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Relationships and Branding

In a contemporary consumer society reliant on materialism and postmodern branding in order to fulfil purchasing behaviour – derived from the economics of needs and wants, stimulated by a reflection to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs model – we should not assume, but indeed concrete, the fact that public relations is at the heart of maintaining the relationship between consumer and corporation. Those in branches of advertising and marketing will probably disagree, perhaps even differentiate each discipline and endeavour to ensure no correlation is made to PR.

 

Public relations, bizarrely, continues to suffer from a self-image problem within the wider professional community, despite becoming increasingly credible in academic arenas of discourse. If we’re talking about branding, then we can come to a number of conclusions, most prominently that a product requires a sustained period of exposure to market conditions during initial launch in order to remain profitable beyond advertising and marketing. Existing brands share this similar requirement; it’s all good and well to invest in the most successful marketing and advertising campaigns, but without public relations how do we sustain this consumer-corporation relationship? If something goes wrong, who is there to pick up the pieces and stitch them together in the form of an almost patchwork-like campaign to fend off campaigners?

 

A brand is a mental and social construction revolving around positive brand image, attitude and awareness; the most successful brands are those which not only strike our pockets with million-dollar advertising campaigns and the perfect Four Ps activity (priced in line with market conditions, a product that satisfies a need or want and economically viable, sold in accessible outlets and promoted well) but maintain this relationship. Take away marketing and advertising, and you have public relations; if the product has become established, it could well survive through positive promotion, persuasive corporate activity and positivity, particularly if that brand is well received, consumed and desired. But strip away PR and you are left with a product or service that can be advertised yet may face difficulties in advertising in the future based on the need for relationship.

 

It was Langer (1996) and Fournier (1994) who said relationships cannot exist without interactions between a consumer and its brand. Fournier also carried out research and claimed all strong relationships originate in an instrumental product performance, arriving at the conclusion that a relationship consists of attachments and connections. Public relations has a fundamental role – to retain consumers in the face of choice, ensure they remaun commited, sustain strong bonding and turn deserters into loyal consumers (see Hofmeyr and Rice, 1980). To satisfy needs is not merely economical and psychological; public relations is a key component of the process of sustaining consumers. Without public relations, our promotional discourse would be severely affected and problems with a corporation would be faced by those without specialist knowledge. We may still be able to market and advertise, but the over-lap or public relations should signify that to perceive this piece of the pie as irrelevant is to eat the entire pie without cream…

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Literature Findings

Rosenbaum-Elliott et al (2011) Strategic Brand Management, 2nd edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

 

Preface

 

  • Successful branding adds customer value and can provide protection from price competition and pressures towards commoditisation. This involves complex processes of authenticity, reassurance, the development of meaning, the transformation of experience, and differentiation which eventually move from satisfying a basic human need for control and assurance to becoming a medium of social exchange and social structuration in advanced societies.
  • The theoretical base for the book comes from the research of the author into brands and symbolic meaning, identity, and emotion; and that of the second author into brands and advertising. It also draws on the communication and positioning models and therefore integrates brands and advertising.
  • The book takes a sociocultural approach which draws on contemporary sociology, cultural studies, anthropology, and social theory rather than relying on just the cognitive, information-processing approach to branding.

 

The Sociocultural Meaning of Brands

This section locates brands in relation to consumer behaviour and the growth of consumer culture, drawing on psychology, sociology, and anthropology.

 

Understanding the Social Psychology of Brands

KEY CONCEPTS

  1. 1.       Brands exist in the mind of the market, so brand management is the management of perceptions.
  2. 2.       Brands can be separated into those that are primarily functional and those emotional.
  3. 3.       We review ways in which consumers make choices between brands and emphasise the key role played in involvement.
  4. 4.       In low-involvement situations, top-of-mind awareness may be the single most important factor.

 

4: A brand is a label which we have feelings towards, and build associations with to perceive value (Brakus, et al., 2009). In building brand value ‘perception is more important than reality’ (Duncan and Moriarty, 1998), and as brands only exist in the minds of customers the management of brands is all about the management of perceptions. The power of a brand to influence perceptions can transform the experience of using the product.

 

The organising framework is constructed by the separation of the concept of the brand into a functional domain as a representation of what the product actually does for us and an emotional/symbolic domain as a representation of what the product means to us.

 

4-5: As consumers become more involved with a purchase decision their choice becomes increasingly driven by emotional processes and so the consumer benefit of the brand becomes a safe choice, safe in terms of all the expectations that consumers have for the product, be it performance, excitement, style, status, etc.

 

REFERENCES:

  • Brakus, J.J., Schmitt, B.H., and Zarantonello, L. (2009), Brand experience: What is it? How is it measured? Does it affect loyalty? Journal of Marketing, 73, May, 52-68.
  • Duncan, T. and Moriarty, S. (1998), ‘A communication-based marketing model for managing relationships’, Journal of Marketing, 62, 1-13.

 

Understanding consumer behaviour

 

6 Need/opportunity recognition: Consumers recognise a need or an opportunity for a product when they perceive an important gap between their current state and their ideal or desired state, either because of a change for the worse in their actual state – need recognition – or because their ideal or desired state is perceived to be further away – opportunity recognition.

6-7 Information search: Having recognised that a product will satisfy a need or an opportunity gap, consumers then search for information with which to make a decision. The conclusion seems to be that even for expensive goods most of us only visit one shop, do not gather additional information from advertising, and generally process very little information.

7-8 Evaluation of alternatives: In order to choose between competing brands consumers must decide which evaluative criteria will be used and employ some form of decision rule. Price and brand name are often used as surrogate indicators of quality and this appears to be a cultural universal (Dawar and Parker, 1994).  

9 Purchase: Two important aspects of the purchase stage are the extent to which the purchase is actually pre-planned, and the choice of outlet to buy from.

9-10 Outcomes of purchase: The essence of post-purchase evaluation is whether the consumer is satisfied or dissatisfied with the product. The major cognitive approach in this area is the Expectancy Disconfirmation Model (Szymanski and Henard, 2001), which points to the importance of prior expectation in determining how we will interpret experience with the product post-purchase.

 

REFERENCES:

  • Dawar, N. and Parker, P. (1994), ‘Marketing universals: consumers’ use of brand name, price, physical appearance, and retailer reputation as signals of product quality’, Journal of Marketing, 58, 81-95.
  • Szymanski, D.M. and Henard, D.H. (2001), ‘Customer satisfaction: a meta analysis of the empirical evidence’, Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 29, 1, 16-35.

 

Consumer involvement

 

10-11: Involvement can be seen as the motivation to search for information and to engage in systematic processing, and it is a motivational state which affects many of the key aspects of consumer behaviour such as decision making, responses to persuasion, and processing of advertisements. Involvement is a function of three sources of importance: the consumer, product and situation (Richins et al., 1992). Individual differences in the characteristics of the consumer include self-concept, values, personal goals, and needs. Product characteristics which will affect the level of involvement include the price, how frequently it is purchased, the symbolic meanings associated with the product and their social visibility, the perceived risk of poor performance or potential for harm, and the length of time one will have to commit to the product once it is purchased. The situational variables include aspects of the purchase situation itself, such as the amount of time available; whether the purchase is made privately or in the presence of others; and, more importantly, aspects of the intended use situation such as whether the product is intended as a gift, or will be used in an important social situation. The classical model of consumer decision making usually only applies to high-involvement products and/or when there are important situational factors. In these cases consumers may often seek extensive information prior to purchase. Expressive or symbolic products, those which help us express our personality or self-concept are at once both highly involving and are purchased with little information search, as the psychosocial interpretation of these products is difficult to deconstruct into ‘searchable’ attributes as it is often particular to individuals.

 

REFERENCES

  • Richins, M., Bloch, P., and McQuarrie, E. (1992), ‘How enduring and situational involvement combine to create involvement responses’, Journal of Consumer Psychology, 1, 2, 143-53.

 

Factors influencing consumer involvement with products (page 11)

  • Price (high involvement – expensive), frequency of purchase (high involvement – infrequent), symbolic meaning (clothes), time commitment, potential for harm (low), technical complexity

 

Emotion and Brands

KEY CONCEPTS

  1. 1.       Emotions are social and cultural as well as psychological.
  2. 2.       The symbolic meaning of consumption is prime motivation for emotion-driven choice.
  3. 3.       Trust is very important for reducing perceptions of purchase risk and involves a reliance on emotion. It is most important for symbolic brands and involves consumer-brand intimacy.

 

22 Introduction: This chapter deals with the importance of emotions both to choosing brands and to evaluating and forming opinions about them.

 

What is emotion?

 

22-23: Emotion is made up of a number of components, most often considered within the context of the so-called ‘reaction triad’ of psychological arousal, motor expression, and subjective feeling (Scherer, 2000). The concept of emotion goes beyond ‘feelings’ and is best understood within the context of something called affect program theory (Griffiths, 1997). Affect is a term often used interchangeably with the feeling of emotion and, in its modern form, the affect program theory deals with what are generally considered the six basic, or primary, emotions following Ekman (1992): surprise, anger, fear, disgust, sadness, and joy. There are all the other emotions, which are associated with the sociocultural environment, and are informed by experience.

 

REFERENCES:

  • Scherer, K.R. (2000), ‘Psychological models of emotion’, in J.C. Borod (ed.), The Neuropsychology of Emotions, New York: Oxford University Press, pp. 139-62.
  • Griffiths, P.E. (1997), What Emotions Really Are, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
  • Ekman, P. (1992), ‘Facial expressions of emotion: new findings, new questions’, Psychological Science, 3, 1, 34-38.

 

Emotion and consumer choice

 

23: Traditional models of consumer behaviour have assumed a hierarchy-of-effects in which cognitive activity is followed by emotional evaluation in the formation of an attitude, which ultimately results in behaviour.

 

Emotional response

 

25-26 The law of concern: Emotions arise in response to events that are important to our goals, motives, or concerns; for example, events which aid or inhibit a desire to be successful, liked, or virtuous. It is the law of concern that links our motivations and emotional responses and underpins consumer involvement and thus drives much consumption. A prime source of emotional involvement is the search for identity. In postmodern society the individual is threatened by a number of ‘dilemmas of the self’ (Giddens, 1991, p. 201): fragmentation, powerlessness, uncertainty, and a struggle against commodification. These dilemmas are driven by the ‘looming threat of personal meaninglessness’ as we endeavour to construct and maintain an identity which will remain stable despite a rapidly changing environment. It is likely that goods which can be used as resources to construct and maintain identity will involve emotion-driven choice.

 

REFERENCES

  • Giddens, A. (1991), Modernity and Self-Identity: Self and Society in the Late Modern Age, Cambridge: Polity Press.

 

Consumption and the symbolic meaning of goods

 

27: As soon as the product’s ability to satisfy mere physical need is transcended, then we enter the realm of the symbolic meaning of goods. The functions of the symbolic meanings of products operate in two directions, outward in constructing the social world: Social-Symbolism, and inward towards constructing our self-identity: Self-Symbolism. If consumers ‘identify themselves by the formula: I am what I have and what I consume’ and it is symbolic meaning that is used in the ‘search for the meaning of existence’ (Fromm, 1976, p. 36), then we can think of the extraction of symbolic meaning from consumption as a powerful motivational force.

 

REFERENCES:

  • Fromm, E. (1976), To Have Or To Be, London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.

 

A conceptual model of emotion-driven choice

 

27: Motivated by the interpretation of symbolic meaning and the construction of self and social identity.

 

Emotion and preference formation

 

28 Self-illusion: The law of apparent reality suggests that imagination and fantasy can overwhelm reason and that the consumer can create their own ‘reality’. Campbell (1987) has suggested that modern consumption is active pleasure-seeking, often carried out in a state of ‘self-illusory hedonism’.

 

29-30 Refusal of other tastes: Bourdieu (1984) suggests that the basic element in the forming of preference may not be a positive emotional response but a negative one, not to choose that we like most but to reject those that we most dislike. The rejection of other people’s consumption lifestyles may be one of the strongest barriers between social classes, and is proposed as a fundamental factor in establishing and maintaining social class distinctions. So perhaps consumer choice may often follow from rejection of disliked alternatives, leaving those not rejected as the preferred option. This is particularly likely to be so in the case of goods which carry high levels of social-symbolic meaning. For example, Apple’s urged consumers to reject IBM.

