In Germany, private retirement provision is a topic of increasing importance. The ageing population in combination with unemployment, an increasing number of temporary work contracts, more individuals who work part-time or in jobs not subject to social insurance contributions, make it problematic to finance the pensions of the retired in a pay-as-you-go financed pension system. Besides, the number of individuals not able to acquire sufficient pension claims exceeding the needs-oriented basic pension is increasing. Several pension reforms have taken place in order to alleviate the pressure on the pay-as-you-go system. In 2001, a voluntarily funded part was introduced to close the pension gap which has slowly been rising due to a declining replacement rate in the statutory pension system. Individuals now have to decide if they start to provide for retirement privately, how much they are going to save and where to invest. Such decisions require a sound knowledge of the German pension system and general financial knowledge in order to be able to approximate retirement needs and to compare financial products.
Based on the theory of saving and its behavioral refinements, a decision model has been developed in this thesis which describes each step from thinking about retirement to actually saving for retirement. Each of these steps has been investigated empirically in order to find out more about the hurdles individuals face on their way towards private retirement savings.
Based on an instrumental variable estimation, it will be shown that providing information about retirement provision alone will not be sufficient to make people think about an appropriate retirement income, to induce people to make concrete retirement plans and to increase the number of individuals who translate their plans into action. Instead of providing general pension knowledge, offering concrete and targeted information at the time it is needed might be a more successful strategy. These idea, results and conclusions stem from Oehler and Wilhelm-Oehler 2009a, 2011 who analyze the data from „Altersvorsorge macht Schule” („retirement planning goes school”). They recommend a practice-oriented, case-based financial education as well as a „meta education” to improve the „meta literacy” as shown by Oehler (2004, 2009a, 2011, 2012a, 2012d-e, 2013a-b). „Meta literacy” in this sense means that it is more important to know methods or people who can solve the problem when it appears, than acquiring all knowledge themselves being prepared to solve all possible problems (Oehler/Wilhelm-Oehler 2009, 2011; Oehler 2011, 2012a, 2012d-e, 2013a-b).
This strategy may also be successful to solve the problem of time constraints which many individuals stated to be the main reason why they would not participate in a retirement seminar. Furthermore, the confidence in one’s own knowledge seems to be more important than actual knowledge which requires measures to increase consumer confidence. Such a measure could be, for example, a hypothetical situation in which seminar participants have to evaluate the offer they received from a financial advisor (Oehler 2004, 2005b, 2006, 2011, 2012a, 2012d-e, 2013a-b).
According to the literature findings in the last five decades it is known that individuals fall back to heuristics in order to simplify decision. This behavior has also been observed in this work. Even though they own a pension product, they stated they did not try to figure out how much retirement wealth would be necessary to live an adequate retirement life. Hence, they must have followed some kind of decision rule to decide, among others, about the amount they save. Using heuristics was more prevalent among individuals owning a “Riester Pension” than among individuals owning a company pension. Since individuals with a company pension often receive information about the pension plan through the employer or via employer sponsored retirement seminars, such seminars seem likely to have the potential of increasing the number of individuals who engage in retirement planning before starting to save.
The second one is that individuals who admit that they tend to procrastinate on financial decisions are more likely to join a retirement seminar than individuals who indicate that they would rather not procrastinate. Making people aware of the widespread problem of procrastinating retirement savings might increase the number of individuals who realize that they have procrastinated retirement planning and henceforth increase the number of individuals participating in retirement seminars.
This dissertation analyzes Open-End Turbo Certificates (OETCs), a popular class of retail derivatives. OETCs can be exercised at any time at the investor’s discretion. In order to explain the existence of the certificates jump risk must be considered. We propose and implement an optimal stopping approach to price these securities, which further allows for determining optimal exercise thresholds. They result from the trade-off between benefits from downward jump protection and financing costs. We show that early exercise right has a significant impact on their values. In an empirical analysis pertaining to the years 2007 through 2009 it turns out that certificates which could be rationally held are very rare, although the degree by which the underlying exceeds the optimal exercise thresholds continually declines over the considered period. We suggest three lines of explanation: general market movement, jump risk perception by the market, and increased competition among issuers.
