The Chemistry of Attraction – Does it Work For Brands as Well as People?

Everyone has their own ideas about the chemistry that causes two people to become romantically involved. Sometimes personalities match and commonality is the key instigator, other times we might find the cliché that ‘opposites attract’ to ring true. But how does this work with brands and the way they appeal to people? It is a long-held view that empathy with consumers is a strong driver of brand equity and we often see clients wishing to understand whether their brand or product is ‘For people like me’. However, we thought that there may be more to the relationship than a simple personality match and looked to go a bit deeper by running an experiment to test our thinking.

Using both BuzzBack’s projective Blobs technique and conventional questioning involving a list of attributes, we asked 100 women who buy and use make-up to describe both their own personality as well as that of a well-known cosmetics brand. We then analysed those who said they are ‘close’ to the brand to see if any themes could be extracted and the chemistry in the personality link understood better. The results are fascinating.

There is a clear story as to how people perceive the cosmetics brand. The Venn diagram below shows the attributes that were higher than average for the self, brand or both and we see a definite theme emerging in the way the brand is seen – the most notable traits include bold, knowledgeable and powerful. This sounds like an aspirational personality which is something to strive for, rather than one which is intuitively compatible.

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These findings were extended by the Blobs exercise, through which consumers ‘painted a picture’ of the brand as standing out from the crowd, being exciting and glamorous. Comparatively, much of the identity our respondents associate with themselves is one of being caring, loving and family-oriented. There is obvious difference to be seen here – although they are highly desirable qualities, a loving or kind cosmetics brand is probably not an image that would be successful.

The way the brand is seen gives a clear indication that people don’t just use cosmetics to make themselves look good, but are drawn to a brand that has a confident and forceful personality. They wish to strengthen and enhance the image of themselves that they project to the world and choose a brand that they feel gives them a boost in this way, rather than one that simply matches their own personality.