More human – less fair?

Posted by Oliver Koll on Aug 12, 2015

BrandHumanBrand anthropomorphization is the association of a brand with human-like characteristics, motivations, and behaviours to enable closer relationships between consumers and brands.  A recent study, partly relying on household panel data, shows that such a strategy impacts consumers’ perceived price ‘fairness’: consumers develop greater negative reactions to a price increase when the brand is humanized in this way (vs. non-humanized). They also show higher levels of price sensitivity towards more humanized brands (see figure for some examples). Interestingly, men react even more negatively to price increases of humanized brands than females. Companies relying on humanized branding strategies should prepare communication strategies to explain their motives (ideally outside of their control, especially when targeting males) behind price increases.

Source: Hyokjin Kwak, Marina Puzakova, and Joseph F. Rocereto (2015). Better Not Smile at the Price: The Differential Role of Brand Anthropomorphization on Perceived Price Fairness. Journal of Marketing:  Vol. 79, No. 4, pp. 56-76.