As an Indonesian heritage product, Batik has now become a continually adapting fashion trend. Within the wide variety, Batik in Indonesia has undergone many developments, in terms of design motifs, production processes, product design, to extended marketing reach. Batik apparel is one of the typical creative industry areas which have a high potential to be developed to support higher economic stability of the country. Quoted from the Chairman of the Indonesian Textile Association, the apparel industry in Indonesia has a positive outlook on the future, even in the current global crisis (http://industri.kontan.co.id). Endorsed by the high consumption of apparel products both for domestic and export markets in Indonesia, Batik occupies a fragment that needs to bear in mind.
The development of the Batik industry in Indonesia can be found widely and Batik producers constantly innovate extensively. The term “batik” itself comes from the Javanese language that represents a series of processes in producing garments (Krevitsky, 1964). Javanese batik was first introduced into the international world by Dutch traders who imported Batik to Europe in the 17th century (Hitchcock, 1991). Until today, Batik is widely recognized as the product of Javanese culture, or the heritage product of Indonesia. In international markets, we can find many of Batik producers such as Danar Hadi Batik, Batik Keris, Batik Semar, Batik Aneka Sandang, and Batik Pria Tampan, which successfully markets their products in China, the Middle East, U.S., Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia, Japan, Italy, the Netherlands and South Korea (Surakarta Trade Office, 2009). Thus, there is no doubt that Batik in the apparel industry has the potential to get higher market successes, not only at local market but also be able to intensify its manifestation internationally.
Mostly, Javanese brand names are commonly used as Batik brand name for decades, since Java is the origin of Batik and giving a Javanese brand name will make consumers easier to identify that the product is “made in Java”. Even in the developing trend of the apparel industry in Indonesia, not many manufacturers named their brand using foreign languages to create the impression of ‘modern’ and ‘international’ for the products that it markets. However, recently there are small number of newer generation Batik producers which endorse Batik as modern apparel and represents world class standard (Alleira Batik, Camelia Batik, Batik Gies, etc.). This particular phenomenon in Batik brand naming is very interesting to be explored, especially to further understand whether there are any different consumer’s product evaluations between having Javanese (local) brand name or foreign brand name.
The decision to use local v.s. foreign Batik brand name must be made carefully to enhance long term market success. Consumers in developing markets possess various motives for purchasing foreign brands, including higher prestige and higher satisfaction. Previous research confirmed that Indonesian consumers put higher evaluation on perceived quality and product satisfaction on foreign brand name compared to the local ones (Tunjungsari, 2011). Although numerous research on local v.s. foreign apparel brand names have been widely noted in the literature, research has not been done in the one of Indonesia’s intangible cultural heritage product, Batik. Extensive research need to be done to investigate the underlying motives behind this purchase decisions since the findings will support a better understanding of why consumers in developing countries, especially Indonesia, choose to purchase foreign brands instead of local brands.
Researches can analogously bring forth from name- pronunciation effect literature, which demonstrated that name-pronunciation can influence a person’s judgment under several circumstances (Alter & Oppenheimer, 2008; Laham, Koval, & Alter, 2012; Mehrabian, 2001). Easy-to-pronounce names will be liked more than the difficult-to-pronounce names (Alter & Oppenheimer, 2008) as well as their perception of quality (Laham, Koval, & Alter, 2012). Since local brand names might represent easier-to-pronounce names, the aim of our study is to prove that local brand names will get more positive evaluation than foreign brand names which are more difficult-to-pronounce.
Tunjungsari (2011) proved that Indonesian consumers perceived foreign brand names will lead to higher satisfaction. A number of studies in various motives of consumers purchase decisions in developing countries have concluded that one of the reasons which make consumers more likely to choose a foreign brand is that foreign brand is perceived to be able to provide higher prestige and satisfaction than local brands (Steenkamp, Batra, and Alden, 2002; Wong & Zhou, 2005). Although there have been many studies of local v.s. foreign brands, insignificantly done to examined how Batik’s consumer’s form product evaluation from its brand name. Within the context of name- pronunciation-effect, our study will examine the effect applying local v.s. foreign brand name in Javanese Batik case, regarding to consumer’s product liking and and consumer’s perceptions of product quality.
