“Terroir” private label: a silver bullet to reconcile responsibility with an affordable image?

In a depressed economic context punctuated by sanitary crises, an increasing number of consumers, are turning to safer, closer and more civic forms of food consumption (e.g. support for the local economy and for the protection of the environment). Thus, they patron short circuits or sometimes… supermarkets, which have long understood how they could benefit from a positioning anchored in their immediate surroundings.

The « terroir private label » has a genuine territorial legitimacy

Designed as a lever for differentiation, most French supermarkets have developed their terroir private label: Carrefour with “Reflets de France” (Reflections of France), Leclerc with “Nos regions ont du talent” (Our regions have talent), Système U with “U Saveurs” (U Savors), Lidl with “Saveurs de nos regions” (Taste of our regions), and Casino with “ça vient d’ici” (It comes from here). These labels often show good economic performance and indisputable benefits in terms of image. In an article published in Décisions Marketing in 2012, René Pierre Beylier, Karim Messghem and Fatiha Fort showed that “Reflets de France” is perceived as a real brand of terroir which reinforces the territorial legitimacy of Carrefour, brand seen as an actor attached to its territory and helping the socio-economic development of the regions.

How can this be combined with a good image on price?

This is all great, but in a fierce competitive environment (i.e. of private labels among themselves and with national brands), particularly on prices, how can we be responsible and legitimate while remaining attractive in terms of price in supermarkets? This is the question Jérôme Lacœuilhe, Louis Didier and Cindy Lombart seek to answer, in an article from Recherche et Applications en Marketing.

The authors carried out a quantitative research among 287 consumers of the “U-Saveurs” brand. They show that the private label of terroir contributes to developing a responsible and legitimate business image, without degrading the perceived affordability of its stores. Specifically, they underline that consumers in favor of terroir private labels assess the brand as having a better CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) image; and this, regardless of the store format (hypermarket, supermarket and proximity). Thus, terroir private label, through a quality-price ratio deemed satisfactory by consumers, contributes to the development of a positive price image and a favorable CSR image. It is also a factor of legitimizing the brand in its territorial anchoring. This anchoring was evaluated on two metrics: the links forged with the territory and the territorial rooting (i.e. the duration of presence in the territory).

For a good use of the Terroir Private Label

By developing a terroir private label offer, the supermarket brand can develop an image of proximity and territorial responsibility with its customers. It highlights the intensity of the links forged with the various actors of the territory, in particular the SMEs; but it also emphasizes their attachment to the territory where they are located. This is obvious through the packaging of their products, by mentioning the way in which terroir private labels are made, their origin and their composition. It is in the interest of the brand to communicate in stores about this type of offer (POS, point-of-sale events, etc.). This would have the effect of making hypermarket and supermarket formats more legitimate, which for many years have seen their market shares stagnate or decline. Beyond that, the brand can apply this image of responsibility in its various communication actions (marketing or corporate).

Can all brands take advantage of terroir private labels in the same way to improve their image of responsibility, territorial legitimacy and their price image? Is this question still relevant when the brand is positioned on low prices and has a fairly average image?

Lacœuilhe, J., Louis, D., & Lombart, C. (2018). Contribution of terroir store brands to retailers’ legitimacy and CSR and price images. Recherche et Applications en Marketing (English Edition), 33(4), 74-91.

Blog post adapted from Agnes Helme-Guizon’s (in French) by Fabien Pecot.

Posted in Branding, Communication, Consumption, Non classé, product, Retailing | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

How do you imagine the shopper behind the screen?

What happens behind the screen? How do you imagine the Internet user behind their screen while online shopping at home? Do you envision them chilling in a quiet place at home, away from others and focused on their task, in the zone… at the verge of a “flow” state? – remember this immersive process described by Hungarian researcher Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. Well… Try again!

Besides, what do we really know about the way online shopping takes place at home? Not much since these shopping practices have often been studied ex situ as opposed to in situ, whereas everything depends on the situation in which the Internet user finds themselves.

Online shopping is not always easy…

An article by Aurélia Michaud-Trévinal and Thomas Stenger published in the RAM journal reveals how much the reality behind the screen is different from the projection we make of it. After a theoretical reflection on the concept of situation, which crosses the traditional approach of Belk with the social situation of Goffman, the authors conduct observations and video recordings of Internet users in a home shopping situation (SHADO). Several results emerge from their research.

