Kansas State University marketing researcher studies which factors influence consumer brand identification
Friday, Dec. 11, 2015
MANHATTAN — Have you ever wondered why products of a certain brand end up on your holiday wish list? Research involving a Kansas State University marketing professor found which factors influence a consumer to identify with a brand.
Swinder Janda, professor of marketing in the university's College of Business Administration, and a team of researchers studied how certain brand characteristics, such as prestige and distinctiveness, affect a consumer's identification with a brand and how identification encourages consumers to continue the relationship with a brand over time.
"We found that companies can either promote the prestige of their products — so when consumers use their brand they feel it's prestigious to use this particular brand and it elevates their social status — or increase the distinctiveness by making their brand distinct from other brands," Janda said.
Janda and his colleagues have been working on this study for 12 years.
To help understand a key factor to these brand relationships — a consumer's identification, or sense of belongingness with a brand — the researchers initially used fans of Kansas State University athletics who associated themselves with the phrase "bleed purple."
"Our interest was studying the phenomena of how people relate to a brand — or in this case — a team, and what factors really create that relationship," Janda said.
By conducting in-depth interviews, the researchers were able to determine how this group of consumers related themselves to athletics at Kansas State University.
The researchers then broadened this idea to the concept of brand identification, and studied consumers who already had a strong identification with a certain brand. For the study "Identification and Aftermarket Personalization with Durable Goods," which was published in the Journal of Psychology and Marketing, 1,193 customers of a motorcycle brand were surveyed with questions relating to their relationship and overall experience with the company, rather than how much money they spent. The survey results were then matched with the actual retail spending on aftermarket goods.
"What we found was that the relationship between the association and the spending became significantly stronger when a consumer was actually satisfied with their brand experience," Janda said. "For consumers with higher levels of satisfaction, identification has a greater effect on spending than with consumers with lower levels of satisfaction."
Janda said he hopes these findings will help organizations that want to establish great relationships between their brand and consumers.
"By including questions about distinctiveness, prestige and intimacy when companies survey their customers, they can track that metric over time and further understand how well people connect with their brand and keep that relationship going," Janda said.
The study was funded by the university's College of Business Administration. Co-authors include Todd Donavan, Colorado State University; and James Maxham, University of Virginia.