Do Customers have relationships with Brands? A product or a service holds immense importance for a consumer. The customer just doesn’t decide on purchasing a product within a second, usually, a bit of thinking is involved. The customer needs to know why to buy a particular product. He or she also needs to know why to choose a particular type of merchandise over others. Branding uses a name, symbol, sign, term or even a mascot to attract customers. This gives each brand its own distinct identity through which consumers are attracted.
The brand image incorporates the product or service quality that it promises to deliver through a value proposition, product features, style and design. For e. g. why would a consumer opt for a luxurious Mercedes Benz car over a Toyota Camry. It is reasonable to assume that the customer is impressed by the brand image Mercedes Benz has created. These views about a certain brand are usually developed through the marketing and non-marketing influences.
This is further complimented by customer loyalty to a certain brand.
The customer will establish a relationship with the brand he or she consumes. This association is in regard to the fact that customers incorporate the brand in their self-identity. Many people develop perceptions about people based on the types of goods and services they consume. I will defend my position through the example of two products, each from a different product category, and show how consumers develop a relationship with the brand.
The two products under consideration will be Disney (a movie studio) and Smith and Wesson (a hand gun).
Later on, we would highlight upon the implications these customer-brand relationships have for marketing managers. Disney Many customers associate with a brand mainly because of the experience derived from it. A successful brand experience integrates culture, creativity and the effective use of technology. This gives a customer a distinct experience and that is exactly why a customer would prefer the product and form a relationship with it. Experiences have always been important in the entertainment industry. Disney has long manufactured memories through its movies and theme parks.
The Disney animated movies provide an experience some customers cannot attain from other alternatives and thus a relationship between Disney and the customers has been formed. The influential customer experience that is developed by the brand forms a rich and long-lasting relationship with loyal Disney customers. The brand has its own personality to which a customer can relate to. Disney movies often define their customers’ personalities. For e. g. spirited, fun loving, young and fantasy loving consumers would have a relationship with Disney as the brand in a way defines them.
This brand passion is why a relationship is formed. Smith and Wesson hand gun This category of a product usually has a more friendship based relationship. The customers’ friendship link is exemplified through trust, understanding, dependability and security. A customer feels secure with the product, there is a trust factor involved and a lot of dependability is also present. Customers such as major law enforcement and military agencies use the product are dependant on it and thus have formed a relationship with the brand itself. The product defines the customers and the advanced technology incorporated in the product for e.g. new sophisticated tools and firearms, higher velocity etc reflect upon the identity of the customer.
A policeman would choose a Smith and Wesson hand gun over others because its features, style and design would classify him as a tech savvy, up-to-date and stylish individual as compared to any average hand gun. Therefore, this focus on the friend relationship rather than the brand personality allows more scope and flexibility in the implementation of the brand identity for Smith and Wesson.
Therefore, a product or service will in one way or another have a relationship with its customers.
The reason why customers want to be associated with a brand is because it defines who they are. The brand is a passive element in the consumer-brand relationship, the focus is upon consumer perceptions, attitudes, and behavior towards the brand; attitudes and perceptions of the brand itself are concealed. The relationship with another person is deeply affected by not only who that person is but also what that person thinks of you. Similarly, a brand-customer relationship will have an active partner at each end, the brand as well as the customer.
The brand, thus, should aim to define its customers, create value for them and disseminate this value by providing the experience a customer desires. Marketing managers should, therefore, understand that they should create brand passion and ensure that a brand-customer relationship is created and refined in order to retain customers since customer retention is a major worry for many marketing managers. Customers are emotionally connected to a brand and this emotional connection is what marketing managers should create.
These connections are they key to profitable relationships with customers and would definitely benefit both the brand and the organization in the long run.
Kotler, Philip. (2005). Principles of Marketing. Eleventh Edition. Prentice Hall. Online Journal McAlexander, J. H. , Schouten J. W. , Koening, H. F. (2002, Jan). Building brand community. Journal of Marketing. 66(1). Muniz Jr, A. M. & OGuinn, T. C. (2001, Mar). Brand community. Journal of Consumer Research. 27(4) Website Great Management/William J. Mcewen. (2007/2/08). Building a Brand Relationship. Retrieved April 27, 2009, from www. greatmanagement. org/articles
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