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The role of communications in emerging markets for wood products : the case of structural wood products… Robichaud, François 2009

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THE ROLE OF COMMUNICATIONS IN EMERGING MARKETS FOR WOOD PRODUCTS: THE CASE OF STRUCTURAL WOOD PRODUCTS IN NONRESIDENTIAL CONSTRUCTION  by  François Robichaud  A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF  DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY  in  THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES (Forestry)  THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA (Vancouver)  May 2009  © François Robichaud, 2009  ABSTRACT This thesis investigates the relationship between marketing communications and wood use. This investigation was conducted among architects within the context of the North American nonresidential construction market, where the structural use of wood is low compared to steel and concrete. Among architects, wood was deemed to be the most environmentally friendly material compared to steel and concrete. However, wood products are not perceived to perform as well as concrete in the areas of durability, fire resistance, contribution to building value, and structural performance. Using a common brand personality scale as an exploratory technique, architects perceived wood to be a ‘sincere’, but ‘unexciting’, structural material. Through an experimental design, it was shown that the perceived identity of wood among architects was not altered by any of the communications stimuli that were used. These stimuli, which were representative of common industry practices, were brochures categorized as Advertising, Case Study, and Technical Data. The case study was more influential than the technical brochure, with the advertisement ranking in between. Architects were more likely to keep the technical data for future reference than the other brochures. Important informational needs identified related to design possibilities, regulations and standards, environmental footprints, and sustainable design. These needs suggest that wood products will increasingly be bundled with information, which will require wood product firms to produce knowledge in addition to products. To alleviate the challenge of communicating with architects, it was proposed that wood products firms may implement a branding strategy. As a result, a framework for unveiling the brand identity of wood products organisations was developed. With such a branding strategy in place, the role of communications for wood products firms evolves from the goal of persuasion towards a longer term, communicative intent.  ii  TABLE OF CONTENTS ABSTRACT............................................................................................................................................. ii TABLE OF CONTENTS...................................................................................................................... iii LIST OF TABLES .................................................................................................................................. v LIST OF FIGURES ............................................................................................................................... vi ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS.................................................................................................................. vii DEDICATION ...................................................................................................................................... ix CO-AUTHORSHIP STATEMENT ...................................................................................................... x 1  INTRODUCTORY CHAPTER................................................................................................... 11 1.1  Wood use in nonresidential construction .........................................................................................................15 1.1.1 Nonresidential construction as a strategic segment for wood products ................................................................15 1.1.2 Architects as key decision makers in material selection ....................................................................................17 1.2 The role of marketing communications ............................................................................................................18 1.2.1 Historical perspective on advertising and marketing communications................................................................19 1.2.2 The role of communications in brand management ...........................................................................................21 1.2.3 The role of communications in emerging markets..............................................................................................23 1.3 Research objectives ...............................................................................................................................................26 1.4 Methods ..................................................................................................................................................................28 1.4.1 Experimental design .......................................................................................................................................28 1.4.2 A representation of the research design.............................................................................................................34 1.5 References for the introductory Chapter ..........................................................................................................35 2 WOOD USE IN NONRESIDENTIAL CONSTRUCTION: A CASE FOR COMMUNICATIONS WITH ARCHITECTS.....................................................................................39 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4  Introduction ...........................................................................................................................................................39 Background and objectives..................................................................................................................................40 Methods ..................................................................................................................................................................44 Results .....................................................................................................................................................................48 2.4.1 Profile of respondents and material use in nonresidential construction...............................................................48 2.4.2 Wood use in nonresidential construction...........................................................................................................49 2.4.3 Information sources and needs of architects.......................................................................................................52 2.4.4 The perceived identity of wood among architects................................................................................................55 2.5 Discussion...............................................................................................................................................................58 2.6 Conclusion..............................................................................................................................................................62 2.7 References for Chapter 2 .....................................................................................................................................63 3 WOOD USE IN NONRESIDENTIAL CONSTRUCTION: AN EXPERIMENTAL STUDY ON THE ROLES OF MEDIA AND CONTENT IN DIRECT MARKETING PRACTICES...........65 3.1 3.2 3.3  Introduction ...........................................................................................................................................................65 Background and objectives..................................................................................................................................66 Methods ..................................................................................................................................................................69 3.3.1 Pre-experimental survey...................................................................................................................................69 3.3.2 Marketing communications experiment ...........................................................................................................69 3.3.3 Post-experimental survey .................................................................................................................................70 3.3.4 Sampling.........................................................................................................................................................71 3.4 Results .....................................................................................................................................................................71 3.4.1 Survey results ..................................................................................................................................................72 3.4.2 Experimental results.......................................................................................................................................77 3.5 Discussion...............................................................................................................................................................80  iii  3.6 3.7 4  Conclusion..............................................................................................................................................................86 References for Chapter 3 .....................................................................................................................................87 DISCUSSION OF RESULTS FROM THE RESEARCH DESIGN ...........................................90  4.1  References for Chapter 4 .....................................................................................................................................95  5 BRANDING AS A COMMUNICATIONS STRATEGY IN THE WOOD PRODUCTS INDUSTRY: A FRAMEWORK FOR DESIRED BRAND IDENTITY ..............................................96 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 5.6 5.7 5.8 6  Introduction ...........................................................................................................................................................96 Background and objectives..................................................................................................................................98 Conceptual framework ...................................................................................................................................... 100 Methods ............................................................................................................................................................... 102 Results .................................................................................................................................................................. 108 Discussion............................................................................................................................................................ 120 Conclusion........................................................................................................................................................... 124 References for Chapter 5 .................................................................................................................................. 125 CONCLUDING CHAPTER...................................................................................................... 129  6.1  The role of communications in emerging markets for wood products.................................................... 131 6.1.1 Increasing sales or product trials ................................................................................................................... 133 6.1.2 Reaching the customer with intermediate objectives such as awareness, attention and favourable attitudes....... 134 6.1.3 The diffusion of information and the production of knowledge ....................................................................... 137 6.1.4 A combination of customer reach and the diffusion of information................................................................. 140 6.1.5 Brand construction and management ............................................................................................................ 141 6.2 Final words .......................................................................................................................................................... 147 6.3 References for the concluding Chapter.......................................................................................................... 149 APPENDIX 1: PRE- AND POST-EXPERIMENTAL SURVEY ....................................................... 156 APPENDIX II: COMMUNICATION EXPERIMENT SURVEY..................................................... 167 APPENDIX III: BRAND CONSTRUCTION QUESTIONNAIRE ................................................. 169 APPENDIX IV: BRANDING AS A STRATEGIC LEVER IN EMERGING MARKET SEGMENTS: A FRAMEWORK FOR WOOD PRODUCTS IN NONRESIDENTIAL CONSTRUCTION ......... 171 References for appendix IV......................................................................................................................................... 181  iv  LIST OF TABLES TABLE 1.1. STRATIFICATION OF THE U.S. SAMPLING FRAME ........................................................................................30 TABLE 2.1. STRATIFICATION OF THE U.S. SAMPLING FRAME OF ARCHITECTS FOR THIS STUDY .............................48 TABLE 3.1. ONE-WAY ANOVA ON PERCEIVED INFLUENCE OF COMMUNICATION STIMULI .................................73 TABLE 3.2. TYPES OF COMPLEMENTARY MATERIALS NEEDED IN ADDITION TO BROCHURE .................................73 TABLE 3.3. COMBINED TYPES OF COMPLEMENTARY MATERIALS NEEDED IN ADDITION TO BROCHURE ............74 TABLE 3.4. WHAT ARCHITECTS WOULD HAVE DONE UPON RECEIPT OF BROCHURE ...............................................75 TABLE 3.5. WHAT ARCHITECTS WOULD HAVE UPON RECEIPT OF THE BROCHURE: KEPT VS. THROWN AWAY ....75 TABLE 3.6. MEANS AND TEST EFFECTS OF THE PERFORMANCE OF WOOD, STEEL, AND CONCRETE IN THE PREAND POST-EXPERIMENTAL SURVEYS (1 = NOT AT ALL; 7 = TO A HIGH DEGREE) ..........................................78 TABLE 3.7. MEANS AND TEST EFFECTS OF THE PERSONALITY OF WOOD IN THE PRE- AND POST-EXPERIMENTAL SURVEYS (1 = NOT AT ALL DESCRIPTIVE; 7 = EXTREMELY DESCRIPTIVE) .......................................................79 TABLE 5.1. QUESTIONNAIRE FOR INFORMING THE DEVELOPMENT OF A DESIRED BRAND IDENTITY FOR WOOD PRODUCTS.................................................................................................................................................................. 106 TABLE 5.2. INTERNAL BRAND BUILDING PROCESS – WHAT IS THE CURRENT STAGE OF INTERNAL BRAND BUILDING WITHIN YOUR COMPANY?.................................................................................................................... 109 TABLE 5.3. INTERNAL BRAND BUILDING PROCESS – WHAT IS THE CURRENT STAGE OF BRAND BUILDING FOR THE SPECIFIC PURPOSE OF SPECIFIERS IN THE NONRESIDENTIAL CONSTRUCTION MARKET?.................. 110 TABLE 5.4. INTERNAL BRAND BUILDING PROCESS – WHAT MAJOR CHALLENGES DO YOU FORESEE IN THE PROCESS OF CREATING/SUSTAINING A BRAND FOR THE NONRESIDENTIAL CONSTRUCTION MARKET? 111 TABLE 5.5. INTERNAL BRAND BUILDING PROCESS – IS YOUR OWN LEADERSHIP ENOUGH FOR IMPLEMENTING/SUSTAINING A BRANDING STRATEGY OR WOULD YOU SUGGEST THAT MORE CORPORATE COMMITMENT IS NEEDED?.............................................................................................................. 112 TABLE 5.6. BRAND VISION – IF YOU ENVISION YOUR MARKET ENVIRONMENT TEN YEARS FROM NOW, HOW WOULD A STRONG BRAND STRATEGY HAVE CONTRIBUTED TO THE SUCCESS OF YOUR ORGANISATION? ..................................................................................................................................................................................... 112 TABLE 5.7. BRAND VISION – IF YOU ENVISION YOUR BRAND TEN YEARS FROM NOW, WHAT DO YOU THINK IT WOULD BE KNOWN FOR?........................................................................................................................................ 113 TABLE 5.8. BRAND VISION – IF THE WORLD COULD BE A BETTER PLACE AS A CONSEQUENCE OF YOUR BRAND, WHAT WOULD BE ITS CONTRIBUTION? ................................................................................................................ 114 TABLE 5.9. BRAND IDENTITY – WHAT ARE THE THREE FUNCTIONAL BENEFITS THAT YOU WOULD RECOGNISE MOST IN YOUR BRAND?........................................................................................................................................... 114 TABLE 5.10. BRAND IDENTITY – WHAT CONSEQUENCES WOULD EACH OF THESE BENEFITS OR ATTRIBUTES HAVE?......................................................................................................................................................................... 116 TABLE 5.11. BRAND IDENTITY – WHAT ARE THE RISKS FACED BY SPECIFIERS IN THEIR BUSINESS ENVIRONMENT THAT YOUR BRAND COULD HELP TO MITIGATE? .................................................................. 117 TABLE 5.12. BRAND PROMISE – WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS THAT YOU WOULD LIKE SPECIFIERS TO RECOGNISE THE MOST IN YOUR BRAND?................................................................................................................................... 117 TABLE 5.13. BRAND PROMISE – WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS THAT YOU WOULD LIKE BUILDING USERS OR OWNERS TO RECOGNISE MOST IN YOUR BRAND? .............................................................................................. 118 TABLE 5.14. BRAND PROMISE – WHAT ARE THE VALUES THAT YOU WOULD LIKE MOST TO BE ASSOCIATED WITH YOUR BRAND? ................................................................................................................................................ 118 TABLE 5.15. BRAND PROMISE – IF YOU THINK OF YOUR BRAND AS A PROMISE OF SOME FUNCTION, DESCRIPTION, EMOTION, OR VALUE, WHAT WOULD THIS PROMISE BE?........................................................ 119 TABLE 5.16. CONTENT ANALYSIS ON THE BRAND IDENTITY OF WOOD PRODUCTS. ............................................. 120 TABLE 5.17. POSSIBLE ELEMENTS OF BRAND IDENTITY (NOT NECESSARILY DIRECT QUOTES FROM THE INTERVIEWS)............................................................................................................................................................. 121  v  LIST OF FIGURES FIGURE 1.1. REPRESENTATION OF THE RESEARCH DESIGN ..........................................................................................34 FIGURE 2.1. MOST USED AND PREFERRED STRUCTURAL MATERIALS IN NONRESIDENTIAL DESIGN.....................49 FIGURE 2.2. LEVEL OF AGREEMENT ON ISSUES RELATED TO WOOD AND THE DESIGN ENVIRONMENT .............50 FIGURE 2.3. LEVEL OF AGREEMENT ON ISSUES RELATED TO ADVOCACY OR SELF-PROMOTION OF WOOD BY ARCHITECTS .................................................................................................................................................................51 FIGURE 2.4. LEVEL OF AGREEMENT ON ISSUES RELATED TO THE PERFORMANCE OF WOOD SUPPLIERS ............52 FIGURE 2.5. EFFECTIVENESS OF VARIOUS INFORMATION SOURCES ............................................................................53 FIGURE 2.6. INFORMATION NEEDS FOR WOOD PRODUCTS ...........................................................................................54 FIGURE 2.7. LEVEL OF AGREEMENT ON ISSUES RELATED TO INFORMATION ON WOOD PRODUCTS ....................55 FIGURE 2.8. LEVEL OF AGREEMENT ON ISSUES RELATED TO WOOD AS COMPARED TO STEEL AND CONCRETE56 FIGURE 2.9. PERFORMANCE RATINGS OF WOOD, STEEL, AND CONCRETE .................................................................57 FIGURE 2.10. RATINGS FOR THE PERSONALITY OF WOOD.............................................................................................58 FIGURE 3.1. ISSUES TO BE FURTHER COVERED FOR ALL EXPERIMENTAL GROUPS AND BY EXPERIMENTAL GROUP ...........................................................................................................................................................................77 FIGURE 3.2. BRANDING AS A MEANS OF COMMUNICATION AND COMMUNICATION OF THE BRAND ....................85 FIGURE 5.1. A BRANDING FRAMEWORK (ADAPTED FROM LEWI, 2005, P. 449). ................................................ 101 FIGURE 6.1. BRANDING AS A MEANS OF COMMUNICATION AND COMMUNICATION OF THE BRAND (ADAPTED FROM KAPFERER (2004) AND FROM RICHELIEU ET AL. (2008))...................................................................... 142  vi  ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS When I first expressed my desire for undertaking a Ph.D. degree to Jean-Claude Mercier, formerly vice-president of Forintek Canada, he gave me instantaneous and unconditional support. The organisational support that he provided has been remarkable and durable, and I wish to thank him for that. Soon, Jean-Claude has rallied Richard Desjardins, manager of the building systems department, to this project. Richard’s support never defected a single day. Richard knows how to make things happen and played an instrumental role in making this project possible. Above all, Richard’s help was not only professional, but personal. Prior to registration, my colleague Christopher Gaston encouraged me to undertake the degree at the University of British Columbia under the supervision of Dr. Rob Kozak. This was the best recommendation that I could have. At work, my professional overload always fell on Patrick Lavoie’s desk when the dissertation kept me busy. I wish to friendly thank Patrick for his contribution to the project, including his comments on my writings. I knew Dr. Kozak by reputation and felt privileged to have the opportunity to work with him. It turned out to be more than a privilege. I was already doing research professionally, but felt the need to improve the rigour of my work. There was no better person in the universe than Dr. Kozak for that matter. His sense for the methods, for the meaning of words, for the structure of texts and, of course, for statistics, impressed me every time we’ve interacted. If science is about producing knowledge, then Dr. Kozak has no equivalent in delimitating what is original knowledge, what is not, and how to make the difference. Dr. Kozak is a unique professor, too. His turnaround time for reviewing manuscripts should be awarded. English is not my first language, and I thank him for the kilometres of improvements and suggestions he patiently crafted within my texts. He also had the outstanding human quality of considering seriously each of my questions and problems. I remember him spending urgently several hours with a statistician at UBC for solving my experimental questions. We were at a considerable distance, but he was always very close. Wherever I am professionally or personally, I will always owe Dr. Kozak my lasting gratitude and gratefulness.  vii  One day, waiting for a flight to Toronto, I was sitting beside a gentleman wearing a nice Italian suit, a superb tie and... a baseball cap from the long gone Montreal Expos. No doubt, this was Professor André Richelieu, renowned for his work on the branding of professional sport teams. Two weeks after, Dr. Richelieu was part of my committee. He was the missing link, and probably doesn’t know how much he contributed in keeping me searching and writing. I really enjoyed his class on branding. This class was one of the best academic experiences that I had; especially because we rearranged the course of History for the Quebec Nordiques. When joining the committee, Dr. Richelieu told me that his commitment was the promise of being available and supportive at all times. Just like the best of all brands, he delivered his promise even better than I thought possible. I feel indebted for that, because Dr. Richelieu had his way of believing in my work perhaps even more than me. The support I had from him and from Dr. Kozak couldn’t have been any better. The committee was completed by Dr. Paul MacFarlane and Dr. David Cohen whom I thank for their involvement. Dr. Cohen is always encouraging and enthusiastic, and I felt privileged that this pioneer in the field of forest products marketing sits on my committee. From the beginning, I wanted the Ph.D. to be a personal adventure that would come at no cost for Isabelle and our three sons, Louis-Philippe, Justin and Benjamin. As such, I thought that I would struggle to get off the Ph.D. bubble before entering home on evenings and week-ends. Indeed, I just can thank them for bringing me back daily to the real issues that matter in life: Jedi battles, chocolate bread on Saturdays, the best ski ever on the beginners’ slope, and something the Beatles sang it’s all you need. I also want to thank Louise Mercier for her presence. I wish to thank Professor Michel Audet, too, for contaminating me with the passion of epistemological issues related to the production of knowledge. I owe a special thank to François Léger, colleague and friend, for motivation and fruitful discussions. I also want to thank some friends, especially those with whom I took some time off and whose presence made a difference when the end of the project was far from sight. Rudy Godmaire, for exceptional friendship, presence and inspiration; Richard Audet, for brotherhood and the right beer at the right time; Philippe Cantin, for precious jogging runs and precious evenings; and Pierre Collin, for generously stopping the clock of time with his collection of distinctive burgundy wines and vinyl records. Yes, dancing on The Cure at 2 AM (or in between days) on weekdays makes perfect sense for who intends to complete a Ph.D.  viii  Dedication  To Jean-Marie Pouliot  ix  CO-AUTHORSHIP STATEMENT In this manuscript style thesis, four original peer reviewed papers are presented. One was presented at a conference, and three others submitted to Journals. They were all written by François Robichaud in collaboration with Dr. André Richelieu, Associate Professor at the Department of Marketing, Laval University, and Dr. Robert Kozak, Professor at the Faculty of Forestry, University of British Columbia François Robichaud identified the research problem, in this case studying the relationship between wood use and communications. He also proposed the use of an experimental design in investigating the role of communications in emerging markets for wood products. He also suggested that support could be found in the branding literature in investigating the relationship between wood use and communications. Dr. Kozak provided guidance for the experimental design, especially in the validation of appropriate statistical techniques to analyze the results. Dr. Kozak also provided guidance on the survey instruments that were used to obtain the research data. In designing a framework on brand construction, Dr. Richelieu provided many important insights, especially by sharing relevant literature and reviewing preliminary works. All the research was implemented and performed by François Robichaud, including the analyses. This research involved the administration of three surveys and three personal interviews, in addition to statistical analysis. Dr. Kozak provided valuable support for the statistical analysis, especially in validating the model chosen by François Robichaud. Dr. Kozak also suggested the use of content analysis software. Dr. Richelieu gave precious insight on analysing the results from the personal interviews (case studies). All manuscripts were first written by François Robichaud, but supplemented with Dr. Richelieu’s and Dr. Kozak’s comments.  x  1 INTRODUCTORY CHAPTER The origins of commerce can be traced back to the very start of communication in prehistoric times1. The bond between commerce and communications keeps defining society nowadays, as knowledge production and information processing are found in all economic activities (Eliasson, 1990). In many ways, communication now appears to be the most instrumental function in the market exchange process (Hakansson and Waluszewski, 2005). Historically, commerce has also evolved with constant shifts towards new applications for existing products or new geographical markets (Day, 1926). These two traits of commerce, namely a bond with communication and a constant evolution towards new markets or applications, also aptly describe the course of markets for wood products. In recent history, wood products manufacturers have been supportive of various efforts to reduce their reliance on housing markets, where cyclicality and substitution by other materials have challenged the position of wood as a preferred building material (Robichaud et al., 2005). There has been academic interest, as well, in the evolution of wood markets towards new geographical markets or new applications, with the works of Kozak and Cohen (1997) and Kozak and Cohen (1999) paving the way to considering nonresidential construction as one of the most promising segments for wood products. Nonresidential construction consists of buildings that are designed for purposes other than habitation. It is a segment where the market share for wood is typically low when compared to competing materials such as steel and concrete (Kozak and Cohen, 1997). Despite the opportunities that exist for using wood in nonresidential construction, many challenges abound. In particular, wood use is perceived by architects and other specifiers as having many shortcomings with respect to the structural, fire, and durability performance of largerscale buildings (Kozak and Cohen, 1999).  1  A definition of commerce from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Commerce (Accessed March 8, 2009).  11  While the challenges and opportunities for diversifying wood markets into nonnresidential construction have been addressed by academics, the relationship between communications and wood use in this emerging market has not been explored in detail. In light of the inevitable bond between commerce and communication, this relationship appears to be a relevant research subject, especially because emerging users present special communication challenges (Schultz and Schultz, 2004). For products that are riskier to adopt, it is generally accepted that information can also enhance knowledge, build awareness and brand image, and lead to increased use (Foreman, 2004). Coincidentally, risk-averse behaviour is very much part of the culture in nonresidential construction (Gaston et al., 2001). As a consequence, information is vital to successful implementation (Fleishman et al., 2000). The task of communications – from those developing the product to those using it and vice versa – is then central to the successful market entry of new products (Ashby and Johnson, 2002). When framed as research, the bond between commerce and communications for wood products in nonresidential construction leads to a unique question: What is the role of marketing communications in emerging markets for wood products? While it is common that emerging markets refer to emerging or developing economies, this concept incorporates new users or new applications in the context of the research question. This doctoral dissertation is structured around this central question which, in turn, logically leads to other questions. The first of these questions certainly is: Why should nonresidential construction be considered a strategic segment for wood products? Questions that follow then relate to the specification process for structural materials in nonresidential construction: How are building materials such as wood actually specified in nonresidential construction? Who are the main specifiers of wood products in nonresidential construction? Which types of communications may be worth investigating? The main research question also points to the methodology used in this study: What are the possible roles for marketing communications  12  in general and in emerging markets in particular? Which methods should be considered in evaluating the role of communications for wood products in emerging markets? These questions take place in a context where the research is designed to have both managerial and academic implications. Nowotny et al. (2001) signal the emergence of a new kind of science: contextualized, or context-sensitive, science. In this school of thought, the context “speaks back” to science. This means, for instance, that the shaping of national research programs by industries is intensified, cost-effectiveness and economic impacts of research are required more than before, science seeks practical outcomes and measurable impacts, and the interaction between scientists and industries is increased (Nowotny et al., 2001). This research is contextualized in this sense as it was financially supported by the wood products industry and addresses a current challenge that it faces. This challenge could be summarized as a willingness to diversify markets by developing wood use. In terms of the context ‘speaking back’ to science, managers from the industry were continually able to provide feedback on the research. These questions that are raised provide a consequent flow to the dissertation. Therefore, the introductory chapter includes a general description of wood use in nonresidential construction (Section 1.1 in Chapter 1). This description will justify the choice of nonresidential construction as a preferred area for implementing this research. It will also make the case for selecting architects as key decision makers in materials selection and as a primary audience for communications related to wood products. Section 1.2 in Chapter 1 provides some historical background on the role of marketing communications. Possible roles for communications will be detailed, including the role of communications in brand management. Special emphasis will be given to the role of communications in emerging markets. Sections 1.3 and 1.4 present the research objectives and methods, respectively. The methods introduce an experimental design to investigate the main research question. Results of the experimental design are presented in two original research papers which together form Chapter 2 and Chapter 3. Chapter 4 provides a discussion of the potential implications of these two papers.  13  One of these implications is that communications with architects can only be envisaged over the long term. Indeed, the way that wood is perceived among participants of the experiment conducted in this study was not altered by any of the communication stimuli used. In face of the absence of causal relationships in the experimental design, it was proposed that wood products firms may implement a branding strategy as a means of communicating with architects. This proposition was implemented in Chapter 5, with a framework for unveiling the brand identity of wood products organisations. The framework builds on a case study approach and was communicated first for a peer reviewed conference paper (found in Appendix IV), and further developed as a journal manuscript. Chapter 6 is a concluding chapter, where the conclusions of the four manuscripts are discussed together and further extended in the field of marketing communications studies.  14  1.1 Wood use in nonresidential construction In the Introduction, the main research question (What is the role of marketing communications in emerging markets for wood products?) gave rise to other sub-questions. Those that should be addressed prior to undertaking the research design were: Why should nonresidential construction be considered a strategic segment for wood products? How are building materials such as wood actually specified in nonresidential construction? Who are the main specifiers of wood products in nonresidential construction? Which types of communications may be worth investigating? These questions are addressed in this chapter.  1.1.1 Nonresidential construction as a strategic segment for wood products Industrial wood products, such as lumber and engineered wood products, are typically used in residential construction. Over the past decade, housing construction and remodelling consumed, on average, 71% of all lumber used in North-America (RISI, 2008). Estimates of lumber used in nonresidential construction vary, but RISI (2008) estimated this share to be as low as 4% during the same period. These buildings include industrial, commercial, office, educational, religious, recreational, nonhousekeeping, public, and miscellaneous buildings (Kozak and Cohen, 1999). Industrial uses, such as packaging and furniture, accounted for the remaining 25% of lumber use in the past 10 years. These statistics convey the extent to which the scale of the wood products industry matches the needs of the housing industry. However, this scale is substantial because NorthAmerican housing starts hovered between 1.5 and 2.3 million units per year in NorthAmerica throughout the past decade (RISI, 2008). As a consequence, diversification of wood products in either new geographical markets or new applications is constrained by issues of scale. Historically, the number of lumber production facilities has also decreased, while the production output by facility has increased on average (RISI, 2006).  15  One rationale for considering nonresidential construction as a strategic segment for wood products lies precisely in the scale of this segment. In the U.S., the construction value of the nonresidential market in 2007 was 87% that of new residential construction, a segment of one-half billion dollars (Davis et al., 2008). Nonresidential construction also tends to be much less cyclical than the housing market (Kozak and Cohen, 1999). However, the volume of lumber and structural panels used in nonresidential construction in 2002 was less than 10% of the volume used in new residential construction (O'Connor et al., 2003), leaving much room for increasing the market share of wood products. Market potential for wood could range between 50% of nonresidential construction value (Goettzl and McKeever, 1999) and 65% (Kinuani, 2008). However, it is not unexpected that wood use in nonresidential construction is low. To begin with, wood generally suffers from poor perceptions among architects and other specifiers of structural materials. Wood use is perceived to have many shortcomings with respect to the structural, fire, and durability performance of larger-scale buildings (Kozak and Cohen, 1999). The use of wood is also limited by a number of factors, including fire related codes that are perceived to be too restrictive, steel and concrete seemingly offering easier and more cost effective design solutions, an inadequate skilled labour force for large-scale wood construction, and designers needing to have more training, familiarity, and support in the wood design process (Gaston et al., 2001; O'Connor et al., 2003). In this market, the specifiers identified as having a significant role in the materials selection process are designers (such as architects and structural engineers), contractors, and owners (Kozak and Cohen, 1997; O'Connor et al., 2004). For the purpose of this research, a decision was made to focus on architects as key decision makers in material selection.  