TEXT OF INTERVIEW
STEVE CHIOTAKIS: A new study in the current issue of the Journal of Marketing says brand names mean so much to consumers, they’ll go to great lengths to afford them.
Joe Priester is one of the authors of the study. He’s Associate Professor of Marketing at the Marshall School of Business at the University of Southern California. Professor, thanks for speaking with us.
JOE PRIESTER: You’re welcome Steve.
CHIOTAKIS: I’ve got to tell you, I love Frosted Flakes. I’ve eaten them since I was a kid. Why did I become enamored with that particular brand?
PRIESTER: My guess is that it’s meshed with a lot of other experiences and memories. You not only like Frosted Flakes, but you sort of consider it a part of yourself, you probably think about it unprompted.
CHIOTAKIS: I can remember when I was a poor college student, and Mom and Dad didn’t have the money to buy my Frosted Flakes anymore. And I saved a couple bucks by buying the generic brand.
PRIESTER: And then when you had money again, did you stick with the generic?
CHIOTAKIS: I started buying the brand again.
PRIESTER: Just like the thought of losing or not having our good friends around can sort of lead to this emotion distress, what’s interesting is that brands can prompt exactly the same kind of thing.
CHIOTAKIS: What is your brand?
PRIESTER: If I have a Starbucks in my hand in the morning, I sort of feel secure and I can take on the world.
CHIOTAKIS: Dating back a long time?
PRIESTER: It reminds me back when I was in New York, and I’d be walking to the subway in the snow and to have that Starbucks is sort of a nice memory in time.
CHIOTAKIS: I know it may sound like we’ve got the Kellogg’s cereal company and the Starbucks coffee company, and the representatives are right outside of the door, but I can tell you that this is pertinent information because these guys are taking a look at this information and saying, “Wait — “
PRIESTER: Well in a way this becomes the new target. For businesses to really be exceptional and to really excel, it’s not just, “How do I get them to like us,” but “What can we do to really provide something that makes it really meaningful and part of the person.”
CHIOTAKIS: Today there obviously, is a lot of hardship, economic hardship. High unemployment, a lot of people cutting corners, is that making any kind of difference?
PRIESTER: That’s when this brand attachment really becomes important. Because if times aren’t tough, and you have more resources then you can be buying all sorts of brands. But when you start to having to cut back, I think that there’s a differential in house you cut back, so it’s the brands that you’re really attached with, those are the ones you’ll try to have onto as long as you can. Where as the brands that you simply like — those are the easy substitute.
CHIOTAKIS: Joe Priester, Associate Professor of Marketing at USC’s Marshall School of Business. Joe, thanks.
PRIESTER: Steve, it’s a pleasure.