 

REFERENCES:

  • Campbell, C. (1987), The Romantic Ethic and the Spirit of Modern Consumerism, Oxford: Blackwell.
  • Bourdieu, P. (1984), Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste (R. Nice, trans.), London: Routledge.

 

The process of emotion-driven choice

 

32: The formation of preference may be driven by the deriving of symbolic meaning for use by the individual in their project of identity construction, or it may be a negative drive emanating from a refusal of other tastes.

 

32-33 Emotions and trust: The ultimate goal of marketing is to generate an intense bond between the consumer and the brand, and the main ingredient of this bond is trust (Hiscock, 2001). A sociological theory of trust has been proposed by Luhmann (1979), who argues that there are three modes of asserting expectations about the future based on personal experiences and cultural meaning systems: familiarity, confidence, and trust. Translating this approach to consumer brands, when faced with purchase decisions involving low levels of perceived risks, familiarity (which is a binary division as things are either familiar or they are unfamiliar) will suffice for purchase.

 

REFERENCES:

  • Hiscock, J. (2001), ‘Most trusted brands’, Marketing, March, 32-33.
  • Luhmann, N. (1979), Trust and Power, Chichester: John Wiley & Sons.

 

Theory of trust: cognitive and emotional perceptions (page 34)

  • Familiarity – low risk, habit predominates; trust becomes necessary for purchase to ensue
  • Confidence – trust reverts to confidence over time
  • Trust -> Risk

 

34-35 A model of trust and confidence in brands: The concept of trust is particularly relevant to symbolic brands, with high involvement due to high perceptions of purchase risk. Functional brands, at the lowest level of perceived risk if they are familiar, provide an easy choice based on predictability and credibility. With increased risk, functional brands provide a safe choice through confidence which allows consumers to depend on them. Symbolic brands in markets with high perceived risk need to provide trust, which is achieved through developing perceptions of consumer-brand intimacy and emotional investment.

 

The Symbolic Meaning of Brands

KEY CONCEPTS

  1. 1.       Brands can be used as symbolic resources for the construction and maintenance of identity/ies.
  2. 2.       Brands can be used to counter some of the threats to identity posed by postmodernity.
  3. 3.       Brands can acquire deep meaning through the socialisation process.

 

48 Introduction: Contemporary social theory has begun to focus on consumption as playing a central role in which the social world is constructed and developments in post-structural anthropology have led to a renewed interest in the relationship between society and material culture, essentially the way in which we use the things we produce to give meaning to our lives. These trends can be subsumed into the development of postmodern theories of consumer culture which focus on aspects of cultural practice in the construction of consumer society rather than just on consumption itself.

 

48-49 The postmodern consumer and symbolic meaning: Central to postmodernism is the recognition that the consumer does not make consumption choices solely from products’ utilities, that is what they actually do, but also from their symbolic meanings, that is, what they communicate. The functions of the symbolic meanings of brands operate in two directions, outward in constructing the social world: Social-Symbolism, and inward towards constructing our self-identity: Self-Symbolism. The social-symbolic meanings of brands can be used to communicate to other people the kind of person we wish to be seen as. The self-symbolic meaning of brands is what their usage communicates to us about who we are or want to be. As consumption plays a central role in supplying meanings and values for the creation and maintenance of the personal and social world, which is one definition of what constitutes a consumer society, so advertising is recognised as one of the major sources of these symbolic meanings. These cultural meanings are transferred to brands and it is brands which are often used as symbolic resources for the construction and maintenance of identity.

 

The semiotic perspective of products as symbols raises difficult questions about the location of cultural meaning. Consumption of the symbolic meaning of products is a social process that helps make visible and stable the basic categories of culture which are under constant change, and consumption choices ‘become a vital source of the culture of the moment’ (Douglas and Isherwood, 1978).  The meanings of consumer goods are grounded in their social context and the demand for goods derives more from their role in cultural practices than from the satisfaction of simple human needs. Consumer goods, therefore, are more than just objects of economic exchange, ‘they are goods to think with, goods to speak with’ (Fiske, 1989) and are an important part of the symbols and signs which we use to locate ourselves in society. Consumption as a cultural practice is one way of participating in social life and may be an important element in cementing social relationships, whilst the whole system of consumption is an expression of the existing social structure through a seductive process which pushes the purchasing impulse until it reaches the ‘limits of economic potential’ (Baudrillard, 1988). It is within this social context that the individual uses consumer goods and the consumption processes as the materials with which to construct and maintain an identity, form relationships, and frame psychological events.

 

REFERENCES:

  • Douglas, M. and Isherwood, B. (1978), The World of Goods: Towards an Anthropology of Consumption, London, Allen Lane.
  • Fiske, J. (1989), Reading the Popular, Boston: Unwin Hyman.
  • Baudrillard, J. (1988), ‘Consumer society’, in M. Poster (ed.) Jean Baudrillard: Selected Writings, Cambridge: Polity Press.

 

49-51 The postmodern consumer and identity: The self is conceptualised in postmodern consumer culture not as a given product of a social system nor as a fixed entity which we can simply adopt, but as something we actively create, partially through consumption. Thompson (1995, p. 210) describes the self as symbolic project, which the individual must actively construct out of the available symbolic materials, materials which ‘the individual weaves into a coherent account of who he or she is, a narrative of self-identity.’

 

REFERENCES:

  • Thompson, J.B. (1995), The Media and Modernity: A Social Theory of the Media, Cambridge: Polity Press.

 

Narrative identity theory suggests that in order to make time human and socially shared, we require a narrative identity for our self, that is, we make sense of ourselves and our lives by the stories we can (or cannot) tell (Escalas, 2004). Thus we come to know ourselves and our lives by the narratives we construct to situate ourselves in time and place. The development of individual self-identity is inseparable from the parallel development of collective social identity, and this problematic relationship has been described as the internal-external dialectic of identification by Jenkins (1996), who maintains that self-identity must be validated through social interaction and that the self is embedded in social practices. This means that there is always a social dimension to a brand, an individual may love a brand’s image, but will want his/her important others to like it too. This is particularly true of adolescents who are actively building their identity in relation to their peer group and are very sensitive to peer-group approval or disapproval. Dittmar (1992) comments that ‘material possessions have a profound symbolic significance for their owners, as well as for other people and the symbolic meanings of our belongings are an integral feature of expressing our own identity and perceiving the identity of others’.

 

REFERENCES:

  • Escalas, J.E. (2004), ‘Narrative processing: Building consumer connections to brands’, Journal of Consumer Psychology, 14, 1&2, 168-80.
  • Jenkins, R. (1996), Social Identity, London: Routledge.
  • Dittmar, H. (1992), The Social Psychology of Material Possessions: To Have is to Be, Hemel Hempstead: Harvester Wheatsheaf.

 

Cultural Meaning Systems and Brands

KEY CONCEPTS

  1. 1.       Semiotics are sign systems that operate according to specific cultural rules that link to meaning.
  2. 2.       Consumers may think of brands as being like a person and having a brand personality/relationship.
  3. 3.       Products and consumption practices can differentiate between social groups within a culture.

 

67 Introduction: It is the meaning of brands that gives them their added value and these brand meanings are partly added by the producers (McCracken, 1993).

 

67 Semiotics and brand meanings: The signifier – for instance a brand name – has no meaning in its own right, but must acquire meaning through associations with other pre-existing meanings until it comes to signify some concept or idea. The signifier is a denotative communication, the signified is a connotative communication, which generates personal associations, and can be literally any meaning than can be associated with the signifier, in most cases through advertising and packaging.

 

REFERENCES:

  • McCracken, G. (1988), Culture and Consumption: New Approaches to the Symbolic Character of Consumer Goods and Activities, Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

 

72 Social differentiation: Veblen (1899) argued that it was a basic fact of human society that people need to display their social status, and that the consumption of goods could be used to maintain a position of social prestige. Consumer goods can be seen as signifiers of advantage in a competition for social status: symbolic brands become status symbols. Conspicuous consumption is part of a process of emulation: ‘Goods are able to mark status because they are part of the lifestyle of a high status group. Consequently, lower status social climbers lay claim to higher status by emulating that lifestyle, to buying those goods’ (Slater, 1997, p. 156). By carefully limiting access to the brand both by price and by supply, the value of the brand is maintained at both the status-marking level and at the identity-marking level (Park et al., 1986).

 

74 Social integration: The meanings of goods can be used within everyday consumption practices to make and maintain social relationships (Douglas and Isherwood, 1979).

 

REFERENCES:

  • Veblen, T. (1899/1979), The Theory of the Leisure Class, New York: Kelly.
  • Slater, D. (1997), Consumer Culture and Modernity, Cambridge: Polity Press.
  • Park, J., Kim, K., and Kim, J. (2002), ‘Acceptance of brand extensions: Interactive influence of product category similarity, typicality of claimed benefits, and brand relationship quality’, Advances in Consumer Research, 29, 190-202.
  • Douglas, M. and Isherwood, B. (1979), The World of Goods: Towards an Anthropology of Consumption, London: Allen Lane.

 

Brand Equity

KEY CONCEPTS

  1. 1.       Brand equity from a consumer perspective results from awareness of a brand leading to brand knowledge and a positive attitude towards the brand, resulting in loyalty to the brand.
  2. 2.       Brand attitude plays the most important role in building brand equity.

 

89 Defining brand equity: Brand names add value to a product.

 

93-94 Brand awareness: The power of strong brand awareness comes from the sense of familiarity it brings. As Schacter (2001) has pointed out, it involves a primitive sense of knowing without the need for specific details. Aaker (1998) has suggested that in addition to a feeling of familiarity, strong brand awareness also suggests a ‘presence, commitment, and substance for the brand’. Brand awareness for a purchase may take two forms: recognition or recall (Rossiter and Percy, 1997). But for either of these forms of brand awareness to facilitate purchase, the brand must be salient. This means it is associated in memory with the consumer’s set of preferred brands to meet a particular need, and is likely to come to mind when the need for such a product occurs (Ehrenberg et al., 1997).

 

94-96 Brand attitude: Brand attitude is the associations in memory linked to the brand. Keller (2008) discussed brand associations under a broader heading of Brand Image, and sees them in terms of what he calls ‘attributes’, ‘benefits’, and ‘attitudes’. Franzen (1999) says three characteristics of mental brand equity may be seen in terms of associations in memory: product meaning, which deals with a consumer’s perceptions of the functional aspects of a product; symbolic meaning, or ‘brand personality’, which reflects values important to consumers and which differentiates the brand from competitors; and perceived quality.

 

98-101 Brand loyalty: The building of a strong positive brand attitude generally leads to a preference for the brand, and over time a loyalty towards it. Basically, brand loyal consumers have a reluctance to switch brands. The role of perceived risk in switching when looking at brand loyalty is illustrated by Percy and Elliott (2009) in their Loyalty Model – as shown, even though someone regularly purchases or uses a brand, their loyalty is not assured. Only when a consumer is very satisfied and there is a high perceived risk in switching can their loyalty be assured. Even someone very satisfied could be lured away if the barriers to switching are low. Strong brand loyalty can also form a barrier to new brands.

 

REFERENCES:

  • Schacter, D.L. (2001), The Seven Sins of Memory, New York: Houghton Mifflin.
  • Aaker, D.A. (1991), Managing Brand Equity, New York: Free Press.
  • Rossiter, J.R. and Percy, L. (1997), Advertising Communication and Promotion Management, New York: McGraw-Hill.
  • Ehrenberg, A., Barnard, N., and Scriver, J. (1997), ‘Differentiation salience’, Journal of Advertising Research, November/December, 7-14.
  • Keller, K.L. (2008), Strategic Brand Management 3rd edn, Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
  • Franzen, G. (1999), Brands and Advertising: How Advertising Effectiveness Influences Brand Equity, Henley-on-Thames, UK: Admap Publications.
  • Percy, L. and Elliott, R. (2009), Strategic Advertising Management, 3rd edn, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

 

Building Brands through Marketing Communication

 

124 Involvement: Reflects the degree of risk perceived by people when deciding to buy or use a product or service (cf. Nelson, 1970).

 

124 Motivation: While early thinking about motivation centred only on drive reduction, both drive reduction and drive increase are involved in behaviour (Wickelgren, 1977; Warr et al., 1983).

 

REFERENCES:

  • Nelson, P.E. (1970), ‘Information and consumer behaviour’, Journal of Political Economy, 78, 2, 311-29.
  • Wickelgren, W.A. (1977), Learning and Memory, Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.
  • Warr, P., Barter, J., and Brownbridge, G. (1983), ‘On the independence of positive and negative affect’, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 44, 8, 641-51.

