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Business & Marketing
Dissertation Introduction
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Impact of Rebranding (Dissertation Introduction Sample)


An Investigation into the Impact of Re-branding on Consumers’ Brand Perception in the Fast-Food Industry: A Case Study of McDonald's (London)

The main objective of this research was to identify the relationships between a rebranding approach and the consumers’ brand perception in the fast-food industry. Using McDonald’s in London as the case study, this study was carried out from a qualitative perspective and utilised in-depth interviews to gather most of the data. Questionnaires were also used but its findings simply supported the main results gained from the qualitative data collection through interviews. This research has been organised in successive chapters and exposes the overall impact of rebranding on the way consumers perceive the brand as well as the influence on the company’s performance, while recommending ways to further enhance the brand image of McDonald’s. Initially, this report presents an introduction to the topic and to the organisation and sets out the research questions and objectives, highlighting key background information and explaining the reasons behind the study. Following the introduction, the second chapter review extensive literature on the topic at hand and also on other theories which relate and/or support the overall issue being considered. This section is particularly relevant as it covers the views from authors and experts in the area, providing invaluable frameworks which outlined and supported the whole research. Subsequent to the second chapter is the consideration of general research methods and its main advantages and disadvantages. Further, the third part of this study explains which methods were applied to this specify research and the reasons why such approached were selected. Key information on this chapter includes an explanation of the research paradigm, approach and strategies undertaken during the study and details on how the data was collected.
The fourth chapter presents an introduction to the concept of thematic analysis and how such approach can be applied to the analysis of qualitative data. After that, the section goes on to analyse in details the information collected through questionnaires and interviews by using themes to subdivide the main issues and to facilitate the examination of the data. After the consideration of the research findings, the following chapter exhibits the main conclusions in line with the literature review previously conducted, while answering the research questions and addressing its objectives. At the same time, the fifth chapter provides recommendations to the organisation’s rebranding process and also explains how this research can be used for further investigation. Finally, the last part of this report addressed the main benefits gained by the researcher during the preparation of this report and how the research has contributed to my personal, educational and professional paths.
Defining the main objectives of any research is the first step into developing a structured work as these objectives will provide an important support to the overall investigation. Lacking such guidance could result in a poor study with no relevant and useful meaning. This enquiry aims to consider the effects of the rebranding undertaken by McDonald’s in London on the loyalty behaviour of the consumers and in order to accomplish such task the following objectives have been set:
* To review extant conceptual models and theoretical frameworks related to rebranding.
* To analyse the extent to which rebranding can affect the customers’ perception and preferences in the fast-food industry.
* To identify and recommend any other opportunities through which McDonald’s could support and strengthen its rebranding.
Based on the above objectives, research questions are necessary to specify and provide even further guidance on how the study’s main issues can be addressed. These questions are to be answered at the end of this investigation and will be used to drawn a final conclusion from the research conducted.
* Is there any link between rebranding and customers’ brand perception?
* Does rebranding influence consumer perception and impacts the overall performance of a brand?
* Could McDonald’s take further steps to reinforce the company’s ‘new brand’?
McDonald’s is the worldwide leader in the fast food industry and, according to the company’s 2009 annual report, the restaurant chain served 60 million customers every day last year, a figure which represents an increase of 14 million a day compared to 2002, and generated an income of $6.8 billion. () The company was founded in the US in 1948 by the brothers Dick and Mac McDonald but it was with Ray Kroc in 1954 that the company really start its journey after the businessman opened the first franchisee in Illinois. After that, McDonald’s opened many other restaurants, introduced the famous Big Mac and started expanding to many other countries. (). In the UK the company opened its first restaurant in Woolwich in 1974 and, by 2007, the number of restaurants reached over 1,190 branches – majority operated by franchisees (source: McDonald’s Fact File 2007). According to BrandZ’s 2010 report on the most valuable global brands, McDonald’s comes in 6th place with a brand value of over $66m. McDonald’s brand and logo are probably one of the most recognisable in the world and such asset certainly represents a strong source of competitive advantage for the organisation.
McDonald’s has one of the most recognisable brands in the world but the company faces constantly criticism about many aspects of its operations. As health concern increases across the population, many people blame McDonald’s for providing unhealthy food and contributing to the growth of an obese society. The documentary film Super Size Me, released in 2004, showed what happened to Morgan Spurlock after he had eaten only McDonald’s for 30 days (Bernard (2007); p.100). At the same time, McDonald’s has normally been criticised by the nature of the job it offers and the company’s employees are considered to be in a low-paid, with little or no career prospects. Other issues faced by the company include its responsibility towards the environment. Overall, McDonald’s image has been negatively targeted for many years and this has created a very bad brand perception on the eyes of the customers and the society as a whole. During the last few years, the company has started to undertake a different position and aimed to change its approach to some key issues in order to try and improve people’s perception towards the brand.
McDonald’s is a contradictory business success considering that, although the organisation can normally be the target for many criticisms, it continues to grow in terms of sales levels and brand equity. The company has been trying to change the perception people have towards the brand by adjusting the brand message in many aspects. McDonald’s, in the last few years, has refurbished most of its branches to a much more modern and attractive restaurant which, alongside the introduction of free Wi-Fi, has created a more welcoming environment for its customers. The refurbishments also meant the main colours of the brand have changed and, at the same time, the company has placed great importance on food sourcing and on providing customer with healthier menu choices as well as introducing a new range of packaging. Furthermore, McDonald’s has increased its efforts towards environmental and social causes and are investing even further on training and education to its employees. All these changes have been combined with the objective of reviving the brand and changing the image of the company as a whole. On the other hand, some criticism still remain with regard to the company and therefore the idea of studying this rebrand approach relates to an interest on finding out whether or not such changes have actually had a positive impact on customers, especially in terms of their brand perception, loyalty and the overall sales levels in the fast-food chain. This study will consider how sensible customers are to the rebranding carried out by McDonald’s and to which extent this approach has brought benefits and created competitive advantage to the organisation.
The theory of brands and branding has been widely studied due to the importance of these concepts to marketing strategies and to the overall business performance. According to Czinkota & Ronkainen (2004) "brands are important because they shape customer decisions and, ultimately, create economic value." (p.455). There are numerous issues to be taken into account when developing a branding plan and when making branding strategic decisions such as the brand name, colours, logo, how the brand is to be positioned in the eyes of the consumers, the brand identity, and many others. Still, whichever the business situation and needs are, focusing on the brand is certainly a key element in gaining a competitive advantage edge as, at the end...
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