A longitudinal exploratory study of changing perceptions toward an iconic brand in a developing country

Madhavan Parthasarathy, MaryLee Stansifer, and Rajeev Kumra
Journal of Indian Business Research, Vol. 2 Iss: 3, pp.138 – 152

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to explore the changing perceptions of an iconic American product, namely Levi Jeans, in a rapidly developing country, namely Costa Rica, over a 20-year period from 1988 to 2008.

Design/methodology/approach – Changing perceptions were measured with regard to product attributes (e.g. relative advantage, compatibility, trialability, observability, and risk), and experience-related attributes (e.g. product durability, fit, comfort, and price). Further, the changing influence of these variables on repurchase intentions was measured. Data collected in 1988 and again in 2008 at a large Costa Rican university were compared.

Findings – The results suggest that globalization, increased competition, and cultural individualization have reduced Levis’ attribute advantages and thus brand equity. Implications for branding in other developing countries, especially India, are provided.

Practical implications – Modern Indian consumers are more picky, and are more concerned with lifestyle fit and observability issues. This combined with the growing affluent youth market in India leads to specific suggestions on how Levi can approach marketing strategy in the Indian market.

Originality/value – The paper is unique in that it is a longitudinal study of changing perceptions with data collected over a 20-year time period. Further, it provides specific recommendations for apparel manufacturers aiming to enter the Indian and other rapidly developing markets.