 

Brand Strategies 1 – Symbolic Brands

 

176 Introduction: We previously separated the functional from the emotional realm as requiring differing brand attitudes and consumer benefits.

 

176 Managing brand strategies in mindspace: In constructing a model of how brands can be built in the market place we can turn to two large-scale commercial projects, the BrandAsset Valuator (Young and Rubicam Group, 2010) and BrandDynamics (Millward Brown, 2010) models which have used data from hundreds of brands across many markets over many years to derive some essential insights into how brands develop. Common between them is the term ‘relevance’ to the customer and whilst different constructs are otherwise used, there are a number of similarities; for example, with the BrandDynamics model indicated in parentheses, the need for knowledge (presence) and energised differentiation (advantage).

 

REFERENCES

 

 

178-179 Symbolic brand strategies: A symbolic brand can transform the consumer’s experience of the world and the social language of the brand can help a consumer enhance their perceptions and communication of self, and manage their social positioning. Fifteen approaches to brand strategy build on the symbolic meanings and cultural meaning systems: Strategies based on personal meanings, social differentiation (fashionization, cool and cultural capital) and social integration e.g. brand mythologies and sub-cultures.

 

185-186 Cool and cultural capital: Closely linked to fashionization is the concept of cool, the leading edge of fashion usually appealing to the youth market; it includes terms like ‘street’, ‘hip’, ‘authentic’, and ‘real’. Research by Coolbrands (2010) identified the iPhone as the UK’s coolest brand, followed by Apple and iPod. What they seem to have in common is a mix of aesthetics and attitude that capture the spirit of the moment ahead of the mass of brands. In a Superbrands (2002) study 40% of the 18-30-year-olds interviewed said that they were prepared to pay more for a cool brand. The findings established that 72% of respondents believe the personality of the brand is the most vital factor when determining if that brand is cool. Just below half, 44%, of respondents believe that their friends’ opinion or use of a brand has an influence on their decision on whether that brand is cool, whilst only 11% take into account a celebrity’s use or opinion of a brand. Nearly a third, 31%, deemed press coverage to be an influencing factor.

 

Brands, Innovation, and High Technology

 

218 Owning the innovation: Benefits of branding innovations adapted from Aaker (2007) also include adding credibility/legitimacy (brand signals worth), reputation and living the brand (driving the culture).

 

222-223 Paradoxes of technology: Mick and Fournier (1998) develop a model of the key paradoxes that consumers experience in their everyday life when buying and using new technological products, e.g. fulfils needs versus creates needs.

 

REFERENCES

  • Superbrands (2002), Cool Brand Leaders, London: The Superbrands Organisation.
  • Coolbrands (2010), ‘Top 20 “Coolbrands 2009/10”’, http://www.coolbrands.uk.com/. Last accessed 24 July 2010.
  • Aaker, D. (2007), ‘Innovation: Brand it or lose it’, California Management Review, 50, 1, 8-24.
  • Mick, D. and Fournier, S. (1998), ‘Paradoxes of technology: Consumer cognizance, emotions and coping strategies’, Journal of Consumer Reearch, 25, 123-43.

 

 

Chernatory, de Leslie et al (2011) Creating Powerful Brands, 4th edition. Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann.

 

Why it is Crucial to Create Powerful Brands

 

The importance of the brand

 

16-17: It will be clear that here we are talking about not just a physical product but a relationship with the customer – a relationship that is personified either by the company’s name or by the brand name on the product itself.

 

18 The components of a product: Value perceptions, reputation, corporate image, brand name, organisation, quality perceptions (outer circle) plus function, design, features, packaging, efficacy and price (product).

 

18-19: The difference between a brand and a commodity can be summed up in the term ‘added values’, which are the additional attributes or intangibles that the consumer perceives as being embodied in the product. Thus, a product with a strong brand name is more than just the sum of its component part. Successful brand building helps profitability by adding values that entice customers to buy and also provide a firm base for expansion into produce improvements, variants, added services, new countries and so on. A successful brand has a name, symbol or design that identifies the ‘product’ of an organisation as having a sustainable, competitive advantage.

 

20: Often, the added values of brands are emotional that customers might find difficult to articulate.

 

Understanding the Branding Process

 

The concept of the brand

 

29: Companies recognise that loyal customers will repeatedly buy their brands, trust them, and are also willing to support them during crises.

 

31: We can better clarify the term ‘brand’ through our definition – A brand is a cluster of functional and emotional values that enables organisations to make a promise about a unique and welcomed experience. Our definition recognises that brands are about building on their value to create value and promising a unique and welcomed experience for the customer. The extent to which the brand satisfies relational needs will be assessed by the consumer trying different brands, examining the packaging, looking at functionality, considering price, etc. Besides these rational needs, they will also be seeking to satisfy emotional needs such as prestige, reassurance, style or distinctiveness.

 

Brands as relationship builders

 

37: Builders can develop different relationships with customers and a successful brand aims to develop a high-quality relationship in which customers feel a sense of commitment and belonging.  Relationship marketing aims to develop long-term loyal customers.

 

An eight-category typology

 

49 Brand as a functional device

50 Brand as a symbolic device: In certain product fields buyers perceive significant badge value in the brands, since brands enable them to communicate something about themselves (e.g. emotion, status, etc). In other words, brands are used as symbolic devices, because of their ability to help users express something about themselves to their peer groups, with users taking for granted functional capabilities. Consumers personify brands and when looking at the symbol values of brands, they seek brands which have very clear personalities and select brands that best match their actual or desired self-concept. Through being members of social groups, people learn the symbolic meanings of brands. As they interpret the actions of their peer group, they then respond using brands as non-verbal communication devices (e.g. feelings, status).

 

How Consumers Choose Brands

71: The purpose of this chapter is to show how an understanding of consumers’ buying processes can help in developing successful brands.

 

71-74 Consumer buying process: In reality, consumers face a complex world. They are limited both by economic resources and by their ability to seek, store and process brand information. The stages in the buying process are influenced by time pressure, previous experience, their situation, advice from friends and so on. However, two factors are particularly useful in explaining how consumers decide. One is the extent of their involvement in the brand purchase, the other is their perception of any differences between competing brands.

 

87-88 Consumers’ need-states: Brands satisfy different needs. One way of appreciating this is through the three categories of needs identified by Park and his colleagues (1986). Functional brands focus on technical features and mainly solve externally-generated consumption needs. Symbolic brands stress intangible benefits and fulfil internally generated needs for self enhancement, role position, group membership or ego identification. Wendy Gordon (1994) shows brands are bought to reflect needs in particular context.

 

How Consumer Brands Satisfy Social and Psychological Needs

 

OBJECTIVES

  • Evaluate the role of the brand as a symbolic device.
  • Understand the inter-relationship between the brand’s personality and consumer’s self-concept.
  • Explain types of relationships consumers develop with brands.
  • Identity myths associated with powerful brands.
  • Discuss role and relevance of semiotics in conveying brand meaning.

 

123-124: The purpose of chapter is to consider the social and psychological roles played by brands. When consumers buy brands, they are not just concerned with their functional capabilities. They are also interested in the brand’s personality, which they may consider appropriate for certain situations. They look to brands to enable them to communicate something about themselves and also to understand the people around them better. We address the added values from the images surrounding brands and then the symbolic role played by brands. We draw on self-concept theory to explain how consumers seek brands with images that match their own self-image and avoid those brands which reflect undesirable symbolic associations. We then examine how personal values influence brand selection and show the importance of brand personification as a means of enabling consumers to judge brands easily.

 

124-127 Added values beyond functionalism: The images surrounding brands enable consumers to form a mental vision of what and who brands stand for. Specific brands are selected when the images they convey match the needs, values and lifestyles of consumers. Knowles (2001) starting from the position that branding is the social amplification of benefit, provides a further array of examples about how brands are selected because they enable consumers to make non-verbal statements about themselves. Brands are an integral part of our society and from seeing them used, people are able to understand each other better and help clarify who they are. Consumers assess the meanings of different brands and make a purchase decision according to whether the brand will say the right sort of things about them to their peer group and whether the brand reflects back into themselves the right sort of personal feeling. They recognise that to make sense of the social circles they move in and to add meaning to their own existence, they must look at what different brands symbolise. They question how well a particular brand might fit into their lifestyle, whether it helps them express their personality and whether they like the brand and would feel right using it.

 

Brands and symbolism

 

127-131: Consumers are increasingly evaluating products not just in terms of what they can do but also in terms of what they mean, and they show more interest in brands for what they say about them rather than what they do for them. As consumers interact with other members of society, they learn the symbolic meanings of products and brands, through the responses of other people. As Elliott (1997) observes, the symbolic value of brands operates in a cyclical process. Consumers construct and make sense of the world through interpreting brands as symbols inferring meaning; then they use these meanings to surround themselves with brands and so internally they develop their self-identity. The symbolic meaning of brands is strongly influenced by the people with whom the consumer interacts. Elliott and Wattanasuwan (1998) show that different people ascribe different meanings to the same product. Advertising and packaging are also crucial in reinforcing the covert message that is signified by the brand. Consumers also strive to understand their environment better through decoding the symbolic messages surrounding them.

 

  • Elliot, R. (1997). Existential consumption and irrational desire. European Journal of Marketing, 34 (4), 285-296.
  • Elliott, R. & Wattanasuwan, K. (1998). Brands as symbolic resources for the construction of identity. International Journal of Advertising, 17(2), 131-144.

 

Self-concept and branding

 

131-133: This way of looking at personality in terms of a person’s self image can be traced back to Roger’s self-theory. From many social interactions, the person becomes aware of their actual self concept, i.e. an idea of who they think they are. Parker (2009) calls this ‘me as I am’. However, when they look inward and assess themselves, they may wish to change their actual self-concept to what is referred to as the ideal self-concept, i.e. who they think they would like to be, or ‘the good me’ (Parker, 2009). Choosing brands with appropriate image associations helps to enhance consumers’ self image and their psychological well-being (Aaker, 1997; Parker, 2009). By using brands as symbolic devices, people are communicating certain things about themselves. People also select brands to avoid undesired stereotypes. Finally, it needs to be realised that there is an interaction between the symbolism of the brand being used and the individual’s self-concept. Not only does the consumer’s self-image influence the brands they select, but the brands have a symbolic value and this in turn influences the consumer’s self-image.

 

  • Aaker, J. L. (1997). Dimensions of brand personality. Journal of Marketing Research, 34(3), 347-356.

 

The impact of situation and self-image on brand choice (after Schenk and Holman 1980)

Perception of others in the situation + Individual’s repertoire of self images -> Situational self-image -> Comparison of brand image and situational self-image (-< Scan of brand images for most appropriate) -> Brand choice

 

  • Schenk, C., & Holman, R. (1980). A sociological approach to brand choice: the concept of situational self image. In J. Olson (Ed.), Advances in Consumer Research, Vol. 7 (pp. 610-615). Ann Arbor: Association for Consumer Research.

 

Brand values and personality

 

Consumers’ values and brand selection (adapted from Gutman 1982)

Culture peer groups -> Values -> Desired consequences -> Modified by situation -> Evaluate extent to which brands, attributes match situational consequences -> Choice of brand (-> Values)

 

  • Gutman, J. (Spring 1982). A means-end chain model based on consumer categorisation processes. Journal of Research, 46, 60-72.

 

135: A helpful understanding of the term ‘values’ is provided by Rokeach, who defines a value as an enduring belief that a particular type of behaviour or state of existence is worth striving for. Identifying the values a consumer adheres to helps in understanding their brand selections and can be used to develop brands (<-).

 

137-139: Jagdish Sheth and his colleagues (1991) argue that consumer choice behaviour is influenced by five consumption values – Functional value reflecting the utility a consumer perceives; Social value representing the utility a consumer perceives through the brand being associated with a particular social group; Emotional value and the utility a consumer perceives from the brand’s ability to arouse feelings; Epistemic value and the utility a consumer perceives when trying a new brand mainly to satisfy their curiosity; and Conditional value reflecting the perceived utility from a brand in a specific situation.

