What is this thing called brand loyalty? What are we really thinking when we say we prefer Brand X over another? These researchers identified some key thought processes of brand loyalists when comparing a beloved product to a new upstart, and offered some handy advice for marketers.

They invited consumers to review a set of ads about a "new" personal-music product. The group was pre-screened to include some who were loyal to the Sony brand, and others who weren't as committed. The target advertisement promoted a new brand of player called Lenoxx, with the tag line, "Is It a Sony? No, It's a Lennoxx!" Participants were asked to evaluate the new item compared to a Sony. The results:

  • Shoppers with a high commitment to Sony tended to focus on the dissimilarities between their preferred brand and the new product.
  • Those with a low commitment to Sony tended to focus on the similarities between the products.

The researchers then noted that flipping consumers' thought processes could encourage a sale:

  • Encouraging brand-loyal consumers to focus on the similarities between their beloved product and a new one could boost sales of the new product.
  • Noting the dissimilarities between products to shoppers with no particular loyalty could help move them toward a purchase decision.

The Po!nt: Careful how you say that. Try focusing on similarities when promoting a new product to loyalists, and dissimilarities between products when selling to consumers with no brand preference.

Source: "The Effect of Brand Commitment on the Evaluation of Nonpreferred Brands: A Disconfirmation Process," by Sekar Raju, H. Rao Unnava and Nicole Votolato Montgomery. Journal of Consumer Research.

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