Brands across boundaries

Date of publication: June 15, 1990


The paper argues for a new research approach to provide more relevant and actionable information about consumer-brand relationships for those concerned with marketing brands on an international scale in the 1990's, It describes a contemporary vision of how these relationships need to be characterised, in the current consumer climate. It applies this vision to the task of finding a research methodology capable of combining depth of qualitative insight, with the necessary emphasis on comparability of data required for the international brand marketing context. It further presents some findings from an exploratory research project which experiments with a range of consumer measures designed to fulfil these aims. The central thesis is that consumer-brand relationships are multi-faceted and must be understood in these terms in research. While it is relevant to pursue a Tightly defined distillation of the core values of a brand (variously described as Brand Essence, Brand Image, Brand Personality, etc), it is both more relevant and actionable to explore a number of different facets of the whole, each of which, with the right form of questioning, consumers can separately articulate. The key concepts are: - Brand Function/Performance; Brand Character; and "Emotional Linkage" with the brand. The paper concentrates particularly on the latter area which is the result of some new theories about the underlying consumer 'predisposition' towards marketing communications in the 1990's. Here, the measures are at their most experimental but the resulting data appears to illuminate the composition of brand values from different measured perspectives. Some of these appear directly to illuminate the role and contribution potential of different marketing elements in the mix (e.g, advertising). There is encouragement that the measures may offer both reliable and insightful stimulus to those charged with international brand planning task.

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