Why you would like to know in what relationships are consumers with your brand? How this helps in brand management
Whether you are aware of it or not, consumers form relationships with your brand. This happens because as human beings we form relationships while simply living our lives. We need other people for everything we do or experience – in cooperation with other people we create, we enjoy the results together or other people are the reason for our activity. To such extent relationships are part of how we exist that we transfer that mechanism to unanimated objects such as brands.
If forming relationship with your brand underlies the process of its usage, it is quite important to understand what these relationships entail, what are their characteristics, e.g.: Is there emotion or they are based on simple exchange of benefits? Have consumers initiated them on their own or brand usage was somehow imposed? Are the interactions friendly or hostile? Do consumers consider them to be long-term or short-lived? Is there commitment on the part of the consumer? Who has the upper hand in the relations? Etc.
A brand forms different types of relationships with its consumers. Which types predominate? Ideally it is preferable that friendly, deep and emotional relationships predominate, in which consumer are committed to the brand and depend on it. These types of relations are difficult to end. But there are also relationships in the grey zone of indifference, in which brands are easily replaceable. They are the ones that usually predominate in a category. In our research of 5120 consumer-brand relationships 29% are emotional and friendly, 5% are hostile and 66% are functional with little emotion, some friendlier than others, all easy for the consumer to end.
The effective brand strategy depends on the type of relationship consumers have with the brand. In a long-term committed relationship e.g. consumers need surprises and variety and expect their loyalty to be rewarded. In a friendly and less emotionally vested relationship, with less commitment to the brand, the consumer uses other brands as well – the brand should be reliable and predictable, when the consumer returns to it. For consumers in a distanced, unemotional relationship with the brand you need to establish relevance and personal connection, to augment the brand experience with associations and images that link the brand to important life themes and objectives. In cases of hostility you need to offer immediate compensation and start to rebuild trust.
Understanding the type of interactions consumers have with your brand gives you the leverage to connect in the most effective and lasting manner.