Is Love All That Matters? It's Complicated

The relationship status between people and their brands should, like human relationships on Facebook, sometimes be labelled “It’s complicated”. Why? Because we live in a systemic world where things exist and function in relation to one another, rather than as independent entities, not unlike the world of human relationships as viewed through the lens of social media.

The author(s)

  • Gillian Drewett Ipsos Laboratories, South Africa
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There is one brand where the relationship status is very simple – you are either of the #Ilovemarmite view or of the #Ihatemarmite view. However, recently a grocery store brand made the relationship status much more complicated. More on that later.
As consumers, each of us has in our minds complex mental networks of associations with respect to different brands. The brand mental network is a rich picture of our unique mix of experiences, associations, impressions, shape, colour and so on. How then, in the complex world of brand desire, does a brand stand out and get chosen?
Being chosen requires working with a variety of contributing parts: being in mind, having a relationship, having high perceived value, being easy to choose in market. The elements work as a system to build up or break down brand relationships. Emotional connection is enveloped in, and contributes to, creating a mental network of brand association. But, being known and having feelings for a brand doesn’t guarantee that your brand will be bought.

There is a lot going on in the mind of someone choosing a brand, all this activity is taking place at warp speed and some of it unconsciously. Any brand in the market needs to at least be considered as “buyable” by the consumer. This is the first step. Then it’s about the brand standing out and being available in the right kind of way, that is, offering the best value at the moment of choice. We can think of these two as different aspects of saliency:

  • Memory salience: tapping into all the experiences and knowledge we already have, all the “priming” the brand has done to make it easy to find the right associations at the moment of choice,
  • Attention salience: relating to all the things the brand can do to swing the decision at the moment of choice.

So, is love all that matters? Well, for human relationships perhaps, but for brand relationships not so much. Emotional connection is only one of a few different elements that are considered in our decision processes, be they conscious or unconscious.
We live in a systemic world of multiple rather than dichotomous choices and influences. When we measure how well a brand is doing we need to measure why people choose it and then how we can influence those choices through a number of lenses. Looking at what is going on for a brand in a holistic manner is more likely to result in a successful outcome for brand desire than focusing on one element only (#itscomplicated).

The author(s)

  • Gillian Drewett Ipsos Laboratories, South Africa

Customer Experience