It’s often said that we’re considerably more accommodating for those we like than those we don’t, but does the same apply to companies? That was the question posed by a recent study that looked at whether innovative companies tend to be given an easier ride when they mess up.
They conducted four studies to test how our perceptions influence our reactions to company behaviors.
“When you are looking at the marketing of products, a big part is the sensory aspects of the product’s packaging,” the authors say. “Even though we might think of it as trivial, it is actually influential in the way we inform our consumption decisions. It’s not just visual, it consists of other sensory cues such as touch.”
How exciting is your brand?
The findings revealed that we tend to give brands considerable benefit of the doubt if we view them as exciting. When we view them as sincere however, this benefit tends to evaporate.
If you’re wondering just what kind of brands have such personalities, the authors offered up Apple as an example of an exciting brand, whilst Nokia were regarded as a more sincere brand.
The findings build on previous work undertaken by the researchers with a number of fictitious brands. The findings from those initial studies were replicated in this analysis of real world brands, suggesting that they have legs.
“Our early studies used fictitious brands where consumers have no prior associations,” the authors say. “We only manipulated participants’ expectations of a brand’s personality. We identified samples as being from sincere or exciting brands by providing the characteristics of each brand.”
Across several studies the researchers found that people were considerably more forgiving when the brand was perceived as exciting.
“Marketers need to think about how sensory innovation aids the narrative of the brand,” the authors conclude. “If you are a sincere brand, sensory mismatch may not serve you, even if it is a novel introduction. Exciting brands, on the other hand, can exploit consumer perception by conjuring surprise through sensory mismatch.”