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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: 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.

Solution Preview


Is there a relationship between consumers and various brands? Fournier states that people have a relationship with brands when brands are given human personality relationships. Heding et al (2009) provide that brand relationships take different forms and they can last a lifetime, others may mean a lot but consumption changes as life progresses while others deliver on current concerns without significantly affecting consumer's consumption pattern. This paper reviews what Fournier meant when she said consumers have relationships with brands.

What Fournier means by "having a relationship" with a brand

Fournier (1998) provides that consumers have relationships with brands through animating or personalizing brand in order to develop relationships. Relationships with brands are established once consumers assign personality traits to inanimate brands thus they develop thoughts of brands as if they were human characters. Through marketing actions that include interactive and addressable communications develop a brand into a responsive relationship partner.
Brand relationship exists when the following qualities are evident; when consumer has passion for the product, self concept connection, intimacy, commitment, interdependence, nostalgic attachment and personal quality (Fournier, 1998). An example to brand relationship is the introduction of 'new coke' which was rejected by the population because they felt an attachment to the original coke. Consumers felt coke was part of them and a national brand and it should not be altered.


The two products that I have selected are canned food and deodorant, cologne or perfume. I do believe consumers have a relationship with these brands. This is because people have established relationships with the products either through ...

Solution Summary

Marketing mix for products, brands and their distribution and brand relationship theory is examined.