Underdog branding and its consumer appeal
While underdog brand storytelling can be a great fit for some brands, for others, there are limitations. On some level, we identify with the idea that despite our challenges, we too can persevere and overcome.
People feel happiness when something unexpectedly good occurs, and some people even crave surprises. As they gain success, underdog brands should communicate that they have stayed true to their roots, with ties back to their founders if possible.
We found that the underdog effect crosses cultural boundaries, with both Singaporean and American participants showing preference for underdog brands.
Underdog branding and its consumer appeal
The underdog's external environment is largely negative: Underdogs start from a disadvantaged position and hit obstacles along the way, making it a more difficult struggle for them than for others. Additionally, there may be product categories for which consumers reject underdog brand biographies. While underdog brand storytelling can be a great fit for some brands, for others, there are limitations. But despite these challenges, she persevered. Underdogs possess appealing and universal values and goals that many people can relate to. For brands, highlighting how they are disadvantaged in comparison to the competition can help drive support and set them apart from competitors. If the underdog appears disingenuous or is later acquired by a large corporation, it will diminish the credibility of their story. The Great Depression, for example, spawned many of the great underdog stories in history: In , Seabiscuit, the little horse that nobody wanted, beat the likely winner War Admiral and became a symbol and inspiration for the little guy who came from behind and beat the odds. We tested their response to underdog brand stories. In some cases, the underdog ethos can be legitimately maintained even as it grows. Branding a company or product as an underdog is not a new idea. Others, such as hospitals, could run into trouble if consumers perceived their disadvantaged position as negatively affecting quality or safety. Says Keinan, "Through a series of experiments, we show that underdog brand biographies are effective in the marketplace because consumers identify with the disadvantaged position of the underdog and share their passion and determination to succeed when the odds are against them. We found that the underdog effect crosses cultural boundaries, with both Singaporean and American participants showing preference for underdog brands.
We then ran a series of studies that tested the effectiveness of underdog brand biographies to increase consumers' purchase intentions, brand loyalty, and real choice. For example, underwear maker Spanx leans into its challenger status.
However, if an underdog brand begins to appear less daring and innovative, more focused on the bottom line at the expense of the consumer experience, the fervent passion for the brand can diminish quickly.
One brand had an underdog story: We described it as small and new, competing against powerhouses like Lindt and Godiva. We Embrace the Unexpected Another psychological reason behind our love of the underdog is our love of surprise. It has proven to be a recipe for long-term success. Adidas's "Impossible Is Nothing" campaign emphasized the underdog stories of famous athletes. For example, they can enter new industries or markets as the underdog and upend the staid competitors. Consumers identify with the disadvantaged position of the underdog, and also share their passion and determination to succeed when the odds are against them The research also found that the underdog effect crosses cultural boundaries. Snapple forged its initial popularity with underdog narratives and "got its juice back" by reintroducing stories about its quirky founders and its underdog spokesperson, Wendy. Scientists have a few theories about why people love an underdog, aspects of which are easy to spot in the brand positioning of companies seeking to highlight their underdog status. A: Brand managers need to consider the credibility of the underdog narrative for the firm. When the team became the first sixteen seed in history to beat a number one, the surprising win kicked off feverish fascination with a team many had never previously heard of. Brands, too, can profit from this positioning — in fact, stores are teeming with underdog products. People Identity With Underdogs Everyone has struggled at some point in life. In this environment, emphasizing a big brand's underdog roots can be a strategic antidote.
A: We wanted to examine the cross-cultural appeal of underdog brand biographies. In recent years, some of the world's largest and most popular brands have been targeted by activists. Q: What are you working on next?
Smart brands can utilize these storytelling components to their advantage. Great underdog brands fully integrate their story through their advertising, packaging, web sites, social media, and marketing communications.
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