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Grow Your Business Sales & Marketing

Customers Love an Underdog Business, Study Finds


Tempted to make your small business look bigger than it is? You may want to reconsider. Consumers prefer to buy from companies with humble roots, a new study reveals.

When given a choice, 89 percent of the time study participants picked products whose back story included an “underdog” narrative. Companies that started off at a disadvantage – no financial backing or connections to large firms – are much more appealing to consumers than those that had a helping hand in getting where they are, the study determined.

When those brand)) stories include CONLINK|13|tales of the founder’s passion and determination – in addition to modest startup budgets – they are even more appealing.

Consumers can relate to these brands because most people consider themselves to be underdogs, explained study leader Jill Avery, professor at Simmons School of Management in Boston. They seem to be choosing the underdog brands because they can personally relate to the come-from-behind narrative.

This strategy can only go so far, however. Avery warns that branding perceived to be insincere can create a customer backlash.

“The credibility of the story is important,” Avery told BusinessNewsDaily.

For those with legitimately humble beginnings, the time is right for leveraging their story. Anger toward big businesses is at a fevered pitch right now, Avery added. It’s the perfect time for startups to position themselves as anti-big business.

“Startups should tout themselves as the little guy,” she said. “When a company is still small, the underdog narrative is the most powerful and believable.”


Business News Daily Editor

Business News Daily was founded in 2010 as a resource for small business owners at all stages of their entrepreneurial journey. Our site is focused exclusively on giving small business advice, tutorials and insider insights. Business News Daily is owned by Business.com.