We enjoy revisiting big ideas from the current thought leaders of our industry. We think that if we can truly understand what they are thinking, then we can understand why certain brands or agencies will lean the way they do. We can evaluate their moves, compare the moves to their mantras, and see if they match up.
Like the old journalism adage we learned from one of our professors, "afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted." Except in most cases, we really try not to afflict anyone. Our goal for the past couple of years at Beyond Madison Avenue has been to expose the logic and background of marketing and advertising so these "haters" of AdLand can get an idea of what we do and why we do it. We try our very best not to pick sides in superfluous matters, and then try our best to raise exposure of important matters that are swept under the rug.
Today, we wanted to take another look at Kevin Roberts' notion of lovemarks. Roberts, the man steering Saatchi & Saatchi, wrote Lovemarks to proclaim that we need to turn each brand that we work for not into a company that people will be loyal to but a brand that people love; a brand that can withstand any type of switching cost, because the consumer believes in everything the brand does.
We enjoy the concept thoroughly, and, though a little extreme, we agree with it. Our economy dictates that if consumers don't like your business, then your business will fail.
Now, as even more studies examining consumer behavior and consumer loyalty have been done since Roberts' proclamation came out, it only stands to reason to see if the data supports the claim. We used Google's consumer barometer to look at men and women in the United States between the ages of 25–34 to see why they purchased the products they did.
Interestingly enough, well over a third of respondents said that previous experiences had an impact. When we accounted for income, 50% of males with a reported high-income status said previous experiences helped them purchase a product.
Lovemarks may in fact matter.
We would agree with the masses of scientists who all say that the consumer hates choice, and if they are comfortable with something they are more likely to stick with it. However, we would also venture to say that if a consumer's initial experience with a particular category of products or services is negative, they will continue to switch to find a good brand, and will have a low probability of sticking with one, even if it is better than all the other ones they tried.
Negative experiences matter, too.
Now, we do not want to dismiss Roberts' Lovemarks, for it's been a while since we've read it, and we cannot accurately convey what Roberts said about brands that presented negative experiences to the consumer.
But Lovemarks is a strong enough theory to stand through additional scrutiny. Encouraging the consumer to develop an emotional connection to your brand is never a bad thing. Unless, of course, it's a negative connection. Try to avoid that.
Dwayne W. Waite Jr. is partner and principal at JDW: The Charlotte Agency, a marketing and advertising shop in Charlotte, NC. He enjoys consumer behavior, economics, and football.