The significance of branding in the brand choice of end users in the medical industry : a case study of the B Braun brand from an Irish perspective

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Litwin, Magdalena
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MA in Marketing
Dublin Business School
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THE PROBLEM: Branding in the medical device field is a largely neglected topic for academics despite a growing industry. Moreover, though not utilised by marketers in this industry in the 20th Century, a shift towards the use of branding has started to become visible. This neglect was explained by HBS Consulting (2003) by a lack of proof that healthcare workers are influenced by branding activities. Healthcare workers do not want to be perceived as influenced customers in this sensitive industry. In order to examine this issue, a study was conducted to test what 'brand' in general means to Irish healthcare workers. The main focus of this study was on corporate branding and how it influenced product perception (product branding). The study was based on a case study of the company B.Braun Medical Ireland. METHODOLOGY: The sample size was 101 people, consisting of Consultants, Nurses, Registrars and other healthcare workers who agreed to participate in this quantitative study. The anonymous questionnaire was posted to the 30 biggest public hospitals in Ireland. To analyse the results the chi-squared test was used. CONCLUSION: The study tried to cover all of Aaker's brand equity dimensions. The study showed that brand awareness in the medical industry is very strong. Respondents agreed that, not only are they familiar with brands, but also are able to correctly indicate products they associate with certain brands. The results showed that medical staff are influenced by branding activities, even though they were reluctant to admit it. To support these points, respondents were asked about the quality of branded products. Over 42% did not see the difference in quality between branded and non-branded products, and over 45% remained neutral in answering this question. However, the same respondents placed a big trust in branded products when it came to serious (life-threatening) cases - almost 60% of respondents answered that they preferred to use branded products in serious cases, and 60% of respondents agreed that they trusted branded products. This contradiction provides evidence that Irish healthcare workers trust branded products and perceive them as better so as not to jeopardise a patient's health. Therefore it was concluded that branded products are perceived as better quality products despite the fact that the majority of respondents were unable to identify any difference. This might be because healthcare workers do not want to be perceived as costumers manipulated by company promotional activities. The supposition that consumers from the medical industry are influenced by branding activities in the same way as consumers from other industries would appear to be true.