What is love? (Aged 20 – 29)

When asked what they love, a group of four 20-somethings list what you might expect: their family, friends, hobbies like sport or cooking. But they are quick to realise that it’s not always about the people or things themselves, and instead how they feel while engaging with their passions.

Love is about belonging…

“I love to watch sports. Sport is a big part of my life. Playing where I can, watching when I can. Feeling a part of something and being invested, that’s probably what I get most out of it. Just a chance to zone out and forget about your normal day-to-day sort of happenings.”

And comfort…

I think love to me is comfort and happiness. I really find comfort in things I love, whether it’s people or my study or going for walks. I love that I always feel comfortable in those situations. And I’m always super happy when I’m doing things that I love with people who I love as well. I really love hanging out with my family and especially my sisters.”

True love means forgiveness and sticking together:

“I think it’s an unconditional love with the family. You know at the end of the day no matter what you’ve done, whether it’s good or bad, they’ve always got your back and that love is still there.”

“I think most cases, family can be a lot more tolerant of you. At the end of the day I’m choosing to be your friend and if you’re being a pain, I can just walk away. But family, you’re stuck together. you don’t really have much of a choice, unless it gets really bad. But nine times out of 10, sometimes you just got to put up with it. And hopefully they get better the next day.”

Brand love is not an absurd concept for younger people…

“You can find certain brands that you get emotionally attached to and love for whatever reason, whether you like what they’re passionate about, whether it’s environmental reasons or just simply the quality of how they perform as a brand in general.”

Brand love might resemble other types of love, based in comfort and belonging.

“[I love] ASICS shoes. It’s so trivial, but I’ve had them since all my life. Plus I just remember getting them for primary school and I’ve used them ever since. And the funny thing is I thought oh, I’ll give another couple of shoes a go. So last year I went and bought some, I don’t even know what they were and they weren’t good. Then I went out a month later and bought some ASICS because I knew I was comfortable with them. I think it’s that familiarity and also I know that they will last me a while. I know when I go there I’ll get quality. So I think, again it’s what you’re comfortable with.

“I’ve probably had iPhones for 10 years I would say. I have probably had two iPads, an Apple watch. I’ve had a MacBook previously. It’s just been one of those mainstay products that I probably wouldn’t even think of switching to Android now. But it’s one of those dividing things in life. You’re either an Apple person, or you’re an Android person.”

And brands can even earn a level of forgiveness:

“Usually if it lasts and it’s quality, they’re not doing dodgy practices. But I wouldn’t necessarily look into it. I’ve got Nike shoes and I know you hear stuff that they’re not doing great things. But I still have bought their shoes because it’s lasted me for a really long time.”

“I do have a lot of Apple products. But do I think it’s cool? Yeah, maybe. It’s one of those things where I’ve probably just become a brainwashed consumer and use it out of habit more so than anything. There are all those rumours that after a certain number of years they install updates to make the product slow down. I guess there’s never been any definitive truth in it but that’s always that in the back of your mind. You do wonder that ‘Oh, these things are starting to slow down a little bit.”

But developing brand trust, and even love, must start with a level of authenticity:

“I feel like lots of the banks were being a little bit more flexible with people paying back loans [during COVID-19], but I feel that’s not really their choice. I feel they once maybe someone said they should do it because they wanted to keep their brand up.”

They’re doing it more as a reputational exercise rather than actually wanting to be a genuine company and try to help the users of their product. They would get far more benefit from having their reputation rather than feeling genuine in the sense that they want to try and help. That might be a component but I think the reputational reward far outweighs the reward of being compassionate.”

While it may not be love in the romantic sense, many have an affinity for certain brands over others. Brand preferences are characterised by the same needs and feelings as other passions – comfort, belonging, trust and sincerity.

Square Holes is investigating the role of brands, big and small, in a post-COVID world. Read our previous discussion series on behaviour changes during the COVID-19 crisis.

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