Connecting With Customers in the Age of Acceleration
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Rapid digital acceleration, coupled with the global pandemic, has dramatically shifted customer expectations and needs in recent years. These changes exist amid a backdrop of global supply chain problems, concerns about how companies are responding to social injustice and climate change, and growing distrust of major social institutions. This dizzying array of shifts has left companies, executives, and marketers searching for insights as to how brands can withstand and thrive through periods of uncertainty. What North Star concept can marketers follow to navigate these challenging times?
For over a decade, we’ve been gathering empirical evidence on how brands create resonance with customers. In this article, we’ll examine one such North Star for marketers — brand admiration — up close, including why it’s critical to brand health and how companies can harness it to withstand the challenges of the current and future business environment.
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Why Brand Admiration Matters
Data shows that trust is declining across the globe, and customers may lack trust in certain social institutions or societal leaders. But when it comes to brands, some evoke feelings of love, trust, and respect: Customers have come to admire these brands and view them as essential and indispensable to their lives. Positive emotions like gratification from brand usage and pride from brand ownership generate a tight link between the brand and customers. Brand trust, love, and respect don’t just give meaning to customers’ lives; they also create a safe haven where things seem right with the world, especially in turbulent times.
When customers admire a brand, they are far more likely to be loyal to it. They demonstrate this not just by buying the brand repeatedly over time but by paying a price premium to acquire it. Customers are willing to endure stock-outs and supply chain problems because the brand is worth waiting for. They’ll even work on behalf of it: Loyal customers are more likely to speak out in favor of the brand, both online and in person, and they seek out and build community with other brand advocates.
Indeed, brand admiration and its effects on customer loyalty and advocacy behaviors allow brands to enjoy higher revenues at lower costs. Brand admiration also protects the brand from competition while creating opportunities for alliances with highly regarded companies.
1. C.W. Park, D.J. MacInnis, J. Priester, et al., “Brand Attachment and Brand Attitude Strength: Conceptual and Empirical Differentiation of Two Critical Brand Equity Drivers,” Journal of Marketing 74, no. 6 (November 2010): 1-17; and C.W. Park, A.B. Eisingerich, and J.W. Park, “Attachment-Aversion (AA) Model of Customer-Brand Relationships,” Journal of Consumer Psychology 23, no. 2 (April 2013): 229-248.
2. C.W. Park, D.J. MacInnis, and A.B. Eisingerich, “Brand Admiration: Building a Business People Love” (New York: John Wiley & Sons, 2016).