario was as follows:
Imagine the store where you normally buy your groceries. Picture yourself walking through the
aisles on a typical shopping trip.
After reading the foregoing scenario, respondents were then asked to do the following:
“Pick an item (from the list below) that you purchase frequently and you plan to purchase during this
shopping trip:”
Respondent product choices for that selection were water, laundry detergent, soup, juice, or toilet paper.
These alternatives were chosen because they are prevalent in extant germane research (e.g., Boutsouki, Zoto,
and Masouti, 2008; Huang and Voges, 2011; Kumar, Reddy, and Mahathi, 2014; Mandhachitara, Shannon, and
Hadjicharalambous, 2007; Wyma et al., 2012).
4.2 Sample
For convenience the sample consisted of corporate office employees of a major U.S. airline. The
researchers sought and obtained company cooperation from management. A cover letter accompanying the
questionnaire stated that university researchers unaffiliated with the firm were conducting the investigation and
that company management encouraged employee participation. Surveys were administered between Christmas
and New Year’s Day at manager-selected staff meetings. Participants were asked to participate on a voluntary
basis and informed that the results would be used in an aggregate, anonymous basis for purposes of academic
research. A total of 236 were distributed, with 12 eliminated because of incomplete information. Therefore, data
analyses were performed on information provided from 224 respondents, for an effective response rate of 95%.
In the sample, 59% were married. Income was distributed over a range with 8% reporting annual household
income of less than $10,000, 36% between $10,001 and $30,000, 27% between $30,001 and $50,000, as well as
between $50,001 and $80,000, and 4% in excess of $80,000. Sixty-three percent of the sample purchased their
groceries from super center discounters; the rest shopped at traditional supermarkets. Over two-thirds of the
sample lived in households without children (69%), but 15% lived with one child, 16% lived with two, and 2%
Int. Journal of Business Science and Applied Management /
lived with three or more. The majority of the sample resided in households with two adults (55%), 24% resided
alone, and 17% lived with three adults. Respondents tended to be the primary shopper in their household.
4.3 Measures
Study variablesbrand differential, motivation to conform, purchase intentionwere measured using a 5-
point Likert-type scale in accordance with suggestions outlined by McCall (2001). Brand differential was
assessed using four items ( coefficient = 0.97): “The store brand and manufacturer brand of this product are
very different,” “The overall value of the store brand of this product is better than that of the manufacturer
brand,” “The ingredients/materials used in the store brand of this product are the same as that of the
manufacturer brand of this product,” and “I expect that the quality/performance of the store brand and the
manufacturer brand of this product will be the same” (5 = strongly agree to 1 = strongly disagree). These items
were adapted from Dick, Jain, and Richard (1995), Erdem, Zhao, and Valenzuela (2004), Lascu and Zinkham
(1999), and Sethuraman and Cole (1999).
Motivation to comply was measured with four items (coefficient = 0.85): “The product that is most
popular is the best one,” “I tend to buy the product that is most popular since it is the best choice,” “If I make a
good choice between these two brands, I will gain social respect,” and “People who make a bad choice between
these brands will lose respect” (5 = strongly agree to 1 = strongly disagree). Items were adapted from Ailawadi
et al. (2001), Bearden and Rose (1990), Bonfield (1974), Boush, Kim, Kahle, and Batra (1993), and Lascu and
Zinkham (1999).
Purchase intention was measured with two items (coefficient
= .92) adapted from Bonfield (1974),
Dodds, Monroe, and Grewal (1991), and Swinyard (1993): “When I purchase this product I will buy the store
brand” and “When the people I know are going to buy this product, I will recommend that they buy the store
brand” (5 = strongly agree to 1 = strongly disagree).
Exogenous and endogenous variables were obtained from the same source. Therefore, to detect the
existence of common method variance, Harman’s one-factor test was conducted (Podsakoff and Organ 1986). In
this procedure, a confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) model was estimated with a single factor and its fit was
compared to the fit of a model with the three latent variables (Podsakoff et al. 2003; Ramani and Kumar 2008).
