The impact of emotional branding on brand loyalty in the skin care market
Comparing the German and the UK market using the example of Nivea and Dove
Master's Thesis 2012 88 Pages
Table of Contents
Index of Tables
Index of Figures
2. Research Aims and Objectives
3. Literature Review
3.1 Brand Loyalty
3.2 The Role ofEmotions in the Decision-Making Process
3.3 Emotional Brand Attachment
3.4 The Relationship Between Emotional Attachment and Loyalty
4. Research Methodology
4.1 Research Strategy
4.2 Reserach Process
4.3 Research Type
4.4 Research Method
5. Research Results
5.1 Results of the Focus Groups
5.1.1 Focus Group UK
5.1.2 Focus Group Germany
5.1.3 Outcome ofboth focus groups
5.2 Analysis of Social Media Activities (Facebook)
6. Research Discussion
7. Research Conclusion
List of Appendices
Table 1: Summary ofFocus Group Results
Index of Figures
Figure 1: Dove Advertisements
Figure 2: Nivea Advertisements
Figure 3: Dove Facebook Post 1
Figure 4: Dove Facebook Post 2
Figure 5: Dove Facebook Post 3
Figure 6: Nivea Facebook Post 1
Figure 7: Nivea Facebook Post 2
Figure 8: Nivea Facebook Post 3
Satisfying customers is no longer sufficient for being successful in today’s business environment. A number of studies suggest that more and more marketers aim to create emotional bonds between their brands and their consumers in order to enhance brand loyalty and the organisation’s profitability. Emotional brand attachment plays an important role in marketing, particularly, in the cosmetics industry. Thus, the overall aim of this research is to investigate how emotional brand attachment affects brand loyalty in the skin care market in the UK and in Germany with a special focus on Nivea and Dove. Furthermore, the study focuses on a number of other research objectives, such as to find out what communications and branding strategies Dove and Nivea use and compare them in order to find out which brand is more successful in establishing brand loyalty and why. Other objectives are to evaluate whether addressing the consumer’s actual or ideal self is more effective, to investigate what other factors impact brand loyalty and to what extent they moderate the effects of emotional brand attachment and to see if the impact of emotional brand attachment on brand loyalty differs in the German and the UK market. In order to examine these research questions a number of hypotheses have been stated. The study is based both on primary and secondary research using qualitative research methods. The secondary research involves the analysis of written documents, and other sources of secondary data with the purpose to get an overview on the research topic and to investigate those research objectives that cannot solely be covered by the primary research. For the primary research two focus groups were conducted, one in the UK and one in Germany. The results of the groups were used to test the hypotheses and to draw conclusions from these findings in order to answer the research questions and to give recommendations for further academic research in this area and to help marketing managers to develop communications and branding strategies that boost brand loyalty. The study has come to the result that both brands effectively use emotional branding strategies to create brand loyalty and that emotions such as happiness, security, safety, reassurance and trust are essential for creating brand loyalty in the skin care market. It was also found out that addressing the consumer’s actual self rather than the ideal self is more important for building emotional bonds and loyalty. However, marginal differences have been detected between UK and German consumers.
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“A great brand taps into emotions. Emotions drive most, if not all, of our decisions. A brand reaches out with a powerful connecting experience. It’s an emotional connecting point that transcends the product.” (Scott Bedbury/Nike, Starbucks) As Scott Bedbury, former marketing executive of two of the most successful brands, Starbucks and Nike, has pointed out, a brand needs to create an emotional connection with the consumer which goes beyond the product itself. Why is that important? In the last fifty years there has been an economic shift from production to consumption which has put the consumers in a position of power. Moreover, products have become more and more alike offering the same quality and benefits. Brands must be differentiated in order to prevent products from becoming commodities in markets which are flooded with a large number of similar products. In addition to that, the internet and the rise of social media have opened up a whole new range of opportunities for companies and especially for marketers. On the downside, however, the internet and the emergence of e-commerce have empowered consumers even more.
All these factors have contributed to a shift in business and, particularly in marketing and branding, form objective, rational strategies to emotion driven strategies which put the consumer and his/her desires and needs into the centre. Nowadays branding is about creating a personal and holistic customer experience which is tailored to the consumer’s individual needs (Gobé, 2001). This experience can be created by emotional connections between the consumer and the brand which attach the consumer to the brand and make him/her prefer the brand over all other brands. Thus, creating emotional brand attachment is a key branding issue in marketing today which is used to increase brand loyalty and a company’s financial performance (Malar et al., 2011). Especially in the personal care industry emotions play an important role in marketing. The personal care industry, and particularly the skin care segment, is a highly competitive market due to high numbers of new product launches and other challenges, such as a decreasing effectiveness of traditional advertising methods. Beauty and personal care are emotional topics and brands such as Nivea and Dove do not sell just creams, but also dreams and hopes of looking younger, more beautiful and attractive. Especially women often have body insecurities due to increasing pressure from society and the media to look youthful and to conform to ideal images of beauty which make them believe that body lotions and creams can help them treat their problem zones and create a more positive selfimage (Costello, 2011). Thus, it is no longer enough to satisfy consumers in order to create brand loyalty. A number of studies suggest that an intense emotional attachment to a brand does not only lead to repeat purchasing of the brand, but true loyalty and commitment (Yu & Dean, 2001; Vlachos et al., 2010; Carroll & Ahuvia, 2010). Emotional brand attachment can be defined as strong affectionate ties consumers form with brands which can be based on different dimensions, such as consumer-brand image congruity, trust, relationship duration and passion (Vlachos et al., 2010). In contrast to consumer satisfaction emotional attachment can describe stronger forms of consumer behaviour and indicates the strength of a consumerbrand relationship (Thomson, 2006). In order to investigate how brand loyalty is affected the term needs to be closer defined as well. In the proposed research brand loyalty will be defined according to the definition by Bloemer & Kasper (1995) who state that brand loyalty is a true royalty which encompasses a non-random behavioural response resulting from an evaluating process that leads to commitment to a brand.
