Every year, on the nights prior to the official launch of the latest iPhone, consumers camp out in long lines in hopes of being one of the first to nab the latest product. But iPhones are not limited releases, so why the effort of going through unnecessary lengths to get the very same device that is readily available online?
Logic strays far from the mind of a consumer when they find themselves committed to a cult brand. Just as the name implies, a cult brand is a brand with an incredibly devoted and loyal fan base. A cult brand curates a lifestyle revolving around their products and places the consumer right in the middle of it all. A regular brand sells products, but cult brands sell ideas. For that very reason alone, consumers often find that no other brand can substitute the experience a cult brand has to offer.
Cult brands never start off with a mass following though. It begins with a niche that garners a small but very committed following, gathering a community of like-minded individuals to create a special, inimitable brand-consumer relationship. Soon after, the community start to bond over their shared values and ideals, initiating a deeper level of connection. Lastly, through trusted testimonials of the people who live the lifestyle the product was made for, the brand’s awareness spans out to other consumers and boom, a cult brand is born.
A major element that cult brands employ are brand personas. Indeed, brands aren’t people, but they need a voice. Consumers often like to see themselves in the brands they commit to, and the values a brand choose to uphold is what drives the consumer’s belief in the brand.
According to a study conducted by Fidelum Partners in 2010 on the power of brand warmth and competence, the human attributes exhibited by a brand influences 50% of purchase and loyalty behaviours. A brand can encompass values in their mission and vision statement, but when it’s personified, it reflects those values. When it comes down to it, actions do speak louder (and warmer) than words, and being able to portray these values triumphs merely stating them.
Take Lululemon for example. The yoga-inspired athletic apparel company makes tights with similar material compositions to its competitors, yet consumers flock to the brand despite the much greater premium as compared to Nike or Adidas, for example. What sets Lululemon apart from its competitors is its strategy. By employing a team of sales professionals that are aligned with the company’s mission, along with the free community events and a bunch of other stuff hosted by them, Lululemon positioned itself not just as an expert in yoga apparel, but simply, a supportive friend. To put into perspective, consumers aren’t actually loyal to a brand per se, but people. Therefore, personifications are what holds consumers on to that loyalty.
Starbucks sells coffee. While the opinions on the quality and taste of their coffees vary amongst avid coffee drinkers, the main aspect that sells is the experience. In Malaysia, when you buy a coffee from Starbucks, you also purchase an experience that transcends buying any other cup of coffee. There’s a sense of prestige, fulfillment and community simply by having the iconic green siren logo on your cup.
The benefits of achieving a cult-like status for your brand are aplenty; Low price sensitivity and snowball advertisements are a few. Does your brand have what it takes to create a lifestyle?
How would your brand participate in the golden age of the geek?
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