Online shopping, an activity that is not so lonely

First, online home shoppers are rarely alone. The presence of other people in the same physical space as them is either a required presence (to get help or advice) or, more frequently, a suffered presence. The presence or intervention of other people, anonymous or not, can also take place remotely via social networks or texting.

Thus, while the main participant is at the heart of the online home shopping situation, other participants are often involved. The online shopper is no longer simply outside the situation, but becomes a co-producer of the situation.

The importance of the environment in which shopping takes place

The study also highlights the conditions of online home shopping (location, type of device, use of non-digital tools). Thus, faced with the dematerialization of the shopping situation, it is pertinent to give importance to the induced materiality. Atmosphere elements such as noise or temperature also impact the way we buy online.

The online home shopper has itchy feet…

Online shopping leads to mobility outside the home through a process that starts or continues outside home, revealing hybrid purchasing practices which combine the virtual and real worlds—a well-known cross-channel process.

Online home shopping also reflects a mobility within the home since, far from remaining static in front of their screen, the Internet user moves around their home for various reasons, takes breaks, goes through phases of loss of concentration due to others and other external factors, which generates numerous short interruptions in their shopping activity. Thus, the shopping activity is not linear or uninterrupted as one might have expected; on the contrary, it appears highly fragmented and discontinuous. This is far from an immersive process (and from the results of previous studies!).

… which is a strong constraint for commercial websites

E-companies will have to integrate this result: how can they rethink their online websites to take into account these shopping activity fragmentation and allow the Internet user to easily resume their shopping?

In the same vein, since we’ve been working remotely more and more in recent months, we may ask ourselves: is our work a linear and uninterrupted process or does the situation in which we find ourselves in disrupts this immersive process somewhat?

Stay safe, and work well… with or without flow state 😉

Michaud-Trévinal A. and Stenger T. (2018) For a renewal of the situation concept: The situation of home online shopping, Recherches et Application en Marketing (English Edition), 2018;33(4):24-45.

Blog post adapted from Regine Vanheems’ (in French) by Emeline Martin.

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How to use humour in B2B relationships?

Brands have long understood that humor is an excellent marketing lever: it helps reducing tensions, establishing a relationship of trust with its consumers, or creating some real collusion with them, and ultimately: selling more!

French brand Michel and Augustin, self-proclaimed “Trublions du goût” (the troublemakers of taste), champion the use of humour. They use it accross all points of contact with their consumers: on their products (“Our neat desserts to share”), on their packaging or website (“Do you know that one? It is the story of a Frenchman and an American man who join a tribe…”), in their communication (“In 2017, we got the cow taking off”), on social networks, YouTube channel, events, etc. The results are indisputable: a strong and committed community (around 198,000 fans on Facebook, 38,000 followers on Twitter, 5,000 subscribers to their YouTube channel), and more than 40 million turnover with double-digit annual growth.

Humour clearly works well in B2C. But does it also work in B2B? Under what conditions can sellers use humour to increase their performance? This is the question that Renaud Lunardo, Laurent Bompar and Camille Saintives ask and answer in their RAM article.

Humour can sell in B2B as well

By means of a study carried out among 112 French buyers, the authors show that, in a business relationship, humour contributes to improving confidence and indirectly the business relationship… as long as it is not used during the exploration phase !

In other words, you do not want to make jokes in the phase during which the stakeholders get to know each other, gauge each other, and assess the possibility and the interest of working together. If used during this phase, humour produces counterproductive effects on a client who needs to be reassured.

Can we joke about everything?

Big question… to start answering it, we need to distinguish two kinds of humour. The constructive humour (positive and self-affirming) is benevolent and benign. It has the effect of improving relationships with others and easing tensions. Conversely, the offensive humour, which includes aggressive and self-destructive humour, “aims in part to assert the self at the expense of others by disparaging and belittling them.” Generally, the effects of the first type of humour are positive while those of the second are negative.

This is what the authors sought to confirm in the case of a business relationship. The results of a second study of 190 French buyers show that offensive humour always has deleterious effects on trust and the business relationship. On the other hand, constructive humour is beneficial … except, as previously said, if it is used during the exploration phase.

How to lose a sell?

The authors make simple recommendations:

  • Use humour to attract attention, to make a good impression, to mark the stakeholder;
  • Preferably use dark, disparaging and aggressive humour;
  • Do it during the exploration phase;
  • Do it without worrying about the nationality and the culture of your interlocutor (even if their role remains to be demonstrated) or even their expectations in terms of humour.

