Branding and relationship marketing - Marketing Management

When it comes to consumer goods marketing, do customers want or need a relationship with suppliers other than ensuring smooth transactions? The emergence of powerful brands has changed this. Many customers now want to develop a relationship in their purchasing, and what they seek and value is a relationship with the brand rather than the marketer.

Brands are big business and are estimated to drive nearly two-thirds of purchases in consumer markets. Coca-Cola, Sony, McDonald’s and Microsoft are global brands that transcend national boundaries. What is the link between brands and relationship marketing? The most successful brands over time develop a relationship with customers.

Initially a customer may purchase a brand simply for novelty, perhaps to try something new or because of the recommendation of a friend. If the brand delivers, i.e. the customer is satisfied, then it increases the chance of the customer purchasing this brand again. Over time, provided the brand continues to deliver, the customer will become brand loyal. From a mere liking of, or satisfaction with, the brand, the customer becomes committed, seldom considering purchasing another brand and eventually possibly becoming an advocate for the brand.

Brands make the process of purchasing easier and less stressful. They reassure and build trust. Some confer status on purchasers and become ‘badges’ that send signals out about the customer and what they feel about themselves. Reast15 suggests that the marketer can build on a customer’s relationship with a brand to develop brand extensions. In the case of retail brands, Binniger16 shows how strong retail brands are associated with store loyalty, providing a powerful basis for retailers to develop relationships with customers in consumer markets.

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