Due to the importance of these trends and issues in the area of marketing and branding, especially in the cosmetics industry, this study will investigate the effects and the importance of emotional branding strategies in the skin care market, taking the brands Nivea and Dove as an example. It will be researched how Dove (Unilever) and Nivea (Beiersdorf) use their communications and branding strategies to connect with consumers and to establish brand loyalty in Germany and the UK. Both brands are strong in the German and the UK beauty and personal care market. Nivea is with a brand share of 6.7% in 2011 the leading brand in the German beauty and personal care industry, while Dove has a brand share of 1.8%. In the UK both brand shares are slightly lower (Euromonitor International, 2012). Nivea and Dove have been chosen for the research because they both make use of emotions in their advertising campaigns and branding strategies. While Nivea relies on traditional values and natural beauty, Dove has started promoting real beauty and encouraging women to feel beautiful about their actual self instead of trying to reach an ideal self in its advertising campaigns. This study will compare both strategies and investigate how they create emotional brand attachment. Furthermore, it will be researched how effective theses strategies are in boosting brand loyalty. In doing so, the research problem, which is whether and how emotional brand attachment affects brand loyalty in the skin care market in the UK and in Germany, will be addressed. This study will not only be significant for researchers who are trying to find out more about the relationship between emotions and brand loyalty, but it will also contribute to the success of marketing and branding strategies of marketers and brand managers operating in the cosmetics industry and in related industries. They can use the study’s findings to reassess and benchmark their own strategies in order to increase their customers’ brand loyalty, brand equity and the company’s long-term profits. Moreover, this study will provide a solid basis for further research in the area of emotional branding, brand loyalty as well as customer experience and customer relationship management. This study will contribute to finding answers to the question of how emotions can be used to engage customers, make them happier and finally more loyal to a brand, which is a prerequisite for a brand’s success in a dynamic and ever-.changing economy that is driven by consumers. (Sonntag, 2012)
2. Research Aims and Objectives
The overall aim of this research is to find an answer to the following research question: How does emotional brand attachment affect brand loyalty in the skin care market in the UK and in Germany?
In order to investigate this research question the following research objectives have been set which will be further researched in the study:
(1) To find out what communications and branding strategies Dove and Nivea use and compare them in order to find out which brand is more successful in establishing brand loyalty and why.
(2) To determine how and to what extent emotional branding is used.
(3) To evaluate whether addressing the consumer’s actual or ideal self is more effective.
(4) To find out whether these strategies are successful and why.
(5) To investigate what other factors impact brand loyalty and to what extent they moderate the effects of emotional brand attachment (e.g. pricing strategy).
(6) To see if the impact of emotional brand attachment on brand loyalty differs in the German and the UK market.
(7) To examine how these findings can help other companies/ marketing managers in the same/ related industries to develop communications and branding strategies that boost brand loyalty.
(8) To derive recommendations for further academic research in this area.
The information provided by the research will help marketing managers in the personal care and beauty industry to develop a better understanding of how they can support consumers in forming strong emotional bonds with their brands which will result in true loyalty and commitment to theses brands and thus, to increased profitability for the whole company. Besides, the results obtained by the research may also prove beneficial to marketing managers in other industries in terms of developing successful branding strategies that lead to increased brand loyalty.
There are several hypotheses that can be stated concerning the impact of emotional brand attachment on brand loyalty which will be tested in the proposed research:
Hi: The more consumers emotionally connect with a brand the higher will be the level ofbrand loyalty.
H2: Addressing the consumer’s actual self rather than the ideal self or matching the brand personality to the consumer’s actual personality rather than the ideal personality has a stronger effect on the consumer’s commitment to the brand.
There are other factors that influence consumers’ brand loyalty which moderate the impact of emotional brand attachment. Thus, the following hypotheses will also be tested:
H3a: The price at which the brand is sold/ the consumer’s willingness to pay more will moderate the impact of emotional brand attachment on brand loyalty. H3b: The higher the price at which the brand is sold, the lower will be consumers’ brand loyalty.
H3c: The higher the willingness to pay more, the higher will be consumers’ brand loyalty.
Furthermore, the proposed research will investigate whether there are other factors, such as product involvement or the consumer’s personality (e.g. self-esteem) which affect emotional attachment and commitment to a brand and therefore brand loyalty. In terms of the other research objectives, such as the differences between the communications and branding strategies used by Nivea and Dove, how they use emotional branding as well as the potential differences between the German and the UK market no hypotheses have been stated. (Sonntag, 2012)
3. Literature Review
3.1 Brand Loyalty
The purpose of this literature review is to critically evaluate which research has been published in the area of emotional brand attachment and brand loyalty in order to enhance the understanding of the proposed research question and objectives and to clarify them further. In addition to that, the literature review serves to discover research approaches and strategies which may be useful for the proposed research, to get a good insight into current opinions on the topic and to find recommendations for further research which could be covered in the proposed research (Saunders et al., 2009).
