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Building a Better Brand: How Feelings Shape Product Evaluation
Traditional branding strategy would say that a label should tell the consumer what the product is all about. New research suggests that just the opposite might be true Ė the consumer should see himself in the label.
Issue Date - 03/11/2011
We found that participants who were asked to visualise a word that was compatible with the image on one of the wine labels chose that wine more often than those who were not cued the same word. Moreover, this effect was stronger when the wines were exposed for 16 milliseconds than when they were shown for three seconds. This suggests that people choose products partly based on how easy it is for them to process its physical features. This is especially true when they have to make a quick decision and the most recognisable image will likely be the one that they are most familiar with.

I see something that fits into my life so I pick it up. But if I start thinking about it more, then I may start questioning how a frog on a label is unreasonable and maybe I shouldnít buy it.

In another experiment, we wanted to find out how close a match would be required between the word cues and the productís physical features in order to get a favourable review of the product. This time, watches were used instead of wines. Watches have the advantage of hands that can be set at 10:10 or 8:20 to resemble a smile or a frown, which allowed us to investigate whether such faces would make the watch more attractive or not.

Instead of asking participants to visualise a word, they were given a word-jumble puzzle with eight hidden words that they had to find. Four of the words suggested either a watch or some other product, while the other four implied a smile or a frown. They were then asked to evaluate a watch whose hands were set at either 8:20 or 10:10, as well as a competing product.

We found that participants liked the watch most when all eight words from the puzzle fully matched the features of the product. That is, people who were cued with both watch and smile words, liked the watch with a 10:10 (smile) face more than when they were exposed to any other combination of words. Conversely, participants preferred the watch whose hands were set at 8:20 (frown) when they were primed with words related both to a watch and a frown.

Thus, even a frowning watch can be desirable to some people. What people think is negative can also improve evaluation if itís really something that fits with their lives or comes to their minds easily.

The Value of a Unique Label
A frog has nothing to do with wine, and smiles and frowns are not related to watches. But what our research has emphasised is that unlike previous studies in conceptual fluency, visual features that have no meaningful association with the product itself can actually make consumers like the product, provided that these features are something that the consumer can easily identify with.

This means that critters on wine labels, however odd that may be, can be a good sales strategy. It allows a marketer to target a certain consumer by using images on labels that represent an important aspect of that customerís life. Moreover, there are potentially many ways to make that label as unique as possible because a logo would be chosen based on who the target customers are and not on what that product is.

This approach is radically different from traditional branding strategies that would propose grapes and vineyards as suitable images on wine labels. The problem with this conventional approach is that grapes and vineyards are associated with all wines. A unique label, on the other hand, cannot be shared by competitors and can be built into the brandís equity over time.

Coordinated By : Amir Moin

Amir Moin           
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