Brand love or need: what matters most?

— Jessica Ozdemir, Sr Marketing Manager, EMEA & APAC 

Picture this: you’re browsing through your Facebook feed, hastily skipping past your auntie’s umpteenth picture post and you spot a relationship status. You can’t help but take a second to stop, find out who’s split from who and, if you’re ultra-nosey, dig a little deeper into the individual profiles. It can be a shock when you see a couple who’ve split because the perception they’ve portrayed across Facebook implied nothing other than a solid relationship. This got me thinking about relationship statuses, and the relationships consumers have with brands.

Earlier this month, WE launched Brands in Motion (BIM), analysing 8 specific industries and 40 scenarios across 6 markets. One finding revealed that over half (54%) of people said they loved the category “not hated”. Yet when we asked if they would defend or shame the industries, in 98% of the scenarios, the majority of respondents said they would gladly shame the brand or industry if they stepped out of line. Thinking back to Facebook, I’m starting to see a pattern here – if people are feeling wronged, they’ll happily express this in the form of a status.  

Love versus need

For the purposes of this blog, I’d like to look at plotting industries using just two variables – healthy (love) and unhealthy (need) – explaining brands and categories from a relationship status point of view (think back to my earlier Facebook point) by measuring the love and need independently. According to the latest findings of BIM and YouGov research, automotive and finance fall into the unhealthy (need) variable across the UK, US, China, Germany, Australia, South Africa and China, suggesting a low and unhealthy relationship status with consumers surveyed. In stark contrast, business technology and computing devices fall into a healthy (love) variable across all six markets surveyed.

The proof is in the pudding

  • Many major leaders in the automotive sector have been transparent in saying the industry needs disruption and they’re trying to do just that – think smart cars, driverless cars, electric cars. However, it’s not just about innovation (often a majority of people say the auto industry is ‘cutting edge’) there is something more missing. There is an unhealthy affiliation with this industry and it needs to work hard to turn this into a healthy status.
  • We all fell in love with the sleekness of computing devices such as smartphones and tablets. They enable thousands of apps to be at your fingertips in seconds, allowing you to do everything from check your bank balance, to plan an entire trip abroad. This is probably why computing brands have seen huge successes over the years - they started off creating a love for their product and then slowly equaled the weighing scales to convince consumers they needed the product. There is a healthy association with this industry and the trick is now maintaining this equilibrium.

What does this mean for marketers?

Marketers need to find the right balance between the love and the need for a product/service, treating the two as independent variables. To move from an unhealthy to a healthy status, brands who are in constant motion need to create a deeper affiliation with its consumers and act in real-time. Marketers need to think about its relationship plan and its relationship strategy ensuring that it delivers value to customers on a frequent basis and in real-time. Every tactic we deploy as marketers should add value to that relationship status, ensuring the purpose of marketing and communications measures strongly against the relationship needs and wants of the consumer.