16  1.1.2 Architects as key decision makers in material selection According to Gaston et al. (2001), the two professional groups with the highest degree of influence in specifying structural materials for nonresidential construction are architects and structural engineers, with architects ranked first by a slim margin. O’Connor et al. (2004) further found agreement on architects being the most important decision makers. Meanwhile, owners, developers and building contractors are found to also have a significant influence on structural material selection. There is a sense that challenges to wood use among the various groups of specifiers (architects, structural engineers, developers, builders, etc.) are similar, making architects an appropriate segment for further research on developing wood use in nonresidential construction. Importantly, O’Connor et al. (2004) emphasized the complexity of the selection process and the importance of other specifiers as well. This complexity suggests that future research would be worthwhile among the other communities of decision makers. O’Connor et al. (2004) further found that nonresidential builders and developers are even somewhat less wood-friendly than architects. Primary concerns for builders and developers relate to costs, risks, labour, speed of construction, and product quality. As Kozak and Cohen (1997) pointed out, the process of learning has a tremendous bearing on the actions that architects and structural engineers take and the attitudes that they have throughout their careers. The methods that architects and engineers use to obtain product information which resulted in their exploring and actually using new structural materials most commonly include reading materials, manuals/data files, and word of mouth. Physical examples (demonstration buildings), corporate/personal promotion, and continuing education were seen as being relatively successful in terms of catalyzing the exploration and use of new materials. However, association promotion, proactive marketing, computerized information, and other methods were seen as being relatively unsuccessful in encouraging architects and structural engineers to explore and/or use new structural materials (Kozak and Cohen, 1997).  17  In a more recent study (Gaston et al., 2001), reading materials and manuals/data files were still identified by specifiers as the most commonly used methods of obtaining product information and also the most influential. Interestingly, Gaston et al. (2001) also highlighted the fact that the vast majority of study respondents stated that they learned little or nothing about wood and wood systems at school, while just over 40% of the sample said they learned a little about wood at school, but needed more. These results clearly point to the need to characterize what more is needed in terms of communications to help architects better learn about structural wood products and systems. Generally, marketing communications refer to the five methods mostly used for communicating in a business environment: advertising; the sales force; sales promotions; public relationships; and direct marketing (Lambin and Chumpitaz, 2002). Because past research (e.g. Kozak and Cohen, 1997; Gaston et al., 2001) has identified reading materials to be among the most preferred medium for architects, there is a case for investigating printed brochures in addressing the main research question. In addition, direct marketing through brochures reflects common practices today.  1.2 The role of marketing communications In questioning the role of communications in emerging markets for wood products, another question was raised: What are the possible roles for marketing communications in general and in emerging markets in particular? This question will be addressed within the current chapter, first by looking at the history of marketing communications, then at the current role of communications in branding management, and finally in its role in emerging markets.  18  1.2.1 Historical perspective on advertising and marketing communications There is a long history of literature on the functions of marketing communications and advertising. Pioneering models were tied to the socio-psychological tradition in communications theories, where communication is interpreted as interpersonal influence. These models stated that effectiveness is a matter of learning, which depends on source credibility, arguments, appeals, and the motive of audiences (Hovland et al., 1953). Researchers in this tradition looked for cause-and-effect relationships that ably predicted when a communication stimulus succeeded and when it failed (Griffin, 2003). Validation was usually achieved through designing and running a series of controlled experiments. Classical models generally take into account measures such as the level of sales and spending in advertising (Vidale and Wolfe, 1957; Little, 1979; Schultz et al., 2004). However, marketing communications can rarely create sales on their own (Lilien and Rangaswamy, 2002). They are only one of the elements of the marketing mix. The other elements also include price, distribution, the sales force, packaging, product features, competitive actions, and changing buyer needs and tastes (Batra et al., 1996). As a consequence, there is a broad consensus on the difficulties of isolating the effects of marketing communications (Lodish, 1986; Batra et al., 1996; Lilien and Rangaswamy, 2002). Through the lens of classical models, the market is generally viewed as a black-box, or a faceless, impersonal abstraction, that can be influenced from the outside by varying the inputs (Krishnamurthy, 2001). However, it is the customer who decides whether or not the value relationship is appropriate for their use and it is the customer who decides on brand or company loyalty (Schultz and Schultz 2004). Advertising response modelling has been further refined to take this complexity into account. For instance, the effect of advertising frequency on industrial product sales has been studied by Cort (1982 in Lilien and Rangaswamy, 2002). The same holds true for advertising copy and media. Those in copy research investigate myriad phenomena on how the physical and mechanical aspects of advertisements relate to recognition, recall, and other measures (Lilien and Rangaswamy, 2002). Recent progress in the measurement of the effects 19  of marketing communications has taken advantage of technological advances and the extensive availability of consumer data. The basis for such models includes the collection and analysis of both consumer and marketing expenditures data. This field is known as Return on Customer Investment, or ROCI (Schultz et al., 2004). Some challenges in the metrics also arise from the fact that marketing communications are not only related to sales, but may also have other purposes. According to Batra et al. (1996), advertising objectives that emphasize sales are usually not very operational because they provide little practical guidance. Intermediate objectives are generally more adaptable for marketing campaigns. Such objectives can include creating awareness, providing information, promoting brand image, and changing attitudes and feelings. Nowadays, many of these intermediate objectives form an important body of academic research in the field of branding. Past research on intermediate objectives often related to the hierarchy of effects model. This model and its variants took prospective customers from awareness to knowledge and from knowledge to consideration, then to (hoped-for) purchasing behaviour and, finally, to loyalty (Krishnamurthy, 2001). The hierarchy of effects model assumes that advertising or marketing communications works to change customer awareness and attitudes over time as the consumer goes through a learning process (Schultz and Schultz, 2004). However, there is no evidence that increased awareness towards a product leads to purchases (Lodish, 1986; Batra et al., 1996). Some of the recent literature addressing the role of communications instead suggests that it is the experience with a product or a brand that increases attention to communications and the amount of information retained (Cramphorn, 2006). Hence, a paradigm shift may be in order, wherein communications is enhanced by experience more than experience being driven by communications. For example, repetitive advertising of an unfamiliar brand was shown to be less effective than the same repetition applied to a known, familiar brand (Campbell and Keller, 2003). Cramphorn (2006) further suggests that customers generally relate better to brands than to products or suppliers, meaning that communications about brands may prove more effective than communications about products.  20  1.2.2 The role of communications in brand management A brand is a promise perceived as such by customers (Lewi, 2005). This promise includes tangible and intangible values that are embedded in a name and a design. Central to brand management is the very notion that these values form a reference for customers (Lewi, 2005). For firms, brands serve various objectives such as positioning, increasing awareness and product trials, gaining market share, and, overall, contributing to value creation. For consumers, the brand may serve functions of distinction, communication, warranty, satisfaction, and personalization (Lambin and Chumpitaz, 2002). Lewi (2005) proposes the notion of embedded values in the identity of a brand, describing them as both tangible and intangible and potentially including objective values, subjective values, attributive values, narrative values, and associative values. The concept of brand identity is similar to those of brand essence and brand promise proposed by de Chernatony (2001). Various models have been proposed to capture and define the notion of brand identity, including the concept of brand personality. Brand personality is defined as the set of human characteristics associated with a brand (Aaker, 1997). In contrast to product-related attributes, which tend to serve a utilitarian function for consumers, brand personality tends to serve a symbolic or self-expressive function (Keller, 1993). However, in the specific context of industrial products such as wood, brand identity might rely more on product attributes than intangible values (Malaval, 1998). The knowledge about a brand has been distilled into two components: brand awareness and brand image (Keller, 2003a). In order to account for the multidimensionality of brand knowledge, these two concepts can be further categorized to incorporate attributes, benefits, thoughts, feelings, attitudes, and experiences (Keller, 2003b). Brand awareness can be measured through brand recall or brand recognition. Brand image is defined as consumer perceptions of and preferences for a brand, as reflected by the various types of associations held in memory. Earlier conceptualisations of the brand regarded brand associations, perceived quality, brand loyalty, and competitive advantage as the constituents of a brand (Aaker, 1996).  21  Kapferer (2004) emphasizes the dialectical nature of the brand by modelling brand identity as a result of a picture of the brand for both the firm and the customer. This picture model posits the brand as an act of communication and it defines the identity of the brand along six dimensions: physique (tangible values); personality (e.g. Aaker’s scale); culture (intangible values); associations (brand image); relationships (including personal relationships for service brands and transactions involving the brand); and self-image (expression of the customer’s identity through the brand). The fact that brands come about as a result of both managerial efforts and their appropriation by consumers has been integrated into the concept of the coconstruction of the brand (Bech-Larsen et al., 2007). The value accrued through branding is often referred to as brand equity. Definitions of brand equity vary but can be broadly classified into two categories. While some definitions are financially-based and stress the value of a brand to the firm, others are based on the consumer perspective and focus on its value to the consumer (Pappu et al., 2005). From the latter perspective, brand equity can be thought of as the added value endowed to a product in the thoughts, words, and actions of consumers (Keller, 1993). Whichever type of brand equity is considered, it occurs when the consumer is familiar with the brand. Strong, favourable, and unique brand associations are essential as sources of brand equity (Keller, 2005). These two types of brand equity are compatible and complementary as both point to value creation, internally for the firm and externally for the consumer. Keller (1993) suggests that, although the fundamental goal of any marketing program is to increase sales, it is first necessary to establish the knowledge structures for a brand so that customers can respond favourably to marketing activities, such as communications. In the branding literature, one motivation for studying dimensions such as brand awareness, image, or notoriety is precisely to assess the role of marketing activities (Keller, 1993; Lewi, 2005). It makes conceptual sense that the dimensions of brand knowledge, awareness, image, associations, and associated values are captured through the concept of perceived identity, in line with the works of various authors within the field of branding (e.g. Kapferer, 2004; Couvelaere and Richelieu, 2005; Lewi, 2005; Richelieu et al., 2008). In practical terms,  22  experimentation makes it possible to measure brand identity and then to relate its evolution to specific marketing communications. One of advertising’s tasks in increasing a brand’s equity is to increase consumers’ awareness of it and familiarity with it (Batra et al., 1996). Customer knowledge about the brand is clearly key, and one way to build this is through marketing communications and advertising (Foreman, 2004). Methodologically, the relationship between communications efforts and perceived brand identity may be more straightforward than the relationship between communications and sales. This is especially true when metrics such as sales or profits may not be captured, such as in the case for wood in emerging markets.  1.2.3 The role of communications in emerging markets The previous discussion on the role of marketing communications depicted the methodological challenges of linking the outcomes of communications efforts to sales, especially in emerging markets. It also suggested that, in questioning the potential role of communications, methodological support can be found within the branding literature. This is especially acute in the case of potential markets, where the intermediate objective of a favourable perceived identity may well precede product trial. In turn, brand perception is dependent on brand knowledge and the perceived quality of the brand, or brand image (Pappu et al., 2005). Structural wood products form a products category, not a brand. Nevertheless, it is possible to evaluate the perceived identity of wood among potential users. For instance, the perceived environmental friendliness or fire resistance of wood can be measured, much as it was done in previous research (e.g. Kozak and Cohen, 1999; Gaston et al., 2001; O'Connor et al., 2004). In the same way, the personality of wood could be investigated through a brand personality scale. Taken together, these constructs can form the perceived identity of wood which, in turn, can be measured longitudinally and eventually linked to communication efforts.  23  That said, when considering architects as potential specifiers of wood products, there is more than the potential relationship between communications and a favourable perceived identity. In nonresidential construction, using wood requires knowledge. This knowledge can be tacit, meaning that it comes from experience, and/or it can be explicit, meaning that it comes from informed communications. This is where the provision of information comes into play, as it can enhance knowledge, build awareness and brand image, and lead to increased purchases (Foreman, 2004). Batra et al. (1996) also suggest that it is too easy to overlook the obvious and principal role of advertising as a mechanism for informing. According to Lambin and Chumpitaz (2002), communication activities are precisely meant to produce knowledge for producers, distributors, and buyers. The fact that communications can emphasize either an informational or an attitudinal perspective is not new in the advertising literature. It is generally accepted that marketing communications can be classified according to their main focus: cognition or affect (Swaminathan et al., 1996). It has long been suggested (e.g. Petty et al., 1983) that there are two alternative paths in conveying a message to potential users. The so-called central route to communications allows a person to diligently consider information, while the peripheral route relies more on positive or negative cues related to intangible values, such as source credibility and external rewards (Griffin, 2003). Each of these paths can also be categorized according to whether they provide informational versus transformational content (Rossiter and Percy, 1997). While rational arguments are more common to the former, the context surrounding the message is more important in the latter. In these models, the involvement or motivation of customers towards a specific product dictates the preferred approach to communication. In the case of a structural wood producer attempting to increase their share in a relatively untapped market like the nonresidential construction sector, there is no rationale a priori for suggesting one path over another. However, because architects are not consumers so much as professionals involved in the specification of building materials, and because they are professionally liable for the use of the materials that they select, a strong argument can be made that an informational route is more appropriate. This position has found support historically through the assumption that  24  the principal function of communications for industrial products in the early stages of their life cycles should be to provide information (Hanssens and Weitz, 1980). More recently, it has been suggested that the main determinant of purchasing intent revolves around the feelings held towards a product or a brand and that these feelings can be modified over time through communications and experience (Cramphorn, 2006). While these findings explicitly relate to consumer products, they suggest that communications efforts to architects might also include more intangible emotional values in addition to providing information or knowledge about a product. However, the focus of this research is not on determining whether emotional or rational messaging is better suited for persuading architects to use wood. Rather, given the lack of wood use in nonresidential construction, it seems more salient to understand the degree to which architects relate to varying forms of communications. As such, the informational dimension is considered alongside other dimensions dealing with less tangible values. de Chernatony, 2001  25  1.3 Research objectives What is the role of marketing communications in emerging markets for wood products? On the one hand, the previous discussion suggests that marketing communications in emerging markets for wood may produce knowledge for potential users through the provision of information. It is also suggested that the perceived identity of wood among architects may evolve through communications. Using concepts from the branding literature, a first research objective is then to characterize the perceived identity of wood among architects involved in nonresidential design. The second objective is to characterize information sources used by architects and the perceived value of these sources. Taken together, these two objectives provide an update and a complement to previous research on wood use in nonresidential construction (e.g. Kozak and Cohen, 1997; Kozak and Cohen, 1999; Gaston et al., 2001; O'Connor et al., 2004). Such primary research explaining how and why customers interact with and prefer certain brands is critical in determining how often, and by what channels, marketers should put messages out to their customers (Schultz et al., 2004). In order to develop effective communications programs, it is recommended that the customers’ views of brands, products, and/or firms be understood (Keller, 2003). The third objective is to investigate the informational needs of architects in nonresidential design. While it is known that the methods that architects most typically use to obtain product information are reading materials and manuals or data files (Kozak and Cohen, 1997; Gaston et al., 2001), no study has explicitly addressed the issue of the specific topics that are of interest to architects. The fourth objective is to determine whether and how the perceived identity of wood evolves as a result of varying modes of marketing communications. It should be noted that, upon experimentation (presented in Chapter 6), objective 4 provided no conclusive relationship between the perceived identity of wood and the modes of communications investigated. As a consequence, a fifth objective was added to the research design. This objective suggests that the construction and the management of a brand by wood products firms could be an effective means of communications in nonresidential construction. This objective is framed as a proposed framework for brand construction of wood products and suppliers in the nonresidential market. To summarize, the research objectives are as follows:  26  1.  Using concepts from the branding literature, to characterize the perceived identity of structural wood products among architects involved in nonresidential design;  2.  To characterize information sources used by architects and the perceived value of these sources;  3.  To investigate the informational needs of architects regarding structural wood products in nonresidential design;  4.  To determine whether and how the perceived identity of structural wood products evolves as a result of varying modes of marketing communications; and,  5.  To propose a framework for brand construction of structural wood products and suppliers in the nonresidential market.  27  1.4 Methods How can the role of communications for wood products in emerging markets be evaluated? The previous discussion, which provided insights on possible ways to address the role of marketing communications, lends credence to an experimental design approach. However, it will be shown that results from this design (presented in Chapter 3) provided no discernable effects of selected marketing communications on the way architects feel and think about wood. In other words, the perceived identity of wood was not altered through the communication experience. As a consequence, the research design was altered to address the main research question: What is the role of communications in emerging markets for wood products? This alternative approach, further detailed in Chapter 5, is exploratory and suggests that the construction and the management of a brand could be envisaged as an effective means of communication. Because it is exploratory, this approach relies on a case study design.  1.4.1 Experimental design An experimental design is suggested to address the relationship between the perceived identity of wood and marketing communications. Specifically, randomized controlled trials or randomized field trials offer a great deal of potential to generate scientific knowledge and robust evidence on a broad range of topics in various fields of social and educational research (Fitz-Gibbon, 2001). Because marketing communications may also relate to the production of knowledge for potential users, the experimental design should also address informational needs of architects. A causal, true experimental design is appropriate for measuring the role of marketing communications, because the experimenter can randomly assign treatments to randomly selected test units (Churchill and Iacobucci, 2002). Such a design generally involves a control group and one or more experimental groups. Observations are made on all groups prior to and after an experiment, with the control group being excluded from the experiment. A potential pitfall of the design is that it may not control for the interactive testing effect (Churchill and Iacobucci, 2002). However, this issue can be addressed with the use of proper 28  multivariate techniques, such as the General Linear Model for repeated measures (Littell et al., 2000). In another experiment mirroring the proposed design, it was noted that some respondents who had little interest in the product or product category dropped out or otherwise resisted participation in longitudinal research (Dufrene et al., 2005). Accordingly, participants are likely to have a bias of interest, which may influence the results. Such bias may even be desirable in a commercial context, as it allows a firm to work with the most interested prospective customers (Godin, 1999). From a research perspective, this bias would temper the observed effects of communication stimuli and must be duly noted and minimized if possible. The research design includes three subsequent steps that will be separately addressed after an overview of sampling procedures. These steps comprise a preexperimental survey, a communications experiment, and a post-experimental survey. 1.4.1.1  Sampling procedures  Many of the previous studies pertaining to nonresidential construction had a full coverage of the U.S. and Canada (Kozak and Cohen, 1997; Kozak and Cohen, 1999; Gaston et al., 2001; O'Connor et al., 2004). While these studies were instrumental in producing fundamental knowledge on the issues and challenges surrounding wood use in nonresidential construction, the current research design was specified to focus on a few selected urban markets. This decision is expected to provide deeper insights at the expense of broader, continent-wide coverage. Clearly, this approach is bound to provide greater insight on a smaller share of a population as opposed to a representative picture of the population as a whole. Industrial organizations supporting the study also suggested that only the U.S. be retained because of its market size. The major rationale for this decision on sampling is that, in the U.S., construction habits vary widely from one city to another, and from a state to another (Fell et al., 2001; Robichaud and Fell, 2003). Consequently, aggregate data that are usually produced by regions (for instance, U.S. North, U.S. South and U.S. West) tend not to have the resolution required to truly understand specific markets within these regions. Furthermore, such an approach (in  29  depth and region-specific) has not yet been conducted within the domain of forest products marketing. In total, five U.S. states were selected for the sampling frame based on expenditures for private nonresidential construction between 1994 and 2004. The five states where nonresidential construction activity was highest were, in decreasing order of magnitude, California, Texas, Florida, New-York, and Illinois. A list provider was then consulted to obtain the overall number of architect contacts that were available within these states; there were 13,176 in total. For budgetary and practical reasons, a sampling frame of 5,000 architects was deemed to be workable. Each of the five states was considered a stratum, and the number of sample elements per stratum was allocated based on the proportion of nonresidential construction expenditures in each respective state. Sample elements from the control and experimental groups were then randomly assigned to each of these states, for a total of 5,000 sample units. Table 1.1 presents construction expenditures and the number of architects to be sampled in selected states (strata).  Table 1.1. Stratification of the U.S. sampling frame Yearly average construction Number of  State  architects listed  2  expenditures 1994-2004  Elements per  3  stratum (U.S.$ MM)  (%)  California  5,388  21,278  32%  1,587  Texas  1,814  16,096  24%  1,200  Florida  1,857  12,658  19%  944  New York  2,787  9,622  14%  718  Illinois  1,330  7,388  11%  551  13,176  67,042  100%  5,000  Total  2 3  Source: Infocanada (www.infocanada.com). Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Manufacturing, Mining and Construction Statistics.  30  1.4.1.2  Pre-experimental observations  Prior to the project commencing, potential participants were invited to take part in its three subsequent phases. The first phase, a pre-experimental survey, was meant to provide insights into the perceived identity of wood among architects. According to the research objectives, it was also meant to characterize information sources used by architects and the perceived value of these sources (informational needs of architects in nonresidential design address another objective of this survey). This sort of primary research is often referred to as situation analysis (Batra et al., 1996). Such an analysis includes an assessment of the attitudes and behaviours of consumers towards products. In the branding literature, such an assessment is referred to as a brand audit (Keller, 2003). In the current research design, the situation analysis forms the preexperimental observations. The survey instrument was designed in accordance with elements of the Tailored Design Method (Dillman, 1999). The survey is included in Appendix I. Participants took part in the survey (as well as to the entire project) online. In the case of wood use in nonresidential construction, attention needs to be paid to the competitive position of wood with respect to steel and concrete. Attracting users of steel and concrete towards wood may be challenging if steel and concrete perform satisfactorily. The situation analysis may help to uncover sources of satisfaction and dissatisfaction among architects. It could also lead to the gathering of relevant and timely information related to market segmentation. While the previous literature on wood use in nonresidential construction has explored challenges to wood use, there remain a few questions left unexplored which could inform the process of communications with architects. For instance, what are some of the favourable and unfavourable experiences of architects using wood, including supply and access issues? What is the degree of advocacy or self-promotion that architects feel they must use in order to incorporate wood into their designs? Given that communications strategies are fluid and continually evolving, what types of communications are currently in vogue among architects and how are they perceived?  31  Architects’ views on the performance of wood when compared to steel and concrete can also add to the previous literature. In addition to environmental friendliness and durability (c.f. Gaston et al., 2001), architects’ opinions on the various structural materials can be broken down by attributes such as structural performance, contribution to building value, and fire resistance, for instance. Relying on the branding literature, the personality of wood may also be investigated. 1.4.1.3  Marketing communications experiment  The second phase was an experiment in which selected communications stimuli were sent to study participants. Each participant was randomly assigned into one of four groups, including a control group. The stimuli were delivered as direct marketing communications (brochures) and were sent out twice (along with reminder letters) to mitigate against the effects of attrition. The selection of communication stimuli was done in cooperation with the industrial partners supporting this study. That said, it was thought that the various stimuli should represent as wide a variety of different content as possible. The marketing communications used in this study were brochures containing varying types of information. This form of direct marketing was selected because it is a commonly used means of communicating information to architects about structural products. Reading materials were also identified as one of the prime sources of information for architects (Kozak and Cohen, 1997; Gaston et al., 2001). Direct marketing is also one of the most effective tools for integrated marketing communications (Phelps and Johnson, 1996 in Anantachart, 2004) and represents an important way in which customers can control the terms of their relationships with marketers (Krishnamurthy, 2001). Participants from the three experimental groups (excluding the control) were asked to evaluate the brochure that they received by means of a short online survey which focused on the communication itself, and covered topics such as relevance, potential use, and possible complements. The goal of this survey (seen in Appendix II) was also to ensure that architects actually took a close look at the brochure and processed the content diligently. From a research perspective, it needs to be taken into account that this is a departure from  32  the day-to-day practices of architects due to the fact that they knew in advance that they would be receiving a brochure for evaluation purposes. The selection of communication stimuli was done in cooperation with the industrial partners supporting this study. That said, it was thought that the various stimuli should represent a variety of different content. The first stimulus was a case study of a nonresidential wood building and is published by an industry association. It included a building description, floor plan, and structure design, as well as information on cost efficiency, environmental aspects, and compliance with building codes. The second stimulus was from an engineered wood products supplier. It was largely technical, and included spans and engineering data for various wood products. The third stimulus came from a fabricator of nonresidential structures and engineered wood products. This stimulus could best be categorized as advertising, although it also featured some examples of buildings and design possibilities using engineered wood products. These three stimuli are respectively referred to as ‘Case Study’, ‘Technical’, and ‘Advertising’. 1.4.1.4  Post-experimental observations  The post-experimental survey was the last phase of the research design. In essence, it was a replication of the pre-experimental survey, measuring identical constructs in order to determine the effects of the three communications stimuli by means of comparisons between the four experimental groups (the control group and the three groups that received communications stimuli). The purpose of this phase was to investigate the causal relationship that might occur between the stimuli and observed effects related to the perceived identity and competitive position of wood. Post-experimental results were compared with pre-experimental results using the General Linear Model (GLM) procedure for repeated measures on the same subject, and allowed for testing both between-subjects effects and the within-subjects effects (alpha = 0.05).  33  1.4.2 A representation of the research design Figure 1.1 summarizes the research design, including the alteration proposed to address the main research question once the experiment provided no causal results.  Figure 1.1. Representation of the research design  34  1.5 References for the introductory Chapter Aaker, D. A. (1996). Building Strong Brands. The Free Press, New-York. 400 pages. Aaker, J. L. (1997). "Dimensions of brand personality." Journal of Marketing Research XXXIV(August 1997): 347-356. Anantachart, S. (2004). "Integrated Marketing Communications and Market Planning: Their implications to Brand Equity Building." Journal of Promotion Management 11(1): 101-125. Ashby, M. and K. Johnson (2002). 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Over the past decade, there has been considerable interest in diversifying these traditional markets and in developing applications for wood use in nonresidential building construction. The introduction of new products in the construction sector, however, is generally met with low awareness and high uncertainty in the marketplace; therefore, the communication of information is vital to market success (Malaval, 1998). These same marketing challenges can be expected for existing wood products that are introduced into emerging market segments where use is low. The relationship between marketing communications and wood use in potential markets is not fully understood, and emerging users present special communication challenges (Schultz and Schultz, 2004). In the case of wood, examples of communication challenges would include the perception that wood has a low fire resistance (Kozak and Cohen, 1999) and is, therefore, risky to adopt. For products that are riskier to adopt, information can serve to enhance knowledge, build awareness and brand image, and lead to increased purchases (Foreman, 2004). This is likely also true for wood products in nonresidential construction, where risk-averse behavior among material specifiers appears to be a cultural norm (Gaston et al., 2001). The specification of wood by designers, such as architects, inevitably leads to an investigation into the role of communication. The underlying research question for this study was: What is the role of marketing communication in emerging markets for wood products? This study is part of a broader project in which a communication experiment was conducted among architects involved in the design of nonresidential buildings in the United 1 A version of this chapter has been published. Robichaud, F., R. A. Kozak and A. Richelieu (2009). "Wood use in nonresidential construction: a case for communications with architects." Forest Products Journal 59(1/2): 1-9.  39  States, a market that has always used wood structurally, but is considered emerging because adoption levels have been consistently low. The study methods included an experimental design with a pre- and a post-experimental survey in order to assess the impacts of various communication strategies on wood products use. Results from the pre-experimental survey are presented in this paper and are meant to provide a current overview of the perceived identity and use of wood among architects in nonresidential construction. The rationale for this approach stemmed largely from the need to publish an up-to-date description of the nonresidential market extending the work of Kozak and Cohen (1999). It also made methodological sense that the causal study builds on the descriptive design described herein. In line with the overall research question, specific attention is given to the informational needs and challenges architects may face when designing with wood in this context.  