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Some Consumers See Brands as Extensions of Themselves

FRIDAY, Nov. 19 (HealthDay News) Hardcore aficionados of particular brands feel so strongly about their choice that they can suffer separation anxiety if they have to buy a different brand, a new study suggests.

The findings suggest that these consumers regard brands as extensions of themselves, said the researchers at the Marshall School of Business at the University of Southern California. This, in turn, explains consumers' devotion to particular items, fans' intense responses to celebrity deaths, and the despair of teens who can't have their favorite brand of jeans, the researchers added.

The USC team developed a brand attachment scale and then tested the scale on consumers of a number of prominent brands. Overall, the greater the attachment to a brand, the greater sacrifices in time, energy and money a consumer will make to connect or remain connected to the brand.

Although their findings were positive, the researchers also noted that some studies have found consumers can have "strong negative dissociations between the brand and self." When this occurs, brand relationships can include "motivations to inflict harm on the brand," as seen in some bad behavior among sports fans. These adversarial brand relationships, the study authors wrote, also deserve future research.

The study appears in the November issue of the Journal of Marketing.

More information

The Media Awareness Network explains how companies target children and teens.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: University of Southern California, news release, Nov. 4, 2010; Journal of Marketing, November 2010.

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