Make Love Not War

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Oh to be loved. To have a special spot in someone’s heart. In the rough and tumble world of brands fighting for supremacy does love survive? This was the question explored in research conducted by market research agency Square Holes during 2010 culminating in a national survey of 1,000 16+ year olds.

The simple answer is yes love does exist for brands.

When the Square Holes survey consumers were asked to spontaneously nominate brands they loved, all but a few did. Square Holes Australia’s Most Loved Brands is a list direct from the hearts of consumers. Some brands only received one vote, while others were widely endorsed.

So, drum-roll, which brands did consumers vote as Australia’s 10 most loved?

Australia’s most ‘loved’ brandsWhat we did and why

It is an interesting list of brands. In saying this, Square Holes’ primary motivation for the research is more so about ‘why’ brands are loved rather than which brands. With this puzzle in mind, Square Holes conducted its own research to explore the power of love in marketing.  The research data collection from February to late August 2010 employed three stages 1] Semiotic / ethnographic analysis; 2] In-home affinity discussions; and 3] A national representative survey sample of 1,000 Australians aged 16+.

What do we love?

Not surprisingly, consumers typically place the love of family above all else, then the comes love of friends. This is unlikely to be earth-shattering stuff. However, what is interesting is the level of love consumers hold for their passions, and the products and services they use.  Food is a big area of love, with travel close behind.

The research also modeled drivers of consumers – Family and New Experiences are the primary drivers, followed by Time Out. Following that was Active Lifestyle, Personal Growth and Escape. Yet, the love doesn’t stop there. Whether it be electronics, motor vehicles or even banks, many consumers love the brands they use.

Love and brands

Of the ‘loved’ brands spontaneously named by consumers in the national survey, most were in one of three categories – Technology, Beverages and Motor Vehicles. The three categories with the lowest levels of ‘votes’ were Clothing and Accessories, Everyday Products and Services [Services received the lowest level].

Further investigation went into why brands are loved. Of particular note is the high level of perceived relevance and trustworthiness of brands loved. The brands sincerely fit with consumers’ lives.

Loved brands are typically viewed as something I can’t live without, and often they are ‘all about me.’ Loved brands also typically speak with positive emotions such as joy, attraction and fondness. It is interesting to note that loved brands attract high levels of repeat usage, referrals to family and friends and willingness to pay significantly more.But will love pay the bills?

Loyalty in terms of recommendation and repeat purchase was strongest in Everyday Products, Food, Travel and Beverages. The weakest loyalty was for Clothing Accessories, Motor Vehicles, Retail and Services.

Willingness to pay a premium price also varied depending on category. The likelihood was lowest for Services and Retail. In saying this, across all categories, there was a strong unable to say response – generally around 30% [although 52% for Services]. Loved brands need to justify why they are worth a premium. Consumers will not rule out paying more for a loved brand than competitors, but do need a reason why.

When love goes wrong

The research also revealed when love can go wrong. Failing to deliver on the promise is the big no-no. Other factors impacting the love of certain brands include consumers feeling like they are distanced from dealing with real people to brands who say ‘we love you’ without sincerity.

Universal love of a brand is unlikely across the entire population. It is also unlikely to be a clean-cut demographic love, consumers aren’t that simplistic. Some may love a brand, and others the opposite. From the research Telstra is a good example. For many Telstra is ingrained within their lives through telephone, mobile, Big Pond and Foxtel. Others, are far less reliant and supportive.

Many consumers believe that they have had too many bad brand relationships. Youthful naivety exists amongst 16-20 year olds, yet as age increases so does skepticism. Redemption is possible, but brands need to be honest, and not manipulative.

So what are we saying? How do you get to the heart of consumers?

1.It’s not a marketing thing – an ethos from the top

2.It’s about deeply and truly understanding consumers

3.It’s not about manipulating or forcing consumers

4.It’s about investing in product development, then branding

5.It’s not about treating consumers like morons, but with respect

6.It’s about consumer relevant marketing with no bullshit

7.It’s about a positive perspective on marketing – love not war

It’s about a solid investment in engaging / integrated brand building creative and well executed marketing campaign is essential, but even the major brands can get it wrong. The consumers involved in the research contrasted the Coca-Cola’s less believable ‘No Preservatives’ TV commercial with Coca-Cola’s more vibrant ‘Open Happiness’ commercial. Brands shouldn’t be afraid to be real or to have fun. It’s great to see many marketers starting to move in the right direction. McDonald’s adult playground and the new Aerogard Summer Lovin TV commercials are excellent examples.

Most importantly, ‘THERE’S NO ‘ONE SIZE FITS ALL’ – you need to get intimate with your consumers and really understand them, and that’s where truly insightful market research comes in.

For a presentation or to access the full report with greater depth of analysis and insights contact Square Holes via www.squareholes.com. further related links are available via www.squareholes.com/love.

[This summary is provided for information purposes only. Any reference to the research findings contained in this report should state ‘Source:  report on Make Love Not War Research [2010] by Squares Holes Pty Ltd]