To sum up, in a business relationship, you can use humour but not at any time, you can make jokes but not about everything and not with anyone. Difficult equation!

Lunardo, R., Bompar, L., & Saintives, C. (2018). Humor usage by sellers and sales performance: The roles of the exploration relationship phase and types of humor. Recherche et Applications En Marketing (English Edition), 33(2), 5–23.

Blog post adapted by from Agnes Helme-Guizon’s (in French)

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Getting Westerners to eat insects, a not so complicated challenge when you have the “right recipe!”

Protein-rich food from breeding farms of low environmental impact; a solution to compensate for the insufficiency of the animal production necessary by 2020; a serious alternative to intensive animal production… These are some of the arguments put forward to promote the cultivation and consumption of insects!

In this context, the commitment of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, which has been promoting the consumption of insects since 2008, is much better understood: a source of protein and micronutrients, insects are a sustainable nutritional, ecological and economic alternative to animal proteins.

Insects-based products
Who’s hungry?

Entomophagy and its psychological drives

So why are we so reluctant in Western countries, to consume insects when they have so many virtues? The problem lies in our consumption habits. While human consumption of insects (called entomophagy) is a traditional cultural practice in some Asian, African and Latin American countries, eating insects as food is still considered “culturally inedible” in the West.

Then, how can we make the consumption of insects acceptable? Authors Céline Gallen, Gaëlle Pantin-Sohier and Dominique Peyrat-Guillard took up this challenge. The goal of their research is clear: to understand the mental mechanisms underlying the acceptance of entomophagy.

They carried out a qualitative study in the form of focus groups and individual in-depth interviews with 37 consumers. The participants tested several products, selected according to their degree of processing: whole plain insects (flour worms, silk worms, bamboo worms, crickets, European mole crickets, grasshoppers), whole seasoned insects (flour worms and crickets with curry and barbecue flavors) and processed insects (cheese shortbread cookies and chocolate cakes made from crushed flour worms). The collected verbatim has been subject to a thematic content analysis, followed by a lexicometric analysis.

Acceptance of insect consumption depends on processing the product to mask taste and recognition

According to the thematic content analysis, unprocessed insects are considered “inedible in our culture.” They generate aversion, food disgust and fear of getting sick from eating them. The authors don’t stop there! They show that the more insects are transformed, or even hidden, the more they are accepted.

In other words, when insects are associated with known taste markers (curry, barbecue) or when they are incorporated into familiar foodstuffs (cheese shortbread cookies, chocolate cakes), the product is no longer categorized as “inedible.” Its evaluation rests solely on the sensory attributes of the foodstuff, which serve as a reference without evocation of imagery related to insects, which are sources of disgust and aversion.

In view of these results, the authors have clearly understood the “recipe” to use in order to lift the barriers on insect consumption. Acceptance can only be achieved in stages, allowing a proportion of consumers to become progressively more familiar with it. It must first be eaten in a hidden form mixed in familiar foods, to make way for a second step, and in the longer term, to consumption in whole and unprocessed forms.

So, back to your plates! On the menu, the chocolate fondant with cricket flour. Yum! (or not…)

Gallen, C., Pantin-Sohier, G., & Peyrat-Guillard, D. (2019). Cognitive acceptance mechanisms of discontinuous food innovations: The case of insects in France. Recherche et Applications En Marketing (English Edition), 34(1), 48–73. https://doi.org/10.1177/2051570718791785

Blog post adapted from Ouidade Sabri’s (in French)

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When design thinking leverages efficiency for creative teams

Companies naturally strive to encourage creativity and to innovate, but how can they achieve this? Much research has looked at individual creativity. However, co-creativity has been slightly overlooked in marketing research.

Co-creativity designates the form of creativity that emerges in teams and in a logic of collaborative innovation. It is also called design thinking and it is increasingly used in companies as it generates “real” innovations. For instance, using the game dynamic and trying to surprise the children, a medical facility becomes like a boat and the medical examination gets transformed into a treasure hunt! This has an impact on families, on medical staff… and ultimately on the cost of healthcare. A better understanding of the creativity process based on design thinking becomes an important challenge.

A medical facility adapted to kids thanks to design thinking

What is design thinking?

The idea of design thinking is to focus on a definition of the needs and uses of the consumer, a definition which must intervene at a very stage of the creative process. It should allow organizations to be more creative in the design of their products and services by placing teams in a problem-solving logic based on a process that includes different stages.

