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An Investigation of Consumer Relationships with Brands

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In her 1998 paper Susan Fournier argues that customers have relationships with brands.

1. Explain what Fournier means by "having a relationship" with a brand. (20%)

2. Using two brands chosen from the product categories below, explain whether or not you believe that customers have relationships with those brands.

The three product categories are:

Furniture (e.g. brands such as La-Z-Boy etc.).
Hair Care (e.g. brands such as Head and Shoulders etc.).
Exercise equipment (e.g. brands such as Bowflex, Nautica etc.).

Select ONE brand from TWO of these three product categories, (e.g. you might choose a brand of furniture, say and a hair care brand, or, alternatively, a brand of exercise equipment, and a brand of furniture. The brands mentioned above are only examples. You can select others not shown if you prefer, but they must come from two of those three product categories.

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1. Having a relationship with a brand means preferring the brand over competitors and showing a willingness to pay a little more and even go out of the way to seek out this brand, when desired. They are many components to brand relationships. Consumers form relationships with brands that they perceive as fulfilling emotional, as well as rational needs. William Mc Ewan (2005) discusses the four characteristics that consumer must experience, in order to develop a relationship with a brand. Confidence, integrity, pride and passion are the four emotional aspects of creating brand relationships. Without one of these, ...

Solution Summary

This document discusses the nature of consumer relationships with brand name products. It investigates why such relationships occur, how they are formed and forces that affect such relationships. The specific brand discussed in the analysis is Lazy Boy and the reason that customers develop relationships with this specific brand are included in the analysis.

See Also This Related BrainMass Solution

Marketing Mix: Products, Brands and their Distribution, brand relationship theory

This case involves thinking about the meaning brands have for consumers, the roles brands play, the views customers have of brands developed through marketing and non-marketing influences and how products are distributed.

Write an answer of no more than six pages in length (excluding title and reference pages and any appendices) addressing the following question:

Following is a list of product categories:


Products and Brands:

In her 1998 paper Susan Fournier argues that consumers have relationships with brands.

1. Explain what Fournier means by "having a relationship" with a brand.

2. Identify two brands chosen from the product categories above and explain whether or not you believe that consumers have relationships with those brands.

3. Expand your thinking and explain whether, based on Fournier's paper, your own experience and your knowledge of other people, consumers have relationships with all brands.


4. Select TWO products from the list of product categories above (they can be the same as for sections 1 to 3 or different - your choice) and using the teaching materials and any additional research explain what you think would be an appropriate distribution strategy for them. In doing so compare and contrast the two distribution strategies explaining why they would be similar or different. Illustrate your answer by referring to specific brands within each of the two product categories you have chosen.


"Products & Brands (sections 1-3: Canned Food (Heinz baked beans) and Children's Toys (Lego)

Place (section 4): Caned Food (Heinz baked beans) and Perfume (Chanel No. 5)"

For the Product and brands part of the case there are three case readings. In Susan Fournier's 1998 article she argues that consumers have relationships with brands. An article reporting the results of a study by a market research firm says that mostly they don't. Other marketing academics have also said that they don't, (e.g. Vargo and Lusch, (2004), in a Journal of Marketing article state that "inanimate items of exchange cannot have relationships"). Ah, but is a brand an "inanimate item of exchange"? Perhaps they do but only under certain circumstances? That is for you to consider.

Case-related articles:

Fournier S. (1998, Mar). Consumers and their brands: Developing relationship theory in consumer research. Journal of Consumer Research. 24, (4). Retrieved from Proquest May 10, 2011.
Anon, (2001). Consumers say "no thanks" to relationships with brands. (2001, May). Direct Marketing, 64(1), 48-51+. Retrieved May 10, 2011, from ProQuest Central. (Document ID: 74823521).
Lou Cooper. (2010, October). CUSTOMER RELATIONS: The secret to a good customer relationship. Marketing Week, 24-26. Retrieved May 10, 2011, from ProQuest Central. (Document ID: 2168595091). (You can see an online version of this article, plus reader comments and other associated information at: http://www.marketingweek.co.uk/trends/the-secret-to-a-good-customer-relationship/3019534.article viewed May 10, 2011).

Sources of information for this case may include:

Introspection, though you should not rely solely on anecdotal evidence.
Questioning friends and colleagues - strongly recommended.

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