The Influence of Brand Loyalty on Equestrian Helmet Buying Decisions
With consumers constantly exposed to brands, it is very important for businesses to ensure their brand stand out in the marketplace. Building brand loyalty creates a competitive advantage through increased customer recommendations, repeat purchases and overall, expenditures on the branded products. This study looks at the role of brand loyalty in the helmet market of the equine industry. There are many helmet brands that offer different features in look, fit, comfort, and safety and vary in price from about $23-$1,000+. Secondary research was conducted, and hypothesis were developed about how these factors and the nature of the sport influence helmet purchases: • Brand loyalty plays a strong role in consumer purchases of equestrian helmets. • Style trends in the show ring change over time and have a stronger influence over helmet purchases. • Helmet trends vary slightly by region due to prominent trainer and competition judge influence. • Different disciplines have their own trends that are accepted and popular for competition. • Safety rating of helmets can be a deciding factor for which brand or model of helmet to purchase. Based on these findings, primary research in the form of a focus group was conducted. Eight participants from the Alfred University equestrian teams participated. The group was fairly homogeneous; all had similar riding experience at similar levels. To address the research focus of brand loyalty and various helmets. there was diversity in their primary styles of riding. Key themes from the focus group included: • Safety is a popular topic of discussion but is not the greatest factor when considering helmet purchases. • Look is one of the primary factors in helmet purchases, but it is subjective, and it is inconclusive how different brands view overall look. • Other activities of brands, like customer service, selling online, and offering other products, do not play a strong role in helmet selection. • When a consumer is satisfied with a helmet, they are more likely to buy that brand again. • Media plays a big role in the development of helmet trends. Footage of high-level competitions and the social media of professional riders show use of new helmet styles allowing new looks to slowly trickle down to lower levels, where they are pushed by trainers and early adopters. Although extensive conclusive research is required to confirm these findings, some implications were still developed for the helmet industry. For example, helmet purchases appear to be strongly influenced by appearance and fitting in with current helmet trends. Businesses may want to focus on evolving helmet trends by working with influencers, sponsoring top riders, and working to get their helmet style exposed and widely available to be adopted by riders. Additional research was also discussed along with other key findings that could be further tested.
Thesis completed in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Alfred University Honors Program.
Honors thesis, Equestrian, Helmets, Safety