Brand and Customer Decision Making

Brands carry a lot of weight in purchasing decisions for me. In some cases, it is the primary reason I will either purchase or not purchase an item. Kevin Keller, author of Strategic Branding Management, maintains that successful branding often creates strong, favorable, and unique brand associations to both functional and symbolic benefits. With so many product options, consumers need help in deciding on the right products and services. Scott Bedbury and Stephen Fenichell, authors of A New Brand World, further note that the most innovative product line will grow stale in the minds of potential customers if the marketing has become static, undifferentiated, or irritating for lack of change. [1] For me, it is those unique differences and my own personal experiences that impact my product selections.

The underpinning question is a value issue. In many industries, giving away samples is an effective, low risk way. Giving free samples encourage buyers to try unproven or unknown products. In environments like Costco, customers expect free items. However, some customers frown on free product offerings. Michael Solomon, author of Consumer Behavior, maintains that some buyers are materialistic and place a high value on status and appearances; price is usually a consideration. Therefore, the higher the price or more exclusive the product, the more valuable the commodity. This relates to prestige pricing.

In the end, organizations need to be consistent. Mark Johnston and Greg Marshall, authors of Relationship Selling, argue that customers expect and deserve consistency in the way an organization’s value-added message is put forth. Therefore, brand managers need to be consistent in their marketing approaches.

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Brand Communication

Good brands leave lasting memories for customers. Do you remember the VW Beetle in a great movie? If you do, it would probably be Herbie, the Love Bug. Yet, the VW Beetle takes me back to my undergraduate days in the bayou. There was a guy from my own hometown who drove a purple VW Beetle. This guy reminded me of Prince and the Revolution as he graced our campus. This story brings to mind how it is important for businesses to give customers a great impression. Good memories can be a strategic advantage for companies. The principle of working memory and long-term memory apply greatly to learning consumer behavior.

Michael Solomon, author of Consumer Behavior, maintains that the test of the brand-building ability of brand elements is what consumers would think or feel about the product if they knew only its brand name, associated logo, and other characteristics. Solomon further suggests that many organizations need to understand extensive connections between products and memories as a potential way to build and keep brand loyalty. VW Beetle demonstrates how lasting impressions can make a difference. Thanks for your story to carry this theme along.

Several years ago, my wife and I were looking for a new home. Our realtor, a friend and church member, drove us around in his LS 400. I sat in the backseat. I would never forget my comfort level. The vehicle was luxurious. The vehicle was showcased in black. Of the six brand elements, my Lexus experience was related to memorability. Kevin Keller, author of Strategic Branding Management, maintains that marketers seek to promote this element through inherently memorable and attention getting features, thereby facilitating recall or recognition of a purchase.

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