Content Marketing Blog

Why relationships are key to brand affinity

They say the ultimate aim of marketing is to make selling superfluous. If you have a great product, you’ve identified your target audience and you’re able to get in front of them, there shouldn’t be much left for your sales team to do.

But reaching this marketing promised land is no mean feat. The drivers of consumer behaviour are complex and decision-making is not always predictable or even logical.

Brands that can successfully build and nurture relationships with their target audiences can push through the murky waters of consumer behaviour, achieving not just awareness but affection. It is possible to love a brand.

In a study that took place back in 2013, the USC Marshall School of Business looked at the consumer patterns of four major brands, and why people develop attachment (or detachment) to them.

The study revealed three factors that influence brand affinity: enticement, enablement, and enrichment.

The first two are fairly obvious – enticement appeals to people’s desires and guilty pleasures, such as luxury items, while enablement is a product that gives consumers the ability to accomplish something.

But aside from fulfilling their basic wants and needs, consumers are often attracted to brands that they want to support or be associated with it.

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To put it simply, if your brand philosophy is something consumers can relate to or feel passionately about, then they are more likely to feel a connection with you.

Content marketing can play a big role in building these connections. Great content not only gets you in front of more of the right people, but if brands show a willingness to provide helpful and useful material for free they can start to form the sorts of meaningful relationships that marketers crave.

Just as we are more likely to trust and feel comfortable with people we know, consumers are more likely to buy from a brand they’re familiar with and feel some affinity towards.

Take this recent study by McGill University, for example, which revealed that our ability to feel empathy is often thwarted by our fear of strangers.

Participants in the study were instructed to hold their arms in ice cold water then rate their pain afterwards.

What the researchers found was that respondents experienced the same degree of pain if they were doing the experiment alone or with a complete stranger, but they felt a significant increase in pain if the person opposite them was a friend.

In fact, the study found a mere 15 minutes playing Rock Band with a stranger was enough to break the ice (pun intended) – with respondents rating their pain much higher.

“It turns out that even a shared experience that is as superficial as playing a video game together can move people from the ‘stranger zone’ to the ‘friend zone’ and generate meaningful levels of empathy,” said psychology professor Jeffrey Mogil, who was the senior author of the study.

Getting into the ‘friend zone’ with consumers is all it takes for them to develop an emotional attachment to your brand, and subsequently, to buy into it.

Posted by Dylan Brown