Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Seeing brands as people

02.12.2011
When people see brands as people they tend to change their behavior depending on how they feel about the brand

From the Michelin Man to the Pillsbury Doughboy, anthropomorphized brands have often been used by companies eager to put a personal face on their products. Now new research shows that thinking about brands as people can make you either take on the brand's characteristics or display the opposite characteristics, depending on how you feel about the brand.

Pankaj Agggarwal, a professor in the Department of Management at the University of Toronto Scarborough (UTSC) untangled some of the complexities in an upcoming paper in the Journal of Consumer Research.

Aggarwal, along with Ann L. McGill of the University of Chicago, looked at an effect called behavioral priming. Previous research has shown that you can affect people's behavior by reminding them about a social group. For instance, if you talk to people about the elderly, those who feel positively about the elderly will unconsciously mimic them by walking more slowly; people with negative feelings about the elderly will walk more quickly. Without realizing it people are trying to either show social affinity to the elderly or reject them.

Other research has shown that the same behavior happens with brands, even when they don't have a human-like mascot like the Doughboy. In one previous experiment, participants exposed to the Apple brand behaved more creatively, and those exposed to the Disney brand behaved more honestly than others. The brands were exerting a "quasi-social" influence.

But Aggarwal and McGill found that it's not as simple as merely liking or disliking a brand. In a series of experiments they confirmed the social priming effect, but also showed that the social role that the brand represented also had an effect on behavior. Specifically, they looked at the difference between a brand that was perceived as a "partner," and one that was perceived as a "servant."

For instance, in one part of the experiment the researchers used questions about the Volvo automobile, which is perceived as extremely safe. They manipulated whether participants saw the Volvo as a partner ("Volvo. Works With You. Helping You Take Care of What's Important.") or a servant ("Volvo. Works For You Taking Care of What's Important.") Participants were asked to think of the brand as a person, and then were asked questions about what risks they would take in a gambling situation, and finally how likeable they found the Volvo brand.

People who saw the brand as a partner and liked it said they would take fewer risks; people who saw it as a partner and disliked it said they would take more risks. The opposite was true when the Volvo was seen as a servant: those who liked it said they would take more risks, and those who disliked it said they would take fewer risks.

What was going on? Aggarwal and McGill explain that the two different roles, partner and servant, elicit different goals. In partners we like we want to show our affinity by behaving like them. In partners we dislike we want to drive them away by behaving differently. With servants we like, however, we want to show that we need them -- in the case of Volvo, participants showed they were careless and needed Volvo to perform the role of safety provider. People who disliked Volvo behaved carefully, to show they didn't need Volvo's services.

No one had these thoughts consciously, Aggarwal says. Rather they were the effect of automatic social behaviors which participants unthinkingly applied to brands once they started to imagine them as people.

"Prof. Aggarwal's research explores how cognitive mechanisms that evolved in humanity's distant past interact with our 21st Century world, often in surprising ways. His research promises to help us understand how and why we behave the way we do in our modern consumer culture," says Malcolm Campbell, UTSC vice-principal, research.

The next step, Aggarwal says, is to explore other roles that brands can take on and see how those affect our willingness to take on their characteristics.

For more information please contact:
Pankaj Aggarwal, professor, UTSC department of management
416- 287-5614
aggarwal@utsc.utoronto.ca

Pankaj Aggarwal | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.utoronto.ca

More articles from Business and Finance:

nachricht The RWI/ISL-Container Throughput Index started off well in 2018
22.02.2018 | RWI – Leibniz-Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung

nachricht RWI/ISL-Container Throughput Index ending 2017 on a positive note
24.01.2018 | RWI – Leibniz-Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung

All articles from Business and Finance >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Attoseconds break into atomic interior

A newly developed laser technology has enabled physicists in the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (jointly run by LMU Munich and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics) to generate attosecond bursts of high-energy photons of unprecedented intensity. This has made it possible to observe the interaction of multiple photons in a single such pulse with electrons in the inner orbital shell of an atom.

In order to observe the ultrafast electron motion in the inner shells of atoms with short light pulses, the pulses must not only be ultrashort, but very...

Im Focus: Good vibrations feel the force

A group of researchers led by Andrea Cavalleri at the Max Planck Institute for Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) in Hamburg has demonstrated a new method enabling precise measurements of the interatomic forces that hold crystalline solids together. The paper Probing the Interatomic Potential of Solids by Strong-Field Nonlinear Phononics, published online in Nature, explains how a terahertz-frequency laser pulse can drive very large deformations of the crystal.

By measuring the highly unusual atomic trajectories under extreme electromagnetic transients, the MPSD group could reconstruct how rigid the atomic bonds are...

Im Focus: Developing reliable quantum computers

International research team makes important step on the path to solving certification problems

Quantum computers may one day solve algorithmic problems which even the biggest supercomputers today can’t manage. But how do you test a quantum computer to...

Im Focus: In best circles: First integrated circuit from self-assembled polymer

For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.

In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale

Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys (HTSMAs)

15.02.2018 | Event News

Aachen DC Grid Summit 2018

13.02.2018 | Event News

How Global Climate Policy Can Learn from the Energy Transition

12.02.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Basque researchers turn light upside down

23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Finnish research group discovers a new immune system regulator

23.02.2018 | Health and Medicine

Attoseconds break into atomic interior

23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>