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Published: October 1, 1999

 
 

Brand Zealots: Realizing the Full Value of Emotional Brand Loyalty

Great brands have fanatical followers who can insure the brand endures. Make sure your biggest fans don't become your greatest enemies.

The year was 1985. In a three-month flash, the New Coke episode shook the foundations of the marketing trade and scarred it forever. How could the Coca-Cola Company, a premier marketer, so widely miss the mark with its flagship brand? It was not for lack of research: Coke had spent $4 million and interviewed 200,000 consumers to make this decision. Is nobody immune from mistakes of that magnitude? To this day, the ghost of New Coke haunts major brand repositioning decisions.

Prof. Robert M. Schindler of Rutgers University provides a compelling and intriguing hypothesis for why New Coke failed.1 He found that New Coke overwhelmingly beat old Coke, 63 percent to 37 percent, in large-scale taste tests. Only 10 percent to 12 percent of the consumers tested appeared upset by the reformulation. While most focus groups were positive as well, they indicated a higher proportion of consumers would be upset by the Coke reformulation. As many of us would have done, trained marketers attributed the discrepancy to a negligible minority and went ahead with the introduction.

The results are well known. As reformulated Coca-Cola entered the market, a vocal minority of old Coca-Cola lovers took to the airwaves to condemn the move - with the fervor of an antiwar demonstration! The media found an interesting angle and amplified the story to no end. Reformulated Coke began to lose ground, and the company responded by splitting the flagship between Coca-Cola Classic and New Coke. By 1990, New Coke was all but extinct. Gone with it were $48 million in marketing costs and some of Coca-Cola's credibility with its core consumers. In hindsight, Coke failed to realize the powerful influence that a small subset of discontented consumers could have on the opinions of others.

The New Coke experience provides a glimpse into the strong emotional undercurrents of powerful brands. Be it with Coca-Cola, Nike or Harley-Davidson, some loyal consumers experience a relationship that goes well beyond the fulfillment of a functional need. They are militant in their commitment to their brand: creating positive word of mouth for the brand, experiencing the product to its fullest and, if defrauded, launching frontal attacks on the company. In many ways, brand managers act as chaperones of these relationships, trying to strike a difficult balance between commitment to the core of the franchise and the desire to reach out to new segments.

Companies spend billions of dollars creating positive feelings toward brands, both in the form of advertising and in skillfully designed products and services. In fact, most brands have emotionally loyal consumers at their core. Are companies getting enough value from these investments? Today, most marketing practitioners treat these consumers as part of the loyal customer base, without further distinction. In our view, this approach underleverages the massive investment that created emotional loyalty: These brand zealots have the potential to become the brand's biggest allies or, at the other extreme, a renegade army.

DEFINING EMOTIONAL LOYALTY

Consider Nike, a well-known brand with a loyal following. Phil Knight and Bill Bowerman, runner and running coach, started the company in 1971 with a strong product and a specific target customer: the distance runner. On the strength of the product and the insight that advantaged credibility could be achieved by focusing on the athlete's needs (unlike entrenched competitors, which targeted athletic organizations instead), the Nike brand began to grow. First, it captured a loyal segment of very demanding athlete customers. Later, Nike made a jump into the general population by leveraging its position with athletes to create a pantheon of heroes (Michael Jordan, Bo Jackson, Tiger Woods) to embody the brand, taking shoe purchases to a wholly different emotional plane. Ultimately, the Nike brand has become more than a "good shoe" or Air Jordan. The evidence includes Nike Town, which became the single most popular tourist attraction in Chicago upon opening in 1992; the fan mail Nike gets daily from kids who send in new shoe designs, and the brand's prominence in the media.

By the mid-1990's, Nike was the favorite shoe of 77 percent of male Americans aged 18 to 25. In this context, loyalty to the Nike brand is driven by many factors. Most likely, some consumers are attracted to Nike for "good shoe" product functionality; others value the athletic aspiration, and still others view Nike and its pantheon of icons and badges as a friend or even a religion. Recent Nike campaigns seem to consciously cultivate this last group by championing key sports issues that have broader societal relevance (for instance, the value of female athletics). The brand's evolution to "person" or more is the essence of emotional loyalty.