If a one-factor model fit the data as well as the three-factor model, then common method variance would be a
significant problem (Korsgaard and Roberson 1995). The one-factor model yielded a chi-square of 544.69 (d.f.
= 27). The chi-square difference between the one-factor model and the three-factor model presented was
significantly worse
3-factor model
= 71.28 with 24 d.f.]. Thus, common method bias was not a serious threat in
this study.
5.1 Data Analysis
The psychometric properties of the measures were evaluated by CFA using AMOS software (Gerbing and
Anderson, 1988; Hair et al., 2010). Shown in Table 1 is the correlation matrix of study variables. Construct
validity was investigated by assessing convergent and discriminant validity. Convergent validity was examined
by checking factor loadings and construct reliability. The standardized factor loadings ranged between .72 and
.99 (Table 2, panel B), which were above the suggested value of .70 (Hair et al., 2010). Furthermore, as shown
in Table 2 in panel A, all constructs exhibited construct reliabilities above .70, which indicated strong support
for convergent validity.
Discriminant validity of the measurement model was assessed by two different procedures. First,
correlation parameters between two constructs were set to 1.0, and then the χ² value of this model was compared
with the χ² value of the unconstrained model (Anderson and Gerbing, 1988). This procedure was conducted for
one pair of constructs at a time. Because the unconstrained model had a significantly lower χ² value than that of
the constrained model for each pair, the results confirmed the discriminant validity of the model (Bagozzi and
Phillips, 1982). Second, a procedure suggested by Fornell and Larcker (1981) that is accepted as a more
demanding test was conducted to test for discriminant validity (Grewal, Cote, and Baumgartner, 2001). Based
on this procedure, average variance extracted values (AVE) were calculated for each construct and then
compared with its highest shared variance with other constructs in the model. The results indicated that the AVE
value for each factor was larger than its highest shared variance (Table 2, panel A). Thus, all factors in the
measurement model demonstrated discriminant validity.
Ellie Tran, Ayse Balas, Chris Shao, Alan Dubinsky and Larry Jackson
Table 1: Correlation Matrix for Measurement Scales
NOTE: All correlations are significant at p < .01.
Table 2: Measurement Model
A: Scale Properties of the Three Latent Variables
Highest Shared
Brand Differential (BD)
Motivation to Conform (MC)
Purchase Intent (PI)
B: Results of the CFA with Three Latent Variables
5.2 Structural Model
The hypothesized model was estimated by using structural equation modelling using AMOS. The chi-
square statistics (χ² = 71.28, degrees of freedom [d.f.] = 24 was significant owing to the sensitivity of the sample
size. However, other indices indicated an acceptable fit [GFI = .93, CFI = .98, NFI = .96, RMSEA = .096]. The
CFI value of .98 was higher than the suggested cut-off value of .95 suggested by Hu and Bentler (1999). An
RMSEA value of .096 indicated mediocre fit, as it satisfied the cutoff criteria of .10 (McCallum, Browne, and
Sugawara 1996).
Results of the hypothesis testing are provided in Table 3. Specifically, brand differential was found to be
positively associated with motivation to conform (β = .43, Standard Error [SE] = .04, p <.01), thus supporting
H1. Also, brand differential had a negative direct effect on store brand purchase intention = -.35, SE = .06, p
<.01), as hypothesized in H2. Findings further indicated support for H3, which posited a negative relationship
between motivation to conform and store brand purchase intention (β = -.28, SE = .10, p <.01).
The mediating effect of motivation to conform was tested by following the procedure suggested by Baron
and Kenny (1986). Accordingly, three models were tested using AMOS. In the first model, the impact of brand
differential (independent variable) on motivation to conform (mediator) was assessed. In the second model, the
impact of brand differential (independent variable) on purchase intention (dependent variable) was tested.
Finally, in the third model the impact of both brand differential (independent variable) and motivation to
conform (dependent variable) on purchase intention was examined. According to Baron and Kenny (1986), in
order to establish the mediating effect the three models must be confirmed in the predicted direction.
