This paper touches upon the topic of relationship between brands and consumers, the meaning brands have for consumers, the roles brands play, and the views customers have of brands developed through marketing and non-marketing influences. There is even an opinion that customers' brand relationships can be seen as managerially relevant assets through which companies capitalize value.
The topic of consumer-brand relationships is closely connected with interpersonal relationship theory, that has been used to classify types of relationships that consumers form with the brands they use.
The interactions between consumers and famous brands were investigated by many researches, and they have come to the conclusion that the brand and the consumer can be treated as partners in their relationship, which is conceptually similar to a relationship between people. This idea is for example supported by Susan Fournier in the article "Consumers and their brands: Developing relationship theory inÂ consumer research", where she speaks about brand relationships like about relationships between people, that have common qualities between the two participants.
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In studying this topic it is necessary to question whether the idea that consumers form relationships with their brands is true. So in the paper we will try to explain whether or not customers have relationships with brands using two brands examples. At the end we will see whether consumers perceive the interpersonal relationship dimensions with the brands they use.
Brands and customers relationships
The literature review shows several aspects and ideas of understanding and explaining the type of relationships consumers have with branded products. For example authors speak about: brand attachment (Thomson, 2005), brand commitment (Samuelsen and Sandvik, 1998) and brand loyalty, analyze various consumer-brand relationship concepts and intensity of those relationships (Fournier, 1998).
It is interesting to study the Â Susan Fournier'sÂ (1998) article "Consumers and their brands: Developing relationship theory inÂ consumer research". The article touches the topic of customers relationships with the brands, based on the idea that consumers may attribute human characteristics to brands and that brands can be "relationship partners" for customers. (Fournier, 1998).
Fournier has shown the types of interactions between consumers and their brands and provided a characteristic of types of consumer-brand relationships that enables to get a good understanding of consumer-brand bonds. Fournier says that customers and brands must have certain interdependence between them, to have relationship like people, because "brands are animated, humanized, or somehow personalized." (Fournier 1998, p. 344)
So a brand is considered as a partner in relationship, and is connected with concepts such as brand attitude, satisfaction, loyalty, and brand personality.
It is necessary to point out that marketing mix decisions form a set of behaviors enacted on behalf of the brand (Fournier, 1998). This is the most important argument in the consumer-brand relationship concept. Studying consumer-brand relationships in the context of consumer goods, Fournier pointed 7 dimensions of the brand relationship, that highlight the relationship forms between the consumers and their brands .
To further study this idea we need to explain whether or not you believe that customers have relationships with brands using two brands examples. The brands chosen are from different spheres of consumers preferences: hair care and exercise equipment.
Lets for example consider the customer-brand relationship on example of exercise equipment POWERTEC. This brand has firmly established as a recognized worldwide brand and has developed relationships with key partners to strengthen the brand . every year the company continue to work hard at their objectives to provide customers with best quality strength equipment at an affordable price. These efforts made customers really loyal to the brand and POWERTEC company has achieved customer's adherence to the brand. Such a relational approach takes into account the active role of customers in the co-creation of brand meaning. That is why the POWERTEC brand management is focused on the relational discourse with the brand relationship emerging as its core element.
A significant brand is important to a person because it connects with his or her life, thus producing a behavioural, attitudinal, and emotional involvement with the brand. That can be seen on the example of Hair Care brand "Head and Shoulders "The managerial aim of company's branding is to establish a satisfying bond that sustains buying and recommendation, that help the company to remain a leader in the market and to have the most strong customers relationships. So the knowledge of the relationships consumers have with their brands are likely to prove useful strategic tools to marketers.
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To prove the ideas that customers have relationships with brands, I asked several people (friends and colleges) about that. According to my questioning, some of the relationship forms derived by Fournier (1998) were supported in the present research. For many interviewees, the relationship framework was seen as applicable to some of their brand relationships, and people varied in their ability to classify their brand relationships within the framework. Over half of respondents could classify six relationships, and only few did not see themselves as having a relationship with certain brands. Rather than a relationship, respondents saw their interactions as habit, or preference of usage. Others described the relationship as neutral because they do not want to go to the effort to look for another brand.
Also it should be pointed that a difference was indicated between males and females in the way they classified their brand relationships and their relevance. Results indicated that more females were able to classify more of their brand relationships under the framework than males.
This paper explored the topic of relationship between brands and consumers, the meaning brands have for consumers. We considered the customers and brands relationship paradigm according to Fournier (1998) and her view of interdependence between customers and brands and also dimensions of the brand relationship, that highlight the relationship forms between the consumers and their brands .
Our findings support the notion of the service brand and consumer as partners in a relationship, and have provided a general explanation for the phenomenon of consumer-brand bonds.