 

The contribution of semiotics to branding

 

143-146: Semiotics is the scientific study of signs and helps clarify how consumers learn meanings associated with products and brands. At the most basic level, the brand acts as a utilitarian sign. For example, the meaning of reliability conveyed. At the second level, a brand acts as a commercial sign conveying its value. For example, Porsche signifies extremes in value perceptions. At the third level, the brand acts as a socio-cultural sign, associating consumers with particular groups of people. At the fourth level, the brand can be decoded as a mythical sign that all build on mythical associations. Semiotics provides a better understanding of the cultural relationship between brands and consumers and it can help in the design of brands. Semiotics, as Alexander (1996) showed, can be a helpful tool to identify, evaluate and exploit the cultural myth which exists at the heart of most successful brands.

 

146: Lawes (2002) shows that there are several tools that can help decode the brand’s positioning – Visual signs; Linguistic signs; Aural signs; The implied communication system; Textual structure; Information structure; Visual emphasis; Binary oppositions and contrast pairs; and Communication codes.

146-147: Bitoun (2006) provides an illustration of semiotics at work in perfume advertising. The three classes of advertising are – Class 1 highlighting the power of the product through the size, colour, appearance etc; Class 2 showing a metamorphosis; and Class 3 depicting a rich atmosphere, imaginative world etc.

 

147-148: CONCLUSION Brands perform social and psychological roles beyond that provided by their physical features. Consumers rely on brands to help them understand and communicate with different groups of people. Brands have the added values of symbolism – meanings and values over and above their physical constituents. The symbolic aspect of brands makes them all the more attractive to consumers since they help them say something about themselves. In effect, consumers are encoding messages to others by buying and using particular brands and hoping that their target audience decodes the message the right way. When consumers buy brands, they are making decisions about how well specific brands maintain or enhance an image they have of themselves.

 

http://marketingminds.com.au/branding/apple_branding_strategy.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Evans, Martin et al (2009) Consumer Behaviour, 2nd edition. Chichester: John Wiley & Sons.

 

Part 1: Individual Aspects of Consumer Behaviour

 

Chapter 1: Consumer Motives and Values

OBJECTIVES

  • Distinguish between needs and wants.
  • Apply theories of motivation to how consumers behave.
  • Explain consumer values and how they relate to motives.
  • Define motives for ‘going shopping’.
  • Demonstrate an awareness of motivation research techniques, their nature and application.

 

6-7: Motivation is a basic concept in human behaviour and thus, also in consumer behaviour. A whole range of psychogenic drives (e.g. the desire to be appreciated or to have status or feel ‘at one with one’s self’) stem from our social environment, culture and social group interactions. Many such as Belk et al. (2003) even argue that want (or desire), which is fundamentally social in nature, is the major driving force or motivation behind much of our contemporary consumption. Every individual has the same need structure, but different specific needs will be to the fore in different individuals at various points in time and according to different cultural and social contexts. Marx (1867/1967) wrote: A commodity is, in the first place, an object outside us, a thing that by its properties satisfies human wants of some sort or another. The nature of such wants, whether for instance they spring from the stomach or from fancy, makes no difference.

 

  • Belk R W, Ger G and Askegaard S (2003) The Fire of Desire: A Multisited Inquiry into Consumer Passion, Journal of Consumer Research, Vol 30 No 3 p 326
  • Marx K (1867/1967) Capital, Vol 1, International Publishers, New York

 

7 The homeostasis see-saw: Need satisfaction (Homeostasis) -> Deprivation

We strive for a state of equilibrium (Homeostasis); Physiological needs (e.g. hunger) move us away from this; But so do social and psychological needs

 

9: In a useful chapter on how consumers use the things we buy to communicate more symbolic meaning with others, Gabriel and Lang (1995, Chapter 3) draw from Theodor Adorno’s philosophical thinking of post-war Germany. Adorno and others, from what became known as the Frankfurt School, saw social symbolism of products often outweighing their more practical use values. The work of Vance Packard (1957) extended this to assert that as the practical is subordinated in favour of the more frivolous, we are unduly influenced by the persuasive powers of marketing.

 

  • Gabriel Y and Lang T (1995) The Unmanageable Consumer, Sage, London
  • Packard V (1957) The Hidden Persuaders, McKay, New York

 

11-12 Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs: Maslow’s proposition is that needs at one level must be at least primarily satisfied before those at the next level become important in determining our actions. The satisfaction of a lower-order need triggers the next level of needs into operation, demanding new patterns of behaviour on the part of the individual. Some expensive products will target lower-level needs.

 

14 Consumer benefit segments (adapted from Haley 1968): Main benefit – sensory segment (flavour), sociable segment (bright teeth), worrier segment (decay prevention) and independent segment (price). Demographic factors – children, teens, large families, men. Lifestyle factors – hedonistic, active, conservative, concerned with value.

 

15: There is evidence of a trend toward self-actualisation as reflected in individualism.

 

16-22 Freudian theory of motivation: The id is a beast looking for immediate hedonistic gratification (pleasure), self-interest and a short-term perspective. Id works on the pleasure principle.

 

  • Haley R I (1968) Benefit Segmentation: A Decision Oriented Research Tool, Journal of Marketing, July, pp 222-229

 

24 Motivation and shopping: The personal motives include the needs for role-plating, diversion, self-gratification, learning about new trends, physical activity and sensory stimulation. The social motives identified by Tauber (1972) include the needs for social experiences, communication with others, peer group attractions, status and authority, and pleasure in bargaining.

 

25 Shopping motives: Tauber (1972) – Self-gratification, sensory stimulation, peer group attraction stressing desires to be with their reference group, and status and authority reflecting shopping’s ability to provide opportunities for consumers to command attention and respect from others. Westbrook and Black (1985) – Anticipated utility and the benefits provided by the product acquired via shopping, choice optimisation searching for and securing precisely the right products to fit one’s demands, affiliation, and power and authority (attainment of elevated social position). Arnold and Reynolds (2003) – Adventure shopping to seek stimulation, adventure, and feelings of being in a different world; social shopping; gratification shopping; and idea shopping for keeping up with trends and seek  new products and innovations.

 

26 Classification of shoppers based on Sproles and Kendall’s (1986) consumer decision-making styles:

Quality-consciousness shoppers; Brand-conscious who seek out more expensive and famous brands, like to perceive price-quality link and have positive attitudes towards expensive and popular brands and may prefer best-selling or heavily advertised brands; Impulsive shoppers; and Brand-loyal shoppers who tend to like and buy the same brands again, and likely to have developed particular behaviours and habits.

 

  • Tauber E M (1972) Why Do People Shop?, Journal of Marketing, Vol 36 No 4 pp 46-49
  • Westbrook R A and Black W C (1985) A Motivation-Based Shopper Typology, Journal of Retailing, Vol 61 No 1 pp 78-103
  • Arnold M J and Reynolds K E (2003) Hedonic Shopping Motivations, Journal of Retailing, Vol 79, No 2, pp 1-20
  • Sproles G B and Kendall E L (1986) A Methodology for Profiling Consumers’ Decision-Making Styles, Journal of Consumer Affairs, Vol 20 No 2 pp 267-280

 

Chapter 4: Consumer Response to Marketing Actions

 

129-130 Customer Satisfaction: It is generally describes as the full meeting of one’s expectations (Oliver, 1980). Related to the concept of satisfaction is anticipated satisfaction (Shiv and Huber, 2000).

 

130-131 Antecedents of Customer Satisfaction (Disconfirmation Paradigm): In order to understand what causes satisfaction, researchers have widely relied on the disconfirmation paradigm, which views satisfaction with products and brands as a result of two cognitive variables: pre-purchase expectations and disconfirmation. According to Peters and Olson (2005), ‘pre-purchase expectations are beliefs about anticipated performance of the product; post-purchase perceptions are the consumer’s thoughts about how well the product performed. Churchill and Surprenant (1982) reported that when customers perceived the product performing better than expected, they became more satisfied. When actual product performance far exceeds expectations – that is, when there is a big difference between them – then consumers feel delighted (Oliver, 1997). It might be that once consumers’ knowledge and familiarity goes up, their expectations go up as well (Jamal and Naser, 2001).

 

131 Attribution Theory: Attribution theory (Mizerski et al., 1979; Weiner, 2000) also helps to explain why consumers can feel satisfied or dissatisfied.

 

  • Oliver R L (1980) Cognitive Model of the Antecedents and Consequences of Satisfaction Decisions, Journal of Marketing Research, Vol 17, November, pp 460-469
  • Shiv B and Huber J (2000) The Impact of Anticipating Satisfaction on Consumer Choice, Journal of Consumer Research, Gainesville, Vol 27 No 2, September, pp 202-217
  • Peters J P and Olson J C (2005) Consumer Behaviour and Marketing Strategy, McGraw Hill, New York
  • Churchill G A and Suprenant C (1982) An Investigation into the Determinants of Customer Satisfaction, Journal of Marketing Research, Vol 19, November, pp 491-504
  • Oliver R L (1997) Satisfaction: A Behavioural Perspective on the Consumer, McGraw-Hill, New York
  • Mizerski R W, Golden LL and Kernan J B (1979) The Attribution Process in Consumer Decision Making, Journal  of Consumer Research, Vol 6, No 2, pp 123-141

 

142-143 Involvement: If we perceive our self-image as being likely to be enhanced by purchasing, then involvement can increase (Venkartraman, 1988) and when a particular product is seen in this way, involvement can ‘last’ – that us, it is enduring involvement. The product’s physical characteristics can also influence a person’s level of involvement (Zaichknowsky, 1985). Product related components include the concept of perceived risk. It has been suggested that a highly involved consumer might not accept many other options on the issue (they have a narrow ‘latitude of acceptance’) and instead might reject many others (a wider latitude of rejection). This is based on Sherif’s social judgement theory (Sherif and Hovland, 1964) and explains why a consumer might selectively perceive messages about an issue to be more favourable than perhaps they really are, if that message is within their latitude of acceptance. This is referred to as the assimilation effect. Social judgement theory also proposes that someone who is less involved with the issue might accept a wider range of opinions from others on it. Familiar brands might be purchased on the basis of familiarity and lack on perceived need or inclination to explore alternatives. Rothschild and Houston (1977) found the reverse, for uninvolved consumers, compared with their finding for the involved.

 

  • Venkatraman M (1988) Investigating differences in the roles of enduring and instrumentally involved consumers in the diffusion process, in Houston M (ed.) Advances in Consumer Research, Association of Consumer Research, Duluth, MN
  • Zaichkowsky J L (1985) Measuring the Involvement Construct, Journal of Consumer Research, Vol 12, No 3, pp 341-352
  • Sherif M and Hovland C (1964) Social Judgement, Yale University Press
  • Rothschild M and Houston M (1977) the Consumer Involvement Matrix, in Greenberg B and Bellenger D (eds.) AMA Educators’ Conference, Vol 41, pp 95-98

 

Consumer Demographics/Psychographics

OBJECTIVES

  • Profiling of consumers and the contribution of personality to understanding consumer behaviour.
  • Contribution of ‘traditional’ lifestyle research and the self-concept theory.

 

191 Lifestyle: There are two approaches: traditional and contemporary.

 

201 Personality Variables: One of the first major ideas to inform personality was provided by Sigmund Freud, who proposed that our personality is the result of the polarizing forces of the id and superego and the intervening and balancing mechanism of the ego (psychoanalytic theory). Traits are an individual’s characteristic ways of responding to the social and physical environment. Quite widely known are the personality big five factors, which are extraversion, openness, agreeableness, conscientiousness and emotional stability and each factor consist of a continuum of more specific interrelated traits (John and Srivastava, 1999).

 

  • John O P and Srivastava S (1999) The Big Five Trait Taxonomy: History, Measurement, and Theoretical Perspectives, in Pervin L A and John O P (eds), Handbook of Personality: Theory and Research, 2nd edn, , New York, Guildford, pp 102-138

 

Social Groups

 

242-243: Any individual or group of individuals that can significantly influence your behaviour could be called your ‘reference group’ (Bearden and Etzel, 1982). They are significant to the extent that consumers aspire to be like them, emulate them, listen to them, identify with them and buy what they buy. The question is why these groups are important to us as consumers. In response, you may quote Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and argue that we have a need for belonging, for affection and for love etc., and hence we tend to associate ourselves with the groups. Three distinct uses of the term can be traced in the sociological literature and all of them are useful in consumer research – 1) Groups with which the individual compares themselves, their attitudes, behaviour, performance; 2) Groups to which the individual aspires to belong; 3) Groups whose social perspectives are assumed by individual as a framework of reference for their own actions (Shibutani, 1955). Types of reference groups – 1) Aspirational: People with whom we would like to compare ourselves and aspire to belong to; 2) Associative: People who more realistically represent our current equals or near equals such as friends; 3) Dissociative: People that we would not like to be like.