To be more precise, emotional loyalty occurs on one of two pathways, each with its own threshold. On the first pathway, emotional loyalty is born out of a consumer's personal relationship with a brand. This relationship may very well start through the satisfaction of a functional need (for example, a car's reliability) or an expressiveness need (for example, a fashion designer's prestige). Consumers cross the threshold from a mere brand relationship into emotional loyalty when they "animate" the brand, giving it quasi-human qualities and relating to it in the same way they relate to human beings. This was probably the basis on which some Coke consumers felt betrayed by the formula change.

The second pathway to emotional loyalty is the formation of a strong user community around the brand. On this pathway, the consumer crosses the threshold to emotional loyalty when membership in the brand's user community becomes an end in itself. Thus, the brand becomes a nexus for people for whom fulfilling similar aspirations is a major life theme, as is the case in Harley-Davidson motorcycle clubs.

On either pathway - the personal relationship or the creation of a community - crossing the threshold into emotional loyalty leads to a deeper, almost irreplaceable, bond as well as to the potential for negative feelings of betrayal or infidelity. Emotionally loyal consumers relate to the brand as they might to other human beings - feeling affection, a common history, possibly a sense of trust and two-way commitment, which goes well beyond the satisfaction of a specific need.

There are a number of very important elements in emotional loyalty, which may not be obvious at first glance. First, most brands have some proportion of emotionally loyal consumers within their franchise. As the Nike example shows, brand loyalty segments emerge from diverse consumer responses to the complex amalgam of value proposition, brand positioning and environmental factors. Even in categories largely dominated by economic considerations, like the purchase of a heavy-duty truck, companies like Kenworth and Peterbilt command significantly higher margins by carefully managing their public images and developing emotional loyalty from independent truckers.

Second, it would also be wrong to assume that it is either necessary or sufficient for brands to communicate an emotional message to develop emotional loyalty. Apple's customers provide an example of emotional loyalty that developed without an emotional message. Early Apple user communities were founded in the late 1970's to enable enthusiasts to share product experiences and ideas. These user groups, a prime indication of emotional loyalty, formed long before Apple began pursuing emotionally laden advertising efforts. In fact, Apple's most famous emotional message, the "1984" commercial, was not broadcast until five years after early user communities appeared. As is true with any personal relationship or community, words alone are insufficient to develop strong emotional loyalty.

Third, there is no one pattern or sequence for forming emotional loyalty. Prof. Susan Fournier of Harvard University describes three broad types of seeds for the development of emotional relationships with brands:2

  1. Congruence with deeply rooted life themes, such as personal freedom.
  2. Accomplishment of life projects, such as college graduation or parenting.
  3. Resolution of current concerns, such as getting enough vitamins.

This characterization suggests a broad window of opportunity for creating emotional loyalty, ranging from the sublime to the mundane and from conspicuous consumption to private delight. The key to emotional loyalty seems to be less about homing in on a specific feeling or event and more about crossing major thresholds in the relationship between the consumer and the brand. (See Exhibit I.)

1 Robert M. Schindler, "The Real Lesson of New Coke: The Value of Focus Groups for Predicting the Effects of Social Influence," Marketing Research: A Magazine of Management & Applications, December 1992, pp. 22-27.

2 Susan Fournier, "Consumers and Their Brands: Developing Relationship Theory in Consumer Research," Journal of Consumer Research, March 1998, pp. 343-373.

IDENTIFYING AND UNDERSTANDING THE ELUSIVE EMOTIONAL CUSTOMER

Marketers are well trained at understanding functional motivations and have developed powerful heuristics for managing intangible elements of the brand. However, we are only beginning to understand and measure the web of feelings that underlie emotional loyalty or its impact on people's behavior. In a way, it is akin to quantifying the reasons for loving one's spouse or trying to unravel the mix of emotions that drove moviegoers to camp out for weeks to get tickets to the premiere of the "Star Wars" prequel.

Consider the way focus groups are managed. The rationale for focus groups is twofold:

  1. It is an efficient way to collect consumer feedback, since one gains multiple data points at once.
  2. The conversational flow of a focus group helps consumers to express their ideas by listening to the ideas of others.

Following these premises, focus-group facilitators are instructed to draw out every participant, aim for equal time and try to stop one vocal person from dominating the group experience.

The real world, however, has the opposite dynamics. First, militant minorities speak out as the majority usually remains silent - so a few emotional consumers can dominate the discourse with the explicit intent to convert others. Second, the media get mileage from presenting extreme views and give zealots a disproportionate share of the airwaves. Third, as cable television, radio talk shows and the Internet create endless outlets for expressing viewpoints, it becomes impossible to distinguish the minority point of view from the majority opinion. Traditional research methods are ill equipped to handle these dynamics and tend to underestimate the power of minorities, as in the New Coke example.