What makes this creativity process efficient?

In an article by Maud Dampérat, Florence Jeannot, Eline Jongmans and Alain Jolibert, researchers propose and test the conceptualization of a co-creativity process based on design thinking by including the distinctive role of individual variables at each stage of the process. The proposed model integrates the three stages of design thinking:

  1. Defining needs,
  2. Producing ideas,
  3. Prototyping the solution.

Throughout these three stages, the authors formulate various hypotheses about, for instance, the determinants of the fluidity of the production of ideas, of the diversity of the ideas produced, of their convergence or of the quality of the materialization of these ideas.

From a scenario that took place over a period of a month and a half, the participants in a creativity seminar had to develop a concept that would meet the challenge faced by a company. To do so, they had to follow a process of co-creativity based on design thinking. Different elements appear to be key in the creative process :

  • Clearer user needs lead to a more fluid production of ideas, which in turn increases the diversity of ideas produced. The “needs definition” phase therefore proves to be an important prerequisite for the successful production of ideas.
  • At the prototyping stage, a medium to high level of diversity in the ideas improves the quality of the materialization, thus revealing its usefulness during the co-creativity process”.
  • In addition, the quality of the materialization improves when it proved easier to converge towards a single solution. It is important to note that some individual variables such as empathy have a specific influence on the stages of the co-creativity process.

Should managers use design thinking to improve the creative production of their teams?

The answer is YES! Setting up a co-creativity process based on design thinking does improve the quality of teams’ creative productions. It will work as long as you skillfully play on the specific levers of action at each stage of the process, and if you always include the appropriate individual profiles in the team!

As business is now driven by the economy of experience, managers can seek inspiration from the approach of designers in a logic of co-creation by promoting collective intelligence and alternating intuitive phase and analysis. Design thinking is undoubtedly relevant for innovating! And that should come as a surprise! Design thinking and marketing have (or should have) one essential thing in common: both should be focused on the needs and uses of the consumer, and this should come very early in the process.

Dampérat, M., Jeannot, F., Jongmans, E., & Jolibert, A. (2016). Team creativity: Creative self-efficacy, creative collective efficacy and their determinants. Recherche et Applications En Marketing (English Edition), 31(3), 6–25.

Blog post adapted by Fabien Pecot from Regine Vanheems‘ post in French

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Blood donation, loss of self?

Emergency relief, surgical interventions, blood diseases, cancers… Each day in France, 10 000 blood donations are necessary and this figure is constantly increasing. The French Blood Center (Etablissement Français du Sang, or EFS, ) has issued a warning call. Indeed, there is no treatment or synthesized drug able to replace human blood. Donating blood is thus an irreplaceable voluntary act, in both meaning of the word.

Despite widespread communication campaigns on social media and the organization of events, only 4% of the French medically fit population donates blood. It’s not much, we all agree. But these donors are valuable. Understanding how it goes for them might help retaining them, and maybe sharing their experience with potential donors could be inspiring. In her AFM 2019 Congress awarded paper, Emmanuelle Boch delivers keys to understand blood donation experience by adopting a specific perspective: voluntary dispossession.

A call for dispossession

Voluntary dispossession and blood donation

« Voluntary dispossession is a process consisting of three stages (distancing behavior, dispossession rituals, emotional split), ending in the definitive separation, physically and psychologicaly, between an individual and his/her possession. » Separating from something one cherishes is difficult. It implies a dispossession ritual. In the case blood, donation happens in a medical context, with the presence of an intermediate (collecting the blood). It makes this ritual impossible and that is the difference between blood and common items. So then, what happens when someone donates blood?

Going beyond voluntary dispossession

Through a qualitative study combining 16 interviews, field ethnographic immersion and pictures analysis by the author as well as by participants, Emmanuelle Boch shows that blood donation can be understood through the different transformations undergone by blood along its transition from the donor’s body to one or more recipients.

  • From invisible to visible : at the time of the donation (collection), blood becomes visible. It allows the donor to realize its donation is effective.
  • From indivisible to divisible : giving blood implies separating from part of one’s self.
  • From inside to outside of the body : a double movement takes place.

« On one part, blood is extracted from the body thanks to medical protocol, on the other part, blood collection consists in an invasive act penetrating the body. It is a burdensome protocol and the donor is not in a position where he/she can control his/her donation. »

  • From impure blood to neutral blood : blood is stored in bags and cleaned… of everything that pertained to the donor’s identity (particularly symbolically).
  • From identified blood to independent blood : blood goes from an individual body to a social body. Donors can imagine what their blood will/might become.