 

  • Bearden W O and Etzel M J (1982) Reference Group Influence on Product and Brand Purchase Decisions, Journal of Consumer Research, Vol 9 pp 183-194

 

244 Types of reference group influence: According to Park and Lessig (1977) reference group influence can be manifested in three main ways. First, an information influence when, for example, a consumer is considering buying a product and seeks information about brands in that category, from family, friends, perceived experts. In doing so the individual can also make inferences by watching the behaviour of others (informed decisions). Second, there is a utilitarian (or normative) influence which concerns a degree of conformity with the behaviour or norms of a group with which the consumer wants to identify. For example, an individual may purchase a brand because they want to comply with the expectations of others. This influence works well if the individual perceives that their behaviour is visible or known to others. Third, there is a value expressive influence (or identification influence), which is where the consumer buys, for example, a brand, which they think will enhance their image among others in the group, because the brand is expressive of values, norms, behaviour and/or lifestyles of the group.

 

  • Park G W and Lessig V P (1977) Students and Housewives: Difference in Susceptibility to Reference Group Influence, Journal of Consumer Research, Vol 4, pp 102-110

 

246-247 Reference groups and self-concept theory: Escalas and Bettman (2005) argued that consumers can use brands for the creation and representation of their self-images and for the presentation of these images to others with a view to achieve some identity goals. As per, you are likely to have a more positive self-brand connection when you perceive that your associative group uses the brand and that you have a positive fit. The same is likely to happen when you aspire to belong to an aspirational reference group and a consumer is likely to be strongly influenced by their group when they are seeking self-verification goals such as seeking out and interpreting situations and adopting behavioural strategies that are consistent with their existing self-conceptions.

 

248 Conformity and independence: Venkatesan (1966) conducted an experimental study of consumer behaviour which was intended to throw light on the questions of conformity to social pressure and the possibilities of reactance occurring in consumer decision-making situations.

 

  • Escalas J E and Bettman J R (2005) Self-construal, Reference Groups and Brand Meaning, Journal of Consumer Research, Vol 32, No 3, pp 378-389
  • Venkatesan M (1966) Consumer Behaviour: Conformity and Independence, Journal of Marketing Research, Vol 3

 

Chapter 8: Meaning and Subculture

 

285 Culture: Johnson (1962) provides a ‘classification’ of culture comprising – Cognitive elements and beliefs of what a society ‘knows’; Values and norms which inform how the majority in the society are expected to behave; and Sign, signals and symbols including language and the variety of conventions in a society for conveying meaning.

 

  • Johnson H M (1962) Sociology, Routledge & Kegan Paul, pp 86-95
  • McCracken G (1986) Culture and Consumption: A Theoretical Account of the Structure and Movement of Cultural Meaning of Consumer Goods, Journal of Consumer Research, Vol 13, June, pp 71-84

 

286-287 Meaning Transfer Model: McCracken (1986) states the meaning originally resides in the culturally constituted world, which is the world of everyday experiences in which consumers live and make sense of marketing stimuli. The meaning is then disengaged and transferred to consumer goods via macro mechanisms such as advertising and fashion systems. The meaning is finally transferred to individual consumers through a range of symbolic actions such as gift exchange rituals, possession rituals, grooming rituals and disvestment rituals. The underlying assumptions of the meaning transfer model appear to be that: cultural meaning is attached to consumer goods; cultural meaning can be communicated by goods; and consumers turn to goods as a source of cultural meaning. This implies that consumers do not simply consume products for their material benefits but consume the symbolic meaning of those goods as portrayed in their images (Elliott, 1997).

 

  • Elliott R (1997) Existential Consumption and Irrational Desire, European Journal of Marketing, Vol 31, No ¾, pp 285-296

 

Chapter 9: New Product Buying

 

244-246 Adoption: The adoption process is where innovation, time, social system and communication operate and it is not merely purchase but rather it is more regular or committed purchase behaviour. The adoption process is often shown to be reflected in a series of stages through which consumers progress: Awareness -> Interest -> Evaluation -> Trial -> Adoption. There are variations on the theme here and such sequences are also known as ‘hierarchy of effects models’. Another early model was proposed by Lavidge and Steiner (1961) which includes the following stages: Awareness -> Knowledge -> Liking -> Preference -> Conviction -> Purchase. This was possibly the first adoption model to be based on an ‘information-attitude-behaviour’ theory of the communications effect. Another problem-solving model lists four stages: Knowledge -> Persuasion -> Discussion -> Confirmation (Rogers and Shoemaker, 1971). In Ehrenberg’s (1975) ‘Awareness, Trial, Reinforcement’ (ATR) model the focus is on reinforcement which can lead to repeat purchase based on the operant conditioning approach.

 

353 Flows of communication: Some people have status conferred upon them by their peer group (Raven and French, 1959). Through recognition of their expertise, prowess or particular knowledge or skills, these opinion leaders are able to guide and lead the thoughts of others in particular product areas. Opinion leaders often rely on word-of-mouth communications to influence others and often do so, as Kingdom (1970) says, passively, by being observed.

 

  • Lavidge R J and Steiner G A (1961) A Model for Predictive Measurements of Advertising Effectiveness, Journal of Marketing, Vol 25 pp 59-62
  • Rogers E M and Shoemaker F (1971) Communication of Innovation, Macmillan, p 103
  • Ehrenberg A S C (1988) Repeat Buying: Theory and Applications, 2nd edn, Charles Griffin, London
  • Raven J R P and French B (1959) The Bases of Social Power, in Cartwright D (ed.), Studies in Social Power, MI Institute for Social Research, pp 150-167
  • Kingdom J W (1970) Opinion Leaders in the Electorate, Public Opinion Quarterly, Vol 34, pp 256-261

 

Chapter 10: Repeat, Loyal and Relational Buying

 

370-371 Repeat purchasing behaviour: Landmark approaches to repeat buying using consumer panels date back to the 1950s and 1960s and include works by Brown (1952-1953) and Parfitt and Collins (1968). Brown studied the behaviour of 100 of the panel members and found marked consistencies in the patterns in which brands of various products were bought, and on this basis, proposed four ‘patterns’ of loyalty: Undivided loyalty, within a product category consumer buys just one of brands; Divided loyalty; Unstable and No loyalty.

 

  • Brown G H (1952-1953) Brand Loyalty – Fact or Fiction, Advertising Age, 23 June 1952 – January 1953 (series)

 

JOURNAL ARTICLES

  • Structuralist thinkers such as McCracken (1986, 1988) subscribe to the view that there is a one-to-one relationship between consumption objects and their social meanings and uses. While such a position on the locations of symbolic meaning and their use by consumers is supported by researchers such as Appadurai (1986) as well as Lunt and Livingstone (1992), McCracken’s model has been subject to criticism. The first stage of meaning is transfer, which is conceptualised as a one-way trajectory, is criticised on the grounds that a two-way process exists, whereby consumers derive meaning from the culturally constituted world via advertising and fashion systems, as well as create cultural meaning by their actions. For example, O’Donohoe and Tynan (1997) found that consumers play an active role in linking product and consumption meanings, with the implication that advertisers should tap into this pool of consumer understandings and ideas in order to seek to establish meanings that can be associated credibly with their product offerings in the marketplace. As for the second stage of meaning transfer, Arnould et al. (2004) argue that rituals are not the only form of symbolic action which transfer meaning from goods to consumer, and that ordinary (as opposed to special) behaviours contribute as well. Belk (1989b) notes the model’s failure to take into account the shift in a consumer culture away from utilitarianism toward hedonism and novelty-seeking behaviour.
  • Poststructualist thinking makes allowances for the possibility of variation in the manner in which consumers understand and use consumption objects (Holt, 1997). To conclude, social meanings are rich and complex in nature.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Arvidsson, Adam (2006) Brands: Meaning and value in media culture. London: Routledge.

 

Consumption

 

17: Daniel Miller (1997) proposes that an adequate understanding of contemporary capitalism might do well with departing from consumption, rather than production. Like most Marxists, social scientists in general thought of consumption as the end station of production in which ‘the product steps out of the social movement and becomes a direct object and servant of individual need, and satisfies it in being consumed’ (Marx, 1973[1939]: 89).

 

35 Mediatisation and consumption: Branded goods are experiential commodities. At least according to the marketing literature, it is how they make you Sense, Feel, Think, Act and Relate (Schmitt, 1999), that makes up the core of their use-value. Like contemporary consumption more generally, brands depend on consumers rendering these objects part of themselves and of their life-world, on consumers letting themselves ‘become part of the experience of being with products’ (Firat and Dholakia, 1998: 97).

 

36: Goods are connected to the intertextual web of meanings, symbols, images and discourses diffused by (mostly commercial) media and most importantly perhaps, advertising.

 

68 Innovation: Brand management differs from ‘modern’ or Fordist marketing. It is not about imposing ways of using goods, or behaviour or thinking as a consumer. Rather, it is about proposing branded goods as tools, or building blocks whereby consumers can create their own meanings. ‘The power of any brand is simply how your associations with it make you feel’ (Travis, 2000: 10). One way that has been very popular in recent years is ‘viral’, ‘guerrilla’ or ‘stealth’ marketing. This technique involves stimulating consumers to generate a ‘word of mouth’ that distributes or speaks of the product. It puts to work the established interaction and communication networks of everyday life, where it is presupposed that brands play an integral part.

 

  • Miller, D, 1997, Capitalism: An Ethnographic Approach, Oxford: Berg.
  • Schmitt, B.H. 1999, ‘Experiential Marketing: How to Get Customers to SENSE, FEEL, THINK, ACT, RELATE to your Company and Brands’, New York: The Free Press.
  • Firat, A.F. and Dholakia, N. 1998, Consuming People: From Political Economy to Theatres of Consumption, London: Routledge.
  • Travis, D. 2000, Emotional Branding: How Successful Brands Gain the Irrational Edge, Roseville, CA: Prima Venture.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kapferer, Jean-Noel (2004) The New Strategic Brand Management. London: Kogan-Page.

 

Brand equity in question

 

9: Brands penetrate all spheres of our life, economic, social, cultural. Because of this pervasiveness they have come under growing criticism (Klein, 1999). As a major symbol of our economics and postmodern societies, they can and should be analysed through a number of perspectives: macroeconomics, microeconomics, sociology, psychology, anthropology, history, semiotics, philosophy and so on.

 

10: A brand is a set of mental associations, held by the consumer, which add to the perceived value of a product or service (Keller, 1998).

 

11-12: A name with power to influence buyers is a brand. Brand power to influence buyers relies on representations and relationships. A representation is a system of mental associations. Beyond mental associations, the power of a name is also due to the specific nature of the emotional relationships it develops.

 

Franzen, Giep (1999) Brands & Advertising. Oxfordshire: Admap Publications.

 

Mental brand responses

 

52: Brand responses are divided into mental brand responses and brand behavioural responses. The former are the effects of advertising on the consumer’s knowledge (cognitive effects) of and attitude (affective effects) to the brand. Brand behavioural responses refer to the conative effects (behavioural).

 

A brand only exists in people’s minds. It is a network of associations between elements in the memory. These associations are the result of collective, simultaneous processing in space and time of sensory stimuli and of thoughts on different phenomena in relation to one another. The Brand Associative Network (BAN) contains seven components (Franzen and Bouwman, 1999): Brand awareness/saliency, meanings, feelings, positioning, attitude, behavioural tendency and relationship. Each represents a mental brand response.

 

65: The brand relationship is an important factor in brand loyalty (Ceurvorst, 1994). Loyal behaviour is founded on a certain mental tie with the brand which ensures that the consumer stays loyal to the brand. Ultimately, insight into consumers’ knowledge and attitude can explain their motives for buying, and continuing to buy, the brand. When the brand relationship is described, it is important, first of all, to realise that the relationship is a two-way thing. On the one hand, it is formed by the consumer’s attitudes to the brand, and on the other hand by the perceived attitude of the brand to the consumer. The latter relates to what the consumer thinks the brand ‘thinks’ about him or her, the way the brand is thought to approach the consumer, and the (imagined) comments the brand might make in a conversation with the consumer (Blackston, 1993).

 

66: It is Fournier’s (1994) view that all strong person-to-brand relationships are, essentially, based on confidence in product performance. Realiability can be a reason to maintain a relationship, but its permenance and quality do, in the end, depend on the development of deeper meanings.

