I have a 10-year old who surprised me with a comment that displayed wonderfully the power of marketing and, at the same time, the challenge for marketers to connect with consumers.
We were shopping at our favorite sporting goods store for a couple of shirts for the school year and my wife starts picking out nice-looking shirts to show him (he just started developing his own personal taste). She holds up a very nice Nike dry-fit shirt and asks if he likes it, and his response perplexed me:
“Yes, it’s a cool shirt, but I couldn’t buy it because I don’t want to disrespect Under Armour“.
OK. Interesting. Two points I think are relevant here:
1) How did a 10-year old build such a strong preference for a brand?
2) What did Under Armour do to create such a personal connection with a 10-year-old to make him feel like he is “cheating” on Under Armour if he buys a Nike shirt?
This has been eating at me, and the best thing I can come up with is that Under Armour represents a “future state” for him – being a high-performing athlete. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a wonderful athlete at his age already (yes, I’m his Dad :-)). However, he knows he has work to do to get to the level of athletes that are portrayed in the Under Armour ads and, not to forget, the humongous mannequins they use in the stores (are these actual life size or athletes from another planet)? –Side note, one of my neighbors used to play football for Notre Dame – there are people on earth that are as big as these Under Armour mannequins!–
The other thing I think contributes to his loyalty is that I think he believes that Under Armour can help him achieve the future state that he is working toward. That’s where the “disrespect” comment is derived from. He is, in a way, relying on Under Armour to get him there. Wow, that’s a real connection.
So, what has ultimately taken place here is that Under Armour has given my son an example of what a successful athlete looks like (and dresses like) and has made an emotional connection with him as a result of this. That ’emotional’ connection is something I blogged about in Marketing Lessons from Country Music where I discussed the concept of B2Me (from my friends at www.whiterhino.com) and how we as marketers (B2B or B2C) should strive for B2Me. They’ve taken the emotional connection one step further by instilling a sense of reliance on the brand to help him acheive this goal.
I have to admit that I am now using these concepts in my own work, drawing out “future state” scenarios for my target groups in an attempt to make them feel like they are cheating on me if they use my competitor’s products (just kidding, kinda). The first step is defining what that future state is for your target audience and the second, more complicated step, is building such a connection with them that they rely on your brand to get them to that future state.
What have you seen with other brands where not only preference is created, but reliance is evident? I would say Volvo is probably another good example of this – people who get in bad car accidents have a tendency to consider Volvos to help them avoid that situation again – they are reliant on Volvo’s reputation for safety. I think some vacation services, like cruise ship companies, have been able to do this by differentiating their service offering – an example is the kid-focused Disney cruise lines.
This was a fun blog. I am eager to hear your thoughts.