The results of the mediation analysis with major parameter estimates and χ
values for the three models are
presented in Table 4. In the first model, brand differential had a significant and positive effect on motivation to
conform (β =.43, SE = .04, p <.01). The second model indicated that brand differential had a negative impact on
purchase intention = -.46, SE = .05, p <.01). Finally, in the third model it was established that both brand
differential and motivation to conform both had a negative effect on purchase intention = -.46, SE = .08, p
Int. Journal of Business Science and Applied Management /
<.01; β = -.46, SE = .08, p <.01). All three models had significant paths in the predicted direction, and the
impact of brand differential on purchase intention in Model 3 was smaller than its impact in Model 1, and thus
satisfied Baron and Kenny’s criteria. The foregoing results reveal a partial mediation effect. Accordingly, H4
received some empirical support.
Table 3: Results of the Hypothesis Testing
Structural Model
-3. 59
Table 3: Results for the Mediating Effect of Motivation to Conform
Dependent Variables
Independent Variable
Model 1: Motivation To
Model 2: Purchase Intent
Model 3: Purchase Intent
Brand Differential
-.46* (-6.98)
-.34* (-4.53)
Motivation To Conform
-.29* (-3.76)
Note: Values in parentheses are t values.
* t ≥ 2.326, p <.01(one-tailed test)
This study provides empirical evidence regarding the importance of social influence on a consumer’s
purchase intention when deciding between manufacturer brand and store brand product offerings. This research
extends prior work, as it incorporated a social influence variablemotivation to conformto the norm of
purchasing manufacture brand products, to attempt to explain the relationship between a consumer’s perceived
brand differential between manufacturer brand and store brand products on purchase intention. Findings
revealed that greater perceived difference between manufacturer and store brand products lead to stronger
motivation to conform to the norm of purchasing manufacturer brand products and weaker intention to purchase
store brand products. Also, a higher level of motivation to conform to the norm of purchasing manufacturer
brand products conduced to a weaker purchase intention for store brand products. Further, results supported a
mediating influence of motivation to conform on the brand differentialpurchase intention relationship.
The current work contributes to theory building regarding the importance of the social influence of
motivation to conform in the purchase intention decision between store brand and manufacturer brand product
offerings. Specifically, this research infers that a brand differential cue serves as a social norm which consumers
are motivated to follow when making purchase intention decisions. This is consistent with empirical work which
ascertained that extrinsic factors influence private brand consumers (Bedi, Lal, and Kaur, 2014; Govender and
Govender, 2013; Zainuddin and Burt, 2007).
6.1 Contributions to Theory
The findings offer support that motivation to conform is a mediating influence on the relationship between
brand differential and purchase intention. This result provides new knowledge vis-à-vis previous work that has
found a direct linkage between brand differential and purchase intentionwhich the present investigation also
found. The theory of reasoned action (e.g., Fishbein and Ajzen, 1975) seemingly infers that motivation to
conform (as a component of subjective norm) is an immediate precursor of an individual’s behavioural
intention. The current study suggests, however, that at least in a grocery products context, motivation to
conform has both a direct and a mediating impact on a consumers’ intention to purchase national brand
products. Therefore, social influence seemingly has a multi-faceted effect on purchase intention of consumer
nondurable commodity kinds of products. The current work thus contributes to theory building regarding the
Ellie Tran, Ayse Balas, Chris Shao, Alan Dubinsky and Larry Jackson
importance of the social influence of motivation to conform on purchase intention between store brand and
manufacturer brand product offerings. Of course whether this kind of effect would hold in other contexts
remains an empirical question.
6.2 Contributions to Practice
Study findings offer several managerial implications. Results highlight the importance of social cues and
perceptions of brand differential in the store versus manufacturer brand purchase intention decision. It is
important for producers of both product brand types to understand the strategic implications: consumers’
perceived brand differential helps determine their purchase intentions. Of the variables examined here, the
perceived brand differential is seemingly the most actionable to use as a managerial tool. Motivation to
conform, for practical purposes, is beyond the direct influence of marketing managers. As such, marketing
managers should seek to fine tune the positions of their products through marketing mix variables to influence
their target consumers’ perceived brand differential in an optimal manner. Of course, where pertinent, they may
attempt to incorporate reference/aspirational group themes into their promotions of their manufacturer branded
products (e.g., “Be like Mike”Gatorade commercial).
