Academic Articles

Below you will find classic articles related to branding by center director Bernd Schmitt as well academic work and publications supported by the Center. The following articles require Adobe Acrobat Reader. If you do not have it installed on your computer, download it from the Adobe site.

Experiential Marketing

Professor Schmitt details in this monograph the various meanings of experience as the term is used in philosophy, psychology, and in consumer behavior and marketing. The paper reviews the empirical findings that provide consumer insights on experiences -- such as memory, positive and negative experiences, how experiential attributes are processed and whether experiences are rational. Practical frameworks for managing and marketing experiences are also discussed.

Bernd Schmitt (2011) "Experience Marketing: Concepts, Frameworks and Consumer Insights",Foundations and Trends in Marketing: Vol. 5: No 2, pp 55-112.

Experience is a new and exciting concept in marketing academia and practice. This monograph reviews the various meanings of experience as the term is used in philosophy, psychology, and in consumer behavior and marketing. I will discuss the key concepts of experience marketing such as experiential value, different types of experiences, the distinction between ordinary and extraordinary experiences and experience touchpoints. I will also review the empirical findings that provide consumer insights on experiences such as how experiences are remembered, whether positive and negative experiences can co-exist, how experiential attributes are processed and whether experiences are rational. Practical frameworks for managing and marketing experiences will be discussed. I will conclude with an exploration of how experience marketing can contribute to customer happiness.

Brand Equity

The center provided funding for an international study on brand equity by Professors Donald R. Lehmann (George E. Warren Professor, Columbia Business School), Kevin Lane Keller (E. B. Osborn Professor of Marketing, Tuck School of Business), and John U. Farley (C. V. Starr Senior Research Fellow, Tuck School of Business).

Donald R Lehmann, Kevin Lane Keller, and John U Farley (2008). "The Structure of Survey-Based Brand Metrics." Journal of International Marketing: Vol. 16, No. 4, pp. 29-56.
[Download working paper .pdf]

To better understand how a brand is performing in the marketplace, firms employ a wide variety of measures, with consumer-based surveys often playing a central role. This paper identifies some core dimensions of survey-based measures of brand performance, explores how they link to each other, and examines how these dimensions vary across both countries and categories. Studies in the U.S. and China of soft drinks, toothpaste, and fast food suggest that survey-based brand metrics can be categorized into six main dimensions that reflect a four stage hierarchy-of-effects AIDA-type ordering: 1) Comprehension, 2) Comparative Advantage, Interpersonal Relations, and History, 3) Preference, and 4) Attachment. Despite differences in culture and their history, these dimensions usefully portray different brands and products across the different countries.

JIM Special Issue on Global Branding

The Center on Global Brand Leadership has collaborated with The Journal of International Marketing to publish a special issue of the Journal on key issues in global branding. Columbia Center Faculty Director Bernd Schmitt was the special issue editor of this issue, which features six articles with the results of new research into the impact of technology, law, culture, language, brand image, and consumer perception on global brands.

Executive summaries of each article are available below:

April Wright (2002). ""Technology as an Enabler of the Global Branding of Retail Financial Services" Journal of International Marketing: Vol. 10, No. 2, pp.11.

Although there is little doubt that technology has transformed the delivery of retail financial services in the past decade, the author argues that this transformation also has implications for the global branding of financial services. The article presents a conceptual framework that illustrates how new distribution and processing technologies on the supply side and changes in consumer attitudes to banking on the demand side have driven the global branding of retail financial services.
The change process has occurred through the supply-side removal of geographic and cost barriers to global distribution, which enables insurance companies, supermarkets, utilities, Internet-only banks, and other new players to enter traditional banking markets. Technology has created globally accessible internal information management systems, reduced the need for physical branch networks, stimulated greater brand awareness through interactive Web sites, fueled the expansion of multinational banks and consolidation through mergers, and ultimately eroded product differentiation and distribution channels as sources of competitive advantage. The combination of these supply-side elements increases the need for and effectiveness of global brands.
On the demand side, the change process has been driven by global convergence in key benefits sought by banking consumers in developed countries. The move to electronic delivery of retail financial services increased competition and consumer sophistication, and consumers have become less loyal, more informed, and more willing to switch providers and use multiple providers in order to maximize the value of the unique mix of savings, loan, and transactions services they seek. Yet at the same time, the ongoing need for security and reliability when performing financial transactions means that consumers place value on brands that have established images as trusted parties. The result is an increased consumer preference for globally recognized brands and a willingness to purchase financial services from firms other than traditional financial institutions, provided the brand name is a trusted one. The author concludes that for managers of firms providing retail financial services, the major implication of these technology-induced changes in supply and demand is the need for customer-focused marketing strategies.

