The day Nintendo launched the Switch gaming system, both Xbox and PlayStation congratulated Nintendo on social media. It was a somewhat surprising move. Big brands typically don’t compliment their competitors – they wouldn’t want to offer a rival brand free publicity. But this research shows that a brand can actually boost its own reputation and sales by complimenting a competitor. Nearly a dozen experiments with almost 4,000 people demonstrate that brands may reap rewards by engaging in brand-to-brand praise
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Zhou, Lingrui, Katherine M. Du, and Keisha M. Cutright (2021), “Befriending the Enemy: The Effects of Observing Brand-to-Brand Praise on Consumer Evaluations and Choices,” Journal of Marketing.
Consumers have grown increasingly skeptical of brands, leaving managers in a dire search for novel ways to connect. The authors suggest that focusing on one’s relationships with competitors is a valuable, albeit unexpected, way for brands to do so. More specifically, the present research demonstrates that praising one’s competitor—via “brand-to-brand praise”— often heightens preference for the praiser more so than other common forms of communication, such as self-promotion or benevolent information. This is because brand-to-brand praise increases perceptions of brand warmth, which leads to enhanced brand evaluations and choice. The authors support this theory with seven studies conducted in the lab, online, and in the field that feature multiple managerially-relevant outcomes, including brand attitudes, social media and advertising engagement, brand choice, and purchase behavior, in a variety of product and service contexts. The authors also identify key boundary conditions and rule alternative explanations, further elucidating the underlying mechanism and important implementation insights. This work contributes to our understanding of brand perception and warmth, providing a novel way for brands to connect to consumers by connecting with each other.
Special thanks to Holly Howe (Ph.D. candidate at Duke University) and Demi Oba ( Ph.D. candidate at Duke University ), for their support in working with authors on submissions to this program.
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