Brand bond has much stronger impact on consumers than thought

Friday, November 5, 2010

WASHINGTON - Can you become so emotionally attached to a brand that if forced to buy a competitor’s product, you suffer separation anxiety? Well, the answer is yes, according to a new study.

The USC Marshall School of Business study has suggested that the bond can be strong enough that consumers are willing to sacrifice time, money, energy and reputation to maintain their attachment to that brand.

The study indicated that brand attachment has much stronger impact on consumers than previously believed. In fact, the study suggested, brand attachment can even be strong enough to induce separation anxiety when favorite brands are replaced.

The study advances existing brand research in consumer psychology and goes beyond the existing paradigm, indicating that traditional measurements such as brand attitude strength do not adequately explain consumers’ intense loyalties to the brands they love-that they fail to explain how brands capture “consumers’ hearts and minds.” Brand attachment, the authors claimed, does exist, is predicated on a brand/self-relationship and can better explain what drives consumer behavior and their loyalty and commitment to the brands.

It is brand attachment that explains consumers’ devotion to the iPod, fans’ intense reaction at celebrity deaths and the torment of teenagers who are denied their favorite brand of jeans. Through brand attachment, the USC Marshall study suggests, consumers see the brands as an extension of themselves.

For the research, the authors first developed a two-factor brand attachment scale that examines brand-self connection and brand prominence, groundbreaking distinctions made by the study.

The authors then tested the scale by surveying consumers of several prominent brands: Quaker Oats oatmeal, iPod, and a university.

Using the results to fine-tune the scale, the authors tested their hypotheses through a series of four studies: the impact of brand attachment on consumers’ purchase behavior, their likelihood to engage in “difficult-to-enact” behavior, brand purchase share (or the real estate the brand has within the consumer’s heart and mind compared to competitive brands), and brand need share (the use of the brand compared to brands in other product categories that could be substituted). Based on their research, the authors suggested that managers have much to gain through efforts aimed at building stronger brand attachment.

In addition, managers should incorporate brand attachment in brand-evaluation matrices, which would provide a more detailed picture of how current brand-management efforts relate to future sales. (ANI)

Filed under: Business

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