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252 American Marketing Association / Summer 2009
ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE: ASSESSING CONSUMERS’ BRAND LOVE
Hans H. Bauer, University of Mannheim, Germany
Daniel Heinrich, University of Mannheim, Germany
Carmen-Maria Albrecht, University of Mannheim, Germany
Starbucks Coffee, Harley-Davidson, and Manolo
Blahnik are examples of brands that manage to create and
maintain deeply rooted emotional bonds with their cus-
tomers. Nowadays consumers rashly talk about a love-
relationship with their brands. However, it has to be asked
whether such a relationship is love actually?
Marketers have already picked up the idea of beloved
brands and are using emotionally laden advertising mes-
sages to create consumers’ love for brands. This can,
amongst others, be recognized by slogans like “Mini – Is
it Love?” or “McDonalds – I’m lovin’ it.” In management-
oriented literature, there are some hints that the emotion of
love plays a major role for creating a strong bond between
a consumer and a brand. Saatchi & Saatchi CEO Kevin
Roberts (2005), for instance, has developed the idea of
“lovemarks.” In academic research, the concept of con-
sumers’ brand love has lately been introduced into mar-
keting literature (e.g., Ahuvia 1993; Ji 2002; Whang et al.
2004; Carroll and Ahuvia 2006). Nevertheless, a solid
understanding and valid measurement scale is still miss-
ing. The study intends to contribute to fill this research gap
by investigating the concept of brand love.
In detail, the main objective of this work is to concep-
tualize and operationalize the construct of consumers’
brand love by drawing on the concept of love from
interpersonal psychology as well as on studies carried out
in the consumer-object context (e.g., Belk 1988, 2004;
Shimp and Madden 1988; Ball and Tasaki 1992; Richins
1997; Thomson, MacInnis, and Park 2005). In order to
emphasize the relevance of consumers’ brand love to
practitioners, we link brand love to two marketing-related
variables, namely the willingness to pay a price premium
and the willingness to forgive.
Based on a literature review and several in-depth
interviews, the current study develops and validates a
scale for measuring consumers’ brand love. Brand love is
conceptualized analogously to Sternberg’s (1986) inter-
personal Triangular Theory of Love and can therefore be
understood as a consumer’s love relationship to a brand
that can be characterized by the interplay of intimacy,
passion, and commitment to that brand. Furthermore a test
for nomological validity of the developed measurement
scale of brand love is conducted. The second objective is
to explore its predictive validity, showing that variations
in brand love scores correspond to outcome measures of
The research design of study 1 was based on an online
questionnaire. For measuring brand intimacy, brand pas-
sion, and brand commitment scales were developed by
drawing on items used in scales in the interpersonal or
psychological context on the one hand and by drawing on
the results of qualitative in-depth-interviews with con-
sumers on the other hand. The final pool of measurement
items contains nine questions. The result of the scale
development allows the conclusion that consumers’ brand
love can be conceptualized as a second-order construct.
The three first-order factors brand intimacy, brand com-
mitment, and brand passion are reflecting the higher order
construct brand love.
In study 2 the proposed relationships regarding the
positive influence of brand love on key behavioral vari-
ables were tested in a structural equation model. The
results offered evidence of predictive validity, showing
that brand love has strong positive effects on consumers’
willingness to pay a price premium and that consumers
turn a blind eye to the beloved brand when the brand “pulls
a boner.” Thus, our findings underpin the relevance of
brand love even for marketers.
Ahuvia, Aaron C. (1993), “I Love It! – Towards a Unify-
ing Theory of Love across Diverse Love Objects,”
doctoral dissertation, Evanston.
Ball, Dwayne A. and Lori H. Tasaki (1992), “The Role
and Measurement of Attachment in Consumer Be-
havior,” Journal of Consumer Psychology, 1 (2),
Belk, Russell W. (1988), “Possessions and the Extended
Self,” Journal of Consumer Research, 15 (2), 139–
Carroll, Barbara and Aaron Ahuvia (2006), “Some Ante-
cedents and Outcomes of Brand Love,” Marketing
Letters, 17 (2), 79–89.
Ji, Mindy F. (2002), “Children’s Relationships with
American Marketing Association / Summer 2009 253
Brands: ‘True Love’ or ‘One-Night’ Stand?” Psy-
chology & Marketing, 19 (4), 369–87.
Richins, Marsha L. (1997), “Measuring Emotions in the
Consumption Experience,” Journal of Consumer Re-
search, 24 ( 2 ), 127–46.
Roberts, Kevin (2005), Lovemarks: The Future Beyond
Brands. New York: Powerhouse Books.
Shimp, Terence A. and Thomas J. Madden (1988), “Con-
sumer-Object Relations: A Conceptual Framework
Based Analogously on Sternberg’s Triangular Theory
of Love,” Advances in Consumer Research, 15 (1),
Sternberg, Robert J. (1986), “A Triangular Theory of
Love,” Psychological Review, 93 (2), 119–35.
Thomson, Matthew, Deborah J. MacInnis, and C. Whan
Park (2005), “The Ties That Bind: Measuring the
Strength of Consumers’ Emotional Attachments to
Brands,” Journal of Consumer Psychology, 15 (1),
Whang, Yun-Oh, Jeff Allen, Niquelle Sahoury, and Haitao
Zhang (2004), “Falling in Love with a Product: The
Structure of a romantic Consumer-Product Relation-
ship,” Advances in Consumer Research, 31 (1), 320–
For further information contact:
University of Mannheim
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