The focus of this dissertation lies on the brand personality (BP) and the brand relationship concept. They represent two particularly important measures of brand equity. And more importantly, both concepts still lack a comprehensive understanding. Hence, this dissertation provides deeper insight in how two manage and measure BP and how to build strong consumer-brand relationships. Thus, the purpose of this dissertation is twofold: In particular, the first objective is to discuss consumer’s perception of brand personality. In particular, the first goal is to gain an understanding of the way consumers perceive brands. The aim is to explore the amount of variance in consumer perception of brand personality. Do all customers perceive the same intended BP or do customers perceive the same intended BP differently? Reviewing the extant literature on BP reveals that there is much criticism on the existing BP scale (Aaker 1997). In order to address this issue, the research objective is to introduce an alternative conceptualization of BP by drawing upon social psychology. The aim is to analyze the role of emotions linking BP perceptions, brand attitude and purchase intentions. The second purpose of this dissertation is to illustrate how customers form relationships towards brands. Hence, in a first step, this dissertation pursues a thorough literature review. The aim is to scrutinize past research on consumer-brand relationships. This literature review will portray how the concept of consumer-brand relationships has been used in the marketing literature. The aim of this state-of-the-art review is to precisely identify the variables and concepts that deserve more attention. Subsequently, these variables will be investigated in an empirically tested model. So, the fourth aim is to identify the relevant antecedent and mediating variables of consumer-brand relationships. In doing so, this thesis seeks to provide a clear picture of the current state of BP and consumer-brand relationship research. Moreover, it aims at promoting research in these two research fields by addressing current issues in marketing. The first study (chapter 2) applies the existing BP scale. It develops a taxonomy which fills a gap in empirical knowledge about consumer perceptions of brand personalities. To the author’s knowledge, this is the first study that empirically derives a taxonomy from dimensions drawn from academic research (Aaker 1997). Overall, the results reveal that customers who perceive a strong BP perceive higher levels of performance in terms of brand attitude, preference and satisfaction. The second study (chapter 3) is the first to empirically investigate the applicability of the stereotype content model in the context of consumer goods brands. The review of extant research on BP shows a growing concern about the appropriateness of the Aaker scale. In order to address this issue, the study draws upon social psychology and the stereotype content model. The empirical study suggests that the stereotype content model is a viable alternative conceptualization of the BP concept. This study contributes to current research in two ways. First, it helps reducing complexity in BP measurement. Second, the results provide evidence that the consumer’s behavioral intention results from his stereotypes towards the brand, his emotions and his brand attitude. By providing a current state-of-the-art review, chapter 4 serves as a valuable source of information to enhance research concerning consumer-brand relationships. First, the overview shows that consumer-brand relationship research still is in its infancy. Second, it reveals that current research on consumer-brand relationships focuses on the interpersonal context. Chapter 5 proposes an alternative conceptualization of the brand relationship quality construct by integrating current knowledge from the relationship marketing literature. The results show that brand relationship quality is well captured by the dimensions relationship commitment, trust, and relationship satisfaction. Second, this study is the first to apply the Relational Exchange Theory by Macneil (1980) to the consumer goods brand context. It introduces the norm concept from a business perspective and shows that relational norms play a mediating role in actual relationships between consumers and brands. Hence, the present study approves the question by Johar (2005) whether norms are attached to brand behavior. Furthermore, this chapter advances the current knowledge on consumer-brand relationships by empirically testing a comprehensive framework of consumer-brand relationships. This framework includes not only consumer and brand characteristics, but also brand relationship characteristics as relevant drivers of the consumer-brand dyad. The findings indicate that consumer characteristics are especially related to relational norms and that brand relationship characteristics rather influence the degree of perceived brand relationship quality and brand loyalty. Brand characteristics on the other hand can be linked to both mediators and the out-come variable brand loyalty. Overall, this dissertation advances the understanding of the two key brand equity measures BP and brand relationship by reducing complexity: Whereas the first study develops a taxonomy of brand constellations, the remaining two empirical studies transfer existing knowledge originating from marketing or related disciplines to the brand context. As such, this thesis reduces complexity and enriches research in the two fields by adding knowledge which has proven of value in related contexts.