In order to understand how emotions and brand loyalty are connected, first of all, it needs to be clarified what a brand is and then the term brand loyalty needs to be defined. Therefore, different views and opinions have been researched and will be reviewed in the following. Branding has become increasingly important for businesses since it influences and guides consumers’ activities. Hence, brands have become valuable assets for businesses (Moor, 2007). According to Kotler & Keller (2006, p. 43) a brand is “a name, term, sign, symbol, or design, or a combination of them, intended to identify the goods or services of one seller or group of sellers and to differentiate them from those of competitors”. This definition is rather generic though and nowadays it is widely accepted that a brand is more thanjust an identifier for a specific product or service or a sign of quality. It is rather a tool which is used to create relationships with consumers and with which consumers can become something different and add their own meanings to a product (Arvidsson, 2006). Thus, a brand can be perceived in different ways by different people and mean different things to them. According to Travis (2000) branding is about what consumers associate with a brand and how these associations make them feel. Gobé (2001) supports this by stating that a brand can be seen as a personality which is related to emotions and ethical beliefs. In general, brand loyalty occurs when a consumer buys the same brand repeatedly due to a strong preference for that brand (Hoyer & MacInnis, 2008). If consumers feel that a certain brand serves their needs better than others they will stick with this brand which makes the entire buying decision process easier and it requires less time and effort for the consumers (Hoyer & MacInnis, 2008) Brand loyal consumers are emotionally involved with a brand and create a strong bond with it. However, it has to be noted that brand loyalty only occurs if the same brand is purchased repeatedly over a longer period of time and if the degree of involvement and commitment is high enough; if the commitment is not that strong and people only occasionally buy the brand one can speak of a habit rather than true brand loyalty (Hoyer & MacInnis, 2008). Brand loyalty plays an important role in increasing brand equity (the marketing and financial value of a brand) which eventually leads to higher profitability for the firm (Pride & Ferrell, 2012). According to Daryl (2000) “creating customer loyalty [...] is the ultimate objective and meaning of brand equity” (p. 28) since attracting new customers costs a firm four to six times more than retaining existing ones. Brand loyalty makes the brand less vulnerable to existing and emerging competitors’ brands. Furthermore, the firm needs to spend less financial resources on attracting new customers since brand loyal customers will buy the brand anyway even if there is less advertising for it. Moreover, new customers are attracted by brand loyal customers due to different factors, such as positive word-of-mouth and higher brand visibility which is created by these brand loyal customers (Pride & Ferrell, 2012). Providing customers with higher value products and services than competitors do, will lead to brand loyalty and financial rewards (Arussy, 2007). However, creating greater value and stronger customer relationships is not that easy for most companies. For instance, the 2006 Stravity Group Global Customer Experience Management Study indicates that only 49.5% of the respondents think their product is unique and beneficial to customers, which is the basis for building brand loyalty. Furthermore, only 40% stated that their company deserves the loyalty of their customers and 55.9% think that they do not have well defined relationships with their customers (Arussy, 2007). In order to change this negative trend, new concepts of building brand loyalty need to be developed. Keller (2011) has identified six imperatives which will finally lead to brand loyalty: Firstly, it has to be established why customers like a brand. Then it is important to understand that there are rational and emotional aspects on which a brand relationship is based which also interact with each other. Moreover, Keller states that different communication tools have to be co-ordinated and synchronised in order to be effective. Bearing these factors in mind and thinking of the brand and the relationship the customer has with the brand from a long-term perspective will create brand loyalty.
3.2 The Role ofEmotions in the Decision-Making Process
The human decision making process not rational as it has been assumed for a long time - it is rather based on emotions. If a consumer prefers a specific brand over another is regulated by the subconscious mind. According to (Felix, 2008) consumer buying decisions are 95 percent influenced by emotions. Even though research by Grundey (2008) contradicts this finding by stating that consumers’ buying behaviour is affected by both rational and emotional factors in equal measure, there are other studies which have found out that the way how people act and decide is based on emotional reactions and stimulations in their environment. According to Scheibe (2011) the consumer’s decision-making process is affected by personal preferences, fears and objectives as well as illusions which differ from consumer to consumer. Bittner & Schwarz (2010) state that the main reason for this is the human brain’s ability to link and evaluate every stimulus and information it receives with a specific emotion. This way information are coded (linked with positive and negative associations) and saved as memories in different parts of the brain (Bittner & Schwarz, 2010). According to Raab, Gernsheimer & Schindler (2009) emotions can be developed in two different ways: On the one hand emotions are triggered by a stimulus, i.e. an experience; on the other hand they are provoked by memories of a past experience. Research by Scheibe (2011) suggests that people can influence their emotions consciously or subconsciously in order to maintain or increase their personal well-being. Thus, the decision to buy a certain brand is influenced by the consumer’s need for maximizing positive emotions and minimizing negative ones (Mellers & McGraw, 2001). Scheier & Held (2006) state that every human emotion is motivated and evoked by an objective or a personal motive which drives the way people act and decide. Hence, emotions and motives are closely interlinked with each other. According to Dr. Norbert Bischofs “Zurich model of social motivation”, which has been developed by the German psychologist Norbert Bischof, there are three main social motivational systems: a system which is responsible for security and comfort, another one which is responsible for excitement and thrill and another one for independence and power (Scheier & Held, 2006). In line with Häusel’s Limbic® approach it can be differentiated between three big emotional systems which every human being possesses and which have the same meaning as Bischofs concepts (Häusel, 2007). Every person possesses these systems; however, the degree of manifestation of each system varies due to the fact that people experience different things in life (Scheier & Held, 2006). On the one hand the decision which brand to buy is influenced by the personal manifestation of these systems - on the other hand it depends on the situation. Thus, the buying process is determined by both the consumer’s personality, which is a stable preference for e.g. safety or thrill, and the consumer’s mood which is constantly changing (Scheier & Held, 2008). According to Häusel (2007) there are a number of implications for successful brand management which can be drawn from these theories. For instance, a brand has to be designed and communicated to the consumer in a way which appeals to the consumer’s emotions since every piece of information the consumer receives will be linked to an emotion in the brain. Thus, the stronger the emotional appeal of the brand or its message, the higher will be the possibility that the consumer decides to purchase the brand. It has to be considered, though, that a strong emotional appeal of a message (e.g. an advertisement) might be enough to get the consumers’ attention and to make them remember it. In order for consumers to change their buying behaviour, however, the positive emotions have to be transferred to the brand (Du Plessis, 2005). Hence, the brand’s characteristics should appeal to the consumer’s emotional and motivational systems which influence each consumer’s decisionmaking process. A study by Schaefer et al. (2011) also came to the result that a brand’s personality characteristics which are closely linked with brand perceptions can act as rewarding stimuli in the customer’s brain and help to form a stronger affective bond between the customer and the brand.
