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Can Love Shape the Brands You Buy?


What happens when your partner picks brands and products that you hate?

An interesting story on NPR on a study about brands and love, and how they shape what we buy. Can Diet Coke determine if you're headed for a divorce? Possibly, says researchers if your partner prefers Pepsi. Research suggests that your feelings toward your partner affect brand buying decisions. In the interview, Gavan Fitzsimons at Duke University suggests that such purchasing decisions (as such in the Diet Coke example) are sometimes acts of defiance rather than personal preferences. He suggests that these brand purchasing decisions even occur outside the presence of the partner. For example, your partner and you both prefer Burger King to McDonald's, but the unhappy partner in the relationship, even when alone, may choose McDonald's as an act of silent defiance to their feelings of relationship happiness.

This seems to suggest what we already know. People with shared common interests are generally happier in their relationships. However, such phenomenon doesn't explain why dissatisfaction with their relationship triggers behavioral change.

The study finds,

1) When a individual is frustrated with their partner they tend to prefer different brands. That is they make more choice that are oppositional to their partner.

2) These decisions often happen in secret with the partner unaware of the brand choice of the partner.

3) The individuals making these oppositional decisions often feel powerless to being heard and this is how they express their dissatisfaction.

4) The individuals making these decisions often feel better after making the purchase.

The biggest question that comes to my mind about such a study is how much of our behavior is changed when we enter into a relationship? We already know that there is an empathetic response (a honeymoon period) where an individual attempts to adapt their behavior to that which receives the most positive response from our partners. The difficulty is determining if any of our habits are naturally are own or are we constantly being programmed from the influence of our partner?

Why is your car's radio always tuned to country after your spouse drives it? Maybe, just maybe.... she hates you.

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