Talking Points
April 2024

Go Beyond Brand Loyalty. Build Brand Love.

A lot of people may say they aren’t brand conscious. The truth is, most of us are. Whether it’s our shoes, our cars, our phones, or even our morning coffees, we’re pretty loyal to our favorite brands. So what makes us obsess over the things we want? The answer might surprise you. It’s love.

Yes, the very same feelings and reactions that bring people together also draw consumers to brands in an emotional way. In his book How Customers Think: Essential Insights into the Mind of the Market, Harvard Business School professor Gerald Zaltman says 95% of purchasing decisions take place in the subconscious mind. In other words, purchase decisions are based less on thinking, and more on feeling.

  • The three components of brand love
    Loving relationships are a product of three things—chemistry, needs fulfillment, and compatibility. The same is true about brand-customer relationships. Chemistry generates the sense of excitement and irrational desire. Needs fulfillment checks off the right boxes. And compatibility—also known as “brand loyalty”—is what leads to lasting relationships.

    Moreover, marketing scientists have found that as consumers build emotional attachments, they rely on “emotional shortcuts” to simplify purchasing decisions. For example, customers may order Coke without even considering the alternatives.

  • Harnessing brand love
    Marketers can now access the consumer subconscious by using compatibility matching algorithms similar to those used by dating sites. And highly interactive survey tools are able to isolate consumers’ emotional relationships on an unprecedented scale. Unlike traditional quantitative survey methods, today’s “emotional data” gives marketers new insights into consumer behaviors, like suspending price sensitivity, engaging social media, or even tuning into a specific TV series.

    To increase and harness consumer love for their brands, marketers should understand the drivers of love for their category and brand. Next, they should know what’s most important to their target consumers. And, finally, they should determine how they can differentiate their brand from the competition to deepen the emotional connection.

Based on What Drives That Crazy Little Thing Called Brand Love by Jeff Meleski.

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