The Indonesian government has been actively encouraging SMEs to develop product branding. Brand development for SMEs is expected to increase the marketability of the product as well as the opportunity to grow bigger into the global market. News from The Indonesian Ministry of Industry stated that the use of brand name by local SMEs is expected to increase consumer’s buying interest and rising product’s prices. The existence of a trademark will allow consumers to recognize such products, so that they can search in a faster way and find the exact product they want in the future. (http://www.kemenperin.go.id).
Brand management is one of the important factors in organizational success, particularly for small organizations (Abimbola and Vallaster, 2007). In marketing their products, SMEs often focus on product and price, using highly oriented brochures and sales activities which create such impression that building a strong brand is not a priority issue (Krake, 2005; Bunnett & Smith, 2002; Hill & Wright, 2001). Researches in brand literature within the scope of SMEs are still very limited (Ahonen, 2008; Krake, 2005; Muyimba, 2009). Nevertheless, a number of studies emphasize the importance of brand for SMEs and underline that using brand name will create differentiation value for SMEs (Inskip, 2004).
Brand name represents a variety of function both for producers and consumers. The simplest function of brand name is a label for companies to identify and promote their products and services for consumers (Friedman, 1985). Levy (1978) stated that the brand name represents the rich configuration of symbols and meanings inherent with product, which even has its own meaning and existence. The brand name can affect the interpretation and evaluation of consumers through linguistic characteristics or its associations (Peterson and Ross 1972). Large world-class companies even make their brand name as company’s most valuable assets (e.g. Coca-Cola, McDonalds, Levi’s, etc.), because these labels are able to be quickly identified by consumers, even when the company sell new products under the same brand name they will be more easily accepted by consumers (Levy, 1989).
Lately, more and more marketers are placing careful attention on the creation of effective name branding strategy (Argo, Popa, & Smith, 2010). A number of strategies produces brand name that explicitly transfer the information about the product and/or attributes (e.g., auto Diehard battery) (Keller, Heckler, & Houston, 1998). Another strategy produces a name which is not directly related to product features. Several marketers use sound symbol (phonetic symbol) that can have an impact on the linguistic structure of brand names on consumer perceptions (e.g, Prozac brand communicates confidence through the letter z) (Klink, 2000; 2001). Research also shows that the linguistic characteristics of the brand name can affect product evaluations consciously, such as the brand Coca-Cola, Hubba Bubba, Tutti Frutty, Jelly Belly, Kit Kat, Bits and Bites, Lululemon, and Tostitos which are capable of creating positive feelings when being spoken (Lowrey & Shrum, 2007; Yorkston & Menon, 2004).
It is generally known that name can provide a variety of information, ranging from diagnostic tools of social categories such as race, ethnicity, gender, and social class (Kasof, 1993), to form specific impression in a group of attributes include success, warmth, morality, popularity, happiness, and masculinity vs. femininity (Mehrabian, 2001; Mehrabian & Piercy, 1993). Name is also able to activate a set of information on which to make consumers’ assessment (Etaugh, Bridges, Cummings-Hill, & Cohen, 1999; Kasof, 1993). Etaugh et al (1999) concludes that a woman who uses her husband’s name is seen as less eligible to mediate and more collective than those who maintain a personal name. The name also activates a number of semantic information such as a person’s age, intellectual competence, ethnicity, and social class that can shape one’s impressions and evaluation (Kasof, 1993). Meanwhile, Laham, Koval and Alter (2012) proved the existence of name pronunciation effect, where the easy-to-pronounce name is being evaluated more positively and became more preferable compared with the difficult-to- pronounce name.
Extending the possible implications of name pronunciation effect from previous research, researching product brand name as a company asset which also embedded with specific values the company needs to communicate might lead to similar conclusion as name itself. Customers may sometimes make an evaluation of each product they are considering to purchase based on the product brand name. Consequently, we propose our hypotheses on brand name pronunciation as follows:
Hypothesis 1: Brand names’ ease of pronunciation affects consumer preferences on Batik apparel.
Hypothesis 2: Brand names’ ease of pronunciation affects consumer perceptions of Batik apparel’s quality.