It has become increasingly important for small to medium sized enterprise (SME) retailers to stand out in the current marketplace. Branding in SMEs is a growing area of academic interest, although the majority of studies have been based in the manufacturing sector. This study seeks to develop a framework of the characteristics, processes and dynamics of SME retailers. A qualitative research study was carried out with SME owner managers (OMs) over a period of 15 months. The findings extend the understanding of branding in SMEs in a number of ways. Firstly, it is found that SME retailers take a cautious approach to brand management, seeking to build loyalty, networks and relationships. Secondly, the holistic nature of SME retail branding presents a challenge to OMs who are resource-constrained. Thirdly, the soft, colloquial and intuitive approaches to brand equity appraisal are evident. Brand marketing is focused on word of mouth, which has implications for how OMs operationalise the brand around store experiences. Finally, the influence of the OM on branding decisions is clear. The key findings are discussed in relation to the retail context of the study, the centricity of the OMs in SME branding and entrepreneurial brand management.
- SME marketing
- SME brand management