Exploring the UK high street department store offering: A ZMET-based retailer brand equity study video transcript

Hi everyone, my name is Bowen Shang and it's my great pleasure to be here today to present my research to you. The purpose of my research is to understand the reasons behind the decline of the department stores on the UK high street through customers perceptions, and the ultimate goal of my study, is to develop a retailer brand equity framework for the department stores to adapt to and to strive on the future high street.

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As many of you are aware the current high street has been declining. More than fifty thousand shops were closed in the past year and, among which, many are still left empty. There are many reasons for shop closures - one is that there are too many retailers on the high street and, on each high street, there are almost the same certain retailers. Also, there has been a significant competition across different retail institutions, such as the online retailers and out-of-town retailers, and as many of you may be aware, there has been a rising impact from the COVID-19 pandemic on the physical high street.

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Among different retailers on the high street there has been an anchor which is the department store. It used to be the destination of the high street thanks to the one-stop shopping experience it provided. However, due to the competition across different retailer institutions, this one-stop shopping experience is no longer unique and standing out for the department stores which has shocked its anchor position.

Many researchers, therefore, suggested that the department store is reaching the end of its life cycle however, from my point of view, the department store has the right resources and the power of advertisement but is not using them properly. I think, with the right strategic management, the department stores should be able to thrive continuously, as the anchor of the high street.

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The reason for looking into this problem from a brand equity perspective is that the brand reflects the complete experience that customers have with the organisation and its offerings, and the customer-based brand equity framework is ultimately developed from the customer's perception of the brand.

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In this context, there are a few gaps in the literature.  

Firstly, the existing research is highly based on the work of Aaker and Keller, where the brand equity assumes a retailers brand to be parallel to the pure product and service brand but, in fact, evidence suggests that retailer brands are different enough to be researched separately. Secondly, the emotional involvement of customers is still under research and this will be the main focus of my study and finally, the existing research suggested that certain constructs are related to the brand equity, but it does not mention their relative importance which will we will focus on in this study.

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This study seeks to argue this linear relationship with the help of the Zaltmen Metaphor Elicitation Technique as the methodology. Overall ZMET is a visual-based methodology which uses images chosen by participants in the interview, prompting them to explore complex issues elicited through their use of metaphors.

We see a mind map in which the text 'Zaltman Metaphor Elicitation Technique (ZMET)' is written in the middle. Branches leading from this read:

The advantage of ZMET is that it is a participant-led process that enables participants' subconscious thoughts and emotions. With the help of this deep mind visual metaphor from images, the researchers will uncover the customer's unconscious mind to learn what the customers don't know that they know.

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However, as with all other research, there are limitations about this study.

Firstly, there are limited opportunities to recruit participants due to the COVID19 pandemic, therefore we will recruit participants through emails and online, and secondly, the study is limited to the brand names included in this research and to the UK culture.

That's the end of my presentation thank you so much for listening.

Exploring the UK high street department store offering: A ZMET-based retailer brand equity study video

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