You’re jealous… Your significant other has just left for another weekend away with his mistress: her name is Wrangler and she’s made by Jeep. It’s ok though, you’re going to make him pay for his wayward ways by rekindling one of your old flames by the name of Giorgio Armani.

Ok… Stereotypes aside, I think we all have certain brands with whom our relationship has transcended the boundaries of functionality into something more. This blog builds on my last contribution that demonstrated that brands actually have human personality traits that we associate with them. It is precisely those traits that allow us to form relationships with the things we consume.

Susan Fournier, in her paper Consumers and Their Brands: Developing Relationship Theory in Consumer Research was the first to formally demonstrate the concept of brand relationships. In this work she took people’s relationship with brands from a vague concept to a measureable principle; the quality of a consumer’s relationship could now be quantified.

The research is pretty technical, but it boils down to a few central points:

1) Brands have personalities that allow us to interact and relate with them.
2) These brand relationships add meaning to our lives by helping us define our personalities, resolve life themes, and shape our larger brand “consumption constellations” (McCracken 1988).
3) There are many different types of brand relationships that mirror interpersonal relationships (best friends, flings, secret affairs, enslavements, arranged marriages, etc.) and each is maintained and managed differently.
4) Relationships are dynamic; they change, grow, evolve and possibly dissolve over time.

Fournier’s research is founded on this understanding of relationships and resulted in her Brand Relationship Quality (BRQ) model. BRQ is measured across six dimensions that ultimately dictate a brand relationship’s stability and durability over time.

The BRQ helps us understand why people initiate, maintain, improve, or dissolve brand relationships which is obviously crucial for brand managers. Many rely on intuition and guesswork to build and facilitate brand relationships with consumers but this is foolishness when researchers such as Fournier have already provided us with a wealth of resources and knowledge on the subject. We can use brand personality and brand relationship theory to understand how and why people consume brands and we can use that information to serve them even better.

And that, serving people better, is ultimately what we’re after here at aasman. We want you to thoroughly understand your own brand personality, and how your consumers relate to it, so that the benefits you offer can efficiently target their needs.


*This is my third blog in a series that examines how Aasman merges academic theory and research with 25 years of experience to help our clients develop new and exciting ways to engage with their customers. These insights are drawn from the branding thesis I wrote for my Masters of Science in Administration – Marketing Specialization. If you’d like to read the full thesis, you can find it here.

Fournier, Susan (1998), "Consumers and Their Brands: Developing Relationship Theory in Consumer Research," Journal of Consumer Research, 24 (March), 343-373.

McCracken, Grant (1988), Culture and Consumption: New Approaches to the Symbolic Character of Consumer Goods and Activities, Bloomington: Indiana University Press.


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