Make your product the consumer’s friend


ChartA new study has found that consumers pick brands in much the same way that they form friendships – the research suggests that a brand that somehow manages to project “warmth and competence” will do well, a goal it says flies in the face of many modern marketing approaches.

The study comes from The Relational Capital Group (RCG) in collaboration with social psychologists at Princeton University and University of Louvain, as published in the April 2012 edition of the Journal of Consumer Psychology. 

The study found that consumers judge brands in much the same way they judge individuals and societal groups.

“It turns out that recent efforts by brands and companies to digitize, automate and outsource their interactions with consumers are fundamentally at odds with the way humans perceive, judge and build loyalty to brands,” said Chris Malone, co-author of the lead research paper and Chief Advisory Officer of The Relational Capital Group. “As a result, consumers are more cynical, distrustful and disloyal toward large brands and companies than ever before.”

“We’ve found strong statistical correlation between consumers’ perceptions of each brand’s warmth and competence and their intent to purchase and remain loyal to that brand,” said Princeton’s Dr. Susan Fiske. “These findings are consistent with other studies we’ve conducted that validate the influence and predictive power of warmth and competence on human behavior.”

Brands included in the study included Advil, AIG, Amtrak, BP, Burger King, Campbell’s, Coca-Cola, Goldman Sachs, Hershey, Johnson & Johnson, Marlboro, McDonalds, Mercedes, Minute Maid, Porsche, Rolex, Rolls Royce, Shell, Tropicana, Tylenol, US Postal Service and Veterans Affairs Hospitals.

RBR-TVBR observation: This, ladies and gentleman of the broadcasting business, is news you can use. The next time you’re helping a client put together an advertising campaign and putting together a new script, bear in mind that you’re not selling a thing or a concept – you’re introducing the consumer to a new friend.