2.2 Background and objectives The nonresidential construction segment consists of buildings that are designed for purposes other than habitation, including industrial, commercial, office, educational, religious, recreational, nonhousekeeping, public, and miscellaneous buildings (Kozak and Cohen, 1999). The North American nonresidential segment is large, with a value that typically equates with that of the residential market (O'Connor et al., 2004). Nonresidential construction also tends to be much less cyclical than the housing market (Kozak and Cohen, 1999). Over the past decade, the market share for lumber products used in the North American nonresidential sector has been reported to be as low as 4 percent in contrast to housing construction and remodelling with an average share of 71 percent during the same period (RISI, 2008). While many parties are responsible for the specification of structural materials in this sector (Kozak and Cohen, 1999), Gaston et al. (2001) found that architects and structural engineers had a higher degree of influence, with architects ranking first by a slim margin. Based upon past studies that have addressed wood use in nonresidential construction (e.g.,Kozak and Cohen, 1999; Gaston et al., 2001; O'Connor et al., 2003; O'Connor et al., 2004), there is a sense that challenges to wood use among the various groups of specifiers (architects, structural engineers, developers, builders, etc.) are similar, 40  making architects an appropriate segment for further research on developing wood use in nonresidential construction. Wood use in the context of nonresidential construction is perceived by architects and other specifiers to have many shortcomings with respect to the structural, fire, and durability performance of larger scale buildings (O'Connor et al., 2003). The use of wood is also limited by a number of other factors, including: fire-related codes that are perceived to be too restrictive; steel and concrete seemingly offering easier and more cost-effective design solutions; an inadequate skilled labor force for large-scale wood construction; and designers needing to have more training, familiarity, and support in the wood design process (Gaston et al., 2001; O'Connor et al., 2003). O’Connor et al. (2004) further found that builders and developers are even somewhat less wood-friendly than architects. Their primary concerns were related to costs, risks, labor, speed of construction, and product quality. As Kozak and Cohen (1997) pointed out, the process of learning has a tremendous influence on the actions that architects and structural engineers take and the attitudes that they have throughout their careers. The methods that architects and engineers use to obtain product information which resulted in their exploring and actually using new structural materials most commonly include reading materials, manuals/data files, and word of mouth. Physical examples (demonstration buildings), corporate/personal promotion, and continuing education were seen as being relatively successful in terms of catalyzing the exploration and use of new materials. Association promotion, proactive marketing, and computerized information, however, were seen as being relatively unsuccessful in encouraging architects and structural engineers to explore and/or use new structural materials (Kozak and Cohen, 1997). Kozak and Cohen (1997) also strongly recommended the use of various promotional programs as a means of capturing market share from steel and concrete in the North American nonresidential construction. In a more recent study (Gaston et al., 2001), reading materials and manuals/data files were again identified by specifiers as the most commonly used methods for obtaining product information and also the most influential. Interestingly, Gaston et al. (2001) also highlighted the fact that the vast majority of study respondents stated that they learned little or nothing  41  about wood and wood systems at school, while just over 40 percent of the sample said they learned a little about wood at school, but would have like to have more information. These results clearly point to the need to characterize what is needed in terms of communication to help architects learn more about structural wood products and systems. To specifiers, such as architects, new materials present both opportunities and risks. While opportunities derive from new or improved technical performance or aesthetic qualities, risks lie in the lack of design or manufacturing experiences (Ashby and Johnson, 2002). According to Ashby and Johnson (2002), the task of communication—from those developing the product to those using it and vice versa—is central to the successful market entry of new products. When communications are successful, they may stimulate specifiers to use the new products in creative ways. They may also serve to better fulfill specifiers’ needs. For example, in the design of nonresidential buildings, specifiers need specific information about products, such as span tables, fire resistance ratings, connection details, design possibilities, and environmental performance. This current study of architects is meant to provide further understanding of the challenges of wood design in the nonresidential sector, with a focus on communication. While the previous literature on wood use in nonresidential construction has explored this topic, a few questions remain unexplored which could inform the process of forest products companies’ communication with architects. For instance, what are some of the favorable and unfavorable experiences of architects using wood, including supply and access issues? What is the degree of advocacy or self-promotion that architects feel they must use in order to incorporate wood into their designs? Given that communication strategies are fluid and continually evolving, what types of communications are currently in vogue among architects and how are they perceived? In questioning the potential role of communication among architects, methodological support can also be found within the branding literature. Indeed, one motivation for studying dimensions such as brand awareness, image, or notoriety is precisely to assess the role of marketing activities (Keller, 1993; Lewi, 2005). Although the eventual goal of any marketing program is to increase sales, it is first necessary to establish knowledge structures  42  for a brand (Keller, 1993). In this paper, the dimensions of knowledge, awareness, image, and associated values are captured through the concept of perceived identity, in line with the works of various authors in the field of branding (e.g., Kapferer, 2004; Couvelaere and Richelieu, 2005; Lewi, 2005). Understanding architects’ views on the performance of wood compared to steel and concrete adds to the previous literature on the potential for wood use in nonresidential construction. The main rationale for exploring the perceived identity of wood in this study, however, is to inform the twin processes of communication design and evaluation for wood producers. In addition to previously studied constructs, such as environmental friendliness and durability (c.f. Gaston et al., 2001), architects’ opinions on other attributes, such as structural performance, building value, and fire resistance, are sought in this study. The perceived identity of wood can also include the concept of personality. Generally, brand personality is defined as the set of human characteristics associated with a brand (Aaker, 1997). In contrast to product-related attributes which tend to serve a utilitarian function, brand personality tends to serve a symbolic or self-expressive function (Keller, 1993). To that end, Aaker’s personality scale is used in this study, but since it was developed for branded consumer products, its transposition to wood as a structural material can only be seen as exploratory. This study is in line with the premise of integrated marketing communications (IMC), which is defined as the process of producing knowledge centered on users or potential users with a focus on their needs and constraints (Schultz and Schultz, 2004). This process begins with the customer or prospective customer and works backward toward the communicator. The strategic need to develop an IMC paradigm in the wood products industry is, in part, a function of the natural evolution that is occurring from mass communication advertising to more targeted and personalized messaging. Fundamentally, this means that marketers within the wood products sector need to better understand the needs and wants of their customers and potential customers in order to provide them with focused and relevant communications (Tezinde et al., 2002). The first objective of this study, therefore, was to characterize the perceived identity of wood among architects in the North American nonresidential construction market. The second objective was to characterize information sources used by  43  architects as well as the perceived value of these sources. The third objective was to characterize the information needs of architects in nonresidential design.  2.3 Methods A survey instrument was used to address the main objectives of this study and to provide insight on the relationship between architects who work in nonresidential design and use wood as a structural material. This survey also served as a pre-experimental measurement before a communication experiment and a post-experimental survey. Results from the communication experiment will be addressed in a separate paper. At the beginning of the project (early 2007), participants were invited in a personalized letter to take part in the three subsequent phases of the survey. Each potential participant was provided with a unique username and a password. Interested and eligible participants took part in the survey online on a dedicated web page. In addition to hosting the survey, the web page provided information on the research project. Specific instructions were given so that participants would only consider wood as a structural material when answering their questions. The survey instrument and implementation were designed in accordance with the elements of the Tailored Design Method (Dillman, 1999). This involved a notification letter announcing the study to potential respondents. The announcement was followed by a series of two invitation letters, each of which were followed by a reminder card. All of the correspondence was personally addressed. Questions in the survey were drawn from various sources. Wherever possible, scales were used to measure attitudes and facilitate statistical testing. In general, mean responses were computed for each question and compared to a neutral value using a t-test (and error bars) in order to determine statistical significance (α = 0.05, conveyed as 95% confidence intervals). For example, the most commonly employed scale in this survey, the Likert scale, asked respondents to provide levels of agreement or disagreement with a number of statements on a scale ranging from 1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree). Means for each statement were computed and statistically compared to a neutral value of 3 (neither agree nor disagree).  44  In total, there were five sets of Likert scale questions used in the survey. The experiences that architects have had with structural wood products were gauged using statements dealing with wood use in the design environment. These were partly built upon the previous literature (Kozak and Cohen, 1999; Gaston et al., 2001), but were extended to capture some of the more recently discussed challenges to designing with wood (O'Connor et al., 2004). These challenges were further explored by including statements on the degree to which architects need to be advocates in order to use wood. The concept of needing advocates to adopt some products and the relevance of assessing this degree of advocacy was supported in the branding literature (Keller, 2003) and was included in the survey in order to better understand how much of an effort is required to specify wood in nonresidential buildings. The survey also built on previous studies by investigating the performance of wood suppliers, a common practice in marketing research within an industrial context (Malaval, 1998; Blombäck, 2005). Lastly, the survey served to enhance past research efforts by providing further comparisons of wood relative to steel and concrete, and also by seeking the general views of architects on issues surrounding the efficacy of wood-related information and communications materials. Other scales were also used throughout the survey. For instance, the survey posed a series of three questions which relied on continuous seven-point interval scales (no labels were provided in between the extremities). In each case, the scales were used to facilitate the calculation of means and 95 percent confidence intervals. In the first case, the survey queried architects on the effectiveness of various information sources in their day-to-day practices. These questions, adapted from Kozak and Cohen (1997), used a scale from 1 (least effective) to 7 (most effective), but took into account more current practices, such as online resources and discussion forums. The perceived identity of wood was captured by a straightforward comparison of wood, steel, and concrete on various dimensions drawn from previous literature, including environmental friendliness, structural performance, building value, and fire resistance (Kozak and Cohen, 1999; O'Connor et al., 2004). This question asked respondents to rate the degree to which each of the structural materials possessed these attributes by employing a scale from 1 (not at all) to 7 (to a high degree). Finally, the exploratory use of the brand personality scale developed by Aaker (1997) was implemented  45  with no modifications to the scale. Aaker’s scale was presented to respondents who were given the task of rating the degree to which personality trait was descriptive of wood on a scale from 1 (not at all descriptive) to 7 (extremely descriptive). Finally, descriptive statistics in the form of proportions were used to analyze the response patterns of two remaining survey questions. Information on the structural materials that architects most commonly use and those that they prefer to work with was collected by asking them to estimate the proportions of buildings designed primarily with one material or another. Respondents were also questioned on their informational needs with respect to wood. Topics were drawn from and built upon the existing literature (Kozak and Cohen, 1997; Kozak and Cohen, 1999; Gaston et al., 2001; O'Connor et al., 2003; O'Connor et al., 2004), and for each, architects had to state whether they needed no information, had enough information, or needed more information when using wood in past projects. The intent was to provide guidance on possible information content in the communications efforts of wood products suppliers. A decision was made to implement the survey only in selected states in North America. Many of the previous studies on wood use in the North American nonresidential construction market sampled all of the United States and Canada (Kozak and Cohen, 1997; Kozak and Cohen, 1999; Gaston et al., 2001; O'Connor et al., 2004). While these studies were instrumental in producing fundamental knowledge pertaining to the issues and challenges surrounding wood use in nonresidential construction, the focus on a few selected urban markets in this study was meant to provide more in-depth information and insight at the expense of broader, continent-wide coverage. Differences between states were evaluated with a one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) (α = 0.05). The rationale for this sampling plan was that, in North America, construction habits vary widely from one city to another, and from one state to another. Consequently, aggregate data that are usually produced by region (e.g., U.S. North, South, and West) tend not to have the resolution required to provide an understanding of the nuances and subtleties of specific markets within these regions. Furthermore, an in-depth analysis of this nature is not  46  commonplace within the context of forest products marketing, and thus, provides some insight into a novel methodological approach. In order to implement this sampling strategy, expenditures for private nonresidential construction in the United States were studied for the period covering 1994 to 2004. The five states where construction activity was the most prominent were, in decreasing order of magnitude, California, Texas, Florida, New York, and Illinois. Focusing on the most important markets from a value perspective ruled out Canadian provinces. However, the communicational challenges for wood use in nonresidential construction in Canada would be worth investigating in future research. A list provider was then consulted to obtain the overall number of architect contacts that were available within these states; there were 13,176 individual architects in total. For budgetary and practical reasons, a sampling frame in the order of 5,000 architects was deemed to be workable. Each of the five states was considered to be a separate stratum, and the number of sample elements (architects) from each stratum was determined by proportional allocation based on construction expenditures in each state. Using these proportions, architects were randomly selected such that the overall sample total equalled 5,000. Table 2.1 presents construction expenditures and the numbers of architects in each of the selected states. In total, 5,000 invitations were mailed to architects in the five states under study. After the first mailing, 471 contact names were removed from the list due to improper contact information. In addition, 21 respondents declined to take part in the study because they were not involved in nonresidential design. Lastly, two surveys were removed because they contained too few responses. Overall, the survey yielded 165 usable responses, producing a response rate of 3.7 percent. A possible explanation for the low response rate in the preexperimental survey may be the fact that respondents were asked to participate in three surveys over several months. Nonresponse bias was tested by comparing early vs. late respondents (e.g. Armstrong and Overton, 1977). Of the 30 variables tested, no significant differences were found between these two groups, indicating that nonresponse bias was likely not present in this study and that statistical inferences can be made.  47  Table 2.1. Stratification of the U.S. sampling frame of architects for this study Yearly average construction Number of  State  architects listed  2  expenditures 1994-2004 (U.S.$ MM)  Sample  3  elements per stratum  (%)  California  5,388  21,278  32%  1,587  Texas  1,814  16,096  24%  1,200  Florida  1,857  12,658  19%  944  New York  2,787  9,622  14%  718  Illinois  1,330  7,388  11%  551  13,176  67,042  100%  5,000  Total  2.4 Results 2.4.1 Profile of respondents and material use in nonresidential construction In analyzing the survey results, very few significant differences were observed between the five states under study. Indeed, significant differences between the five states were only found in 8 variables out of 66, which is somewhat contrary to the initial assumption about wide possible regional differences. That being the case, results for this study are reported in aggregate and not on a state-by-state basis. With respect to demographics, 96 percent of the respondents were male, 81 percent have practiced architecture for 21 years or more, and 85 percent were self employed. Around 57 percent of respondents designed anywhere from 1 to 5 buildings in 2006, and 24 percent designed from 6 to 10 buildings. More than 98 percent of respondents have designed with wood in the past, but most respondents (47%) mainly used steel in their designs in 2006 (Figure 2.1). With 32 percent of the responses, wood was the second most commonly used material that year. While one architect in five had no preference for structural materials, 38 percent preferred designing with steel, 24 percent with wood, and 16 percent with concrete (Figure 2.1).  2 3  Source: Infocanada (www.infocanada.com) Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Manufacturing, Mining and Construction Statistics.  48  Steel  Wood  No preference  Concrete  Other  0%  5%  10%  15%  20%  25%  Preferred  30%  35%  40%  45%  50%  Most used  Figure 2.1. Most used and preferred structural materials in nonresidential design  2.4.2 Wood use in nonresidential construction The challenges of designing with wood within architects’ current design environments are reflected in Figure 2.2. Respondents generally agreed that the contractors and developers they work with are comfortable with using wood. Respondents showed a slight agreement for other variables, such as designers have not sufficiently learned about wood at school, designers have not sufficiently learned about wood on job, and changes from customary methods are too time consuming. Respondents neither agreed nor disagreed that building owners/developers are reluctant to specify wood buildings. On average, architects generally disagreed with the notion that wood was not adaptable to their needs and strongly disagreed that designing with wood was too complex. Figure 2.3 shows the degree of advocacy, or selfpromotion, that architects feel they must use in order to incorporate wood into their designs. Results indicate that architects neither agreed nor disagreed that they either had to educate or convince others in order to specify wood. They did, however, moderately agree that they like  49  to talk about wood with their peers, with an even stronger level of agreement regarding their likelihood to recommend wood to others. With respect to wood suppliers (Figure 2.4), an analysis of the mean responses indicates a slight departure from the neutral point in the direction of agreement on variables related to wood products suppliers being innovative, caring for architects’ opinions, and having architects’ interests in mind. Architects, however, generally agreed that wood products suppliers offer them the technical support they expect.  Contractors/developers I work with are comfortable with wood  Error bars: 95% CI  Designers haven't sufficiently learned about wood on the job Changes from customary methods are too time consuming Designers haven't sufficiently learned about wood at school Building owners/developers are reluctant to specify wood buildings Wood is not sufficiently adaptable to meet our needs Designing with wood is too complex  Strongly disagree  Somewhat disagree  Neither agree nor disagree  Somewhat agree  Strongly agree  Figure 2.2. Level of agreement on issues related to wood and the design environment  50  Error bars: 95% CI  I am likely to recommend wood to others  I like to talk about wood with my peers  In order to specify wood, I must educate people  In order to specify wood, I must convince people  Strongly disagree  Somewhat disagree  Neither agree nor disagree  Somewhat agree  Strongly agree  Figure 2.3. Level of agreement on issues related to advocacy or self-promotion of wood by architects  51  Error bars: 95% CI  Wood products suppliers offer me the technical support I expect  Wood products suppliers are innovative  Wood products suppliers care about my opinion  Wood products suppliers have my interest in mind  Strongly disagree  Somewhat disagree  Neither agree nor disagree  Somewhat agree  Strongly agree  Figure 2.4. Level of agreement on issues related to the performance of wood suppliers  2.4.3 Information sources and needs of architects Architects were also asked about the effectiveness of various information sources for learning about wood and wood products (Figure 2.5). Design manuals were seen as the most effective. A group of five sources fared equally well in second place: physical examples; Internet sites (company or product specific); company brochures or manuals; Internet databases and software; and technical support. At the other end of the spectrum, discussion forums, personal sales calls and visits, and scientific papers were deemed to be less effective. Figure 2.6 presents the results in order of magnitude based on whether architects “needed more information.” Sustainable design, the environmental footprint of wood, project costing with wood, and wood suppliers’ capabilities were the topics for which information needs were the most salient, being deemed a need by approximately half of the respondents.  52  Interestingly, informational needs were more important for engineered wood products (Ijoists and glulam) than for solid wood. Figure 2.7 presents the views of architects on information related to wood products. Respondents generally agreed that they were always interested in learning more about wood. Additionally, they agreed somewhat that design information for wood construction is readily available, while the variable that dealt with satisfaction with product information indicated slight agreement. Finally, architects showed neither agreement nor disagreement regarding the awareness of wood products available for nonresidential construction.  Design manuals, regulations manuals, fire manuals Physical examples Internet - company or product specific Company specific products manuals and brochures Internet - design specific (databases, software) Technical support -customer service representative Trade magazines and journals Industry (trade association) newsletters/mailouts Company specific advertisement and mailouts Trade shows Scientific papers, technical research  Error bars: 95% CI  Personal sales calls and visits Internet - discussion forums and user groups 1 Least effective  2  3  4  5  6  7 Most effective  Figure 2.5. Effectiveness of various information sources  53  Sustainable design Environmental footprint Project costing with wood Wood suppliers' capabilities Design with Glulam Beams Regulations and standards Design with Wood I-Beams Design with solid wood Wood durability Speed of construction Builders' capabilities for using wood 0%  10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100%  I needed more information No information need  I had enough information Not applicable  Figure 2.6. Information needs for wood products  54  Am always interested in learning more about wood  Design information for wood construction is readily available  Am satisfied with product information on wood products and systems  Am aware of all wood products available for nonresidential construction Strongly disagree  Error bars: 95% CI  Somewhat disagree  Neither agree nor disagree  Somewhat agree  Strongly agree  Figure 2.7. Level of agreement on issues related to information on wood products  2.4.4 The perceived identity of wood among architects Figure 2.8 addresses the image of wood relative to its main competition in nonresidential construction, steel and concrete. Respondents were first asked if it would be easy to specify another product if wood was not available and, on average, they slightly agreed with this point. Respondents were more neutral when asked whether wood was less safe or reliable than steel and concrete in nonresidential construction. Respondents sligthtly disagreed about steel or concrete designs being much easier than wood design. Figure 2.9 shows the perceived performance of wood, steel, and concrete on various attributes. Wood was deemed the most environmentally friendly material. But, they rated steel and concrete higher than wood for every other attribute. This was most prevalent in durability and fire resistance, where wood lagged far behind concrete. When investigated through the lens of Aaker’s brand personality framework, the most descriptive traits of wood revolved around it being  55  down to earth, outdoorsy, honest, charming, and wholesome. Conversely, wood was not perceived as being intelligent, upper class, tough, up-to-date, or daring (Figure 2.10).  Error bars: 95% CI  If wood was not available, it would be easy to specify other products Wood is not as safe as steel or concrete in nonresidential construction Wood is not as reliable as steel or concrete in nonresidential construction It is much easier designing with steel or concrete than it is with wood  Strongly disagree  Somewhat disagree  Neither agree nor disagree  Somewhat agree  Strongly agree  Figure 2.8. Level of agreement on issues related to wood as compared to steel and concrete  56  Contribution to high building value  Durability  Fire resistance  Structural performance  Environmental friendliness  Error bars: 95% CI  1  2  3  4  5  6  Not at all Concrete  Steel  7 To a high degree  Wood  Figure 2.9. Performance ratings of wood, steel, and concrete  57  Down to earth Outdoorsy Honest Charming Wholesome Reliable Successful Imaginative Cheerful Spirited Intelligent Upper class  Error bars: 95% CI  Tough Up-to-date Daring  1 Not at all descriptive  2  3  4  5  6  7 Extremely descriptive  Figure 2.10. Ratings for the personality of wood  2.5 Discussion The overall goal of this study was to investigate the possible role of communication in emerging markets for wood products. To that end, the first objective was to characterize the perceived identity of wood among architects in the nonresidential construction market in North America. The purpose of this descriptive approach was twofold. First, it provided an update on the current position of wood in the North American nonresidential market, as well as the perceptions of wood among the design community of architects. Second, it served as a basis for an experimental design on communications (not reported here).  58  According to the architects surveyed, wood is considered to be the most environmentally friendly material. But, they rated steel and concrete higher than wood on every other product attribute, most notably on durability and fire resistance, but also on the contribution to building value and structural performance. This attitudinal gap between wood and other structural materials, such as steel and concrete, further confirms past observations on the dynamics of material use in the nonresidential market (Kozak and Cohen, 1999; Gaston et al., 2001). In characterizing the perceived identity of wood, the personality traits that architects associate with wood are that it is down to earth, outdoorsy, honest, charming, and wholesome. According to Aaker’s brand personality framework (Aaker, 1997), three of these traits (down to earth, honest, and wholesome) belong to the construct of sincerity. Traits that were found not to be good descriptors of wood include spirited, intelligent, upper class, tough, up-to-date, and daring. Three of these traits (spirited, up-to-date, and daring) belong to the construct of excitement within Aaker’s framework. These results indicate that the architectural community consideres wood to be a sincere but unexciting material, and the structural use of wood and wood products generally are not thought to be innovative design. Even so, the transposition of Aaker’s scale to wood as a structural material is exploratory and further research should address how the constructs of this scale (e.g., honest, wholesome, daring, etc.) may be different for industrial products in general and structural wood products in particular. The transposition of a brand personality scale to other structural materials such as steel and concrete would also be beneficial, both for comparative and validation purposes. A second objective of this study was to follow-up on previously conducted research by characterizing the information sources used by architects and the perceived value of these sources. In line with previous studies (Kozak and Cohen, 1999; Gaston et al., 2001), design manuals were identified as the most effective source of information for architects. The fact that sales calls and visits are seen to be less effective is consistent with the literature supporting a preference on the part of users to be in control of the communication channel (Krishnamurthy, 2001).  59  The third objective of this study was to characterize the information needs among architects specifying structural materials in nonresidential design. According to the survey respondents, some of the topical areas for which information needs were highest included sustainable design, the environmental footprint of wood, project costing with wood, and wood suppliers’ capabilities. But, it is very likely that the informational needs of architects change over time. As the economy becomes increasingly knowledge-based (Foray, 2004), the use of wood in nonresidential structures not only requires knowledgeable users, but also knowledge-based products. Future research may address the degree to which wood products will need to become bundled with product information. While the sustainability of wood products is captured and communicated through various third-party environmental labels, other issues may also be of concern to potential users of wood products. These include chains of custody, legality of timber sources, corporate responsibility practices, contributions to the carbon balance, life cycle analysis, and energy consumption, which the present study investigated only peripherally. Such informational demands require that wood products firms not only manufacture products, but also generate and communicate knowledge. The very purpose of such communication activities is often to produce knowledge for manufacturers, distributors, and buyers (Lambin and Chumpitaz, 2002). The survey showed that the highest proportion of respondents (47%) used steel mostly in their designs in 2006, compared to 32 percent for wood and 18 percent for concrete. These results are generally in line with data from 1993 when wood was specified in 33 percent of buildings (Kozak and Cohen, 1996). Gaston et al. (2001) measured the proportion of wood specified at 27 percent. From these comparisons, it can be hypothesized that very little in the way of change has occurred in patterns of wood use for nonresidential construction over the past 15 years. At the very least, the consistency of observed results between this study and previous ones lends support to the validity of these market studies. Thus, a major implication of this study is that positioning wood as a preferred structural material among architects can only be envisaged as a long-term objective.  60  Knowing the perceived identity of wood, the preferred information sources, and the greatest information needs among architects certainly has other managerial implications. The role of communication with architects may well be to recognize the perceived identity of wood and to address informational needs through preferred channels. That said, this study is not without its limitations. When compared to the population under study, the sample showed some bias toward experienced, male, and self-employed architects. This may be due, in part, to the lower than usual response rate observed in this study. One of the main reasons for this comparatively low response rate is that the experimental nature of the study meant that participants had to participate over a longer term, completing a total of three surveys. In such cases, a higher rate of attrition is expected than for a descriptive survey sent out at a single point in time (Churchill and Iacobucci, 2002). Even so, the lack of nonresponse bias detected in the survey, and the fact that the observed results agree strongly with those of previous studies (Kozak and Cohen, 1997; Gaston et al., 2001), indicate that such biases may not be a concern in this investigation. Perhaps the most important limitation lies in the static nature of the study. In other words, the knowledge generated in this study is not sufficient to provide a complete understanding of the dynamic role of communication in the nonresidential sector over the long term. The knowledge and the perceived identity of wood among architects will continue to evolve with their experience with wood and exposure to communications. Defining the perceived identity of a product can consequently facilitate the creation and communication of a unique selling proposition (Belch et al., 2003). While this study of architects mostly focused on informational needs and the perceived identity of wood, future work should also incorporate concepts such as brand personality to better elucidate the way that architects feel about wood.  61  2.6 Conclusion Although many past studies have documented the opportunities for using wood in nonresidential construction, wood has made few, if any, gains in market share and most of the previously identified challenges still exist. Results from this survey of architects in five major U.S. states reinforce the conclusion that wood design is not seen as complex, but rather less desirable. When compared to steel and concrete, wood is deemed the most environmentally friendly material. However, wood products are not perceived to perform as well as concrete, especially in the areas of durability and fire resistance. It is proposed that the specification of wood by architects (or lack thereof) presents a case for better communication. Increasingly, wood products will become inextricably linked to product information. This, in turn, will require forest products firms to generate and disseminate knowledge in addition to manufacturing products. Future research should address the most appropriate communication strategies with this important group of specifiers. It is further argued that the perceived identity of wood evolves through communication and through experience in wood design. Forest products firms that wish to develop a foothold in the nonresidential market need to acknowledge the current perceived identity of wood and then implement suitable marketing strategies and actions to reinforce their positions. Improved communication that can be inspired from branding management may prove to be an appropriate starting point.  62  2.7 References for Chapter 2 Aaker, J. L. (1997). "Dimensions of brand personality." Journal of Marketing Research XXXIV(August 1997): 347-356. Armstrong, J. and T. Overton (1977). "Estimating nonresponse bias in mail surveys." Journal of Marketing Research XIV(August): 396-402. Ashby, M. and K. Johnson (2002). Materials and Design: The Art and Science of Material Selection in Product Design. Elsevier, Oxford. 336 pages. Belch, G. E., M. A. Belch and M. A. Guolla (2003). Advertising and promotion: an integrated marketing communications perspective. McGraw-Hill Ryerson, Toronto. 704 pages. Blombäck, A. (2005). Supplier Brand Image: A Catalyst For Choice (Thesis dissertation). Jönköping International Business School, Jönköping. 360 pages. Churchill, G. A. and D. Iacobucci (2002). Marketing Research: Methodological Foundations. SouthWestern/Thomson Learning, Mason, Ohio. 1006 pages. Couvelaere, V. and A. Richelieu (2005). "Brand strategy in professional sports: The case of french soccer teams." European Sport Management Quarterly 5(1): 23-46. Dillman, D. A. (1999). Mail and Internet Surveys: The Tailored Design Method. John Wiley & Sons Canada, Ltd. 480 pages. Foray, D. (2004). The Economics of Knowledge. La Découverte, Paris. 298 pages. Foreman, S. (2004). "Marketing: Integrated communications, advertising effectiveness and brand equity." Manager Update 15(3): 13-22. Gaston, C., R. Kozak, J. O'Connor and D. Fell (2001). Potential for Increased Wood-use in North American Nonresidential Markets. Forintek Canada Corp., Vancouver. 106 pages. Kapferer, J. (2004). The New Strategic Brand Management: Third Edition. Kogan, London. 497 pages. Keller, K. L. (1993). "Conceptualizing, measuring and managing customer-based brand equity." Journal of Marketing 57(January): 1-22. Keller, K. L. (2003). Strategic Brand Management: Building, Measuring and Managing Brand Equity. Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, New Jersey. 788 pages. Kozak, R. A. and D. H. Cohen (1996). An analysis of the North American Specifiers of Structural Materials in Non-Residential Construction. Centre for Advanced Wood Processing, Vancouver. 37 pages.  63  Kozak, R. A. and D. H. Cohen (1997). "How specifiers learn about structural materials." Wood and Fiber Science 29(4): 381-396. Kozak, R. A. and D. H. Cohen (1999). "Architects and structural engineers: An examination of wood design and use in nonresidential construction." Forest Products Journal 49(4): 37-46. Krishnamurthy, S. (2001). Person-to-person Marketing: The Emergence of the New Consumer Web. University of Washington, Report. 43 pages. Lambin, J.-J. and R. Chumpitaz (2002). Marketing Stratégique et Opérationnel. Dunod, Paris. 518 pages. Lewi, G. (2005). Branding Management: The Brand from Idea to Action (in French). Pearson Education France, Paris. 496 pages. Malaval, P. (1998). Stratégie et Gestion de la Marque Industrielle: Produits et Services Business to Business. Publi Union, Paris. 458 pages. O'Connor, J., D. Fell and R. Kozak (2004). Potential for Increased Wood-used in North American Nonresidential Markets - Part II (Builder/Owner Survey). Forintek Canada Corp., Vancouver. 90 pages. O'Connor, J., R. Kozak, C. Gaston and D. Fell (2003). Wood Opportunities in Nonresidential Buildings. Forintek Canada Corp., Vancouver. 32 pages. RISI (2008). North American Lumber Forecast. Resources Information Systems Inc., Bedford, MA. 140 pages. Robichaud, F., R. A. Kozak and A. Richelieu (2009). "Wood use in nonresidential construction: a case for communications with architects." Forest Products Journal 59(1/2): 1-9. Schultz, D. E. and H. F. Schultz (2004). IMC - The Next Generation: Five Steps for Delivering and Measuring Returns Using Marketing Communication. McGraw-Hill. 408 pages. Tezinde, T., B. Smith and J. Murphy (2002). "Getting permission: Exploring factors affecting permission marketing." Journal of Interactive Marketing 16(4): 28-36.  