Marketing practitioners who suspect their brands generate significant emotional loyalty should look outside traditional research techniques to identify and understand this critically important customer group. We suggest the following rules:

Target specific research to the emotionally loyal segment instead of the general customer population

The need for specific research stems from the mathematics of this segment. Imagine a strong brand with 25 percent of its customer base characterized as "loyal" and one-third of these as "emotionally loyal." In a research project with 500 observations, emotionally loyal customers could number from 29 to 54 (at a 95 percent confidence interval). Moreover, this handful of customers may be hard to identify from simple up-front questions in a survey.

The odds are much better in research aimed at a population of loyal heavy users. Depending on the category, this could be either frequent repurchasers of a brand or long-term customers of a brand (in a sporadic purchase environment). In this group, 500 observations are likely to yield 146 to 188 emotionally loyal consumers. Still, it may be difficult to identify the emotionally loyal customers from survey questions - unless you know what to look for.

Perhaps the best way to identify these users is to work from the definition backward. As suggested earlier, the emotionally loyal tend to exhibit disproportionate actions toward the brand. What better place to understand people's fascination with "Star Trek" than at a Trekkie convention? In today's environment, Internet sites can provide a powerful vehicle to identify the Trekkie equivalents for most branded goods. Once the behaviors and motivations of emotional customers are better understood, it is much easier to aim research toward this group or to segment this group in more traditional heavy-user studies.

Seek to directly understand their likely response pattern

When emotionally loyal consumers are the focus, response to changes in the brand can often be unpredictable. Testing directly how users will react is of critical importance to securing their allegiance and preventing unforeseen trouble. The best frameworks to understand these responses come, not surprisingly, from social psychology.

 A 1983 study of human relationships3 led to defining four basic ways in which people respond to relationship problems, as well as the causal mechanisms that led people to take different kinds of actions. Through a series of rigorous statistical analyses, the researchers sought to define what drove participants in a relationship to one of four response categories. From their research, we can draw the following lessons to help map respon-ses of emotionally loyal consumers to changes in a brand:

  • When presented with significant negative changes (in the eyes of the consumer), emotionally loyal consumers are about equally likely to respond vocally or to consciously avoid the brand ("walk away") - and are highly unlikely to behave passively.
  • Highly satisfied consumers are likely to be the most vocal, either to support the change or to correct what they perceive as a wrong. They are the least likely to walk away.
  • Consumers who have made significant personal investments in the brand (for instance, emotional investments like belonging to a fan club or resource investments like purchasing a luxury item) are also likely to be vocal and unlikely to walk away.
  • At the time of a change, emotionally loyal consumers are highly vulnerable to being seduced by other brands.

Tailor the research to test response individually and in a group setting

Ongoing studies and topical analysis of brand events are required to manage emotional consumers. Once emotionally loyal consumers have been identified, in-depth qualitative research should yield the most insight. For ongoing research, traditional techniques such as panel discussions and diary writing probably yield the best information. The objective of the research should be to understand sources of satisfaction and dissatisfaction, both to educate the company on how to serve loyal customers and to hypothesize novel approaches to leverage this powerful customer group.

Topical research with emotionally loyal customers, on the other hand, should focus on understanding both how they would respond to an event involving the brand and whether the changes would be widely accepted by other consumers. To understand reactions, Professor Schindler, who studied New Coke, suggests using one-on-one interviews to assess whether the change will be viewed as positive or negative. We suggest enhancing those learnings with careful analysis of the characteristics of the pre-change relationship between the consumer and the brand, which can offer clues as to whether the real- world response is likely to be militant or passive.

Perhaps the larger question in these cases is whether the reaction will create a groundswell or just remain confined to a small group. As in the New Coke example, focus groups can be used to test the level of diffusion of the emotional response. We suggest running the groups with different mixes of participants (all emotionally loyal, emotionally loyal customers in the minority and none emotionally loyal) and instructing the facilitators to let strong participants drive the group at times - perhaps even fanning the flames in the way a news anchor does.

In a very real way, understanding and managing these customers requires thinking and behaving more like a politician, a sociologist or a psychologist than a marketer. While techniques from those disciplines continue to make inroads into the marketing literature, we know of few examples where they have been applied consistently to track brand emotions. This is likely to change in the next few years, as emotional loyalty continues to grow in importance as a source of brand equity and as access to the media amplifies the upside and downside of brand emotions.

