Current Issue Summary
Sept 2021 (Vol. 61, Issue 3)
The Importance of Consumer Engagement in Brand Heritage Advertising: How Feeling Close to a Brand Can Increase Willingness to Pay More
Brand heritage has been an important mechanism to build brand connection and loyalty. Heritage advertising can boost attitudes about a historic brand’s authenticity, with legacy scenarios and logos positively affecting purchase intention and trust. But it can also distance the consumer from the brand—specifically reducing its uniqueness and thus, people’s willingness to pay more—unless it actively engages the consumer, according to consumer behavior specialist Daniele Scarpi, (University of Bologna). His research investigates the way brand heritage advertising affects people’s construal levels, or how psychologically close they feel to a brand. “Consumers mentally construe the world around themselves by adopting either low or high construal levels … affecting how they evaluate what they see, including brands and products,” he writes.
In an experiment involving a U.S. sample of 300 respondents, heritage advertising triggered high construal levels (distancing the consumer from the brand), hurting the brand’s perceived uniqueness. But when a brand engages with potential customers, that “closes the gap with consumers …. To be leveraged effectively, brand heritage advertising should be combined with feelings of engagement, which adds to the complexity of successfully using brand heritage advertising to drive sales.” Scarpi refers to the following case studies to support his findings:
- Luxury car maker Audi (established 1909) “stimulates brand engagement and consumer connections to the brand history by actively interacting with customers through social media and its web page.”
- Maille mustard (established 1723) combines brand heritage advertising with customer engagement, by coordinating offline events such as Bastille Day.
- Italy’s Pedavena beer (established 1897) claims it embodies a “Taste of Tradition,” but does not actively engage with its customers.
- Citibank (established 1812) engages on social media with its customers but does not advertise its brand heritage.
“Practitioners should be aware that advertising can induce the adoption of a specific construal level, as through the use of abstract or concrete language,” Scarpi concludes. “Companies such as (Pedavena) should invest more in customer engagement, as brands do not seem to benefit from self-centered celebration in brand heritage advertising.”
Read the full article here.