Having a better understanding of what goes on when donating blood, are you more likely to do it? And if you already do, there are chances you see your donation in a different way.

Boch Emmanuelle (2019), Le modèle de la dépossession volontaire est-il adapté à tous les types de don ? Le cas du don de sang, 35ème Congrès de l’Association Française du Marketing, Le Havre, 15-17 may (Best paper award)

Blog post adapted by from Agnes Helme-Guizon’s (in French)

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Phygital: a customized and seamless experience

The omnichannel strategy of distribution stakeholders, which consists in managing all distribution and communication channels in an integrated way, shows signs of growing interest from both professionals and academia. The increasing number of touchpoints and interactions between consumers and products leads to a focus on their buying experience rather than on the act of purchase itself.

The following fictional excerpt reflects the reality of some buyer’s journeys that are the result of an omnichannel strategy:

 « Yesterday, I compared tents online. I noticed a few, but it was hard to really know what they were like. So I went to Décathlon where I was able to try a couple of tents with virtual reality. I tried them out in the mountains, the tropical forest and in the woods! I will probably order one tomorrow on their website, and I’ll pick it up at their store next to the office. »

Not only has the journey become more complex in terms of the number of interactions, but it has also diversified with touchpoints and experiences that alternate from real life to online environments, both in store and on mobile devices such as our computers and smartphones.

A new concept of wineshop by Casino (source, in French)

Physical + digital = phygital

The question of the shopping experience is at the heart of the article by Christian Rivet, Julie Reghem and Marianela Fornerino, published in Décisions Marketing. More particularly, the authors are interested in the shopping experience in a phygital store. By phygital store, they mean a store that offers experiences inspired by the virtual or digital world. The term phygital is the result of a contraction of two terms: “physical” and “digital”. The experience that Decathlon stores offer with their tents is a good example. Recently, Casino supermarkets launched a new concept of a connected point of sale offering an augmented reality window display, payment via a mobile application (and therefore more cash registers), a terminal with voice assistance, etc. These are all techniques and tools that make the real and digital worlds overlap. The store is real and physical and requires the consumer to actually go there, but the experience combines traditional elements with digital tools to allow an evolution in the consumer experience.

Shopping experience and innovation: the point of sale still plays an important role

In this context, understanding how consumers navigate between different touchpoints and analyzing their entire shopping experience becomes essential in order to understand the reality of their behavior. The aim of this study is to explore the in-store experience when consumers are in a phygital store. With a qualitative methodology in a lab-store simulating a futuristic and innovative digital store, the authors show how these innovations present both utilitarian and hedonic functions for an overall experience perceived as enriched. However, the integration of these connected devices is not enough to enhance the experience: the settings and dramatization are key elements of the phygital appartus. Therefore, physical elements play an important role in brand commitment and the perception of brand value.

What does separate physical from digital in phygital points of sale?

In line with research focusing on the customer journey and the overall consumer experience, alternating physical and digital points of sale, phygital stores offer a “seamless” experience. The authors do not see consumers interrupting their experiences or jumping from one environment to the other, and even go so far as to highlight confusions between virtual and real…

Rather than thinking of stores as a point of sale, we may instead consider the point of sale as a living place where real and digital combine to create new consumer experiences.

Rivet C., Reghem J. et Fornerino M. (2018) Explorer l’expérience de shopping dans un magasin phygital, Décisions marketing, 91, Numéro spécial « Distribution et commerce : se réinventer face au client connecté », 45-61 (in French)

Blog post adapted by Federico Garcia Baena from Yolande Piris‘s (in French)

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Second-hand items… Buying them is not appropriating them!

With an average of more than 2 million visitors at the « Braderie de Lille » (an annual street market in the city of Lille, France) or a 300% sales growth between 2016 and 2017 for Vinted, an online second-hand marketplace for clothes, the second-hand items market is certainly doing well.

Whether it is for financial reasons, hedonism or a genuine appeal for a better consumption, this buying behavior is widespread nowadays. Still, when buying a second-hand item, acquiring ownership doesn’t necessarily equates with appropriating it immediately. Aurélie Dehling and Eric Vernette question this process in an article published in Recherche et Applications en Marketing about appropriability in the second-hand buying process. An immersive study has been led for 11 months in Quebec, allowing them to offer a definition of the concept of appropriability as being « the higher or lower potential for an object to become the full possession of a consumer ». It also allows them to bring out the elements influencing appropriability as well as the various phases of the process.