Nader T. Tavassoli and Jin K. Han (2002). ""Auditory and Visual Brand Identifiers in Chinese and English" Journal of International Marketing: Vol. 10, No. 2, pp.7.

Logos serve as the official visual representation of a brand name and are intrinsic to all identity programs. Auditory cues, such as NBC's familiar three-tone chime, and jingles are also used extensively for brand identification purposes. To be effective consumer memory and branding devices, these nonverbal cues need to be associated in memory with a brand name. Logos and auditory icons can thus serve as differentiating devices for brand recognition, retrieval cues for brand recall, triggers for evaluatively relevant information stored in memory, and mnemonic links among members of a brand family. The authors propose that the relative ease of establishing associations between nonverbal auditory and visual cues and a brand name differs across the world 's two major writing systems, alphabetic and logographic.
Two experiments, using native speakers and bilinguals, demonstrate that visual brand identifiers are associated in memory more easily with logographic Chinese brand names, whereas auditory brand identifiers are associated in memory more easily with alphabetic English brand names. The authors argue that these results are of theoretical interest because they demonstrate that writing systems affect the cognitive processes involved in the integration of words with nonverbal information. They also argue that these results are of practical interest because they suggest that the relative success of auditory and visual brand identity strategies may differ across writing systems. The relative potency of visual brand identity strategies should be higher with logographic brand names, whereas the relative potency of auditory brand identity strategies should be higher with alphabetic brand names.

Ming H. Hsieh (2002). "Identifying Brand Image Dimensionality and Measuring the Degree of Brand Globalization: A Cross-National Study" Journal of International Marketing: Vol. 10, No. 2, pp.9.

The emergence of new marketplaces has stimulated the growth of brand globalization, which has evoked issues of whether a brand has a consistent image across borders and what underlying national factors bring about the differences/similarities. To solve problems raised in the new era of marketing environments, brand image management must increasingly take on a cross-national perspective. As such, there is an immediate need to develop an analytical tool that is applicable to the global market in order to monitor the degree of brand globalization and examine intermarket differences and similarities that determine the applicability of marketing programs.
Given that the various goodness-of-fit indexes demonstrate strong validity, this study provides concrete evidence in both globaland national-level analyses that supports the applicability of the benefit-oriented brand image dimensions -- namely, sensory, symbolic, utilitarian, and economic image dimensions. On the basis of the image dimensions identified, the author calculates the degree of cohesiveness of brand image perceptions across markets using the difference of image scores of the identified image dimensions between the home country (i.e., initial market) and the foreign countries. The lower the summed differences across the markets, the higher is the degree of the cohesiveness of global brand image perceptions. As far as the intermarket difference/similarity is concerned, the resulting country clusters for 20 countries based on brand image perceptions correspond approximately to the clusters made a priori on the basis of national characteristics such as level of economic development, geographic distance, and cultural dimensions. Among these, countries clustered on the basis of the level of economic development better reflect country clusters that have similar brand image.
The findings provide implications for the practice of global .brand image management. Benefit-based image dimensions that reflect consumers' needs could be used as a guideline in facilitating communication strategy. Building brand image on the basis of a set of benefit brand associations underlying benefit dimensions helps consumers understand what a brand can do for them-- symbolically, economically, sensorily, or as a utility. The quantifiable summary of the degree of brand image cohesiveness and the detailed information as to which markets perceive the inconsistent image enable the global or regional marketing manager to monitor a brand's global position and develop a global branding strategy. Moreover, effective brand image perceptions that are identified from a specific market could be used as a principle for brand managers in selecting a specific image focus for a brand at the time of its introduction in a new market that has similar national characteristics.

