Is brand love materialistic?

Aaron Ahuvia, Philipp A. Rauschnabel, Aric Rindfleisch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Purpose: This paper aims to explore the relationship between brand love and materialism. Design/methodology/approach: This research uses two survey studies that the love of money. In combination, these two studies include over 1,000 participants. Findings: Materialism does not just make consumers more likely to love brands, it also alters the way they relate to brands. Specifically, brand love is associated with loving brands that one currently owns rather than wishing for brands that one cannot afford and vice-versa for materialism. Brand love is also more strongly related to the centrality and success dimensions of materialism than to its happiness dimension. Materialism is not just associated with loving brands; it is also strongly associated with loving money. Finally, there has been an active debate over whether brand love is applicable to a wide variety of brands or just a select few. This research finds that an extremely wide variety of brands are loved by consumers. Research limitations/implications: The findings are limited by the cross-sectional nature of the survey approach, the use of a student sample and a MTurk sample and by a set of solely US participants. Practical implications: This research explores the distinction between a brand love-based marketing strategy and a materialism-based strategy. A brand love-based strategy leverages positive emotional connections that consumers have with past purchases of a brand, whereas a materialism-based strategy seeks to make a brand an aspirational high-end purchase. Based on the research results, the authors make the case for a brand love-based strategy. In addition, this research partly challenges, yet also partly supports, the common view among marketing practitioners that brand love is only applicable to a few brands. On the one hand, this research finds that consumers love an extremely wide variety of brands. On the other hand, only a few brands have been successful in building brand love across a large group of consumers. Thus, brand love appears to be a more widely applicable strategy than sometimes thought yet also a very challenging strategy to get right. Social implications: This research supports prior findings which suggest that the negative outcomes of materialism (e.g. unhappiness) are mostly associated with its happiness dimension (i.e. “I would be happier if I had more money”). In contrast, the findings also suggest that brand love is more weakly associated with its happiness dimension than its centrality and success dimensions. Thus, brand love may be a positive (or at least not a negative) expression of materialism. Originality/value: To the best of the authors’ knowledge, this is the first empirical examination of the relationship between brand love and materialism and finds that although these two constructs are correlated, they are empirically distinct. This research is also the first to test the relationship between materialism and love for status brands and finds that materialistic individuals display greater love for these types of brands. This research also introduces the construct of “brand love tendency” which is defined as a consumer’s overall tendency to love brands. Finally, this research is also the first to relate the love of money to both materialism and brand love.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)467-480
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Product and Brand Management
Volume30
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 18 2020

Keywords

  • Brand equity
  • Brand love
  • Consumer brand equity
  • Consumer values
  • Customer engagement
  • Love
  • Love of money
  • Materialism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Marketing
  • Management of Technology and Innovation

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