3.3 Emotional Brand Attachment
In order to understand the concept of emotional brand attachment it has to be elaborated why and how consumers build relationships with brands. According to Arussy (2007) customers will develop deep and long relationship with a brand if they experience a customer experience which excites them, makes them happier and which is different from the experience which is delivered by other brands and companies. Cottle (2008) agrees on that by stating that a business or a brand needs to stand out and understand why customers like a brand. Beyond that he stresses the importance of creating an emotional connection between the customer and the brand which is based on the emotions the customer remembers from experiencing a brand. In his opinion engagement, which is the emotional bond the customer forms with a brand, is based on different feelings which are evoked by the brand experience. Only if the customer feels protected, informed, valued and confident he will get emotionally engaged with the brand. (Cottle, 2008). Tsai (2011) also addresses customer and brand experience in his research and he has come to the conclusion that only a holistic brand experience which is based on different feelings such as trust, delight and aesthetic attractiveness may build brand attachment. Customer satisfaction alone is not enough. In addition to that, Venkateswaran et al. (2011) also state that brand attachment can be increased by different brand dimensions which are, for instance, sincerity, excitement, competency and sophistication. For Albert et al. (2008) the strongest determinants for emotional brand attachment and brand love are passion and pleasure which consumers feel towards a brand.
Nevertheless, in Cottle’s and Tsai’s research some other important aspects of forming emotional engagement are missing. According to Arvidsson (2006) emotional links between the brand and the consumer can be created by delivering things that most people no longer get from their social environment which are, for instance, solidarity and meaning. People want to feel engaged and involved in a community and this feeling of being involved can be provided by a certain brand experience. The consumer uses the brand to feel socially connected and tries to gain security and stability which is often missing in a society where identity and community does not necessarily exist anymore. Utilising these emotional associations and attachment will help a business to create and increase brand equity (Moor, 2003). However, these observations and findings are quite theoretical. Gobé (2001) has researched how these findings can be put into practice in order to connect brands to people. He defines emotional branding as the way “how a brand engages consumers on the level of the senses and emotions [...] and how it forges a deeper, lasting connection” (Gobé, 2001, p. xviii). Emotional branding is concerned with people, not with consumers, who feel and whose trust and needs to be earned. Only a unique and exceptional product experience will be memorised by people and only if it builds a relationship with them which is built on trust, character and charisma as well as dialogue and partnership, the brand will be preferred over other brands by consumers. Gobé’s core findings are that every emotional brand strategy must consider a number of factors. Firstly, colours have to be used appropriately as they can trigger certain responses and feelings towards a brand. The same is true for the other senses: The way a product feels, smells and looks like is very important for developing lasting relationships between brands and consumers as only certain colours and scents can influence if consumers identify themselves with a brand or not. According to Hirsch (1992), using emotional appeals is the best way to increase sales and these emotions can be reached the quickest through smells. However, it is crucial to adapt these brand characteristics to the target group. Age, gender and cultural differences need to be taken into consideration as preferences for colours and scents tend to differ a lot between these different groups (Gobé, 2001). Daryl (2000) holds a similar view. Developing a deeper emotional response and finding out how customers feel about a brand is the most important question for a business as brands and their value are created in the customers minds and hearts and they are sold by feelings. In order to be successful in identifying the customers’ feelings and needs companies need to listen more to their customers and try to understand what they actually mean by what they are saying. Daryl (2000) states that focusing completely on the customer and offering him or her something different than all the others do, for instance, a product or service that provides them with an exceptional experience which is full of emotions is key to creating brand attachment. Furthermore, having a set of shared values which are reflected by every single employee, by the brand itself and by the company’s promotional activities is crucial for building trust and creating an authentic brand which people will form a relationship with. This relationship which is based on deep emotions such as trust is the imperative for brand loyalty (Daryl, 2000).
It has become clear that there are different prerequisites for emotional brand attachment according to the previously mentioned studies, which have a lot a in common, but which also differ in some aspects. It can generally be agreed, though, that brand personality characteristics such as trust, excitement and making the consumer feel protected and involved foster emotional brand attachment. Nevertheless, it has to be taken into consideration, that emotional appeals might work well for certain brands while they do not work for others. According to AlbersMiller & Stafford (1999) the effectiveness of emotions depends on whether products or services are involved. They state that emotional appeals work better for products than for services; thus rather rational than emotional appeals and characteristics should be used for services in order to create a strong relationship between the consumer and the brand.
