Purpose – This study aims to examine the extent to which consumers' perceptions of their downtown's brand identity (composed of image and positioning), business mix, and sense‐of‐place predict consumers' intention to patronize downtown. Design/methodology/approach – A survey of residents ( n =836) from four communities in Michigan and four communities in Oklahoma was conducted. The survey included scales measuring brand identity, business mix, sense‐of‐place, and patronage intention. Findings – Positioning, image, and business mix are significant, positive predictors of consumer patronage intentions downtown. Sense‐of‐place, however, has a significant, negative effect on patronage intention. Research limitations/implications – Though limited to eight communities in two states, this study does broaden the research in place branding by examining consumers' perceptions of location as a brand and the influence of those perceptions on patronage intentions. Validity for scales measuring brand identity, business mix, and sense‐of‐place is provided. The study provides a springboard for additional downtown branding research. Practical implications – The negative effect of sense‐of‐place on patronage intention is troubling, indicating that a downtown which pays too much attention to preservation, walkability, etc. and not enough to brand image and business mix may suffer. Originality/value – Despite renewed focus on retailing downtown, there exists a paucity of research examining how consumers perceive their downtown. Of the current literature, most is narrowly focused in examining consumers' perceptions in limited domains. This study seeks to broaden the research literature by ascertaining consumers' perceptions of downtown in three areas – brand identity, business mix, and sense‐of‐place.
Journal of Place Management and Development – Emerald Publishing
Published: Jul 26, 2011
Keywords: Downtown; Place branding; Historic preservation; Shopping intention; Business mix; Marketing mix; United States of America; Consumer behaviour
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