February 13th, 2014 by Maria Minsker

For our February issue, I interviewed the self-proclaimed “Brand Guy,” Tim Halloran, author of Romancing the Brand, who shared something that really stuck with me. When I asked him where the idea for the book originated, he told me:

“I was sitting in the back of a focus group of eight women tasked with evaluating Diet Coke. One woman picked up the soft drink and said, ‘I drink eight of these a day. It was with me a month ago when I got my promotion; it was there three months ago when my cat died. In short, I like to think of it as my boyfriend in a can.’ This woman really thought of this Diet Coke as much more than a product. So I did some research and [found that] a number of academic studies show that we do form bonds and relationships with brands, and they’re very strong, committed relationships. As a marketer, your ultimate goal is to get consumers to fall in love with your brand.”

The reason Halloran’s message resonated with me is simple: so many of us, myself included, are just like this Diet Coke fan. Apple devotees wait in line for days for a new iPhone, Starbucks lovers have an aversion to any other kind of coffee, and there are dozens of other brands out there that inspire the same kind of deep burning passion. So why do consumers fall in love with a brand? And why, subsequently, do they fall out of love with it?

Responsys, a marketing cloud and services provider, commissioned a nationwide survey of more than 2,000 U.S. adults,to take a look at how brand-customer relationships are built, and why they “break up.” Here are some of the research highlights:


  • 73% of consumers want to have a long-term relationship with brands that reward them for being a loyal customer.
  • 57% of consumers say the brands they love make them feel special by rewarding them with discounts and coupons
  • 32% say the brands they love only send offers/promotions that they are interested in.
  • However, 34% of U.S. adults say they have ‘broken up’ with a brand due to poor, disruptive or irrelevant marketing messages sent to them.
  • 53% of those who have done so say they broke up with a brand because the brand continuously sent them irrelevant content on multiple channels
  • 33% say the break up resulted from the messages being too generic and appeared to obviously be sent to everyone, not just them.
  • 59% of those surveyed say they sometimes choose one competitive brand over another simply because of the offer or marketing received from them.

Curious if your customers love you as much as you love them? Take Responsys’ quiz here and find out if you’re a Stage Five Clinger, a One Night Stand, a Honeymooner, or a Soulmate.


Here’s what each category means:


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