 

67: Fournier designed a tool for measuring the quality of the brand relationship (Brand Relationship Quality). She sees BRQ as a construct consisting of seven aspects: Personal communication (loyalty to the brand); symbolic connections (self-concept associations); nostalgic connections (memories of the past); partner quality (what the consumer feels the brand thinks about him/her); behavioural independence (degree of interaction with the brand); love/passion (feelings and attitudes towards the brand); and intimacy (mutual understanding and trust).

 

77 The eight basic emotions, their functions and dominant behaviour (Plutchik 1958): Acceptance (emotion), affiliation (function) and connect (dominant behaviour); anticipation, discovery and research; pleasure, reproduction and couple/possess.

 

84 Product profiles and performance (Franzen 1994): AI – Technological (instrumental values: high-tech, composed, constructed, electronic, scientific discovery, invention, advanced). AII – Easy and safe (the use). AIII – Effective, vital, soft, quick (the effect). AIV – Appearance. AV – Cost.

94-95 The brand relationship quality (BRQ) construct (Fournier 1994): Personal commitment – I feel very loyal to this brand. Self-concept connection – the brand’s image and my self-image are similar in a lot of ways; this brand says a lot about the kind of person I am or want to be; this brand is part of me. Partner quality – this brand treats me as a valuable customer. Behavioural interdependence – I feel like something is missing when I haven’t used the brand in a while; this brand plays an important role in my life; every time I use this brand, I’m reminded of how much I like it. Love/passion – no other brand can quite take the place of this brand; I have a powerful attraction towards this brand. Intimacy – I know a lot about this brand.

 

96 HED/UT: a generally applicable scale for measuring hedonistic and utilitarian dimensions of attitude (Spangenberg, Voss and Crowley 1997): Utilitarian items – useful, practical, necessary, functional, helpful, effective, beneficial, handy, unproductive/productive, problem solving/not problem solving. Hedonistic items – dull/exciting, not fun/fun, enjoyable/unenjoyable.

 

Symbolic meanings

 

107 Users’ associations: Consumers often have a picture of the kind of people who use a brand.

 

121 Satisfaction: The realisation that brand loyalty is the core of brand equity and that existing customers’ satisfaction with the purchased product or service is probably the most important condition for brand loyalty, has generated great interest in customer satisfaction research.

 

122-123 Buyer behaviour tendency: Ajzen and Fishbein (1977) found a weak correlation between buying intentions and subsequent behaviour. They notes that attitudes and buying intentions should correlate when correctly measured. Consumers cannot tell us what they are going to do in the future, but merely what they think, at the moment they are questioned, they might do.

 

123-124: Fornell et al. (1996) developed a standard tool for measuring customer satisfaction (the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI model) based on the measurement of three antecedents of satisfaction: customer expectations; perceived quality; perceived value. The ACSI model contains the following measuring variables: overall quality expectations; expectations relating to the extent to which the brand meets personal requirements; reliability; overall evaluation of usage experience; assessment of quality in relation to price, and vice versa; shortfalls in the light of expectations; achievements in the light of brand ideal; buying intentions; and price tolerance (buying intention with higher price, lower price needed if brand to be re-purchased). = Overall customer satisfaction, customer loyalty.

 

125-127 Brand relationship: Fournier (1994) came up with three conditions, based on thorough research, which brand-consumer interactions must meet if there is to be a ‘relationship’: some ‘motivation’ must exist for interdependence, the relationship must be based on a function; a relationship must be ‘condition-specific’ and result in rewards; and an ‘emotional tie’ must exist.  All the writings on the customer-brand relationships emphasise in the first instance a ‘binding interest’ which may be an instrumental or socio-psychological interest, or a combination of the two. Instrumental interests focus on achieving function goals; socio-psychological interests are about influencing the self-image (the impressive and expressive function of brands), and about pursuing such terminal values as certainty, security, solidarity, adventure and pleasure in life.

 

Y&R’s Brand Asset Valuator uses the term ‘relevance’ for this binding interest. It implies that consumers see the brand as an instrument with which to achieve their own goals e.g. meetings own specific product requirements and especially suited to people like me. A second component is the tie-in with the self-concept: the brand personality coincides with the self-image the consumer aspires to. The consumer might agree that the brand says a lot about the kind of person they should like to be. A third aspect is the ‘affective emotional feelings’ a person has about a brand, which is both an emotion and an attitude. This implies an affinity with the brand, ‘adoration’ of the brand compared with alternatives. These feelings are often combined with fascination and a sense of exclusiveness. Relevant statements might include being attracted to or fond of. ‘Intimacy’ in the sense of emotional proximity is the fourth component in a brand relationship and consumers feel they know the brand very well and also believe the brand understands them. Intimacy in this context is closely related to the consumer’s ‘trust’ in the brand: it reflects the personal bond the brand has with the consumer (Blackston, 1993a) and trust results in commitment. ‘Attachment’ refers to the interconnection between actions and reactions in the relationship between consumer and brand, reflecting the extent to which a brand is part of a consumer’s daily life. Attachment is mainly expressed in feelings of loss if the customer-brand relationship is threatened. Strong customer-brand relationships are primarily marked by strong commitment; the resolve to reinforce the relationship with the brand in the future.

 

127: Not all seven aspects of Fournier’s research have the same predictive ability as regards attitude and behaviour. The ‘attachment’ and ‘personal commitment’ factors are the most appropriate. Morgan and Hunt have demonstrated empirically that customers with strong commitment also have relatively stable buying behaviour (de Boer and Waarts, 1997). These customers are less easily influenced by competitors. Although ‘commitment’ is an important component of mental brand equity, it does not necessarily lead to brand-loyal buying behaviour; behaviour with fast-moving consumer goods is far less stable than generally supposed.

 

127-128: The degree of substitutability of a brand is also expressed as the acceptance of alternatives. Moran (1993) is an advocate of direct questions concerning consumers’ willingness to buy another brand if the brand they last bought is no longer available, and if so, which brand they would prefer. The components of ‘consumer brand equity’ – Brand awareness; Defining brand meanings (knowledge) including symbolic attributes e.g. brand personality, user associations, values; Differentiation/positioning; Price/quality assessment; Overall evaluation/attitude including relative brand preference and level of satisfaction; Buyer behaviour tendency including most used brand, intention and inclination to switch; and Brand relationship including functional relevance, support of self-concept, brand affinity/affection, emotional distance, perceived partner quality/reliability, attachment/reliability and commitment/substitutability.

 

128-129: Millward Brown and Y&R show that there is a hierarchical correlation between the individual components of consumer brand equity – Brand awareness -> defining brand meanings and relevance -> perceived difference -> price/quality evaluation -> overall evaluation -> buying behaviour tendency -> brand relationship. First, you get to know a brand’s name, then you become familiar with it. You start using it, gain some initial experience with it, and get to know it better. A general liking takes shape. Then specific brand values and aspects of knowledge start to take shape. The brand may reach top-of-mind awareness, and finally a strong brand commitment may result.

 

131-131 Millward Brown’s ‘Brand Dynamics Pyramid’: Dyson et al., 1996. Stages: Presence –based on spontaneous awareness; relevance – extent to which brand meets consumer’s core criteria (functional and/or symbolic) and the extent to which the price is acceptable; performance – compared with competitors; advantage; and bonded – the brand in question is the only one the consumer accepts. Market leaders – bonded 26%, advantage 53, performance 57, relevance 61, presence 88. Premium brands – bonded 7, advantage 20, performance 27, relevance 31, presence 54% (brands whose price is at least 50% higher than average for the category).

 

135 Segmentation of brand users: Hofmeyr’s (1990) Conversion Model, with its classification into eight attitude categories, was discussed earlier in this chapter. Baldinger and Rubinson (1996) propose a division of brand users into three groups: Users with high brand loyalty who have one top brand; users with medium brand loyalty; and users with low brand loyalty and non-users.

 

141 Behavioural brand loyalty: This is the core dimension of brand equity, according to Aaker (1996a). It is a dimension of buying behaviour.

 

What is a strong brand?

 

171-172 Mental brand equity: High saliency- a strong presence in the memory and consumers feel they know the brand well. Clear product meanings – consumers know what the brand means and how it differs in a functional sense. Defining symbolic meanings – distinct personality and meanings represent important values (binding interest). High perceived quality – compared with other brands, quality is rated relatively highly. Entrenched users – a relatively large number of the brand users are loyalists with strong commitment. Attractive to non-users – seen as an acceptable alternative and is in their consideration set.

 

Seven advertising framework models

 

188: Hall & Macla (1991) produced four different models – sales response, persuasion, involvement, saliency.

189 Basic elements of brands in the memory and advertising framework models: Sales response model – brand behaviour tendency; relationship/involvement – brand relationship; likeability – brand attitude; awareness/saliency – awareness of name + symbols; emotions – feeling towards brand; brand positioning; brand meanings – symbolism model (plus persuasion model).

 

191-192 Sales response model: Key effect – focuses on the act of purchase as a direct effect of exposure to the ad. Mental advertising response – achieving attention, interest, desire and action (AIDA effects). Mental brand response – advertising focuses on directly influencing buying behaviour.

 

192-193 Persuasion model: Main aim is to stimulate purchases by non-users of the brand (to increase penetration) and to increase brand’s share of customer among existing brand users (repertoire buyers). The advertising within this model seeks to convince its recipients that the brand offers them one or more relevant and important product attributes, in which it differs from competing brands.  It is important to communicate an attribute and branding of the ad is important – pack shots (packaging featuring brand name) etc.

 

194-195 Symbolism model: The development of the brand’s symbolic meanings and entails a long-term mental brand response (key effect). The symbolism encapsulated in the brand is the main reason for its selection (or rejection) and an important function is to keep the user group together. The meanings attached to the brand consist largely of associations with user types, defined by socio-economic personality, value and lifestyle characteristics (user image). Advertising contains little or no product information. This model is mainly appropriate for products used in social situations e.g. clothing etc.

 

195 Emotions model: To develop associations between the brand and specific feelings e.g. happiness, joy, competence, self-confidence, self-assurance, pride, satisfaction.

 

197 Relationship/involvement model: To develop and reinforce the relationship.

 

200-201 Advertising/usage interaction: Based partly on the author and Ehrenberg (1974) as a model to describe the development of brand choice behaviour – 1) Gaining awareness of a brand; 2) Making a first trial purchase; 3) Being reinforced into developing and retaining a repeat buying habit; 4) Nudged into buying the brand more frequently; Stage 5 is 100% loyal behaviour (bonding).

 

205 Strong theory: Jones (1997) claimed that advertising was able to exert a powerful direct influence on consumers’ buying behaviour.

 

206-207 Weak theory: In Ehrenberg’s (Ehrenberg et al., 1998) view: ‘Differentiation which is successful in terms of sales asks to be copied and generally it is.’ Ehrenberg believes that brand choice is not primarily based on differentiating brand attributes, but on brand salience. He suggests that a brand has more salience with more people who aware of it, frequently buy it, have positive attribute beliefs about it, regard it as value for money, choose it in a named product test and are ‘loyal’ to the brand.

 

209: Advertising as a ‘strong force’ (Jones 1997) – Brand based on product performance, products differentiated, brand objective sales and growth, advertising strategy selling/persuasion, advertising image ‘I’m different and better’, consumer response ‘Interesting/perhaps I’ll buy you again sometime’, advertising effect increased buying frequency. Advertising as a ‘weak force’ (Ehrenberg et al., 1997) – Brand based on salience/symbolic meaning, products equivalent, objective stability, strategy salience, message ‘Here I am/I’m a good example of this category’, response ‘I know, I’ll go on buying you’ and advertising effect slow increase/maintenance penetration/buying frequency.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Franzen and Bouwman (2001) The Mental World of Brands. Oxfordshire: WARC.

 

Introduction: A brand exists only in the memory of people, is a sign of recognition (labels, names, logos, colours), evokes associations in people and is linked to commercially saleable goods.

 

131 The phases of the decision-making process: Problem recognition, information research process, inventory of alternatives, evaluation of alternatives, choice: buying or not buying, evaluation through use (adjusted version of model developed by Engel, Blackwell and Miniard).

 

132 Buying behaviour: rational or automatic (Weilbacher, 1993): Consumers do not think through every brand choice, nor are they mostly loyal to a single brand as a result of such thought processes.

 

150 The dual structure of brand associations: Brand activation <- product category, brand attitude, attributes sought, applications, usage situations. Brand evaluation -> brand personality, product category, ‘values’, user image, price/quality, product attributes, provenance.

