Life Is Like a Box of Russell Stover Cremes On Sale For Half Price Every February 15.

02/25 2011

Brands are, in one word, phenomena. Many of them are scarce and forgettable, but then there are the few that—through natural marketing selection—triumph forever in the minds and lifestyles of millions. From enough constant exposure and use, some brands have even become synonymous with the products they produce. You don’t make a photocopy. You make a Xerox. Nobody asks where the “clear tape” is. It’s the Scotch tape. You don’t blow your snot into tissues. It goes into a Kleenex. You get the idea.

The reason I mention all this is because this past week when I was gifted my much-awaited box of Valentine’s chocolates, I noticed something: I could give a royal crap about any old box of chocolates. When February love is in the air, I need me some Russell Stover. And trust me, it’s not because Russell Stover makes the best quality chocolates—they’re middle-of-the-line at best. But when I was growing up, my mom always used to give me and my sister each a heart-shaped box of RS’s best on Valentine’s Day and it was, like, totally the best day, like, ever. And my craving for them didn’t stop there. Nowadays, once I’ve made it though my first box (usually a gift from hubby to me), I’ll often hit the grocery store post V-Day and grab one of my own (a little gift from me to me) just to prolong the feeling they bring. If that’s not brand loyalty, I don’t know what it is. A borderline addiction, perhaps.

This got me to thinking about the power of brands and the reason we buy the ones we do. The experts say that we tend to buy what our mommas bought, be it Tide laundry detergent, Tropicana OJ or Aveeno shaving cream. Is this because we’ve seen the product used effectively and know it works? Is it because subconsciously we note these brands as having been around for long enough to make them trustworthy? Is it the simple things…the smell of the product, the packaging, the texture? Or is it just habit?

My theory is that it all ties back to emotional connection. We want to buy products from our carefree childhoods because we remember the way they made us feel way back when. Another brand could be just as good, but like many other things, sometimes price and quality have nothing to do with it—we buy what we know. We’re creatures of habit, and habits originate from things that make us feel good. That’s why when it comes to creating effective ads, we have to connect with consumers on a deeper level and not just serve up mindless entertainment. Though, a handful of pointless viral videos does go well with a box of chocolates…