Brand preferences for urban consolidation services: a conjoint analysis

Andrew Gough*, Karel Formanek, Maxwell Ofosu, Roger Miles

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to Book/ReportConference Contributionpeer-review


Purpose: Urban consolidation is a proven approach to improving the traffic impact of final mile delivery. The operational benefits of such schemes have been widely studied, yet the commercial aspects of the service are rarely placed within the public domain.

Exemplar schemes can be identified that carry the brand of the main contractor, of a key sponsor, or of the community in which the scheme resides. Combinations of brands may be seen, as may brands identifying the service as a brand in its own right.

The authors were not aware of any published study that investigates the acceptability of the brand choice to customers, nor of any that identified the relative importance of the brand amongst other attributes of the service. To address this, two studies were conducted (a) amongst potential customers of a consolidation service (n=161) and (b) amongst potential operators of the service.
Thirteen logistics companies participated in the survey.

Research approach: Using proprietary software (Sawtooth), multi-attribute, multi-level, randomized choice-based conjoint analyses were designed to establish (a) the relevant attributes that determine the acceptability of a specific brand choice, (b) the customer’s branding preferences during the delivery process, and (c) how important branding placed on final mile vehicles is in comparison with other attributes.

Findings and originality: Both Customer and Operator segments showed a strong preference for a very high service level, with the highest ranking awarded to a Free Next Day delivery service. Whilst this preference is not unexpected from the Customers, we conclude that the Operators are not invested in the competitiveness of the goods that they carry, as the costs of such a high-level service would have to be recovered by other stakeholders.

Within the Customer segment, Cost and Reliability were the most important attributes, with Brand in third place ahead of Delivery Flexibility and Ease of Returns.

Within the Operator segment, Brand was the dominant attribute ahead of Reliability, with Delivery Flexibility in third place ahead of Cost and Ease of Returns.

The prominence of Brand in the Operator segment was found to be in complete contrast to operational reality, where large numbers of unbranded vehicles (“white vans”) are routinely employed. Consumer acceptance of unbranded / differently-branded vehicles is widespread.

Research impact: As far as the authors are aware, this is the first published conjoint analysis of brand preferences regarding urban consolidation services.

Practical impact: The low rating of Brand in the Customer segment suggests that new brands established by specialist operators, communities or regional transport bodies could compete with established couriers in the delivery of urban consolidation services.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLogistics Research Network Conference 2022
Subtitle of host publicationSupply Chain Innovation: People, Process, Technology
Publisher The Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport
Number of pages7
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-904564-69-0
Publication statusPublished - 8 Sept 2022
EventChartered Institute of Logistics and Transport, Logistics Research Network Annual Conference - Southampton Solent University
Duration: 6 Sept 2017 → …


ConferenceChartered Institute of Logistics and Transport, Logistics Research Network Annual Conference
Period6/09/17 → …


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