The manner of influence of brand differential that is most desirable is that which will increase the
likelihood of shifting target consumer purchase intention toward the appropriate branded product offering. In
particular, store brand product managers are advised to emphasize marketing mix variables in a fashion that
might decrease the intensity of the existence of brand differential within the mind of their target consumer.
Additionally, reducing the price of store brands might be beneficial, as it may well contribute favourably to
consumer demand (Rubio and Yagüe, 2009). Also, store brand managers could work to improve the quality of
their store brand products in efforts to reduce the perceived brand differential between manufacturer and store
brand offerings (Choi and Coughlan, 2006). The foregoing thus suggests that store management emphasize the
quality of store brand products to minimize perceived brand differential, as well as motivation to conform to
manufacturer brands.
Manufacturer brand product managers could seek to maximize the existence of brand differential, as this is
the context in which social influence (motivation to conform) apparently augments the likelihood of
manufacturer brand product purchase intention. Advertising is an effective means of establishing and
maintaining brand differential and insulating manufacturers from price competition of store brands (Ashley,
1998; Hoch and Banerji, 1993). Also, improving the quality and features of manufacturer brand offerings are
important so as to keep brand differentials between manufacturer and store brands sufficient. Moreover,
developing novel packaging, sizes, and product forms are other ways manufacturers may seek to establish
feature differentiation (Choi and Coughlan, 2006).
Some limitations of this study merit attention. One limitation is the use of purchase intention instead of the
actual purchase decision that would occur under typical shopping conditions. Intention was utilized owing to the
difficulty of obtaining data for the actual purchase outcome. Another limitation pertains to use of a convenience
sample of corporate employees. The sample is unlikely to be sufficiently representative of the population of
consumers. Finally, social desirability might be a concern. Social desirability deals with respondents’ tendency
to answer survey questions based on social acceptability rather than their true feelings (Podsakoff et al., 2003).
If this bias exists, responses would be heavily skewed toward the positive end, and the variation would be
limited (Sethi and Iqbal, 2008). Perusal of the means and standard deviations of each item, however, suggested
that social bias is unlikely to be a major concern in the present work.
Future research in the area of consumer purchase decision making between store and manufacturer brand
products appears warranted. Additional empirical work is needed to understand how social influence affects
consumer purchase decisions within this context. Utilizing alternative methodological approaches than those
used here to better simulate the actual purchase decision would be beneficial; doing so should enhance
understanding of consumer patterns of behaviour involved in the study’s underlying theory. For example, a field
experiment conducted in an actual purchase decision setting would provide an increased level of external
validity. Other mixed methods approaches could include use of in-depth interviews, which may afford scholars
opportunity to identify enhanced prospective rationales behind the findings revealed here. Such interviews could
offer additional and augmented practical managerial implications in terms of how managers can motivate
consumers to buy store brands.
Also, results revealed the importance of motivation to conform as a social influence that affects purchase
intention and mediates the relationship between brand differential and purchase intention. An interesting issue
would be to investigate other measures of consumers’ use of and reliance on social cues in their store brand
product purchase decisions.
As noted earlier, objective and subjective product attributes may cause differential consumer perceptions.
The present work did not consider whether consumers’ product perceptions (subjective) were consistent with
Int. Journal of Business Science and Applied Management /
objective product attributes. “[C]orrespondence between self-assessed and actual validity is an important issue
for the study of consumer decision making” (Alba and Hutchinson, 2000, p. 123). An intriguing research issue
would be to examine the influence of that correspondence on consumer purchase intentions.
