My research explores the tangibility of brand meaning of local food brands from a consumer perspective. The conceptual framework is derived from Hirschman’s layers of meaning (1980a, 1998) and the direct sensory, idiosyncratic, subcultural and cultural labels, together with the tangible attributes and intangible associations, provide key units of analysis. Hirschman’s earlier attention was to move away from a more product focused or quantitative market research approach to understanding consumers and she was instrumental in a movement that generated a wealth of literature around the intangible associations – the cultural, social and psychological contributions towards brand meaning. However this study focuses on the more neglected tangible attributes to further understand their contribution to brands in the 21st century.
Brand meaning resides in the minds of consumers (Batey 2008) so this research will be explored from their perspective. It adopts an interpretivist approach to uncover subjective meanings held by consumers and their connections with brands. Family households with older children aged 10-15 tend to be the greatest consumers in this area and form the sample population (Mintel 2011). Qualitative approaches such as participant observation supported by in-depth interviews are adopted.
This study seeks to make an original contribution by giving insights into a more neglected area which explores the tangible attributes of brand meaning.