BRAND INTIMACY IS AN ESSENTIAL RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN A PERSON AND A BRAND THAT TRANSCENDS PURCHASE, USAGE AND LOYALTY.
Today's marketer faces unique challenges. Advancements in brand, technology and the science of decision making are at the core of an emerging power shift that has profound marketing implications. Technology, content, sales and customer service departments, responsibilities, and budgets are blurring. Traditional marketing resources are shrinking and expectations are rising. The modern marketer needs tools that are built for this complex and dynamic world.
Brands are in the hands of consumers today. It is harder to control a brand and its message because people trust one another more than they trust a corporation. Additionally, brands are proliferating, saturating our attention, increasing confusion, and often cannibalizing each other.
In our increasingly interconnected lives, technology transcends enablement to become the very environment in which we perceivethe world, interact with others and establish an identity for ourselves.
Advancements in neuroscience reveal that virtually all decision making is emotional and behavioral science demonstrates that the way we feel about a brand is the single best predictor of purchase.
AUDIT AND ASSESS
QUALITATIVE RESEARCH COMMUNITIES
QUANTITATIVE STUDY OF 6,000 CONSUMERS
We have been studying this new paradigm since the founding of our company. We call it Brand Intimacy. First, in 2011 we began auditing and assessing various marketing models. We also explored the psychology of intimacy and advances in neuroscience and behavioral science regarding decision making.
Second, in 2012 we partnered with Brain Juicer, a leading research firm to complete an in-depth, qualitative, online insight communities research to better explore and understand the idea of Brand Intimacy, resulting in over 350 respondents, 2,000 pages of verbatim responses and 20,000 brand stories across the U.S., Germany and Japan.
In addition to our insight communities, we conducted content analysis in 2013 through an automated mass web ethnography in order to build a detailed picture of the brand-intimate consumer. Specifically, a web search robot was programmed to conduct search queries for 110 keywords, identified in the insight communities, across three contexts: personal, social and environmental.
Third, we’ve polled CMOs and senior marketers in two separate surveys ( 2012 and 2015) around their views on creating grater bridges with their customers and their challenges and barriers.
Finally, in 2014 we partnered with Praxis Research Partners to undertake a quantitative research study with 6,000 consumers, resulting in 52,000 brand evaluations in the U.S., Mexico and the UAE to validate and better understand the implications and performance of intimate brands.
A comprehensive model to create, sustain and measure ultimate brand relationships
Quantitative research has helped determine our Brand Intimacy Model, which comprises five key components that contribute toward building intimate brand relationships. The model culminates in a Brand Intimacy Quotient, a score each brand receives indicating its performance.
In our research, user is defined as someone who has utilized the brand within the last 12 months and is between the ages of 18 and 64. This was to get a broad array of consumers; obviously, age priorities and mix change depending on the brand and/or industry. The user is the first part in our model because you cannot be intimate with a brand you have not engaged with or repeatedly tried. Think of this as similar to human relationships; you cannot be intimate with someone you are not already involved with.
A strong emotional connection is a key requirement and the foundation of intimacy. We believe the greater the emotional connection between a brand and consumer, the more powerful the relationship. A strong emotional connection is determined by the degree of overall positive feelings a customer has toward a brand and the extent to which a person associates the brand with key attributes.
The following six patterns or markers are consistently present, in part or in whole, among intimate brands that identify the character and nature of ultimate brand relationships.
Exceeds expectations, delivering superior service, quality, and efficacy.
Reflects an aspirational image or admired values and beliefs that resonate deeply.
Becoming better through use of the brand—smarter, more capable, and more connected.
Ingraining a brand into daily actions—more than habitual behavior. The brand becomes a vitally important part of daily existence.
Focuses on memories of the past and the warm, poignant feelings associated with them. These are often brands a customer has grown up with.
Creates a close relationship centered around moments of pampering and gratification that can be either occasional or frequent.
Stages reveal and measure the depth and degree of intensity of an intimate brand relationship.
Sharing is when the person and the brand engage and interact. Knowledge is being shared and the person is INFORMED about what the brand is all about and vice versa. At this stage, attraction occurs through reciprocity and ASSURANCE.
Bonding is when an attachment is created and the relationship between a person and a brand becomes more significant and COMMITTED. This is a stage of acceptance and TRUST is established.
Fusing is when a person and a brand are inexorably linked and CO-IDENTIFIED. In this stage, the identities of the person and the brand begin to merge and become a form of mutual REALIZATION and expression. Stages reveal and measure the depth and degree of intensity of an intimate brand relationship.
The score assigned to each brand from 1—100. This Quotient is based on prevalence (the percentage of users who are intimate) and intensity (where the relationship is on the spectrum of three stages; sharing, bonding, and fusing). It is a shorthand score that demonstrates how a brand is performing relative to its ability to create intimate brand relationships, and it enables comparisons to other brands in the same category or to the industry average.
Intimate brands are based on emotion, designed for today’s complexity, and built to foster decision making. In addition, intimate brands make business sense. The Top 10 Most Intimate Brands outperform established financial indices for both revenue and profit growth over 10 years. In addition, these brands command a price premium, enjoying more financial resilience than brands in the same industries that are not intimate.
Our ranking of the Top 10 Most Intimate Brands highlights the strongest performing intimate brands. It is based on quantitative research among consumers where our goal was to measure, quantify and better understand how emotions impact brand relationships and further dimension which brands are most successful at creating these bonds.