3.4 The Relationship Between Emotional Attachment and Loyalty
In the following five different studies will be summarised and discussed individually. These studies have been selected from the literature reviewed and they will be discussed in depth because their findings are the ones most relevant for investigating the impact of emotional branding on brand loyalty. After critically evaluating these articles, their similarities and differences will be summarised and discussed and finally their relevance to the research question will be shown and explained.
Carroll, B. A. and Ahuvia, A. C. (2006) Some antecedents and outcomes of brand love, Marketing Letters, 17 (2), pp. 79-89.
According to Carroll & Ahuvia (2006) brand love is the “degree of passionate emotional attachment a satisfied consumer has for a particular trade name”. The construct of brand love can be used to measure satisfied consumers’ feelings and respond to a given brand and to better understand and predict brand loyalty and positive word-of-mouth. Thus, the objectives of the study conducted by Carroll & Ahuvia (2006) were firstly, to find out if differences in consumers’ loyalty and positive word of mouth could be explained by brand love and secondly, if the perceived brand characteristics and the brand’s product category could predict brand love. To collect the data for their study they used a survey based on a questionnaire. In a pre-test the respondents were asked to name a specific brand of packaged goods with which they were satisfied, so that every respondent then answered the questionnaire with reference to that specific brand. Thus, 93% of the respondents answered questions on a brand with which they had a long-term relationship. To assess brand love brand loyalty and positive word-mouth Likert-type scales were used in the survey. The data gathered were then analysed employing LISREL structural modelling. The study’s findings support that brand love is a useful construct for identifying differences in satisfied consumers’ emotional responses to brands. It further suggests that developing emotional relationships with consumers helps marketing managers to increase brand loyalty and positive word-of-mouth; whereas this is especially true for more hedonic products or self-expressive brands. However, it may be criticised that this study only investigates the relationship of brand love and desirable consumers’ post-consumption behaviour for packaged goods and disregards, for instance, durables and services. Furthermore, other factors which could influence brand loyalty and positive word-of-mouth, such as the product’s price, were not taken into consideration. Nevertheless, the study’s findings are important for this research because they support the hypothesis that emotional brand attachment increases brand loyalty for packaged goods, which could be transferred to skin care products.
Vlachos, P. A., Theotokis, A., Pramatari, K., and Vrechopoulos, A. (2010) Consumer-retailer emotional attachment: some antecedents and the moderating role of attachment anxiety, European Journal of Marketing, 44 (9/10), pp.1478 - 1499.
The objective of the study done by Vlachos et al. (2010) is to investigate consumers’ emotional attachment and loyalty building in the grocery retailing sector. It was tested if consumers’ emotional attachment is positively influenced by consumers’ trust towards the firm and towards the firm’s employees and if it is influenced by the place where the firm is operating. Besides that, other factors which could positively influence consumers’ emotional attachment were identified and tested which are shopping enjoyment, interpersonal likeability towards co-consumers and personnel, satisfaction of consumers’ self-expressive needs as well as place identity. Then it was investigated if the consumer’s anxiety level affects emotional attachment or more specifically if more anxious consumers are more loyal and build stronger emotional relationships than less anxious consumers. Face-to-face personal interviews were conducted and the PLS analysis was chosen to analyse the data. In the end Vlachos et al. (2010) found out that firm trust, trust in employees, likeability of co-consumers and service-personnel, shopping enjoyment, self-expressiveness and place identity are significant predictors for consumers’ emotional attachment, loyalty and word of mouth. Some of these factors could also be relevant for the proposed research. For instance, it could be investigated which role trust, enjoyment and self-expressiveness play in the advertisements and branding strategies of Nivea and Dove and how they influence brand loyalty. Additionally, the study’s findings that attachment anxiety multiplies the effect of emotional attachment indicate that consumers’ personality traits influence loyalty and emotional attachment. It could be further investigated if this is true for brand loyalty in the skin care industry as well, what other personality traits apart from attachment anxiety affect brand loyalty and how marketing managers could consider consumers’ personality traits in their marketing strategies. The weaknesses of the study done by Vlachos et al. (2010) are its relatively small sample size (ten stores) and that it is limited to grocery retailing only. Thus, it needs to be tested if the results of this study are also true for other retailing sectors or even for products and brands. Besides, the effect of factors such as consumer satisfaction and retail image were not tested in this study and could be investigated in further research as suggested by Vlachos et al. Hence, further research might include the brand image and consumers’ willingness to pay more in order to see how these factors influence brand loyalty.
Orth, U. R., Limon, Y. and Rose, G. (2010) Store-evoked affect, personalities, and consumer emotional attachments to brands, Journal of Business Research, 63 (11), pp. 1202-1208.