 

158 What makes a brand distinctive? (Donius, 1984) James F. Donius (1994) carried out a study into the meanings of three top brands in seven categories. Cultural – ‘symbol of our society’; social – grew up with it; psychological – says something about me; economic – value for money; functional – works better.

 

160 Relevance and brand ideal: The associations must be relevant to their needs and desires with regard to the product category and the values they aim for in life.

 

161 Strong, positive and unique associations: A ‘strong’ brand distinguishes itself in the first place by the relative strength of the associations (their saliency), then to the degree in which it is positively evaluated by consumers on the basis of choice criteria, and finally by its uniqueness. According to Keller (1998), the influence of a brand association on the choice process of consumers is determined by: its strength, relevance and uniqueness, in this order.

 

162-162 Associations and brand functions: Brands are need-satisfiers. Four important groups of ‘brand values’ can be distinguished: Values that emanate from the products to which the brand is connected; symbolic meanings that are ‘added’ to the product by the brand; ‘purchasing behaviour values’, meaning the functions of brands in the purchasing behaviour itself; and ‘relationship values’: the values that are connected with having lengthy relationships.

 

163-164 Product-related values: Sheth (1991) distinguishes five basic categories of product values in ‘Why we buy what we buy’ and Lai (1995) added three more later on. 1) Functional values; 2) Social values – cultural meanings that the use of the product represents, particularly in association with social groups, these are symbolic meanings that are associated with a product in a specific culture; 3) Emotional values; 4) Epistemological values – the role that products play in knowledge development and intellectual stimulation; 5) Aesthetic values; 6) Hedonistic values – sensory enjoyment, please or feeling of comfort; 7) Situational values – contribution of products in connection to specific, usage situations; 8) Holistic values – harmony e.g. large user-friendliness combined with design in Apple’s iMAC.

 

164-166 Symbolic brand values: Consumers see how brands manifest themselves, how others react to them, and derive symbolic meanings from that. Brand personality – human personality traits that are attributed to a brand; user image – perceived social-economic attributes and personality traits of the stereotype users of a brand; brand emotions – cognitive association of brands with specific emotions or more holistic affect (positive, negative); brand values – associations of a brand with abstract meaning. Three variants by Franzen and Hoogerbrugge (1996): Expressive function; social adaptive function to be accepted by a specific social group and be included more easily in new groups; impressive function about the feelings of contentment, self-satisfaction or self-confidence that emanate from the possession or use of a brand.

 

168-169 Four types of brands (DMB&B, 1994): Four categories of brands, defined by the type of relationship the brand leader had established with its consumers – Power brands, identity brands, icon. APPLE is an EXPLORER BRAND – which thrive to be at the edge of technological advances. They are agents of change, supported by very flexible organisational structures that rapidly respond to indicators of new trends. They appeal to early innovators who are attracted by advertising showing how they can personally develop with these brands.

 

180 There is more to meaning than words (Hirschman, 1998): All tangible objects are capable of carrying at least four layers of meaning. 1) Direct sensory or iconic impressions, such as colour, shape, texture, size, weight, sound etc. 2) Idiosyncratic meanings, which are associations due to unique, personal experiences with the object and which vary completely across people. 3) Subcultural associations, which are thoughts and images that are usually connected to an object by members of a given subculture. 4) Cultural associations, which are thoughts and images associated with an object by most members of a given culture.

 

182-184 Categories of brand meanings: 1) Brand signs: traits of the brand such as logo, brand image, spelling, colour, design, form, sound; 2) Sub-brands; 3) Provenance/history; 4) Product-related brand meanings e.g. product categories, variants, exterior (form, colour, material), attributes, traits and performance (composition, method of use, usage characteristics and durability, usage effects, experimental attributes (sound, flexibility), applications and services; 5) Situational meanings including usage moments and situations (social, physical); 6) Symbolic meanings (symbols) including user types (stereotypes) – age, gender, social class, occupation, personality, lifestyle – brand personality, value systems (impressive, expressive, personal end and societal); 7) Perceived quality – objective and relative; 8) Perceived price – absolute and relative, price/value ratio; 9) Presentation including packaging; 10) Advertising and other communication means e.g. style, contents.

 

RESEARCH

 

  • Phase 1: do proper preliminary research into choice variables – which attributes of the product or brand are considered important by consumers; find out usage context of brand (when, why, how and what it is used for).
  • Phase 2: spontaneous reactions of some respondents on a brand – brands and purchasing or certain attributes. When associations are collected, the order the brands were names and how much time between the cue and naming (response time). Evaluation stage and stereotypes. In the evocation state the associations towards the brand are measured (Holden and Lutz, 1992).
  • Triangular interviews are where researcher consciously selects three respondents of different backgrounds (Gordon and Langmaid, 1988). He can choose a loyal user of the researched brand, a loyal user of another band, and someone who uses the researched brand now and then.
  • Laddering (page 372-272): questions are continually asked until a terminal value is achieved, and is used regularly in market research to discover the underlying motivations for purchasing products. Laddering is a qualitative technique that produced the best results during single interviews. A meaning card is in the form of a ladder consisting (for each respondent) of products or product types, attributes of products, functional implications, psychological implications, instrumental and terminal values. They are then presented to respondents in a closed questionnaire (Sikkel, 1994).
  • Self Assessment Manikin (SAM, 379-380): Based on the Pleasure Arousal Dominance model (PAD) OF Mehrabian and Russell. Research done by these two psychologists in 1977 showed that emotions consist of three independent and bipolar dimensions: pleasure versus dissatisfaction, degree of arousal (high versus low) and dominance versus submission.
  • 389-391 The BrandAsset Valuator: Developed for and by the Young and Rubicam  (Y&R) group. The basic idea is formed by the four pillars of brand strength, which together determine what position the brand takes in the world of the consumer and are defined as follows (Ahlers, 1997a): Differentiation (how unique is a brand?); relevance (to what degree does the brand and the way it differentiates itself answer to personal needs?), valuing (how much esteem do consumers have for the brand?), and familiarity (to what extent is the brand part of the consumer’s daily life?). If a brand is highly valued and at the same time many consumers are very familiar with the brand, that says something about how strongly a brand is rooted in society (Ahlers, 1997a).
  • 394-395 Likert scale: Developed by R Likert and, together with the Guttman scale, it has become one of the most popular methods for measuring attitudes (Van der Pligt and De Vries, 1991). 1-5 agree.
  • ATTITUDE SCALE OF ACHENBAUM

 

 

 

RESEARCH INTO BRAND RELATIONSHIPS

 

  • 407-408: Interaction – a relationship has to do with a series of interactions between a consumer and a brand that know each other and in which each interaction in the series can be influenced by previous interactions between participants and by expectations over future interactions. Communication – relationships cannot exist without this. Reciprocity and continuity. Research into the relationship between brands and consumers has been carried out by Langer (1996) and Fournier (1994).
  • 408-410 Brand Relationship Quality (BRQ): Susan Fournier carried out extensive research into brand relationships (1994). She claims all strong relationships originate in an instrumental product performance, and arrived at the conclusion that a relationship consists of several factors including: Quality of the partner (brand always interests me), love (I really like this brand), intimacy (I know a lot, feel close to this brand), connection to the self concept (says a lot about person I want to be), nostalgic attachment (brand reminds me of past), personal commitment (always be there for this brand), passionate attachment (feel attracted, addict). If a certain facet is missing in a person/brand relationship, the general quality of the relationship is lower than in a relationship in which all facets score high. Respondents indicate how far they agree or disagree with these statements.
  • 410 Statements and scales: Swan (1995) indicates that brand experience is strongly determined by the relationship a consumer has with the brand. Propositions: Brand X is really a brand for me, my type of brand, I like X, interested in X, means a lot to me, attracted to, dominant presence, interesting brand, I have the idea I know a lot about, Brand X is important to me. How does the brand fit my needs? What do my friends think about the brand?
  • 411-412 The conversion model: Developed in late 1980s by Hofmeyr and Rice to measure degree of commitment of consumers to a brand in relation to alternative brands. This commitment consists of four dimensions and is measured per dimension (Brinkman, 1998; Franzen, 1998.) Committed – users who are not likely to change in near future and are loyal; loyals – strong bonding; hesitants – focus on other brands; near deserters; doubters; latent – non-users who will probably remain loyal to current brand; unapproachable – non-users with strong preference for current brands.
  • 412 CONVERSION MODEL: Need satisfaction (dimension – 10-point scale). Evaluation of alternatives (7-point scale overall evaluation for each brand they know). Interest (degree of involvement in brand choice – 5-point scale of how important they find the choice for a certain brand, respondents asked how often they have bought the brand in past twelve months). Movement (tendency to change – which applies best to brand used: good reasons to use and few to change brand, many good to keep using but also good to change, few reasons to keep using and many to change).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Noel, Hayden (2009) Consumer Behaviour. London: Thames & Hudson.

 

11: The launch of the iPhone illustrates some of the questions than can be answered through the study of consumer behaviour. Which consumer needs were met? What motivated consumers to line up for days outside of Apple and AT&T stores to ensure they were able to purchase the phone? Why was the phone so successful? Why did consumers react so negatively to the drop in price?

 

15 The model of consumer behaviour: External influences (Firm’s marketing efforts – product, price, promotion, place; The consumer’s culture – religion, ethnicity, reference groups, social class) -> Internal processes (Psychological processes – motivation, perception, attitudes, knowledge; Decision making – problem recognition, information search, judgement, decision making) -> Post-decision processes (purchase, post-purchase behaviour).

 

17: The majority of college students want to be viewed as trendy and stylish; for them the cachet of the iPhone is very difficult to resist. Given the relatively high price of the iPhone, the average iPhone buyer would most likely belong to the middle or upper social class.

 

52-53: Associative reference groups are those to which we belong. Aspirational reference groups are those to which we would like to belong, but currently are not members. These are usually groups we hold in high esteem; we sometimes pattern our behaviour after them since we want to be like them. This can be particularly true for the youth market and marketers try to associate products with aspirational reference groups. Dissociative groups are those to which we do not want to belong because they have values and attitudes that we do not wish to emulate.

 

54-56: The beliefs and consumption practices of a reference group can influence a consumer’s behaviour. Individuals take cues from reference groups when they are purchasing anything from clothing to cars. Normative influence occurs when a consumer performs an action in order to conform to another person’s expectations. This influence is driven by established norms of behaviour – what is acceptable to society. This influence can affect the products we choose to purchase. Informational influence occurs when someone else provides information to the consumer to help them make a purchase decision. This information is often based on personal experience; friends recommending tried and tested products that they believe will perform well.  Additionally, some of these groups are brand-loyal, so they can also be a great place to market brand extensions. Such a captive market can be important when a company is trying to launch a new product or an extension of an existing product.

 

74: Social class affects consumer behaviour as many consumers are motivated by social class factors to acquire and consume certain products and services. Conspicuous consumption refers to the purchase and subsequent conspicuous use of expensive products that clearly display one’s social class. The trickle-down effect occurs when consumption patterns observed in the upper classes are copied by the lower classes. Consumers in the lower classes sometimes aspire to be like their wealthier counterparts and so may consume similar products. Status float is effectively the reverse of the trickle-down effect, whereby consumers in the upper classes begin to copy purchase patterns and consumption behaviour previously seen in the lower classes.

 

78: The teen market is very attractive to marketers. Today’s teens tend to be more technically proficient than their parents, they tend to have a great deal of influence on household decisions for purchases of electronics.

 

134-135: The theory of decision making rests on some basic assumptions. The most important is that there is more than one alternative available. We assume that the consumer must choose from multiple brands available. Finally, we assume that the consumer will choose the best possible option that suits their needs. First, a consumer will realise they have a problem, next search for information that would help, make a judgement about the product to be purchases (satisfy their needs with this item?), make a choice on decision regarding this final purchase, and then experience post-purchase regret (some individuals).

 

136-140: First step is recognising a need exists (two distinct types of problem recognition are need recognition, which occurs when there is a decrease in the actual state, and opportunity recognition, which occurs when there is an increase in the ideal state e.g. much better product). Many marketers attempt to motivate consumers to initiate the decision-making process by either creating a new ideal state or by creating dissatisfaction with the actual state. After a consumer recognises they have a problem, they then have to find information to help them resolve it.