The present work considered one contextgrocery stores. Shopping in a particular grocery store may well
be a function of one’s shopping habit la store loyalty). Therefore, future efforts should test the model
employed here in the grocery venue and in additional settings to ascertain whether differences emerge across
Finally, subsequent work should explore this model vis-à-vis differences across various kinds of
demographic characteristics. These might include, for example, household income, living arrangement (i.e.,
living alone versus living with other[s]), gender, and age. Inclusion of such factors might provide enhanced
detail about the robustness of the study’s model.
AC Nielsen (2011). Nielsen Global Private Label Report. [Online] Available: (25 June 2011).
Ailawadi, K., Neslin, S., and Gedenk, K. (2001). Pursuing the Value-Conscious Consumer: Store Brands
Versus National Brand Promotions. Journal of Marketing, 65(January), 71-89.
Ajzen, I., and Fishbein, M. (1970). The Prediction of Behavior from Attitudinal and Normative Variables.
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 6(4), 466-487.
Ajzen, I., & Fishbein, M. (1980). Understanding Attitudes and Predicting Social Behavior. Englewood Cliffs,
NJ: Prentice-Hall.
Alba , Joseph W., and J. Wesley Hutchinson (2000). Knowledge Calibration: What Consumers Know and What
They Think They Know. Journal of Consumer Research, 27(September), 123-156.
Albarracin, D., B.T. Johnson, M. Fishbein, and P.A. Muellerleile (2001). Theories of Reasoned Action and
Planned Behavior As Models of Condom Use: A Meta-Analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 127(1), 142-161.
Albayrak, Mevhibe, and Aslan, Zekiye (2009). A Comparative Study of Consumer Preferences for
Manufacturer or Private Labelled Food Products. African Journal of Business Management, 3 (November),
Anderson, James C. and David W. Gerbing (1988). Structural Equation Modeling in Practice: A Review and
Recommended Two-Step Approach. Psychological Bulletin, 103(3), 411-423.
Ashley, Susan R. (1998). How to Effectively Compete Against Private-Label Brands. Journal of Advertising
Research, 38(1), 75-82.
Bagozzi, Richard P. and Phillips, Lynn W. (1982). Representing and Testing Organizational Theories: A
Holistic Construal. Administrative Science Quarterly, 27, 459-489.
Baltas, George (2003). Combined Segmentation and Demand Model for Store Brands (2003), European Journal
of Marketing, 37(10), 1499-1513.
Bedi, Sarbjit Singh, Lal, Amit Kumar, and Kaur, Sukhwinder (2014). Private Labels Brands: A New Choice for
Organised Retailing Consumers in Punjab, Asian Journal of Research in Social Sciences and Humanities, 4
( January), 171-176.
Bearden, W. O., and Rose, R. L. (1990). Attention to Social Comparison Information: An Individual Difference
Factor Affecting Consumer Conformity. Journal of Consumer Research, 16(4), 461-472.
Bonfield, E. H. (1974). Attitude, Social Influence, Personal Norm, and Intention Interactions as Related to
Brand Purchase Behavior. Journal of Marketing Research, 11, 379-389.
Choi, S. Chan and Coughlan, Anne T. (2006). Private Label Positioning: Quality versus Feature Differentiation
from the National Brand. Journal of Retailing, 82(2), 79-93.
Chintagunta, P. (2002). Investigating Category Pricing Behavior at a Retail Chain. Journal of Marketing
Research, 39(2), 141-155.
Dick, A., Jain, A., and Richardson, P. (1995). Correlates of Store Brand Proneness: Some Empirical
Observations. Journal of Product and Brand Management, 4(4), 15-23.
Dick, A., Jain, P., and Richardson, P. (1996). How Consumers Evaluate Store Brands. The Journal of Product
and Brand Management, 5(2), 19.
Dodds, W. B., Monroe, K. B., and Grewal, D. (1991). The Effects of Price, Brand, and Store Information on
Buyer’s Product Evaluation. Journal of Marketing Research 28, 307-319.