The purpose of the research undertaken by Orth et al. (2010) is to examine the impact of store-evoked affect, human personality, and brand personality on consumers’ emotional attachment to brands. In order to find out how consumers’ affective experiences in the retail environment, measured by pleasure and arousal which result in satisfaction, influence attachment and therefore the willingness to pay a price premium and brand loyalty, several research hypotheses were constructed and tested. For testing the hypotheses two empirical studies were conducted: a field study in wine tasting rooms and a follow-up experiment in juice bars. Taken together, the results obtained in both empirical studies are the following: Firstly, satisfaction, which results from pleasure and arousal evoked during the store visit, influences brand attachment positively. Secondly, the findings show how brand personality interacts with store affect and thereby influences differential emotional attachment to the brand. The five dimensions of brand personality influence consumer attachment differently depending on the levels of pleasure, arousal and satisfaction they create. Thirdly, examining the interaction between consumer personality and store experience came to the result that some personality traits facilitate more intense attachment to brands than others. Fourthly, the studies established that brand attachment is influenced by the interaction between brand personality and consumer personality. The research found out that individuals relate to sincere brands in particular. The research undertaken helps to understand more about the subject of brand loyalty. It explains how customer loyalty and brand attachment can be established by creating a certain customer experience which evokes feelings which customers will associate with the brand in the future and which will lead to loyalty and long-term relationships. These findings can be transferred from store experience to all other promotional activities which evoke positive feelings such as pleasure and arousal and therefore contribute to brand attachment. Thus, the study provides some useful insights for this research: It can be investigated how Dove and Nivea evoke those positive feelings in their advertisements. Furthermore, it can be researched whether and how the personality of those brands interacts with the consumer personality and if brand loyalty is established this way. One weakness of the research is that the studies were limited to wine tasting rooms and juice bars only. In order to being able to generalise the findings the studies should be repeated in other settings using different product categories. Thus, it will be interesting to find out if this study will come up with similar results and to discover if the findings can be transferred to skin care products and to Nivea and Dove in particular.
Yu, Y. and Dean, A. (2001) The contribution of emotional satisfaction to consumer loyalty, International Journal Of Service Industry Management, 12 (3), p. 234-250.
Yu & Dean (2001) suggest that customer loyalty is influenced by customer satisfaction which has a cognitive and an emotional component. In their study they investigate whether the cognitive or the emotional component is a better predictor for customer loyalty. They argue that the emotional component of customer satisfaction needs to be considered and might be even more important than the cognitive component since human behaviour is strongly influenced by one’s emotions. When responding to an event human beings always try to maintain positive emotions and avoid negative ones, so that customers who had a positive experience which made them happy tend to repeat this experience. In order to find answers to their research questions Yu & Dean (2001) conducted a survey at a university in Australia. For measuring customer satisfaction and its cognitive and affective component different scales were employed and a factor analysis was conducted for each scale. Additionally, a regression analysis was run to see the relationships between the two major components of customer satisfaction and customer loyalty. The results of these analyses suggest that the emotional component of satisfaction better predicts customer loyalty than the cognitive component. Besides, positive emotions in particular are more likely to lead to positive word of mouth and the willingness to pay more. Negative emotions, however, are positively related to switching behaviour, thus they negatively affect customer loyalty. Even though the study has some weaknesses such as the relatively small sample size and the fact that it only considers university students and that customer satisfaction is only measured at one specific point in time, its findings are very useful for this research. They emphasise the power and significance of emotions for retaining or enhancing customer loyalty. In this research it will be investigated if emotions have the same significance for enhancing brand loyalty in the personal care industry.
Malär, L., Krohmer, H., Hoyer, W., and Nyffenegger, B. (2011) Emotional brand attachment and brand personality: the relative importance of the actual and the ideal self, Journal Of Marketing, 75 (4), pp. 35-52.
Malär et al. (2011) investigated in their study how emotional brand attachment can be accomplished by matching the brand’s personality with the consumer’s self. The study’s first research objective is to determine whether the brand’s personality should match the consumer’s actual self or their ideal self. For this purpose they use the concept of self- congruence which is a fit between the brand’s personality and the consumer’s self. The second objective is to understand the impact of actual versus ideal self-congruence on consumer’s emotional brand attachment depending on different consumers and contexts. The authors define the actual self as the “perceived reality of oneself” while the ideal self is defined as “what a person believes he or she would like to be or aspire to become”. According to the authors emotional brand attachment is a bond connecting a consumer who has certain feelings towards a brand with this specific brand. In addition to the above-mentioned research objectives the study also examined the impact of three moderating factors on the relationship between the type of self-congruence and emotional brand attachment which are product involvement, self-esteem and public self-consciousness. To find answers to the research questions two large scale studies were conducted which consisted of a survey in the form of an online questionnaire which was answered by a large number of Swiss students and employees. The data were measured by using different scales and then they were analysed by employing correlation analysis and hypothesis testing methods. The study’s findings support the hypothesis that emotional brand attachment is increased by self-congruence. They also suggest that actual self-congruence is more successful in generating emotional brand attachment than ideal self-congruence, especially when consumers’ product involvement is high or when their level of self-esteem or public self-consciousness is high. These findings are highly relevant for this research since cosmetic and skin care brands such as Nivea and Dove need to decide whether it is better to target the consumers’ actual or their ideal self with their marketing strategy. Dove, for instance, targeted the consumers’ actual self in its “Campaign for Real Beauty” using average looking models with which the majority of women can identify themselves (and their actual self) with. The study gives a possible explanation for the success of Dove’s campaign. Besides, it could be further looked at other factors such as product involvement, self-esteem and public self-consciousness in order to examine if these factors enhance emotional brand attachment and brand loyalty even more in Dove’s campaign. Furthermore, it will be analysed which type of self-congruence Nivea uses in its campaigns and how effective this is. In addition, other moderating effects could be included and different dimensions of the brand’s personality could be considered such as sincerity and excitement which were neglected in the research undertaken by Malar et al.