3 Caryl E. Rusbult and Isabella M. Zembrodt, "Responses to Dissatisfaction in Romantic Involvements: A Multidimensional Scaling Analysis," Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 1983 (vol. 19, no. 3), pp. 274-293.

CREATING VALUE FROM EMOTIONAL LOYALTY: A DIFFERENT MARKETING CHALLENGE

Although emotionally loyal customers exist for most brands, only a few brands, particularly in the entertainment business, seem to manage this powerful asset to the fullest. Perhaps this is because many of the "tried and true" approaches for managing unemotional customer loyalty are not appropriate for managing emotional loyalty.

One example of the counterproductivity of using widely accepted marketing techniques with emotionally loyal customers is updating or refreshing the product. For nonloyal or functionally loyal customers, it is often necessary to enhance the value of a product through functional updates (for example, incorporating the latest technology or adjusting to evolving consumer preferences). However, for emotionally loyal customers, a substantive product change can represent a fundamental threat to their relationships. In the New Coke example, this update resulted in an uproar among emotional loyals. It is easy to imagine how other conventional marketing tactics could evoke similar reactions.

The key to creating value from emotionally loyal consumers is to manage simultaneously their purchase behavior and their influence on others. The halo effect created by this small consumer segment can be used to expand the value of the brand, create line extensions or build a beachhead into other categories. In many ways, this is similar to the way politicians manage their hard-core constituencies: Winning their vote is important, but their true power lies in sending them to the streets with lawn signs, banners and leaflets. Of course, how this is done will be very different for each brand and each situation. Abstracting across many instances, we present three tantalizing examples for how a brand can capture more value from emotional loyalty.

1. Creating consumer advocates

The most sensational examples of consumer advocacy are "antis": those against a specific brand or product. Examples across the decades include strong "consumer advocacy" for prohibiting alcohol, reducing automotive hazards and banning cigarettes for children. This type of consumer advocacy is driven by small groups of people who feel strongly about an issue. Their strong feelings result in attempts to convert others, ultimately causing changes in public opinion or legislation.

Can emotionally loyal customers be equally effective in driving positive outcomes by becoming "pro" consumer advocates? In the example of the Volkswagen Beetle (see accompanying article, page 59), Apple computers and the "Star Trek" series and their fan clubs, the answer seems to be "yes." Notice that all these examples were consumer-driven, with little direct support by the company. Now companies are beginning to leverage these dynamics more directly. Saturn's customer involvement programs and Ben & Jerry's chief executive officer write-in contest represent a new breed of initiatives intended to strengthen the reservoir of emotionally loyal customers, ready to become the brand's most credible sales force and lobbying group.

2. Leveraging the brand's history

In addition to the New Beetle, nostalgia is providing substantial selling power in the automotive industry (for instance, the Volkswagen minibus, Ford Thunderbird, Chrysler 300M), entertainment (movie versions of 1960's TV shows), beverages (Coke contour bottles) and many other industries. Although nostalgia is clearly driven by many forces, emotionally loyal customers appear to play an important role in driving the success of a nostalgia product.

Perhaps not coincidentally, other 1960's and 1970's nostalgia is relatively chic (for instance, bell-bottom jeans). Interestingly, memorabilia from prior generations is largely confined to antique stores - their emotionally loyal customer base is gone. Could it be that emotionally loyal (original) customers provide the core customer group for many nostalgia items?

3. Creating nontraditional line extensions

The conventional wisdom on brand extensions is clear: perceptual fit (brand image) or benefit transfer (product feature similarity) is necessary for a brand extension to succeed. Conventional wisdom also dictates that character-based icons such as Mickey Mouse and Ronald McDonald are successful platforms for product introductions.  

However, there are many examples of brand extensions where the element of the brand that is being "extended" is simply an affinity for the brand. Swiss Army wristwatches, Jeep portable radios and Porsche sunglasses are all examples of successful brand extensions in which the original category and brand attributes are less relevant to the new category than an overall affinity for the brand.

Why do "emotional extensions" work? One hypothesis is that emotionally loyal customers are predisposed to adopt the new product, creating an instant "critical mass" of customers loyal to the new product. In addition, the emotionally loyal become advocates for the favored brand in the new category, generating acceptance and adoption among a broader set of customers. Thus, the emotional extension enjoys a different "brand halo" from the functional extension: The functional extension is reducing search costs for its target audience, while the emotional extension is leveraging its fan club.

