Petrol comes before beer, study shows

Getting a man to form an emotional connection to your product pays off more if you're selling petrol than beer.

John Rossiter. Picture: KEN ROBERTSON

John Rossiter. Picture: KEN ROBERTSON

That's one of the findings in a study on emotional branding by John Rossiter from the University of Wollongong.

A research professor of marketing, Professor Rossiter worked on the study with media researcher Steve Bellman from Murdoch University. They looked at the effectiveness of emotional branding.

Their study reviewed the extent to which the 1000 consumers surveyed attached any of five feelings - trust, bonding, resonance, companionship and love - to products they purchased.

The study focused on two products each for men and women - one was utilitarian and the other "hedonic" or enjoyable.

The utilitarian products for men and women were petrol and laundry detergent respectively while the enjoyable products were beer and coffee.

While women's emotional connections to detergent and coffee saw similar results in terms of brand loyalty, it was a different story for men. With beer, feeling "love" for a product only meant a man bought that 38 per cent of the time, while the other emotions led to even less brand loyalty.

However, when it came to petrol, all five emotional categories reported greater brand loyalty than for beer.

Even more surprising, those who reported a feeling of bonding to a petrol brand, would buy it 67 per cent of the time.

And "love" wasn't too far behind, with lovers of a petrol brand buying it 54 per cent of the time.

Professor Rossiter said he had thought beer would trigger more emotional attachment than petrol.

"That's the common thinking in academia, that there would be much less emotional attachment to petrol and laundry detergent because they're functional or utilitarian products.

"We thought men would really love their favourite brand of beer - that doesn't turn out to be true. They only give it 38 per cent of their purchases, where brand-love theory would say they should be giving it 90 to 100 per cent of their purchases if they really loved that brand."

They also found that men were just as susceptible to emotional branding as women and that being considered trustworthy did not mean more sales.

In most instances, only a small percentage of people associated an emotion to a brand.

But those that did often showed high levels of brand loyalty, suggesting that emotional branding does work.

"Our results show that it's very, very difficult to achieve these emotions but if you can achieve them they really pay off," the professor said.


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