64  3 WOOD USE IN NONRESIDENTIAL CONSTRUCTION: AN EXPERIMENTAL STUDY ON THE ROLES OF MEDIA AND CONTENT IN DIRECT MARKETING PRACTICES1 3.1 Introduction Past studies have documented the market potential for positioning wood as a viable structural material in nonresidential construction (Kozak and Cohen, 1997; Kozak and Cohen, 1999; Gaston et al., 2001; O'Connor et al., 2004). The basis for this opportunity resides primarily in the value of the nonresidential market, which generally equates to that of the residential market (O'Connor et al., 2004), but also in the fact that the nonresidential construction market tends to be much less cyclical than the housing market (Kozak and Cohen, 1999). However, the volume of lumber and structural panels used in nonresidential construction in 2002 was less than 10% of the volume used in new residential construction (O'Connor et al., 2003). Wood use in nonresidential construction is limited by a number of factors, most notably the perceptions, on the part of specifiers of structural materials, that wood products have shortcomings with respect to structural, fire, and durability performance (Kozak and Cohen, 1999; O'Connor et al., 2003). According to Gaston et al. (2001), the two professional groups with the highest degree of influence in specifying structural materials for nonresidential construction are architects and structural engineers, with architects ranked first by a slim margin. Consequently, the nonresidential sector represents a market where structural wood products – even those that have existed for many years – need to be ‘adopted’ by specifiers in order to enable market success. Central to this notion of product adoption is the task of communication, both from product manufacturers to specifiers, and in the opposite direction (Ashby and Johnson, 2002). Communication activities are meant to produce knowledge for producers, distributors, and customers (Lambin and Chumpitaz, 2002). 1 A version of this chapter has been submitted for publication. Robichaud, F., A. Richelieu and R. A. Kozak (2009). "Wood use in nonresidential construction: An experimental study on the roles of media and content in direct marketing practices."  65  However, the relationship between marketing communications and wood use in potential markets is not yet fully understood, especially in light of the fact that emerging users (like architects designing nonresidential buildings) present special communication challenges (Schultz and Schultz, 2004). This research aims to provide a better understanding of the relationship between marketing communications and wood use in potential markets. To investigate this question, an experimental design was implemented among architects involved in the design of nonresidential structures in the United States in 2007. The presentation of the background and objectives of the study will be followed by the methods, results, a discussion of the research implications and on the possible role of branding, and complemented by a brief conclusion.  3.2 Background and objectives The nonresidential construction segment consists of buildings that are designed for purposes other than habitation, including industrial, commercial, office, educational, religious, recreational, nonhousekeeping, public and miscellaneous buildings (Kozak and Cohen, 1999). Evidence suggests that the challenges to wood use among the various groups of specifiers (architects, structural engineers, developers, builders, etc.) are similar, making architects an appropriate and logical segment for further research on developing wood use in nonresidential construction (Kozak and Cohen, 1999). It is methodologically challenging to link the outcomes of communications efforts to sales, especially in emerging markets. However, the role of marketing communications can be investigated with respect to their ability to fulfil informational needs. Keller (1993) further suggests that, although the fundamental goal of any marketing program is to increase sales, it is first necessary to establish the knowledge structures for a brand so that customers can respond favourably to marketing activities, such as communications. In the branding literature, one motivation for studying dimensions such as brand awareness, image, or notoriety is precisely to assess the role of marketing activities (Keller, 1993; Lewi, 2005). In practical terms, experimentation makes it possible to measure these dimensions and then to relate their evolution to specific marketing communications.  66  The fact that communications can emphasize either an informational or an attitudinal perspective is not new to the advertising literature. It is generally accepted that marketing communications can be classified according to their main focus: cognition or affect (Swaminathan et al., 1996). It has long been suggested (e.g. Petty et al., 1983) that there are two alternative paths in conveying a message to potential users: the ‘central’ route to communications allows a person to diligently consider information, while the ‘peripheral’ route relies more on positive or negative cues related to intangible values, such as source credibility and external rewards (Griffin, 2003). Each of these paths can also be categorized according to whether they provide informational versus transformational content (Rossiter and Percy, 1997). While rationale arguments are more common to the former, the surrounding of the message is more important in the latter. In these models, the involvement or motivation of customers towards a specific product dictates the preferred approach to communication. In the case of a structural wood producer attempting to increase their shares in a relatively untapped market like the nonresidential construction sector, there is no rationale a priori for suggesting one path over another. However, because architects are not consumers so much as professionals involved in the specification of building materials, a strong argument can be made that an informational route is more appropriate. This position have found support historically through the assumption that the principal function of communications for industrial products in the early stages of their life cycles should be to provide information (Hanssens and Weitz, 1980). More recently, it has been suggested that the main determinant of purchasing intent revolves around the feelings held towards a product or a brand and that these feelings can be modified over time through communications and experience (Cramphorn, 2006). While these findings explicitly relate to consumer products, they suggest that communications efforts to architects might also include more intangible emotional values in addition to providing information or knowledge about a product. However, the focus of this paper is not on determining whether emotional or rational messaging is better suited for persuading architects to use wood. Rather, given the lack of wood use in nonresidential construction, it seems more salient to understand the degree to which architects relate to varying forms of communications. As such, the informational dimension is studied alongside other dimensions dealing with less tangible values by adopting the premise of integrated marketing  67  communications (IMC) as an underlying principle. The IMC process starts with the customer or prospective customer and then work backwards to the brand communicator (Schultz and Schultz, 2004). The increased conceptual and strategic interest in developing the IMC paradigm is, in part, a function of the natural evolution from mass advertising to more targeted and personalized messaging, as marketers increasingly understand the value of focusing their communications efforts on specific customer segments (Tezinde et al., 2002). The first objective of this paper is to investigate the informational needs of architects in nonresidential design. While it is known that the methods that architects most typically use to obtain product information are reading materials and manuals or data files (Kozak and Cohen, 1997; Gaston et al., 2001), no study has explicitly addressed the issue of the specific topics that are of interest to architects. The second objective is to characterize the ‘brand’ of wood and to determine whether or how it evolves as a result of varying modes of marketing communications. In this paper, the dimensions of brand awareness and image are captured through the lens of ‘perceived identity’ (Kapferer, 2004; Couvelaere and Richelieu, 2005; Lewi, 2005). The perceived identity of wood can include architects’ views on the performance of wood when compared to steel and concrete, including its environmental friendliness, durability, structural capabilities, associated building values, and fire resistance (c.f. Gaston et al., 2001). The perceived identity of wood can also include the concept of personality. Generally, brand personality is defined as the set of human characteristics associated with a brand (Aaker, 1997). In contrast to product-related attributes, which tend to serve a utilitarian function, brand personality tends to serve a symbolic or self-expressive function (Keller, 1993). This study considers both interpretations of brand personality. In the case of Aaker’s personality scale, which was developed specifically for branded consumer products, the transposition to wood as a structural material can only be considered to be exploratory. However, recent developments have lent support to the adaptation of this scale to the positioning of industrial products (Töllner and Lentz, 2008). Both study objectives are addressed by means of a survey instrument and experiment (described in the Methods section). The marketing communications used in this study were brochures containing varying types of information. This form of direct marketing was selected because it is a commonly used means of communicating information to architects  68  about structural products. Direct marketing is also one of the most effective tools for integrated marketing communications (Phelps and Johnson, 1996 in Anantachart, 2004) and represents an important way in which customers can control the terms of their relationships with marketers (Krishnamurthy, 2001).  3.3 Methods An experimental design implemented in three subsequent steps was undertaken for this study of architects designing nonresidential buildings in North America: a pre-experimental survey; a communications experiment; and a post-experimental survey. At the beginning of the project, participants were invited to take part in each of the three phases.  3.3.1 Pre-experimental survey The pre-experimental survey was meant to provide insight into the perceived identity of wood among architects, as well as their informational needs and their perceptions of the competitive position of wood products relative to steel and concrete. The survey instrument was designed in accordance with elements of the Tailored Design Method (Dillman, 1999). Participants took part in the survey online. Nonresponse bias was tested by comparing early vs. late respondents (e.g. Armstrong and Overton, 1977). Of the 30 variables tested, no significant differences were found between these two groups, indicating that nonresponse bias was likely not present in this study and that statistical inferences can be made.  3.3.2 Marketing communications experiment The second phase was an experiment in which selected communications stimuli were sent to study participants. Each participant was randomly assigned into one of four groups, including a control group. The stimuli were delivered as direct marketing communications (brochures) and were sent out twice (along with reminder letters) to mitigate against the effects of attrition. The selection of communication stimuli was done in cooperation with the industrial partners supporting this study. That said, it was thought that the various stimuli should represent as wide a variety of different content as possible. The first stimulus  69  was a case study of a nonresidential wood building and is published by an industry association. It included a building description, floor plan, and structure design, as well as information on cost efficiency, environmental aspects, and compliance with building codes. The second stimulus was from an engineered wood products supplier. It was largely technical, and included spans and engineering data for various wood products. The third stimulus came from a fabricator of nonresidential structures and engineered wood products. This stimulus could best be categorized as advertising, although it also featured some examples of buildings and design possibilities using engineered wood products. These three stimuli are respectively referred to as ‘Case Study’, ‘Technical’, and ‘Advertising’ in this paper. Participants from the three experimental groups (excluding the control) were asked to evaluate the brochure that they received by means of a short online survey which focussed on the communication itself, and covered topics such as relevance, potential use, and possible complements. The goal of this survey was also to ensure that architects actually took a close look at the brochure and processed the content diligently. From a research perspective, it needs to be taken into account that this is a departure from the day-to-day practices of architects due to the fact that they knew in advance that they would be receiving a brochure for evaluation purposes.  3.3.3 Post-experimental survey The post-experimental survey was the last phase of the project. In essence, it was a replication of the pre-experimental survey, measuring identical constructs in order to determine the effects of the three communications stimuli by means of comparisons between the four experimental groups (the control group and the three groups that received communications stimuli). The purpose of this phase was to investigate the causal relationship that might occur between the stimuli and observed effects related to the perceived identity and competitive position of wood. Post-experimental results were compared with pre-experimental results using the General Linear Model (GLM) procedure for repeated measures on the same subject, and allowed for testing both between-subjects effects and the within-subjects effects (alpha = 0.05).  70  3.3.4 Sampling Many of the previous studies pertaining to nonresidential construction sampled using a full coverage of United States (U.S.) and Canada (Kozak and Cohen, 1997; Kozak and Cohen, 1999; Gaston et al., 2001; O'Connor et al., 2004). While these studies were instrumental in producing fundamental knowledge on the issues and challenges surrounding wood use in nonresidential construction, the focus of this study was to provide a deeper understanding of a specific aspect of architects’ behaviours. That being the case, a decision was made to implement the experiment only within selected U.S. states at the expense of broader, continent-wide coverage. In total, five U.S. states were selected for the sampling frame based on expenditures for private nonresidential construction between 1994 and 2004. The five states where nonresidential construction activity was highest were, in decreasing order of magnitude, California, Texas, Florida, New-York, and Illinois. A list provider was then consulted to obtain the overall number of architect contacts that were available within these states; there were 13,176 in total. For budgetary and practical reasons, a sampling frame of 5,000 architects was deemed to be workable. Each of the five states was considered a stratum, and the number of sample elements per stratum was allocated based on the proportion of nonresidential construction expenditures in each respective state. Sample elements from the control and experimental groups were then randomly assigned to each of these states, for a total of 5,000 sample units.  3.4 Results Following brief descriptions of survey response rates, study participation, and potential sources of error, results from this study are presented in the order of the experimental sequence. First, results from the survey are given, followed by the experimental results. Upon receipt of the stimulus, participants from the three experimental groups were asked to fill out an online questionnaire about the communication itself. Of the 123 invitations that 71  were sent, 58 questionnaires were filled out and 1 was removed because of having too many non responded items. In the post-experimental survey, 68 of the 165 initial respondents completed the questionnaire. Attrition was high likely due to the fact that taking part in three surveys over several months can be a heavy load for some. In the end, the experiment consisted of 22 sample elements in the control group, 14 in the Advertising group, 19 in the Case Study group, and 13 in the Technical group. In order to confirm that the pattern of differences observed between the degrees of influence of the three stimuli was not confounded by the regional distribution of respondents, a one-way analysis of variance was carried out with state as a factor. The null hypothesis of no differences between states was not rejected at alpha = 0.05. Collapsing the states into three geographical regions (Texas and Florida, Illinois and New-York, California) yielded the same conclusion. Another potentially confounding source of error may emanate from pre-existing differences between the four groups. In the pre-experimental survey, no significant differences between groups were found on the 30 variables included in the perceived wood identity construct (alpha = 0.05). As such, it can be assumed that the four groups (one control and three exposed to brochures) were similar in their attitudes towards wood, meaning that any effect observed is attributable to differences in the communications stimuli.  3.4.1 Survey results The first survey question asked architects whether the brochure that they received would influence their decisions to design with wood. This question used a continuous interval scale from 1 (not at all) to 7 (to a high degree) and means for each of the three types of brochures were computed. A one-way ANOVA (alpha = 0.05) revealed that there were significant differences between the perceived influence of the three types of communications stimuli (Table 3.1). According to the Scheffé post-hoc test, there was a significant difference between the case study (mean = 4.55) and the technical communication (mean = 3.18), but neither were significantly different from the advertisement (4.11). In other words, the case study brochure was deemed to be more influential than the technical brochure.  72  Table 3.1. One-way ANOVA on perceived influence of communication stimuli ANOVA Sum of Squares Between Groups  df  Mean Square  18.297  2  9.149  Within Groups  129.703  54  2.402  Total  148.000  56  F  Sig.  3.809  0.028  Respondents were then asked whether various types of complementary materials would have been needed (to support / assist them in designing with wood) in addition to the brochure that was sent to them. Possible response categories were ‘no need for a complement’, ‘detailed design guide’, ‘access to a detailed web page’, ‘the possibility to speak to a knowledgeable person’, ‘training session’, ‘site visits’, and ‘other’. Descriptive statistics presenting the response patterns by count and proportion are seen in Table 3.2 by experimental group. By far, the complementary materials that were needed the most were a detailed design guide (29.3%) and access to a detailed web page (32.8%). Only 14% of respondents felt that no complement was needed. Not a single respondent indicated the need for site visits. Most of the answers in the other category came from the Technical experimental group. Within this category, respondents requested more information on performance (fire, durability, and termite resistance), materials (especially glue), architectural images, regional cost data, and availability (stocking distributors). Table 3.2. Types of complementary materials needed in addition to brochure No need for a complement  Experimental group  Advertising Count % in Exp. group Case study Count % in Exp. group Technical  Count % in Exp. group  Total  Count %  Detailed Access to a Possibility to speak Training design detailed to a knowledgeable session guide web page person  Site visits  Other  Total  2  5  8  3  1  0  1  19  10.5%  26.3%  42.1%  15.8%  5.3%  0%  5.3%  100%  4  7  8  2  0  0  0  22  18.2%  31.8%  36.4%  9.1%  0%  0%  0%  100%  2  5  3  2  5  0  5  17  11.8%  29.4%  17.6%  11.8%  29.4%  0%  29.4%  100%  8  17  19  7  1  0  6  58  13.8%  29.3%  32.8%  12.1%  1.7%  0%  10.3%  100%  73  In an attempt to test the independence between experimental groups and types of complementary materials needed, a chi-square cross tabulation (alpha = 0.05) was conducted on the data in Table 3.2. However, with seven possible answers between three experimental groups, 15 of the possible 21 cells contained fewer than five cases. In cross tabulation, it is generally agreed that only a few cells (less than 20%) should be permitted to have counts of less than 5, but that categories can be meaningfully collapsed to conform to this rule (Churchill and Iacobucci, 2002). This was done in Table 3.3 by combining the ‘other’ category with ‘site visits’, ‘training session’, ‘possibility to speak to a knowledgeable person’ and ‘no need for a complement’. By doing so, only a single cell contains less than 5 elements. The chi-square test (alpha = 0.05) value resulted in the null hypothesis of independence between variables not being rejected. Therefore, no conclusions can be drawn regarding patterns in this data. Table 3.3. Combined types of complementary materials needed in addition to brochure Experimental group  Advertising Count % in Exp. group Case study Count % in Exp. group Technical  Count % in Exp. group  Total  Count %  Detailed design guide  Access to a detailed web page  No need for a complement / Other  Total  5  8  6  19  26.3%  42.1%  31,6%  100%  7  8  7  22  31.8%  36.4%  31,8%  100%  5  3  9  17  29.4%  17.6%  52,9%  100%  17  19  22  58  29.3%  32.8%  37,9%  100%  Participants were then asked what would have they likely done with the brochure had they received it in the context of their day-to-day jobs. Counts and proportions for each response category by experimental group are seen in Table 3.4. Almost half of the respondents stated that they would have kept and read the brochure. Another 38.6% of respondents indicated they would have read the brochure but thrown it away. The remaining 14% would not have read the brochure and either thrown it out or not.  74  Table 3.4. What architects would have done upon receipt of brochure Experimental group Advertising Count % in Exp. group Case study Count % in Exp. group Technical  Count % in Exp. group  Total  Count %  Not read and thrown away  Read and thrown away  Kept but not read  Kept and read  Total  0  11  0  8  19  0%  57.9%  0%  42.1%  100%  3  9  0  10  22  13.6%  40.9%  0%  45.5%  100%  0  2  5  9  16  0%  12.5%  31.2%  56.2%  100%  3  22  5  27  57  5.3%  38.6%  8.8%  47.4%  100%  Again, the independence of the two cross tabulated variables did not meet the requirements for a chi-square test due to too many cells with fewer than five elements. The only possible combination that could meet these requirements was by collapsing cells into two categories, ‘thrown away’ versus ‘kept’, leaving aside the matter of reading the brochure or not (Table 3.5). The chi-square test (alpha = 0.05) value resulted in a rejection of the null hypothesis of independence between the experimental groups and whether the brochure was kept or thrown away. Upon closer inspection of Table 3.5, it can be seen that the likelihood of the brochure being thrown away is somewhat greater than the likelihood of it being kept for both the Advertising and the Case Study groups. However, for the Technical group, the likelihood of a brochure being kept as a reference is far greater.  Table 3.5. What architects would have upon receipt of the brochure: kept vs. thrown away Experimental group Advertising Count % in Exp. group Case study Count % in Exp. group Technical  Count % in Exp. group  Total  Count %  Thrown away  Kept  Total  11  8  19  57.9%  42.1%  100%  12  10  22  54.5%  45.5%  100%  2  14  16  12.5%  87.5%  100%  25  32  57  43.9%  56.1%  100%  75  Respondents within each experimental group were finally asked whether they would have liked some issues to be further covered in the brochure. The proportions of respondents that suggested specific information needs are plotted in Figure 3.1 in aggregate (bars) and by experimental group (lines). Design possibilities were suggested the most often by 76% of respondents, followed by information on regulations and standards, sustainable design, project costing, and environmental footprints. Differences were also noted between experimental groups. For example, information needs regarding design possibilities and regulations and standards were especially acute in the Technical group a pattern which was followed, to a lesser extent, by the Case Study group. In contrast, project costing, sustainable design, and design possibilities rated comparatively high for the Advertising group. By combining all of this data without consideration of specific informational topics, it is possible to obtain a measure for the degree to which each experimental group requires information in general terms. For all issues combined, 76% of participants from the Technical group suggested that they needed more information, followed by the Advertising group (64%) and the Case Study group (55%). Thus, it appears that the case study may provide more complete information than the other types of brochures. That said, this conjecture was not explicitly tested and is, therefore, inconclusive.  76  % of respondents suggesting information needs  100% 90% 80% 70% 60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0% Design possibilities  Regulations and standards  All groups  Sustainable design  Project costing  Advertising  Environmental footprints  Durability  Case study  Suppliers' capabilities  Technical  Figure 3.1. Issues to be further covered for all experimental groups and by experimental group  3.4.2 Experimental results Respondents were asked to rate thirty variables representing the perceived identity in both the pre- and post-experimental surveys. Specifically, ratings were provided on two sets of variables using seven-point continuous interval scales. The statements regarding the performance of wood, steel, and concrete on selected attributes (listed in Table 3.6) was measured using a scale from 1 (not at all) to 7 (to a high degree), while the personality of wood (listed in Table 3.7) was measured using a scale from 1 (not at all descriptive) to 7 (extremely descriptive). Means were computed by experimental group for the pre- and postexperiment and are also seen in Tables 3.6 and 3.7 and. The General Linear Model (GLM) procedure (alpha = 0.05) was used to test for significant differences between- and withinsubjects prior to and following the receipt of the communications stimuli (brochures). Summary statements (test effects) of the GLM results for all 30 variables are also provided in the two tables.  77  Table 3.6. Means and test effects of the performance of wood, steel, and concrete in the pre- and postexperimental surveys (1 = not at all; 7 = to a high degree)  Concrete contributes to high building value Steel contributes to high building value Wood contributes to high building value Concrete is durable  Steel is durable  Wood is durable  Concrete is fire resistant  Steel is fire resistant  Wood is fire resistant Concrete performs well structurally Steel performs well structurally  Wood performs well structurally Concrete is environmentally friendly Steel is environmentally friendly Wood is environmentally friendly  Experimental Group Advertising Case Study Technical Control Advertising Case Study Technical Control Advertising Case Study Technical Control Advertising Case Study Technical Control Advertising Case Study Technical Control Advertising Case Study Technical Control Advertising Case Study Technical Control Advertising Case Study Technical Control Advertising Case Study Technical Control Advertising Case Study Technical Control Advertising Case Study Technical Control Advertising Case Study Technical Control Advertising Case Study Technical Control Advertising Case Study Technical Control Advertising Case Study Technical Control  Pre-experimental mean 5.50 4.95 5.31 5.36 5.07 4.89 5.08 4.95 4.43 4.00 4.15 4.09 6.21 6.06 6.31 5.68 5.43 5.44 5.69 5.55 4.07 4.58 4.08 4.32 6.43 6.11 6.23 6.05 3.93 3.47 3.46 4.00 3.00 3.16 3.69 3.64 6.07 6.00 5.62 5.45 6.21 6.47 6.31 6.27 5.43 5.63 5.31 5.18 3.93 4.00 4.46 4.09 4.36 4.63 4.00 3.95 5.50 5.47 4.92 5.09  Post-experimental mean 5.57 5.32 5.08 5.05 5.29 5.00 4.77 4.86 4.36 4.42 4.31 4.09 6.21 6.11 6.15 5.91 5.64 5.61 5.62 5.82 4.43 4.68 4.38 4.45 6.50 6.05 6.46 5.86 3.79 3.84 3.69 3.95 3.50 4.16 4.15 3.68 6.29 6.05 5.23 5.77 6.50 6.42 5.62 6.09 5.43 5.58 5.31 5.09 4.43 4.00 4.54 4.23 4.43 4.47 4.46 4.18 5.50 5.37 4.92 5.09  Test effect (alpha = 0.05) None  None  None  None  None  None  None  None  Within-subjects  None  None  Interaction  None  None  None  78  Table 3.7. Means and test effects of the personality of wood in the pre- and post-experimental surveys (1 = not at all descriptive; 7 = extremely descriptive)  Down to earth  Outdoorsy  Honest  Charming  Wholesome  Reliable  Successful  Imaginative  Cheerful  Spirited  Intelligent  Upper Class  Tough  Up-to-date  Daring  Experimental Group Advertising Case Study Technical Control Advertising Case Study Technical Control Advertising Case Study Technical Control Advertising Case Study Technical Control Advertising Case Study Technical Control Advertising Case Study Technical Control Advertising Case Study Technical Control Advertising Case Study Technical Control Advertising Case Study Technical Control Advertising Case Study Technical Control Advertising Case Study Technical Control Advertising Case Study Technical Control Advertising Case Study Technical Control Advertising Case Study Technical Control Advertising Case Study Technical Control  Pre-experimental mean 5.92 6.21 5.77 5.71 5.85 6.16 6.08 5.68 5.92 5.74 5.77 5.33 5.77 5.84 6.00 5.23 6.08 5.81 5.46 5.00 5.54 5.11 4.85 4.91 5.69 5.21 4.54 4.91 5.00 5.16 4.54 4.95 4.85 5.26 4.69 4.68 5.08 4.95 4.46 4.32 4.92 4.89 4.08 4.55 4.38 4.94 4.31 4.73 4.92 4.42 4.31 4.68 4.62 4.68 3.62 4.77 4.31 4.32 3.69 3.95  Post-experimental mean 6.00 6.11 5.69 5.57 5.38 5.84 5.92 5.77 5.92 5.95 5.46 5.57 5.23 5.58 5.75 5.09 6.00 6.00 4.77 4.71 5.46 5.42 4.85 5.09 5.00 5.37 4.77 4.64 4.69 5.05 4.54 4.86 4.23 5.42 4.23 4.64 4.58 4.95 4.31 4.27 3.85 5.00 4.38 4.86 4.92 5.39 3.92 4.45 4.77 4.58 4.00 4.32 4.38 5.00 3.77 4.59 3.69 4.63 3.62 4.23  Test effect (alpha = 0.05) None  None  None  None  Betweensubjects  None  None  None  None  None  None  None  None  Betweensubjects  None  79  Of the 30 variables tested, a significant interaction effect was found on only one (wood performs well structurally) and, as such, results cannot be interpreted for this variable because observed differences cannot be attributed to within- or to between-subjects factors. Between-subject effects were found on two variables (wholesome; up-to-date), but it is not known whether these effects are independent of the experimental factor (communications stimulus). A significant within-subjects effect was found on a single variable (wood is fire resistant). This represents 3.3% of all variables tested and is within the probability of obtaining significant results by chance alone (alpha = 0.05). Combined, these results lead to the inference that the perceived identity of wood among architects in selected U.S. states is not altered by the communications that they receive and read. When all three experimental groups were combined into a single group to be compared with the control group, the same conclusions were drawn.  3.5 Discussion The results of this study indicate that wood products manufacturers face many challenges with respect to the marketing of their products to architects engaged in the design of nonresidential structures in North America. Notably, the respondents that participated in this study (see Robichaud et al., 2009) indicated that they specified steel and concrete much more frequently than wood in their designs, a result that is in line with those observed by Kozak and Cohen (1997) and Gaston et al. (2001). However, the questions remain, what can marketers do to change the perceptions of wood products among architects and increase the share of wood use in the nonresidential sector? According to Krishnamurthy (2001), most modern marketing texts prescribe the awarenessconsideration-choice-loyalty structure for developing markets. In the case of wood products in nonresidential construction then, communications should trigger awareness among architects (and other specifiers), leading to the consideration and actual specification of wood. Some of the recent literature addressing the role of communications suggests that it is the experience with a product or a brand that increases attention to communications and the amount of information retained (Cramphorn, 2006). Hence, a paradigm shift may be in order, wherein communications is enhanced by experience more than experience being  80  driven by communications. For example, repetitive advertising of an unfamiliar brand was shown to be less effective than the same repetition applied to a known, familiar brand (Campbell and Keller, 2003). Given that steel and concrete are the materials of choice in nonresidental construction, Cramphorn’s (2006) posture suggests that future research should address the relationship between the experience with wood and the role of communications. In this study, results from the experimental design suggest that the use of communication stimuli in the form of brochures does not have a significant impact on changing the perceived identity of wood among architects. This is an especially important result in light of the fact that the nature of the study meant that participants took the time to read and comment on the brochures that were sent to them, which is generally not the expectation in conventional direct marketing practices. Generally, the role of marketing communications plays out over the long term (Lodish, 1986; Cramphorn, 2006), whereas this experiment was limited temporally. An implication of this research, therefore, is that the development of the nonresidential market on the part of wood products manufacturers should involve a long term strategic commitment, as opposed to a ‘quick fix’ in the form of an advertising campaign. All that said, it is of some value to look at the three communications stimuli that were used to elicit responses in this study in further depth. The architects that participated in this study felt that the case study was more influential than the technical brochure, with the advertisement ranking somewhere in between (although not significantly different from the two other groups). The potential benefits of information to firms, customers, and society should be expected to accrue only to the extent that customers notice, process, and comprehend such information (Franke et al., 2004). In this experiment, the likelihood that a brochure was kept rather than thrown away was much higher for the technical brochures than for the advertisement and the case study. This would support the assertion that a focus on informational content is appropriate when targeting architects involved in the design of nonresidential structures. However, the technical brochure was also the communications stimulus for which the need for complementary information was highest. According to the study participants, the case study covered a broader range of topics and appeared to be more complete. It should be noted that this study focused more on cognitive information rather  81  than affective information, and future research may benefit from investigating the emotional ties that architects may have to building materials. Fully 86% of study participants indicated that whichever brochure they received should have been complemented with other materials or information, the most frequently mentioned complements being a detailed design guide and access to a detailed web page. For wood products firms interested in developing the nonresidential construction market, this finding indicates that direct marketing brochures – already commonplace – would benefit by being integrated into a mix of diverse communications. For instance, successful firms in the steel industry have been crafting design guides for nonresidential designers for some time now, a route that could easily be followed by wood producers. It may also be worthwhile to explore the possibility of creating a webpage expressly for nonresidential building designers (Gagnon, 2006). Another possible web-based solution would be to enable user communities through discussion forums, and there exists an array of literature on brand communities that could enlighten this process (e.g. Muniz and O'Guinn, 2001; McAlexander et al., 2002; Cova and Pace, 2006). Brand communities are thought to create value by fostering loyalty towards a specific product or a brand (Cova and Pace, 2006). Even though brand communities generally revolve around consumer products and not building materials, the importance of addressing informational needs for specifiers may well drive these sorts of user forums in the context of nonresidential design. In brand communities, consumers are proactive, which tends to increase their level of involvement toward the brand. Because of the important informational needs of architects, such a community may well take the form of a knowledgebased community. Knowledge-based communities are networks of individuals striving, first and foremost, to produce and circulate new knowledge, and working for different, even rival, organisations. Knowledge communities are, as a rule, oriented toward the production and reproduction of knowledge through decentralized and cooperative processes (Foray, 2004). According to the architects that participated in the pre-experimental survey, the most important informational needs related to sustainable design, environmental footprints, project costing, and suppliers’ capabilities. The post-experimental survey revealed that, once exposed to communications, the most important informational need related to design  82  possibilities, followed by regulations and standards, environmental footprints, and sustainable design. Marketers of wood products should take heed of this result by including some or all of this information in their promotional campaigns, understanding that the need for information also varies according to the mode of communications employed. For products that are riskier to adopt, more information can enhance knowledge, build awareness and brand image, and lead to increased purchases (Foreman, 2004), but risk aversion has been shown to be part of the culture in nonresidential construction (Gaston et al. 2001). These observations point to the fact that product offerings in nonresidential construction are closely tied to the provision of information. Future research should attempt to uncover precisely what types of information should be provided (e.g. information comparing wood versus steel and concrete, the personality traits of wood), and whether an emotional or rational messaging strategy is more appropriate for architects engaged in nonresidential design. It must be noted that marketing brochures represent only one means among many of communicating with architects. For a firm with a long term objective of positioning wood as a desirable alternative or as a complement to steel and concrete in nonresidential construction, the relevance and the mix of various communications mechanisms should also be addressed. Generally, marketing communications refer to five methods of communicating in a business environment: advertising; sales force; sales promotions; public relationships; and direct marketing (Lambin and Chumpitaz, 2002). More recently, brand construction and management have also been constructed as a form of marketing communications (Kapferer, 2004). Lewi (2005) conceptualizes the brand as a lever to generate value. This value results from a brand’s identity, positioning, and related marketing actions (Couvelaere and Richelieu, 2005). Consequently, marketing actions, such as brochures, can be designed and implemented as a means of sustaining a brand and creating value through differentiation. In this sense, a long term branding strategy might be appropriate in developing the nonresidential construction market. Cramphorn (2006) further suggests that customers generally relate better to brands than to products or suppliers, meaning that communications about brands may prove more effective than communications about generic products. That said, results from this paper on the perceived identity of wood could contribute to the brand construction process for specific wood products firms. However, for companies interested  83  in adopting branding approaches, it should be noted that strategies should also allow for the evaluation of the role of communications on the perceived identity of the brand (Keller, 2003; Lewi, 2005; Vallaster and de Chernatony, 2006). The idea that the creation and management of a brand is a possible means of improving communications with architects is supported by Kapferer’s identity prism (Kapferer, 2004), in which brand identity is defined along six dimensions: physique (tangible values); personality (e.g. Aaker’s scale); culture (intangible values); associations (brand image); relationships (including personal relationships for service brands and transactions involving the brand); and self-image (expression of the customer’s identity through the brand). The brand is viewed through the prism as both a desired identity by the manufacturer and a perceived identity by the customer, with these two contextual ‘identities’ comprising the process known as the co-construction of the brand identity (Bech-Larsen et al., 2007). This process is, in and of itself, an act of communications. On the one hand, the creation and expression of a brand communicates some form of identity even before the marketing of the brand takes place. On the other hand, the appropriation of the brand by customers over time is likely to define and redefine the brand identity. Once the brand identity is defined, positioning and marketing the brand may take place, resulting in value creation (or brand equity) through marketing actions (Couvelaere and Richelieu, 2005). Figure 3.2 is an adaptation of both frameworks proposed by Kapferer (2004) and Couvelaere and Richelieu (2005) situated within the context of architects considering the use of wood products. In essence, it reflects the dual role of branding as a means of communication as well as one focussing on communication of the brand.  