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Why Do Consumers Prefer to Engage with Well-Known Brands?

A recent blog post highlighted various trends that are influencing how businesses are currently spending their budgets.

We detailed one of those trends, conscious consumerism, in late February. With this post, we are examining a second: a preference by customers for well-known retail brands when it comes to branded promotional items.

Why Do Well-Known Retail Brands Matter?

It’s really no surprise: most consumers prefer buying brands they know and are familiar with. But why?

Most people assume that brand items are synonymous with trust, credibility and quality. There is a perceived value in a well-known brand name that is transferred to the company that has affixed its logo to that item.

But are these beliefs true? Are well-known retail brands really better or more trustworthy than lesser-known or generic brands? Well—yes and no.

a list of retail brands that can be used as promotional products for corporate branding

It’s All About Feelings

Despite the common perception, the desire among consumers for specific brands is not necessarily about practical matters like quality or value. It is more about how the brand makes us feel.

According to a 2013 article by consumer psychologist Peter Noel Murray in Psychology Today, consumers overwhelmingly make purchasing decisions based on emotions, not objective information or demonstrable facts about the brand itself.

And an analysis of 1,400 advertising campaigns conducted over the past 30 years found that ads with a purely emotional message significantly outperformed those that were more rational and practical, 31% to 16%.

Belonging to the Right Group

Another reason well-known retail brands are so popular is the “social” identity they impart. A component of personal identity, social identity defines people based on their membership in groups like neighborhoods, university alumni, or fraternal organizations. For consumers, social identity is partly defined by the brands they wear or use, as it expresses something about their personality, their choices and their preferences.

Retail brands are obviously aware of this social identity phenomenon and are using it to their advantage in their advertising campaigns. Many companies have even created social networks for their customers, forming exclusive groups around their products. Not only does this create a sense of belonging among members, it also attracts new consumers whose friends or acquaintances—people who are part of their social circle—have adopted that particular brand.

Why Does This Matter?

Now that we know emotion drives preferences for known retail brands, how can companies leverage this knowledge? How can using known retail brands for their corporate-branded giveaways translate into business results? This requires applying a dash of practicality to the emotional reaction in order to benefit both parties—the customer and the company.

First and foremost, the item must be useful and reliable. Even though consumers prefer brand names for emotional reasons, if you are presenting them with a branded item as a thank you for their time or business, then it should be something they need, want or will use—otherwise, the benefits are negligible, regardless of the name on the label.

Better yet, the item should be something the recipient will wear or use in public. This will benefit both parties. For your customer, it allows them to display the name brand and establish the social identity associated with that brand. For you, it’s free advertising—if they enjoy wearing, say, a North Face jacket with your logo on it, then you not only gain greater mindshare, but your company becomes associated with the well-known brand, triggering an emotional connection.

This is not to suggest that all branded items must be on the same level as a North Face jacket. There are plenty of less-expensive items with well-known brand names you can imprint with your logo—electronic accessories or headwear, for example. By buying these items in bulk and using them as giveaways at events and conferences, you gain much greater visibility for a relatively minimal investment.

Whether it’s a one-off for a valued customer or a giveaway at a trade show, it’s critical that your item be something the recipient will value and use immediately. Such giveaways enjoy significant exposure, which means your company enjoys significant exposure, too.

Use Brand Products to Engage

Using well-known brands for your branded promotional items not only help you engage with new and prospective customers, they also help you establish a level of trust with your larger target audience. By appealing to their emotions, you can start building a long-term relationship that will pay dividends for years to come.

To learn more about the retail brands that OnFulfillment works with, visit our promo store website. If you’d like more information about the other marketing fulfillment services we offer, request a 15 minute demo and receive a free gift. No payment or contracts required!

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Topics: Event Marketing Materials Promotional Swag Riley's Picks Corporate Gifting