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Emotional branding: Love it or hate it, it works
The effectiveness of 'emotional branding' has been virtually unknown - until now. A new study by Murdoch University's Audience Labs in collaboration with the University of Wollongong in Australia has found that emotional branding can reap significant rewards. In New Zealand, the country's response to a shortage of an iconic spread demonstrates such emotional attachment.
The study, which involved 1,025 Australians, asked participants to rate brands purchased over the past year in the categories of utilitarian (such as petrol and washing detergent) and hedonic products (such as instant coffee and beer).
It found consumers that form an emotional attachment to a brand purchase significantly more than those who don't.
Emotions considered for the study were trust, bonding ('It's my brand'), resonance ('This fits my self image'), companionship ('This brand is like a companion to me') and love, in which a deep affection was felt and the consumer would be really upset if they couldn't have their brand.
The research revealed men who feel 'love' for their beer brand purchase 38% more beer than average, and women who feel 'bonding' with their laundry detergent purchase 60% more than average.
"Emotionally attached consumers purchase substantially more than regular customers, which frees companies from having to rely on promotions and discounts to keep them buying the brand," says Dr Steve Bellman, Deputy Director of Audience Labs.
"On the flip side, however, while advertisers are eager to create emotional attachments between consumers and their goods, we've found forming these deep feelings can be a difficult task."
Across the Tasman Sea from Australia, in New Zealand, emotional attachments to an iconic breakfast staple were publicly exhibited earlier this year. The production of Marmite, a yeast extract spread with a distinctive flavor, was stopped after a damaging earthquake closed the factory.
Such was the panic, and mourning, of the resulting shortage (remaining stock was soon sold out after panic buying), that the Sanitarium Health Food Company, who produce New Zealand Marmite, had to respond. The resulting advertising campaign, "Don't Freak - We'll Be Back", was developed to console the brand's fervent lovers, recognize their loyalty and patience in the face of the shortage and maintain their trust in the brand to minimize defection.
Marmite's distinctive taste evokes strong feelings and the resulting emotional division has long been the focus of advertising for the brand, most notably in the "Love It or Hate It" campaign developed some 16 years ago. That campaign's success still resonates today and continues to be a strong component of the brand's marketing strategy. People can often be heard describing something as "like Marmite, you either love it or hate it" and firmly putting themselves in the camp 'Lovers' or 'Haters'.
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