Ellie Tran, Ayse Balas, Chris Shao, Alan Dubinsky and Larry Jackson
El Din, Dina Gamal and El Sahn, Farid (2013). Measuring the Factors Affecting Egyptian Consumers`
Intentions to Purchase Global Luxury Fashion Brands, The Business and Management Review, 3 (June),
Erdem, Tülin, Zhao, Ying, and Valenzuela, Ana (2004). Performance of Store Brands: A Cross-Country
Analysis of Consumer Store-Brand Preferences, Perceptions, and Risk. Journal of Marketing Research,
41(1), 86-100.
Fishbein, M. & Ajzen, I. (1975). Belief, Attitude, Intention, and Behavior: An Introduction to Theory and
Research. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.
Fornell, Claes and Larcker, David F. (1981). Evaluating Structural Equation Models with Unobservable
Variables and Measurement Error. Journal of Marketing Research, 18 (1), 39-50.
Gerbing, David W. and Anderson, James C. (1988). An Updated Paradigm for Scale Development Incorporating
Unidimensionality and Its Assessment. Journal of Marketing Research, 25(2), 186-192.
Govender, Kelisha, and Govender, Krishna (2013), Shopping Habits, Brand Loyalty and Brand Preference:
Exploring Consumers Behaviour during a Recession. Business Management and Strategy, 4 (2), 12-28.
Grewal, Rajdeep, Cote, Joseph A., and Baumgartner, Hans (2004). Multicollinearity and Measurement Error in
Structural Equation Models: Implications for Theory Testing. Marketing Science, 23 (4), 519-29.
Hair, Joseph F. Jr.; William C. Black; Barry J. Babin; and Rolph E. Anderson (2010). Multivariate Data
Analysis Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
Hale, J. L., Householder, B. J., and Greene, K. (2002). The Theory of Reasoned Action. In J. P. Dillard and M.
Pfau (Eds.), The Persuasion Handbook: Developments in Theory and Practice Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage,
Hoch, Stephen J. and Shumeet Banerji (1993). When Do Private Labels Succeed? Sloan Management Review,
93(4), 57-67.
Hu, Li-tze and Peter Bentler (1999). Cutoff Criteria for Fit Indexes in Covariance Structure Analysis:
Conventional Criteria versus New Alternatives, Structural Equation Modeling 6(1), 1-55.
Huang, Manyu and Voges, Kevin E. (2011). The Propensity to Purchase Private Brands by Chinese Consumers.
International Review of Business Research Papers, 7 (March), 1-10.
Kavmark, Ellen, Carina Powers, & Sanna Sandahl (2012). Influences Behind the Success or Failure of Private
Label Goods: A Study of Four Private-Label Products, unpublished thesis, Jönköping, Sweden: Jönköping
International Business School, Jönköping University, May.
Korsgaard, M. Audrey and Loriann Roberson (1995). “Procedural Justice in Performance Evaluation The Role
of Instrumental and Noninstrumental Voice in Performance-Appraisal Discussion,” Journal of
Management, 21 (4), 657-669.
Kumar, Tirthala Naga Sai, M. Ravindar Reddy, & Kondapalli Mahathi (2014). The Impact of Conditional
Determinants of Purchase Attitude of Store Brands in Food and Grocery in Indian RetailingAn Empirical
Study in Twin Cities of Hyderabad. Journal of Business and Management, 15(January), 1-7.
Labrecque, Lauren I., Krishen, Anjala S., and Grzeskowiak, Stephan (2011). Exploring Social Motivations for
Brand Loyalty: Conformity Versus Escapism, Journal of Brand Management, 18 (May), 457-472.
Lascu, Dana, and George Zinkhan (1999). Consumer Conformity: Review and Applications for Marketing
Theory and Practice. Journal of Marketing Theory and Practice, 7(3), 1-13.
Mandhachitara, Rujirutana, Randall M. Shannon, & Costas Hadjicharalambous (2007). Why Private Label
Grocery Brands Have Not Succeeded in Asia. Journal of Global Marketing, 20(2/3), 71-87.
Manzur, Enrique, Olavarrieta, Sergio, Hidalgo, Pedro, Farías, Pablo, and Uribe, Rodrigo (2011). Store Brand
and National Brand Promotion Attitudes Antecedents, Journal of Business Research, 64, 286291.
