Brands Unaffected by Ill Will to Owners, Study Finds

26 November 2002

Consumers around the world continue to buy the brands they enjoy even if they disapprove of the companies that produce them, according to a new report.

Judged by the findings of the RIO (Research International Observer) study, Naomi Klein – author of the high-profile book No Logo – is wrong to suggest there will be a consumer backlash against the practices of global manufacturers.

“Consumers have become so good at creating personal, idealised images of their favourite brands that negative issues are largely put aside or forgotten,” commented Malcolm Baker, global director of Research International Qualitatif. “[They] have the capability to disconnect the political self from the consuming self.”

In particular, the study examined attitudes towards American brands. Although many global consumers are concerned at US actions around the world, they are still happy to buy brands centred around American values.

Similarly, wrongdoing by a brand’s owner will only hit consumers’ purchases if the misdeeds affect them directly.

However, the study highlights antipathy towards homogenised global brands, suggesting marketers must connect with consumers on a personal, localised level. Nike, Carhartt, Quiksilver and Swatch are examples of brands employing such tactics.

The exceptions to this trend towards localisation are brands based on aspirational appeal (such as Chanel) or a universally applicable theme (such as Nokia and connection).

Continued Baker: “The complex range of factors affecting global versus local marketing, combined with an increasingly sophisticated and marketing literate worldwide population, mean brands are having to work harder than ever before to make relevant connections in different parts of the world.”

Further discussion of the survey’s findings can be found in the December issue of WARC title Market Leader.

Data sourced from: Daily Research News Online; additional content by WARC staff