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They’re Just Not That Into You: How to Leverage Existing Consumer–Brand Relationships through Social Psychological Distance

They’re Just Not That Into You: How to Leverage Existing Consumer–Brand Relationships through Social Psychological Distance

Scott Connors, Mansur Khamitov, Matthew Thomson and Andrew Perkins

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Marketing managers want consumers to form strong connections with their brands however, such relationships are rare and many consumers are relationship-averse. We show marketers can more effectively manage existing brand relationships by  matching psychologically close brands with concrete language and psychologically distant brands with abstract language in brand communications. Through such matching, marketers can increase beneficial brand outcomes such as consumer spending and charitable giving, even for brands that are relatively distant to consumers.

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Related Marketing Courses: ​
Advertising and Promotion; Brand Management; Consumer Behavior; Marketing Communications; Principles of Marketing, Core Marketing, Intro to Marketing Management​​​​

Full Citation: ​
Connors, Scott, Mansur Khamitov, Matthew Thomson, Andrew Perkins (2021). “They’re Just Not That Into You: How to Leverage Existing Consumer–Brand Relationships through Social Psychological Distance,” Journal of Marketing

Article Abstract
While prevailing marketing practice is to encourage ever stronger relationships between consumers and brands, such relationships are rare and many consumers are relationship-averse or content with the status quo. The authors examine how marketers can more effectively manage existing brand relationships by focusing on the psychological distance between consumers and brands in order to match close (distant) brands with concrete (abstract) language in marketing communications. Through such matching, marketers can create a beneficial mindset-congruency effect leading to more favorable evaluations and behavior, even for brands that are relatively distant to consumers. Study 1 demonstrates the basic mindset-congruency effect and Study 2 shows it is capable of affecting donation behaviors. Study 3 documents two brand-level factors (search versus experience goods, brand stereotypes) that moderate this effect in managerially relevant ways. Study 4 shows that activation of the mindset-congruency effect influences consumers to spend more, and that these behaviors are moderated by consumer category involvement. The authors conclude with marketing and theoretical implications.

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Special thanks to Demi Oba and Holly Howe, Ph.D. candidates at Duke University, for their support in working with authors on submissions to this program.

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Scott Connors is Assistant Professor of Consumer Behavior, Western University, Canada.

Mansur Khamitov is Assistant Professor of Marketing, Indiana University, USA.

Matthew Thomson is R.A. Barford Professor in Marketing Communications, Western University, Canada.

Andrew Perkins is Associate Professor of Marketing, Washington State University, USA.