Shavitt: Doubts make consumers more willing to reevaluate brands

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. – Most consumers crave a clear understanding of brand images, making them more receptive to new marketing messages if anything clouds their vision of companies or products, according to a new study by a University of Illinois marketing expert.

Sharon Shavitt says the findings are good news for companies seeking to retool the image of seemingly ingrained brands, such as McDonald’s efforts to promote salads and other healthful menu options.

“The message is that people don’t just form brand opinions and stick with them,” said Shavitt, a professor of business administration. “Instead, they’re constantly monitoring their sense of understanding. They may in fact be swinging between doubt and closure more often than we think.”

The study, which will appear in the Journal of Marketing Research in April, examined how consumers internally manage brand understanding and how a sense of difficulty when thinking about brands influences their impressions.

Consumers forced to consider brands while feeling a sense of effort