84  Branding as a means of communication  WOOD SYSTEMS MANUFACTURER  Pe rso na li  e ibl ng Ta lues va  ty  Desired Identity  Intangible values  Brand identity  Marketing actions  Brand equity  e ag  As s  -im  oc iat ion  Brand postioning  lf Se  s  Relationship  Perceived Identity  Communication of the brand  ARCHITECTS  Figure 3.2. Branding as a means of communication and communication of the brand  Finally, there are also some limitations worth noting in this experimental study. The first one stems from the categorization of the three communications stimuli used in this study. While the classification between technical content, advertising content, and case study content makes conceptual sense, the limits between these are not fully defined and immutable. As such, an argument can be made that the conclusions of this study apply to the three stimuli specifically used in this experiment, as opposed to communications stimuli in general. Despite their limited external validity, there can be no doubt that the results presented here  85  do shed some light, generally speaking, into the efficacy of technical brochures, advertisements, and case studies among architects engaged in nonresidential design. In addition, even if these brochures were thought to represent common industry practices, they certainly did not address an exhaustive list of all the issues faced by architects today. Furthermore, not all means of marketing communications were explored in this study, web sites being an obvious example. A final limitation emanates from the temporal nature of this study, and specifically an inability to practically replicate the time frames of longer term marketing programs. However, given the nature of experimentation as a means of simulating real-world events, this is not seen to be a major issue.  3.6 Conclusion An experimental design was conceived and implemented to understand the role of various forms of communications stimuli on the perceived identity of wood among architects engaged in the design of nonresidential structures in selected cities in the United States. The three communications stimuli used in this study could broadly be categorized as direct marketing brochures, and took the form of a technical brochure, an advertisement, and a case study. There was no discernable impact on the perceived identity of wood as a result of being exposed to these three types of communications stimuli. As a consequence, positioning wood as a preferred structural material in nonresidential construction may have to be viewed not as a communications exercise, but as a long term strategic objective in which communications with architects have the potential to play an important role. It is notable that the brochure containing the technical content is the one that was most likely to be kept as a reference by architects, but also the one for which the need for complementary information was the highest. On this latter point, this study also helped to identify topical areas of interest to architects, including sustainable design, environmental footprints, project costing, suppliers’ capabilities, and design possibilities. For wood products firms interested in increasing wood use in nonresidential applications, a suggested route to communications with architects might be to craft a brand, in part, by aligning their branding strategies with their communications approaches. 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European Journal of Marketing 40(7/8): 761-784.  89  4 DISCUSSION OF RESULTS FROM THE RESEARCH DESIGN In line with previous studies (Kozak and Cohen, 1997; Gaston et al., 2001), design manuals were identified as the most effective source of information for architects. In the communications experiment, the likelihood that a brochure was kept rather than thrown away was also much higher for the technical brochure than for the advertisement and the case study. In addition, the vast majority (86%) of study participants indicated that whichever brochure they received should have been complemented by other materials, especially with a detailed design guide and access to a detailed web page. Together, these results support that a focus on informational content is appropriate when targeting architects involved in the design of nonresidential structures. An informational perspective for professional buyers was also suggested as a strategic choice by Malaval (1998). According to the architects that participated in the pre-experimental survey, the most important informational needs related to sustainable design, environmental footprints, project costing, and suppliers’ capabilities. The post-experimental survey revealed that, once exposed to communications, the most important informational needs related to design possibilities, followed by regulations and standards, environmental footprints, and sustainable design. That said, the ranking of these informational needs may not be as important as their overall magnitude. Clearly, the experimental design illustrates an interest that architects have with respect to wood related information. Even though the informational role of communications with architects is evidenced by the research design, it is worth noting that the perceived identity of wood is a challenge for potential suppliers of nonresidential systems. In summing up, wood is considered to be the most environmentally friendly material. However, steel and concrete were rated higher than wood on every other product attribute, most notably durability and fire resistance, but also contribution to building value and structural performance. Wood is also thought of by the architectural community as a sincere, but unexciting material. In other words, the structural use of wood and wood products is generally not thought of in terms of innovative design.  90  Upon examination of the results from the research design, several methodological limitations can be uncovered. A first limitation comes from a lack of possible comparisons between wood, steel, and concrete. For survey topics such as design environment, advocacy or selfpromotion, performance of wood suppliers, information needs, and brand personality, results would have likely been more revealing if they had involved some form of comparison between materials. For instance, the brand personality of wood using Aaker’s scale was investigated from an exploratory perspective, and results now suggest that a comparison with steel and concrete would have allowed for further analysis. Another limitation comes from the focus of investigation of the survey instrument, which mostly addressed building materials, while little attention was given to suppliers. In their practices, the relationships that architects have with building materials inevitably goes through material or systems suppliers. Architects may consult suppliers in order to know whether a product is available or a design configuration possible. In addition, much of the technical data available to architects and engineers is also published by suppliers. Indeed, the nuances between the relationship with building materials and the relationship with materials suppliers could have been addressed through focus groups prior to implementing the research design. As such, a more thorough comparison of suppliers from the steel, concrete, and wood industries would have been worthwhile. Such an investigation of the decisionmaking process is recommended by Blombäck (2005). The perceived brand identity of suppliers from these competing industries may have also served to inform the research question. The extension and adaptation of brand personality concepts to industrial products (e.g. Töllner and Lentz, 2008) may prove a valuable research direction. Following the work of Malaval (1998), the relationship between risk and potential performance for industrial brands could be of interest in comparing firms from the steel, concrete, and wood industries. Some recent literature further reports on the importance of lesser rational (or non-informational) elements of the brand identity in industrial markets (e.g. Blombäck, 2005). Again, exploring such dimensions for competing industries may prove a valuable research path.  91  Another limitation of the survey instrument is that it did not address the role of third-party labels in conveying information. It is safe to assume that some labels have continually gained awareness in the design community. This is the case for environmental labels which certify that wood was produced according to sustainable principles or that complete buildings conform to sound environmental guidelines. While the sustainability of wood products is captured and communicated through such labels, other issues are increasingly addressed through labels, such as chains of custody, legality of timber sources, corporate responsibility practices, contributions to the carbon balance, life cycle analysis, energy consumption, and so on. Of interest for the main research question would have been the role of third-party labels in communicating with architects. On the one hand, labels require that wood products firms not only manufacture products, but also generate and communicate knowledge. Indeed, a vast amount of knowledge is generally required in the specification process in industrial markets (Malaval, 1998). The idea that the provision of wood products will be increasingly bundled with the provision of information has consequently been raised as a result of the research design. Future research may address this finding in greater detail. As the economy becomes increasingly knowledgebased (Foray, 2004), there is no doubt that the use of wood in nonresidential structures not only requires knowledgeable users, but also knowledge-based products. On the other hand, strong labels have the potential to take on a greater importance than product or supplier brands. For wood as a product category, but also for suppliers of wood products, the challenge then becomes one of differentiation. The literature (e.g. Keller, 2005; Cramphorn, 2006) suggests that consumers better relate to brands than to products. In industrial markets, Blombäck (2005) also found supplier brand image to be a catalyst for choice. But the role of third-party labels may also be worth investigating. An original research question would be to compare the importance of third-party labels and private brands in the material selection process. It can be hypothesized that some labels may take on the status of brands, thus challenging differentiation efforts by individual organisations. Another implication of this research is that positioning wood as a preferred structural material among architects can only be envisaged as a long term objective. This implication is compatible with what has been referred to as a paradigm shift in communications;  92  communications may be enhanced by experience more than experience being driven by communications (Cramphorn, 2006). Given that steel and concrete are the materials of choice in nonresidental construction, future research should address the relationship between the experience with wood and the role of communications. In summing up, the following issues emerge in discussing the results from the experimental design:  •  Wood use in nonresidential construction is an informational challenge requiring suppliers to produce and disseminate knowledge;  •  The perceived identity of wood is a potential hurdle to wood use;  •  Experience with products or brands may be a catalyst for the success of communications for these products or brands;  •  Customers may relate more to brands than to products;  •  The proliferation of strong third-party labels is a potential threat for suppliers that do not pursue a strong differentiation strategy; and,  •  Developing wood use in nonresidential construction can only be addressed over the long-term.  These issues share in common the fact that they may be addressed through long-term branding strategies. Indeed, the provision of technical information is an essential role for industrial brands (Malaval, 1998). Although the informational role of communications was emphasized by the research design, it is worth noting that the selection process may not be rational in industrial markets and that feelings and intangible factors may be important drivers (de Chernatony and McDonald, 2003; Blombäck, 2005). This extends upon similar findings within consumer markets (e.g. Cramphorn, 2006; Lewi, 2005), and provides support regarding the role of communications in pursuing a coherent brand identity. The fact that the perceived identity of wood is seen as a potential hurdle to wood use can thus be turned into an original question from a brand management perspective. The contribution of experience with products, suppliers, or brands on the role of  93  communications would then logically become a relevant area of investigation. There is a sense that a long term branding strategy may also be an option for suppliers of materials for nonresidential structures to differentiate themselves despite the proliferation of labels that can take on the status of brands. As opposed to a communication campaign, a branding strategy must be envisaged over the long-term, again in line with the results from the research design. Recently, brand construction and management have been constructed as a form of marketing communications (Kapferer, 2004; Blombäck, 2005). In other words, branding may be considered a communication strategy which can be used for increasing the chances of being competitive and successful in a competitive market (Blombäck, 2005). This posture is best summarized as “what we know of an organization comes to us through the organizational talk and texts that capture our attention” (Taylor and Robichaud, 2004). As such, the brand construction process becomes a means of planning and acting upon the organizational discourse. The creation and expression of a brand communicates some form of identity even before the marketing of the brand takes place. Concurrently, the appropriation of the brand by customers defines and redefines the brand identity over time. Once the brand identity is defined, positioning and marketing the brand may take place, resulting in value creation (or brand equity) through marketing actions (Richelieu et al., 2008). Malaval (1998) also argues that it is also the continued existence of the brand that allows for value creation to take place, arguing that the role of industrial brands is to convey information. Consequently, marketing actions, such as brochures, can be designed and implemented as a means of sustaining a brand and creating value through differentiation. This consideration of branding as a means of communications is explored in the next chapter.  94  4.1 References for Chapter 4 Blombäck, A. (2005). Supplier Brand Image: A Catalyst For Choice (Thesis dissertation). Jönköping International Business School, Jönköping. 360 pages. Cramphorn, S. (2006). "How to use advertising to build brands: In search of the philosopher's stone." International Journal of Market Research 48(3): 255-276. de Chernatony, L. and M. McDonald (2003). Creating Powerful Brands in Consumer, Service and Industrial Markets. Butterworth Heinemann. 496 pages. Foray, D. (2004). The Economics of Knowledge. La Découverte, Paris. 298 pages. Gaston, C., R. Kozak, J. O'Connor and D. Fell (2001). Potential for Increased Wood-use in North American Nonresidential Markets. Forintek Canada Corp., Vancouver. 106 pages. Kapferer, J. (2004). The New Strategic Brand Management: Third Edition. Kogan, London. 497 pages. Keller, K. L. (2005). "Measuring Brand Equity". R. Grover and M. Vriens. Handbook of Market Research - Do's and Don'ts. Sage Publications: 546-568. Kozak, R. A. and D. H. Cohen (1997). "How specifiers learn about structural materials." Wood and Fiber Science 29(4): 381-396. Lewi, G. (2005). Branding Management: The Brand from Idea to Action (in French). Pearson Education France, Paris. 496 pages. Malaval, P. (1998). Stratégie et Gestion de la Marque Industrielle: Produits et Services Business to Business. Publi Union, Paris. 458 pages. Richelieu, A., S. Lopez and M. Desbordes (2008). "The internationalization of a sports team brand: The case of European soccer teams." International Journal of Sports Marketing and Sponsorship 10(1): 29-44. Taylor, J. R. and D. Robichaud (2004). "Finding the organization in the communication: discourse as action and sensemaking." Organization 11(3): 395-413. Töllner, A. and P. Lentz (2008). Industrial Brand Personality: Transferring an Existing Concept into a New Market. European Marketing Academy Conference, Brighton, UK, European Marketing Academy.  95  5 BRANDING AS A COMMUNICATIONS STRATEGY IN THE WOOD PRODUCTS INDUSTRY: A FRAMEWORK FOR DESIRED BRAND IDENTITY1 5.1 Introduction Brand management is increasingly being considered to be a useful means of fully exploiting the assets of an organisation and generating value (Pappu et al., 2005). Positioning the brand at the core of the organisation represents a shift away from considering the brand as a distinct, peripheral asset (Kapferer, 2004). In this sense, brand building goes beyond creating image and awareness; it is a way of building a corporate ‘soul’ and communicating it both within and outside of a company (Kotler and Pfoertsch, 2006). Recently, there has been increased interest in conceptualizing the process of brand construction and management as a form of marketing communications (e.g. Kapferer, 2004; Blombäck, 2005). The brand as an expression of an organisation has also been supported in the literature, especially the notion of forging brands through the values expressed by key personnel (de Chernatony, 2001; Vallaster and de Chernatony, 2006). Holt (2002) further argues that brands should reflect authentic values for which an organisation stands. Lewi (2005) asserts that the identity of a brand stems from within an organisation and that the brand itself should act as a lever to generate value. Value, in this sense, is derived from a brand’s identity, positioning, and marketing actions (Couvelaere and Richelieu, 2005). In other words, if a brand is considered to be a lever, then it commands action and there is clearly action in the processes of constructing a brand and articulating that brand in selected markets in order to create value.  1 A version of this chapter has been submitted for publication. Robichaud, F., A. Richelieu and R. A. Kozak (2009). "Branding as a communications strategy in the wood products industry: A framework for desired brand identity."  96  From a research perspective, the forest products industry provides an interesting case for studying brand identity because both concepts of brand construction and brand management have barely been applied to this important sector. Most structural wood products are used either in new residential construction or for repair and remodelling activities. However, there is a growing interest in diversifying these traditional markets and in developing applications for increased wood use in nonresidential building construction. Given that a brand can be defined as a potential lever to generate value, the nonresidential construction sector then can be viewed as a preferential market segment that could potentially deliver that value. The logical argument that subsequently emerges forms the principal question under investigation: How could a branding strategy be developed as a lever in nonresidential markets for wood products? This question is especially acute when considering branding as a form of communications in that there appear to be several communications challenges that wood products manufacturers need to overcome in order to succeed in the nonresidential construction marketplace (Robichaud et al., 2009a; Robichaud et al., 2009b). Keller and Lehman (2006) point out that brands are made, not born. The primary intent of this paper is to rely upon the branding literature to propose a framework that would help guide the brand construction process of wood products in the nonresidential market. This research extends on previous developments on the process of brand construction for wood products (e.g. Robichaud et al., 2009b), but focuses on the dimension of the desired brand identity for wood products firms within this broader context. To that end, this study first provides some background on nonresidential construction and on branding. A conceptual framework for branding is then offered, followed by the methods, results, and conclusions as they relate to this research.  97  5.2 Background and objectives Nonresidential buildings, as the name implies, are built for purposes other than housing. The most common types of such buildings include industrial, commercial, office, and public buildings (StatCan, 2006). Currently valued at U.S. $225 billion (RISI, 2008) in the United States, the market value of the nonresidential sector has historically been roughly equivalent to that of the residential market. However, nonresidential activity has been much less cyclical than the housing market over the past decade and construction now far outweighs its residential counterpart as a result of the most recent housing downturn (RISI, 2008). The market share for wood products in the nonresidential market is generally acknowledged to be only a fraction of the share held by other materials, such as steel and concrete (Robichaud et al., 2009a). In the design of nonresidential buildings, wood suffers from many perceptions limiting its use among the most important specifiers of structural materials, architects and structural engineers (Robichaud et al., 2009a). Among these specifiers , wood is thought to have shortcomings with respect to structural performance, fire performance, and long-term durability (Kozak and Cohen, 1999; O'Connor et al., 2003). Developing the nonresidential market presents particular communications challenges because the informational needs of architects (arguably the most influential specifier group) are paramount and because wood products tend to be intimately coupled to information (Robichaud et al., 2009a). For instance, architects may need information on design possibilities, connections, fire resistance and, increasingly, environmental performance of wood products in the course of their design activities. Communications can take many forms, as evidenced by the preferred information sources for architects, including design manuals, physical examples (demonstration buildings), internet sites (company- or productspecific), company manuals and brochures, design-specific internet sites, and technical support from customer service representatives (Robichaud et al., 2009a). However, the potential for supporting wood use through some of these channels may be somewhat limited. Indeed, a recent experimental simulation showed that marketing brochures did not alter the perceived identity of wood among architects, at least over the short-term 98  (Robichaud et al., 2009b). This may be because the act of communication inherent in receiving and reading a brochure represents only a moment in the course of designers’ activities (Blandin, 2002). In other words, the utility of a marketing brochure may only exist for a brief window of time whilst it is being read, perhaps meaning that communications campaigns ought to take a longer term, strategic view. The process of branding represents one such long-term possibility in that it may be considered a communications strategy which can be used for increasing the probability of success for a product in a competitive market (Blombäck, 2005). It follows then that, in the early stages of the product selection process in industrial markets (like the nonresdential construction sector), perceived brand image can play a key role (Malaval, 1998). In fact, Blombäck (2005) suggests that subcontractors may actually pursue branding as an active communications strategy. Subcontractors can be defined as firms that manufacture products and offer services according to customers’ orders (Blombäck and Axelsson, 2007). This definition parallels that of suppliers of products and systems for the nonresidential construction market and supports the proposition of applying brand management concepts to this segment. A further rationale in support of a branding strategy as a means of communications is the longer term nature of a brand as opposed to a marketing campaign. Indeed, customers are said to relate more with brands than with products or communications (Cramphorn, 2006), a result which is in line with the literature on marketing communications, and specifically, the long-term nature of certain communications strategies (e.g. Lodish, 1986, Batra et al., 1996). Branding strategies start with the process of brand construction which, in turn, involves the specification and definition of an overall brand identity (Malaval, 1998). In essence, the focus is on clarifying the core values and the most important elements of the brand to construct. That said, the objectives of this paper are twofold: 1) to propose the use of a framework describing desired brand identity for suppliers of wood products and systems in the nonresidential construction market; and 2) to apply this framework to selected firms in order to evaluate its suitability within this environment.  99  5.3 Conceptual framework The concept of branding has received multiple treatments in the business literature. The ubiquity and diversity of various terminologies related to branding has led to a multiplicity of definitions and nuances. This leads to the question of the appropriate choice for a framework in the context of brand construction. Keller (2003a) distils the knowledge about brands into two components: brand awareness and brand image. Brands are also known to be multidimensional constructs and, as such, brand awareness and brand image can be further categorized to incorporate attributes, benefits, thoughts, feelings, attitudes, and experiences (Keller, 2003b). Earlier conceptualisations of the brand cast it in terms of brand equity, the constituents of which include brand associations, perceived quality, brand loyalty, and competitive advantage (Aaker, 1996). While some definitions of brand equity are grounded in a financial perspective and stress the value of the brand to the firm (e.g. Madden et al., 2006), others are based on a consumer perspective (e.g. Campbell and Keller, 2003; Cova and Pace, 2006), defining brand equity as the value of a brand to the consumer (Pappu et al., 2005). The more recent concept of the co-construction of the brand refers to the fact that brands come about as a result of both managerial efforts and their appropriation by consumers (Bech-Larsen et al., 2007; Boyle, 2007; Petty, 2008). Various models have also been proposed to capture and define the notion of brand identity, including the concept of brand personality (Aaker, 1997). Kapferer (2004) emphasizes the dialectical nature of the brand by modelling it as a ‘picture’ for both the sender and the recipient. This ‘picture’ model posits the brand as an act of communication with six elements comprising its identity: physique, relationship, reflection, personality, culture, and self-image (Kapferer, 2004). This concept of brand identity is similar to those of brand essence and brand promise proposed by de Chernatony (2001). Lewi (2005) also concurs with this notion of embedded values in the identity of a brand, describing them as both tangible and intangible and potentially encompassing objective values, subjective values, attributive values, narrative values, and associative values. Notably, in the specific context of industrial products, brand identity may well be more dependent on tangible product attributes versus intangible values (Malaval, 1998).  100  While the constructs that define the characterization of a brand – both from an organisational and a customer point of view – may vary among researchers, there is some degree of convergence in the recognition that brands are crafted from within organisations and assessed through the lens of the customer (de Chernatony, 2001). In other words, there is both a desired and a perceived identity for a brand and the continuous quest for coherence between the two is an essential part of a brand’s development (Holt, 2002; Lewi, 2005; Vallaster and de Chernatony, 2006). Furthermore, brands are inextricably linked to products that bear physical and objective attributes. In many ways, the branding framework proposed by Lewi (2005) captures these dimensions (desired identity, perceived identity, and objective attributes), as well as many of the dimensions and conceptualizations of brands proposed by various authors. Within this framework, a brand – and brand identity in particular – is the result of continuing tensions between desired identity, perceived identity, and objective attributes (Figure 5.1).  Desired Identity Perceived Identity -Promise -Brand audit -Vision -Notoriety -Values -Image Brand Objective Attributes -Communication -Marketing -Product  Economic environment  Technology environment  Political and legal environment  Socio-cultural environment  Figure 5.1. A branding framework (adapted from Lewi, 2005, p. 449).  101  Lewi’s framework positions the brand within a broader environment. In its original (and French) form, the model includes the concepts of desired figure and perceived figure rather than desired identity and perceived identity. This departure from the original model is justified in this study because the brand figure terminology is not found elsewhere in the literature, while the concept of brand identity is frequently encountered in various forms. The forest products industry has yet to fully embrace the concepts of branding and brand management (Tokarczyk and Hansen, 2006), nor has it capitalized on potential opportunities in the nonresidential construction segment. In other words, the forest products industry is very much in the brand construction phase with respect to this market, the foundation of which lies in the development of a brand identity. As such, this study largely focuses on the crucial aspect of desired identity in the brand construction process, with objective attributes and perceived identity being approached more peripherally. Objective attributes are interpreted as the manifestation of a brand, including the product itself and its associated marketing communications. The perceived identity of a brand refers to the fact that branding strategies should allow for the evaluation of the efficacy of communications through market research and/or brand audits (Keller, 2003a; Lewi, 2005; Vallaster and de Chernatony, 2006). Thus, Lewi’s (2005) framework provides a useful means of assessing the coherence between these three components of the brand. Furthermore, forest products firms interested in tapping into the nonresidential construction sector can use this model as a foundational basis for the development of branding strategies, beginning with an exploration and evaluation of desired brand identity.  5.4 Methods In accordance with the conceptual framework (Figure 5.1), a branding strategy comprises a desired identity for the brand, as well as a perceived identity and objective attributes. Because the current study is within the domain of brand construction, only the component of desired brand identity will be addressed as a preliminary step. Obviously, the perceived identity can be considered only once a brand exists in the marketplace. It also seems logical to conceptualize the desired brand identity prior to addressing objective brand attributes because, if branding can serve as a focal point for the communications activities of a firm 102  (Blombäck and Axelsson, 2007), then objective attributes (like communicating a brand) need to be aligned to a desired brand identity. Eventually, objective attributes can also be adapted to address the tensions that exist between desired and perceived identity (Bech-Larsen et al., 2007). There is no a priori rationale for specifying a corporate brand strategy or a product brand strategy. While some companies might rely on an established corporate brand name, others may choose to focus on a specific product brand or, more broadly, on branding a business solution. Companies interested in developing a brand for specifiers (like architects) may augment their product offerings through various services such as design, fabrication, and installation. Based on Lewi’s (2005) adapted branding framework, a methodology for determining the desired brand identity of wood product firms interested in pursuing the nonresidential construction sector is proposed in this study. According to de Chernatony (2001), the identity of a brand is forged from within an organisation. This approach, conceptualized as internal brand building (Vallaster and de Chernatony, 2006; King and Grace, 2008), is meant to foster the coherence between a brand identity and its expression by an organisation. Consequently, the proposed methods include a set of questions intended for key management employees within wood products organisations that have potential to develop a brand for the nonresidential construction market. This approach mirrors that of other researchers whose works formed the basis of the questionnaire used in this study of brand construction. The questionnaire (seen in Table 5.1) is comprised of four sections and is meant to inform strategic thinking related to desired brand identity: (1) internal brand building process; (2) brand vision; (3) brand identity; and (4) brand promise. It should be noted that each of these categories – further discussed below – align well with Lewi’s (2005) framework. Notably, the framework presented in Figure 5.1 integrates values within the desired brand identity, which makes conceptual sense given that the concepts of brand vision, promise, and identity all relate to values.  103  Vallaster and de Chernatony (2006) addressed issues of internal brand building and some of its major challenges, identifying leadership as one of the most important success factors in the internal brand building process. If this is so, then it seems relevant to address the degree to which respondents believe they have the appropriate leadership in place for implementing a brand management strategy for wood products. Brand vision indicates a long-term intent which encourages commitment throughout the organisation and includes three components: future environment; purpose; and values (de Chernatony, 2001). While brand purpose directly considers how the world will improve as a result of the brand, values provide the basis for differentiation (de Chernatony, 2001). Within de Chernatony’s model, values are investigated both at the vision stage and at the promise stage of the brand construction process. Notably, brand vision also represents an integral part of the desired identity component in the framework seen in Figure 5.1 (Lewi, 2005). In order to uncover the values that are central to defining a brand identity for a brand under construction, it has been recommended that three core functional advantages that the brand should have above and beyond the competition should be identified by means of laddering techniques (Reynolds and Gutman, 1988). Such techniques are used to gain a sense of why certain attributes are important, what consequences these attributes have, and which values these attributes reinforce (de Chernatony, 2001). This form of inquiry is useful in establishing a link between the tangible (attributes) and intangible (consequences and values) elements of a brand, with tangible attributes including quality, competitive advantage, price, distribution, innovation, and notoriety and less tangible values including accessibility, performance, reliability, durability, and guarantees (Lewi, 2005). Associative values, also discussed by Lewi (2005) as intangible, are described elsewhere as associations (Aaker, 1996; Keller, 2003a). In the specific case of wood products, some values, such as environmental footprints and durability, might be both tangible and intangible even though Life Cycle Analysis tools and other research based approaches quantify and reinforce the tangible nature of theses values. Malaval (1998) further suggests that, for industrial brands, it is relevant to measure the expectations towards a brand with respect to perceived risk. Since brands are often described as risk reducers (de Chernatony, 2001; Keller, 2003a) and because  104  risk-averse behaviour is part of the culture in nonresidential design and construction (Gaston et al., 2001), it is germane to incorporate the notion of risk reduction as part of the brand identity concept. Finally, a recurring way of defining brands has been to refer to it as a promise (de Chernatony, 2001; Lewi, 2005; Kotler and Pfoertsch, 2006) or even a mantra (Keller, 2003a). The essence of the brand promise is to delineate what the brand is supposed to represent and deliver, including its emotional, functional, and descriptive elements (Keller, 2003a). The concept of promise as presented by de Chernatony (2001) takes on a broader meaning to also encompass attributes, benefits, emotional rewards, values, and personality traits. In the context of brand construction, some possible ways of designing a brand promise include directly formulating and communicating a promise or envisioning the benefits and values to be distinguished by customers. In the nonresidential construction sector, specifiers can also include building owners and users in addition to architects and structural engineers and, as such, the brand promise can be extended and targeted to these audiences as well.  105  Table 5.1. Questionnaire for informing the development of a desired brand identity for wood products. Internal brand building process Q1.  