Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Brand Appeal: Degrees of Warmth and Competence

For as long as I can remember, marketers have been applying animal or human characteristics to their brands to communicate a "brand personality".  But, I don't remember hearing that there was any real "science" behind that.  However, a recent study seems to suggest that there is something to it, afterall.  

In an article in Forbes Magazine, Chris Malone of Relationship Capital Group says, "According to a recent study of more than a thousand representative U.S. consumers, people respond to brands in much the same way they instinctively perceive and judge one another--on the basis of warmth and competence. Companies that understand what really lies behind that dynamic have a chance to win the kind of deep customer loyalty that has been elusive even for highly successful national brands." 

Recently, I had the good fortune of hearing Chris speak about how people view brands to a graduate level class in the Food Marketing Program that George Latella and I co-taught at SJU.  Chris's insights came from the research study his company conducted in July, 2010 using researchers from Princeton University.  One of the conclusions from the study was that there was a statistical correlation between how the brands in the study ranked on "warmth" and "competence" and purchase intent.  The brands in the study were McDonalds, Burger King, Shell, BP, Tylenol, Advil, Minute Maid and Tropicana.

I found this fascinating, and very promising for use in advertising and other forms of consumer marketing communications.  Does this also suggest that brands reaching out to form relationships with consumers through social media is on the right track?  I think so.  The link to the Forbes Magazine article is http://www.forbes.com/2010/09/01/marketing-brands-loyalty-bp-mcdonalds-burger-king-tropicana-tylenol-cmo-network.html

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