THE HALO EFFECT

In the aftermath of New Coke, as Frederick Allen relates in his book "Secret Formula" (Harper Business, 1995), the president of Coca-Cola, Don Keough, said, "The simple fact is that all the time and money and skill poured into consumer research on the new Coca-Cola could not measure or reveal the deep and abiding emotional attachment to original Coca- Cola felt by so many people.'' He added: "The passion for original Coca-Cola - and that is the word for it: passion - was something that caught us by surprise,'' and "it is a wonderful American mystery ... and you cannot measure it any more than you can measure love, pride or patriotism."

Ultimately, Coca-Cola recovered from its New Coke introduction, regained its standing among its American brand zealots and went on to conquer the world. As reported in "Secret Formula," after almost 40 years out of the market, 99 percent of consumers in East Germany still were aware of the Coke brand.

As power retailing and the Internet slash consumers' search costs and competitors get better at quickly replicating innovations, creating value through stirring and satisfying customers' emotional needs is becoming increasingly important. Ultimately, feelings of belonging, self- actualization, even friendship toward a brand are true sources of consumer value, much like a new product feature or an improved warranty - but much harder for brand managers to replicate.

Albeit small in numbers, brand zealots and their halo effect present a powerful opportunity for turning a renegade army into an organized group of staunch supporters and users of the brand. Helping brand zealots achieve their full brand experience, allowing them to get together and channeling their actions in favor of the brand could become effective in guarding and extending brand value and in winning an increasingly demanding competitive race.

The Volkswagen Beetle: The Emotional Power of the Love Bug

What explains the Volkswagen Beetle phenomenon? It is the best-selling car in history, with well over 20 million ultimately sold globally. In the United States, the Beetle enjoyed an astounding 32-year run. Some of its success can be explained by the Beetle as a great product; it clearly was. However, emotional loyalty - evidenced by the Beetle as family member, Beetle as movie star and currently the New Beetle phenomenon - may have played an even more important role.

BUILDING EMOTIONAL LOYALTY

The Beetle was not born with emotional loyalty. In the United States in the late 1950's VW customers first bought their Beetles because they were cheap: 88 percent of consumers said they bought Beetles because they were "cheaper to operate" and 60 percent said they would have bought a domestic car if one had been available at a similar price, according to a National Automotive Dealers Association survey of import ownership in 1956-58. But early VW customers repurchased Beetles because they were great cars. Early reviews in Motor Trend, Popular Science, Mechanix Illustrated and Consumer Reports cast the Beetle as inexpensive, reliable and safe.

As James M. Flammang states in his book "Volkswagen: Beetles, Buses & Beyond" (Krause Publications, 1996): "In its April 1951 issue, Consumer Reports marveled that for $1,280, the Volkswagen 'contains a lot of engineering.' The engine was 'designed to be able to operate all day at about 60 m.p.h., which is about the car's top speed. The car behaves well on ice with far more traction than the cars we're used to.' Consumer Reports testers also praised the solid construction and flawless finish, 'from its excellent enamel paint job to the spare fan belt in the tool kit.' "

However, by the mid-1950's, many of the Beetle's functional buyers had become much more emotional about their car. In 1956, Popular Mechanics wrote, "What is there about this small, ugly, low- powered import that excites people all over the world and makes every owner talk like a salesman?" The same magazine concluded, after talking with hundreds of owners, that "these owners actually have fallen in love with a car"; 96 percent of these owners rated their car as "excellent" and none rated it as "poor."

BEETLE AS A FAMILY MEMBER

Many attributes of the Beetle have been credited with creating its cult status: the car's quality, its remarkable appearance, the ease of repair. Moreover, there are several things that VW itself did that seemed to reinforce its growing emotional segment (for example, quirky media campaigns, owner magazines in the 1960's, gold watch rewards for Beetle longevity, bonds for babies born in Beetles). Whatever the true source of the phenomenon, customers began to build special relationships with their VW Beetles.

Mr. Flammang relates: "Life magazine dubbed the Volkswagen 'a member of the family that just happens to live in the garage.' Popular Mechanics interviewed a businesswoman who called her VW Beetle 'the first major love affair of my life.'

Clearly, the VW Beetle had become more of a relationship partner than a car for many of its owners. Volkswagen itself recognized and amplified this relationship with some of its late 1950's and 1960's advertisements. Probably the best example showed a VW being towed; it read: "A thing like this could happen, even to a Volkswagen. After all, it's only human."

