How Consumers Connect with Brands
Consumers connect with their brands through functional and emotional benefits. Functional benefits of a brand are clearly cut and straightforward such as the use of credit card to purchase goods at a shopping mall. Wong (2005) says that emotional benefits can be described as intangible benefits that make one feel the product is addressing their needs better than others. The Apple brand well known for its tagline think different offers emotional benefits. Wong (2005) says that priced at premium, the Apple brand connects well with individuals who do not want to follow the crowd and demand innovative products.
Consumers appropriate symbolic brand associations in order to attain goals that are motivated by the self. And these associations are connected to the self as a result of this process (MacInnis, Park & Priester, 2009). People are motivated to create a favorable and consistent self-identity and connect with brand to do so. People who are motivated to enhance their self-concept have stronger connections to brands (MacInnis, Park & Priester, 2009). In this context, self enhancers can form connections to brands used by aspiration groups to achieve their need to look better to themselves and others. Consumers therefore select brand to associate with it and to express who they are and what they are about. For example many Nike consumers are not serious sports people but they connect with it because they want to associate with the brand.
Consumers today connect with brands to build around it an aura of individualism, freedom, self-confidence and ability at self expression which creates that crucial emotional connection with the consumers (Majumdar, 2010). For example consumers connect with Sprite a Coca-Cola brand not only for its lemony-lime flavor, but also for its unconventional and slightly irreverent attitude. Majumdar (2010) argues that the fascination that Sprite holds for the youth is due to its taste and therefore youths connect with the brands refreshingly honest attitude.
According to Kotler & Pfoertsch (2010), the underlying value of a brand name often is the set of connections and its meaning for the people. Brand associations represent the basic for purchase decisions and for brand loyalty. For example, a Platinum Card for those with even moderate annual income places a credit card holder at a perceptibly higher financial value status. Platinum Card holders therefore connect with the brand because it creates value and enhances their living status. Kotler & Pfoertsch (2010) noted that brand associations are directly related to the likeability of a brand and help in the formation of a brand image. Brand image such as Nike and Coca-Cola consists of the attributes and associations that consumers connect to a brand.