In the public eye, the weaker party is often more attractive. Why?
The reason might be an increasing willingness on the part of consumers to identify with the underdog. In today's economically difficult times, it appears, underdog brands are gaining psychological, and real, power in the marketplace.
"In today's world, underdog narratives address real-world challenges and anxieties faced by increasing numbers of Americans."
As HBS professor Anat Keinan explains, "Today, underdog brand biographies are being used by both large and small companies and across categories, including food and beverages, technology, airlines, and automobiles. Even large corporations, such as Apple and Google, are careful to retain their underdog roots in their brand biographies."
A forthcoming article coauthored by Keinan for the Journal of Consumer Research, "The Underdog Effect: The Marketing of Disadvantage and Determination through Brand Biography," details her joint research about the trend and its implications for brand management. Keinan, an assistant professor in the Marketing Unit at Harvard Business School whose research on consumer behavior has been published in leading marketing and psychology journals, coauthored the article with Neeru Paharia, Jill Avery, and Juliet B. Schor.
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."
Marketers can use underdog narratives to positively affect consumers' perceptions of and purchase of brands, she says. "Underdog narratives are often delivered to consumers... [continues]
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