Date of Award

2015

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Departmental Honors

Department

Management

First Advisor

Deanne Brocato

Abstract

Similar to the "country of origin" effect, branding a business with a specific ownership may have an effect on consumer purchasing behavior; but, as this trend grows so does the amount of research on how this effect is manifested. Large, powerful companies like Wal-Mart, Ex-IM Bank, and Toyota have recently launched initiatives to promote women-owned business enterprises by targeting women-owned suppliers. Women-owned business have seen unprecedented growth and market share in the past decade. In response, Wal-Mart has pledged to source $20 billion in goods from women-owned businesses by 2016. Wal-Mart began using the "Women-Owned" business logo (WOB) that was developed by a partnership between the Women's Business Enterprise National Council and Women Enterprise Connect International. As with country of origin labeling (Made in USA, etc.), this new logo was designed to differentiate qualified products form competitors' products. Since the initial Wal-Mart WOB study in 2009, there have been few recent studies examining effectiveness of a WOB logo for consumer products or services.

The focus of this study is to provide consumer buying behavior information to women business leaders and potential distributors of WOB labeled products or services. Also, this study will explore what types of products and services would benefit most form a WOB label, if any. The study was conducted by surveying 300 diverse participants through Amazon's Mechanical Turk compensation system. Participants were randomly assigned to six different question banks pertaining to either products or services described as either hedonic or utilitarian offering. Each of the prompts also indicated whether or not the product or service was women-owned, men-owned, or non-specified.

The original hypothesis was that the logo would positively affect the perceived value of the product dependent on the hedonic or utilitarian positioning. Against that hypothesis, no statistical significance was found suggesting a correlation between women-owned labeling and increased buying behavior; this applied to products regardless of the product type, gender or age of participant, empathy, participant ranking on the machismo scales, or participant attitudes towards feminism. Utilitarian WOB service branding, however, negatively affected consumer behavior in comparison to having no ownership gender specified. On the other hand, hedonic WOB service branding positively affected perceptions of value in comparison to services with no specified ownership gender. This correlation relationship or lack thereof may affect how women-owned business leaders brand and market their products in the competitive space.

Included in

Marketing Commons

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