What influence does brand image and brand reputation have towards achieving a sustained competitive advantage in the sports apparel industry?
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The purpose of the research was to investigate the contribution of brand image and brand reputation towards the creation of a sustained competitive advantage (SCA) in the sports apparel industry. The literature review indicates that intangible resources are more likely to be sources of SCA because they are invisible and difficult to copy. In addition, brand image and brand reputation are recognised as two of the most important intangible resources. However, the relationship between brand image, brand reputation and SCA has not been sufficiently explored. A comparative case study of three leading sports apparel brands Adidas, Puma and Canterbury Clothing Company was conducted. Data were collected supporting a triangulation collection method of secondary data sources as well as interviews with a senior manager from each of the brands and two focus groups conducted with consumers. Data analysis involved a six-step coding process, also known as thematic analysis. Subsequent analysis identified three elements that influence both brand image and brand reputation. Sponsorship, product quality and media were found to influence how consumers perceive a firm's brand image, and over time this brand image is believed to create a brand reputation. Furthermore, findings suggest that brand image will potentially lead toward a competitive advantage (CA) and brand reputation can potentially lead towards a SCA. These elements are underpinned by eight propositions and are presented in a proposed model.