1200px-lille_f_watteau_la_braderie
‘La Braderie’ by François Watteau, 1799-1800

Appropriability of a second-hand item, a clever mix of purchase motivation and “traces” left by the previous owner

As the name suggests, a second-hand item has had a life before being bought… Its “previous life” has an influence on its potential appropriability. The more the item is « marked » by previous owners, the more its appropriation by new ones is bound to be difficult. This result can be moderated by the category of item involved: street or sport clothing, underwear, household linen or jewellery are difficult or impossible to appropriate, unlike IT equipment, tools, home appliances or sporting equipment.

Appropriability also depends, for a significant part, on the motivation for purchasing second-hand. More precisely, four categories of motivation have been identified in this study:

  • Constraint linked to financial hardship
  • Struggle against consumer society
  • Individual efficiency in a merchant system
  • Leisure or recreational pursuit.

The authors demonstrate that the more utilitarian consumers’ motivations are for buying second-hand, the more they tend to positively evaluate the appropriability potential. On the contrary, the more hedonist motivations are, the more they will devaluate this potential.

Second-hand items appropriation as a two-step process

This research identifies two distinct phases in the second-hand items appropriation process. The first one, called « distanciation » (mise à distance), seeks to erase concretely and symbolically the previous owners’ traces. The second one, called « self-placing » (mise en soi), consists in making the item its own and really appropriating it. Three strategies can be observed:

  • Denial : appropriating by occulting
  • Creativity : appropriating by imagining
  • Control : appropriating by knowledge and know-how

The intensity and duration of these phases are influenced by the prominence of prior traces for distanciation and by the purchase motivation for self-placing.

By shedding a new light on this type of consumption, this article opens interesting research perspectives. It also is a wealth of information for online and off-line platforms in the second-hand market, especially about the rôle they could play in the process of appropriability.

Dehling, A., & Vernette, E. (2019). Appropriability: Theorisation essay on the role of appropriation in the second-hand item purchase process. Recherche et Applications En Marketing (English Edition).

Blog post adapted from Pauline Folcher’s (in French)

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Brand Wars: What are the paths to the force?

While most companies seek to create a strong brand, the recipe to a strong brand remains unknown. A strong brand is both synonymous with financial performance and marketing performance. We know that a strong brand will influence consumer choice, but how to generate brand strength remains vague

The study by Koll, Raïes, Grohs and Mülbacher, which was recently published in Décisions Marketing, endeavors to remove the vagueness surrounding this question by identifying the recipe, or rather the recipes to creating strong brands.

brand-wars

What brand characteristics to develop a strong brand?

A recipe begins with a list of ingredients. When it comes to “baking a strong brand,” the authors analyzed extant studies on brand equity and identified four characteristics pertaining to brand associations:

  1. The number of associations an individual makes regarding a brand (i.e. the “words” that a person mentions when exposed to the brand name)
  2. The level of brand associations’ favorability (i.e., how positive the associations to the brand are)
  3. The uniqueness of the associations (i.e., are they specific to the brand?)
  4. Perceived consensus (i.e., an individual’s feeling that other people have similar thoughts about the brand than his or her own thoughts).

Past studies show that the more favorable, unique, numerous and consistent associations are, the stronger the brand. However, few studies incorporate perceived consensus, a characteristic that is taken into account in this article.

What “winning combinations” in terms of brand associations for a strong brand?

The study is based on a method (FsQCA) that identifies “winning combinations” that lead to a strong brand. It also compares the combinations of characteristics pertaining to associations between different brands within the same product category.

Conducted on 729 individuals interviewed on 4 brands of sports shoes (Adidas, Nike, New Balance and Puma), this research shows that a brand perceived as strong can result from various combinations of brand association characteristics. In other words, there would be no single recipe for creating a strong brand, but various recipes.

For most brands, favorable, unique, numerous associations or ones that are perceived as consensual may be enough to predict a strong brand. However, not all ingredients need to be present. The favorability of brand associations is a central element in the construction of a strong brand of sports shoes. In other words, a brand cannot be strong if the associations associated with it are not strongly favorable. Consensus perceived by consumers appears to be the second most important characteristic. Finally, in most cases, a brand is strong when consumers perceive a large number of unique and favorable associations as strongly consensual.