What is the current stage of internal brand building within your company?  Q2.  What is the current stage of brand building for the specific purpose of specifiers in the nonresidential construction market?  Q3.  What major challenges do you foresee in the process of creating/sustaining a brand for the nonresidential construction market?  Q4.  Is your own leadership enough for implementing/sustaining a branding strategy or would you suggest that more corporate commitment is needed?  Brand vision Q5.  If you envision your market environment ten years from now, how would a strong brand strategy have contributed to the success of your organisation?  Q6.  If you envision your brand ten years from now, what do you think it would be known for?  Q7.  If the world could be a better place as a consequence of your brand, what would be its contribution?  Brand identity Q8.  What are the three functional benefits that you would recognise the most in your brand?  Q9.  What consequences would each of these benefits or attributes have?  Q10.  Why are these consequences important?  Q11.  What are the risks faced by specifiers in their business environment that your brand could help to mitigate?  Brand promise Q12.  What are the benefits that you would like specifiers to recognise most in your brand?  Q13.  What are the benefits that you would like building users or owners to recognise most in your brand?  Q14.  What are the values that you would like most to be associated with your brand?  Q15.  If you think of your brand as a promise of some function, description, emotion, or value, what would this promise be?  A case study approach using the questionnaire outlined in Table 5.1 was chosen as the research strategy for this study. In general, case studies are the preferred strategy when how or why questions are being posed, when the investigator has little control over events, and when the focus is on a contemporary phenomenon within some real-life context (Yin, 2003). Case studies can be used to explain presumed causal links, to describe an intervention and the context within which it occurs, to illustrate certain topics, to explore situations in which an intervention has no clear set of outcomes, and to perform an evaluation of an evaluation study (Yin, 2003). Case studies are generalisable to theoretical propositions, such as the conceptual branding framework adapted from Lewi (2005) in Figure 5.1, but not to populations or universes. From a research perspective, the goal is to expand and generalise  106  theories and not to enumerate frequencies. In this study, the intent is to explore and describe the process of brand construction within wood products organisations and to inform the process of brand construction (in the context of nonresidential markets) within these companies. It is hoped that the results will shed light on the appropriateness and relevance of the proposed conceptual framework. Three wood products organizations volunteered to take part in this study. They were selected because they had in common the strategic vision of developing their businesses in the nonresidential construction market. Each was also engaged in seriously thinking about the branding of their organisations or products. While the number of cases falls just short of the recommended four to ten cases for multiple-case study research (Eisenhardt, 1989), the inclusion of additional organizations was limited due to the facts that very few forest products firms are currently developing a strategic orientation towards entering the nonresidential construction market, while others are facing difficult circumstances as a result of the general downturn in the economy[2]. Firm A[3] is a Canadian manufacturer employing 500 people in the production of lumber and engineered wood products, such as I-Joists[4] and Glulam[5] for both residential and nonresidential applications. In an effort to further develop the nonresidential market, this firm also offers engineering and design support, as well as complete building systems to architects and structural engineers. The questionnaire was answered by two of its representatives, the Director of Technical Service and the Vice-President of Sales, respectively. Firm B, employing 110 people, is a Canadian manufacturer of Glulam, mostly destined for the nonresidential market, but also for residential construction. It operates an engineering and design department to support its sales as well as the design and installation of nonresidential structures. The questionnaire was answered by three company representatives: the President / General Manager; the Marketing Manager, and the Products  2  For instance, one volunteer company showed keen interest in branding management and in participating in the research, but went bankrupt a few days prior to the scheduled interview. 3 Names have been withheld to maintain anonymity of the participating companies. 4 Composite structural beam and column products put together such that their cross-sections resemble an “I” shape. 5 Glue laminated posts and beams.  107  Manager. Finally, Firm C is an Austrian manufacturer of cross-laminated timber[6]. They are involved in residential and nonresidential markets and employ approximately 100 people. The questionnaire was answered by its President / Managing Director. The survey instrument used in this research included the fifteen questions for the framework in Table 5.1 and was implemented through a series of one-on-one, semi-structured interviews. Survey answers were written down in presence of respondents at the time of the interview. Depending on the number of participants, interviews lasted between 40 and 70 minutes. Interviews were recorded and emergent themes were reported by topic: internal brand building process (Q1 to Q4); brand vision (Q5 to Q7); brand identity (Q8 to Q11); and brand promise (Q12 to Q15). Additionally, for each firm, answers to all questions were merged into a single file of plain text format (ASCII). The three files were then analysed through CATPAC, a software package designed for content analysis that has previously been used successfully within the context of forest products (Vidal and Kozak, 2008). This software identifies the most important words in texts and determines how similar they are based on the way they are used (Woelfel, 1998). It also uses cluster analysis as a means of identifying patterns of similarities between the most frequently used words in the text. As such, the results of each analysis not only showed what the most frequents words were, but also revealed how closely they were connected to other words.  5.5 Results Although the three companies may be at different stages of their internal branding process, none of them is actively pursuing a brand management strategy. In other words, the objective of developing a strong brand did not appear to be a major priority. Table 5.2 shows that Firm A has made some form of connections between marketing activities, such as advertising and brand development[7]. Firm B has already developed a few branded products for residential construction and has introduced a branding management concept by implementing surveys of its customer base. Interestingly, Firm C is in a position where the product category is becoming associated with the name of the company. This denotes a 6 7  Used in the production of large wood panels. Tables 2 through 15 include direct quotes from interviews with each of the three participating companies.  108  nascent and potentially strong brand, although marketing efforts were not consciously dedicated to that objective.  Table 5.2. Internal brand building process – what is the current stage of internal brand building within your company? Firm A  Firm B  Firm C  • We do advertise in specialized magazines. We have some ads and try to strengthen our proposition. • We target different segments, such as builders and architects; however we look for some coherence when communicating between the various groups.  • We did some work towards it [brand building] with a customer survey of architects, engineers, contractors, and lumberyards. • The company has been in business since 1951, so there is a strong brand coming from the long history of the company. • We developed a product brand for the residential market.  • The first thing we did was to train a lady responsible for marketing. • We should have done more efforts in creating a brand. • Because our product was one of the very first ones, we sometimes see [our] name being used to identify the product even when it is coming from other companies.  When it comes to the development of a brand specifically for the nonresidential market, Firm A acknowledges being at the beginning stage of its brand building efforts (Table 5.3). These efforts include close work with professional architects and compliance third party labelling schemes for green building. While Firm B does not limit its branding efforts to the nonresidential sector, Firm C is mainly focused on architects either in residential or nonresidential construction.  109  Table 5.3. Internal brand building process – what is the current stage of brand building for the specific purpose of specifiers in the nonresidential construction market? Firm A • Working with the AIA [American Institute of architects], we participate in seminars where architects can get professional credits with our training. • We participate in trade shows. • We have lots of ideas, but we need to prioritise. [8] • We want to be LEED compatible. • We would say that we are at the beginning stage of our brand building effort. • In the province of Ontario, we do direct marketing development in architects’ offices.  Firm B • Our branding efforts are not specific to non-residential [markets]. • We have some branded wood finishes.  Firm C • We mainly focus on architects; in our opinion, they are the key persons to use our products. • We especially do seminars and direct marketing as well.  Costs and resources emerged as common challenge for the three firms in the process of creating and sustaining a brand (Table 5.4). Firm A further emphasized the required time and the constant need for innovation when it comes to branding. Firm B also noted the time required, specifically to see a return on investment and have a measurable payback. Firm B also raised the issue of generic branding for the entire wood industry versus branding an organization as a means of differentiation within the industry. According to Firm C, the cost of branding was the only major hurdle.  8  Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.  110  Table 5.4. Internal brand building process – what major challenges do you foresee in the process of creating/sustaining a brand for the nonresidential construction market? Firm A  Firm B  • The challenge is one of resources. Resources are required for being involved and present among the target segment. • Technical resources to support the product are also an issue. • It is also a matter of time; it [brand building] has to be a long and planned process. • Another challenge is the constant tension for offering added value on both products and services.  • The major challenge is one of strategy; choosing what to do and where to put the money. In other words, knowing what is the right course of actions without guidelines. In a way, not knowing the ROI is an issue. A branding strategy implies a real long term investment; we would look more at the short term currently. • A challenge is also the time required for a strong brand to develop. • To a certain extent, we need to know about the payback. Up to a point, you need to stop investing in communications. • Another challenge could be called the branding of the company versus the branding of the industry. From a company perspective, we develop a strong brand in competition with other firms. For products, this may be confusing in the market. When branding the corporation includes our services, then differentiation is more possible. At the industry level, the issue is to grow the pie for the industry so that the pie gets larger and that individual organisations can get a larger share. • We developed binders for designers. In this effort, the budget is planned over one year, but the planned use is at least five years.  Firm C • The cost of developing the brand may be an issue.  On the leadership issue (Table 5.5), all representatives interviewed expressed that they have adequate leadership required to build a brand internally. In the cases of Firm A and C, support for such initiatives had to come from the top management and / or ownership. For Firm B, support had to come from the Board of Directors.  111  Table 5.5. Internal brand building process – is your own leadership enough for implementing/sustaining a branding strategy or would you suggest that more corporate commitment is needed? Firm A • We definitely have the leadership. Our top management is involved and has the vision; our marketing efforts are always supported when they make sense.  Firm B • The management is 100% behind [branding], but the budget is an issue. • We have some leadership, but then not completely; we need support from the board.  Firm C • I have all the leadership required; however decisions are made in teams. There are three owners and I am one of them.  Table 5.6 shows that all firms suggested that a strong brand contributes to success. Firm A even explicitly stated that up to 25% additional sales can be generated by the brand itself. However, firm A also noted that the mechanical properties and availability of the products (two characteristics that tend to be interchangeable between firms) may be more important than the brand. Firm B stated that ten years is a short period of time to be gauging success and again emphasized the distinction between marketing for a product category (wood) versus marketing for an individual company. Firm C suggested that customers are easier to convince with a good brand, but that it is also important to have good products and services to support the brand.  Table 5.6. Brand vision – if you envision your market environment ten years from now, how would a strong brand strategy have contributed to the success of your organisation? Firm A  Firm B  Firm C  • When you look at sales, there is a share that is generated by the sales force. There can be a share, up to 25%, generated by the brand. • In our industry, the mechanical properties and availability of the product may be more important than the brand.  • Strong branding does contribute to success • Branding can help strengthen our position in the industry • ten years is a short period of time • There is a link to be made with the industry, an important question being: do you market for the industry or for your company?  • A strong brand would be a strong part of the success. • People are easier to convince if you have a good brand. To have a good brand, you have to have good products, services, etc.  112  When thinking of what their brand would be known for in ten years (Table 5.7), the concept of value seemed to consistently emerge from the three firms. For firm A, recognition in ten years would come from having the best products and services at stable prices, as well as from various third party certifications mechanisms focusing on environmental issues and quality. A distinct feature of firm A is to build the brand around the fact that the company is vertically integrated all the way from the forests to building construction. Firm B also emphasized quality and made a point about being recognised in terms of value. It also wants be recognised for its technical skills, especially in providing solutions and listening to architects. Lastly, firm B wants to somehow be associated with the beauty of wood. Firm C thought that it would be known for environmental friendliness, affordable construction, and flexibility, the latter referring to the adaptability of its products and systems to support both architectural designs and fully customized projects.  Table 5.7. Brand vision – if you envision your brand ten years from now, what do you think it would be known for? Firm A  Firm B  • The best products and services. [9] • Certified wood supplier (FSC ,  • Product quality. • Value for the dollar. • Technical ability and competence. • Providing solutions (construction means problems). • Product beauty. • Listening to architects. • Expert in connections [between structural members in buildings].  [10]  chain of custody, ISO 9000 , green building compliant). • Consistent quality. • Our brand represents all the chain, from the forest to the building. • More stable price.  Firm C • Environmentally friendly. • Affordable construction. • Flexibility for different kinds of users. • Flexibility of design and architecture. • Individuality, unique projects. • Customized 100% just in time for specified and specific projects.  When asked what the contribution of their brand would be for making the world a better place, all respondents, not surprisingly, shared a smile. However, this question gave rise to significant societal and environmental concerns as evidenced by Table 5.8. Firm A emphasised its contribution to the overall carbon balance as wood buildings are thought to capture significant amounts of carbon over the long-term. It also outlined the social role of the firm, especially with regards to its employees, clients, and the communities within which it operates. According to firm B, its brand would contribute to a better world by providing 9  Forest Stewardship Council. International Standards Organization.  10  113  an aesthetically pleasing material, namely wood. The environmental merits of the brand were noted for firm B as well, especially in light of the fact that wood stores carbon, requires less energy to produce than other materials, and is conducive to the design of healthier buildings. As in the case of Firm A, engagement towards employees was also noted as a contribution of the brand to a better world. In the case of Firm C, the brand’s contribution is more straightforward, largely directed at the environmental merits and sustainability of wood.  Table 5.8. Brand vision – if the world could be a better place as a consequence of your brand, what would be its contribution? Firm A  Firm B  Firm C  • Our contribution to the carbon balance. • Our social role through our interactions with our employees, clients, and with the community.  • Quality projects: good looking monuments, aesthetics. • Sustainability: wood is the only renewable material; it has a low embodied energy and contributes to carbon storage; it allows for healthy buildings. • Engagement towards employees.  • Taking care of the environment. • Sustainability.  Brand identity was further investigated through the laddering technique seen in Question 8. Table 5.9 shows the three functional benefits that respondents most recognised in their brands. Interestingly, while each of the firms differed, some common themes emerged related to performance, installation, and the aesthetic qualities of wood.  Table 5.9. Brand identity – what are the three functional benefits that you would recognise most in your brand? Firm A 1. Mechanical resistance. 2. Warmth of the material, the comfort of living with wood. 3. Installation benefits; ease of installation, low weight, speed of installation.  Firm B 1. Support, service. 2. Versatility, flexibility and the complete solution (package). 3. Performance.  Firm C 1. Flexibility. 2. Easy and fast to erect and mount. 3. Comfortable kind of living (interior climate and energy consumption).  Respondents were then asked about the consequences (Table 5.10) for each of the three functional benefits that they identified in Table 5.9. Firm A associated mechanical resistance to the competitiveness of its solutions, especially since it allows for the use of smaller elements, reduces inventories for customers, and makes substitution of other materials (such 114  as steel and concrete) by wood easier. The warmth of the material had the consequences of providing energy savings and longer term enjoyment for consumers, as well as increased sales for the firm. Lastly, installation benefits were directly linked to customer satisfaction and cost reduction. Firm B outlined that designers would be more likely to specify its products as a consequence of the levels of support and service that they provide. Versatility and flexibility had a direct influence in that these attributes appeal to the creativity of architects. Performance was associated with reduced problems both for the firm and consumers, and while this attribute warrants further work by the firm, it is held up as a requirement that consumers expect. Firm C associated flexibility with design, building size, and energy consumption. Ease and speed of installation meant that less skilled (and lower cost) labour was required for building installation. Ease of building assembly was also associated with the use of ready-to-assemble (RTA) products, which lowers the cost for clients. Finally, the third functional benefit, a comfortable kind of living, was linked with the climate inside the building, comfort all year long, and low energy consumption.  115  Table 5.10. Brand identity – what consequences would each of these benefits or attributes have? Firm A  Firm B  Firm C  1. Mechanical resistance: • More competitive. • Smaller elements and sections. • Easy to substitute other materials with our brand. • Reduction of inventories for the client. 2. Warmth of the material, the comfort of living with wood: • Increased sales; the consumer will enjoy [the product] for a longer time. • Energy savings. 3. Installation benefits; ease of installation, low weight, speed of installation: • Customer satisfaction. • Cost reduction.  1. Support, service: • Designers will specify the products. 2. Versatility, flexibility and the complete solution (package): • Appeals to creativity. Architects design with colours, textures and shapes. With versatility and the opportunity to have a complete package, architects can thus do more. 3. Performance: • This avoids problems both for customers and for us. • Performance is somewhat more of a requirement; customers expect performance. • Performance warrants future work.  1. Flexibility: • Design. • Size (enlarging the building afterwards is possible). • Flexible to adapt to energy consumption requirements. 2. Easy and fast to erect and mount: • Don’t need many good skilled people to erect. • You can use it [like a ready-toassemble product]. • Lower cost for the client. 3. Comfortable kind of living (interior climate and energy consumption): • Climate inside the building. • Feels warm and friendly during the winter; feels nice and cool in summertime. • Performs well on energy consumption.  The last step of the laddering technique was to ask why the consequences enumerated in Table 5.10 were important (results not tabulated here). Generally, this question was difficult for respondents to answer and very few themes emerged (not an uncommon occurrence in laddering interviews (Reynolds and Gutman, 1988)). However, the common themes of prosperity and profitability did surface when respondents attempted to discuss reasons why the consequences of attributes related to brand identity were important to them. The last question on brand identity related to the risk reduction potential of brands (Table 5.10). Firm A stated that its customers benefit from after sales services and support, in addition to continued product availability. Firm B said that offering a package reduced risk when compared to purchasing building materials separately. It also focussed on the provision of support and the identification of problems. Firm C associated risk reduction with quality, compliance with codes and standards, and environmental certification.  116  Table 5.11. Brand identity – what are the risks faced by specifiers in their business environment that your brand could help to mitigate? Firm A • After sales services; customer support. • Continued product availability.  Firm B • Some items might be missed if purchased separately as opposed to a package. • We will be there if there is a problem (support). • We sometimes identify problems before they occur.  Firm C • Quality. • Compliance with codes and standards. • Compliance with most environmental labels.  While a previous question on brand identity investigated the functional benefits that respondents recognised in their brands, questions on brand promises focused on the benefits that they would like various users to recognise the most in their brand, beginning with specifiers (Table 5.12). Firm A thought that specifiers, such as architects, would most recognise quality, limited claims, responsiveness, service, and availability of the product and staff to answer queries. Firm B emphasized aesthetics, good monetary value, and limited problems encountered. Firm C thought that specifiers would recognise how simple it is to solve complex structural design problems using its products, along with other benefits like sound proofing, low energy consumption, and support from the discipline of building science.  Table 5.12. Brand promise – what are the benefits that you would like specifiers to recognise the most in your brand? Firm A  Firm B  • Quality of the products and services. • No claims. • Responsiveness. • Technical and physical service. • Availability of the product and of the staff.  • Looks good. • Good value; would cost no more than any other products so we [the specifier] can afford it. • Problem-free.  Firm C • How simple it is to solve complex problems in structural design by using our products. • Sound and noise protection. • Low energy consumption buildings. • We support them with all fields of building physics; not only structurally.  117  The same question was addressed with building users or owners in mind (Table 5.13). Firm A identified aesthetics, environmental friendliness, energy savings, and cost benefits. Firm B also included aesthetics and environmental friendliness, with a focus on the feelings of wellbeing that wood can convey. Firm C thought that users or owners would recognize comfort, energy consumption, the short time required for installation, and the flexibility of using wood in interior applications.  Table 5.13. Brand promise – what are the benefits that you would like building users or owners to recognise most in your brand? Firm A  Firm B  • Aesthetics. • Environmental friendliness (such as compliance with LEED). • Energy savings. • Cost benefits.  • Aesthetics (beauty and function). • The feeling that wood gives. • Wood is a lot warmer and comforting than other materials. • Wood is green, sustainable, and healthy.  Firm C • • • •  Comfort. Energy consumption. Short time of erection. Very easy to fix and mount things in the interior (pictures, etc.).  A direct question about the values that respondents would most like to have associated with their brand was posed and environmental friendliness or sustainability emerged as a common theme (Table 5.14). In addition, Firm A outlined coherence, reliability, and performance. Firm B added aesthetics, beauty, durability, service, and troubleshooting. Firm C discussed honesty, reliability, and affordability.  Table 5.14. Brand promise – what are the values that you would like most to be associated with your brand? Firm A • Coherence, reliability. • Confidence in lifetime performance. • Environmentally friendly.  Firm B • • • • • •  Aesthetics. Beauty. Durability. Sustainability. Service. Troubleshooting.  Firm C • Honest. • Reliable. • Affordable green building.  Finally, respondents were asked to formulate their own promise for their brand. Firm A offered up three distinct messages, while Firm B thought of two related to making peoples’ dreams a reality (Table 5.15). Firm C stated that its promise is captured through carbon storage, durability, and comfort. 118  Table 5.15. Brand promise – if you think of your brand as a promise of some function, description, emotion, or value, what would this promise be? Firm A • Sustainable wood solutions. • Best provider of sustainable wood solutions to the building industry. • Commitment to the environment, employees, [and] clients.  Firm B • We will bring your creative dreams to reality. • We will facilitate your design and make it come true.  Firm C • Carbon store. • Durability. • Comfort.  Once the themes for each of the questions were summarized, answers for each firm were merged into single text files for content analysis. Using CATPAC software, the words that most strongly related one to another were clustered together. Table 5.16 gives the five most salient clusters in descending order of magnitude. For all respondents, the first cluster includes the concept of brand, which is not surprising since this was the theme of the interviews. However, this analysis is useful for identifying unique themes that could be used to express each firm’s brand identity. For example, Firm A stands for: 1)  availability of products and services;  2)  benefits and ease of installation; and  3)  the environmental performance along the whole chain from the forest to buildings.  Firm B stands for: 1)  offering complete, high-performing packages and solving problems through support;  2)  making the connection between generic marketing of the entire industry and that of the firm; and  3)  focussing on the aesthetics and the beauty of wood.  Firm C stands for: 1)  low energy consumption in buildings;  2)  ease and speed of assembly; and  3)  design flexibility.  119  Interestingly, for firm C, the last cluster also included the concept of environment. Although the environmental merits of the brand were frequently mentioned in the interview with firm C, there is no obvious link between the concepts of flexibility and environment. However, another cluster did include the concepts of interior comfort and a pleasing climate.  Table 5.16. Content analysis on the brand identity of wood products. Firm A 1.  Firm B 1.  2.  architects, brand, building, coherence, wood availability, product, service  3. 4. 5.  benefits, ease, installation challenge, resources best, environmental, chain  3. 4. 5.  2.  architects, brand, customers, strong, company, product problems, complete, package, performance, support industry, market challenge, issue, need aesthetics, wood, beauty, good  Firm C 1.  brand, cost, good, products  2.  consumption, energy, building  3. 4. 5.  fast, erect, easy, mount design, environment, flexibility climate, comfort, interior, kind  The clusters also reveal issues related to the actual branding processes within each firm. For firm A, coherence seems to be an issue, and building a brand may present certain resource challenges. Challenge is also a theme for firms B and C, where the concept of brand is very much linked to the product, the company, and to customers.  5.6 Discussion According to Lewi (2005), the constant quest for coherence between the three components of the branding framework – desired identity, perceived identity, and objective attributes – is at the core of branding management. As such, tools are needed to support (or negate) this framework and to evaluate these three components in the brand construction process. This research set out to do just that within the context of wood products manufacturers venturing into the relatively untapped nonresidential sector. Specifically, the goal of this research was to build off of Lewi’s (2005) framework (Figure 5.1), with a focus on the desired brand identity component of this model. To that end, case studies of three forest products firms were implemented to better understand important dimensions of desired brand identity, including the internal brand building process, brand vision, brand identity, and brand promise.  120  It is instructive to summarize the key elements of a desired brand identity for each of the three case study firms. Table 5.17 does just this by enumerating many of the elements of brand identity, vision, and promise obtained in the interviews of firms A, B, and C. In so doing, the applicability of the branding framework presented in Figure 5.1 can be evaluated within the context of wood products firms attempting to capture a share of the nonresidential construction market. The shaded cells in Table 5.17 represent concepts that are unique to each respondent, which is to say that most of the elements identified as having potential to be part of a brand identity are not unique, and are oftentimes shared by all three firms. In the final analysis, it is very much up to each individual firm to determine how best to use the sort of information contained within this framework in the construction of a differentiated and effective brand.  Table 5.17. Possible elements of brand identity (not necessarily direct quotes from the interviews). Firm A  • •  Mechanical resistance, structural performance, lifetime performance. Warmth of the material, aesthetics, comfort of living with wood. Installation benefits (ease and speed, low weight). Support and service for designers, responsiveness, no claims. Continued availability of products and staff. Quality of products and services, reliability. Environmental friendliness. Energy savings.  •  Cost benefits.  •  Best provider of sustainable wood solutions. Commitment to the environment, employees, and clients, Environmental performance along the whole chain from the forest to the buildings.  •  •  • •  • •  •  •  Firm B  Firm C  •  Performance, durability.  •  Compliance with standards.  •  Looks, aesthetics, beauty.  •  Comfortable kind of living.  •  Complete solution, package.  •  Easy and fast to install.  •  •  Support from the science of building design.  •  Support and service, problem identification and solving, problem free, troubleshooting. Versatility, flexibility.  •  Flexibility.  •  Good value.  •  Quality, reliability.  • •  Sustainability. Bringing creative dreams to reality. Facilitate the design and make it come true.  • •  Affordable green building. Low energy consumption.  •  Carbon storage.  •  Honesty.  •  Sound and noise protection, pleasing interior climate.  •  Durability.  •  121  It is also worth noting that the content analysis provided insight into the unique elements of each brand in addition to the qualitative listing of all possible elements seen in Table 5.17. For instance, the content analysis has outlined that there are significant clusters of concepts defining each brand, and that these could be used in a differentiation strategy. However, some common themes did emerge when investigating the concept of brand identity. Among these, the theme of environmental issues is perhaps the most obvious. Although some environmental arguments may differentiate wood from other products, such as steel and concrete, the ubiquitous quest to be known as an environmentally friendly producer may ultimately hamper branding differentiation efforts between competing firms in the wood industry. Again, this challenge of finding unique values seems to be a common issue in brand construction and management (de Chernatony and Dall'Olmo Riley, 1997). Much of the academic literature considers the brand to be at the core of management and communications strategies (Pappu et al., 2005; Kapferer, 2004; Blombäck, 2005; Kotler and Pfoertsch, 2006). From a practical point of view, this means that the brand manifests itself in the form of names, slogans, logos, communications copies, texts, and graphic support. More importantly though, there should be a strong link between the brand and the corporate culture and values that support the brand as an apt expression of the firm (Holt, 2002; Urde, 2004; de Chernatony and Cottam, 2008). From this perspective, the brand is more than just a distinct, peripheral asset geared towards creating image and awareness. However, the three firms that were interviewed in this study would not fully agree with this sentiment. In other words, there may be a gap between the theoretical construct of branding as seen in the literature and the more pragmatic understanding of branding as understood by these three forest products firms. Such a gap was also suggested by Blomback (2005), who observed that subcontractors did not necessarily manage their brand according to the principles of planning, execution, and evaluation put forth in the literature. Indeed, subcontractors in Blomack’s (2005) study were at a level of branding where common sense seemed to dictate efforts more than anything else, an observation which may also hold true in this study. Blomback (2005) stated that subcontractors are “unconscious in that they do not connect their actions to the brand concept, but conscious in that they act purposefully to affect the corporate image, which is to say, pursue branding”. In other words, managers may be sensitive to the fact that they have a brand, but this awareness does not always translate into  122  brand management. All that said, the participants in this study did make several links between their brands and technical performance and support, which is in line with the literature on industrial branding (Malaval, 1998). These elements of brand identity can be seen as a first stage before further positioning the brand and marketing it towards the creation of value, or brand equity (Richelieu, 2008). The contribution of this paper to the branding literature lays in the practical transposition of brand management concepts in a new industrial sector. In addition, the adaptation of Lewi’s (2005) framework provides ample opportunities for future research, as little in the way of validation has been conducted on this model. The contribution of the framework itself is in its ability to encapsulate most of the theoretical postures found in the branding literature, while also being able to provide managerial guidance in a simple and lucid manner. A more thorough study may include all three of the dimensions included in the framework – desired identity, perceived identity, and objective attributes – within a single research design, perhaps as a means of gauging the degree of coherence and tension between these three components of brand construction. There is, for example, potential for developing and implenting metrics to capture the coherence (or distance) between desired and perceived brand identity. This study is not without its limitations. Although grounded in the branding literature, there seemed to be overlap between the concepts of brand vision, identity, and promise during course of the interviews, with participants feeling that some of the questions were redundant. This would support Lewi’s (2005) conception of a brand identity taking on a broader meaning and perhaps it ultimately means that, in an industrial context, it would be prudent to try to capture the essence of the brand based on many perspectives from within the company. From a research perspective, it means that perhaps the interview questionnaire could have been shortened, especially by deriving information on the brand promise concept from questions related to brand identity, as suggested by de Chernatony (2001). On the other hand, it also makes sense to directly ask respondents to formulate their brand as a promise as this provides a means of forward thinking and strategic contemplation about the future of the firm and the appropriateness of the branding strategy in place. The main limitation in this study is that observations that were made for the three firms cannot be inferred onto the population of wood suppliers to the nonresidential market as a whole, and  123  as such, a case can be made for more systematic, quantitative approaches. However, as with most qualitative studies of this nature, a great deal of insight was gained to support and inform the use of the framework in Figure 5.1 for brand construction in general, and desired brand identity more specifically. In the final analysis, the case studies did provide support for proposed framework and the results indicate that it can be applied to the case of manufacturers of wood products and systems that wish to take the first steps towards brand construction and management in the nonresidential construction market.  