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When Brand Names Are All That Matters

Relevant topics Archive, Conversion

  • Neuromarketing Principle:
    Consumer decision making is influenced by their individual characteristics, and especially, materialism.
  • Application:
    Discover what product information matters to consumers with high materialism tendency when it comes to product evaluation of luxury goods.
  • We all know that one friend who wants to have luxury products so bad, they don’t spend too much time thinking whether they actually need the product or if it is of good quality. They just want to have it, no matter what!

    Other people are completely insensitive to luxurious brands. They explain that they can buy high quality products from cheaper brands, too.

    These are examples of two groups of people. What drives their behaviour? Neuromarketing has the answers.

    Unconditional love for the luxurious brands

    Luxury consumption is associated with strong psychological benefits, such as increased self-esteem. Materialism is a critical dimension of luxury consumers’ values. It is defined as the tendency to attribute significant importance to material possessions. In turn, it enhances an interest in luxury brands. Some consumers have a higher tendency towards materialism than others. This tendency highly affects their decision making.

    When consumers evaluate products, they use two types of cues – extrinsic, or visible (such as a brand name) and intrinsic, or invisible (such as quality). Research suggests that materialistic and non-materialistic people consider these two sources of information completely different.

    In general, materialistic consumers prefer products that are displayed with a luxury brand label, whereas non-materialistic consumers are not sensitive to brand information. Materialism strengthens the power of the extrinsic product features, such as a brand name, during product evaluation.

    If the product is high quality and luxurious, that makes sense to everyone and wins their preference. However, is the product is luxurious but low quality, materialistic and non-materialistic consumers behave differently. Materialistic people prefer low quality luxurious products, whereas non-materialists prefer high quality non-luxury products.

    Materialistic consumers totally disregard the intrinsic cues and focus on the brand only. Non-materialistic consumers consider both features.

    Are your consumers materialists?

    Neuromarketing application encourages to remember that consumers’ values are important to consider when planning consumer facing communication strategy.

    For brands that target materialistic consumers, it’s crucial to communicate the brand name. 

    For brands that target non-materialistic consumers, it’s important to include clues about the intrinsic features of the products, such as the information about the quality.

    If a brand offers a high quality luxurious product, there is an opportunity to target both, materialistic and non-materialistic consumers. The product communication will need to include information on brand as well as quality.


    High quality products with luxurious brands are favoured by both, materialists and non-materialists, over low quality, non-luxurious brands.

    No principles should be applied without testing as different industries may have their own specific boundaries.

    Take away points

    • Materialism influences consumers’ decision making and should be considered for marketing communications strategy.
    • Materialistic consumers prefer brand information over intrinsic product information, such as quality.
    • Non-materialistic consumers take all the provided information into account.
  • When Brand Names Are All That Matters
  • Reference:

    Audrin, C., Brosch, T., Chanal, J., & Sander, D. (2017). When symbolism overtakes quality: Materialists consumers disregard product quality when faced with luxury brands. Journal of Economic Psychology, 61, 115-123.


    Further Reading

    • Why Luxury Brands Should Embrace Being Cheap

      Why Luxury Brands Should Embrace Being Cheap

      Consider the following scenario. You are walking through your city on a Saturday afternoon, looking to buy a new shirt. All of a sudden, a retail store of an expensive high-end brand catches your eye, with several beautiful high-class shirts in the storefront. You’ve never bought anything from this brand, but you really like it’s style and designs.

      Enthusiastically you check how much one shirt costs and are shocked to find that the price tag of one of these shirts almost equals your entire weekly paycheck. Would you be ready to pay this enormous amount of money for a shirt from a brand you’ve never owned anything from?

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