In summary, it can be stated that all the studies reviewed above have in common that they investigate the influence of emotional brand attachment on loyalty building. While Carol & Ahuvia (2006) talk about “brand love” and the other authors refer to “emotional attachment” they all talk about the same phenomenon: the emotional bond consumers build with brands which involve feelings towards this specific brand. Although Vlachos et al. (2010) and Orth et al. (2010) consider only the retail industry in their studies, while Carroll & Ahuvia (2006) and Malär et al. (2011) focus on packaged goods as well as fast-moving and durable consumer goods they all come to the same result: Consumers’ emotional attachment has a positive influence on consumers’ loyalty and word-of-mouth. This finding is important for the research conducted for Nivea and Dove because it supports the first hypothesis which states that the more consumers emotionally connect with a brand the higher will be the level of brand loyalty. Furthermore, all studies investigate how the brand’s characteristics or the characteristics of the shopping and store environment (Vlachos et al. (2006) and Orth et al. (2010)) as well as the consumer’s characteristics and the interaction between both characteristics affect loyalty building. Thus, as these studies suggest, it is important to consider Nivea’s and Dove’s specific product characteristics as well as the character traits of the consumers who buy those brands. Additionally, the research undertaken by Malar et al. (2011) needs to be taken into consideration in particular, since unlike the other studies, Malar et al. (2010) state that brand loyalty can be increased even more when the brand’s personality is matched with the consumer’s actual self rather than the ideal self. This result is particularly important for the second hypothesis and will be further examined for Nivea and Dove and their advertising campaigns. In regard to the research strategies used by the authors mentioned above it can be stated that most of them conducted surveys using questionnaires and interviews to collect the data for their research. Orth et al. (2010), however, conducted a field study and a follow-up experiment for gathering the data. Nevertheless, the studies reviewed above also have some limitations and weaknesses. For instance, they do not consider the effect of the price at which the brands are sold on emotional brand attachment and brand loyalty and they only consider a limited selection of other moderating effects which could have been enhanced. Moreover, there are more brand characteristics and consumer character traits that could have an impact on loyalty building than the ones considered in the studies. For these reasons, the studies are a good basis for further research. Thus, this research considers the effect of the price and the consumers’ willingness to pay more and it will include consumer and brand characteristics which have not been taken into account by the research conducted so far. (Sonntag, 2012)
4. Research Methodology
4.1 Research Strategy
In the following, various research method strategies will be reviewed and their applicability for the research question will be evaluated. Analytic induction, which is a research methodology that develops concepts by examining similarities between different social incidents, is an appropriate method to analyse data. It helps to put the results into categories and explains certain phenomena universally (Jonker & Pennink, 2010). This strategy can be applied to the research question very well since the reasons why people prefer a certain brand over the other is based on their feelings towards that brand. These feelings and the prerequisites for forming emotional bonds are social phenomena which can be analysed, compared and evaluated by using analytic induction. However, it must be taken into consideration that this strategy helps to understand these social incidents, the results, however, cannot be generalised as it is the case for results obtained by quantitative research. (Pascale, 2010) Thus, the external validity, the extent to which the results can be applied to other situations and people, is questionable which gives the results a more tentative and vague nature (Gall et al., 1996). Similar to this strategy, the case study method is used to analyse a limited number of events, their context and the relationship between these events in order to examine contemporary real-life phenomena (Yin, 1984). The advantage of this strategy is that it can be applied to contemporary real-life situations. It helps to understand and simplify these highly complex situations and the relationships between different phenomena. In order to answer the research question a case study approach will be applied since the research focuses on the skin care industry and on two companies in particular - Nivea and Dove. In order to examine the interrelations between emotional branding and brand loyalty in this industry the two brands serve as a real-life case which will be analysed in depth.
The main research strategy used to investigate the research question, however, is a focus group strategy. Focus groups are used to collect qualitative data by interviewing a group of people at the same time (McLafferty, 2004). The reason why this strategy is applied is that emotions and feelings can be expressed best and analysed in an informal, relaxed situation where inputs and ideas are stimulated
through the participation of different people with different character traits, attitudes and feelings. Through interaction the participants are encouraged to share their thoughts and feelings. People tend to be more open and participate more actively than in a one-two-one interview or when they fill in a questionnaire. However, focus groups also have disadvantages, such as their external validity. The results obtained in a focus group cannot easily be generalised to large populations since the people chosen for the focus group do not represent the whole population. Hence, the results are quite subjective and more difficult to analyse (Monette et al., 2011).
In order to investigate the impact of emotional branding on brand loyalty in the skin care market different research strategies, apart from focus groups, have been chosen. As mentioned before, a case study approach was also applied for the research. Furthermore, it must be remarked that a combination of a deductive and an inductive approach have been employed for the research rather than just a single approach. This has the advantage that the disadvantages of both approaches such as risk and time factors can be offset. For instance, using a deductive approach might bear a lower risk than using an inductive approach since in the latter case there is a risk of not detecting any useful data patterns and theories (Saunders et al., 2009). According to Krishnaswamy et al. (2006) every research needs to have both a deductive and an inductive element. While inductive conclusions are rather tentative as they only consider one explanation out of many other possible explanations which try to explain a fact, a deductive-inductive approach is based on the formulation of hypotheses. Several hypotheses have been deduced which are explained in the introduction. They try to explain the relationship between the consumers’ emotional bond with brands and their brand loyalty, the match between the brand personality and the consumers’ ideal or actual self and its effect on the degree of brand commitment as well as the moderating role of prices. The hypotheses are then tested and checked by analysing the focus group discussion. This is the deductive part of the research. However, the hypotheses have been formulated based on an inductive approach. Facts are observed and conclusions are drawn from these facts. This inductive approach is also called grounded theory, which allows new insights and theories to emerge directly from the data and facts collected. Moreover, if the analysis of the results obtained by the focus groups generates entirely new results and insights which are not considered by the hypotheses, these results will of course be taken into account. The advantage of a mix of both approaches is that it can be flexibly adapted to new insights which are gained at a later stage of the research process.
