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Brand Love: So Strong Consumers Suffer Separation Anxiety


Been known to baby your blue jeans, caress your cashmere, get miserly with your Mac? You’re not the only one. “Brand love” is stronger than had been thought, and new research finds that when consumers are forced to break up with their favorite brands, their feeling of loss is similar to when they break up with a person.

Just like a besotted lover, consumers are willing to sacrifice time, money, energy and reputation to maintain their attachment to that brand.

Those are among the findings of a study from USC Marshall School of Business. In fact, the study suggests, brand attachment can be strong enough to induce separation anxiety when favorite brands are replaced.

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This connection to a brand, the authors say, can better explain consumers’ devotion to the iPod, the intense reaction to the death of celebrities, and the torment of teenagers who are denied their favorite brand of jeans.

Through brand attachment, the study suggests, consumers see the brands as an extension of themselves. Overall, the greater the attachment, the greater the sacrifices a consumer will make to connect or remain connected to the brand.

This includes being willing to pay more for the item, shun alternatives, and devote time to the brand through brand communities and brand promotion in social media.

Jeanette Mulvey

Jeanette has been writing about business for more than 20 years. She has written about every kind of entrepreneur from hardware store owners to fashion designers. Previously she was a manager of internal communications for Home Depot. Her journalism career began in local newspapers. She has a degree in American Studies from Rutgers University. Follow her on Twitter @jeanettebnd.