 

152: One theory that explains how customers are satisfied is the expectation disconfirmation model. This theory is based on the belief that individuals evaluate the outcomes of their purchase decisions after using the product based on their initial expectations. If the product met their needs and expectations, then they would be satisfied. If not, this would lead to dissatisfaction. The basic assumption of the expectation disconfirmation model is that consumer satisfaction depends on pre-consumption expectations.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chaundhuri, Arjun (2006) Emotion and Reason in Consumer Behaviour. Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann.

 

1-2: The characteristics of the individual consist of, among others, the personality, perceptions, attitudes, needs, and motivations of the individual. The environment of the individual consists of the culture, subculture, family, friends and institutions they live in. The stimuli (marketing, etc.) result in emotional and rational responses in the individual’s mind, which, in turn, may lead to a particular behavioural response – this model also shows that the nature of these responses is affected by a host of influences under the general categories of the individual’s personal characteristics, environment and genetics. Choices of products are based on ratiocination and reason; consumers analyse and process information in terms of the attributes of products in order to arrive at an optimal decision concerning their alternative choices. Thus, consumers assign both emotional and rational values to products. To cite Belk (1988), “We cannot hope to understand consumer behaviour without first gaining some understanding of the meanings that consumers attach to possessions” (p. 139). These “meanings” reside in the archetypal constructs of emotion and reason, which may be viewed as two separate yet often complementary means of gaining knowledge about the world.

 

12-14: MacLean (1990) describes six general forms of basic behaviour among reptiles that have striking similarities to the behaviours that are encouraged, aided, and abetted in modern day advertising. Repetitious behaviour is defined as “the repetitive performance of a certain act” (MacLean, 1990, pp. 146-147).

 

41-42: We have seen that the Fishbein model of attitude formation is largely formulated on a rational basis of multiple beliefs leading to attitudes and intentions. Perugini and Bagozzi (2001), in their model of goal-directed behaviour, have expanded the Fishbein model to include positive and negative emotions that lead to desire, which, in turn, provides the motivational element leading to intention to behave.


BRANDING

Research for my final year dissertation into branding and the dependence of teenagers on branding practices of large corporations – monopolies, in particular – has led me to uncover some interesting findings. In particular, consumerism and buyer behaviour are key concepts within the proposed framework that seem to be influenced or affected by not just the power of advertising as a medium within contemporary society – one almost dependent upon brand images and regular informative branding activities –  but by popular culture, anthropology, economics, psychology and marketing.

First and foremost, I have discovered that brands are not just symbolic and offer a functional value to the buyer, but are almost carriers of meaning in which teenagers construct their social identity, either as a result of peer pressure or the desire to be ‘him’ or ‘her’ – aspirational tools, are brands, or merely products of consumption?

Secondly, the implications of branding on consumers is paramount – my research has discovered young people would rather save and invest more in a brand known for success, popularity and potential satisfaction than a cheaper brand. This signifies that, in my example, Apple is at the forefront of product sales with a large monopoly and share of the market. However, Apple is well known for its brand position and as such people respond to the brand name based on mediated representations of quality and ‘stance-signifier’ – in other words, if you own an Apple product you become part of that brand.

Thirdly, consumer behaviour is dictated by the interwoven psychology and economics with consumerism – a cheaper brand often signifies poorer quality, despite the fact such brands may offer similar or identical functionality. Does this mean that people purchase a brand name rather than actual product based on their desire and need for brand name, logo, design or ‘peer pressure destabliser’?

More on my findings soon.

Is English slowly becoming redundant (Mr Gove sure agrees!)?

From the vast amounts of research I have conducted over the past year in preparation for my teacher training application, I have come to a number of conclusions based on news and statistics, which I find quite shocking: the TDA and Department for Education have not only reduced the number of secondary teacher trainee places available for next year, but they have de-classified English, History and ICT as ‘non-priority’ subjects. In other words, they are not as important as shortage subjects including mathematics, science and languages.

To undermine the importance of English is a bold move for any government, but hardly surprising given their track record of placing business and on-the-job training apparently above university and higher education. Their view is that, quite simply, they’d much rather have business people or those with vocational skills than someone who can recite Shakespeare or describe every rule of grammar.

Media studies, for example, is now overtaking many subjects in terms of significance, particularly since nobody anticipated the sudden surge in multimedia, news, social media and the internet. Media graduates are amongst the most employable, yet they still need basic English skills. However, I share the opinion of many scholars that literature is a somewhat ambiguous discipline – it may be very well to have the ability to critically analyse and be able to debate and discuss, but is studying literature for three years really a worthwhile option (more of a lifestyle decision, some may say)?

The same goes for history and other subjects. The government have now placed what is still a core national curriculum subject – English – as a non-priority subject for entrance, perhaps because they are over-subscribed with English teachers and those wanting to teach ESOL abroad. So, Mr Cameron, literature may be a pointless study activity and learning grammar may only be of importance for skills and self-development, but please do not undermine the importance of higher education!

The Importance of Being Grammatical

We owe an enormous debt of gratitude to the likes of David Crystal for providing us with the expert foundations on which we can explore the great landscape of grammar, otherwise considered a stereotypical version of dire academia where the content is either irrelevant or problematic to the native speaker. Having read several books on the descriptive nature of our grammatical system, I realise the importance of clear communication and competent written English as explored through a comprehension of word classes and the like. To be a successful writer requires not only a sense of style and purpose, but an identification of the descriptive nature of English grammar and how sentences – and, indeed, utterances – are constructed.

Prior to my extensive knowledge enhancement I shared many doubts about grammar: what constitutes a noun, how do I identify a phrasal verb, what is the basic unit of grammar (unbeknownst to me that this was covered in the area of morphology) and what are the main differences between utterance and orthography (although the former is somewhat self-explanatory to even the basic user of English). Therefore, you’re not alone in your confidence in grammar, which emphasises the significance of confidence in usage and explanation of grammatical features.

Grammar is, in essence, a progressive linear task of building the foundations and developing from that point; to understand a clause or a phrase requires the understanding of a morpheme and how its constituent parts form lexemes. For example, the word ‘unsuccessful’ is comprised of the affix (prefix) un, the base word success, and the affix (suffix) ful. In contrast, we can break down sentences using the pyramid approach to grammar where the main role of grammar is to highlight how words combine and are structured to form grammatically sound sentences.

I believe any student of English language should be taught the main principles and ‘rules’ in a systematic, linear way that builds on the previous point. This would not only install an air of confidence in the student but would enhance any related topics; this is because grammar is often deemed a cross-over aspect of English which aids understanding. Pick up a decent grammar book from your local library and read in your spare time; you will be amazed at how much you learn, and how quickly this aid develops your previous comprehension. Never be afraid to dabble in the world of grammatical structures and rules; it may, as I discovered, become somewhat enjoyable.

Bitchbook is the new Facebook

It seems as though Facebook is being exploited as a tool to air your dirty laundry which undermines the whole point of arguing or debating – confidentiality is not the greatest asset of social networking, but it seems people enjoy having random strangers read their posts. It is also the perfect platform for slagging people off and then pretending to be their friend in real life.

To be honest, nobody really cares about these little spats and it clogs up the friend feed with useless information. At the same time it’s also a risky business – Twitter and Facebook and monitored more than ever by employers and social media professionals, and if you’re not careful it could have an impact on your career, employers, or in the case of a certain footballer and his super-injunction, the law.

It still amazes me how some people have a very contrasting personality – slag them off on the internet and they won’t find out, then befriend them as normal. Surely they can view the posts or perhaps people enjoy the bitchery that goes on through social media.

If people really want to stir things up, then Jeremy Kyle is a good alternative…

Media outweigh English grads

In writing opinion pieces for a blog, you often come under fire and receive significant criticism from those who oppose your views. I feel, in today’s blog, that I will be almost murdered by English students when I argue that media and communication courses are more significant in today’s society. However, at the same time, I will admit that English language and literature are two of the most popular courses in the country, and are vital to our academic heritage. In many ways, media incorporates a large proportion of English at its core and therefore it would be ignorant to dismiss it academically.

What I am arguing here, however, is that media studies is a more relevant subject for a contemporary society which has witnessed a rise in the number of students studying for vocational qualifications and a shift towards vocational professions. You only have to compare the number of libraries or museums which would welcome an English degree compared with the vast landscape of the media which is growing as rapidly as the most senior industries today.

I recently read that media graduates are amongst the most employable and the subject is now highly valued, moreso than ever. Almost every organisation would welcome a media graduate as they possess the most diverse skills base including communication, team-working, written language, personal responsibility, time management, in-depth knowledge of new media, editing and other skills.

In addition media graduates are in demand and the landscape of the media is opening up a range of new opportunities. I may appear arrogant when I say this, but in today’s society a media graduate would surely be more employable than an English graduate, albeit the competencies they possess. This is a tricky thing to say as a proportion of media relies on the foundations of language.

Sure, English graduates are very employable in law, teaching and even the media, but media graduates possess a wider range of competencies and have skills which are more contemporary. English students possess skills in reading, critical analysis, debating, essay writing, and the ability to construct written documents; media students have similar, if not identical, qualities, yet they also have the industrial experience that so many English students lack upon graduation.

So, media studies is now a respected qualification and I am pleased to say that the old ‘mickey mouse’ tag has slowly died down, as has people comparing it with English to try and undermine the subject. Media students salute the world of English for allowing us to study various topics and areas of mass communications, but surely you must agree that from a contemporary point of view media is one point ahead.

Volunteers Wanted

For my final year media project I am producing a niche fragrance magazine. If anyone wishes to contribute in one of the following categories please email deansmobile87@gmail.com. Thank you

  1. Fragrance review – men or women / masculine / unisex
  2. Top fragrance tips
  3. Top 5 / 10 fragrances
  4. Grooming tips
  5. Your fragrance of the year / month
  6. Summer / autumn / winter preference
  7. Clubbing scent
  8. Classic scent (e.g. 1980s / 1990s)

World has NOT ended

I woke up this morning expecting to see Jesus standing by my bedside ready to take me on a bar crawl to celebrate the Rapture, but this was not the case. The world has not ended, nor has Jesus chosen me because I’ve been a good old chap. I suppose I will have to wait for the 99 virgins and free vodkas, but last night was rather amusing with all the paranoia which was circulating around the world.

This is the very same man who said the world would end in the 1990s, and I daresay atheists across the globe are holding their very own after parties. I wonder if the cost of living is cheaper up there, and whether Jesus has, in fact, chosen the good to join him. Okay, I’m a bad boy, and he probably didn’t choose me because as a child I did steal penny sweets on several occasions and I can also remember stealing a foot-long fizzy chew.

So, just when I was preparing for the Rapture, I now have to get back to reality and enjoy the wonders of recession, cuts, job hunting and completing my final year of university. Then again, I would not have been very happy if the world had ended and I had paid £3k per year to study at university, and I would have been even more infuriated knowing I left the oven on.

So, Jesus, thank you for not choosing me and to that American who predicted the world would end for the second time, I would advise you to retake your GCSE in mathematics.

BREAKING NEWS: World to end today

I can guarantee that just by my blog post’s title, I will score around a thousand hits a minute. Today has been one of the most amusing, and I thank the American bible group for making my weekend more memorable. I’m amazed at the number of people who were panicking, paranoid and obsessed with the wise old words of the very same man who predicted the world would end in the 1990s. I’m sorry to say his mathematics is a bit crappy.

People have been warning the world would end for many years, from giant rocks and meteoroids to tidal waves and Jesus. The truth is simple: the world will end when man destroys it, which is unlikely to be within your lifetime. The big bang created the earth, man will end it, but it’s nice to think somebody is up there with their SIA badge admitting people to the wonderful world of 99 virgins and free vodkas.

Let’s put it into perspective: why would Jesus come all this way to a war-torn earth just to find the good Christians for his so-called Rapture? There are very few good people left on earth, and those who are decent and honest will probably want to avoid a ride on the Ark for another few years so they can live their lives.

I had a drink with him today, smashing bloke who agreed that the price of living was so much higher than in Heaven. I don’t know who in their right mind would listen to that American, but it shows how powerful the spoken word is and people’s different beliefs. Does this mean that all the good people are gone and I’m living amongst the not-so-good, because I can tell you I haven’t really noticed anything different.

Are we idiots for listening to one man. Right, I’m telling you now that you are all going to win the lottery tomorrow – I can guarantee somebody is already planning their wish list of things to buy!

We can be gullible, but this highlights that we should all just get along, enjoy life, and wait for those virgins and free vodkas.