Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Building brand loyalty

In an ideal academic world, research and teaching feed off one another. In my observation, this is too seldom the case. Recently I accidentally backed into such an overlap involving the human connection with brands. For several years, I have been interested in the emotional relationship that humans make with inanimate brands. During a recent class that I taught at Indiana University, I showed part of an excellent video from Frontline titled The Persuaders. During this video, Saatchi & Saatchi CEO Kevin Roberts talks about his book, Lovemarks: The Future Beyond Brands.

Roberts talks about building “loyalty beyond reason.” Others in the video dismiss such connections as infrequent. However, if you reflect upon your own life, you will see many connections beyond reason. How many generic brand labels fill your cabinets? For most people, there will be few or none. Pepsi. Starbucks. Tide. Abercrombie & Fitch. Although many of these brands may be superior in quality, they cannot be superior in proportion to their increased price since they spend so much on advertising. Thus, much of the extra money that you pay for a brand name goes into advertising to reinforce your brand relationship.

My curiosity piqued, I am now moving my research agenda in this direction. I am exploring Roberts’ notion of loyalty beyond reason. I am not formally trained in marketing, but I do know a thing or two about attention, emotion, and memory. I am going to use this training to drag the brand relationship into my psychophysiological laboratory. Hopefully, I will help elucidate this loyalty that moves beyond reason. Stay tuned. The results will find their way here.

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