Understanding how brands can engage with consumers

Prof Ian Phau doing consumer testing

We conduct research that aims to understand how brands can better engage with consumers. Our key research focuses on customer experience and product branding. This includes studies of brand authenticity, brand attachment, brand charisma, brand counterfeiting and mimicry, and the desirability of luxury items. Our Luxury Branding Research Cluster explores perceptions of, and attitude towards, luxury in different consumer contexts.

We have two key facilities to support research in these areas:

  • The Agency is a social media command centre. It provides opportunities for us to help brands better engage with consumers by monitoring their online presence and producing social media analytics
  • The Consumer Research Lab specialises in integrated biometric methods that tap into consumer emotions and unconscious responses. This provides us with an innovative, objective and scientific means of understanding consumer behaviour.

As competition continues to grow in industries such as fashion, lifestyle and gourmet foods, collaborative projects with industry partners have enabled us to explore consumer–brand interaction and develop strategies for longevity and growth. Our research aims to provide solutions for businesses in terms of brand management and strategic planning. It has led to a better understanding of consumption patterns, consumer habits and trends, and the role of sensory stimuli, positioning us as leaders at the new frontier of managing customer experience.

Key projects

User Experience and Usability Testing for myHBF Researchers: Dr Billy Sung and Dr Luke Butcher

The Consumer Research Lab (CRL) specialises in the use of consumer biometrics such as eye tracking, facial expression and brainwave analysis to conduct market and consumer research. Working with HBF, Western Australia’s largest health insurance provider, the CRL applied this unique research methodology to produce valuable and actionable consumer insights that informed the design of HBF’s online membership portal in 2019. According to subsequent independent tracking, this project not only enhanced the usability and digital user experience of HBF’s online touchpoints but also contributed to an increased usage of the membership portal and an enhanced engagement toward HBF.

Idol attachment, consumer fanaticism and luxury brands Researchers: A/Prof. Isaac Cheah, Prof. Ian Phau

This project examines how celebrity attachment and product placement in popular culture affects South-East Asian consumer attitudes towards luxury fashion brands.

Using the highly popular Korean TV show My Love from the Star as a case study, the project team surveyed 2,000 shoppers in Jakarta, Indonesia, about their perceptions of luxury apparel and accessories featured in the show by fashion brands Gucci, Jimmy Choo, Celine and Prada.

The findings of the project reveal that while consumer attitudes towards luxury brands are positively influenced by idol attachment, product placement and peer norms, this is not as straightforward as previous studies have suggested. Nuances based on the profile and gender of the celebrities and fanaticism regarding the show or advertising medium highlight areas with significant potential for enhancing future marketing and branding strategies.

Self-service Technology: A boon or bane for B2B service providers and customers Researchers: Dr Russel P. J. Kingshott, Prof. Piyush Sharma, A/Prof. Henry F. L. Chung (Massey University), A/Prof. Smitha R. Nair Pillai (Rajagiri College of Social Sciences)

The Customer Experience Research Group in the School of Marketing studies the impact of a growing influx of self-service technologies on business-to-business service providers and customers. This project examines how resources and service quality affect customer satisfaction and loyalty. It has specifically investigated the impact of online and offline service quality on trust and commitment among small and medium business e-banking customers in New Zealand, and how changing social and technical resources can alter customer loyalty in Australian small and medium firms using both offline and online platforms. The project extends current research on B2B relationship marketing and offers useful managerial insights for professional B2B services providers.