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.
During 2017, MBLM, with Praxis Research Partners, conducted an online quantitative survey among 6,000 consumers in the United States (3,000), Mexico (2,000), and the United Arab Emirates (1,000). Participants were respondents who were screened for age (i.e. 18 to 64 years of age) and annual household income ($35,000 or more) in the U.S. and socioeconomic levels in Mexico and the UAE (A, B, and C socioeconomic levels). Quotas were established to ensure that the sample mirrored census data for age, gender, income/socioeconomic level, and region.
Respondents completed a 20-minute survey that delved into the emotional connections that consumers have with brands across 15 industries: apparel, apps & social platforms, automotive, beverages, consumer goods, fast food, financial services, health & hygiene, hospitality & theme parks, appliances, luxury, media & entertainment, retail, technology & telecommunications and travel.
We crafted the survey instrument using insight from extensive qualitative research conducted on the topic of Brand Intimacy as well as previous quantitative research. The survey was designed primarily to understand the extent to which consumers have relationships with brands and the strength of those relationships.
During the survey, respondents:
Each brand was scored on our Brand Intimacy Quotient. The Quotient is a composite measure that reflects the intensity of the relationship between consumers and brands as well as the prevalence (usage) of the brand. The higher the Quotient score, the more intense the emotional relationship with a brand.
It is important to note that this research provides more than a mere ranking of brand performance and was specifically designed to provide prescriptive guidance to marketers. We modeled data from over 6,000 interviews and approximately 54,000 brand evaluations to quantify the mechanisms that drive intimacy. Through factor analysis, structural equation modeling, and other sophisticated analytic techniques, the research allows marketers to better understand which levers need to be pulled to build intimacy between their brand and consumers. Thus, marketers will understand not only where their brand falls in the hierarchy of performance but also how to strengthen performance in the future.