Available empirical evidence suggests that increased customer satisfaction is associated with customer loyalty, which ensures repurchase behaviour and provides a benefit of word-of-mouth communication about products and company, and gains new and potential customers. Research also demonstrated that it is important to consider the needs of customers in order to grow (Anderson & Mittal, 2000; Tao, 2014).
At the heart of customer satisfaction and loyalty is the purchase decisions made by customers. These decisions, made on cognitive level, are influenced by product quality, price, brand image and its awareness (Farris et al., 2010; Fornell et al., 1996). Consumer’s purchasing decision process involves typically five steps: need recognition, information search, evaluation of alternatives, purchase decision and post-purchase behaviour (Kotler et al., 1999). Brand name plays a vital role in customer satisfaction.
A brand is a name (or a term, symbol, logo or trademark) that identifies a company’s product or service that sets them apart from the competing companies (Aaker, 1991; Solomon & Stuart, 2002). Brand awareness, that is, consumers’ familiarity with a brand, is the ability of consumers to distinguish a brand among other competing brands (Jeon, 2017). Brand awareness also includes brand recall and brand recognition, and some scholars contend that brand awareness is very important element of brand equity (Keller, 1993).
Brand loyalty is another important concept in marketing. Brand loyalty is a ‘deeply held psychological commitment to rebuy or patronize a preferred product/service consistently in the future, thereby causing repetitive samer and or same brand-set purchasing, despite situational influences and marketing efforts having the potential to cause switching behavior’ (Oliver, 1999, p. 34).
Ayurveda and Nature-based Herbal Products
The present-day catchphrases are: ‘Being Nature’, ‘Being Organic’ and ‘Supporting Ayurvedic-Indian Age-Old Tradition of Ayurveda’ (Dash, 1978). As health-consciousness is increasing in the world, the consumer’s preferences for health care products are undergoing radical change (Deshpande, 2015). Gradual transition from chemical-based products to healthy and Ayurveda base products is taking place all over the world in general and India in particular. It is not uncommon to find ‘organic’ products in shelves of grocery stores and nature-cure medicines in the aisles of pharmaceutical companies (e.g., CVS pharmacy, Walgreens).
Changing lifestyle of consumers, their awareness of ill-effects caused by chemical products, preferences to live long and healthy, increase in the purchasing power, improvement in educational qualifications and increase in literacy rate, are some of the factors that influence the transformation to Ayurveda products. Both domestic and international companies are competing to attract the consumers of ayurvedic products by introducing special features, offering discounts periodically (e.g., some weekends, companies offer buy-one-get-one free type of slogans to promote sales), especially in the fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG).
Although the market for Ayurvedic products is slowly catching up in the Western part of the world, the origination of Ayurveda is in India. For several centuries, herbal products were very popular and became primary source of curing diseases (Deshpande, 2015; Rekha & Gokila, 2015). As of now, the market for Ayurvedic products is both unorganised and organised.
The organised market is controlled by oligopolistic companies having large brands. The unorganised market consists of small number of regional manufacturers in various parts of India. The organised market covers over 85 per cent of the market and most popular brands include Dabur, Baidyanath, Zandu, Patanjali, Himalaya, Emami and Hamdard.
The last three decades have witnessed quite a number of herbal-based health drinks, toothpastes, hair oils, soaps and Chyawanprash (a substance that consists of many of the herbs that help in digestion, throat infection, cold, cough, etc.) that helps in increasing the immune system of consumers. In addition, some of the other notable products include wild honey, skincare products, gels, cough syrups, baby care products, herbal tea, etc., which are available in Indian subcontinent.
These herbal-based ayurvedic health care products are now-a-days are easily available in all type of medical shops, departmental stores, hyper markets, supermarkets and even in small Kirana stores.
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