Giana M. Eckhardt and Michael I. Houstonh (2002). "Cultural Paradoxes Reflected in Brand Meaning: McDonald's in Shanghai China" Journal of International Marketing: Vol. 10, No. 2, pp.10.

Global brands typically are originally developed with the domestic market in mind and then used worldwide to promote a uniform marketing image as the company expands. In countries where the culture vastly differs from that of the domestic market, consumers may interpret global brands very differently from the way the global brand manager envisioned. In this article, the authors set out to investigate some of the strategies consumers use to attach meanings to unfamiliar symbols. The authors argue that brands are always interpreted through the lens of cultural values, and in many emerging markets, cultural values are in flux. Therefore, brand meaning may also be in flux, implying that consumers' interpretations of a brand can vary depending on the cultural markers evoked in the specific brand usage context.
The authors investigate this theory in Shanghai, China, using the McDonald's brand. Abroad cross-section of urban Chinese consumers evaluates the brand in three widely divergent usage situations by means of the scenario completion methodology. It is revealed that the McDonald's brand is not evaluated abstractly or contextually but rather only in the context of societal norms and values that are evoked in each usage situation. Brand evaluations are inconsistent and often paradoxical depending on the context. The aspects of the McDonald's brand that proved to be most susceptible to this malleability are the interpretation of the social space within McDonald's as it relates to the brand, the aspect of otherness/foreignness in the brand, and finally modernity and youth as represented by the brand.
All these findings suggest that in rapidly changing societies, brands take on disparate cultural values and may even be central to how these disparate cultural values (traditional or new) are being evaluated. Marketers need to be aware of the cultural and societal connotations the brand is taking on and the way these are changing or staying the same as norms of interacting are changing or staying the same. The authors advise that this variability in brand meaning will be especially evident for high-profile consumer brands such as McDonald's, which represent alternative ways of life and experiences for many consumers, and in countries such as China, where values are in flux or the emphasis of consumption is social.

F.C. (Frank) Hong, Anthony Pecotich, and Clifford I. Shultz II (2002). "Brand Name Translation: Language Constraints, Product Attributes, and Consumer Perceptions in East and Southeast Asia" Journal of International Marketing: Vol. 10, No. 2, pp.8.

Global branding is complicated by the diversity of languages, nationalism, product attributes, and culture. Given such complications, how or whether a manager decides to translate brand names is critical to the success of global brand management. The challenge is exacerbated when the manager must decide whether to translate from a Western alphabetic language, such as English, to a language such as Mandarin. Managers have five options: enter the market with, the original brand name, a phonetically translated brand name, a directly translated brand name, a combination of the original and the phonetically translated names, or a combination of the original and the directly translated names. Contextual factors that also affect the decision include the effects of bilingualism (i.e., educational background) and product quality and familiarity on consumer evaluations. In this study, the authors administered a series of experiments to investigate the effect of variances in brand name translation, product quality and familiarity, and educational background on consumer evaluations.
The authors administered six experiments in Singapore, using subjects from the working population. Both pencil-and- paper and taste tests were used as measures. The results were consistent across contexts (pencil-and-paper versus taste tests) and product familiarity (Western, orange juice versus Eastern, starfruit juice), and the only substantive difference was due to brand (unknown versus well-known). Other particularly compelling findings suggested that the safest management decision is to provide both the original brand name and the translated brand name on the product and that the phonetic translation may be the best single option. The manipulation of brand name familiarity revealed that in the case of the well-known familiar brand name, the best alternatives involve the retention of the original name and the variation associated with the phonetic translations provides the best options. The surprising result was that the direct translation does not appear to work, even with Mandarin-educated consumers. There is little evidence of the often-stated Western name preference.
The managerial implications from this study are as follows: (1) Pencil-and-paper tasks can provide similar results to more realistic taste tests, (2) the safest strategic action is to provide the original brand name and to translate, and (3) the phonetic translation may work best; finally, we emphasize (4) the importance of cultural linguistic factors in a cross-cultural and international branding decision as well as (5) the value of quality.

