Consumer-brand relationships in Private Cars – advantages and disadvantages of customer-brand relationships

Advantages

Strong customer-brand relations could present a firm with various advantages. Magin et al. (2003) provide examples of the positive outcomes that can arise out of effective customer brand relationships. Strong relationships for instance present customers with enhanced socio-psychological barriers towards changing to other brands (Magin et al. 2003). When such change barriers are enhanced, customers alter their appraisal of the brands thus positively influencing their satisfaction with current brand (Magin et al. 2003). Increased satisfaction provides other benefits such as reduced attractiveness of competitor brands hence increased commitment to current brand (Magin et al. 2003).

Effective customer-brand relationships also benefit the entity by spurring positive behavior such as brand repurchases and word of mouth promotion in the customers. Kuenzel and Halliday (2008) for instance note these positive attributes to arise with customer identification with a particular brand. Other positive behaviors from strong customer brand relationships are customer recruitment and resilience to negative information about the brand (Bhattacharya & Sen 2003; Pappu, Quester & Cooksey 2005), and increased commitment to the brand leading to enhanced price tolerance (Delgado-Ballester & Munuera-Aleman 2001). Customers who are attached to the brand can thus pay premium prices for the brand (e.g. incase of Mercedes) as opposed to other brands (e.g. Toyota).

Disadvantages

Disadvantages of customer-brand relationships arise with the emotive attachment and reciprocity requirement for long-term relationships to develop (Fournier 1998). Such requirements imply that brands must constantly provide emotional value in line with the customer expectations for their continued profitable existence (Banes 2003). When such needs are contrary to the expectations of the customers, the brand may not get a second chance for revival as noted with the Oldsmobile case (Martin & Eccles 2001). Similarly, brands that aim to present a certain personality in the minds of the consumers must appear credible to such consumers (Alreck 1994). When these fail the credibility tests, the brand may be overlooked in favor of other brands not imbued with personality traits (Alreck 1994). The major disadvantage of consumer-brand relationships is that the entity must always strive to maintain the meanings that it has developed with its brand; a process that could be affected by a wide array of environmental factors. In the car industry, aspects such as recalls for instance provide both opportunities and risks to the longevity of the customer-brand relationships. The case of GM’s Saturn brand for instance demonstrated how the company used recalls to reinforce customer relationships with the brand (Aaker 1994). The recent recalls for Toyota exemplify the opposite scenario – how the company used recalls to batter its image as a reliable and trustworthy brand (Maynard 2010). Customer-brand relationships could thus spell the death of the brand when the relationship is not cultivated as opposed to those brands where such relationships do not exist (Alreck 1994). Go to conclusion here.

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