Consumer Behavior & Brand Associations

By Clayton Gilbertson
Consumer behavior falls under the banner of behavioral economics, and is an intriguing study that often sparks insightful debate here at ATYPICAL.To understand how a consumer behaves, and more particularly what informs such behavior, is central to a clear understanding of your target audience. A foundation to this understanding is rooted in how we – the consumers - store and retrieve information in memory.

Consumer behavior falls under the banner of behavioral economics, and is an intriguing study that often sparks insightful debate here at ATYPICAL.To understand how a consumer behaves, and more particularly what informs such behavior, is central to a clear understanding of your target audience.  A foundation to this understanding is rooted in how we – the consumers - store and retrieve information in memory.

To begin, think of your mind as a series of nodes that are connected by links– much like the image you see below.

Each node stores some form of information that is connected by a series of links. How this information is retrieved, and more particularly the spread of activation that occurs when we encounter some form of stimuli – a person, an object, a brand – determines how we perceive that encounter. This spread of activation is a complex cascade of associations that your mind (automatic system) undertakes quick, and effortlessly. Coherence, the consistency between one node linking up with several others, determines what information we recall regarding a given stimulus as well as the strength of those associations. To better understand this process, consider the below two words: Book, Apple

A lot happened to your memory network in the last second or two. If you’re an avid reader (or healthy eater) you experienced a favorable response.Perhaps your face relaxed, displaying an expression of contentment, and you may even have hunched forward, becoming more engaged with this post. Your mind automatically assumed a sequence and casual connection between the two words, but noticed the combination is relatively uncommon, and that you probably haven’t encountered them before. You experienced a mild surprise (that is unless you read a book about apples recently).

Brand Associations

The same manner in which we store and retrieve information about ‘things’ such as a book or apple, is how we store and retrieve information relating to brands. You can think of a brand as a node, connected to multiple other nodes via links that vary in strength. ALL of your past and current experiences with a brand inform how you store information relating to them - If you’re the brand, you want these associations to be strong, favorable, and unique.

Brand awareness or recall is a neat display of our associations with given brands, to better illustrate consider the below categories and before moving on consider which brand comes to your mind first: Search Engine, Soft Drink, Social Media.

Chances are your associations would be Google, Coca-Cola, and Facebook, and more so these would be your preferences in those categories. Brand associations matter – not just for optimal brand positioning, but because they tend to display influence on consumer purchasing behavior.

Is your brand top of mind for consumers? What associations are you enforcing about your brand to your audience, and are they recalled by your audience in a strong, favorable, and unique manner?

Get in touch with us today, and begin your journey with ATYPICAL.

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