Kate Gillespie, Kishore Krishna, and Susan Jarvis (2002). "Protecting Global Brands: Toward Global Norm" Journal of International Marketing: Vol. 10, No. 2, pp.12.

A major concern to firms that possess famous global brands is how to protect the brands in international markets. The valuable brand equity associated with these brands makes them A attractive targets of local brand preemptors that attempt to register famous brands in local markets, as well imitators that, manufacture products under trademarks that are barely distinguishable from the famous international ones. Of even greater threat to global brand equity are the counterfeiters that illegally copy and sell products under famous brand names. These are not new problems but ones that have challenged international marketers for more than 100 years. Several international treaties have attempted to address global brand protection, with mixed results. Currently, the World Trade Organization (WTO) has taken the lead with its agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). The TRIPS agreement attempts to ensure basic, standard protection of brands among the WTO's many signatory countries. This is good news for international managers, but the signing of a treaty is only a first step toward offering true protection for trademarks in international markets. Despite the treaty, brand protection has continued to be contentious between the United States and many of its trade partners.
The authors provide a framework to help managers better understand the gap that exists between the vision and the reality of establishing global norms for brand protection. Different patterns of trademark protection existed in countries on the eve of the establishment of the WTO. Developed countries, newly industrialized countries, less developed countries, and the transitional economies of the former eastern bloc each exhibited unique patterns of brand protection. Developed countries already 'had laws in place that con- formed to WTO standards, and these countries were able to process trademark applications quickly and efficiently. Newly industrialized countries had relatively well-developed laws, but trademark applications faced slow processing. Less developed countries could process applications quickly but did not have adequate laws. Transitional economies possessed both poor laws and slow processing. The signing of a treaty does not ameliorate overnight these problems of poor legal infrastructures, overburdened administrative capabilities, or competing political demands faced by many countries. Still, the authors remain optimistic about the future of global norms for brand protection. Nations tend to adopt policies that correspond to those of their trade partners. As global trade increases, global norms for trademark protection, as embodied in the TRIPS agreement, are likely to emerge after a somewhat bumpy start.

To obtain a copy of the entire issue (Volume 10, Number 2), or to subscribe to The Journal of International Marketing, please contact JIM at

Brand Logos

Ralf van der Lans, Bernd Schmitt, et. al.(2009) "Cross-National Logo Evaluation Analysis: an Individual Level Approach" Marketing Science vol. 28 no. 5968-985
[Download working paper .pdf]

The universality of design perception and response is tested using logo data collected from ten countries: Argentina, Australia, China, Germany, Great Britain, India, the Netherlands, Russia, Singapore, and the United States. A finite-mixture structural-equation model is developed in a Bayesian framework that identifies latent clusters of logos while accounting for heterogeneity in evaluations. The concomitant variable approach allows cluster probabilities to be country specific. Rather than a priori defined clusters, our procedure provides a posteriori cross-national logo clusters based on consumer response similarity. To compare the a posteriori cross-national logo clusters, our approach is integrated with Steenkamp and Baumgartnerâ??s (1998) measurement invariance methodology. Our model reduces the ten countries to three cross-national clusters that respond differently to logo design dimensions: the West, Asia, and Russia. The dimensions underlying design are found to be similar across countries, suggesting that elaborate, natural, and harmony are universal design dimensions. Responses (affect, shared meaning, subjective familiarity, and false and true recognition) to logo design dimensions (elaborate, natural and harmony) and elements (repetition, proportion and parallel) are also relatively consistent, although we find minor differences across clusters. Our results suggest that managers can implement a global logo strategy â?? but can optimize logos for specific countries if desired.


Brand Experience

J. Joško Brakus, Bernd H. Schmitt, and Lia Zarantonello (2009) "Brand Experience: What is It? How do We Measure It? And Does It Affect Loyalty?" Journal of Marketing, vol. 73, no. 3 pp. 52-68
[Download working paper .pdf]

Brand experience is conceptualized as sensations, feelings, cognitions and behavioral responses evoked by brand-related stimuli that are part of a brandâ??s design and identity, packaging, communications and environments. We distinguish several experience dimensions and construct a brand experience scale that includes four dimensions: sensory, affective, intellectual and behavioral. In six studies, we show that the scale is reliable, valid and distinct from other brand scales including brand evaluations, brand involvement, brand attachment, customer delight and brand personality. Moreover, brand experience affects consumer satisfaction and loyalty directly and indirectly through brand personality associations.