5.7 Conclusion The intent of this paper was to propose a framework to facilitate the process of brand construction and management within forest products organisations seeking to expand their market share of the nonresidential construction sector. The framework itself was developed based on the relevant branding literature which suggests that a brand is a constant quest for coherence between three components: desired brand identity, perceived brand identity, and objective attributes. The resulting interview questionnaire was directed at key management personnel within three firms currently in the process of developing the nonresidential market segment. Results suggest that the devised questionnaire for querying managers on brand identity is an appropriate tool for implementing the conceptual branding framework originally proposed by Lewi (2005). In particular, the three case study firms were able to uncover the most important dimensions of their desired brand identity. In the context of wood products, common themes that emerged relate to the environmental merits of the brand, carbon storage, design services, customer support, low energy consumption, and the beauty of wood, to name a few. That said, there remain challenges and opportunities for incorporating the elements of the brand identity into a continuous and active brand management strategy. One of these challenges involves adopting or developing practical tools to evaluate the coherence between the desired identity, the perceived identity, and the objective attributes of the brand. 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To characterize information sources used by architects and the perceived value of these sources; 3. To investigate the informational needs of architects regarding structural wood products in nonresidential design; 4. To determine whether and how the perceived identity of structural wood products evolves as a result of varying modes of marketing communications; and, 5. To propose a framework for brand construction of structural wood products and suppliers in the nonresidential market. By reviewing these objectives, it is possible to better highlight the contribution of the thesis to the body of academic knowledge in the research fields of both forest products marketing and of branding. With respect to the first objective, wood was deemed to be the most environmentally friendly material when compared to steel and concrete. However, wood products are not perceived to perform as well as these substitute products (especially concrete) in the areas of durability, fire resistance, contribution to building value, and structural performance. Using a common brand personality scale as an exploratory technique, this study also sought to provide additional insight regarding the character of wood. In general, architects perceived wood to be a ‘sincere’, but ‘unexciting’, structural material. In other words, the structural use of wood and wood products is generally not thought of in terms of innovative design.  129  The second objective was fulfilled by identifying the preferred information sources for architects. Design manuals were identified as the most effective source of information for architects. A group of five sources fared equally in second place: physical examples; Internet sites (company or product specific); company brochures or manuals; Internet databases and software; and technical support. Discussion forums, personal sales calls and visits, and scientific papers were deemed to be less effective sources of communication. The fact that sales calls and visits are seen to be less effective is consistent with the literature supporting a preference on the part of users to be in control of communications channels. When exposed to communication stimuli architects identified detailed design guides and the access to a detailed web page as being the most necessary complement. The third objective served to characterize the needs and challenges that architects may face when designing with wood. Findings suggest that architects have important informational needs related to design possibilities, regulations and standards, environmental footprints, suppliers’ capabilities, and sustainable design. These needs further suggest that wood products should increasingly be bundled with information, requiring wood product firms to produce knowledge in addition to products. The fourth objective experimentally showed that the perceived identity of wood among architects was not altered by any of the communications stimuli that were used. The experimental design used here was a novel approach in the field of forest products marketing and the research suggests that the future use of such methods is worthwhile, perhaps with better theoretical foundations and more refined data collection. While little in the way of causality could be uncovered, the results suggest that advertisements for wood products are not commonly used as references by architects, even though advertising may be the most influential form of communications. Case studies are thought to be the most complete and informative sources of information, but architects are most likely to keep technical data for future reference.  130  To alleviate the challenges of communicating with architects, it was proposed that wood products firms could implement branding strategies. This proposition, in line with the fifth objective of this study, reflects the facts that brands can be used to inform and disseminate knowledge and that customers generally relate more to brands than to products. In other words, a branding strategy may be more in line with the long-term nature of communications that architects desire. Although much support can be found in the academic literature for conceptualising and implementing a branding strategy, current knowledge about branding in an industrial setting is scarce. As a consequence, a framework for unveiling the brand identity of wood products organisations was developed. Recognizing that a brand is an act of communications, this framework is seen as a contribution to the current body of knowledge on branding, as is its transposition to an understudied industrial sector. The proposed framework also provides ample opportunities for future research. Reviewing the five research objectives show that the main research question – what is the role of communications in emerging markets for wood products? – was answered, at least in part, through this research design. However, it is also instructive to position the research results within the broader field of marketing communications, as is done in the subsequent section.  6.1 The role of communications in emerging markets for wood products The literature on marketing communications and branding provides many approaches to a better understanding of the role of marketing communications and the methods or metrics to measure this role. In the academic literature, however, these approaches are not always grounded in some form of communication theory (Thorson, 1996). This low prevalence of theory-based research is seen in the academic literature; in three top advertising journals, it was found that only 17% of the articles made explicit use of theory over an 11 year period (Pitt et al., 2005). Notably, it has been suggested that the strong managerial perspective taken in marketing research has diverted researchers’ attention from theory, and focused it mainly on methods (Addis and Podestà, 2005). For instance, it is common for both managers and researchers to relate advertising to the reach of awareness and attention among certain audiences. This kind of research is said to be administrative, as it primarily serves the  131  prevalence and continuity of the system under study (Thorson, 1996). In general, the relationship between communications and commerce has been influenced and investigated by a number of social sciences, with a dominant influence being from the field of psychology (Thorson, 1996; Pitt et al., 2005). In the case of nonresidential construction, for instance, levels of wood use and acceptance cannot solely be explained by communications. Other factors, such as education and the general societal view of wood, also influence an architect’s decision to use wood. The primary limitation of this thesis is precisely that it is not founded on a specific theory of communications. There is some support for this lack of theoretical foundations. The fact that research on marketing barely endorses such foundations provides a partial explanation. Another plausible rationale is the newness of the field of marketing communications for wood products. New research fields tend to rely upon established fields before developing their own internal epistemologies (Piaget, 1967). In this context, it makes sense that the main research question led to an investigation that was more exploratory than purely deductive. The research was also positioned in the broader field of industrial marketing which is typically less informed in the literature than consumer marketing (Blombäck, 2005). As such, the choice of a relevant communications theory may be more challenging in an industrial setting. One consequence of not having a firm theoretical foundation is the weakness, or lack thereof, of refutable propositions to be tested (Lakatos, 1970). The adoption of appropriate theories would benefit future research on the relationship between communications and wood use. Within this concluding chapter, some of these possible paths will be explored. Although the findings of this work are not grounded in a single theory, the observations made in both the experimental and the qualitative stages of this research can be viewed in light of the most current approaches to the role of communications. These approaches can be segmented in terms of the possible roles of communications. Although these roles are not mutually exclusive, this research has touched upon five dimensions:  132  •  Increasing sales or product trials;  •  Reaching the customer with intermediate objectives such as awareness, attention, and favourable attitudes;  •  The diffusion of information and the production of knowledge;  •  A combination of customer reach and the diffusion of information; and,  •  Brand construction and management.  These five approaches will be reviewed in an attempt to answer the main research question: What is the role of marketing communications in emerging markets for wood products? For each approach, implications of the research results are discussed in light of current knowledge in the field of marketing communications. The limitations of the research are also highlighted, as well as its contributions and potential applications.  6.1.1 Increasing sales or product trials There is abundant literature on the modelling of sales as a direct response to marketing communications (e.g. Kim et al., 2001; Lilien and Rangaswamy, 2002; Foreman, 2004; Schultz et al., 2004). It was long held that advertising provides quick results and that the resulting sales depend on the rate of decay and saturation among audiences (Vidale and Wolfe, 1957). Sales decay is thought to be lower at high advertising levels, but advertising effects on sales are sometimes temporary (Little, 1979). Generally, advertising is seen as having both short-term effects on sales as well as long-term, brand enhancing value (Schultz and Schultz, 2004). Measuring returns on marketing communications is a central theme in the literature on integrated marketing communications (Schultz and Schultz, 2004; Smith et al., 2004; Smith et al., 2006). Successful modelling of sales requires investment in data gathering and campaign targeting (Greenyer, 2006). In the context of woodworking machinery, it was shown that follow-up sales efforts generate higher sales productivity when customers have attended a trade show (Smith et al., 2004). Other modelling of sales response for construction materials,  133  such as windows, has relied on marketing expense variables related to media, customers’ requests for information, sales appointments, and sales efforts (Smith et al., 2006). This sort of modelling is also called return on touch-point investment (Schultz et al., 2004). Transposed to the current inquiry on the role of communications in nonresidential construction, these approaches point to the need to adopt metrics by wood products organisations. As evidenced with this research, the three firms participating in the case studies on branding construction neither adopted nor used such metrics. However, the sales process in nonresidential construction evolves through stages and cannot be compared directly with the advertising and sales of consumer products. Nevertheless, some metrics are available for measuring processes through stages. These metrics involve a segmentation of the various communications channels, such as marketing brochures, personal sales efforts, or participation in trade shows (e.g. Smith et al., 2006). For each channel, it is necessary to monitor the investment and customer response at each stage of the process. Among possible measurable responses, requests for information from dedicated phone numbers and email addresses are common, along with the monitoring of website traffic. In the case of nonresidential construction, the process could include appointments, contractual commitments, and sales. Future research on marketing communications in nonresidential construction should consider longer-term programs, where such measures are monitored longitudinally.  6.1.2 Reaching the customer with intermediate objectives such as awareness, attention and favourable attitudes In the advertising literature, the role of marketing communications is often discussed in terms of reaching the customer with objectives that are intermediate (Batra et al., 1996). Intermediate objectives provide useful metrics when more direct objectives, such as sales, are not measurable. Such intermediate objectives vary according to different authors. When the emphasis is given to advertising, intermediate objectives typically include attention, recall, and readership scores (Twedt, 1952; Hanssens and Weitz, 1980). In the broader field of marketing communications, intermediate objectives have tended to include constructs such as awareness, interest, desires and action (AIDA), or the so-called hierarchy of effects and its  134  derivatives (Ray et al., 1974; Krishnamurthy, 2001). Coincidentally, most of these facets of communications are also common themes of the theory of the diffusion of innovations. Indeed, the research on the diffusion of innovations also centres on awareness, knowledge, attitude change, decision making, and implementation of the innovation (Rogers and Singhal, 1996). As such, the diffusion of innovations framework may provide another route for investigating wood use in nonresidential construction. Even when they are not specified within a hierarchy of effects model, the concepts of awareness and attention (e.g. Cannon et al., 2002; Keller, 2005) and favourable attitudes (e.g. Hansen and Olsen, 2002; Kotler and Pfoertsch, 2006) are common to both the advertising and the branding literature. In this vein, research on consumers’ evaluative responses toward product or brand attributes has had many applications in marketing research (mostly developed by Fishbein and Ajzen, 1975). The research field of forest products marketing has relied almost exclusively on the evaluative responses of specifiers toward products or suppliers, which is typically done through survey research (e.g. Smith and Sinclair, 1990; Bush et al., 1991; Cohen et al., 1992; Hansen and Bush, 1996; Kozak and Cohen, 1999; Smith et al., 2000; Eastin et al., 2001; Shook and Eastin, 2001; Smith, 2002; Kozak et al., 2004; Cohen et al., 2005; Vlosky and Shupe, 2005). Other schools in the advertising literature shy away from awareness, attention, and attitudes by focussing on the content of marketing communications. In particular, advertising is also thought to convey meaning (Mick, 1986; Domzal and Kernan, 1992; Bech-Larsen, 2001) or feelings (Thorson, 1996). Meaning is said to be the cultural definition of a product and reflective of the relationship between culture and consumption (Domzal and Kernan, 1992). In communicating with architects, some intermediate objectives may be appropriate and measurable, at least for those communications that resemble advertising. Many of these intermediate objectives, but especially increasing awareness, knowledge, and favourable attitudes, are also discussed in the branding literature (Thorson, 1996), precisely to assess the role of marketing activities (Keller, 1993; Lewi, 2005). In this research, the dimensions of brand knowledge, awareness, image, associations, and associated values were captured through the lens of perceived brand identity, in line with the works of various authors within  135  the field of branding (Kapferer, 2004; Couvelaere and Richelieu, 2005; Lewi, 2005). In practical terms, experimentation makes it possible to measure brand identity and then to relate its evolution to specific marketing communications. Throughout this research, the perceived identity of wood was identified as a potential hurdle to wood use. When compared to steel and concrete, wood is deemed to be the most environmentally friendly material. However, wood products are not perceived to perform as well as concrete, especially in the areas of durability and fire resistance. Results from the experimental design, showing no differences in the measurement of the perceived identity of wood upon implementation of marketing brochures, clearly indicate a need for the adoption of metrics (such as the perceived brand identity) by wood products organisations. As the experimental design showed no relationship between communications stimuli and selected attitudinal variables, it was proposed that communications with architects could only be envisaged over the long-term. This proposition finds much support in the literature (e.g. Lodish, 1986; Cramphorn, 2006). The temporal limit of this experiment is a weakness of the research design, because of the inability to practically replicate the time frames of longerterm marketing programs. In addition, even if these brochures were thought to represent common industry practices, they certainly did not address an exhaustive list of all issues faced by architects today. Furthermore, not all means of marketing communications were explored in this study, websites being an obvious example. There were benefits to the design, however, because it was implemented in a ‘real world’ setting among the preferred audience. Architects received the stimuli in the course of their normal work activities and these stimuli were representative of industry practices. In the literature, experiments designed to probe the role of communications generally rely on sub-groups of the preferred audience, oftentimes students, in controlled environments (e.g Smith, 1993; Kumar, 2005). Nevertheless, a clear managerial implication of this study is that wood products manufacturers should consider communications to be a long-term strategic commitment as opposed to a ‘quick fix’ in the form of an advertising campaign. That said, even when no short-term measurable effect is noted, advertising is thought to create associations and feelings that increase purchase intentions over the long-term (Heath, 2000; Cramphorn, 2006). In the experimental design, the brochure that took the form of advertising was  136  deemed to be the most influential by architects. This result is significant, because there is little doubt that an individual’s response to an advertisement is a powerful predictor of advertising impact (Thorson, 1996). The underlying assumption for the communications experiment was that the communication medium (brochures) and contents (case study on nonresidential construction, technical information, and advertising) may by linked causally to the perceived identity of wood. However, some authors further state that perceived spending on advertising is a better predictor of favourable attitudes than common concepts such as advertising medium, content, and frequency (e.g. Ambler and Hollier, 2004; Villarejo-Ramos and Sanchez-Franco, 2005). As such, the effectiveness of communications among architects should also be a function of communications budgets. These observations are worth noting because participants in the case studies on brand construction all addressed the challenges of the costs of marketing communications and brand management. One managerial implication for wood products firms is that marketing expenses should be closely monitored. Another implication suggests an implicit relationship between expenses and potential returns of communications, even if the latter are generally not measured.  6.1.3 The diffusion of information and the production of knowledge Another role of communications is in the diffusion of information, especially in the case of industrial products (Hanssens and Weitz, 1980; Malaval, 1998). In this project, the likelihood that a brochure was kept rather than thrown away was much higher with informational content as opposed to advertising content. This suggests that an emphasis on informational content is appropriate when targeting architects. Indeed, this research has shown that informational needs are numerous within this community. In the experimental design, 86% of participants indicated that whichever brochure they received should have been complemented with other materials or information. The most frequently mentioned complements for conveying information were a detailed design guide and access to a detailed web page. By topic, the most important informational needs in the pre-experimental survey related to sustainable design, environmental footprints, project costing, and suppliers’ capabilities. The post-experimental survey revealed that, once exposed to communications,  137  the most important informational needs related to design possibilities, followed by regulations and standards, environmental footprints, and sustainable design. Generally, it is recommended that users and adopters of a given product be queried about the sources or channels of communications that they use (Rogers and Singhal, 1996). In the context of this study, it is not coincidental that design manuals, which are very much a source of information, were identified as the preferred channel by architects. This was followed by five other sources which fared equally well:  •  physical examples;  •  internet pages (company- or product-specific);  •  company-specific products manuals and brochures;  •  internet (design-specific); and,  •  technical support.  From an informational perspective, this research provides guidance on possible communicational contents. Asking which products, services, and information to include in marketing communications turns out to have significant implications, since very little research has looked at this question (Thorson, 1996). These results also suggest that wood products cannot be specified without at least some information and that informational needs continually evolve. An implication of this research is that wood products are bound to be increasingly bundled with information. Perhaps the most common type of information for structural wood products deals with physical properties such as mechanical resistance. Yet, information on the sustainability of wood appeared to be an important requirement for architects. While sustainability can be captured and communicated through various third-party environmental labels, other issues may also be of concern to potential users of wood products, such as chains of custody, legality of timber sources, corporate responsibility practices, contributions to the carbon balance, life cycle analyses, energy consumption, and so on. Such informational demands require that wood products firms not only manufacture products, but also generate and communicate  138  knowledge. Future research on communications for wood products would certainly benefit from the literature on sustainability scorecards (e.g. Kaplan and Norton, 1996; Bieker, 2002; Figge et al., 2002). The importance of information and even knowledge as a co-product of wood products may be seen as part of the evolution of the economy. As the economy becomes increasingly knowledge-based (Foray, 2004), the use of wood in nonresidential structures not only requires knowledgeable users, but also knowledge-based products. The very purpose of communication activities is often seen to be the production of knowledge for manufacturers, distributors, and buyers (Lambin and Chumpitaz, 2002). Fundamentally, knowledge offers something more than information; it is a matter of cognitive capability and it empowers its possessors with the capacity for intellectual or physical action (Foray, 2004). Designers, such as architects, can indeed be seen as physically and intellectually acting on knowledge of materials and the materials selection process. As such, providing architects with knowledge turns out to be a relevant communication objective. Foray (2004) suggests that learning experimentally, or learning by doing, cannot take place in every profession. For instance, airline pilots or surgeons cannot learn in this manner. To some degree, architects fall into that category because their learning does not only take place by designing wood buildings. This is where the transmission of explicit knowledge comes into play. The three forms of elaboration and transmission of such knowledge are demonstration, codification or script, and audiovisual recording (Foray, 2004). The communication brochures used in this research design would qualify as a script of knowledge transmission in codified form. The theories of knowledge production and dissemination, including education, are thus another possible avenue to address the relationship between wood use and communications. A relevant proposition is that the informational challenge identified in this study would require wood products organisations to produce and disseminate knowledge. Another approach which further recognizes a prominent informational role for communications is the information integration theory. This theory, not tested in this research design, weighs the role of information and the role of trials in product evaluation and response by consumers. For unknown reasons, practical and experimental applications of this theory did not have a significant following in the literature. However, it was shown  139  that product trials have a much more important role than advertising in conveying information, but that advertising keeps playing an important informational role after trial (Smith, 1993). In the case of wood in nonresidential construction, this theory would dictate that communications among architects having experience with wood are bound to be more effective. Such a finding can also be found in the branding literature, where experience with products or brands are seen as a catalyst for the success of communications (e.g. Hoeffler and Keller, 2003; Cramphorn, 2006). As a managerial application, the information integration theory would also dictate that actual wood design trials are a paramount objective. Future research could then investigate the moderating role of experience with wood in the relationship between wood use and communications.  6.1.4 A combination of customer reach and the diffusion of information One theory combines both the concepts of intermediate objectives and the informational role of communications (e.g. Meeds, 2004). The Elaboration Likelihood Model (Petty et al., 1983; Petty et al., 1988) suggests that communications content is more informative when consumers have an involvement with the product category. The construct of involvement has long been part of the theories on marketing communications and refers to the cognitive connections that a person makes while processing media messages (Krugman, 1965). It involves reasoning (Thorson, 1996). Accordingly, elements, such as the credibility of the source, would be more important with lesser involved consumers. It is generally recognized that involvement increases attention to product information (Higie et al., 1991). Meanwhile, the literature supports that architects are very much involved in the materials selection process and with building materials in general (Kozak and Cohen, 1999; Gaston et al., 2001), meaning that informative content could be adapted for architects. Most information should be included in communications for products that can be evaluated prior to purchase (Franke et al., 2004), which is clearly the case for wood in nonresidential construction. More generally, the distinction between product information and peripheral cues takes the form of informational and transformational contents. While transformational content attempts to change the consumers’ product experience, informational content describes product attributes (Thorson, 1996; Rossiter and Percy, 1997).  140  However, other approaches to the role of communications rely much less on a formal dichotomy between informational and transformational contents. In particular, the Memory, Affect and Cogitation model (MAC) stipulates that exposure to communications triggers memory first, then the affect (how people feel about the products), and finally, what consumers think about the product (Cramphorn, 2004). In the case of wood, this theory suggests that architects should have recall experiences or views of wood upon receiving the communication stimuli. Secondly, what they feel about wood, as measured through Aaker’s scale for instance, should emerge, and only then could they rationally evaluate the performance of wood against substitute materials like steel and concrete. Indeed, the MAC model does not preclude reaching the customer with some intermediate objectives, such as favourable attitudes, even using purely informative content. An application of the MAC model to communications with architects would certainly enlighten the relationship between wood use and communications.  6.1.5 Brand construction and management In Chapter 8, the implementation of a branding strategy was identified as a potential means of communications with architects in nonresidential construction. The adapted framework in Figure 6.1 suggests that there are two levels of communications within a branding strategy. A first level is the brand itself. Indeed, brand construction and management can be constructed as a form of marketing communications (Kapferer, 2004; Blombäck, 2005). In Figure 6.1, branding as a communication is conceptualized following the identity prism of Kapferer (2004). A second level is the communication of the brand through marketing actions. In Figure 6.1, communication of the brand is part of a process where a brand is seen as a lever to generate value, or equity (Couvelaere and Richelieu, 2005; Richelieu et al., 2008). These two levels of the communication of the brand are very much in line with the previous discussion on the potential roles of communications (intermediate objectives, diffusion of information, and sales) and will be addressed distinctly within the context of the adapted framework presented in Figure 6.1. It must be noted that the literature (Kotler and Pfoertsch, 2006; Richelieu et al., 2008) suggests a linear flow from brand identity to brand  141  equity in Figure 6.1. This research was not designed to test this linearity. Consequently, the exact ways in which brand equity and brand identity interact and relate are not fully understood.  Branding as a means of communication  WOOD SYSTEMS MANUFACTURER  Pe rso na  e ibl ng Ta lues va  lity  Desired Identity  Intangible values  Brand identity  ion  Marketing actions  Brand equity  m lf-i e ag  As so cia t  Brand postioning  Se  s  Relationship  Perceived Identity  Communication of the brand  ARCHITECTS  Figure 6.1. Branding as a means of communication and communication of the brand (adapted from Kapferer (2004) and from Richelieu et al. (2008)).  142  6.1.5.1  Communication of the brand  The adapted framework in Figure 6.1 shows brand identity as a starting point preceding the positioning of the brand and marketing it towards the creation of value, or brand equity (e.g. Couvelaere and Richelieu, 2005). This is where the communication of the brand takes place. The previous discussion on the role of communications, including reaching customers with intermediate objectives, the diffusion of information, the production of knowledge, and sales, remain relevant with respect to the communication of the brand. Marketing communications can be designed and implemented as a means of sustaining a brand and creating value through differentiation. While communications may not have a short-term and direct influence on sales, it is generally recognised that they can have a longterm role in the creation of a brand (Schultz and Schultz, 2004; Cramphorn, 2006) and brand equity (Keller, 2003). According to Figure 6.1, brand identity then becomes a starting point upon which to align communications. In turn, the brand is thought to contribute to increased value, both for consumers and for the organisation (Keller, 2005; Pappu et al., 2005). According to Lewi (2005), there are three essential dimensions to a brand, namely desired identity, perceived identity, and objective attributes. In Lewi’s conceptualisation, the communication of the brand is part of its objective attributes. Kotler and Pfoertsch (2006) go further in describing three interfaces for brand communications: corporate communications; marketing communications; and dialogue communications. Interestingly, brand communication mediums are not fundamentally different in an industrial setting than in a consumer setting, as they include personal selling, direct marketing, public relations, trade shows and exhibitions, advertising, and sales promotion (Kotler and Pfoertsch, 2006). However, the provision of technical information is an essential role for industrial brands (Malaval, 1998; Kotler and Pfoertsch, 2006), a recommendation that is in line with the findings of this research. This requirement is due, in part, to the number of customers being of less importance for industrial sales than for consumer sales. Indeed, customers of industrial suppliers are said to be more informed and to require more information (Malaval, 1998). Communications in an industrial setting tend to serve more practical and pragmatic functions, as customers are more interested in solutions to their  143  problems (Kotler and Pfoertsch, 2006). For example, the industrial brand also plays an important role in finding and selecting industrial suppliers (Blombäck, 2005; Davis et al., 2007). According to Malaval (1998), the first role of an industrial brand is the transmission of information, including the brand identity. This posture supports the design of a framework for desired brand identity found in Chapter 5. Notably, participants in this study made several links between their brands and technical performance / support, which is in line with the literature on industrial branding (Malaval, 1998; Blombäck, 2005). 6.1.5.2  Branding as a means of communication  In Chapter 6, it was concluded that communications among architects could only play a role in wood use over the long term. This is where a branding strategy comes into play. In this context, the brand is the visual, verbal, and behavioural expression of an organisation’s unique business model (Knox and Bickerton, 2003). As opposed to a communications campaign, such a strategy must be envisaged over the long-term (Schultz and Schultz, 2004). In addition, an important body of literature suggests that consumers relate more to brands than to communications (Lewi, 2005) or products (Cramphorn, 2006). The idea that the creation and management of a brand is a possible means of improving communications with architects is supported by Kapferer’s identity prism (Kapferer, 2004). This prism, included in Figure 6.1, is defined along six dimensions: physique (tangible values); personality; culture (intangible values); associations (brand image); relationships (including personal relationships for service brands and transactions involving the brand); and self-image (expression of the customer’s identity through the brand). The brand is viewed through the prism as both a desired identity by the manufacturer and a perceived identity by the customer. The concept of the co-construction of the brand reflects this process, through which brands come about as a result of both managerial efforts and the appropriation of the brand by consumers (Bech-Larsen et al., 2007; Boyle, 2007; Petty, 2008). This process is, in and of itself, an act of communications. On the one hand, the creation and expression of a brand communicates some form of identity even before the marketing of the brand takes place. On the other hand, the appropriation of the brand by customers over time is likely to define and redefine the brand identity and meaning, the latter being ‘customized’ in some way by customers themselves (Cova and Pace, 2006).  144  In this context, brands are often seen as a focal point influencing many corporate decisions, especially those related to communications (Gregory and Mc Naughton, 2004; Blombäck and Axelsson, 2007). Internally, the brand acts as a standard against which an employee’s or an employer’s actions can be evaluated (Balmer and Gray, 2004). Branding can then be seen as the sum of all communications and as a process whereby a firm’s relationships are central (Blombäck and Axelsson, 2007). These concepts are also found in the literature on integrated marketing communications, where customer centricity is key (e.g. Anantachart, 2004; Gould, 2004; Kitchen et al., 2004; Schultz and Schultz, 2004). When considering branding as an act of communications, the emphasis is less about the short-term goal of increasing sales, and more about long-term, communicative intent. This distinction echoes the thought of the German philosopher Jurgen Habermas regarding strategic and communicative action. In communicative action, there is a search for common understanding between two parties, whereas in strategic action, the goal is strictly to influence one party through communications (Moon, 19951). A communicative intent calls for the authenticity of the brand in the values that it promotes (Holt, 2002). This evolution in marketing communications, from a purely persuasive to a relational nature, has support in much of the research on the potential benefits of advertising for customers (Thorson, 1996). Because a branding strategy starts with the actual construction of a brand, a framework for unveiling the desired brand identity within wood products organisations was proposed in this research. This proposition followed the communications experiment, where no discernable role could be attributed to marketing brochures. This seemed to be a logical first step because both concepts of brand construction and brand management have barely been applied to wood products organisations (Tokarczyk and Hansen, 2006). The brand identity of three participating firms was crafted through interviews with key management personal, as generally supported in the literature (de Chernatony, 2001; Balmer and Gray, 2004; Urde, 2004; Vallaster and de Chernatony, 2006; King and Grace, 2008). The analysis provided insight into the unique elements of each brand that could be used in a differentiation strategy.  1  The original formulation is found in Habermas’ Theory of Communicative Action, Volumes 1 and 2 (Beacon Press, Boston, 1984).  