What implications for managers?

A general recommendation: to seek to create very favorable associations and to maximize the perceived consensus of consumers regarding the central associations of their brands.

Recommendations according to the type of brand:

  • For highly functional brands, developing a large number of unique and favorable associations seems the easiest to achieve, targeting consumers who are very involved in the product category (expert clubs, for example).

  • Non-leading brands could instead opt for the creation of a limited number of favorable associations that are widely shared with other consumers.

  • Innovative brands could rely on the diffusion, among pioneering individuals, of a small number of favorable and consensual associations.

  • In the case of mass product brands seeking high market shares, getting numerous and unique associations is not necessary to produce a strong brand.

So, may the force be with you, brand managers!

Koll O., Raïes K., Grohs R. et Mülbacher H. (2019), Qu’est-ce qu’une marque forte ? Une approche par les configurations des associations de la marque, Décisions Marketing, 92, 97-113 (in French).

Blog post adapted from Fanny Magnoni’s (in French)

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Are responsible consumers ‘too perfect’?

With the US planning to leave the Paris Climate Agreement, the imminence and importance of all challenges related to the environment’s conservation and the overall ecology are back at the center of attention. Meanwhile, consumers are ever more conscious of their role. Whether it is as lever for political and economic pressure (boycott and buycott), or simply in their consumptions choices (giving importance to social and environment factors), they are continually called upon by the different actors to take part in this ecological transition.

While some seem ready to take part, others are much less cooperative in making these «responsible» consumption behaviors theirs. For years now, researchers focusing on responsible consumption have been striving to better understand why there are such discrepancies between understanding the issue, good intentions and actual behaviors. Gilles Séré de Lanauze and Jeanne Lallement have explored social representations related to the responsible consumer (RC) and their influence on the decision to adopt a given consumption behavior. With a qualitative study based on a comprehensive in-depth analysis of 35 interviews, focusing on the metaphors they use, the research reveals negative perceptions related to the RC and present four resulting stereotypes.

Robinson Crusoe, the unintentional responsible consumer!

What does the responsible consumer look like?

 There is no real consensus in empirical studies on the importance of individual characteristics – particularly socio-demographic ones – in the adoption of a responsible consumption behavior; but this does not stop individuals to have an image of these consumers. They see them as a pretty mature and almost old, highly educated, with a comfortable income (middle to upper class) and with children. They do not reject the idea of younger RC, but in this case they are seen as activists. When it comes to their practices, RC sort their waste, recycle, and are concerned by the ecology and natural resources conservation. They are also concerned by the quality of their products, their health and prefer organic, ethical and local products.

Nevertheless, despite the fact that these representations seem rather positive and in line with current social norms, they remain associated to an elitist, unrealistic, and almost utopian depiction of the RC. The absence of pleasure in consumption and the detachment from society are seen as additional external obstacles to the more “traditional” justifications to explain the non-adoption of a responsible behavior – namely the prices of these products, the time required for this consumption, the lack and/or poor quality of the available information.

The four negative stereotypes associated to the responsible consumer

The negative perceptions that have been identified in this study allowed the authors to suggest an original typology for the RC – and somewhat challenging current ones, as it emphasizes on four negative profiles for the RC.

  • The fundamentalist, who is in a “constant battle”, overemphatic and in conflict with anyone that doesn’t show a responsible consumption behavior;

  • The hermit, who is defined by deprivation and asceticism, that lead him/her to marginality or even social isolation;

  • The killjoy, who inhibits his/her pleasure in the interest of duty, and who therefore is seen as a sad person, rigid and too serious;

  • The snob, who is criticised for being arrogant, superior and subjected to politically correct and mainstream social norms. Sometimes seen as a “bobo” (ed. bourgeois bohemian) a consumer that doesn’t act out of conviction but that follows fad phenomenons.

These negative representations of the RC are considered as additional obstacles for the adoption of a responsible consumption. In order to really impact consumption behaviors, marketers have to overcome this challenge and present the RC as modern or liberated, without appearing as moralising or hindering pleasure.

Séré de Lanauze G.  et Lallement J. (2018), Mieux comprendre l’image du consommateur responsable: de la personne idéale aux stéréotypes négatifs, Décisions Marketing, 90, 15-34. [in French]

Blog post adapted by Federico Garcia Baena from Pauline Folcher’s

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