Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Feeling Good

From MarketingProfs.com:

I'm Not Afraid When I Hold You

Countless reports have connected brand loyalty with status-seeking (think luxury cars), but a new study says some consumers' connections to brands stem from a far deeper source: their own insecurities.

In the study, researchers asked a group of MP3 owners a few very serious questions and requests, such as: Please describe the emotions that the thought of your own death arouses in you. (Yikes.)

After the hard questions, participants were asked to record the brand name of their MP3 player. (We can only imagine what that segue was like.) Further questions assessed their "self-brand" ("this suits me") and "communal-brand" ("this is the best one for me and my peers") connections to that player, as well as their level of materialism.

Results showed that "materialistic individuals form strong self- and communal-brand connections when existential insecurity is present, but not when it is absent." In other words, materialistic consumers who feared death were more attached to their favorite brand of MP3 player! Wow.

"[M]aterialistic consumers with anxiety about their existence are especially in need of the symbolic security that brand connections may provide," these authors conclude. And, with the media’s heightened focus on "existential threats," consumer anxiety may well be on the rise, they warn.

The lesson for marketers here? Play up your product's comfort factor—big-time.

The Po!nt: Consumer waters run deep. Don't be afraid to emphasize the soothing aspects of a connection to your brand. Your customers may truly appreciate it.

Source: "The Safety of Objects: Materialism, Existential Insecurity, and Brand Connection," by Aric Rindfleisch, James E. Burroughs and Nancy Wong. Journal of Consumer Research, 2009.

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