Images of a Hong Kong Mall
: a grounded theory investigation of consumer retail mall brand image development

  • David Robert Osborne

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    This study generated a substantive theory of retail mall brand image construction on the part of consumers for a retail mall in Hong Kong. The primary source of data was generated from face-to-face interviews, and analysed using a grounded theory methodology. From this analysis key categories emerged which provided the foundation for the substantive theory.

    The theory of retail mall brand image construction proposes that consumers associate the retail mall with a particular stratum of society, through a series of interpretive processes that attach personal and social meaning to the mall. The resultant ‘brand image’ conceptualizes the mall as an integral and representative part of that social stratum and, in consequence, there is an associated series of consumer actions, behaviours, and appearances deemed to be expected and appropriate for that mall.

    Based on this conceptualization there is a resultant ‘character frame’ - a set of socially acceptable parameters governing action, appearance and behaviour – from which a variety of identities can be adopted or assumed that are considered appropriate to the brand image. Consumers can then determine whether these available identities resonate with their own personal values – either through simple compatibility or through more aspirational desires - and thus their response to these identities ii determines whether they accept or reject the positioning of the mall as ‘suitable’ or desirable to themselves.

    On a theoretical level this study articulates the link between brand image, social position, and consumer culture, and can be seen to contribute to two of the four areas of theoretical interest to consumer culture theorists, namely the area of mass-mediated marketplace ideologies and consumers' interpretive strategies and, secondly, the field of consumer identity projects. In addition the study addresses the gap in branding literature relating to consumer processes for developing (retail mall) brand images.

    The implications of this study for professional practice are two-fold. Firstly, they can be seen to benefit the marketing of places and place-related products by providing additional knowledge regarding the consumer brand image construction. Secondly, they have the capability to inform and thus improve the design quality of the built environment.
    Date of Award2011
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • Coventry University
    SupervisorChristina Goulding (Supervisor)

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