David has linked some great insights on how we feel about brands. No question in my mind great brands engender excitement and make us smile. Minis make me smile. Audis do the same.
Three Michigan researchers, Rajeev Batra, Aaron Ahuvia and Richard P. Bagozzi, have provided more depth to “brand love.” They conducted two qualitative studies exploring what a person means by loving a brand or other object and a quantitative study to identity its underlying dimensions and the output or value.
The qualitative studies found characteristics that subjects reported when discussing brands they loved. They included feelings that the loved brand:
1. is the best in every way from value, to key attributes, to experience.
2. connects to something deeper. Apple (the most mentioned loved brand was the iPod) represents
creativity and self-actualization.
3. creates emotional benefits like being happy, e.g. “Pinkberry frozen yogurt makes me smile.”
4. provides self-expressive benefits and high levels of WOM communication.
5. generates affection and warm-hearted feelings.
6. has a natural fit and harmony between people and the loved brands.
7. stimulates a desire to maintain proximity to the brand and even feeling “separation distress.”
8. engenders a willingness to invest time, energy and money into loved brands.
9. involves frequent, interactive contact with the consumer
10. has a long relationship history.
In the quantitative study, a brand love variable was found to predict loyalty, word-of-mouth communication and resistance to negative information.
The question then is how do these elements impact demand. Minis make me smile. So do Fiats. But I haven’t bought one. So, do love and loyalty matter when they aren’t married with a purchase and demand. Without that final step, we are only experiencing a superficial love of the brand anyway.