Brand and Image Management in Asia

Bernd H. Schmit (1995) "Language and Visual Imagery: Issues of Corporate Identity in East Asia" Columbia Journal of World Business, vol. 30, no. 4 pp. 28
[Download working paper .pdf]

East Asian companies are increasingly positioning themselves as international players, carrying their corporate and brand identities across East Asia and beyond. Companies in the U.S. and Europe have, meanwhile, sought to compete for business in East Asia, with regionally targeted marketing campaigns of their own. The author points out that corporate identity-the names and symbols that businesses use to represent them in East Asia-must be defined differently than in the West in order to appeal to regional clients and customers. Faced with tough competition in terms of quality and cost, managers of corporate identity must be sensitive to linguistic and cultural factors in order to sell their products. This article summarizes the author's research on the linguistic and cultural factors pertinent to naming and visual identity issues and illustrates how strong sales in East Asia can be partially attributed to an appreciation of these factors.

Bernd H. Schmit and Yigang Pan (1994) "Managing Corporate and Brand Identities in the Asia-Pacific Region" California Management Review, vol. 36, no. 4 pp. 32-48
[Download working paper .pdf]

Building appropriate and attractive identities for their companies and products is one of the key challenges facing managers today. Corporate and brand identities are as important in the fast-growing markets of the Asia-Pacific region as in the West; however, the rules of the game are different. This article describes the unique features of Asian languages, such as ideographic language systems with a large number of homonyms and sound associations, as well as pertinent cultural characteristics, such as feng-shui and other supernatural beliefs, the role of aesthetics and color symbolism, the importance of social relations, and the Asian service concept. The article also provides recommendations for the three key tasks involved in corporate-identity and brand management: selecting corporate and brand names; establishing corporate and brand images; and enhancing quality perceptions of the company and its products.

Bernd H. Schmit (1999) "Consumer Segmentation in China" in Marketing Issues in Transitional Economies, Batra, Rajeev (Ed.), Springer
[Download working paper .pdf]

Before 1979, when Deng Xiao Ping declared his open-door policy, China's consumers had little choice in the marketplace. They had to consume products of dismal quality produced by state-owned enterprises in a regulated market. Today, China's consumers have vast selection in a large variety of categories from low-end/budget items to luxury goods. They have access to new media and infonnation. They are exposed to branded goods and their logos and advertisements. Modem retail stores are rising everywhere (Schmitt, forthcoming).

Bernd H. Schmit and Guido Deboeck (1998) "Differential Patterns in Consumer Purchase Preferences using Self-Organizing Maps: A Case Study of China" Visual Explorations in Finance : With Self-Organizing Maps , Guido J. Deboeck and Teuvo Kohonen (Ed.), Springer pp. 141-157
[Download working paper .pdf]

Market research and consumer segmentation is still in its infancy in the People's Republic of China. Yet, marketers desperately need information about differential response patterns and consumer segments to formulate viable strategies for the drastically growing Chinese consumer market. This chapter presents the results of consumer surveys with hundreds of respondents conducted in Beijing and Shanghai in the spring of 1997. The data were analyzed using self-organizing maps, a technique that offers easy and convenient visualization of the data obtained without imposing stringent linear constraints on the data. Results indicated important differences in the number and type of consumer subsegments in the Beijing and Shanghai ma'rkets with respect to influences on purchase decisions (and, to some degree, lifestyles) but large similarities in media behavior, importance of product attributes, and brand attitudes. The study illustrates the usefulness of the methodology of self-organizing maps. Marketers may use the results of the study as a model of how to collect and analyze consumer surveys to formulate strategies and tactics for the Chinese consumer market.

