Vive La Difference: Building/killing brand loyalty ~ Brand Mix

Monday, February 23, 2009

Vive La Difference: Building/killing brand loyalty

Photo: Whole Wheat Toast (Flickr)

Want to raid a few brand loyalists from the competition? Here's how. Focus on the similarities between your product and theirs. If you want to keep your fans loyal, focus on how you are different.

New research in the Journal of Consumer Research explores the differences between consumers who have strong brand loyalty and those that show very little commitment. It finds that loyalists focus on differences betweeen their preferred product and its competition whereas the non-commital focus on the similarities. The study also finds that it's possible to disrupt someone's typical way of processing information about products. By asking brand loyalists to focus on the similarities between "their" brand and another and asking the non-brand loyal to focus on the differences, the researchers were able to influence the perceptions of both groups.

Interesting to think about Private Label strategy in light of these findings. The me-too approach of many Private Label brands (like Wal-Tussin) is very much in line with the idea of emphasizing similarity. By making their product as similar to the better-known brands as possible, they aim to eat away at those brands' loyal user commitment. However, more recent initiatives appear to be going in the other direction. Perhaps reflecting that the Private Label brands now have a critical mass of their own loyalists?

Meanwhile, there's an AdAge story today about how Private Label is winning the battle of the brands. One of the points it makes is that national brands are helping the cause of Private Label brands by focusing on price discounting. In essence, they are helping make the Private Label brands case that they are similar.

Details:
The Effect of Brand Commitment on the Evaluation of Nonpreferred Brands: A Disconfirmation Process by Sekar Raju, H. Rao Unnava, and Nicole Votolato Montgomery in the Journal of Consumer Research vol. 35, no.5 (February 2009)

3 comments:

Denise Lee Yohn said...

this post reminds me of something i was taught a long time ago about positioning -- it went something like this: the first step in positioning a new brand is to explain how you're the same as existing choices; then the second step is to explain how you're different. (i can't remember where i heard this, so if you know the source, i'd love to be reminded.)

so the first goal is to get your brand into the consideration set -- by explaining how you are the same as existing choices, de facto you're saying you belong in the same consideration set.

once you've gotten in that set, then your goal becomes differentiation -- explaining how you are different/better than existing choices so as to make a case for why someone should buy your brand vs. another.

your observations seem to align with this, right? newer private label brands are doing the first step, while established brands have been doing the second for quite awhile.

as "value" becomes even more of a driving force, perhaps the established brands will need to go back to the first step and explain why they belong in the "value" consideration set??

Martin Bishop said...

Denise: Thanks for your comment and I enjoyed reading your post on this them as well

http://deniseleeyohn.com/bites/2009/02/26/were-the-same-but-different/

Pratiksha Jadhav said...


Cool post. I always read your blog. The information about you have provided about branding is really nice. yes I agree loyalists focus on differences betweeen their preferred product and its competition whereas the non-commital focus on the similarities.Brandharvest.net offers brand consultancy in specific areas of like brand architecture, internalizing brand values, environmental design and robust brand manuals.

 
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