Love is…: Why We Love the Brands We Use TogetherRelevant topics Archive, Advertising
Every day, companies and brands vie for the attention of consumers. Through a consumer’s interaction with a brand’s product, this brand wants to become an inseparable part of the consumer’s life.
But should brands focus on the individual consumer? What if a brand can become an inseparable part of the consumer’s relationships – for example, with a spouse? It appeared that brands can benefit from focusing on couples and their shared usage of brands’ products through becoming a significant part of their shared identity narrative.
What is a relational identity and why should brands care?
Every person has their own story. This story includes, but is not limited to, important autobiographical facts, group belongingness, interests, and other features that make a person this exact person. This story is referred to as an identity narrative. According to some scientific theories, this narrative defines a person, and thus is very important.
Why should marketers care about any of this? As mentioned, the identity narrative is not limited to important individual autobiographical facts. Brands can also become a part of these individual stories. Some people cannot imagine their lives – and themselves - without Apple products, while others drink Red Bull every day. They could not exist in a world where they are separated from their brand. This binding of a brand to one’s life is what many companies strive for.
Usually, people do not live with just their own individual identity narrative. When people build strong connections with one another, they create a relational identity – the “us” identity, which incorporates everything that defines “us”, “our” relationships, and “our” story. Can brands become important to this relative identity narrative? Definitely.
How can a brand matter to “our” story?
For the purposes of this research, the authors focused only on married couples.
Shared (leisure) activities positively affect satisfaction within marital relationships. Isn’t it a great relationship builder to spend a vacation somewhere in Thailand with your loved one? When we share, we care.
Using a brand’s products together could be another type of shared activities. The more “we” use such a brand, the more it is present in “our” lives, the more it is associated with “us”. Thus, it becomes a part of “our” identity narrative, without which it is harder to imagine “us”.
The happier the relationship, the stronger the effect. So “we” will want to buy this brand more, “we” have more favorable attitudes towards it, and it will be more painful if the brand discontinues.
One would think that the product category is important: it is hard to imagine how shared usage of the same washing liquid could somehow affect “our” story. Surprisingly, the study finds that the product category does not matter when it comes to shared consumption. What is important is when “we” use this brand: is it a brand that “we” use only during special occasions or is it a mundane brand for every day? For example, a soap we use together is not as important to “our” identity story as a specific brand of chocolates that we eat together for special occasions.
How can you use the shared consumption in advertising?
First, you need to understand how a brand’s product could be consumed by a couple. Promote this use case accordingly. It is especially powerful for regular, mundane products: usually, people do not include such products into their identity narratives, as it does not feel noteworthy appealing to have soap as part of one’s identity. But then, the promotion of such a product for shared consumption with a spouse gives a chance to incorporate the brand in “us” identity. And through this increase its sales in a long-term.
If the product does not belong to the category of regular products, marketers can focus on promoting its shared consumption for special occasions and special leisure activities. They can do it both by highlighting shared consumption in commercials or by developing special campaigns that suggest their target group consume it with their spouses.
Examples of brands adding themselves in “their” story
Extra gum released a romantic commercial in 2015. In that commercial, they showed how relationships were developing in one couple, and how the gum was always with the couple at their special moments. This is an example of how a mundane product can be promoted as a product for shared consumption in special circumstances.
SunWeb in their commercial from 2017 promoted shared special brand consumption (service, not every day we go on a vacation!) in their advertisement.
Translation: “Discover the early bird deals”
Snowdonia Tourist Service promotes couple discounts for renting apartments and holiday houses in North Wales and Snowdonia. Though shared brand consumption the couples will incorporate the brand into “our” story, and later will more likely use the service of this agency.
- Mind the steps: we use a brand together -> we associate “us” more with this brand (even more so if we are happy together) -> we perceive this brand as more important to our relationship (since it is already a part of us) -> we have better image of the brand, we like it more, and we want to buy it more often.
- If a product belongs to the category of regular products, promoting its shared consumption with a beloved person can help to make brand attitudes more favorable and increase purchase intentions and retentions in married couples.
- If a product is special or belongs to the service category, highlight shared brand consumption in the special circumstances.