The emotional relationships that large groups of customers established with their Beetles enabled some nontraditional uses of the product, which might today be considered brand extensions. Movies (the "Herbie" series), art and even watercraft (Waterbugs of America Racing Association) were all created around Beetles. Certainly, the New Beetle introduced in 1998 takes advantage of the emotional relationships that people established with the original Beetle.

BEETLE LOVERS, STAND UP

Extensions like the "Herbie" movies were enabled by the positive environment created by the Beetle's emotionally loyal customers. Another example of this Beetle advocacy is the enthusiasm that makes owners want to become salespeople. These Beetle advocates create an externality whose value goes beyond their direct purchasing power.

One fascinating example of the power of Beetle advocacy occurred when the consumer advocate Ralph Nader attacked the Beetle. In 1965, Mr. Nader criticized the Chevrolet Corvair in his book "Unsafe at Any Speed" (Bantam Books). The damaging impact on public opinion has been widely discussed, and by 1969, production of the Corvair was canceled. What is less well known is that Mr. Nader also went after the Beetle with comparable warnings, saying that it was "hard to find a more dangerous car than the Volkswagen." Moreover, a 1970 critique by the Center for Auto Safety, Mr. Flammang tells us, called for huge Beetle recalls. Despite the potential for public-relations nightmares similar to those that killed the Corvair, approximately two million Beetles were sold in the United States in the 1970's. Apparently, the power of Beetle advocacy was sufficient to overcome the power of traditional consumer advocates.

THE BEETLE IS DEAD: LONG LIVE THE BEETLE!

Although American small cars like the Corvair were unable to unseat the Beetle from its long-lived prosperity, new manufacturers and new technologies ultimately were. Japanese brands like Toyota, Datsun and Honda began their successful assault on the automotive market in the early 1970's. Although they did not stimulate emotional response of the same magnitude as the Beetle, they were functionally superior in terms of price, quality and technology.

As a result, Beetle sales fell. The last "Herbie" movie was made in 1980. The last year that Volkswagen of America records sales for the Beetle is 1981. That year, 33 cars were sold. The Beetle was dead.

Or was it?

A quick check of the Internet shows hundreds of sites featuring vintage Volkswagen Beetles. Enthusiasts keep alive dozens of Beetle clubs, including the Vintage Volkswagen Club of America, with 40 regional chapters. Hundreds of companies and individuals offer Beetle parts and service. Clearly, there was enough residual activity here for VW to consider tapping into.

Ultimately, Volkwagen decided to see if the emotional loyalty from its old product was strong enough to create a New Beetle. The Beetle Buzz Web site published by Opolus Enterprises, whose very existence is itself an example of brand zealotry, recently described the event:

"Volkswagen was unsure and somewhat negative of how people would receive the Concept 1 prototype (later the New Beetle) in 1994 - and even a bit leery on how its March 1998 production version would be accepted. Initial projections for the New Beetle were to sell 50,000 units in the United States over the first 12 months. However, enormously positive word of mouth contributed to a large number of automotive awards (e.g., J.D. Power & Associates' Most Appealing Small Car, European Car's Grand Prix 1998 Award, Consumer's Digest's Best Buy, Time's Best of 1998 Design, Business Week's Best New Products and Popular Science's Best of What's New For 1998). Many of these awards clearly considered the consumer enthusiasm for the product (e.g., the New Beetle is "the most outstanding new car based on its consumer appeal, quality and driving characteristics"). For Volks-wagen, this confluence of consumer enthusiasm and product awards led to North American sales of approximately 60,000 units in its first nine months and to brand extensions (e.g., the Super Beetle)."

Certainly, the New Beetle is off to a promising start, and the history of the Volkswagen Beetle points to some tantalizing opportunities for branders to leverage their emotionally loyal customers.

Reprint No. 99407

Authors
Horacio D. Rozanski, [email protected] Horacio D. Rozanski is a vice president in Booz-Allen & Hamilton’s New York office. He specializes in developing marketing strategies and customer understanding across a range of industries.
Allen G. Baum, Allen G. Baum is a senior associate of Booz-Allen based in Cleveland. He specializes in developing market entry strategies across a range of industries. He received his M.S.I.A. from Carnegie Mellon University.
Bradley T. Wolfsen is an associate of Booz-Allen based in San Francisco. He focuses on the marketing and organizational aspects of new business development in several industries. He received his M.B.A. from the University of Chicago.
 
 
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