145  However, some common (industry-wide) themes also emerged when investigating the concept of brand identity. Among these, the theme of environmental issues is perhaps the most obvious. It was suggested that, although some environmental arguments may differentiate wood from other products, such as steel and concrete, the ubiquitous quest to be known as an environmentally friendly producer may ultimately hamper branding differentiation efforts between competing firms in the wood industry. In the same vein, wood products organisations increasingly adopt third-party labels to ascertain, for instance, their production of environmentally certified or traceable wood products. There again, reliance on strong third-party labels may cast a shadow over an original and unique brand proposition (Lewi, 2005). A managerial implication is that a branding strategy may better support differentiation while the use of third-party labels is on the rise. If the literature on marketing communications is thought to lack theoretical foundations (e.g. Thorson, 1996; Pitt et al., 2005), the literature on branding probably suffers more from this same caveat. The branding framework adapted from Lewi (2005) in Chapter 8 and further developed in this research then come as a contribution to an eventual theory on branding as a means of communications. Future work in this direction should rely on organisational studies, especially those related to organisational discourse (e.g. Taylor and Robichaud, 2004) or organisational identity (Hatch and Schultz, 1997; Balmer, 1998; Knox and Bickerton, 2003; Balmer and Gray, 2004; Urde, 2004). There are other fields upon which a potential branding theory may rely, including the research on innovation. Indeed, numerous authors suggest a link de facto between branding and innovation (Kapferer, 2004; Keller, 2005; Lewi, 2005; Kotler and Pfoertsch, 2006; O'Cass and Viet Ngo, 2006; Wong and Merrilees, 2008).  146  6.2 Final words Looking forward, this research has both theoretical and managerial implications. In the actual practice of forest products marketing, future work may benefit from the segmentation of the possible roles of communications discussed in this work. A first role is in increasing sales. A common role for communications, too, is in reaching customers with intermediate objectives such as gaining awareness, attention, and favourable attitudes. Communications are also used for the diffusion of information and the production of knowledge. At last, communications have a role in the context of brand management, as a brand conclusively communicates on the identity of a product or an organisation. From a research perspective, future work may rely upon this thesis to guide the choice of an appropriate theoretical framework for communications about wood products. Considering branding as a means of communication, this research suggests that branding may serve different roles for different types of wood products. For instance, wood products, such as lumber, are considered commodities and, consequently, may be more difficult to differentiate from competing offers, even through a branding strategy. But as commodities move through the value chain, which is clearly the case with lumber used in nonresidential construction, the differentiation of products and suppliers through branding increasingly appears to be a viable strategy. In fact, branding efforts on the part of suppliers (as opposed to the branding of products) may prove to be extremely valuable, even in commodity markets. In particular, the literature suggests that, in an industrial setting, branding is an important determinant in the ultimate selection of suppliers. In the context of wood products and suppliers, future research should further investigate the role of brands in material selection along the entire supply chain. The functions of brands (such as service attributes, product attributes, risk reduction, etc.) could also be compared for various products and suppliers ranging from standardized commodities to more highly differentiated value-added products. A possible starting hypothesis in the context of wood building and design would be that brands serve different functions for commodities compared to valueadded products.  147  Future theoretical and managerial efforts can build upon the conceptualisation of branding proposed in this work. 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Journal of Product and Brand Management 17(6): 372-383.  155  APPENDIX 1: PRE- AND POST-EXPERIMENTAL SURVEY  156  Survey of architects on wood use in nonresidential construction We thank you for taking the time to fill out this questionnaire  This questionnaire is aimed at architects involved in the design of nonresidential buildings.  157  SECTION I Wood as a Building Material We would like to begin by asking you some general questions about the buildings that you design. 1.  Are you involved in designing nonresidential buildings 4 storys or less? Yes □  No □  If NO, please pass the survey onto someone who meets this requirement. If you are unable to do so, please fill out Section III (Background information) and then to return the questionnaire in the attached envelope. 2. Of the nonresidential buildings that you designed in 2005, approximately what proportions have used the following structural materials? Primarily steel Primarily concrete Primarily wood Other (please specify):  % % %  3. From the following materials, please rank from 1 to 3 the ones that you prefer to work with. Primarily steel Primarily concrete Primarily wood Other (please specify):  % Total  100 %  4. Please indicate the degree to which you agree or disagree with the following statements.  In order to specify wood in a project, I must convince many people of its merits In order to specify wood in a project, I must educate people Wood products suppliers offer me the technical support that I expect from them I am aware of all of the wood products available for nonresidential construction Design information for wood construction is readily available The contractors/developers I work with are comfortable working with wood Wood products suppliers are innovative Wood products suppliers care about your opinions Wood products suppliers have your interest in mind You are likely to recommend wood to others  Strongly disagree  Somewhat disagree  Neither agree nor disagree  Somewhat agree  Strongly agree                                                                                                      158  159  5. Please indicate the degree to which you agree or disagree with the following statements. Strongly disagree  Somewhat disagree  Neither agree nor disagree  Somewhat agree  Strongly agree  If wood was not available, it would be easy to specify another product            I like to talk about wood with my peers                                                                        I am always interested in learning more about wood Compared with other people, I follow news about wood closely I am satisfied with the product information available on wood products and systems Wood is not as reliable as steel or concrete in nonresidential construction Wood is not as safe as steel or concrete in nonresidential construction It is much easier designing with steel or concrete than it is with wood  6. Please indicate the degree to which you agree or disagree with the following statements.  Building owners/developers are reluctant to specify wood buildings Designers haven’t sufficiently learned about wood at school Designers haven’t sufficiently learned about wood at the job In nonresidential design, changes from customary methods are too time consuming Wood is not sufficiently adaptable to meet our needs Designing with wood is too complex  Strongly disagree  Somewhat disagree  Neither agree nor disagree  Somewhat agree  Strongly agree                                                              160  7.  We are interested in your opinions on different building techniques. For the following list of attributes, please indicate the degree to which each building material (concrete, wood and steel) possesses the indicated attribute. ENVIRONMENTAL FRIENDLINESS  To a high degree  Not at all Wood  0  1  2  3  4  5  6  Steel  0  1  2  3  4  5  6  Concrete  0  1  2  3  4  5  Not at all  ENERGY EFFICIENCY  6  To a high degree  Wood  0  1  2  3  4  5  6  Steel  0  1  2  3  4  5  6  Concrete  0  1  2  3  4  5  6  STRUCTURAL PERFORMANCE  To a high degree  Not at all  Wood  0  1  2  3  4  5  6  Steel  0  1  2  3  4  5  6  Concrete  0  1  2  3  4  5  Not at all  FIRE RESISTANCE  6  To a high degree  Wood  0  1  2  3  4  5  6  Steel  0  1  2  3  4  5  6  Concrete  0  1  2  3  4  5  6  To a high degree  Not at all  DURABILITY Wood  0  1  2  3  4  5  6  Steel  0  1  2  3  4  5  6  Concrete  0  1  2  3  4  5  Not at all  SOUND PROOFING  6  To a high degree  Wood  0  1  2  3  4  5  6  Steel  0  1  2  3  4  5  6  Concrete  0  1  2  3  4  5  6  To a high degree  Not at all  HIGH BUILDING VALUE Wood  0  1  2  3  4  5  6  Steel  0  1  2  3  4  5  6  Concrete  0  1  2  3  4  5  Not at all  BUILT QUALITY  6  To a high degree  Wood  0  1  2  3  4  5  6  Steel  0  1  2  3  4  5  6  Concrete  0  1  2  3  4  5  6  161  SECTION II YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH WOOD 8. The following list represents some of the many possible information sources about structural products or systems such as steel, concrete and wood. On a scale from 0 (not effective at all) to 6 (most effective), please indicate how effective these sources are for you. Not effective at all 0 1  Trade magazines and trade journals  2  3  4  Most effective 5 6  Scientific papers, textbooks, technical research  0  1  2  3  4  5  6  Design manuals, regulations manuals, fire manuals  0  1  2  3  4  5  6  Company-specific advertisement and mailouts  0  1  2  3  4  5  6  Company-specific product manuals and brochures  0  1  2  3  4  5  6  Industry (trade associations) newsletters and mail-outs  0  1  2  3  4  5  6  Personal sales calls and visits  0  1  2  3  4  5  6  Technical support - customer service representatives  0  1  2  3  4  5  6  Physical examples (new or demonstration buildings)  0  1  2  3  4  5  6  Trade shows  0  1  2  3  4  5  6  Internet – company or product specific  0  1  2  3  4  5  6  Internet – design specific (databases, software)  0  1  2  3  4  5  6  Internet – discussion forums and user groups  0  1  2  3  4  5  6  9. We would like to know more about your past experiences with wood. For each of the following topics, please describe whether you needed no information, had enough information, or needed more information when you have used wood in past projects.  □ I have never designed with wood (please go to the next question) No information needed  I had enough information  I needed more information  Not applicable          Regulations and standards (fire, structure, etc.)          Design with solid wood          Design with Wood I-Beams          Design with Glulam Beams          Speed of construction          Wood suppliers’ capabilities          Builders’ capabilities for using wood          Wood durability          Environmental footprint          Sustainable design          Information concerning  Project costing with wood  162  163  10. We would now like you to think of wood, the building material, as if it were a character with is own personality. Here is a list of personality traits. On each scale, please rate the degree to which each personality trait is an accurate description for wood (0 = not at all an accurate description; 6 = an extremely accurate description); Remember to think of wood as a personality. Not at all descriptive  Extremely descriptive  0  1  2  3  4  5  6  Down to earth                Honest                Reliable                Intelligent                Successful                Charming                Daring                Spirited                Cheerful                Imaginative                Tough                Outdoorsy                Up-to-date                Upper class                Wholesome                164  SECTION III Background information We would like to ask you about some personal information that will help us to aggregate and summarize our results. Rembember that all information that you provide will be held in the strictest confidence. 11. What is your gender?  □ Female  □ Male  12. How many years have you been practicing design? ___________Years 13. Are you self employed?  □ Yes  □ No  14. How many employees are there at your place of work? _____________ 15. Approximately how many nonresidential buildings have you designed in 2006? _________ 16. How much business does your place of work do in terms of billings per year? $____________  165  We thank you very much for your help! Is there anything else you would like to tell us about wood to help us understand how wood can better meet your needs as a designer? You are invited to make any additional comments in the box below.  Please mail your completed questionnaire back to us in the enclosed envelope. If you have lost the envelope, the return address is:  166  Appendix II  APPENDIX II: COMMUNICATION EXPERIMENT SURVEY  167  Appendix II Welcome to the second part of this study. You are now asked 4 short questions about a brochure you received. 1.  Would this brochure influence your decision to design with wood? To a high degree  Not at all   2.        Access to a detailed web page The possibility to speak to a knowledgeable person Training session(s) Site visit(s) Other (Please specify)          This brochure was sent to you as a part of a research project. However, if you had received it in your day-to-day job, what would you have likely done with it?  Not read it and thrown it away Read it and thrown it away Kept it but not read it Kept it and read it at the time of receipt or later  4.    If there was one type of complementary material that you received with this brochure, which one would you recommend?  No need for a complement A detailed design guide  3.         Among the following issues, are there any that you would have liked be further covered in the brochure?  Project costing Design possibilities Regulations and standards (fire, structure, etc.) Wood suppliers' capabilities Wood durability Environmental footprint Sustainable design  Yes  No                     168  APPENDIX III: BRAND CONSTRUCTION QUESTIONNAIRE  169  Internal brand building process Q1.  What is the current stage of internal brand building within your company?  Q2.  What is the current stage of brand building for the specific purpose of specifiers in the nonresidential construction market?  Q3.  What major challenges do you foresee in the process of creating/sustaining a brand for the nonresidential construction market?  Q4.  Is your own leadership enough for implementing/sustaining a branding strategy or would you suggest that more corporate commitment is needed?  Brand vision Q5.  If you envision your market environment ten years from now, how would a strong brand strategy have contributed to the success of your organisation?  Q6.  If you envision your brand ten years from now, what do you think it would be known for?  Q7.  If the world could be a better place as a consequence of your brand, what would be its contribution?  Brand identity Q8.  What are the three functional benefits that you would recognise the most in your brand?  Q9.  What consequences would each of these benefits or attributes have?  Q10.  Why are these consequences important?  Q11.  What are the risks faced by specifiers in their business environment that your brand could help to mitigate?  Brand promise Q12.  What are the benefits that you would like specifiers to recognise most in your brand?  Q13.  What are the benefits that you would like building users or owners to recognise most in your brand?  Q14.  What are the values that you would like most to be associated with your brand?  Q15.  If you think of your brand as a promise of some function, description, emotion, or value, what would this promise be?  170  APPENDIX IV: BRANDING AS A STRATEGIC LEVER IN EMERGING MARKET SEGMENTS: A FRAMEWORK FOR WOOD PRODUCTS IN NONRESIDENTIAL CONSTRUCTION1  1  A version of this appendix has been published. Robichaud, F., A. Richelieu and R. A. Kozak (2008). Branding as as strategic lever in emerging market segments: a framework for wood products in nonresidential construction. European Marketing Academy Conference, Brighton, England, Paper no. 15792. Dr. Keith Perks, ed.  171  Introduction and research objectives Brand management is increasingly being considered as a useful means for fully exploiting the assets of an organisation and generating value (Pappu et al., 2005). Positioning the brand at the core of the organisation represents a shift away from considering the brand as a distinct, peripheral asset (Kapferer, 2004). In this sense, brand building goes beyond creating awareness; it is a way of building a corporate ‘soul’ and communicating it both inside and outside of the company (Kotler and Pfoertsch, 2006). This notion of the brand as an expression of the organisation is supported by de Chernatony (2001), who states that the essence of the brand can be forged through the values expressed by key personnel. Holt (2002) further argues that brands should reflect authentic values for which an organisation stands. Lewi (2005) also states that the identity of a brand stems from within an organisation, with a focus on the concept of the brand as a lever to generate value. This value results from a brand’s identity, positioning and marketing actions (Couvelaere and Richelieu, 2005). If a brand is considered to be a lever, then it commands action. There is action in the process of constructing a brand and in articulating that brand in selected markets in order to create value. From a research perspective, the forest products industry is an interesting case because both concepts of brand construction and brand management have generally not been applied to this important sector. Most structural wood products are used either in new residential construction or in repair and remodelling activities. Over the past decade, there has been an interest in diversifying these traditional markets and in developing applications for wood use in nonresidential building construction. The value of the nonresidential market generally equates to that of the residential market (O'Connor et al., 2004). Nonresidential construction also tends to be much less cyclical than the housing market (Kozak and Cohen, 1999). However, the volume of lumber and structural panels used in nonresidential construction in 2002 was less than 10% of the volume used in new residential construction (O'Connor et al., 2003). Wood use in nonresidential construction is limited by a number of factors, most notably the perception that wood has shortcomings with respect to structural, fire and durability performance (Kozak and Cohen, 1999; O'Connor et al., 2003). Gaston et al. (2001) found that both architects and structural engineers had the higher degree of influence in specifying structural material use in nonresidential construction, with architects ranking first by a slim margin. 172  If a brand is defined as a potential lever to generate value and the nonresidential construction sector is a preferential segment that can deliver that value, a logical argument emerges which forms the principal question under investigation: How could a branding strategy be developed as a lever in nonresidential markets for wood products? As pointed out by Keller and Lehman (2006), brands are made, not born. The primary intent of this paper is to rely upon the branding literature to propose a framework for brand construction of wood products in the nonresidential market. To that end, this study provides a conceptual framework for branding, as well as a more specific framework adapted to wood products. This is followed by the methods, results and conclusions as they relate to this research.  Conceptual framework The concept of branding has received multiple treatments in the business literature. This diversity leads to the question of the appropriate choice for a framework in the context of brand construction. Keller (2003a) distils the knowledge about a brand into two components: brand awareness and brand image. In order to account for the multidimensionality of brand knowledge, these two concepts can be further categorized to incorporate attributes, benefits, thoughts, feelings, attitudes, and experiences (Keller, 2003b). Earlier conceptualisations of consumer-based brand equity regarded brand associations, perceived quality, brand loyalty and competitive advantage as the constituents of a brand (Aaker, 1996). Kapferer (1997) emphasizes the dialectical nature of the brand by modelling it as a result of a ‘picture’ of the brand for both the sender and the recipient. This picture model posits the brand as an act of communication and it defines the identity of the brand with six elements: physique, relationship, reflection, personality, culture and self-image (Kapferer, 1997). The fact that brands come about as a result of both managerial efforts and their appropriation by consumers has been integrated into the concept of the co-construction of the brand (Bech-Larsen et al., 2007). Lewi (2005) concurs with this notion of embedded values in the identity of a brand, describing them as both tangible and intangible and potentially including objective values, subjective values, attributive values, narrative values and associative values. This concept of brand identity is similar to those of brand essence and brand promise proposed by de Chernatony (2001). Finally, various models have been proposed to capture and define the notion of brand identity, including the concept of brand  173  personality (Aaker, 1997). In the specific context of industrial products, brand identity might rely more on product attributes than intangible values (Malaval, 1998). While the constructs that define the characterization of a brand, both from organizational and customer points of view, vary among researchers, there is some degree of convergence in the recognition that brands are crafted from within an organization and that they are assessed through the lens of customers (de Chernatony, 2001). In other words, there is both a desired and a perceived identity for a brand and the continuous quest for coherence between the two is an essential part of the development of a brand (Holt, 2002; Lewi, 2005; Vallaster and de Chernatony, 2006). Further, brands are inextricably linked to a product that bears physical and objective attributes. In many ways, the branding framework proposed by Lewi (2005) captures many of the dimensions and conceptualizations of brands proposed by various authors. Within this framework, a brand is the result of continuing tensions between the desired identity, the perceived identity and the objective attributes (Figure 1). Figure 2 is an application to a wood products organisation that will be discussed further in the results. Political and legal environment  Objective Attributes -Communication -Marketing -Product  Perceived Identity  -Sustainable wood solutions (Could be addressed -Quality & consistency through the image of -Lifetime confidence -Environmental wood before a brand performance audit -Satisfaction -Responsive Brand -Aesthetics  Economic environment  Technology environment  Desired Identity  Desired Identity Perceived Identity -Promise -Brand audit -Vision -Notoriety -Values -Image Brand  Objective Attributes -Mechanical resistance -Installation benefits -Warmth  Socio-cultural environment  Figure 1.  A branding framework (adapted from Lewi, 2005, p. 449)  Figure 2.  The branding framework applied to a wood products organisation.  In the specific context of brand construction, the characterization of the desired identity becomes a starting point. The objective attributes are interpreted as the manifestation of the brand. The model also positions the brand within a broader environment. Based on this framework, the foundations will be set towards one adapted to wood products.  174  Towards a framework for brand construction adapted to wood products in nonresidential construction In line with the conceptual framework above, the key research questions to be addressed with respect to wood products in nonresidential construction are:  •  What is the desired identity of the brand to be articulated?  •  What are the objective attributes of the brand to be constructed?  Since the framework is used for developing a brand, the perceived identity of a brand can only be investigated after a branding strategy has been implemented. However, past literature on the perceptions of wood by architects can be used to guide an assessment of the coherence between the desired identity and the perceived identity of a brand within the framework. Following de Chernatony (2001), the identity of a brand should be forged from within the organization. This approach, known as internal brand building (Vallaster and de Chernatony, 2006), is meant to foster the coherence between a brand’s identity and its articulation by the organization. As such, the proposed framework is constructed using a set of questions intended for key management employees within wood products organisations considering the development of a brand for the nonresidential construction market. This approach mirrors that of Vallaster and de Chernatony (2006) and, thus, includes crafting and implementing a questionnaire. The questionnaire itself relies on the literature to address the key issues in branding construction, discussed hereafter. A central element of the branding framework is brand identity. Lewi (2005) characterizes brand identity through tangible and intangible values, with tangible values referring to dimensions like quality, competitive advantage, price, distribution, innovation and notoriety. The brand construction framework can also be used to identify the three critical functional advantages or attributes that the brand should have over and above competitors (de Chernatony, 2001). In the context of a questionnaire, this can take the form of the laddering technique (Reynolds and Gutman, 1988) used to determine why some attributes are important, what consequences they have and which values they reinforce. This form of inquiry can establish a link between the tangible and intangible elements of a 175  brand. Less tangible values are comprised of issues like accessibility, performance, reliability, durability and guarantees (Lewi, 2005). Associative values, also described as intangible by Lewi (2005), are discussed elsewhere in terms of associations (Aaker, 1996; Keller, 2003a). In the case of wood, some values, such as its environmental footprint and durability, might be partway between tangible and intangible. While life cycle analysis tools and other research-based approaches reinforce the tangible nature of these values, they may also possess some intangible aspects. Malaval (1998) further suggests that, for industrial brands, it is relevant to measure the expectations of a brand in terms of perceived risk. Because brands are often described as risk reducers (de Chernatony, 2001; Keller, 2003a), and because risk-aversion behaviour is part of the culture in nonresidential construction (Gaston et al., 2001), it is both relevant and appropriate to incorporate the notion of risk reduction within the concept of identity. Vallaster and de Chernatony (2006) address issues related to the beginning stages of internal brand building and some of the major challenges encountered in the process. In addition, they identify leadership as one of the most important success factors in the brand building process. Within the conceptual framework, the desired identity incorporates the concept of a brand vision. This brand vision requires a long-term commitment throughout the organisation and includes three components: future environment, purpose, and values (de Chernatony, 2001). While the brand purpose directly considers how the world is going to be a better place as a result of the brand, values provide a basis for differentiation in the marketplace (de Chernatony, 2001). A recurring definition of a brand has been to refer to it as a promise (de Chernatony, 2001; Lewi, 2005; Kotler and Pfoertsch, 2006) or a mantra (Keller, 2003a). The essence of the brand promise is to delineate what the brand is supposed to represent and deliver, including emotional, functional and descriptive elements (Keller, 2003a). Possible ways in which to design a brand promise can include the direct articulation of a promise or envisioning the benefits and values that a brand can have for customers. In its broadest sense, the notion of a promise can take on a broader meaning to include attributes, benefits, emotional rewards, values and personality traits (de Chernatony, 2001).  176  Methods A single case study approach was chosen as the research protocol in this investigation due to space and time constraints. In general, case studies are the preferred strategy when the answers to how or why questions are being sought (Yin, 2003). Results are generalizable to theoretical propositions, but not to populations. In this project, the intent was to explore the process of brand construction (in the context of nonresidential markets) within wood products organisations and hopefully shed light on the appropriateness of the proposed conceptual framework. The wood products organization in this study was selected because it is in the strategic process of increasing its share of the nonresidential construction market. The firm is a Canadian manufacturer employing 500 people in the production of lumber and engineered wood products, such as I-Joists and Glulam. The survey instrument used in this research was a semi-structured questionnaire which included 15 open-ended questions addressing the issues raised in the framework developed for wood products. For some questions, a laddering technique (Reynolds and Gutman, 1988) was used to ask the three functional benefits that respondents recognised most in their brand. Next, they were asked about the consequences that each of these attributes had. Finally, they were asked why these consequences were important.  Results The organisation taking part in the survey was represented by two high level managers: the VicePresident of Sales and Marketing and a Director of Technical Services and Engineering. Both revealed that their brand building efforts were underway in the residential construction segment, especially through magazine advertisements and continuing efforts to create awareness among existing and potential distributors. However, they were at the beginning stages of their brand building initiative in the nonresidential segment. Currently, their intent is to prioritise their brand building activities in this area by facilitating seminars for architects, taking part in professional trade shows and positioning their products within the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) accreditation systems for green buildings.  177  While the two case study participants were confident that they had the leadership in place needed to implement a viable branding strategy, they also identified some major challenges in creating and sustaining a brand in the nonresidential market segment. One key issue seemed to revolve around resources. According to the two managers, developing a brand requires a strong involvement within the target segment. This involvement has to be commercial, through sales and marketing, but also technical, through services and support. Another issue that was identified was the ongoing need to continually add value to products and services in order for the brand to maintain its relevance. This challenge is in line with the requirement for brands to continuously innovate as expressed by Lewi (2005). When asked how a strong brand strategy would contribute to the success of the firm in ten years, the case study participants suggested that, although an important share of the sales is generated by sales representatives, a strong brand could generate an increase in sales of 25% by itself. Within the ten years horizon, they envisioned that their brand would stand for high quality and consistent product and service offerings. They also believed that their brand would be closely associated with various labels supporting the quality of processes (e.g. ISO 9001), sustainable forest management (e.g. Forest Stewardship Council) and other endorsements of their environmental commitments. Related to the environment, the two managers stressed that their brand would be differentiated from others because it would be seen as a traceable link between the products and the forests from which they came. When further asked if the world would be a better place as a consequence of their brand, the participants discussed the potential contribution of the brand to the global carbon balance, citing wood use in construction as a viable carbon sink strategy. Finally, they advocated that their brand must echo the importance of their social role as a responsible corporation, as well as the need to treat their personnel, consumers, communities and other stakeholders with respect. In the future, all of these elements could be investigated by means of a brand audit. The next questions dealt more explicitly with the objective attributes and desired identity of the brand within the proposed conceptual framework. According to the two managers, the first important functional benefit was mechanical resistance which can lead to improved competitiveness, the potential to reduce material use, the ability to better compete against product substitutes and lower inventories at customers’ sites. The second functional benefit was the warmth of wood when used as a visible structural material which can lead to increased sales and increased customer  178  satisfaction. The third functional benefits dealt with building installation issues such as lower weights, higher installation speeds and ease of assembly. The consequences of such benefits can include increased customer satisfaction and lower costs. In the final analysis, the consequences that were identified in this case study did not lead to the emergence of a broad range of values elucidating their importance. However, a common theme of prosperity and profitability did surface. The desired identity of the brand was also probed in more detail by questioning the two managers on the benefits and values that they would most like to be recognised by specifers, building users and building owners. Some similarities were noted compared to the benefits that they personally attributed to the brand, especially with respect to the quality of products and services, product and support availability, aesthetics, environmental friendliness, and consistency. However, the desired perception of the brand also included responsiveness of the staff, confidence in the lifetime performance of the brand, energy efficiency and cost competitiveness. The case study participants were also asked about the risks faced by specifiers that a brand could help to mitigate and responses centred around product availability and after sales support. Finally, managers were asked to formulate a promise that would distinctively define their brand. This appeared to have already been crafted in the form of the following statement: sustainable wood solutions. Figure 2 incorporates the results from the single case study with a focus on the desired identity and objective attributes. The firm could use previous research on the image of wood (e.g. Gaston et al., 2001) to probe the coherence between the desired brand identity and the image of wood.  Conclusion The intent of this paper was to move toward a framework to facilitate the process of brand construction within forest products organisations seeking to expand their market share of the nonresidential construction sector. The framework itself was developed based on the relevant branding literature and was constructed using a questionnaire directed at key management personnel within a firm currently in the process of developing a brand for the nonresidential market segment. Although only one case study was considered, results suggest that the survey instrument can be an appropriate tool for implementing the conceptual branding framework (Figure 1 and Figure 2). Results also indicate that a corporate branding strategy might be appropriate for this specific organisation. Interestingly, the two managers that participated in this study referred to their product and service offerings as solutions for the building industry. The logical next step, according to 179  Couvelaere and Richelieu (2005), would be to develop marketing strategies supporting this brand, with a focus on determining the most appropriate way to articulate it as a lever.  180  References for appendix IV Aaker, D. A. (1996). Building Strong Brands. New-York, The Free Press. Aaker, J. L. (1997). Dimensions of Brand Personality. Journal of Marketing Research XXXIV(August 1997): 347-356. Bech-Larsen, T., l. Esbjerg, K. G. Grunert, H. J. Juhl and K. Brunso (2007). The Supermalt identity: how brixton-based afro-caribbean consumers construct a Danish malt beer brand as one of their own. Journal of Product and Brand Management 16(1): 5-15. Chandon, P. (2004). Note on Brand Audit: How to Measure Brand Awareness, Brand Image, Brand Equity and Brand Value. Fontainebleau, INSEAD: 15. Couvelaere, V. and A. Richelieu (2005). Brand Strategy in Professional Sports: The Case of French Soccer Teams. European Sport Management Quarterly 5(1): 23-46. de Chernatony, L. (2001). A model for strategically building brands. Brand Management 9(1): 32-44. Gaston, C., R. Kozak, J. O'Connor and D. Fell (2001). Potential for Increased Wood-use in North American Non-residential Markets. Forintek Canada Corp. Vancouver. Holt, D. B. (2002). Why do brands cause trouble? A dialectical theory of consumer culture and branding. Journal of Consumer Research 29(1): 70-90. Kapferer, J. (1997). Strategic Brand Management: Creating and Sustaining Brand Equity Long Term. London, Kogan. Kapferer, J. (2004). The New Strategic Brand Management. London, Kogan. Keller, K. L. (2003a). Strategic Brand Management: Building, Measuring and Managing Brand Equity. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey, Prentice Hall.  181  Keller, K. L. (2003b). Brand Synthesis: The Multidimensionality of Brand Knowledge. Journal of Consumer Research 29(March 2003): 595-600. Keller, K. L. and D. R. Lehman. (2006). "Brands and Branding: Research Findings and Future Priorities". Marketing Science 25(6): 740-759. Kotler, P. and W. Pfoertsch (2006). B2B Brand Management. Berlin, Springer. Kozak, R. A. and D. H. Cohen (1999). Architects and Structural Engineers: An Examination of Wood Design and Use in Non-residential Construction. Forest Products Journal 49(4): 37-46. Lewi, G. (2005). Branding Management: La marque, de l'idée à l'action. Paris, Pearson Education France. Malaval, P. (1998). Stratégie et gestion de la marque industrielle: Produits et services business to business. Paris, Publi Union. O'Connor, J., D. Fell and R. Kozak (2004). Potential for Increased Wood-used in North American Non-residential Markets - Part II (Builder/Owner Survey). Forintek Canada Corp. Vancouver. O'Connor, J., R. Kozak, C. Gaston and D. Fell (2003). Wood Opportunities in Non-residential Buildings. Forintek Canada Corp. Vancouver. Pappu, R., P. G. Quester and R. W. Cooksey (2005). Consumer-based brand equity: improving the measurement - empirical evidence. Journal of Product and Brand Management 14(3): 143-154. Reynolds, T. and J. Gutman (1988). Laddering theory, method, analysis and interpretation. Journal of Advertising Research 28(February/March): 11-31. Vallaster, C. and L. de Chernatony (2006). Internal brand building and structuration: the role of leadership. European Journal of Marketing 40(7/8): 761-784. Yin, R. K. (2003). Case Study Research: Design and Methods. Thousand Oaks, SAGE Publications.  182  

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