Linguistic Issues on Global Branding

Bernd H. Schmit and Yigang Pan (1996) "Language and Brand Attitudes: Impact of Script and Sound Matching in Chinese and English" Journal of Consumer Psychology, vol. 5 no. 3 pp. 263-267
[Download working paper .pdf]

Chinese names consist of logographs that represent the meanings of a word, whereas English names consist of alphabetic letters that represent the sound of the word. Therefore, we propose that Chinese brand attitudes are primarily affected by the match between script associations and brand associations, but brand attitudes of English names are primarily affected by the match between sound associations and brand associations. A cross-cultural study conducted in China and the United States confirms these predictions. These findings add further evidence to the stream of research that shows how structural features of languages and writing systems affect consumer behavior.

Bernd H. Schmit and Shi Zhang (1998) "Language Structure and Categorization: A Study of Classifiers in Consumer Cognition, Judgment, and Choice" Journal of Consumer Research, vol. 25 no. 2 pp. 108-122
[Download working paper .pdf]

Using classifiers, lexical items that depict perceptual and conceptual properties of objects, six cross-cultural experiments were conducted in the People's Republic of China, Hong Kong, Japan, and the United States to investigate how structural features of languages affect mental structures and, in turn, consumer behavior. Experiments 1-4 show how classifiers affect the perceived similarity between objects, attribute accessibility, and concept organization. Experiment 5 shows how classifier-based schemata result in inferences about product features. Experiment 6 provides evidence for the effect of classifiers on judgment and choice via assimilation and contrast processes and affect transfer. We discuss our findings in light of the Whorfian hypothesis and argue for the incorporation of structural components of languages into models of consumer behavior.

Shi Zhang and Bernd Schmitt (1998) "Language-Dependent Classification: The Mental Representation of Classifiers in Cognition, Memory and Ad Evaluations" Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, vol. 4 no. 4 pp. 375-385
[Download working paper .pdf]

Classifiers are lexico-syntactic structures that are common in Chinese but not in English. In 3 studies, the authors demonstrated that classifiers provide a language-inherent classification of objects (affecting perceived similarity and memory) and, more importantly, guide individuals' judgments in a practically relevant context (e.g., in the evaluation of advertisements). Chinese speaking participants, relative to English speaking participants, judged objects sharing a classifier as more similar than objects not sharing a classifier and were more likely to recall them in clusters. Moreover, objects, presented as consumer products in an advertising context, were evaluated more positively when cued with a visual stimulus that triggers classifier-related associations. Results are discussed in the context of the recent reformulation of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis.

Name Perceptions and Attitudes in Global Context

France LeClerc, Bernd Schmitt, and Laurette Dube (1994) "Foreign Branding and Its Effect on Product Perceptions and Attitudes" Journal of Marketing Research, vol. 31 no. 2 pp. 263-270
[Download working paper .pdf]

With three experiments, the authors examine the notion that foreign branding-the strategy of pronouncing or spelling a brand name in a foreign language-triggers cultural stereotypes and influences product perceptions and attitudes. Choosing French brands as one specific case, Experiment 1 shows that the French pronunciation of a brand name affects the perceived hedonism of the products, attitudes toward the brand, and attitudes toward the brand name. Experiment 2 shows that congruent country-of-origin information, added to French branding, does not result in more hedonic perceptions; incongruence, however, diminishes the effect. In Experiment 3, an actual product taste test is performed. Despite the presence of direct sensory experience, consumer perceptions of a product change as a result of French branding.

Jin K. Han and Bernd Schmitt (1997) "Product-Category Dynamics and Corporate Identity in Brand Extensions: A Comparison of Hong Kong and U.S. Consumers" Journal of International Marketing, vol. 5 no. 1 pp. 77
[Download working paper .pdf]

Should the focus of a brand-extension strategy be on product-category related factors (e.g., the fit between the extension and the core product) or should consumers" attention be drawn to characteristics of the company providing the extension (e.g., company size)? Examining this issue experimentally in Hong Kong and in the United States with samples of students and working professionals, we find that for U.S. consumers, perceived fit is much more important than company size; for Hong Kong consumers, company size does not matter for high fit extensions, but does matter for low fit extensions. We suggest the value of collectivism may explain the relative higher importance of corporate identity for East Asian consumers. East Asian consumers rely on companies as interdependent, collective societal entities to reduce the risk of a low fit extension, whereas U.S. consumers--as individualists--place higher importance on their own judgment regarding the product fit rather than cues such as company size.