Due to the fact that emotions are not easy to measure or quantify and that they are subjective in nature, research strategies such as computer simulation and content analysis are not appropriate for examining the research questions since both, computer simulation and content analysis require the availability of quantitative data.
4.2 Reserach Process
The aim of this research is produce new knowledge regarding the relationship between emotional attachment and loyalty towards Nivea and Dove. This is done by exploratory research, i.e. structuring and understanding a problem and assessing it in a new light (Robson, 2002). As stated in the literature review, much research has been done in the field of brand loyalty and regarding emotional appeals in branding and advertising. However, examining the specific case of Nivea and Dove is a new problem which has not been investigated before. Explorative research is very flexible as it enables the researcher to change the direction of the research within the research process when new insights and results occur which have not been expected before (Saunders et al., 2009). This flexibility and adaptability is crucial to this research since the focus groups might reveal new insights which cannot be foreseen and which might change the direction and results of the research. Since exploratory research aims at discovering the nature and the reason behind certain phenomena and tries to answer the question why things are the way they are it is the best research type to examine and understand the effect of building emotional bonds on long-term brand loyalty (Adams et al., 200). This research aims at understanding why and how these emotional bonds are formed and how they influence people’s attitudes and feelings towards Nivea and Dove and how they affect their preferences and buying behaviour. Thus, it is qualitative research based on the collection of qualitative data.
4.3 Research Type
Both primary and secondary research was undertaken in order to investigate the research questions. The secondary research involves the analysis of written documents such as books, journal and magazine articles as well as newspapers (documentary secondary data). Other sources of secondary data which will be used are, for instance, databases, information published by companies (e.g. Beiersdorf and Unilever), case studies and websites. Thus, the secondary research is not only based on qualitative data, but also on quantitative data. The purpose of the secondary research is to get an overview on the research topic and to investigate those research objectives that cannot solely be covered by the primary research. These are, for instance, the objective to examine and evaluate the communications and branding strategies Dove and Nivea use and to find out which brand is more successful in establishing brand loyalty and why.
However, the main part of the research was based on primary data. The primary research was conducted in two ways: Firstly, two focus groups were conducted, one in Germany and one in the UK, which aimed at collecting primary data by involving the participants in discussions about the brands Nivea and Dove, about their attitudes and feelings towards these brands and skin care products in general as well as the advertising campaigns used by these two brands. Collecting primary data this way rather than for example by using questionnaire-based surveys or one-to-one interviews has a number of advantages: New thoughts and ideas can be provoked through an energetic discussion and interaction between the group members, who are a heterogeneous group of people with different attitudes, opinions and preferences. Hence, these new ideas would probably not emerge in one-to-one interviews. Another advantage is that focus groups can save the researcher a lot of time - more people can be interviewed in a shorter period of time and the results obtained by the group interview can be analysed relatively easily and quickly. In addition to that, focus groups are more interesting and exciting for the participants as they meet new people they can share their thoughts with and they can have a discussion in a nice environment. (McDaniel & Gates, 2001).
Furthermore, focus groups have another significant advantage over questionnaires and interviews, which is important for this research in particular; questionnaires and interviews only collect information which are said or written down by the interviewees. Focus groups, however, can be used to observe the participants’ emotional reactions. Sometimes there is a significant difference between what people say and what they actually mean or how they actually feel about something as they do not feel comfortable saying their actual opinion because they, for instance, think it is not appropriate or it is not confirm with what the majority of people thinks. In a group discussion the participants’ body language, i.e. their gestures, mimic and the way they say certain things (tone of voice, volume etc.) can be observed which enables the researcher to make assumptions which go beyond what is actually said and which helps the researcher to assess if the participants’ statements are correct and reliable. These additional observations are important for this research since it investigates people’s feelings and their emotional involvement which is often subconscious and which therefore often times cannot be expressed consciously in oral statements but rather in the use of body language and other, more subtle ways of communication. Using focus groups to gather primary data also has disadvantages, however. One of its shortcomings is that results are admittedly easy and quick to get, but the reliability and validity of these results is questionable. Sometimes researchers tend to accept the focus groups’ results as facts and do not question them any further. The problem is, however, that these results are qualitative and they are based on a very small sample (in this research seven people in each focus group) which is not representative for the whole population (McDaniel & Gates, 2001). Therefore, it is advisable not only to rely on the results of the qualitative research, i.e. the focus group, but to conduct a quantitative study in addition to that which tests the results obtained by the focus group using a representative and reliable sample and applying statistical and analytical techniques. Due to the limited scope of this research, this will not be done in this case, it is recommended however, to do it in any further research investigating this research question. There are a number of other disadvantages related to the focus group itself which will be discussed briefly. Firstly, the people recruited to participate in the focus group do not represent society. Moreover, certain social classes and groups of society are more willing and more likely to participate than others, e.g. middle class, students etc. Furthermore, a focus group is an unnatural setting and environment where people talk to strangers they have never met before and are supposed to share their thoughts and feelings with them. For some people this might be intimidating which hinders them from telling their true beliefs and opinions. In addition to that people might feel intimidated by the moderator since they tend to say what they think he or she expects them to say. Thus, it is very important for the moderator to stay neutral and objective and no to influence the participants in any way or to impose certain opinions on them.