Martínez-Ruiz, Maria Pila, Jiménez-Zarco, Ana Isabel, Barba-Sánchez, Virginia, and
Izquierdo-Yusta, Alicia (2010). Store Brand Proneness and Maximal Customer Satisfaction in Grocery Stores.
African Journal of Business Management, 4 (January), 64-69.
McCall, C. H. (2001). An Empirical Examination of the Likert Scale: Some Assumptions, Development, and
Cautions. Tahoe, CA: Presented at the 80
Annual CERA Conference, November 15-16.
McCallum, Robert C.; Michael W. Browne; and Hazuki M. Sugawara (1996). Power Analysis and
Determination of Sample Size for Covariance Structure Modeling. Psychological Methods, 1(2), 130-149.
Murphy, M. J. (1987). Branding: A Key Marketing Tool. London: Macmillan Press.
Int. Journal of Business Science and Applied Management /
Podsakoff, Philip M., Scott B. MacKenzie, Jeong-yeon Lee, and Nathan P. Podsakoff (2003). Common Method
Bias in Behavioral Research: A Critical Review of the Literature and Recommended Remedies. Journal of
Applied Psychology, 88 (5), 879-903.
Podsakoff, Philip M. and Dennis W. Organ (1986). Self-Reports in Organizational Research: Problems and
Prospects,” Journal of Management, 12 (4), 531-544.
Private Label Manufacturers’ Association (2013). Store Brand Sales Hit $108 Billion in 2012, Setting another
Record, (June 28),
Raghubir, P., and Krishna, A. (1999). Vital Dimensions in Volume Perception: Can the Eye Fool the Stomach?
Journal of Marketing Research, 36(3), 313-326.
Randall, D.M., and Wolff, J.A. (1994). The Time Interval in the Intention-Behaviour Relationship: Meta-
Analysis. British Journal of Social Psychology, 33(4), 405-418.
Ramani, Grish and V. Kumar (2008). Interaction Orientation and Firm Performance, Journal of Marketing, 72
(January), 27-45.
Rubio, Natalia and María Jesus Yagüe (2009). Alternative Panel Models to Evaluate the Store Brand Market
Share, European Journal of Marketing, 43(1/2), 110-138.
Sethi, Rajesh and Zafar Iqbal (2008). Stage-Gate Controls, Learning Failure, and Adverse Effect on Novel New
Products, Journal of Marketing, 72 (January), 118-134.
Sethuraman, R. (2000). What Makes Consumers Pay More for National Brand than Store Brands Image or
Quality? (working paper). Social Sciences Resource Network Retrieved February 2, 2005, from
Sethuraman, R. and Cole, C. (1999). Factors Influencing the Price Premiums That Consumers Pay for National
Brands Over Store Brands. Journal of Product and Brand Management, 8(4), 340-352.
Sheau-Fen, Yap, Sun-May, Leong, and Yu-Ghee, Wee (2012). Store Brand Proneness: Effects of Perceived
Risks, Quality and Familiarity. Australasian Marketing Journal, 20, 4858.
Solomon, Michael R. (2012). Consumer Behavior. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.
Strom, S. (2013). Cleaning Up in Store-Brand Aisles. The New York Times. (October 2), B1.
Swinyard, W. R. (1993). The Effects of Mood, Involvement, and Quality of Store Experience on Shopping
Intentions. Journal of Consumer Research, 20 271-280.
Wyma, Louise, Daleen van der Merwe, Magdalena Bosman, Alet C. Erasmus, Herman Strydom, & Faans Steyn
(2012). Consumers’ Preferences for Private and National Brand Food Products. International Journal of
Consumer Studies, 36(6), 432-439.
Zainuddin, Anizah, and Burt, Steve (2007). Retail Brands versus Manufacturer Brand Attributes: An
Exploratory Investigation. Malaysian Journal of Consumer and Family Economics, 10, 1-8.
Zielke, S., & T. Dobbelstein (2007). Customers' Willingness to Purchase New Store Brands. Journal of Products
and Brand Management, 16(2), 112-121.