How do you change people's attitude? This is an issue you must address at some point during an ad campaign, a sales pitch, or when you are trying to get people simply to feel better about your product.

In the hierarchy of communication effects, achieving a good brand attitude comes after getting a consumer's attention and giving him or her knowledge about your brand. But knowledge isn't enough, because people must ultimately like your product to buy it. Getting people to like your product is just a layman's term for what we call a good attitude.


How to achieve a good brand attitude is, in fact, rather complex. But to make it simple, we can break it down into some basic steps. The first step is to determine whether what you sell is a high involvement or low involvement product.

Think of a high involvement product as one that is risky and important for customers. If you sell a product that is mission critical to a customer (that is, if it doesn't work, the customer's business doesn't work), then it is clearly a high involvement product. Alternatively, low involvement products are not that important or risky to customers.

A decision must be made about how you will influence the customer's attitude. Two broad ways exist for doing this. One is through a rational persuasion approach, the other is through an emotional appeal. In fact, you see these different types of approaches used all the time in television and print advertising.

How you make this decision depends on what you know about your customers. If you were trying to change an engineer's attitude, for example, a rational approach would typically (but not always) be best. An artist might be approached more with an emotional appeal. The more you know about your customers, the easier this decision will be. The importance of this is described in the tutorial on describing customer segments.

With an understanding of the nature of your customer's involvement and the approach you will take, it is relatively easy to see the different strategies that should be used to achieve a good brand attitude. These are listed in the table below, and they are all based on research in persuasion and marketing.

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image of Debbie MacInnis

Debbie MacInnis is the Charles L. and Ramona I. Hilliard Professor of Business Administration and a professor of marketing at USC's Marshall School of Business. She is co-author of a recent book on brand admiration, which blends years of best-practice thinking from academia with the real-world practice of marketing.

LinkedIn: Debbie MacInnis