Love Letter from a Marketer
“We are at our very best when we see the world through the eyes of the person we’re trying to matter to.”
― Bernadette Jiwa, Marketing: A Love Story: How to Matter to Your Customers
Love is complicated. Love’s definition, though usually rooted in romance, is used liberally in all matters of scenarios. “I love my denim jacket. I love chocolate chip cookies. I love David Beckham.” But what makes a consumer fall in love with something as seemingly mechanical and soulless as a brand? Apple, Google, Discover, and Domino’s ranked among the brands with the most loyal customers in 2015. How does a brand achieve this height of adoration from its consumers? The list below offers a glimpse of love, from a marketer’s perspective.
1. I Am What I Buy
Brand loyalty is defined as the customer’s likelihood to repeatedly buy your product. When a customer purchases a product, they are purchasing a brand whose personality is one with which the consumer identifies. The slogans for Nike’s “Just Do It” and Apple’s “Think Different,” convey universal ideals that resonate deeply with consumers. As such, wearing the Nike “swoosh” or the “Apple” says a lot about a consumer’s personal philosophy. If you view yourself as an environmentally-conscious person, you might drive a Nissan Leaf. If you view yourself as a bad boy, you might drive a Harley Davidson motorcycle. When consumers align themselves with the brand’s personality, a camaraderie with that particular brand philosophy is forged.
2. Emotional Connection
A 2013 study found that when evaluating brands, consumers primarily use their purchasing power based on emotions (personal feelings) over information (features). As a result, narratives in post-modern advertising have become popular because they engage the audience. If a brand can’t make an emotional connection through humor or poignancy, then at least the ad can be so absurd it’s memorable, right? The study found that an emotional connection to the brand is more effective, driving up sales up by a factor of 3-to-1 for television commercials and 2-to-1 for print ads. Consumers like brands to which they feel emotionally-connected. In ad research, this is measured as “likeability.”
3. Rational Benefit
According to Is It Really Love? A Comparative Investigation of the Emotional Nature of Brand and Interpersonal Love, a 2015 article by Langner, Schmidt and Fischer, brand love, unlike interpersonal love, is driven by rational benefits. Product quality and usefulness apply here, where a product’s benefit is perceived as the best means to achieve a desired result. Aristotle’s Seven Causes of Human Action counts “reason” as one of the seven motivators to stimulate a person to human action. With effective marketing communication (advertising, packaging design, branding, what have you), a consumer can be convinced that the product will fulfill the need and be motivated to act. If the product is effective, readily available, simple to use, and constantly changing to meet the consumer’s desires, this builds trust in the brand. As everybody knows, trust is an essential part of any relationship.
4. Needs vs. Wants
Does your customer really need your product? Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs argues that, on a basic level, all any person really needs is shelter, water, and sustenance. Everything else is extraneous. But our hierarchy of needs is a pyramid, with a third tier wholly dedicated to a need for love and a sense of belonging. Knowing this, how do you appeal to the wants of your target consumer? An effective ad campaign should clearly and concisely communicate why a consumer should want your product and what higher-level need it will fulfill, ideally through an emotion-evoking representation of your brand’s personality. Is your product an “in-crowd” item, fulfilling a need to belong? Is it a service that makes the client feel familiar? When they are in your establishment, do they feel as if they belong there? Are they “in” on the brand’s philosophy, like the participant of an inside joke or the member of a movement? Creating need in this case is creating an urgency to belong, but it must be done with morality in mind.
5. Ethical Concern
A lasting brand relationship begins with enticement and ends with enrichment of the person. An emotional appeal may get the consumer through the door, but falling in love requires a commitment to an honest representation of the product or service. Marketing research urges us to quantify the act of selling as: “creating a need” and instilling in the consumer the “desire to fulfill that need” with the product or service. However, ethics play an important role on the trustworthiness of a brand and whether or not the consumer feels “safe” using your product. In the makeup industry, for example, it is highly criticized that the cycle of sales revolves around making women feel inadequate about themselves, and selling them makeup as a tool to mask their beauty deficit. You don’t want to inadvertently leave your target consumer feeling disrespected or patronized. A product or service ought to enhance a person’s life in some form without denigrating their importance to the brand relationship. Companies like Dove have accomplished this through their “Real Beauty Campaign,” which has made an ethical commitment to tailoring their products to all skin types, exploring the roots of self-esteem and its links to beauty, and supporting organizations like the Girl Scouts and Boys & Girls Club of America. When the campaign was introduced in 2014, Dove’s sales jumped from $2.5 billion to $4 billion, proving the reciprocity of Dove’s relationship with its customers. With the likelihood of brand loyalty (repeat customers) as a result of the campaign, this example exposes through sales that a commitment to loving the product and your customers will pay off in the long run.
For assisting you in your quest for love, let our Creative Juicers enrapture you in their knowledge. Creative Juice offers a litany of graphic and web offerings that you are sure to fall for.